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Ask Miz Ginevra - dealing with trolls

Troll

Trolls. Oof.

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!

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