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? 

 *Be sure to checkout the feedback at blogher as well!


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  • TidyMom says:

    KUDOS to you Amanda!! Wonderful post!!
    I’ve been on both sides……..and I agree 110% with everything you said!!

  • Renee says:

    Well said!

  • Queen Mommy says:

    My husband LOVES his mom’s fudge. The reason? Because it’s a little granular, and he likes that texture. Most people want a smooth fudge…not my husband, which is fine. I readily admit that his mom makes excellent fudge. The other important thing to remember is that everyone has different tastes. Some people may think Pioneer Woman’s cinnamon rolls are the BEST EVER. I personally, think mine are better, in every single way. Nevertheless, I did not go on her site and leave a scathing comment about how she shouldn’t say her rolls are so doggone great when they are not. I just chalked it up to personal taste. Honestly, her rolls are fine. My family just prefers my usual recipe. No biggie. If there is a flaw, sure; point it out quietly and give the recipe author time to make corrections, if necessary. I have a friend with a food blog, and I know she usually has several of us test out her recipes before she posts them to make sure there are no flaws. And, there are so many ways to mess up a recipe when baking. Baking is definitely a science….even the way you measure your flour can make a difference in the end product! In the end for me as a recipe try-er and commenter? “Personal taste” and “let it go.” P.S. Make your sugar cookies and icing again for Christmas this year. SO love them! They really are the best sugar cookies I’ve ever made, and I have recommended them to many people also.

  • SweetSugarBelle says:

    Funny you said this. I posted today and included a photo of my cutter collection because a lady was very mean to me last week over not being able to remember where a cutter came from. I know she was a stranger but it stung and my feelings have been hurt since. It’s was hard for me not to be smart or snippy back and to resist the urge to explain myself… but I did sit around wondering how I attract these people. I never thought someone would do it to you! I’d automatically assume if a recipe did nut turn out that is was me, not the recipe! This turned from a comment into a note, but good post. You always make me think

  • CopyKat Recipes says:

    You know, even our best recipe may fail despite our efforts. Ingredients may not be up to snuff, the weather may be off, or you know what, sometimes we all have a bad day. There are lots of things that I try, that I know for some people taste great, but I personally want to gag on.
    I don’t think we do the other person or ourself any favors if we blast someone’s recipe. What’s the golden rule, do unto others ….
    We have all had those horrific fails, if you haven’t you will have one, I promise. I just hope I don’t have many when I have a house full of people. Failure with a houseful of people makes the CopyKat lady want to cry, and call out for food.

  • naomi says:

    Amanda, great post. I completely agree. Very nicely written and I love the advice.
    I have had negative feedback, ie. My cookies were flat and did not look like yours. The cookies were too dry, any suggestions?
    The majority of them come via email and I can give feedback. One came through via twitter, but she tweeted and asked I follow her so we could DM. As it it turned out I tweaked my recipe after tweeting back and forth. It was a good constructive work through.
    Then I have had some not so nice comments that make me want to scream, but I post them anyhow, unless there are just being downright mean then I delete it.
    Thanks again, for taking the time to write this much needed post. I always need advice on how to handle negative comments, so I love what you have to offer here.

  • marla {family fresh cooking} says:

    I am so happy that you took the time to write this post, I had one of “those” comments last night. Your advice on how to handle these sort of opinions & comments is professional & well thought out. I need to remember to not take things too personally & unless it is a true attack then I will publish the comment with a polite response back. heck, sometimes I even learn new things from those negative folks. XO

  • Otana says:

    This is a great post. I’ve been lucky that any criticism I’ve received for my cooking has been polite and well-thought, and my friends are very quick to admit when it’s just their tastes. Then again, I encourage the feedback because a lot of the time it’s an easy fix and I’d rather cook things for them that they’ll enjoy eating, instead of everyone making pretend yummy noises and then bitching behind my back.

  • Grandpa Dennis says:

    I have never tasted anything that you have made that I did not love. And if I ever do I will just swallow it….smile…and say…”Well isn’t that interesting?”xoxo

  • Ruth says:

    No, cuz’ I try to use the golden rule, do unto others…
    And haven’t had negative comments on my blog but when I used to play around on the forums on it came to a point where no matter what I said some snotty person would come on and say something back. I finally left that world and haven’t looked back. You’d think in a “Christian” environment that would not be the case, BUT everyone has free will and some choose to exercise it in the wrong way.

