You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘online trolls’ tag.

Now that we’ve discussed the reputation ruiner, let’s move on to another type of online troll.
If you frequent news sites, particularly those with unmoderated comments, chances are you’ve come across this one. I refer to them as “the heartless jerk.”

These are the people who leave crude comments on stories about death, place blame on the victims of random house fires, and otherwise exhibit a complete lack of empathy when everyone else is doling it out in droves. They may say that a cancer patient deserved to die or even wish death on others.

This is not about seeing a situation differently, offering a different perspective or playing devil’s advocate. These types of trolls are just mean.

Timothy Marshall of Duzo Design recounts one such incident:

A high school classmate of mine died tragically, and when I read the news about it on a local news website there were a number of commenter’s leaving the most absurd and tasteless messages.

Trolls tend to exist on websites where users can remain anonymous. In this case people say things they wouldn’t normally say, just to get a response. It is so easy for them to just change identities, personalities and names online.

On pages where usernames stick and identities are clear trolls are less frequent. And when they are they can not hide from their actions. It really comes down to whether or not users will be held accountable for their actions. If you don’t hold them accountable they will do just about anything. Hold them accountable and they will be more rational.

What do you think? Do you agree with Timothy?

Would these heartless jerks, be so heartless if they were held accountable?

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As I delve more into the life and times of internet trolls, I seem to find out more and more about this particular species and how they are viewed by the masses.

The perception of what constitutes a troll is extremely varied and the stories about their actions are colorful to say the least.

Can one who bashes a hotel restaurant on as many platforms as possible all due to one bad experience be considered a troll? Holly Warton, owner of Enchanting Group, says yes.

Here is her story, as given to me on LinkedIn:

There’s this one troll that visited one of my hotels back in 2001 or so. He didn’t even stay with us, he just ate at one of our restaurants, and apparently the waiter hit on his girlfriend. Since then, he has berated our hotels on both the Lonely Planet Thorn Tree forums and the Trip Advisor Forums. He’ll take a break for a few months and then come back every once in a while.
I just mentioned this guy the other day to a fellow destination expert on Trip Advisor, and she remembered the guy by (user) name. He’s famous for attacking our hotels, and everyone knows it’s because of the problem with this girlfriend. Kind of funny, kind of irritating.

So there you have it. A clear illustration of one man’s attempt to tarnish a hotel’s reputation because a waiter hit on his girlfriend. Holly’s not happy with it, as she characterizes it as “kind of irritating.” But she also finds humor in it, and I suspect that may be because she can’t do anything about it.

In the next Troll Patrol, you’ll get an account of one man’s experience with a news website and his thoughts on the upside of requiring visitors to use real user names.

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Troll patrol: A new series


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I’m pretty sure this post is the beginning of a new series called Troll Patrol. It is as much for my personal sanity as I work through some of these issues, as it is for your reading pleasure and hopefully your benefit.

I do understand that the word “troll” is quite subjective, particularly among community members. Some people consider anyone who disagrees with them a troll, (I disagree) and others think that anyone who happens to show up in the same blogs as them on a regular basis, are stalkers…aka “trolls.” And there are others who do seemingly have personal trolls, who live to make them, and others MISERABLE.

It is truly amazing how a few troublemakers in a community can make it unbearable for others and it is equally if not more amazing how adults can display such behavior that is beyond juvenile.

I have had two grown adult males in my community going after each other like three year-olds for weeks. And believe it or not, it all stems from one calling the other overweight. Believe me, I am not making this up.

I received an email from a member today illustrating how they completely ruined a heartfelt blog with their back and forth bickering when others were trying to have a decent conversation.

That exchange, coupled with this plea from a faithful member sent me over the edge and I sent them both threatening emails. The message was this: “Either it stops, or I end it. You choose.” I indicated that if I had to end it, it would not be pretty and neither of them would be able to come back. Period.

What a shame that community managers have to result to such antics. I have children at home, but apparently have several hundred at work as well. Good grief.

Now, I am not saying that either of these gentlemen are trolls, though the label certainly fits the guy who started all of this mess.

But nevertheless, this is a problem. It will not go away, but I’m ready to discuss it.

What are your issues with troublemakers and trolls, and how do you handle them? If you have any unique situations, please share them, and if you would like me to discuss a particular topic surrounding this terrible topic, please let me know.

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I am always going to be an advocate for online communities. If you are a regular reader of this blog you know that I am passionate about online communities and enjoy sharing my experiences and hearing about yours.

You also know that I am honest about how difficult it can be to do this job well given the fact that so many people hide behind the cloak of anonymity and live to wreak havoc. They are driven by the amount of grief they can cause and measure their personal success by the amount of misery they can produce. My week has consisted of a lot of that, and it has been trying to say the least.

It got so bad that I had to lay down the law in a very public manner, and I can’t even begin to tell you how many people I banned. There is such a fine line between growing community and destroying it and community managers have to tread very lightly so as not to employ tactics that will result in a mass exodus. It’s an extremely slippery slope.

After all, we need all the members we can get, right?

WRONG. I now know that not all members are created equal, and some we can and simply should do without.

I believed that I needed every member I could get when we first launched GOLO and I worked hard to keep everyone happy, sometimes to a fault. If someone announced that they were leaving, I took it personally and did whatever I could to get them to stay. I had milestones to reach and goals to accomplish and I had my eyes on the prize.

That was then, this is now. When someone announces they are leaving I will be the first to wish them well, especially if they are a known problem.

We cannot allow our communities to be overrun by troublemakers and trolls and we have to take a stand. No community is the same and I am learning that the tactics that one community manager uses may not work for me. The solutions are not one-size -fits all.

The best thing for us to do is keep the conversations going and realize that we all have different communities, procedures for handling abuse, and various registration systems that may not allow us to do things in a similar fashion.

But I digress. My point here is simply this: Our jobs are tough and sometimes we have to be just as tough. Yes, we need members, but we don’t need everyone and sometimes we are better off without certain people, and that’s okay.

So build your community, but don’t be naive, and don’t let them trample you. There are other fish in the sea. Find them, and let some of the others go back into the depths of the deep sea, where they belong.

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It’s been a great year for me. I fell in love with blogging my heart out and have met some amazing people through this blog and and various other social media platforms. Not to mention the fact that I just landed a publishing contract!

At any rate, if you’ve just found my blog in the last week or even the last month, here is a list of the blogs that garnered the most interest this year. Enjoy!

Here are some of my top posts from 2008:

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This is a personal blog. The opinions expressed here represent my own and not those of my employer. Feel free to challenge me, disagree with me, or tell me I’m completely nuts in the comments section of each blog entry.

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