Have You Been Hit by a Blog Troll?
I haven’t had the misfortune of being stalked on the Internet nor have I had a Troll on my blog (knock on wood) but I have watched as some of my fellow bloggers have been hit by them and it is a real shame! I feel so badly for them and hope that the EVIL blog trolls don’t find me…but I’m sure that I’ll experience this at some point in time.
Knowledge is power, so I took it upon myself to do a little online-research A.K.A. fact gathering from some wonderful resources, looking into the habits of these pesky creatures who need to get a life (and perhaps some “special help”).
So here goes…
The Urban Dictionary defines a Blog Troll as:
1.(n) -A pathetic and moronic person who maintains a blog with an unhealthy obsessive-compulsive drive, especially angsty goths (sorry to all the likeable goths out there). The content of their blogs usually includes events that no sane person would care about. Here’s sample of what a blog troll might write on their blog:
“today, I ate a sanwich. It bad – it was just ok, mediocre, I guess you could call it. After that I read a few chapters out of an Anne Rice book and was deeply moved by her erotic descriptions of gay vampires fornicating. . Then I took a nap.
2.(n) -A depraved individual who sits in front of a computer all day and posts flames of an idiotic or pseudo-intellectual nature on public forums and private websites. Many of these people actually become emotional about what is said on the afore-said mediums and feel it is their duty to punish those who disagree with them. They too may pursue this object in an obsessive-compulsive manner.
Goddamnit! Blog Trolls are such fucktards! Don’t they have anything better to do other than posting stupid bullshit on the forums.
An article on Computer World.com has a LOT of important information about different types of online abuse:
Spamming troll: Posts to many newsgroups with the same verbatim post.
Kooks: A regular member of a forum who habitually drops comments that have no basis on the topic or even in reality.
Flamer: Does not contribute to the group except by making inflammatory comments.
Hit-and-runner: Stops in, make one or two posts and move on.
Psycho trolls: Has a psychological need to feel good by making others feel bad.
Cyberstalkers can also assume many different forms, according to Wood, although they’re basically characterized by a continuing pattern of communication that the recipient considers to be offensive. Other common traits of cyberstalkers are malice, premeditation, repetition, distress to the victim, an obsession on the part of the stalker, seeking of revenge, threats that make victims fear for their physical safety and disregarded warnings to stop.
As with trolls, there are several different types of cyberstalkers, according to Wood:
Intimate partner: The most common type of stalker, this is usually a man who has a history of controlling and emotional abuse during a relationship.
Delusional stalkers: This type of stalker builds an entire relationship with the victim in his or her mind, whether any prior contact has taken place or not. Such stalkers are likely to have a major mental illness such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder or erotomania, which means they believe the victim is in love with them. The typical delusional stalker is unmarried, socially immature and a loner who is unable to sustain close relationships with others.
Vengeful stalker: This type of person is angry with the victim due to some real or imagined insult or injury. Some of these stalkers are psychopaths — a person affected with an antisocial personality disorder — who have no conscience or remorse. They may have paranoid delusions, often feeling that they themselves are victims and are striving to get even.
What to do
In many cases, victims feel they have very little ammunition — whether legal, technological or tactical — to stop the abuse. However, there are some things bloggers and other online contributors can do to try to avoid this kind of harassment or at least keep it from crossing into the physical world.
1. Know the trolls’ tactics
According to Wood, the first rule for dealing with trolls is to avoid being deceived by them in the first place. Don’t trust anything you receive or read without verifying the poster through known, reliable sources, he says. Also, ignore postings or private e-mails that are suspicious, such as those that praise, flatter or evoke a sympathetic response.
This is one of the more important acronyms in the blog world, meaning, “Don’t feed the trolls.” “Just like in-person bullies, trolls feed off your reaction,” Tim says. “Under no circumstances should you acknowledge the behavior or repay it with anger or defensiveness. If you don’t react, they’ll get bored and go away.”
Even if ignoring the harasser doesn’t get him to stop, at least you won’t fan his flames, Wood says. “The more a person responds, the more they teach the stalker about themselves or divulge information they shouldn’t,” he says.
3. Maintain your privacy
Don’t publish any personal information, such as your address or phone number. If you need to, use a Post Office box number. Wood suggests asking your state’s motor vehicles and voter registry to put a block on your address and phone number. “Otherwise, any person may obtain them just for inquiring,” he says.
Some longtime bloggers, such as Bray and his wife Lauren Wood, a senior technical program manager at Sun, refrain from posting photos of their children on their blogs.
4. Block and ban
If you’re experiencing abuse on a moderated blog, you can appeal to the administrator, who can try banning the troll. Be prepared to include a history of the troll’s posts, including full headers.
Some blog services offer technologies that enable you to block offensive participants. Using WordPress, Silverstein can moderate the comments of anyone who hasn’t contributed to the site before, which helps eliminate the hit-and-run type of trolls. “That allows me to weed out 90% of the abuse I get,” he says.
Another plug-in enables him to ban certain IP addresses. “That’s especially good for the really crazy people, if they post one comment that goes beyond the pale,” he says.
5. Keep a log
Be sure to keep a copy of anything you receive from the harasser, Lauren Wood suggests. If they contact you by phone rather than e-mail, take notes on what they say and how often they call, she says. “You’ll need proof rather than, ‘I think he was calling three times a day,’” she says. “You’ll want a log that says, ‘He called at 9:14 p.m.”
Above all, when you have an online presence, you need to prepare yourself for the possibility of becoming a target, Wood adds. “Just like in the real world, you need to realize which dark alleys you shouldn’t enter at night, and if you do, have protection and know what you should do when,” she says.
Copyright © Book Reviews By Bobbie — Bobbie Crawford-McCoy