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User Complaints: We Love 'Em. No, Really, We Do.

Everyone has seen that sign for the "complaint department" asking the complainer to pull his number from a grenade. There is also one that says, "Complaint Department --> 300 Miles." You get the idea, nobody likes to hear complaints.

This month's From The Managing Editor post is going to take that idea on, just a bit. Do I like complaining? Not particularly -- just ask my son. However, our user comments system, the place where we get many complaints and comments our readers may have, is actually pretty important to us.

So much so that sometimes, yes, I could almost say we love it.

Do We Get a Lot of Complaints?

Let's start there, how many complaints do we get? FindLaw.com's Content Team receives about 10 per month, just from our dedicated comment link. That is a reasonable number considering we have about 10,000 pages of content in our Learn About the Law section alone.

What kinds of things do we hear about from users? I am happy to say, it's not just complaints. We hear ideas for articles and blog posts, updates on cases we have been following from the parties or their attorneys, suggestions for products our readers might be interested in, and of course a little request for free PR here and there. Just what you might expect.

So What's to Love?

Why would I even say I love the comments, complaints, and suggestions we get? Like anyone who is really trying to make the best product they can make -- be it a car, a case, or a cookie -- feedback and constructive criticism are crucial. How do you know you are giving the audience the best information possible on what to do after a car accident or the most important constitutional amendments unless they occasionally tell you hey, you screwed up here?

In addition, trying to keep thousands of article pages and blog posts produced and updated daily is a challenge. Sometimes we miss something, and we appreciate the heads up on a new law or a new decision in a case. No man is an island.

Play Nice

Obviously, it is not fun for me or my team if we make a mistake and a user calls us out on it, and we do pride ourselves on being ready to step up and fix something if we get it wrong. But there are ways users can make this process go a bit more smoothly for themselves and for us.

Here are a few tips for getting through FindLaw.com's user comment process quickly and easily:

  1. Use the comment and tip link that appears on each blog page and on our Contact page. Using the link helps us track your comment and make sure we respond in a timely manner. You can of course comment on Facebook or Twitter as well, but it helps to get it into the system at some point.
  2. Let us know what page you are commenting on. Please send the url you are asking about. This helps us pinpoint the issue quickly. Again, we have thousands of pages on our consumer site alone, and it can take some time to figure out which "gun page" you have a question about.
  3. Be specific. If you have a specific request -- update this law, the grammar stinks here, that's not how to spell my name -- let us know. We are happy to jump in and fix a mistake!
  4. Be nice. We can't and won't fix everything every user thinks is a problem; we do have a right to write a story someone might not agree with. But keep in mind, civil discussion about a hot-button topic always gets a better reaction than trolling. We make mistakes, just like you do. If we should fix it, we will. If we won't, we will tell you why. Nicely.

So, do I love complaints? No, not really. If I had my way, my team and I would be perfect all the time and never make a mistake of law, grammar, fact, or anything else. But since this is the real world, stuff happens. So bring it on. We can take it. And if we make our content better and more accurate in the process, what's not to love?