Something happens to certain people when they go online. All decency and kindness leaves them, and they transform into angry trolls, stomping all those who dare get in their way. Having a troll loose on a blog, forum or even the newspaper comment section can derail meaningful exchange and chase off more reasonable commentators.
But you don’t have to let the trolls ruin your day and deny you the numerous benefits a blog affords. A few simple steps will help keep the trolls under the bridge where they belong.
Recognize that negativity is different from trolling.
There are going to be some people who just don’t like your brand, a certain position you take on a topic or the way your hair looks in a particular picture. Just because they disagree doesn’t mean that they’re the enemy. In fact, their voice can be the spark you need to generate valuable conversation.
The key to differentiating negativity from trolling is to remember that a troll is simply there to pick a fight. Their comments will be mean, irrelevant and probably anonymous. There’s no reason to publish such comments.
Create a comment policy.
It’s OK to not post every comment that is submitted. While some might claim that moderating a blog stifles authentic dialog, allowing offensive or off-topic comments will have far more damaging effects. But it’s important to have a set of guidelines in place for what will be blocked. Here’s the summarized comment policy we’ve set up for our blog:
Comments may not post immediately. We review them first in an effort to remove foul language, commercial messages, irrelevancies and unfair attacks. Thank you for your patience.
It’s possible that the trolls are individuals who have a valid frustration with your company, and just don’t know how to communicate it. It might be worth your time to send a quick email to the individual explaining why you blocked the comment and asking if there’s anything you can do to remedy the problem. Sometimes a personal communication is all it takes to defuse a thorny situation.
Dealing with trolls can be frustrating, but remember the Three Billy Goats Gruff. They knocked the troll into the river, making the bridge safe for all who followed. Use your wits and you, too, can make your blog a place where people feel free to speak freely without fear of attack.
Photo by Ken Davis.