There's no single answer to whether you should respond to an attack about you (your brand, product or reputation) online. It depends on the circumstances, the nature of the attack, what you have to say in return, how the story might develop - and more. It's a specialist job.
However, there are some basic rules that can get you through the day to day. Thanks to Mark Pack, I've found this decision making tree from the US Air Force on the Webinknow blog. If it's useful, we'll publish our own tree later this week. It's broadly similar but relies more on analysing the site that's attacking the reputation.
Incidentally (and let's see if this works) Webinknow's author David Meerman Scott has a wikipedia entry. It's a good entry although it carries the warning that much of the data is unverifiable. The entry's history shows that it's been modified bya number of different sources - but none have strengthened the entry by adding sources. A pity, therefore, that it apparently doesn't follow the excellent advice of the USAF!
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