  • candice says:

    i haven’t have negative comments left on any of my recipes, but i have on several design posts. i have cried in the shower over a few. i don’t have thick skin. ๐Ÿ™

  • Nancy says:

    I would add that you need to remember that there are actual people on the other side of a blog – and that they are NOT making you pay for what they provide – it’s a polite, wonderful service. When we, as readers, make negative posts, and are rude, all we’re doing is saying “geez, I could do it better, but I don’t care enough to try – so thanks for nothing, even though I give nothing back in return!” (or something to that end.)
    For those of you who do provide stuff for we readers, note that it’s not just food blogging that gets this – it’s nearly everything. There’s just something ugly about (some) online communication – as if we, as humans, feel we can say whatever we wish, because it’s (relatively) anonymous.
    Bravo, btw.
    And if you have that yummy fudge recipe, and want to share, I’d take it and try it out – no flames from me, I promise.

  • Stephanie says:

    I don’t think I have ever left a negative comment on someone’s food blog. As you stated, sometimes it’s personal taste, and sometimes it’s an error/change on one’s part.
    I’d never walk into a kitchen at a restaurant and berate the chef, so why leave a nasty comment on someone’s blog?

  • Cookbook Queen says:

    Um yeah, so I’ve totally had this happen.
    Not frequently (thank goodness) but once a woman left a comment that told me my recipe tasted WEIRD. She was pretty mean about it. I sent her a super nice email and I think it made her feel bad because she emailed me back all super sweet and flowery niceness.
    I think that kindness always wins.

  • Jen @ My Kitchen Addiction says:

    Such a great post! I had someone leave a comment just the other day informing me that my peppermint truffles tasted like “toothpaste” and had “incomplete directions.” I usually just let it roll off. I just find it funny how people hold food bloggers to such a high standard yet feel that they can insult them in a way that they never would a chef or cookbook author.

  • Megan says:

    I don’t think negative criticism is inherently inappropriate in food blogs or anywhere else. It is definitely in the delivery, however. It’s great to get a ton of “ooh yum!” comments but those are just ego boosts. I like hearing real feedback from people who have actually tried a recipe I’ve posted – good or bad. It’s pretty easy to siphon out the ones who are being mean just to be mean, and we shouldn’t discount all constructive (negative) criticism. Everyone needs to be kinder on both ends, of course. Blogs are so personal that it is easy to be stung.

  • Judith Norman says:

    I admire you positive attitude and the way you handle yourself.

  • Barbara @ VinoLuciStyle says:

    I’ve been very lucky to mostly have constructive comments if I erred and forgot to mention exactly when you added an ingredient I had in the ingredient list…but only once did I ever get a really nasty comment. About a Nainamo bar which if you’ve never heard of it is an institution in Canada and are REALLY good.
    Guess this ‘gentleman’ did not think it measured up to either his gourmet, educational or intelligence quotient for a cookie and slammed me bad. I left it because it sort of made me laugh and only eventually removed the comment because the post turned into nothing but comments about his comment and though supportive saw him getting what I imagined he desperately needed…some attention!
    There are people that live for making the ugly comments and it breaks my heart to see that they are successful in hurting feelings. It’s not just about having a thick skin; you really do have to consider the source…mean is mean and somehow they just have to be unconsidered in direction proportion to how inconsiderate they are!

  • Andrea@High/Low says:

    Great post! Thanks for reminding me to be positive – though I don’t think I’ve ever left a negative comment on anyone’s site (mainly because I know how much effort everyone puts into their posts) It is heartbreaking when I do receive the odd not-so-positive comment but I’m learning to grow a thicker skin. Thanks again for your positive attitude!!

  • Bethany says:

    THIS is why I could never be a food blogger. I love to cook. I love to bake. In two days I went through most of a five pound sack of flour. And my baking urge was not satisfied, but blogging about my baking…no way. Kudos to you for doing it- and doing it well. Thanks for passing along the advice. Even though I chose to not blog about my food obsession, I’ll keep this in mind.
    You have such a way with not only your baked goodies, but your words! Thanks for being a great example of letting grace season your words. Hugs to ya!

  • Eala says:

    Negative is not the same a critical all the time. People will critique your recipes, just like people do artwork. It’s not always pleasing to hear, but they aren’t always being mean or negative. I think that it’s important to distinguish between trolling/rude comments to those that are just giving you an honest opinion.

  • carma says:

    I’ve had plenty of negative comments about my food (from the boys in my own house) much of it is well deserved ๐Ÿ˜€
    BTW, that fudge still looks super-yummy to me – hope you didn’t toss it…

  • Michelle says:

    I think when you’re a popular blogger, you just have to take the good with the bad. You have a great attitude about it all, which is why I love you so much! ๐Ÿ™‚
    and BTW, you totally did just oust your grandma about her fudge on your blog… ๐Ÿ™‚

  • bridget {bake at 350} says:

    Great post, Amanda! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • The Lumberjack's Wife says:

    I have never left a negative comment and don’t intend to. I have had people leave comments that hurt my feelings.
    I don’t like it.
    Boo, mean people.

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