In the past week or so, I've had some of my fellow bloggers ask me to read some comments on their sites to see if they have a troll. I've had one or two visit my site, but they normally don't come back once they get the B & G intellectual smackdown put on them. And if I can't get them to go away, I feed them to my readers.
Anyone new to blogging or anyone who just enjoys reading them: A troll is a person who will comment on a post (usually an opposing viewpoint), stir things up, and leave. Yes, they all live under bridges, and you need to answer their questions to cross.
As a service to my fellow bloggers, I'm presenting my criteria and suggestions for spotting and dealing with trolls. Please feel free to add your input.
- Trolls usually start off with an innocent question about the material in your post. It may be something as simple as asking you to clarify your position or asking your opinion on an opposing idea. This is the gateway to hell. Do not be suspicious at first as it may be an honest person trying to be informed. Usually a reference to the Constitution helps, and an honest person will thank you in a following comment. Stay respectful.
- Once you've respectfully and intelligently done so, they kick it up a notch by repeating the same tactic on your reply. This seems to be the only play they have in their game book. While it is tempting to reply to the new questions, this will only bring about a set of new ones. Start being suspicious.
- Political comparisons usually start at this point. "Well Bush did this..." or "The right worships corporations..." will most likely indicate the presence of a troll. Ask for evidence and try to remain open-minded.
- This is where the fun begins. Nitpicking and snide comments about you follow. They'll start with pointing out small details and move on to making assumptions about your intelligence or personal beliefs. They frequently use the phrases "don't care" and "hate" in their comments at this stage. If you can, check your spelling and grammar. Some trolls jump right to this step.
- Should they fail to engage you in their tactics by this point, the name-calling begins. "Racist" and "homophobe" are some of the common ones, although others may certainly arise. Don't be afraid to point out the racism and homophobia of some of their icons. This hacks them off.
- Hysteria has reached a fever pitch on their part by now. When the expletives start to fly, you know you have them. Warn them that they will be banned from your site should they continue. I really suggest comment moderation for such an occasion. Then tell them to go back from whence they came: under the bridge.
You can find me on top of the bridge with a copy of the Constitution on a fishing pole trying to lure them out.