If you’re feeling like “OMG WTF” when scrolling your comment thread, you may be dealing with a troll. Trolls aren’t just readers or customers who are complaining about your product or service; these are creatures, spawned of the Internet, with the sole purpose of being a nuisance or creating a destructive presence on your site. Trolls don’t have legitimate grievances and they don’t want to talk rationally about their concerns.
They want to cause a commotion and they want attention. But before you take the bait and start responding to comments like “You mad, bro?” consider these tips for dealing with trolls on your blog or social-networking sites:
Don’t Feed the Trolls
The most common advice given by fellow bloggers and Internet users in dealing with trolls is “Don’t feed the trolls.” In other words, don’t
give them want they want: Attention. Don’t respond to their comments, and don’t recognize their presence in any way.
The common wisdom is that no matter how you respond, trolls will find a way to keep flaming you or trying to get a reaction out of you. And even one small outburst or negative comment is enough to keep them going.
Take the High Road
Occasionally, simply ignoring your trolls is not enough to deal with them. If they are not getting the attention they want, trolls may try to up the ante by making even more inflammatory or offensive comments. This will create a negative presence that will either reflect poorly on you or it will draw in other readers or fans to respond, which could escalate the thread.
If you feel that ignoring the troll will not make him go away, respond with neutral or positive comments to try to discourage them. Simple comments like, “Thank you for your feedback,” or “We appreciate you taking the time to share your opinion” should be enough to let your troll know that you won’t be baited, but not enough to give him more material.
Have a Sense of Humor
If you can’t get rid of a troll, you can try beating him at his own game by responding with humor. Don’t sink to the level of the troll and insult him or use derogatory humor. Instead, use levity to show that the comments do not have their intended affect and to dismiss the childish antics.
This is a risky strategy, as you must be sure that you can best the troll. Sometimes, humor can backfire, and you will be the one looking more foolish. Be sure you can win before you try to play the troll’s game.
Ban or Delete
If all else fails, you can delete your troll’s comments or ban him completely. Most Internet users are against censorship of any kind when it comes to comments and posts, so think carefully before you resort to this tactic. If you do decide to delete comments or ban a troll, try to do so before the troll gains notice. It is easier to quietly dismiss a troll without an audience than it is to publicly censor and remove dissenters from your page.
Remember that not all negative commenters are trolls. Some are genuinely disgruntled customers or fans, and you should carefully assess comments before you decide to dismiss them as the work of a troll. If you are dealing with a genuinely aggrieved customer, take the opportunity to publicly resolve the complaint to show your dedication to your customers and win over more fans.