Moderation Assignment

Assignment: How would you moderate the following audience/customer comments if left on your organization’s Facebook page?

To a hotel: “I am disgusted about the state of your restaurant on 1467 Justin Kings Way. Empty tables weren’t cleared and full of remains of meals. It makes me wonder what the state of your kitchen is?!!! Gross.”

Dear ____,

I am shocked and embarrassed to hear about the condition you found the restaurant in. I can assure you that this is not typically and would greatly appreciate a brief amount of your time to discuss this matter in more details. Please email me at or you may call me at 000-000-0000. If I can get more information regarding the time and date during which you found the restaurant in the condition you mentioned, it will aid us in getting to the bottom of the matter and properly handling the situation.

I can assure you that our restaurant kitchen is clean and has received zero infractions by any restaurant management service. As a dining facility, we are held to strict requirements and have never been penalized for being below the standard. I would so appreciate the opportunity to prove to you that how you witnessed our restaurant is not characteristic of the norm. I would like to personally invite you to our restaurant to experience our exceptional dining environment for yourself. I also would love the opportunity to apologize in person and meet you first hand. If you would like to contact me with a preferred day and time to dine with us, I will schedule your reservation and make sure that I am personally on staff to ensure all your needs are met.

My sincerest apologies,


To a mainstream news network: “Your reporting on the Middle East is biased in the extreme. You gave almost all your air time to spokespeople for the Israelis last night and there was no right to reply for the Palestinians. The conflict upsets me so much and your reporting of it, saddens me even more and makes me f**king furious.” (Let us assume the reporting was balanced, with equal time to both sides.)

Assuming the reporting was truly balanced , it is clear that this individual was unable to see past their self-created blinders and has reached a level of anger that may not be capable of talking down. Although news networks are often criticized for their biases, as individuals we also have biases and often form them unknowingly. Even when we are aware of our biases, it is difficult to absorb information in a neutral manner.

For instance, you may write an apology letter to another individual and in it you equally share your role in the situation as well as theirs. When reading a letter of this nature with pre-determined biases of our own, it’s easy to remember the criticisms rather than the mentions of the individual apologizing and also taking responsibility for the situation. In situations such as these, it’s possible the person may never see the other side, or it will likely take a sit down conversation (which doesn’t seem like an option for the disgruntled individual blasting the mainstream news network). For this reason, I am unsure if I would advise replying, as the individual may not be able to see the other side and it is clear they are already quite perturbed, and it’s not unlikely that they will simply fire back with “colorful” language.

This may be an issues worth consulting with your co-workers or team about. If the consensus of the staff of the mainstream news channel involved in making these types of decisions was to reply, I would consider including a clip of the report she is referring to and timestamps where each party’s position is addressed to show that equal time was given to each cause, this way he/she can reference back to the clip. I would also express your deep interest, concern and respect for the matter as well (after all, that’s why you’re reporting on it), and determine amongst your team if an apology for how she felt the information was portrayed is necessary, or if it admits fault (for which we are told there was none).

6 thoughts on “Moderation Assignment

  1. Hi Kaitlin, thanks for a great post! I struggled with the news organization post, too, but I think you nailed it when you said that as community managers need to realize that we are dealing with “individuals we also have biases and often form them unknowingly.” A lot of people do not realize that their biases affect their perception of the world around them. So we cannot jump to anger even upon seeing this post, when we know that we reporting was as balanced as possible.
    Although this particular user may be beyond cajoling, I learned this week after reading 3 Great Social Media Policies to Steal From that almost all content, regardless of whether it’s favorable or unfavorable, deserves a response. I like your idea of providing clips and timestamps as proof for having covered both sides of the story. Of course, I would still make sure even in this instance that we acknowledge the user for their feedback, accept responsibility for the perceived bias, and THEN provide those clips, so as to not be mistaken as being defensive.


