10 Ways to Destroy An Online Commenting Troll

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10 Ways to Destroy An Online Commenting Troll

Trolls aren’t exactly a new phenomenon on the internet – they’ve been lingering around trying to cause trouble for years. If that’s the case, then why have trolls become such a hot-topic lately? It’s pretty simple – with more people using the internet, there’s a higher percentage of people who having better to do than harass people and disrupt forums and blogs.

Some people think trolls aren’t a big deal and that people are being too sensitive, but the truth is trolls are at best a pesky nuisance, and at worst very nasty and border on what could be considered assault. Particularly for brands, trolls need to be dealt with swiftly. A troll’s comments can give you a bad reputation and deter visitors from your social media pages or blogs.

But, how do you defeat those pesky trolls? Follow our 10 ways to successfully destroy a troll!

10. Don’t Sink to Their Level


What’s the main purpose of a troll? It’s to make people angry or to disrupt the conversation just for kicks. They want your attention. They want to start an argument. Don’t give it to them. Arguing with a troll is like yelling at a wall. It will get you no where. It’s pointless getting angry because some kid or anti-social person said something mean on the internet. Sinking to their level is just feeding the troll. Take a deep breath, walk away, and don’t waste your time getting into an online fight.

9. Moderators & Tools


Chances are that your blog or forum is open. Which is great until it becomes a breeding ground for trolls. Without a moderator to monitor for trolls, you can be certain your site will get trashed eventually. Having a team approving comments, or using techniques like disenvoweling (which removes the vowels from a troll’s post, making them look foolish), are simple and effective ways to prevent trolls from taking over your site. Another nifty tool is Robot9000. This program makes sure that every post is unique. This helps limit spam and trolls. For example, if someone posts “First!” or “Win a free XBOX!” no one else will be able to make that same post.

8. Ignore Them

6186537793_a76099baa2_zSeth Dickens/Flickr

Easier said than done, but it’s probably the best way to defeat a troll. Remember – a troll wants attention. If no one pays attention to their nonsense, eventually they’ll disappear. If that requires too much discipline, utilize either the ignore button on your keyboard (if you have it) or find the ignore function on the site that you’re frequenting.

7. Test Their Knowledge


Put a troll into place by calling them out on their knowledge. Trolls usually post useless criticism like  “Your article sucks!” but they hardly ever back it up. Ask them why it “sucks” and what they would do to make it the greatest thing ever found online. They’ll likely never respond. It also doesn’t hurt to throw some really big words at them. Since you’re probably dealing with a child, or someone with a child’s mentality, they may spend time looking up the definitions of a word instead of a witty comeback. (With that being said, be careful engaging with trolls – while this approach is more satisfying, a misstep could leave you in hot water!)

6. Hellban


Hellbanning, AKA “Coventry”, “ghost posting” or “shadowbanning,” is when a troll’s comments are only visible to them. Since no one else can view the comments, there won’t be any responses, which will bore (or possible irritate!) the troll. Without an audience, the troll will quickly disappear. This tactic has been used on sites like Something Awful, Reddit, Fark, and Hacker News.

5. Membership/Subscription


Do you think that a troll is really going to pay or sign up for a membership or subscription just for trolling’s sake? Probably not. This one is an easy fix, but can limit the conversations on your site as a whole.

4. Unveil Their Identity


It’s easy for people to be gutsy when their identity is hidden. If you do some digging, you can probably find out who the troll really is. This doesn’t mean waging war on the person. What it does mean that without anonymity, they may be a little more hesitant to troll your forum or blog.

By the way, someday this may not be an issue. There’s talk about limiting online anonymity with legislation here in the U.S. and it’s already happening in countries like Korea.

3. Throw Them Off Guard

10346700323_fe53ffb00b_zJen Knoedl/Flickr

 Since trolls enjoy getting a negative response, throw them off their game and give them a positive response instead. Give the troll a compliment as opposed to replying angrily in all-caps. It’s a little tongue in cheek, and often disarms trolls. Once they notice they haven’t gotten a rise, they’ll likely go elsewhere.

