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Stopping Internet Trolls - It's Easy!

I started this blog in the late spring of 2009. But it didn't take long for a troll or two to stop by to mix things up.

I have to admit, the troll or trolls was/were pretty clever, and I was really naive. In looking back, I'm now convinced I had one primary troll here at the Fire Pit.

There may have been more than one, but a majority of the comments here at the Fire Pit were probably written by one pathetic soul. But he's now dead. I've killed him. Figuratively that is.

A virtual hollow-point .44 slug to the center of the forehead.

Let's first talk about what a troll is, and then it will all start to make sense.

This is the short list of character traits of an internet troll:

I could go on and on, but you've run into these sub-standard mutants before, especially if you've ever been in a forum or read comments at any blog.

Spotting Internet Trolls

A troll is one who likes to mix things up in the comments at the blog. He likes to get the blog's author in a defensive mode. A troll tries to take control, and often he does, of the blog by switching the subject down in the comments.

The troll will try, and often succeeds, to take control of the blog by posting many more words in the comments than the original blog post. He's often the first to comment. Using Google Alerts or other tools, he's immediately notified when a new blog post is published. He then rushes to the blog to start commenting.

The same troll will adopt multiple names and personalities in the comments and debate himself making one of his fake personalities out to be a stooge.

If you want to see a fantastic example of an internet troll, just go to the Moultonborough Speaks blog post titled Video of May 7th 2013 Laconia NH Listens/ Granite State Futures event. Anonymous is but one of the trolls there. Several residents have been posting for months as Anonymous, so it's hard to keep their viewpoints straight.

Ben Harper is the troll I shot in the forehead. The Truth is the same troll as Ben Harper - down lower in the comments he has the courage to post as Ben "The Truth".

A troll likes to bob and weave because your facts easily disprove his weak counterpoints. Your blog becomes the blog he's unable to foster because he doesn't have the discipline, the determination or the diligence to create one.

Heck, even if the troll could create a blog, no one would even post in the comment section because just about every internet troll lacks the deep understanding required to opine on most topics. An internet troll is a mental midget.

Most trolls are not very talented writers. They're unable to change their writing voice no matter how they try. Trolls have crutch phrases. You'll often see them try to buddy up to you, the blog owner/writer, by calling you out by your name.

Their writing voice will permeate all their posts. Some trolls try to change it up with typos and other grammar errors, but most can't cover their tracks.

On YouTube, the trolls there are really easy to spot. They just create hollow empty accounts with no profile information. There are no videos on their channels where they're on camera. YouTube trolls are, perhaps, some of the most paltry trolls of all.

You probably have an internet troll as a friend. In person, these people are the ones who don't want to stand out from the crowd. They would never ever lead a revolt or a movement because they're simply too inept. The trolls in the real world are the wallflowers. They're the last ones picked on a team.

If you're a psychologist or psychiatrist you know for a fact that an internet troll has a chemical imbalance in his brain. If you could gather internet trolls in a lab, you'd quickly discover many suffer from bipolar disorder, that's absolutely a chemical imbalance, and any number of other psychological disorders that don't allow these people to act normally.

How to Stop Trolls on Your Blog

Now that we know the profile of a the typical troll, this information gives you the clues and tools to render them invisible.

You need to know a little bit about psychology to be able to do this.

Trolls use psychological triggers when they post comments. The first one they employ is social proof. The weakest of all trolls create multiple identities within the same blog. They'll use all sorts of names, both male and female.

Social proof happens as soon as you see a comment come through that compliments you, the author of the blog. Since you have the courage to produce the blog and identify yourself, you're attracted to praise and flattering remarks. I fell into that trap. It's normal.

As soon as you see a comment at your blog that says, "Good job or Well said, or Spot on!" you bask in the praise of your hard work. But when you see multiple comments like that from different people, those should be flashing yellow or red lights that a troll is in your midst.

Have you ever raised children? My wife and I have three. They don't come with owners manuals when they pop out.

But after a while you learn how to get results when you discipline a child.

An internet troll is nothing more than a small toddler. When a troll shows up, the newbie blogger, like a new parent, tries to debate, convince, reason, argue, etc. with the troll. But realize this is exactly what the troll wants.

Trolls CRAVE ATTENTION. Why? Because in their tiny real worlds they get none. They are powerless in the real world where they have to deal with real people at work, at home, in their neighborhood, etc. If they can get noticed at a website, it makes them feel important.

Let's get back to the discipline thing. If you've raised kids and you want them to toe the line, you quickly discover you have to take away the thing they value the most to get them to do what you want.

That's the psychological trigger of scarcity. Scarcity is the most powerful psychological trigger in humans. That's why such a high value is placed on human life. If you don't have life, you've got NOTHING. You want a human to do something? Start to take away their life. That's why when you water board a human, he starts to sing like a canary.

If you want to discover more about social proof, scarcity and the other four primary psychological triggers so you can slaughter trolls, read Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion.

I just pointed out the most important thing a troll wants. He wants attention. He wants to appear like he's smart. He wants to appear like he can control the discussion. He wants to project power in his comments because in the real world in front of a real person he would wet himself if challenged. Seriously, he'd either wet his pants or puke from the stress of the situation.

So to stop an internet troll you do one simple thing. You take away his microphone. You take away his platform. You take away his ability to spew drivel.

You just block them. Don't try to use IP address blockers. Why? Because internet trolls have no guts or a spine, they use proxy servers to deliver random IP addresses when they post. Only the most stupid trolls use a fixed IP address that can be easily blocked.

So how do you stop the trolls? It's so very easy. You just delete their comments. You starve them of the thing they want most. An internet troll needs attention like you and I need oxygen to survive.

I killed my troll in less than a day by just placing the following lines and video at the end of my posts. See that .44 magnum pointed right at the troll's head? Yes, that's a powerful psychological trigger too. Get it, trigger?

Comments Open and Close on this post randomly.

In my best Clint Eastwood voice, "You've got to ask yourself one question - Do I Feel Lucky? Well do you Punk(troll)?"

If you're passionate about this topic and aren't lucky enough to have your comment published, I suggest you launch your own blog and exercise your pie hole there.

Jealous, faceless, and cowardly trolls often try to post here because they don't have the intelligence, know-how, determination nor the resources to create a blog. If you're a troll, you're not welcome here.

Yes, I feel better now!

Comments

OK you convinced me. I will get the book "Influence:The Psychology of Persuasion" By Cialdini.
Better yet I will read it too :-).

Hal Graham on June 10, 2013 10:21 AM

You can't help but see trolls all over the blogisphere and they're more often than not arguing with each other.

Silver Fox on June 10, 2013 9:13 PM
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