Blogger John Scalzi says he’s having a problem with a troll and the troll’s minions. And in describing the problem, he suggested a familiar solution: “Don’t feed the trolls.”
John is actually taking a pro-active approach, removing the comments from people he says are just there to cause trouble. But between the time the alleged “troublemakers” post and the time he takes action, he’s asking his many readers to just ignore them.
It’s sometimes hard to do, especially when a comment is outrageously nasty. But then that’s the whole point: trolls thrive on being so mean-spirited that people almost can’t help but mouth off to them, which is exactly what they want to begin with!
One of Scalzi’s commenters added this:
“A website I comment on…has what the moderator calls the “glass closet.” Trolls in the [glass closet] can see their own posts, but no one else can see them. Eventually, they get frustrated and baffled by the fact that no one is responding to them, and they wither and die from attention deprivation (rather than just coming back under another name). Don’t know if WP offers such a feature, but it’d be worth looking into.”
If I had a column here for “Best Idea of the Month,” this one would win the prize, even though we’re only four days into this particular month.
That’s the kind of thing nearly every site needs.
I’m not sure that WordPress does offer such an option; if so, I’ve never seen any mention of it. However, I’ve discovered that the comment system I use here, Livefyre, does. Livefyre calls it the “Bozo” function.
If you’ll allow me to use the word bozo as a verb, I’ll explain that when someone’s comment is “bozoed,” it appears only to them. So as far as they know, their comment is still visible and part of the discussion, yet no one else ever responds because no one else ever sees it.
Yes, it’s devious. But I like that.
I’ve never had to use the Bozo function; the last time I had someone I’d truly call a troll was several years back, and this particular guy was such a troll to so many people that he claimed someone started making threats against him and his family. (He made that claim on his website shortly before taking it down completely.) I felt that was a shame; it wasn’t that he was such a terrible person…he just acted like one from time to time. And his site, when he wasn’t trying to be mean-spirited, occasionally offered worthwhile content.
I wish I’d have had the Bozo option back then. But I’m glad to know it’s there now.
For trolls, there’s no such thing as killing them with kindness. But killing them with silence works every time.
Have you ever had a troll on your site? Would you use an option like the “glass closet” or the “bozo” function to deal with them?