2. Unify The Community

Online Community Enthusiasts MeetingAlan Levine/Flickr

Most of the time, an online community will monitor itself. How so? By following a code of conduct. By having guidelines in place, people are aware of what is acceptable and what is off-limits. If a troll breaks any of these guidelines, they get a warning. If they cause trouble a second time, they’re done. In a strong community, members will gladly inform a moderator or troll about their actions. Another tactic is letting members give fellow community members a “karma” score. This simply means that each post gets an up or down, like on Reddit. Think trolls won’t care about their online ranking? You’d be surprised!

1. Sense of Humor

2013-12-31 17_20_14-Anthony De Rosa (AntDeRosa) on TwitterScreenshot of Anthony De Rosa/Twitter 12/31/13

You could always give it right back to a troll by responding with something witty. For example, take a look at what the Washington Post did with a troll. Instead of freaking out, the response was comical and pretty much ended the troll’s presence. Again. By not giving a troll the desired response, they’ll tuck their tails between their legs and move on.

Have you ever had to deal with a commenting troll? How did you handle the situation?


Featured Image Credit: Wikipedia

Albert Costill
Albert Costill is a co-founder of evolvor.com and a freelance writer who has written for brands like ForRent.com and Search Engine Journal. When he’s not... Read Full Bio
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  • David Black

    Hi Albert – I’m no Troll but don’t test me with long words as I probably won’t understand – thanks for the post.
    I’m sure it’s safer to always moderate as the amount of trash that gets posted in blog comments is amazing.
    It’s rare to find un-moderated posts without loads of ‘Thanks, that’s just the information I was looking for and its so well written bla bla bla…’

  • Niki

    Thanks so much for this article. I have been amazed at how personal and nasty things can get online. Even the ‘nice’ guys can get aggressive when their opinions are challenged. The anonymity of the Internet certainly brings out the nasty side of human beings. I love your non-aggressive, non-confrontational approach – it makes absolute sense and if everybody adopted this method, perhaps the internet would be a ‘nicer’ place to spend time. Everyone is entitled to their own opinions on all topics and that should be respected. It’s when someone thinks their world viewpoint is the only viewpoint and everyone else should agree that we start to get into trouble. Respect, common sense, common courtesy – what a lovely world this would be. Thanks for sharing this information.

  • Grant Barnard

    I just hate how everybody uses Troll for anybody that disagrees. The term is now used too much. Theres regular contributors, buttheads, spammers and old guys that get offended and call people trolls.
    Now, for people not leaving subject appropriate posts and adding non related links is certainly in need of moderation and even deserving of the label “Troll”

  • Sunday

    Dealing with trolls depends on the type of comment you want for your blog or website. The best way to deal with this nuisance is to install tools to check comments. Delete any troll comment at once. I don’t buy the ideas of testing their knowledge, ignoring them, nor throwing them off guard!

  • James Halloran

    These are great tips if you have the time to mess around with a troll. I do like The Washington Post’s example of good, calm humor, but most of the time it’s better just to ignore such a person with biased beliefs.

    The best defense is actually number 2, but instead of calling your community to arms, it’s better to cultivate an interactive and comfortable atmosphere. When other people see one commenter “shaking the hive,” they’ll gladly do everything they can to expel that person just so they can enjoy the comfortable atmosphere on your site again.

  • Alexander Doktor

    Number 8 advice is in my opinion the best one – waisting time with trolls is not worth any afford..

  • Kevin Manchester

    Anyone intelligent enough to back up their own written statement should expect to have to educate and even debate or perhaps if nothing else ignore some of the public but has no business claiming to be disturbed by some one who cannot be heard. Were living in a culture where misogynistic remarks made by Radio personalities are forgiven!!(Not That Its Right). We are lowering ourselves by labeling someone who expresses a screwy opinion on a public forum. Free speech is one of the corner stones of our nation. The internet is an educational tool, not a personal venting space.

  • Fernanda Suguino

    Thanks for the tips. Troll is a problem that everybody knows, but almost nobody talks about it. Non-aggressive or comical answers work very well against it. Those people just want to have attention and bother the others. The idea about score is pretty good. I’ll try it.