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Correct way to deal with a troll? Without unfairly stifling dissent or debate.

  1. Mostly I seem to see the advice - both on blogs and in other contexts - that when you have a comment that seems like trollery, you should just delete it. Normally this seems to me like solid advice, but when said troll acts like they are being wronged in some way it seems unfair to deny them the means to engage in conversation about that.

    I've had a few of these, the first was on a post on an interesting shift in the Israeli government's international relations straegy.

    I had one comment claiming that what I had written was anti-semitic. There I did what I would prefer to do and engaged with the troll by posting an addendum to, I would hope, refute the notion that I was prejudiced.

    But just recently I had a comment that implied I had stolen someone's idea, after a little half-bummed detective work I found that he had blogged a very similar jokey post(although I think he may have done so after me so no worries ;) ). By this point I'd already deleted his comment, though this was because I had assumed at the time it was a confused spambot. This has made me feel very guilty, I don't have much in the way of ethics, but denying someone a voice for their objections to something has never felt right with me.

    So, embracing the flame, I sent him an email assuring him that while he is (rewording a bit)"a special one-of-a-kind snowflake, a unique wit for the ages, sometimes people just make similar lame jokes - when Bin Laden died, how many thousands of people tweeted variations on 'Osama shouldn’t have entered his real address for his Playstation Network account'?"

    I'm sure this childish action of mine will result in endless internets-drama be it in email or w/e so should I just have deleted and ignored it? what do you do in similar situations? There has to be a way to stop trolls from derailing more useful conversation without feeling like you're stifling dissent.

    The blog I need help with is

  2. Well, tip #1 is that NOBODY wins once somebody drops the Anti-S bomb.

    Tip #2 is to read this:

    I don't think you have anything to feel guilty about, although god knows, some people make you feel guilty for breathing. Remind him that things that are funny are universal and that's why we find them funny.

    My own personal style is just to continually, and comically, escalate until their heads blow up or they conclude I'm a bigger troll than they are and they leave, but that may not be your style.


    Occasionally, if they are heartfelt but mistaken in the beginning and go off the rails at some point, you can usually bring them back to reality by just continuing the dialogue, either frostily or warmly according to your preference. You can see an example of that here in the comments (and be sure to check out the commenter's blog where I've linked it in that thread, to see him completely lose it):

  3. You are never going to get rid of "the troll.” Why? Because you can delete or spam them and sure enough, another one will show. It's like trying to kill rats. IMO, the best way to deal with a “troll” is to change how you perceive them. That way, you won’t get upset every time they show up. Are you calling them a troll b/c they disagree? If they’re articulate, that could be a gift. If they’re abusive:

    "Thank you for sharing your thoughts." Or ignore them. That keeps you calm and in control.

  4. @raincoaster, you are impressive! I've seen your blog here;
    You sure know how to handle those trolls. Hope you don't mind, I' am quoting your words here;

    I believe in allowing idiots to make idiots of themselves, so I’ll leave their posts up.
    Never f*** with raincoaster, even when she’s hospitalized.

  5. This is an internet meme for a reason:

    While I personally find ignoring them the best policy, they can get spammy. If you're not up for ignoring that, as raincoaster said, out-trolling is another fun option.

    Oh the wonders of the internet.

  6. Feed the trolls, FEED EM!!!
    Most are only part time trolls anyway.
    As long as the arguing isnt serious and you can tell they're trolling, why not have a little fun with them.

  7. I like Raincoaster's approach of out-trolling the troll. Especially as I'm not totally opposed to being a bit of a troll myself, I can be mean-spirited and rude and half of what I do and say anywhere is devil's advocating to some degree, arguing an absurd position just to see if I can and to see what people say in response.

    Arguments, insults and general snarkiness is my daily sustenance - however yet again it just doesn't work when it comes to those with a persecution complex, I feel really bad for shooting people down when they think I have wronged them somehow.

  8. luridtalesofdoom, on another thread:

    “I don’t have much in the way of ethics” and “I can be mean-spirited and rude and half of what I do and say anywhere is devil's advocating to some degree, arguing an absurd position just to see if I can and to see what people say in response. Arguments, insults and general snarkiness is my daily sustenance.”

  9. I'm not entirely sure what you mean

  10. I generally just make it clear that I think they're pretentious and full of it and that I don't take them or anything they say seriously and she usually just goes away.

  11. plasticdaffodils

    Ah, troll comments. After having a post go viral (look at the comments on my Rapture Flowchart, if you're interested), I had my share of hate mail. It made me feel bad because it wasn't my intent to make anyone mad, but I realized that as you gain more readers there's always going to be someone who hates you. I approved all my comments, but I actually let my readers who liked me take care of the trolling comments for me, which made me look like less of an asshole and made the other people look more stupid.

