It’s OK to be wrong: How to handle analysis that misses
It’s OK to be wrong.
As Bleacher Report contributors, we’re constantly asked to inject our writing with informed opinions and speculation regarding the latest happenings throughout the sports world. Our unique takes on current topics fuel heated debates and keep our audience engaged.
With all this opinion and speculation, we’re bound to be wrong once in a while, and since our B/R community is so passionate, someone’s bound to notice (and highlight) our error.
So what do you do?
Situation A: Predictive Content (Mock drafts, game picks, free agent and trade rumors, etc.)
Problem: You were wrong, and several readers have come back to say, “I told you so.” Your readers now have the luxury of hindsight, and these comments are unavoidable. Accept it.
Fix: Respectfully respond to these comments. Admit your mistake, and try asking your readers questions to continue the conversation.
Note: If you check back on these comments early enough, you’ll only have to respond to a few of them. Ignore anyone who points out your mistake after you’ve already indulged the early birds. The stragglers will hang themselves with their lack of originality.
Benefits: Your readers get the satisfaction of “pwning” you, and you’ve extended the conversation well beyond the shelf life of your article. Pay attention to that conversation—you might get some good material for another piece.
Situation B: Opinionated Content (Reactive, critical columns)
Problem: You were critical of a player, team, coach, etc. in your past work, but you’ve had a change of heart in light of new information. You want to express your new opinion without appearing to waffle.
Fix: Acknowledge your change of heart, if it’s relevant to the current piece. You have two options here:
- If your previous criticism is specifically relevant to the piece you’re writing, you can be proactive here. Explain your thought process to your readers in your article, and you can avoid the credibility debate altogether.
- If your previous criticism isn’t specifically relevant to the piece you’re writing, don’t bring it up, but be prepared to answer comments calling you on it. Here’s a recent example where I did just that. Don’t forget to thank these people for their comments. They’ve been following your work.
Benefits: Either way, you’ve appropriately defended your credibility and extended the conversation. And if you’re lucky, you’ve cultivated a respectful debate among some of your biggest haters.
The Bottom Line
Never apologize for wrong predictions, and don’t let readers bully you into throwing your previous work under the bus. If you believed it when you wrote it, your integrity is not in jeopardy, and acknowledging your mistake will only strengthen your credibility.
So embrace your errors. That tiny bruise on your ego is nothing compared to the satisfaction many of our readers get from proving you wrong, so let them have those small victories. Write it off as a learning experience, and remember …
A negative comment can ruin your lunch break, but your response to that comment might just make that reader’s week.
* * *
Bailey Brautigan is a Video Content Manager for Bleacher Report.