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


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Albert Costill


Albert Costill is a co-founder of and a freelance writer who has written for brands like and Search ... [Read full bio]

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