Ask Miz Ginevra - dealing with trolls
September 22, 2009
Tolls online are people who seem to wake up in the morning for the sole purpose of tearing your blog to shreds. We've got 'em. If you've got 'em, welcome! It's a sign of success - as long as there's someone there professing to hate everything you say, you know you're doing it well.
No one likes being told they're wrong, especially on our blogs, which we consider our place, our house. The internet makes it easy for anyone happening along your spot to have a safe, comfy, judge-y place to let you know they just don't like what you say, especially in your comments. How do you deal with someone who seems to be out for destruction?
Ignoring the troll isn't quite right - the guidance we often hear is "don't feed the troll". What does that mean?
Don't feed the troll: don't let someone get your goat. You can respond, but don't let it be from a place of frustration. If someone's deliberately out to make you frustrated, don't give in. Take a walk. Have someone else read your response. Get some perspective: it's only the internet after all.
Don't overreact: are you reading more than you need to into something someone wrote about you? Again, ask a friend or colleague for advice - sometimes, emotion can color your reaction. I told someone the other day that "I wish there was a sarcasm font for the internet." Is there a possibility that it's not them, it's you?
Don't underreact: if someone is threatening the peace of your online community, don't feel DRAMATIC by asking them to cut it out. A well-timed, personal email can help mend fences with a community, and doesn't embarrass anyone in public. Asking some people to tone down their conversation works, but the best way to deal with someone who's upset? Find out what they're really trying to say. A symptom of troll-like behavior can be an overblown public comment, but the real cause is often that someone simply doesn't feel listened to.
Don't take it personally: some people are just out to be mean/vindictive/bitter. These are your real trolls.You'll know them when you see them: like a bad penny, they always turn up.
Use TypePad's profiles and moderation features: Of course, if things come to extremes, you can use TypePad's IP banning, commenter banning, or moderation to help your blog achieve smooth sailing. We accept all comments and reply here on Everything TypePad, but there's certain topics and entire blogs that require constant vigilance. That's why we're happy to have sophisticated moderation tools here with TypePad. Our profiles and following features help you keep even closer watch on your commenting community - if someone isn't signing in with TypePad, Twitter, or Facebook, or they're keeping anonymous in other online forums, you can bet you're not the only victim.
Have you had experiences with trolls challenging communicators on your blog? Let us know in the comments!
Posted by: Captive Aquatics | September 23, 2009 at 03:04 AM
Nice post... no troll comment here! I've definitely wished for a sarcasm font on occasion too... would certainly be helpful at times!
Posted by: twitter.com/MeredithLEaton | September 23, 2009 at 10:02 AM
Also - be sure you eat some snacks before you read any further feedback from said troll.
Posted by: Andy | September 23, 2009 at 11:16 AM
Oh, yes, I've had to deal with trolls. A "churchless" blog, not surprisingly, is going to attract some fundamentalists who don't want their beliefs questioned. Your advice is pretty good. I go to comment moderation when the crazies get too disruptive, such as by posting repetitive comments (like a dozen in a row) with the same rant.
I appreciate the tools TypePad offers to deal with trolls. However, as I've noted to TypePad staff before, your profile/registration setup is essentially useless for this purpose, because a unique screen name isn't required. So a troll can impersonate another regular commenter on a blog.
Further, you allow screen names to be changed at will. This means that a TypePad profile can't be associated with a consistent screen name (I could change from "Blogger Brian" to "Alphonse" at any time).
I'd like to see TypePad offer a true registration option such as most newspaper web sites and many other discussion sites do. Namely, require unique screen names/user IDs that can't be changed at will. This would make it much easier to block a troll from commenting. He or she at least would have to register under a different screen name and start his or her "trolling" over under a fresh identity.
Posted by: Brian Hines | September 23, 2009 at 01:57 PM
Well timed good post.
I agree with Brian. It would be nice if the TypePad profile thingy was a bit more carved in stone. I had a horrible time trying to ban a crazy person last year. She kept coming back and using different email accounts, user names and IP addresses. It was a nightmare. Thankfully, she saw something shiny and wandered off before I had to beg Support for help.
Posted by: Cookie! | September 23, 2009 at 06:46 PM
Thanks for this one miss Ginevra. I think this is the new term for spammers and haters. Troll, pretty cool. I remember one troll from blog catalog which i defeated. haha. Anyway, when a troll happens to be on my blog. I just delete that troll and if there's something to take from that troll, i take it as a guide to do a lot better. Critiques actually is not always bad since sometimes. They make you aware of your mistakes.
Posted by: Account Deleted | September 23, 2009 at 09:23 PM
never underestimate the importance of snacks.
Posted by: Ginevra | September 24, 2009 at 12:55 AM
I've been blogging since 2002 on a variety of platforms. Typepad is great in terms of ease of blocking ip addresses. So what if they use 5 or 6? Just ban all of them as soon as things get mean. Sometimes if the person seems well-meaning (usually an oxymoron with trolls!) an email works. But NEVER email a mean spirited or contentious troll. Why would you want to give them your email? Hard enough keeping up with friends.... The worst trolls seem to exist in the strange bardo of political blogs. Whether nasty beings or over-zealous true believers, remember that when someone goes strident or just ugly, it's all about them. Definitely "do not feed the troll" by getting into "discussions" that go nowhere. Ignore them as long as possible unless they start serious personal attacks. Make one or two comments using humor or understanding to say what needs to be said to others on the site so those who read it will know who's the marginally sane one. It doesn't matter what the troll thinks. They have too much time on their hands. Ban them when they start obsessing on whatever. Good luck to all who come to this comment stream in attracting as few trolls as possible!
Posted by: Robert | September 24, 2009 at 09:45 AM
I greatly appreciate the advice as I've been through online harassment before - not on TypePad. But thanks to TypePad I was able to blog about this traumatic experience. There is one thing I don't understand , though. Comments moderation doesn't really seem to work on the new TypePad as all comments appear on the Dashboard before I can approve or not. So I just changed my comments settings enabling them for everyone as it doesn't make sense to moderate if they appear on the dashboard, anyway. My question is : Can I still moderate comments on the new TypePad? And how? I mean, I wouldn't like any comment to appear on the dashboard before I approve them!
Posted by: Anastasia | September 26, 2009 at 08:20 AM
Hi - I'm Kim, I'm run Age of Autism. I've really enjoyed the platform, except for one MAJOR problem. I can not moderate comments (approve or delete them) from my Samsung Saga phone all of a sudden. I was able to until two weeks ago. I switched BACK to the old Typepad set up - no go. I could never comment mod on my Treo - I bought the Samsung ONLY so I could comment mod. We have over 32,000 comments on our site. I need to leave the house sometimes, what can I say? I need commenting approval from my phone.
I've asked TypePad Help = we have the upgraded service. No answer yet. I run the Verizon Windows software on my Samsung phone.
Posted by: Age of Autism | September 28, 2009 at 06:08 PM
Hi Anastasia - this should be under settings-> comments in the new TypePad. Let us know if you're not seeing that?
Posted by: Ginevra | September 29, 2009 at 05:46 PM
On an unrelated topic....wanted to get back to you and say thanks for fixing the comments so we can simply respond to the commenter directly w/o a ton of clicking....thanks so much, Ginevra!
Posted by: charlotte | October 27, 2009 at 08:20 AM
you're so welcome! I'm glad we were able to get it all worked out. :)
Posted by: Ginevra | October 27, 2009 at 12:33 PM