by Karen Kleinman
Well met, brave hero! This is your quest if you choose to accept it…
The Internet is a wonderful place to have a community come together. There are old school bulletin boards still around, news sites that offer users to submit comments, and of course all the different social media platforms.
However, these same places that give folks a place to learn, grow, ask questions, state opinions, share experiences, and have a voice are the same places that breed trolls.
Trolls are a nasty Internet evil that can, with only words and maybe a picture or video, not only cause you to have a bad day, but can also shake the very foundation of WHY the internet is such an important place to interact and have you second guessing your willingness to participate in being social.
It’s like the silly cliques in school all over again!
If you don’t know what I’m talking about, may I recommend a movie binge of Heathers, The Breakfast Club, Jawbreaker, Some Kind of Wonderful, Saved, Mean Girls, and Can’t Buy Me Love.
I recently read a story shared by James Altucher. He told a story about how a friend of his, an extremely talented musician, would post videos of his playing online. On several of the posts, there would always be this guy that would leave negative comments that were not in the slightest helpful or constructive, and that bordered on uncalled for rudeness to the down right nasty.
Instead of recognizing that he was dealing with an INTERNET TROLL and taking measures to shut this guy down cold, this very talented musician let the comments and insults get to him – and he stopped playing.
Let me reiterate that for you folks – This musician stopped doing what he loved to do because of the hurtful words of some internet yahoo that he didn’t even know.
Take a moment and reread that and let that soak in for a moment… I’ll wait.
One of the important duties of my job at Mansell Media is Social Media Management. That includes making sure comments and conversations on our client’s professional Pages and Groups do not spiral out of control and that all participants involved act with some integrity. This also includes a little bit of Reputation Management and some mediation.
Because let’s face the reality, it’s extremely hard to do good business… if you don’t do good business.
So the real question begs to be asked: What Can I Do About Trolls?
Here are some excellent strategies that work to slay those Big Nasties!
Know how to spot a troll. Trolls can be identified by their hostile language; their aggressiveness to displease others; off-topic, irrational, inaccurate, and a lot of times hateful and abusive comments; the unwillingness to be open-minded to the remote possibility of other points of view; and when they run out of things to say about the actual issue at hand, they direct their comments to make personal attacks. Trolls want things their way or no way. Trolls do not want resolutions. Trolls just want to stir the pot. Trolls are instigators.
The reasons these folks devote their time and effort to be a troll ranges from just being bored and having nothing better to do to making themselves feel important by making others feel inferior, and even to disgruntled customers that feel they have been done so wrong by a business and they want revenge instead of acting like an adult and speaking to a manager or owner in a calm and rational manner.
Sit On It. When you come across a comment or post from a troll… STOP! Take a few minutes to think on the comment or post. Do NOT instantly react and fire off a rebuttal. Think about what you are about to reply. Sometimes a reply isn’t even worth the effort.
Catch Them Off Guard. Trolls enjoy getting a negative response, it’s fuel for their fire. Pay the Troll Toll with a compliment instead of a snarky reply. They won’t be expecting anyone to engage their trouble making with grace.
Make Fun Of The Situation. Respond with wit and humor. The troll will see they can’t get you riled up if you are joking around about the issue. This response will pop that clown’s ballon.
Make Them Back It Up. Test their knowledge and force them to be non-evasive. Trolls usually post useless and vague arguments, but hardly ever offer real reasons to back up their comments. Ask them why something “sucks” and what could be done to make it better. They’ll likely never respond with a well thought out and executable plan or action.
Rip The Mask Off. It’s easy to hide behind your computer screen when nobody really knows who you are. After some internet search and digging, you may be able to find out more about who the troll really is. Without anonymity, people are less likely to exhibit nasty or hateful attitudes. However, be extremely careful about if and what you reveal online about someone, this could land you in a courtroom or worse.
It Takes A Community. The majority of online communities police themselves by either directly warning a troll of their behavior, taking on the troll, or by reporting to an admin or moderator. Community members recognize the value of the groups they participate in and want to keep it a nice place to be able to belong.
Appoint Moderators & Use Tools. Without a moderator or admin to monitor trolls, your site can turn ugly and unwelcoming very quickly. Appointing members to approve comments, and using techniques like disenvoweling (which removes the vowels from post), are simple and effective ways to manage trolls. Tools, like Robot9000, makes sure that every post is unique.
The Hellban & Ban Hammer. Hellbanning, AKA “Coventry”, “ghost posting” or “shadowbanning,” is when a troll’s comments are only visible to them. Since no one else can view the comments, there won’t be any responses, which would fuel the troll. Without an audience, the troll will quickly disappear.
The Ban Hammer is used by moderators and administrators on offenders to ban, remove, and/ or block the troll PERMANENTLY from a group, page, or site. The Ban Hammer is usually applied as a last resort, after warnings have been given, when the admins or mods have had enough of the foolishness, and are completely tired of dealing with the troll’s childish behavior.
Don’t Feed The Troll. Trolls feed on anger, disruption, and attention. Don’t give it to them! Arguing with a troll is like playing chess with a pigeon. The pigeon will knock over the pieces, poo on the board, and strut around like it won the game. There really is no winner.
You Cannot Save The Internet. You have to realize that of the millions of people that use the internet, a good amount will see things how you do and everything will be happy, engaging, puppies and kitties. But there will also be people that will not see eye to eye with you and that’s fine… as long as their actions don't morph them into trolls. Just like in school, not everybody has to like you or be your friend, but there should be at least a modest amount of respect of all people.
And the number one way of dealing with a troll is…
Ignore Them. Easier said than done, but it’s really the best way to kill a troll. Remember – a troll wants attention. If no one pays attention to their comments, eventually they’ll disappear. If that requires too much discipline, utilize the ignore/block/hide/unfriend/snooze function on the site that you’re frequenting.
After using this feature… walk away!
Literally... get up and walk away from your computer for a few minutes. Look outside or go for a walk, read an article, look at the funny pages, run an errand – do something, literally ANYTHING - to distract you from the online post that you just dealt with and BREATHE!
So, go out into the world young adventurer and explore the internet and if you find yourself locked in melee with one of these nasty beasties, use these weapons and proficiencies to win your battle.
Godspeed & Fair Travels,
10 Ways to Destroy An Online Commenting Troll - https://www.searchenginejournal.com/10-ways-destroy-online-commenting-troll/84427/#close
How to slay online trolls - https://be-inclusive.com/newest-posts/2016/9/1/how-to-slay-online-trolls
Tips for Dealing with Internet Trolls and Haters in Business - http://www.carolroth.com/blog/tips-for-dealing-with-internet-trolls-and-haters-in-business/
Personal experience - on both sides.