When I use the word “troll“, I’m not talking about a fictitious, mythological creature who is obnoxious, hideous and dedicated to achieving evil ends.
Instead, I’m talking about someone who fits this description of a troll at Wikipedia
An Internet troll, or simply troll in Internet slang, is someone who posts controversial and usually irrelevant or off-topic messages in an online community, such as an online discussion forum or chat room, with the intention of baiting other users into an emotional response or to generally disrupt normal on-topic discussion.
In essence, an internet troll does share the mythical creatures bent for evil, but it’s important to remember that a troll is not offering his/her authentic opinions, which may or may not offend someone. Instead of commenting to share an opinion, the troll offers comments with one intention – to stir the emotions of other readers.
The quality of readers you attract with troll like comments are what I call “Drive By Readers”. They may subscribe to your RSS, but they provide little value to your blog other than boosting your RSS subscriber count. If they came as the result of your troll comment, they’re seeking emotional juice. They’re at your blog to see more of what you delivered via the comment section they just read. They’re at your blog with the purpose of seeing who you shredding now.
If your goal is to be a Blog Shock Jock, then leaving troll like comments will be a great investment of your time.
However, the other side of that coin is the blog owner where you’re making those disruptive comments. As a blog owner, it’s hard to know what to do about Trolls. Defining troll like activity is the first step and sometimes that’s the hardest step of all. Wikipedia has an explicit DNFTT (Do Not Fee The Trolls) policy.
Trolling is a deliberate, bad faith attempt to disrupt the editing of Wikipedia. Ignorance is not trolling. Genuine dissent is not trolling. … They are only trolling when they are motivated by a program of malice rather than ignorance or bias. This requires a judgment of the personal motivation for another’s action.
And that my friend is the problem with defining a troll. A troll is defined by his/her INTENTIONS and usually it’s hard to determine those intentions with a single comment. Is the person leaving frequent comments really a troll, or just someone who needs educated?
The advice I frequently share with clients is this: your blog is YOUR playground. You provide the playground so you can make the rules. If you think someone’s comments are troll like, then it’s your right and privilege to enforce a strict DNFTT policy. In other words, if you think it’s a troll, then it’s a troll.
Have you had problems with trolls on your blog yet? If so, how have you handled it?