How To Handle Negative Feedback {Foodie Style}

filed under: Miscellaneous on December 27, 2010

Among all of the holiday baking I did was one recipe that was very special to me.  

My Great-Grandma’s fudge.  I literally have dreams about this fudge and its melt in your mouth texture as well as sinfully sweet flavor.  

When I got a Christmas card this year that just so happened to have her recipe tucked away in it, my heart skipped a beat and I could not wait for the opportunity to make it!

And make it I did. 

And it was pretty bad.  A FAIL by every definition of the word.  

Some things about it were right, but the consistency and texture were so bad it was embarrassing.  I think my thermometer was not calibrated correctly, and I ended up with a hard sludge that dried into an even harder fudge.


Let me tell you what I did not do.

I did not pull up my grandma’s facebook page and leave her a scathing comment about how her recipe must be off since I followed it to a T and it still turned out disgusting.

I did not jump on twitter and tell all my freinds to never use this recipe when making fudge.

I did not write an critical blog post about a certain recipe that I had such high hopes for but that failed so badly and how everyone hated it and now all I had was the ruined pans to show for it.

I didnt do that cause my mom would kick my butt.  

I also didnt do it because I trust the source.  I know grandma knows her stuff.  And I know that more often then not, the error is mine.

But sadly, negative feedback is often deemed as acceptable in the food blogging world.

At least, it seems that the folks leaving it feel that way.

I consulted some of the foodie genius’ I am lucky enough to stalk read and asked their opinion on Foodie negative feedback.

Most agree, there is a time and place.  If a recipe has flaws (significant or not) most really appreciate having that pointed out so they can make adjustments!

They also agree that you have to develop a thick skin to be a food blogger.  It was discovered that people will leave bad comments/ratings based on taste alone… something that would be impossible to make universally pleasing.

One question kept tumbling around my noggin.

What can we do to make this community more productive?

For those who have left unkind or critical comments (and will continue to do so): 

1. Attempt to do it privately first.  Contact the author via email or leave a comment saying you would like to talk to them privately.

2. Troubleshoot on your end.  Is it possible your thermometer is not calibrated?  Or that your oven heats unevenly?  Or that your baking powder is bad?  

Could you make the recipe again and see if you have the same results?

3. Remember that no one is perfect.  If you discover a flaw in a recipe, please do let the author know! But try to sandwich it between some grace and charm.

And now, the advice that I really need

To those who have received negative feedback:

1. Be calm.  At least in print!  If you need to, yell and scream at your couch, or call your BF and vent, but do not reply in like to the offender.

2. Answer negative comments but do so with as much kindness as you can muster.  Pretend you are replying to someone you highly respect! 

3. There are legitimate concerns and their are trolls.  If someone is attacking you and there is no basis to the claims, they most likely fall into the latter group.  (It can be harder to ignore because they are often more personal and vengeful with their attack, but it would serve you better to do so.)  

Feel free to delete and ban/block IP address’s.

Remember,  your credibility (and reputation!) will positively grow if you answer a negative comment professionally.

This is definitely a lesson I am learning daily!

And now I leave it to you.  

Have you ever left a negative comment?  Or how about had one left for you? 



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  • Amy K says:

    My non-confrontational personality has never left a negative comment (constructive or otherwise). Sure, we all can learn from our mistakes; however, I know without a doubt that your first #3 is true, and who am I to criticize someone else?
    If a recipe is a success for me and/or gets rave reviews from my family or friends, then I will most certainly go back and leave a positive comment.
    Amanda, as always, thank you for your perspective and inspiration!

  • Sonya says:

    I’ve seen some people leave comments just to be mean. They left several messages on a bunch of different cooking blogs wich had me thinking they didn’t even bother to try any of the recipes…all the messages were the same.
    I’ve tried several popular recipes and didn’t like them..but never left a comment about it because like everyone else has said..we all have different tastes. I did have one woman come on and tell me my candy cane cookies tasted bad and even her horse wouldn’t eat them! come to find out she subbed beet juice for red food coloring and they came out all weird tasting. I dont think it’s fair to leave comments like that when you change the entire recipe. I’ve had people use the wrong ingredients and blame me for it. So for the most part I don’t think it’s unavoidable but it’s all in how you react to it.

  • Fiona says:

    Hi Amanda
    This is the first time I have visited your blog and this post is a breath of fresh air. I too have a philosophy about providing positive feedback. My Mum taught me “if you din’t have something nice to say then don’t say anything at all”. Something I think the food blogging community seriously lacks. By all the comments that you have received I think you have a lot of support for you thoughts.
    Thanks for having the courage to put pen to paper on this subject.

  • mrsblocko says:

    I always leave a comment on someones blog after trying their recipe, whether the results are good or bad. I post what I think might have gone wrong, or what I did to adjust the recipe to my families tastes. I figure it might be some help to someone else who is prone to make mistakes like I do. If I do have constructive critisms I try to be as nice as I can about them, knowing that I wouldn’t want a nasty comment myself.

  • Athina says:

    Great post Amanda! I always read your blog and I love all your cookies!Your job is amazing!I own a greek food blog and I’ve received once a negative comment but I discovered that the person who left it was a bit weird so I didn’t answer!

  • Unplanned Cooking says:

    So true – I don’t know why we don’t apply our real life etiquette to the Internet. After all, behind each post is a real person :).