    The moral of the story is, try not to take it too personally. If they have a point, acknowledge it and apologize if necessary, but also realize that there will always be some people who just get off on hating other people, no matter what you say. If the comment is just really stupid and insensitive, do what your mom always recommended and ignore it.

  12. THanks, nandobase.

    luridtalesofdoom, I think you are very well-adapted to out-trolling people, which is why I recommended it for you. Not everyone can handle it, and it's not appropriate in every situation. If they genuinely are hurt and bewildered by the perceived slight, it's not the right thing to do to them. But if you offer your best reply and they go nasty on you, then you can unleash it.

    Before engaging in online drama for fun and/or profit, take stock of yourself. It's really not appropriate for everyone, and you can find yourself with the spiritual equivalent of a hangover, wandering around for a couple of days feeling drained to the core. It'll happen to everyone at least once. But if you know who you are and what your limits are, it won't last long and you won't get in over your head.

  13. @baladeer "she" usualy just goes away. HAHAH
    @raincoaster I just read all those links. your threads are so entertaining! I rarely have words to leave you coments, but I may have to start doing so, just so I can read the comment threads as they come in! :D to bad I cant just suscribe to comments across the board.

    @lurid I can't offer anything because thankfully I havent had the problem. But I see here youve had some great advises. :)

  14. Don't subscribe to my comments across the board; they nearly drive ME insane!

  15. midaevalmaiden: Ha! You should read the e-mails and some comments people send me. They love it!

  16. Outing a troller by leaving their comments works best if there are other opposing comments that are thoughtfully articulated. Or there is a lengthy thread of several commenters.

    Which I don't get such ...yet on my blogs.

    I've been criticized on other Internet forums for even having a signature with my blog URLs. I mean, jeez..then don't click into the links if you don't want my stuff.

    People read my blogs on certain Internet forums and form immediate conceptions about me...which leads to branding me to be nearly a commie, know all car-free freaks like me have GOT to be a hippy communist.

    However ....I can't be totally cruel if the same accuser compliments me on an interesting blog, that is has some well-written stuff.

    Then as a blogger it is useful to write in a calm tone that is good writing style. At least a troll can't accuse you of being hysterical.

    Oh yea, by the way as for trolling, being saracastic/interpreted as nasty: I wouldn't advise it. It you are a consultant, looking for work or a job where one has like colleagures through professional associations on 'Net, it just doesn't help your personal "branding" at all. Not at all.

  17. Well, they *think* it’s helping them. (Key word: think --that’s what the ego does.) And I mean that in general, not toward any person here. But that’s the ego, not the self. The ego wants to be right, wants to insult back, wants the last word, etc. The ego actually believes that it can win an argument, that paying insults back is strength, that the last word is best, etc. And all of us are guilty of that. But to make that your m.o. That’s like the kid that says, “He started it.”

    IMO, one of the challenges is that people don’t know how to take criticism constructively --even when it‘s given unconstructively. Most of us are not taught how to do it. It’s a hard thing to learn but it makes you stronger, freer, way more peaceful. (And the ego is going to fight it.)

    Also, Maidiebike, you said outing a troller works best when there are other opposing comments --I see what you are saying but if it’s you and the troll and no one backs you up, the troll is still left standing in the cold. Because so long as you know their comments are twisted or inaccurate or coming from their ego, you’ve got all you need.

  18. @gigsanchez said, " people don’t know how to take criticism. As well this is true but also, people don't know how to give criticism either. Sometimes a (as I perceive it) a lame and ignorant minded comment might make me desire to 'cut a person down' in response. I try to see it as an oppertunity to be diplomatic. An oppertunity to deflect and just maybee even 'cure' that persons wrongeheadedness.

    It can be done, but requires tact and restraint.

    But thats why I admire people like @raincoaster. She doesnt hold back her punches and as satisfying as it is to read her comments putting trolls in their place... I bet its triple satisfying to be the one actualy doing it and putting them in their place.

  19. I once said something to this effect to a youtube troll: "Twenty-five channel views you've got there.. well, lets see if your attempt at trolling me helps your view count." He responded back later saying it had. I looked; he was serious.

  20. Being nasty to trolls positively helped me get my latest job. The guy who hired me told me the Albanian thread clinched it. He wanted someone fearless.

  21. @raincoaster
    I like your style but then you know that already, right? lol :D

  22. Thanks!

  23. thepurpledogpaintingblog

    I just spent way too much time reading your blog. I thoroughly enjoyed it and did learn much. For instance up until now I was sure the best way to get rid of a troll was to make him look at the sun at which point he should turn into stone. I don't post anything that a troll would find upsetting (unless you count being mean to drawing dummies) but I am kind of hoping I get one now. :)

  24. Well, you do have a point about the sun. It worked for Bilbo. But since most of them live in their mothers' basements, that's difficult.

    And thanks!

  25. live in their mother's basements -- *lol* :D

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