Hello, I’m Michael Sliwinski, founder of Nozbe - to-do app for business owners and their teams. I write essays, books, work on projects and I podcast for you using #iPadOnly in #NoOffice as I believe that work is not a place you go to, it’s a thing you do. More…

How to recognize the difference between “hate” and “constructive feedback”


As makers of Nozbe which is a mainstream productivity software, we get lots of feedback. Having more than 300,000 users makes us very happy and proud, but we don’t always receive happy emails. It’s usually me, the founder, who receives the praise and it’s our customer support department who gets the blame for customers’ problems, software bugs and stuff that doesn’t work the way it’s supposed to. Luckily most of the time we receive very constructive and great feedback from our users (thank you!). Sometimes however we get not-so-nice emails (“hate”) sent by not-so-nice people (“haters” or “trolls”). The thing is, for an untrained eye it’s sometimes hard to distinguish between “hate” email and a “constructive feedback” email, so the other day I wrote this on our internal “customer support” wiki:

How to recognize the difference between “hate” and “constructive feedback”

Constructive Feedback

This happens when a person who is an active Nozbe user writes to us that something is not working… or that they would like a feature that we don’t have yet, or our competition has it, and they’d love it, too.

If something is not working as they hoped it would, they might get upset. Upset at us, at Nozbe, even at themselves. But they wrote why they were upset. And they wrote to us all that, because they care.

How we respond:

We reply to people who send constructive feedback very eagerly. We ask for details. We apologize. We try to fix their problem. We ask for more feedback. We care what they think. Even if they are momentarily upset. We hope they won’t be like this forever.

Additional situations when “constructive feedback” happens:

Note: One person’s view is only that - one person’s opinion. And everyone is entitled to an opinion. We create software for hundreds of thousands, and hopefully millions of users in the future, so we must always take more opinions under consideration. Including ours :-)


“Haters gonna hate” (Anonymous)

A person who writes to us saying “Nozbe is useless” or “I don’t like you” or adds any other insult, is not sending a constructive feedback. These are haters (they are also called “trolls”). They might have a problem with themselves, or might be going through a phase in their lives. It’s hard to say why they do what they do, I guess they are just unhappy and they use email as a way of channeling their unhappiness. They write mean things because they need to do it to feel better about themselves. It’s not about us. We mustn’t take it personally.

How we respond:

“Don’t feed the troll” (Anonymous)

We reply to people who send hate messages very cordially, but in a very short way. We don’t ask for details, we don’t ask for feedback. We don’t try to ignite any kind of conversation. We want to end it. We don’t care what haters think. They will try to reply and upset us. We don’t react to this. We always respond nicely, but shortly and firmly.

Anyone can have a bad day. But if someone, after our kind reply, keeps pushing and keeps sending hateful email, they are a troll and we treat them like one - by ending a conversation as quickly as possible.

We don’t want haters as customers:

If a troll becomes a paying customer, we refund them their money and tell them we’re going to close their account in 5 days. We don’t want trolls as our customers. We want kind people as customers.

Life is too short to live with trolls. It’s our product and we can choose our customers.

The good news is that we have fantastic customers!

Question: How do you deal with people you don’t want to deal with?

Thursday, August 13, 2015 /feedback/