  • Lydia says:

    LOVED this post. I do have a food blog, and I get some pretty hilarious comments. I have to find them funny or it will just eat at me. Thank you for this, and I will definitely be follwing! 🙂

  • Stephan says:

    hey DON’T throw the fudge away make something else with it it could be broken and put in cookies or rice krispies squares or to top a cake after frosting or brownies hope this gave you some ideas what to do with flops i made a cookie out of a slice of bread, walnuts, craisins, raisins, gramcracker crumbs, sweetened condensed milk, brown sugar and curry and hmmm cinnamon, ginger, it was going to be carmel first my brother calls the the other cookie!! there were a hit gone before the toll house. ha!

  • Stephan says:

    oh guess i should of proof read it 1st. my brother calls it the other cookie!

  • He & me + 3 says:

    You are one of the sweetest bloggers I know. I think this post was perfect. I always live by the saying…if you don’t have anything nice to say than don’t say anything at all. I never leave negative comments. It is just rude. If I can’t think of something nice to say then I don’t leave a comment.
    Hope that you and your family had a beautiful Christmas too and that you do have a blessed New Year.
    Saying a prayer for alice now too.

  • He & me + 3 says:

    You are one of the sweetest bloggers I know. I think this post was perfect. I always live by the saying…if you don’t have anything nice to say than don’t say anything at all. I never leave negative comments. It is just rude. If I can’t think of something nice to say then I don’t leave a comment.
    Hope that you and your family had a beautiful Christmas too and that you do have a blessed New Year.
    Saying a prayer for alice now too.

  • Janmary, N Ireland says:

    I love the example you used of your granny’s fudge! It does show up the craziness of negative comments on a recipe unless constructive.
    Fortunately I’m no a foodie blogger – I would crumble like a cookie!

  • Aimee @ Simple Bites says:

    Amen! You sing it sister!

  • Esi says:

    Great post! I’m not sure if I replied earlier, but I tend to take the high road with negative comments. If it’s constructive, I’ll thank the person and if not, I’ll delete the comment or just not respond.

  • Marie says:

    All I can say is: your grandmother has a Facebook?! I’m quite amazed – it’s questionable whether or not my grandmother even knows what Facebook is.
    Sorry to hear you fudged the fudge recipe (pun intended)! We all have our kitchen disasters, so I can definitely relate. Failures are merely learning opportunities in disguise. I encourage you to try making the fudge again. 🙂

  • Beth says:

    I don’t usually leave comments about not liking the taste of something just because I know that I am a picky eater and not everyone has the same tastes as I do. Anything I do post is purely meant to be helpful to other readers.
    That being said, I do think you should always post a comment if there is a mistake in the recipe or a typographical error. As a recipe-poster, I would hope someone would correct any mistake I made so that no more readers would fall victim to my error 🙂

  • Amy says:

    I’m not a blogger, but just happened to have read a comment that someone else had left on another blog and my first reaction is that it was a really hurtful comment and not necessary, but when I went back and read it again it was actually some pretty constructive feedback that the blogger (who was new-ish to blogging) probably really needed to hear to be successful and I’m not sure how else they could have worded it so that it would have felt “nicer”. I also agree that too many people post the “ooh yum” messages rather than giving real feedback about the recipe itself. I like reading comments about how people modified a recipe to their tastes- so if the majority of comments indicate that more/less of something made it more suited to their tastes, I know to look out for that as I’m cooking. If that makes any sense 🙂
    So I agree… leave the feedback, but keep in mind the feelings of the person receiving the feedback- but understand that feedback should also be expected?

  • Nancy @SensitivePantry says:

    Great post, Amanda! I learned many years ago there is a difference between negative comments and constructive feedback. We can all benefit from the latter–it helps to make us better at what we do. But sniping is just an annoyance in a world that already has enough negativity floating around in it.
    I also believe we’re all human and sometimes make errors. I’ve made them on my blog and appreciate when someone points it out. I am mortified…but appreciate the honesty of my readers.

  • says:

    When I have a problem with a recipe, I never do any of the things you have detailed here. I usually go to the page with the recipe and say (politely) that I tried it and my result turned out with this or that particular problem. I ask if there is something I may have done wrong (and include details that I hope may help troubleshoot).
    Invariably, my comments are deleted or rejected in moderation, no matter how politely or lacking in criticism they are. I always say, “what might I have done wrong?” I do not say, “your recipe is bad.” I simply want advice about what might have gone wrong in each of these cases.
    The fact that the comments are rejected makes me suspect that the authors who took beautiful pictures of the food know that the recipe is flawed in some way (flat flavor, sub-par texture), but are posting it anyway because they want to keep posting new recipes and aren’t going to let a less than optimal result stop them from adding another notch to their belts. In my experience, the vast majority of people who read food blogs never even try the recipes and are generally flooded with comments that are tantamount to “that looks good.” It’s extremely rare to see someone say, “I made this and it was great.”
    One of the reasons some people (again, I don’t do this) post negative comments on their own blogs or Twitter that people shouldn’t follow a particular recipe is that they may have had similar experiences. If you are unwilling to even post a comment which states someone attempted the recipe and it failed, then you’re giving them little recourse then to find a way of addressing it elsewhere, and undermining your credibility as a food blogger.
    Of course, I’m guessing this comment will also be deleted. :-p

  • Casey says:

    I saw this post on Great advice! I have JUST started my very own food blog and have not yet had to face this challenge, but I’m glad to have your wisdom if that time comes! Thanks for sharing and best of luck with your fudge next time around!

  • I Am Baker Logo

    Brand new recipes that people find kinda acceptable.