• Ryan M. Pierson

How to Deal with Trolls in Social Media

Anyone who has contributed anything that has gained a level of attention in the social media realm has experienced the impact that a few trolls can have on the conversation and community as a whole. It seems that as soon as one or two people begin bashing an idea, a pile of negativity forms, which quickly becomes a full-scale avalanche. Unfortunately, determining how to deal with trolls in social media can be just as big a part of a content creator’s day as actually making the content to begin with.

What is a Troll?

The term “troll” is often used liberally by members of various communities to describe someone that makes negative comments. The true nature of a social media troll is more than that. It describes someone that spends a majority of their time online moving from space to space making negative comments about everything they find. Typically, these individuals tend to be younger and without any real responsibilities in their day-to-day lives. Essentially, these are individuals that get their kicks from pushing your buttons because they don’t have enough going for them on their own.

How Do You Deal with a Troll That Criticizes Your Content?

  1. Taking a look at their content and pointing out how superior their videos or posts are in a backhanded kind of way.

  2. Reminding them, publicly, that you are not there for their entertainment.

  3. Offer them their money back.

  4. Tell them that they’ll understand when they grow up.

  5. Correct their spelling or punctuation.

While it is normally not a good idea to feed a troll, addressing an emerging trend before it becomes a raging inferno is key to maintaining the peace within the community. Respond to as many people as you can, including the trolls. As long as you don’t give any indication that you’re letting them upset you or get the upper hand, you can maintain control of the flow of conversation and steer things into a more positive light.

What About Trolls That Attack You Personally?

Personal attacks and insults are often a troll’s biggest weapon when trying to rattle the cage of someone they feel they need to bring down. Someone’s weight, gender, voice, appearance, and even their name are common targets for a troll’s wrath. While these comments can be hurtful, they shouldn’t be taken seriously.

Personally, I’m a festively plump fellow who is no stranger to receiving heat about being such. Bottom line: the troll that chooses to make reference to it likely has a million things they’re feeling self-conscious about that inspires them to pick at people’s physical appearance from the cover of anonymity. Keeping this in mind, it’s never a good idea to go back on the offensive when handling these individuals. Here are some tips on how to handle the personal offenders:

  1. Throw out some philosophy at them indicating that you work with the tools you’ve got.

  2. Comment on how impressed you are that they managed to spell at least one word correctly.

  3. Shrug it off and throw out a positive spin on the situation.

  4. Agree.

When is It OK to Ban or Report Them?

Making the decision to ban a troll is one way to avoid repeated negative spam from frequent offenders. While banning on the first offense is a little hard handed (sometimes someone types something incorrectly and it comes out rudely), but the decision is entirely your own. If the person is causing a legitimate problem with your community and disrupting the flow of conversation intentionally, then it’s probably time to say goodbye to them.

You’d be surprised how often simply responding to them will make them change their mind about how they interact with you and other members of the community. Calling them on their actions and taking the initial sting gracefully can throw them off and make them rethink their position. After all, these are usually kids who type before they think and don’t understand the concept of someone actually being on the other side.


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