Anyone who’s spent even one day browsing through social media sites will have come across an Internet troll.
Online trolls or spammers (there is a difference between the two, but we should mostly deal with both in the same way) have one aim: to disrupt. Their comments on blogs, posts, and forums can range from uninteresting or amusing to annoying and downright dangerous.
How to identify a troll:
- The comment doesn’t relate to the original content in any way.
- Acts absurdly stupid or irrational to goad others.
- Disagrees with everything for the sake of being argumentative.
- Abuses everyone in the comments section (or even in the whole world).
- Doesn’t have an avatar with a real person’s image.
- A recently registered user, or else has a history of equally ridiculous comments.
As a business, it’s important to intervene and prevent these types of people from causing havoc in your professional online space. You can take certain measures to deal with trollish & spammy content.
1. Here’s some great and practical advice:
“The first and most basic way to play Ruin This Asshole’s Day is to shut them down, ideally by unceremoniously deleting their comments.”
The above, of course, only applies if you are the moderator for a particular post or site. Simply removing the offensive text is one of the best moves because this basically strips the troll of his/her existence.
However, there may be a fine line here between deleting spam and deleting an angry customer’s rant. The latter should not be deleted, because disgruntled customers might have a valid reason for horrible comments, even if they resort to swearing and slandering. And in that case, your company will be viewed negatively for removing the comment instead of addressing it.
2. Do not respond:
I am strongly against reacting to these ‘people’ and anyway, real trolls cannot be reasoned with. Spending even minutes trying demonstrate your logic is a waste of everyone’s time.
If you simply cannot resist replying, then do it with a mockingly bland comment like, “Thank you for your insightful contribution. We truly value your input.”
Plus, if not related to your post, do not spark a debate on politics, religion, ethics, etc., because these always end in discord.
3. Name and shame them:
If you have access to their details, publicly call them out. Especially if they’ve really crossed the line and upset your readers/audience. This forces the troll out of the virtual world and into the real one, which is a frightening thought for any online antagonist.
But if you’re going to do this, be 100% sure they’re not in fact a customer, otherwise you could get your business in a lot of trouble.
4. Use humor:
If trolls still get you down, take a look at the video below, where actor George Takei addresses a school board member for his anti-gay remarks.
Not quite the same issue that we deal with in this post, but it’s a good example of the actions you could take to handle such people. This particular video also uses an aspect of the ‘name and shame’ technique: www.youtube.com/watch?v=UACK93xF-FE
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The most important thing is to remain calm and professional. Remember, you are supposed to be the rational one here.