I’ve been doing this blogging thing for about nine years now. Though FWJ is a little over four years old, I have been participating and writing for online communities since 2000. I’ve seen my share of haters, that’s for sure. I collect online trolls like some people collect beer mugs or dishes decorated with puppies.
I’m not going to claim to be a troll expert but I’ve been able to identify some common characteristics. For instance, trolls are almost always anonymous. They’re anonymous because they’re people we know. In many cases we know exactly who they are. They want to pretend they’re our allies. They want us to continue to link to their blogs or engage in discussion with them. How would their community react if they knew they were behind a bunch of vicious trolling attacks?
Why Trolls Troll
Trolls troll because the things we write elicit a response. We inspire their emotions. They react to our words. While this is what writers and bloggers strive for, it’s also a pain in the butt because they’re all negative and anonymous and it upsets the flow of the community.
Trolls mostly troll out of jealousy. If it was simple disagreement, they would say their piece, perhaps engage in some polite back and forth banter, and move on. Jealousy inspires passionate reaction. It inspires what I like to call “keyboard courage”. Trolls come out from under their bridges and spout negativity because they don’t have creativity or talent to write a well thought out disagreement. They use their anonymity to say things to you they wouldn’t say to your face in real life. Yes, they’re cowards.
Have you ever had a traveling troll? I have one I take with me every where I go. Traveling trolls follow you like Deadheads followed Jerry Garcia. Consider it your world tour. If you have more than one blog, they visit. If you’re mentioned at other blogs, they visit. If you’re nominated for or win an award, they visit. Really, you must be a truly great person if this person has to follow you every where you go. Common variety trolls are easy to spot. They sometimes use more than one made up name, but just like cows in a pasture, it’s easy to pick out particular patterns and habits.
Who are Trolls?
You might be surprised to learn your trolls’ identity. Perhaps she’s a popular freelance writing guide or someone who is nice to you on your favorite forum. Perhaps he’s another blogger in your niche or someone you banter with on Twitter. Your troll might also be someone you never communicated with but inspired passion, nonetheless.
Caring for Trolls
It’s up to you whether or not you want to keep your troll around. If you’d like to have your own pet troll, follow these helpful tips for proper care and nutrition:
- Trolls feed on negativity. As long as you and your community react to their abuse, they will grow bigger and stronger. To ignore them or delete their comments will only discourage them. Keep them around by allowing their comments and reacting with indignation.
- Trolls love when you’re upset. To encourage them, show your anger.
- Trolls are harmless. To make them feel powerful continue allowing their comments and abuse. Engage. Feed them.
Pet trolls don’t like to feel neglected. Make them feel useful. Let them know their words have power. They love this and it will keep them coming for years. You see, there isn’t enough going on in their own pathetic lives which is why they insist on being a part of yours.
Wear your troll as a badge of honor. Think of all the bloggers who don’t provoke a response. Think of all the writers who don’t inspire passion. How boring life must be without the occasional heckler.
Hey! You there with the troll! You must be great at what you do.