Your Handy Guide for Dealing with Internet Trolls and Online Bullies

Don’t let them diminish your flame to make theirs brighter

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Identifying Trolls

If you’re operating a business, whether it’s a product or service, then it can sometimes be difficult to identify whether you’re dealing with a troll or a disgruntled customer. While both may be enraged or furious, the substance of their comment should help you determine whether it’s a legitimate gripe or a troll. In either circumstance, you need to remain calm as you read.

They Wind You Up

The only thing a troll is interested in is upsetting you. They stir up trouble intentionally to sit back and watch the fallout. So if someone posts inflammatory comments or tries to start arguments, they’re likely a troll, especially if they seem insincere in their engagement.

They’re Entitled

Ah, the inflated self-worth, trolls act as though the world does or should revolve around them. They believe everyone else sucks, but they’re great, and they know better than everyone else.

They Exaggerate

If they say never, always, every time, etc, then they’re probably a troll. Trolls tend to exaggerate and use superlatives and extremes to inflame others.

They Get Personal

You may have seen healthy discussion online, where two people are respectful of each other’s opinions and resolve their conversation peacefully and politely. That’s not what trolls do, trolls get personal. They don’t have a logical or reasonable point or argument to make so they attack you. They take aim at your character, personhood, physical appearance, etc.

The Grammar

I don’t know what it is about trolls, but they often struggle with basic grammar. They use the wrong word, spell poorly, eschew punctuation, and use a lot of capitalization, exclamation points, and the word “I.” It’s not just me saying this, Stanford University and Cornell University completed a study on anti-social behavior. They found that trolls opt for profanity more than positive words and fail readability metrics.

Handling Trolls

If the trolls are coming directly to your website, then you’ll have to create a policy just like social media sites do. You can block each troll that appears, but for those people who are merely disrespectful and not yet overt trolls, you can remind them of your policy to nudge them back into toeing the line. Most social media groups have their own rules that moderators apply strictly. You can do the same.

Final Thoughts

Trolls are a fact of Internet life, unfortunately, and it’s very likely you know people in real life who enjoy trolling people online. There are entire communities built around the practice and it’s how a lot of people get their kicks.

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I come from a land down under | Manners will take you where money won’t | HR Consultant | OHS Specialist | Personal Trainer

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