How to deal with Internet Trolls


We spend a great deal of time on Maine on the Blogs talking about how to attract readers and boost page views. But what do you do when you attract the wrong reader who posts nasty comments that appear to have the sole purpose of sucker punching you with hurtful or hateful insults? This week we talk about the dreaded Internet Troll and how to deal with them effectively.

What is an Internet Troll?

trollA troll is a term used to describe a person who posts rude, vulgar, insulting, or hateful comments. This is not the same thing as a person who posts a comment expressing disagreement with your ideas or even playing the devil’s advocate to engage you in a healthy debate. Some of the most common kinds of “troll comments” include name calling, sanctimonious and belittling feedback, expletives, and vulgar or hateful speech that may include derogatory, bigoted, or racist statements.

Should I engage with Internet Trolls?

Absolutely not! At times it may feel incredibly tempting to respond to a troll particularly when it is apparent that the person did not read your article or is clearly trying to get a rise out of you. Do not do it! The number one goal that a trolling commenter wants is for you to fire back with a heated retort. If you do that then it is “game on” and you will get blasted with a flurry of awful comments. Sometimes trolls will bring their horrible friends along for the ride you will find your comment section under siege.

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What if an Internet Troll is contacting me in other ways?

The unspoken rule of trolling etiquette on the Internet is that comments of all variety need to stay in the comment section. Anyone who contacts you with mean or threatening comments via email, direct message on social media, or tries to contact you through your personal social media channels has broken that rule. This is a huge red flag and should be taken seriously.

Here is what you do:

  • Take screen shots of the comment.
  • Block and report the user to your social media administrator.
  • If your blog is part of the BDN Maine Network then contact the User Experience and Audience Manager.
  • Report the IP address to your Internet provider.
  • If the comments fall under hate speech or includes threatening language then take your actions one more step further and contact your local police department and file a complaint so that you have an official paper trail to protect you.
  • If you have a group of friends online whom you trust then tell them what’s going on and ask them to watch out for suspicious activity on your social media channels.

Should I bother reading the comments?

This is a question that bloggers have knocked around with some frequency in the last few years. The general consensus seems to be that you should always read the comments on your own blog. Think of your blog like your own backyard; you get to say who plays there and under what degree of good or bad behavior you are willing to put up with. If you are writing for a big website – especially one with a reputation for troll comments – then it is usually a good idea to avoid reading the comment section altogether.

I got a horrible comment on my blog post and it made me not want to write anymore.

This is a common feeling for bloggers. You write a post that you feel great about and you hit publish with high hopes of amazing stats and a comment section filled with readers sharing their points of view in a friendly and respectful way and then BOOM! You get a trolling comment that leaves you feeling deflated and hurt.

Here’s the thing to remember:

If you want to be a blogger, a writer, or content creator on the Internet then you have got to develop thick skin. It is imperative that you begin to recognize the difference between obnoxiously comments and comments that cross a line into cyber bullying. Decide for yourself what kinds of behavior you will and will not tolerate and have a set of rules in place for dealing with the latter. By choosing how you deal with the trolls in the comment section you are choosing to toughen up your ability to take criticism, deal with insults, and grow your self-confidence as a blogger.

One of the best perks of becoming a blogger is that you can create a robust community around the thing you are passionate about. Remember to focus on the reason you started to blog in the first place; to share your ideas! There will always be a naysayer in the mix, but if that naysayer gets out of control you can use these tips to help you deal.

Have you ever had a troll comment in your comment section? How did you deal with it? Leave us a comment telling us your stories!


Sarah Cottrell

About Sarah Cottrell

Maine-based writer Sarah Cottrell is the voice behind Housewife Plus at the Bangor Daily News and is a regular contributor to Disney’s Babble and Momtastic. She is a co-author in six books including I Still Just Want To Pee Alone from the New York Times Bestselling series. Sarah’s work has also been highlighted and featured by SELF Magazine, National Public Radio, Washington Post, and VICE Tonic.