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How to Write a Controversial Post

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I figured out pretty quickly that blogs that don’t have opinions are boring. The downside of this is that to have an opinion means you become controversial and can offend people at times.

I’ve been thinking about this ever since I wrote my post on “the demise of social media” last week. I had an idea that my topic and content was somewhat controversial, I had no idea that so many would have a strong opinion about it.

This has happened before on my blog. Rarely do I post something knowing people will be offended and/or passionate about what I wrote or a question I pose. If you write about politics, call people out, or write something that goes against the grain you can guarantee people will have an opinion about your opinion. And yes I have written posts that all go under those categories. So I thought I’d share some advice on how to go about writing controversial posts. The thoughts I share have been learned from the experience of blogging, not that I have these figured out perfectly.

  • Sit on it for at least 24 hours. In this time don’t think about the one more great point you need to make. Think and pray about the subject you are approaching. I read a lot of posts where I can tell that someone wrote and posted something in the heat of the moment and it was too noticable. While giving some time to process won’t necessarily create changes it will give you clarity of mind on what your big point is and how to articulate that best.
  • Let more than one person read it. If you are the only person reading/editing yours controversial posts, you’re more likely to offend more people. I always let my wife read my posts before they go up, and often I’ll email it to a friend if I need more outside perspective on my thoughts.
  • If something feels fishy, take it out. You know that feeling or thought…in the pit of your stomach or in the back of your head. Something about that one sentence just doesn’t feel right. Don’t put that sentence in your post.
  • Avoid over generalizations. Don’t use the word “all” when referring to a group of people. Just trust me, it won’t end well.
  • Don’t expect disclaimers to make a difference. Disclaimers do play a role in any post that could be taken as controversial, but they won’t change much. This isn’t the say they shouldn’t be used, but whether you have them or not a post that is controversial won’t be taken differently because of a disclaimer. What they can do is provide a little perspective for the reader and that is a good thing.
  • Be ready for the comments to take over the post. I’ve deleted a few comments over the past 2 years of blogging, but I do my best to let people know I value their thoughts. The bad side of this is that comments can take on a life of their own. It is important for blogging to stay this way, but definitely makes it more difficult.

What would you add to this list?

(Photo: Quil)

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  • rossgale

    I would have never guess that blog would be controversial, but maybe that’s because I agreed with you. We always need people to tell it how it is.

  • Yonas

    Four words: Always be tactful.

  • ash

    yonas, that’s only 2 words.

    tyler…a few random thoughts here:

    setting out to write a controversial article will not always accomplish the desired effect. while certainly anyone’s opinion can offend someone else, but purposely writing in order to offend will only bring someone to be shut out….it’s the “shock jock” effect. the perpetrator becomes small details…and either a simple annoyance, disregarded completely or ultimately put back in their place. why do these things happen? b/c the person treads on the truth vs. lie line to make “ratings.” unfortunately, and perhaps w/o intention, you had someone you discussed that felt attacked…and didn’t feel you shined them in an appropriate light. it’s very important to get all the information before making a blanket statement.

    next~ you said “If something feels fishy, take it out”- that’s what makes it controversial. so that statement is the opposite of you msg here. and some people felt that your context had fishy ideas. twitter itself is up for argument as no one can really decide how legit it is or how useful it is.

    finally, not all blogs w/o strong opinions boring. that’s YOUR opinion and it’s a FINE one, i have nothing against that~ but realize there are different writers cater to different people and you can’t generalize everyone or use superlatives ….

    nevertheless: you have a fine blog that serves it’s purpose….a place for me poke a little & see where it lands. wink. have a good night

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