Post by Maggie Marton, BlogPaws Blog Manager
The title of this post isn’t what to do IF you get trolled because the sad reality of the internet is that if you post anything on the internet ever, you will deal with criticism eventually.
When the trolls arrive, the first step is to pause. Responding when you’re fired up never helps. Instead, take a deep breath. Play with your cat or walk your dog. Cool off, then follow these steps:
Set clear boundaries.
Do you have a comment policy stated on your site? If not, it’s time to write one! It can be as simple as saying that, while you appreciate a lively discussion, you reserve the right to delete any rude comments. That way, if someone steps out of bounds, you can simply click delete. It also sets parameters for what you will and will not accept as part of the discussion. Be sure your policy reflects the tone of you blog. Check out this example from A Diary of a Mom or this from Live the Pet Life.
Ask yourself: Is there anything I can learn from this?
You have a comments policy in place, but you still get a nasty-gram. First, think about whether the comment is mean-spirited and designed to hurt you, or if it’s constructive but hurt your feelings anyway. It’s easy to feel defensive when your hard work is criticized. You know how much time and effort goes into your posts and social shares. However, perhaps you overlooked a critical aspect of the topic or maybe your coverage was one-sided. Skim your post again from the perspective of the commenter. Is there any value in what he or she wrote? If so, address that in your response, though it doesn’t mean you have to agree with what the person posted. You can acknowledge their side kindly, while still maintaining your own.
Don’t fight back.
Truth: Internet trolls are narcissists. They’re also psychopaths. No, really. They are. Canadian researchers studied internet behavior and personality traits and found that, in fact, people who love posting nasty comments are actually nasty people. The best recourse against someone who is purposely trying to hurt you? Ignore them. Don’t get into a back-and-forth because it’ll devolve into those name-calling messes we all (secretly) read on other websites. Be the bigger blogger. Ignore.
Delete, ban, repeat.
If the comment is just mean-spirited and not the least bit constructive, delete! You are the MC, the Master of Comments, and have full control on what does and does not live on your site. Some trolls take deletes as an attack (see the point above) and will elevate their attack. That’s when banning comes in handy. Ban them from your Facebook page, block their I.P. address from your blog, do whatever it takes to blacklist that person. Ultimately, you have control, so don’t be afraid to delete, ban, and repeat as necessary.
Thankfully, the animal-loving community is largely a kind one. If the occasional troll does crop up, your community members may step in. It’s up to you to determine what behavior you will tolerate through a posted policy, then handle any meanness on a case-by-case basis.
No matter how level-headed your approach, trolls can still hurt your feelings. That’s where a supportive community comes in. If you’re not yet part of the BlogPaws community, sign up to become a part of a great group of people. Plus, adorable pet pictures can fix any troll-induced bad feelings.
Have you dealt with a troll? What approach did you take? What was the outcome? Please share so we can all learn from each other!