Trolls. Cute (yet not good-looking) and laughable. They give life to our tales, ballads, and legends.
Social media trolls? Not so much. They wreak havoc.
All a troll wants is to inflict pain, ridicule, and humiliate a targeted person.
The internet is swarming with trolls. They spam Instagram posts, clutter Twitter and other social media feeds, causing trouble and trying to push people’s buttons. They’re total pests.
If you’re in the online world, you’ve dealt with a troll. If you haven’t, you will. I have to deal with it on a daily basis as I have an ESO Discord Community and am always under scrutiny over things.
If you want to keep your online reputation intact and create a thriving online community that is friendly and engaging, then you have to effectively have to handle trolls. Here are ten ways you can accomplish just that.
In this post, you’ll see how to know you’re facing an internet troll, and find a list of tips to add to your arsenal so you’re ready to handle the nonsense right away and protect your peace of mind.
Warning Signs You’re Dealing with an Internet Troll
Some of the warning signs that you’re dealing with a troll include:
- Blindness to evidence: Trolls are notorious for ignoring facts and either doubling down on their stance or redirecting to a new topic altogether.
- Name-calling: Internet trolls aren’t known for their creativity. They’ll often latch onto the latest trending insult and use it in every situation. Hello, “Karen.”
- Topic redirects: This is an old-school trolling technique that’s still around today on chats, discord channels, and forums. Trolls enjoy making off-topic remarks to try and distract posters from the discussion. They’ll also post unrelated images or memes.
- Condescending tone: “Why you mad, bro?” Trolls love to stoke the fire and then act dismissive when people become angry, which only triggers more frustration. And they know it.
- Overexaggerating: While most people use words that aren’t absolute, there’s no middle ground for trolls. Everything has to be on the extreme end of the spectrum. Instead of saying “often” or “sometimes,” they’ll say “always” or “never.”
They often can’t spell! Trolls seem to suck at spelling and grammar. They…
- Spell words wrong
- Use words wrong
- Don’t capitalize the first words of sentences
- Avoid commas and periods
- Mix up words that sound the same, but mean something different
- Say “I” a lot
- Same for “!!!” marks
- Type in all caps
- Use made up and goofy words throughout a nonsensical sentence
There’s something about the anonymity of the internet that brings out the worst in trolls.
Most of them wouldn’t dare engage in a direct face-to-face confrontation. But through the computer screen, there aren’t any real consequences to make them think twice about letting their inner nastiness out.
1. Don’t Feed the Trolls
It’s totally understandable to want to wage a war on trolls with your keyboard, but trolls thrive on others’ anger, frustration, and annoyance. This means that the angrier you get, the stronger they become. So, your best bet for ridding the internet of trolls is to starve them of a reaction.
This can be pretty challenging. It helps to remember that trolls don’t actually believe what they’re posting, so you can’t beat them with logic or fact. When you’re being trolled, the best thing to do is to ignore the posts. Eventually, they’ll probably tire themselves out.
2. Record it
Take a screenshot so that you have a record of the original post. This covers you if the person tries to edit or delete their post once they realize it could get them in trouble. These records can also be handy if things escalate and you need to take the matter further.
3. Stand up for yourself
You can ignore trolls and still make a stand against them. Most social media sites have special functions in place to keep you feeling safe online. Report harmful posts and block the user so they can’t bug you anymore.
4. Be the Boss! No Trolls Allowed
If you’re in charge of a platform — whether it’s your social media profile, discussion forum, discord, blog, etc. — you need a list of clear guidelines that includes a “no trolling” policy.
Implementing these rules establishes impartiality. If someone is angry that their comment was deleted, you can point back to your policy and cite a violation as the cause of the removal.
For example, see how the Library of Congress set clear guidelines in their comment and posting policy:
5. Add Moderators to Your Roster
Managing a single, small-scale blog, discord, twitch, or social media profile is one thing, but if you have hundreds or even thousands of posts and a major troll infestation, it’s time to call in backup!
A team of moderators is a worthwhile investment if you aren’t able to keep up with the troll onslaught yourself.
They can verify comments and deal with policy violators so you can focus your attention on other tasks.
6. If You Can’t Ignore the Trolls, Call Their BullSh**.
Trolls aren’t interested in having civilized, rational conversations. Their arguments aren’t logical, and they’re certainly not strong debaters.
Stay calm and simply ask for facts and sources to back up their unsubstantiated claims.
Chances are, they won’t have any, and they’ll sputter into silence. All they really wanted was a heated, passionate debate, and you denied them that.
Every time they make a wild statement, counter it with a polite request for evidence.
7. Kill Them with Kindness
It’s hard to respond to hate with kindness. But since trolls are usually looking for a fight, reacting with an opposite approach often stops them in their tracks.
Trolls aren’t usually equipped to respond to humor. Their goal is to make people mad, not make them laugh.
Laughter is troll kryptonite.
However, be cautious with a humorous approach. It’s easy to cross the line and become offensive in the eyes of your audience.
8. Block, Ban, or Report Trolls
While this option is more tedious, it’s sometimes necessary if you have a troll that just won’t stop. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Discord, Twitch, and most other social media platforms give you the option to report a post for being abusive, among other options like unfollowing the person who posted it.
9. Don’t be baited
Similar to ignoring them, don’t feed them either.
If they’re trying to be funny, your response could be just what they want for their pending punchline.
If you don’t respond, there’s no joke.
If you do respond, keep your cool. With the ways, and for the reasons, I explained above.
10. Don’t delete their posts
Because that can escalate their bad behavior.
Taking extreme action against small infractions can heighten antisocial behavior.
If two users wrote posts of similar quality, and one user’s post got deleted “unfairly,” that user would be more likely to write something worse in the future.
Trolls are Only as Big as We Make Them
It’s not about being right or wrong. If you stop engaging the trolls, you’re taking the oxygen away from their fire. Internet trolls thrive on drama. If you stoop to their level, they’re winning.