How to not like things, and not be a dick

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Way back in 2011, I wrote about the shock some folks can experience when their wedding goes viral and, well, the internet hates it. The sad truth is that this a perennial topic, because, well, the internet loves to snark about weddings. Even if your wedding doesn’t go the full Buzzfeed viral, there’s always the chance that members of, say, a board focused on wedding etiquette might be mortified, and link to it, and the comments might get flooded with negativity.

This happened a month or two ago to a wedding we featured. In it, the bride dared to break down her budget, and talk about the steps she took to cut corners. Now, here’s the deal with talking about wedding budgets: THERE IS NO WINNING. Readers always ask to hear more about budget and money and crow “I want to know real costs!” and bla bla bla, but talking about the money you spent on your wedding is the quickest way to freak out the internet.

Money and tradition and family and regional and community and personal taste all play a huge role in which cost-cutting measures feel appropriate to any given person. We’ve featured dozens (if not hundreds) of weddings where couples cut corners in ways that I would not choose to given my personal tastes and values around money, but meh: whatever. It’s not my wedding, and as long as the couple holds themselves accountable for their choices, then whatever.

What to do when you see the WORST WEDDING EVER on the internet

But for other folks on the web, it’s REALLY HARD to read about what other people have done, and not be aghast by it. MORTIFIED! I’ve seen decrees of “worst wedding ever!” and “flagrant disregard!” and a million other things.

Now, as a publisher, I’ve written before about how hate readers are fine in my book — keep on linking those weddings you hate, haters. Don’t you know how websites make money? FROM YOUR EYEBALLS. By all means, send more eyeballs!

The problem is when these hate-readers can’t resist commenting. Our comment policy has been the same since 2007, and it boils down to “it’s ok to not like things, but don’t be a dick about it.”

When you say something shitty in our comments, we remove it, even if you’re making a great point! Even if you’re sharing a concern Offbeat Bride’s editors’ share! Even if we fully agree with you.

We don’t moderate comments that don’t like things — we moderate commenters who are a dick about it.

Why we moderate rude comments

Our comment policy is a commitment we make to the people who submit their weddings to our website. If you’re going to take a risk by inviting the internet to your wedding, we want to make you feel good about that decision. If we allow our community to be attacked on our own website, how can we expect anyone to feel ok submitting their weddings to us? Now, what the internet does elsewhere isn’t our business… but here? We’ve got a comment policy.

In the wedding that got piled-on a couple weeks ago, a cluster of rude comments didn’t get moderated for 16 hours — way longer than we like to let things like that go on. After we cleaned up the comments, we sent the bride an apology. Here was her response, which is inspiration for anyone who’s dealt with the wedding snark that the internet can dish out:

At first, I went through the five stages of grief (is there such a thing?!?) in rapid succession. And then I thought about Taylor Swift and Gwyneth Paltrow and all the hard working, talented, beautiful celebrities that get hate tweets and mean things said about them…and I said “I’m being hated on…. I’ve hit the big time!” LOL.My husband warned me not to take that stuff personal… So, I treated it with healthy perspective. No one can set my internal happiness level, and my friends and family definitely came to our defense.

However for anyone thinking the same thing, I provided more details in the comments. That ain’t gonna keep the haters from hate-hate-hating, but I have a tremendous level of respect for your rapid response and high integrity. You are one of the good ones. I applaud you. Protectors of that which is sacred — being able to share freely with love.

We can’t make people on the internet love everyone’s wedding… but, I can try to share the most effective ways to register concerns!

How to not like things and not be a dick about it

Let’s say someone had a wedding that you think was awful. It was so bad, that tacky weddings everywhere would be jealous of its horribleness. In fact, this wedding was so tacky that you need to make sure other people take pause before planning a similar wedding. Here’s how to get heard:

  1. Ask respectful questions: “How did your guests respond to XYZ? It would give me pause, and I’m curious to hear how it went over.” “Is XYZ common in your region? In my area, I’d worry about guests thinking ABC, but am curious if that’s a regional difference.”
  2. Own your reaction: “Speaking for myself, if I were invited to a wedding where someone XYZ, I might feel ABC. I hope other couples considering XYZ consider whether their guests might feel the same way.”

Basically, your goal with any comment is to make it something someone can’t argue with — I can argue with a statement like “THIS IS RUDE” (it’s not rude in my area! it’s not rude to me! what is rude?), but I can’t argue with “If I was invited to a wedding where people did that, I would feel this.” I’m not going to tell you that you wouldn’t feel a certain way if something happened to you. There’s nothing to argue about there.

For example, if someone says “If I was invited to a wedding where people served pie, I would feel my identity as a cake-lover was being disrespected…” even if I think it’s a little ridiculous, it’s still valid. I’m not going to tell you can’t feel disrespected by pie.

Who wants to practice in the comments?

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