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Writing Controversy

Talking about controversial topics tends to be something you either really enjoy, or avoid at all costs. While I generally…

Talking about controversial topics tends to be something you either really enjoy, or avoid at all costs. While I generally fall into the first camp, I sometimes shy away from blogging about controversial issues on my site — a habit I’d like to change, especially since your blog is your best platform for expressing yourself. Writing posts that touch on timely topics is both a great way to boost your writing skills and bring extra traffic to your site.

When writing about a divisive topic, do your research. While your blog is a place to voice your opinion, it is also important to present the facts. This includes adding information about opposing viewpoints on your blog post, so that your readers can get a well-rounded presentation of the issue you’re talking about. By providing factual information, you are responsibly putting your philosophies into the world and giving your readers the opportunity to decide for themselves. Being open-minded about sharing your own opinions on a controversial post helps to set the tone for an overall respectful discussion.

Writing about a heated topic often leads to more active discussion on your site. As a general rule of thumb, don’t delete comments that disagree with you. Instead, focus on enforcing a respectful discussion on your site. In fact, if your blog focuses on controversial topics often, you may even consider a commenting policy to help prevent people from trolling or acting disrespectfully on your site.

When a controversial topic is still hot off the presses, use the existing media coverage to your advantage. Retweet your post, share it on Facebook, communicate with other bloggers talking about the same topic. This will help to increase your visibility and bring new visitors to your site. Similarly, you can use trending topics in Twitter or Google News search to help find current ideas for posts.

Most importantly, brace yourself for those who disagree. Everyone will have their own opinion, and just because someone disagrees with you, that doesn’t mean your post isn’t worthwhile or, on the contrary, that their opinion is useless. Instead, this is a great way to show your readers what a wonderful writer and blogger you are by incorporating these opposing viewpoints into your next post.

Do you have any other tips on writing a post about a controversial subject? Do you try not to post about controversy or do you thrive on it?

11 Comments

  1. Great topic and thanks for the pointers.

    I do not enjoy controversial topics as much as I used to. Trained in formal debate, I once thrived in an atmosphere of respect toward each presentation, including one’s own. I loved organizing my arguments and presenting them as others listened, and then mentally filing my next presentation whilst others presented theirs.
    Now days, ha. The very word “argument” implies chaotic loudness and insults. The idea that one’s presentation must be logical, to avoid being rude, is a lost concept. Or ignored concept. Actually, it seems some enjoy taking the topic on small side excursions in order to cripple others’ thoughts. So outside the realm of progress.

    I know this is not the context for questions, but in a future post, some guidelines, suggestions, or examples for controlling the thread of one’s own topic, on one’s own site, would surely help.
    Thanks in advance.

  2. Great advice, as always. Would love to see tips on these as I do like to speak my mind about a lot of controversial issues that I feel very strongly about.

  3. Most of all is the “know your facts, check your facts” aspect, followed by coherent, organized writing. I read so many comments based on guessing or contributors thinking they know what they are talking about.
    Carolyn Cornell Holland

  4. Thank you for raising this sensitive subject, I think that controversial topics can lead to discord and hatred, sometimes, this is a big mistake, while different points of view should lead to dialogue and understanding .

  5. Like Katharine, above, I used to enjoy controversial discussions immensely, but do not feel the same way anymore. However, sometimes I still feel the responsibility to bring things to light that I believe people should know, and as a result, that can open the doors wide to controversy. I do try very hard to make sure of my facts. One thing that enfuriates me no end on my Facebook and e-mail conversations are the people who post all kinds of wild things that have been circulating around the internet — sometimes for years — but have never been checked out for facts. The other thing I try to do is definitely voice my ideas in an organized, coherent manner, so that people will not misunderstand me.

    But the best way I have found to handle the situation personally is to set up three different blogs — each for its own purpose. I have my writer’s blog, on which I deal with all kinds of things, but most of it is literary, artistic, or entertaining — not controversial. Then I have my ministry blog — which has as its sole purpose the propulgation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. While there are hundreds of religions in the world — each with their own followers who believe they are right — and there are thousands of Christians who differ concerning several aspects of doctrine — I realize that in strongly presenting only one specific doctrine — that of Jesus — and presenting it according to my own understanding of His words — I am opening the door to many people disagreeing with me. However, since the purpose of the site is clearly stated and offers very little room for variation, I figure the people who come and read those articles are doing so with the understanding that I have taken a strong stand. I do invite people to comment, and so far, I have never felt the need to refuse to post differing comments. Hopefully, I have offered an answer to each one that makes my position even more clear.

    I have a third site that is primarily political in nature. Since I am an ultra-conservative, I realize that most of what I say is open to disagreement and even attack by several liberal elements on the national and international scene today. I have posted a clear statement about what can and cannot be posted on that site (basically just following good manners and showing respect for each other), and so far, I have never felt the need to refuse to post any comments. I also try to include some explanation of the “other side” of the argument in many of the things I post there — so that people can understand the whole picture. Of course, I post that “other side” for the sole purpose of showing how wrong it is and how much better my ideas are instead — naturally.

    But I really do feel that having these two sites “identified” as sites that will likely present controversial material makes it easier on me and my readers to deal with that controversy in a more low-key manner. And having vented my beliefs on those two “controversial” sites, I am totally free to thoroughly enjoy sharing everything I want on my third site, knowing all my readers will enjoy it as welll and feel no need to argue with me about anything they see there.

    Don’t know if this practice will help anyone else, but it works for me.

    1. I probably follow a similar practice to sandraconnor. I have a newsy regular blog, a personal viewpoint/rant blog, a not-a-photo blog, a dogblog and a vehicle blog. My audiences differ. I too, make it clear what my views are. Years ago, I wouldn’t have done, but why waste people’s time?

      Ironically, my personal views/rant/controversial blog is about left-wing politics, feminism, rarely about religion as I am atheist, animal cruelty, vegetarianism, and sometimes health (as I worked in that field).

      The only abusive/troll comments I have ever had were over on blogger about some feminist posts I wrote.

      But, people reading my blogs knowing what to expect, so unless someone comes on it by chance they are hardly likely to be surprised.

      Controversy is easier to write about than things people don’t want to read about. People don’t want to read about ‘nasty stories’. What is there to say except that it is nasty? Or is there some implicit guilt about not doing anything to prevent it? Head in the sand?

      Or, if there is a scapegoat, then people will comment, eg I wrote about King Juan Carlos of Spain going on safari killing elephants while the country is suffering momentous public cutbacks. Not really controversial, easy to blame rich royal, he’s the only controversial one. But I hesitated about putting it on my main blog because it was harder-hitting than my usual pretty posts. Write something that goes against what people think though, and I find people choose not to comment.

      Writing about controversial topics isn’t difficult. As a commenter, it is disagreeing with another blogger, especially if you mutually visit that is difficult. And potentially losing a follower/commenter.

      Those are key points to consider if you want to write controversially, or about controversial topics (not quite the same I guess).

  6. Rene

    Yes “Get the facts sorta right”, goes a long way towards credability. There really is a unmanageable, mind clogging, useless sea of Ideas,”washing our thoughts relentlessly,from all directions”

    Sandra Conner comments above make alot of sense.

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