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I have a blog which sometimes features bad reviews based on my personal research and point of view.

Please help me know how to say something critical without being too hurtful. For example, the object is a piece of software, but when I use it and check it, the software contains malware and I tell my readers about it.

If you have a bad experience, and know about it, what are you supposed to say to your readers?

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    This is clearly unrelated to writing and should be closed, but the only thing to tell your readers is 'don't go near this site, it contains malware!' – Michael B Jan 9 '16 at 9:55
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    @JeanGkol - I heavily edited your question to make more clear what I thought you were really asking, and prevent it from being closed. Please feel free to revert my edits if they don't match your actual intent. – Chris Sunami supports Monica Jan 11 '16 at 16:13
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    @MichaelB - Blogging is specifically on-topic here. – Goodbye Stack Exchange Jan 14 '16 at 4:38
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Your example is a bit extreme but in general:

Highlight the successes as well as the failures.

Try to express understanding and sympathy for how the failures might have occurred. For example perhaps you point out that something is a first effort, or the budget was a little low, or some other factor out of the control of the author/developer/filmmaker.

Avoid attacking anyone personally, or trying to judge a person or organisation based on what you think are the product's failings.

If there is a serious problem, eg a software application doesn't work or contains malware, contact the person or organisation asking for their comments and assistance and and recount that exchange alongside the review.

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Surely, by definition, contradicting someone will cause hurt to that person (even if very small). However, pointing out that something contains malware is an obvious case where causing hurt to one party (the malware writers) is beneficial to the majority and therefore you should do it.

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Even though the details of the question are off the topic of writing, I think that the question itself is sound. Writing reviews is writing. And if you're going to be a well respected writer, you have to be honest. If you're going to be honest, you're going to have to give some bad reviews.

In my opinion, the best you can do is remember this: honesty without tact is brutality. So long as you're not mean spirited and "punch down" on the person who created the thing you're critiquing, you should be fine. If you still show basic respect for someone while you are giving a negative review, they should be better able accept it than if you're just ripping them to shreds for fun.

You must remember, however, that there are some people that take bad reviews very personally and become deeply offended even at he most objective and tactfully written opinion. I can't remember the author who did this, but I was a great fan of hers up until she had a very nasty public temper tantrum on Twitter about one single negative book review. It wasn't even that bad. The reviewer said that it was basically a good read, but it just didn't live up to expectations. Anyway, she got so furious that she posted the personal email and home telephone number of the reviewer and encouraged fans to harass the reviewer and shame them for giving a bad review.

That incident was entirely the fault of the author. The reviewer was just doing their job. If you've been fair and honest, attacking the work instead of the creator, you've done the best you can do. If someone spazzes out and acts incredibly immature over it, it's their problem; not yours.

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Funny thing, I wrote software reviews (or rather comparisions) professionally for five years. To ensure a fair review and a round article four different people were involved:

First: Me as the writer Second: My editor. She checked my research for errors. Tested the things I had tested and described, to make sure the errors I found weren't just temporary glitches, or errors on my side, and that I didn't have overlooked anything. Third: The chief-editor who looked, after the article was finished and edited with a fresh and unbiased eye, if everything was smooth, logical and if we provided a good journalistic quality. Fourth: the final editor that just looked after the grammar and spelling to catch any error that might have escaped three persons.

My editor usually liked me being very direct about the quality of the software and if a tool was bad I was allowed to write that the tool was bad. Sometimes my frustration about a very rough testing-period showed in my writing and then she softened my words a bit. But on one ocassion she hated a tool even more than I did and she puts a harsh spotlight on the limits and errors.

Of course, we always kept a somewhat professional tone, like writing "the tool isn't able to keep the advertised promises" or "it worked as stable as a direction indicator: on - off - on - off" but not "the programmers are complete morons".

IF there were serious problems, we said so, without being extremely nice to the feelings of the programmers. In the end we didn't write for the programmers. We wrote for the readers and they should know which tool was worth a look and which tool just would be a waste of their time.

In your case: you found Malware. Why on earth do you want to go easy on programmers who put their users at risk? Maybe with full intent? You write for your readers. Put a big warning label on top of the article, that this tool contains malware.

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  • I'd ever written like that and show how the marlware works on PC from web browser. Then I'd got 2 emails: 1. disabled from google adsense 2. many anger emails from readers and bom-click from unknown IP As you know, I didn;t mean anything. I wrote based on my objective research. – Klikdesainweb Jan 14 '16 at 0:59
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    Ah, crap. In this case I still don't think that this is a matter you will be able to fix by writing more tactful. Without knowing all the details, for me, it looks like you have messed with the business model of people who know how to play the game. I was able to write freely what I thought because I knew my publisher's lawyers would deal with people who didn't like what I have written. It is easy to start a website or a blog, but when you do, you are your own publisher and you have to deal with people who want you silent. I suggest joining a writer's union that provides some legal protection. – Mela Eckenfels Jan 14 '16 at 10:37
  • last sentence;s impressed me. I'm going to have a try. thks – Klikdesainweb Jan 14 '16 at 12:00
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    I think Mela is probably right. You aren't getting complaints from legitimate readers who think you're being mean, you're being attacked by a malware distributor who doesn't want to be exposed. They probably have a whole process set up to suppress the truth. – Chris Sunami supports Monica Jan 14 '16 at 15:18
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  1. Find something -- anything -- nice to say. Lead with that.
  2. Present your dislikes subjectively; a lot of "didn't work for me" and "not my type of fiction" etc. (If you want to be nice, that is).
  3. Try to close with something nice.

This is known as "sandwich" reviewing, for obvious reasons.

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  • "Present your dislikes subjectively" ? – Klikdesainweb Jan 14 '16 at 1:02

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