Reported by Nancy - September 19, 2005 -
Lately we've seen a lot of trolls posting here, & some of our regulars have complained about the infestation. Believe me, we News Hounds agree! But (there's always a "but", isn't there?) our task of monitoring the threads would be made much easier if our readers could take one lesson to heart: IGNORE them. It's the one response they can't handle, & it's the one response that will drive them away.
One of our readers (thank you, vance!) pointed me to some excellent anti-troll resources on the net. I have posted a brief excerpt of the first article below, & I encourage our readers to read all three of the original articles I link to at the end.
What is a Troll?
An Internet "troll" is a person who delights in sowing discord [.../...]. He [.../...] tries to start arguments and upset people. Trolls are utterly impervious to criticism (constructive or otherwise). You cannot negotiate with them; you cannot cause them to feel shame or compassion; you cannot reason with them. They cannot be made to feel remorse. [.../...]
What Can be Done about Trolls?
[.../...] The only way to deal with trolls is to limit your reaction to reminding others not to respond to trolls.
When you try to reason with a troll, he wins. When you insult a troll, he wins. When you scream at a troll, he wins. The only thing that trolls can't handle is being ignored.
Comment: I'd take a different approach, because I think even that kind of minimal comment is an acknowledgement that the troll exists, which will feed his craving for attention & lead only to more posts from him. Much better, I think, to ignore him totally & literally.
What Not to Do
[.../...] please do not post a dramatic "Goodbye!" message. This convinces the troll that he is winning the battle. There is, perhaps, no message you can write [.../...] that is as damaging as an announcement that you are leaving because of the hostility that the troll has kindled. [.../...]
The Webmaster's Challenge
[.../...]. The moderator [.../...] may not be able to delete a troll's messages right away, but their job is made much harder if they also have to read numerous replies to trolls. They are also forced to decide whether or not to delete posts from well-meaning folks which have the unintended effect of encouraging the troll. [.../...]
What about Free Speech?
When trolls find that their efforts are being successfully resisted, they often complain that their right to free speech is being infringed. [.../...] [F]ree speech [.../...] is not an absolute right; there are practical limitations. [.../...] The ultimate response to the 'free speech' argument is this: while we may have the right to say more or less whatever we want, we do not have the right to say it wherever we want. [.../...] Similarly, if a webmaster tells a troll that he is not welcome, the troll has no "right" to remain. [.../...]
Why Do They Do It?
[.../...] Trolls crave attention, and they care not whether it is positive or negative. [.../...]
Here are the 3 recommended articles:
*First, a primer
*Then, a very useful field guide
*Finally, an article that is specific to one system's experiences, but there's some insight that applies everywhere.
I know that some of our readers claim they enjoy troll-baiting & troll-bashing. I'd like to remind those readers that they can amuse themselves with those hobbies elsewhere, including in our forums.