The Internet is without doubt a great invention. Unfortunately, no one so far has been able to develop an anti-troll device that will help to make it a more civilized place. You might have come across this beast called the Internet troll too, in the white of comment boxes, on social networks, and on discussion boards.
In Scandinavian folklore, a ‘troll’ is a supernatural creature that lives in the caves and mountains. On the web, a troll is nothing but a pest who thrives in the anonymity that it provides. The Urban Dictionary has quite a few definitions lined up. But – one who posts a deliberately provocative message to a newsgroup or message board with the intention of causing maximum disruption and argument – is the most point blank.
So, how do you take the war to the Internet trolls? First, by reading the pugmarks and recognizing a troll from a guy who just wants to start a one-off flame war.
Putting A Troll In The Crosshairs
Fortunately, it’s easy to spot an Internet troll from a distance. They have their own sets of socially unacceptable behaviors.
- Trolls generally use provocative and confrontational language. A clever one will mix it up with relevant and friendly posts.
- Trolls hardly ever stick to the topic; they beat around the bush with the intention to confuse the reader.
- Trolls of the subtle variety flag off their attack with innocent questions. You will often find them dressed up as new members of forums and chat rooms.
- Trolls lack understanding of a topic. They will not respond with a proper answer to a proper question.
- Trolls (especially the clever variants) use catch phrases to win sympathy. For instance, they may portray themselves as victims or specially challenged.
- Trolls use web addresses or fictitious online identities that lead to dead ends.
- Trolls may make desperate efforts to make themselves liked. Sugar coated responses or overt-flattering comments are signature troll moves.
There are different types of trolls. Most are hit-and-miss and are far easier to deal with. Some are more strategic in the way they embed themselves online so as to cause maximum mayhem with minimum fuss. Identifying an internet troll is half the battle one. You can only count on your experience to get one early before you are baited by them. Now, comes the relatively easy part of dealing with these internet trolls.
Surefire Ways Of Dealing With Internet Trolls
Thankfully, you don’t have to call 911 to deal with Internet trolls. No destruction of property has been reported yet. Effective troll management calls for equal parts of caution and common sense. Here are a few guideposts to follow.
Avoidance is the best policy: If you can catch them shooting their mouths off, totally ignore remarks left by trolls. Don’t feed the trolls should be stuck up on a yellow sticky always.
Avoid arguments: If you do get on a one-to-one with someone you suspect to be a troll, keep your remarks to an absolute minimum. State your facts and move on. Put the ball in their court. By the second remark or so, a troll would have identified himself.
Don’t let them flatter to deceive: There is a high chance that a troll will pay a compliment or two to ingratiate himself before he starts his attack. This is a tough one as there are many real admirers who do sugar coat their comments.
Ask For Supporting Data: To net a troll in the anti-spam net, you can ask for data that can quickly verified like an email address or domain name. Genuine commentators usually have an online persona to back themselves.
The power of the webmaster: You can use blacklists and whitelists to separate the bad from the good. IP addresses can be tracked and persistent attacks from an IP or a range of IPs can be effectively blocked.
Did Einstein know a few trolls when he said – “Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I am not sure about the universe.”
Where do you fall on the Internet troll scale? Check out this infographic for a light-hearted look at internet arguments. Cracked.com has its own list of ways to deal effectively with internet trolls. There are quite a few other resources if you ever fall short of advice on how to tackle this cyber-menace. Like the ones in our Geeky Fun section.
How do you deal with trolls? Do you have a magic potion to use against them? Do you think they are a menace or do you believe that it’s all harmless fun? Tell us (but don’t troll) in the comments.