    • Thanks of your comment. I think you make some great points and I’m relieved to hear I wasn’t the only one who struggled with the news response. After reading some of my peers responses, I would agree that a reply would likely be wise and showing appreciation for their feedback would also be beneficial. I don’t know that I agree with the idea that the news organization should “accept responsibility” for the perceived bias, but I would also agree that the timestamp approach, if not worded properly, could most certainly come off as too defensive, and in turn potentially fuel this individual’s fire (which as we already witnessed with their language doesn’t need fueling). Thanks again for your feedback. I am particularly enjoying the commentary amongst peers for this post and the various approaches. I love the constructive criticism 🙂

  2. Hi Kaitlin,

    I really appreciated your post because I too struggled with the second response! It was really smart of you to thoroughly access the situation and defer to your co-workers and superiors. I have encountered some really tough situations these past few months, and it always helps to get a second opinion elsewhere!

    I think you made the most important point: Don’t get defensive. I think by getting defensive you are trying to prove something, and it comes off as negative and not very understanding. I tried to avoid the defense route altogether in my response because my usual strategy is to just apologize and let the user know that we understand where they’re coming from. Most of the time they’re very happy that we even took the time to listen and respond, which is why it’s important you personalize the response to address their specific concerns. The argument usually ends after that, and they tend to not pursue the conversation further. But, as you pointed out, it depends on the person and how angry they are about the issue. Sometimes they will say that they’re happy they heard back but they will be “contacting corporate regarding the issue,” even though we are corporate. Usually I’ll relay these types of messages to our retail operations customer service manager so that she’ll be aware that someone will be contacting her and why.

    • Thanks for sharing your personal experiences, and again I’m relieved to here I wasn’t the only one who struggled with the news response. Although we were told to reply with the assumption that the news report was not bias, even that is difficult to determine. Many news stations themselves are bias and may have hidden agendas. Remaining entirely neutral can be incredibly difficult, and just as individuals are unaware of their biases, I believe corporations can be unaware as well.

      I most certainly agree being defensive is one of the worst possible approaches, and in hindsight, I’m feeling as it my time stamp idea may come off that way and would rethink that approach. Hopefully conversing with my co-workers would help best determine a course of action. I would agree having other individuals to bounce ideas and responses off of is always incredibly helpful. Even more beneficial is when it is a group of individuals with diverse opinions. If those discussing the response options are too similar, it may be easy to only see limited courses of action and even more likely to talk each other into one particular solution, as we may have blinders on as a team or corporation as well.

      I’m sorry to hear you have had to deal with some of these type of responses first hand; however, it sounds as if you have done a good job deferring or dealing with upper management on such issues.

  3. Interestingly, I seem to be the only one who found the second example much EASIER than the first. Maybe it’s because the instructions made clear that the news organization had acted fairly/responsibly, I took a much more defiant tactic with that person.

    One of the other bloggers — I don’t remember which — deleted just the last sentence and mentioned in the apology that this was because it ran afoul of the company’s obscenity standards. That seems reasonable to me, although inasmuch as this is all being handled publicly, it seems advantageous for the company to let this person dig his or her own hole, then kill them with kindness.

    I agree with those who would advocate responding to just about everything. So much of successful interactions is making the other party feel heard. and the only way to do that is to write back.

    • Hey Eric – I had to check out your reply after reading your post. Wow – you weren’t kidding! I always love how straight forward you are. I would agree that letting the individual dig their own grave may be beneficial, and also very possible given their comment, but I think being too defiant can also cause the organization the dig their own grave in the eyes of some of their audience. However, that being said the audience that is following them and supports them also likely appreciates their style and stance on reporting.

      It is interesting you found the second comment easier. Even though we were told there was no bias, I found it difficult to truly take that stance, as I mentioned in my reply to Nhi (above). Whether an individual or organization has biases is so debatable it’s difficult for me to truly accept and argue such as stance, especially since the organization can have their own blinders on as well. I suppose I view reporting and whether or not it has biases as being very similar to ethics, and that our opinions may simply differ and there may or may not be a possibility for people to view the other stance.

      I would agree with you that a reply is at the very least a simple way to assure the individual has been heard, and it is almost always a better approach (including in this particular situation). Thanks for your commentary Eric!

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