#23: How to Get Rid of Trolls (aka Online Idiots who Grief You)

Trolls aren’t green brutes living under a bridge (although they might well be given their behaviour),

Trolls are…

…someone who intentionally steers a thread off-topic or incites arguments in a forum.

Source: Mental Help

You might have read them in action, or even worse, bore the brunt of their childish antics. So you’ll know that they’re disruptive and annoying.

Akin to most bullies, online trolls are like persistent boogers. You just can’t seem to get rid of them and the more you smear, the more you get them on everything.

So how can we get rid of a troll?


Understanding a Troll

Firstly, you must know the enemy to fight them.

The name originated from…

I’ve always thought that the name came from the troll character in the classic folk tale “The Three Billy Goats Gruff” who stood between the goats (the regular community members) and their goal of the grassy pasture on the other side of the troll bridge. However, the term may alternatively come from the practice of trolling for fish (e.g., placing bait into the water (e.g., the community) and waiting to see which fish (which members) will bite on it.

Source: MentalHelp

In a nutshell trolls make an inflammatory response to a thread (bait). Then wait for someone to correct them (wait). Once they get a response, they attack (pull). The more you respond, the more they taunt, snipe, and blaspheme.

So trolls do what they do, because they want the recognition power that comes with destabilising a community.


Recognising a Troll

Flayme.com is an anti-troll expert who has shared his wealth of experience. I’ve reposted some of his stuff on how to recognise a troll here:

  • No imagination: Most are frighteningly obvious; sexist comments on nurses’ groups, blasphemy on religious groups.
  • Pedantic: Many trolls’ preparation is so thorough, that while they waste time, they appear so ludicrous from the start that they elicit sympathetic mail.
  • False identity: Trolls virtually never use their own name, and often reveal their trolliness in their chosen ID.
  • Cross-posting: Any cross-posting to several groups should be viewed as suspicious, particularly if unrelated.


Getting Rid of Trolls

Ignore them.

That’s the magic spell. So repeat after me…

“I will ignore trolls.”

Of course, there’s plenty else that you could do to get rid of them pesky buggers:

  1. Prepare a set of Terms of Use and Code of Conduct. These documents should explicitly forbid trolling by stating examples. Use them as ammunition.
    Battle.net’s community Code of Conduct is a great example of laying down the law.
  2. Never address a troll directly. It fires up their ego and gets them a-taunting. Instead bore them to tears with silence and bans (see next point) so that they’ll disappear.
  3. Remove the offending post and troll. Reply to the user and tell them that you have done so. Remember your Terms of Use and Code of Conduct?
    Time to use them, like  Microsoft.com:

    <user name>
    Please make sure that you abide by the posted Code of Conduct and Terms of Use. Future violations may result in the permanent banning of your forum profile. 

    Thank you.


    <Your Name>

  4. Make it harder to comment. Trolls love commenting on systems that don’t require log-ins or profiles. They can troll and run. Create some form of accountability, at least make them input a valid email address.
  5. Create shared awareness amongst your community. According to Quandry Factory:

    “Trolls attract replies by exploiting the general absence of shared awareness on most mediated communications platforms. Shared awareness is a special state of meta-knowledge among collaborators that allows them to act cooperatively on the knowledge.” 

Make sure that your community gets the truth and knows it. Then they can help you repel the troll. After all, even bullies run from angry mobs.

Hopefully, this should defang trolls that lumber your way.


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Credits: Featured image from Hammer51012

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