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How To Deal Constructively With Internet Trolls

Christina Morris By Christina Morris on
Badge: Author | Level: 2 | Computers & Laptops Expertise:
Picture credit: http://jonathancarson.wordpress.com

Ya learn something new every day! I just recently had my first encounter, which led to me discovering what an internet Troll is. I do not think the perpetrator realized what they were doing but whether it was deliberate on their part or not I consider it a 'troll' attack nonetheless. I wish the person well and hope they are able to grow in compassion and friendly wisdom some day. I can only imagine that they must be a 'joy' to be around personally and probably drain the positive energy of everyone that has to be physically associated with them. I pray they become more positive. I found a few pointers to deal with the problem should you meet it.

In ancient folklore, Trolls are a race of humanoid beings, fierce and cruel monsters, that live in caves or under bridges and eat human flesh; they are also shy and cowardly, and have little or no intelligence and cleverness, which makes it easy for men to defeat them. Trolls are one of the most frequent creatures of Scandinavian fairy tales they hoard gold. They come in any size and can be as huge as giants or as small as dwarves. They are however always regarded as having poor intellect, especially the males, big noses, long arms, and as being hairy and not very beautiful. In Scandinavian fairy tales, trolls generally turn to stone if exposed to sunlight. The above depiction is what led to coining the name ‘Internet troll’.

What is an internet troll?

In email discussion lists and online forums, a troll is not a grumpy monster that lives beneath a bridge accosting passers-by, but rather a provocative posting intended to produce a large volume of frivolous responses. The term can also refer to someone making such a posting ("a troll") or to the action ("trolling", "to troll").

The content of a troll posting generally falls into one of several categories. It may consist of a foolish contradiction of common knowledge, a deliberately offensive insult to the readers of a thread, or a broad request for trivial follow-up postings. The result of such postings is often a flood of angry responses. Troll threads also frustrate people who are trying to carry on substantive discussions.

How could we deal kindly with an Internet Troll?

I have heard the saying “Don’t feed the trolls.” Apparently, this has been the prevailing wisdom among many Internet users for a long time now. However, I suggest that we use techniques from cognitive behavioral therapy to combat trolls on the web. I think that it would be more productive if we refrain from criticizing, ignoring, banning and rebuking the troll. These are, by the way, the most common ways of troll management, as we know it.

Instead, a more kindly approach would to be to ask the troll to explain the reasons behind their statements and agreeing with their contention with softer language. Then, it may be possible to negotiate a common ground with the troll.

Example: A troll enters an online discussion of some sort and begins inflammatory and negative attacks such as ‘this sucks or that sucks’ or something worse.

Using the above technique here is an example of a positive response:

Ask: “Why do you feel that (fill in the blank) is so bad? What do you find wrong with it?”

Agree: “Yes, I agree that (fill in the blank) has its downsides and/or trade-offs in comparison to (blank).”

Negotiate: “Would you agree that some people like (blank) better and some may like (blank) better? (In addition, some may like both equally.). Feel free to stick around and listen to us and ask questions.”

Of course, some people are impossible to get along with no matter how hard you try. If this proves to be the case, then feel free to deal with it in other ways.

Have a great day.