Trolls - Who, What Why - and How to Deal With Them
From SnowyHOST, for About.com
About.com Health's Disease and Condition content is reviewed by Steven Gans, MD
What motivates a troll? Some motivations are:
- Attention seeking. These types of trolls love to take over a chat with anger and profanity. They love when the other chatters or forum members feed into their games. Trolls will also break the terms of usage just to see if any action will be taken or just how far they can push the rules.
- Amusement is another motive.
- Boredom is another. For example, a bored teenager may begin talking about gross or sexually explicit things just to get a reaction from older chatters.
- Wasting time is also something trolls do in chats or forums, and they do it with little effort.
Trolls love the domino effect. They will post a small offensive post, and the members of the chat community will grab it and run with it until the whole room is out of control. Meanwhile the troll is sitting behind the screen laughing his butt off, watching the community make fools of themselves. Trolls may also post negative remarks towards a race, gender or sexual preferences just for the pleasure of causing a ruckus.
There are times when innocent people are mistaken for trolls because they come into the chat or forums seeking help and talk about disturbing situations regarding such things as family, relationships, or addictions. New chatters who are not accustom to chat etiquette can be mistaken for trolls. Once they learn our "chatiquette," they become assets to the online community.
Dealing with Trolls
When a troll is acting out, some things you can do are:
- Use the ignore feature. This blocks out the offensive remarks. This is the best way to handle a troll in chat when there is no host present. Imagine the frustration the troll will feel when no one pays any attention to anything it says!
- Leave that room and chat in another room, or walk away from the computer.
- Step back and allow the host or moderator to handle the situation. This is really the best idea when a host is present (along with using Ignore if what is being said by the troll is disturbing or triggering to you). Chatters may think that action is not being taken because they don't see it happening in open chat, but what a chatter does not realize is a lot of interactions that take place between hosts and trolls take place behind the scenes in private chats. A host cannot do the job effectively if the regular chatters are sending private messages at the same time. Please keep that in mind the next time a troll visits chat.
- On the forums, never reply to a troll's message, unless it is to say "I'm reporting this post as a violation." (If you've reported it and say so, a dozen others won't also think they need to report it.) Forum moderators will take action on troll posts as quickly as possible, and we appreciate it very much when community members help by reporting these posts to us.
When the online community and the hosts or moderators work together and collectively ignore the trolls, usually they will get bored and leave. Who knows, maybe someday that troll will need support and in time become a vital part of our online community!