Online trolls have been the bane of rational, civil internet users since the beginning of the web.
It turns out, when you give certain people the shield of anonymity to hide behind in the form of a computer screen, things get ugly.
Internet trolls started popping out of the woodwork as early as the ’90s, when online discussion boards, comment threads, and groups were just beginning.
Trolls exist to inflame any type of discussion (back in the day, “flaming” meant igniting a personal, vindictive attack on someone simply because they didn’t share your views).
In other words, trolls like to be jerks for the sake of being jerks. They don’t care if they’re wrong or right, they just want to make others angry for the fun of it.
Sometimes, trolling can even escalate to death threats, bullying, and psychologically-damaging harassment, as seen in this tale of a brand social media manager:
To this day, trolls emerge from the dank recesses of their troll caves to stir up trouble in discussions, on social media, and anywhere they can make people mad.
For the rest of us, there are ways to fight back and maintain civility, friendly discourse, and fun in our online communities – not in spite of the trolls, but in direct opposition to everything they stand for.
Let’s look at how to defeat internet trolls.
1. Are You in Charge? Make a ‘No Trolls’ Policy
If the platform belongs to you (e.g., it’s your social media profile, your blog, or your discussion board), you can and should institute a “no trolling” policy.
These are guidelines that let every single person who interacts on your platform know that trolling behavior will not be tolerated, and what will happen to those who do troll (will they be banned? will their comments get deleted?).
This comment policy from Content Marketing Institute is a great example:
Make sure you write your policy in clear terms and post it on your site or platform. Link to it as needed so people know the rules.
2. No Moderators? Get Some
If you’re having a troll problem, moderation can go a long way toward keeping the issue under control.
For example, if you have a sprawling blog with hundreds (or thousands!) of blog posts, there’s no way you can monitor that by yourself.
Enlisting a team of moderators to vet comments and deal with violators of your guidelines (see tip #1) will help you encourage a positive, welcoming atmosphere and keep those trolls in their caves.
If you don’t have the resources for moderators, there are tools out there for every type of platform:
3. For the Love of Pete, Ignore the Trolls
The M.O. of any troll is to get attention. To quickly put out their fire, one of the best ways to deal with them is to ignore them.
I know this is hard, especially if the troll is posting offensive, abusive, or hateful comments. You don’t want to condone this behavior, but at the same time, a troll usually posts this way just to get a reaction from someone. Give them that reaction, and the troll wins.
Don’t waste your time arguing with a troll – it’s exactly what they want.
Sometimes the best thing to do is quietly delete the comment and move on. After all, actions speak louder than words.
4. If You Can’t Ignore Them, Call Them on Their B.S.
Sometimes, ignoring a troll just isn’t an option.
Thankfully, a troll is not out making logical arguments. They aren’t masters of debate. They just enjoy stirring the pot.
If you can, calmly ask them to back up what they’re saying with facts. Usually, they’ll have none, and will lose steam pretty quickly once you deflate their “argument.”
5. Make Your Social Profile(s) Friends-Only
This one is pretty clear-cut.
If you don’t want random trolls posting comments and spewing hate on your social profiles, you can block those people, make your accounts friends-only, and screen everyone who follows you.
On Twitter, you’ll find the setting to make your account private under More >> Settings >> Privacy and safety >> Protect your Tweets.
Your tweets will only be visible to people who follow you and people you approve.
You can also block people right inside their post or comment.
This is definitely time-consuming, but could be a good option for people who are dealing with out-of-control trolls who won’t stop.
6. Be Unexpectedly Kind
A troll posts with the expectation of stirring up anger and arguments. If you ignore the content of their comment and instead respond with kindness, they won’t know what to do. It’s like pouring water on a lit fuse.
This example from actress Gabourey Sidibe’s Instagram shows what I mean – she responded to messages of hate with love and kindness, which stopped a troll in their tracks:
7. Respond with Humor, Then Move On
Another way to thwart a troll?
Respond with humor instead of the expected anger or indignation. They won’t know what to do with themselves.
As you can see, J.K. Rowling does this flawlessly. Lesson learned.
— J.K. Rowling (@jk_rowling) September 4, 2015
To Thwart a Troll, Take the High Road
Truly, the only way to destroy a troll is to rise above the fray.
Don’t stoop to their level – it’s exactly what they’re out to get you to do.
Internet trolls want anger. They want big reactions. They want drama.
If you can, take the high road. Ignore them. Delete their comments. Block them. Respond with kindness or humor – something they’re not expecting.
Maybe, just maybe, we can make the internet a better place, one interaction at a time.
All screenshots taken by author, August 2019
Google December Product Reviews Update Affects More Than English Language Sites? via @sejournal, @martinibuster
Google’s Product Reviews update was announced to be rolling out to the English language. No mention was made as to if or when it would roll out to other languages. Mueller answered a question as to whether it is rolling out to other languages.
Google December 2021 Product Reviews Update
On December 1, 2021, Google announced on Twitter that a Product Review update would be rolling out that would focus on English language web pages.
Our December 2021 product reviews update is now rolling out for English-language pages. It will take about three weeks to complete. We have also extended our advice for product review creators: https://t.co/N4rjJWoaqE
— Google Search Central (@googlesearchc) December 1, 2021
The focus of the update was for improving the quality of reviews shown in Google search, specifically targeting review sites.
A Googler tweeted a description of the kinds of sites that would be targeted for demotion in the search rankings:
“Mainly relevant to sites that post articles reviewing products.
Think of sites like “best TVs under $200″.com.
Goal is to improve the quality and usefulness of reviews we show users.”
Continue Reading Below
Google also published a blog post with more guidance on the product review update that introduced two new best practices that Google’s algorithm would be looking for.
The first best practice was a requirement of evidence that a product was actually handled and reviewed.
The second best practice was to provide links to more than one place that a user could purchase the product.
The Twitter announcement stated that it was rolling out to English language websites. The blog post did not mention what languages it was rolling out to nor did the blog post specify that the product review update was limited to the English language.
Google’s Mueller Thinking About Product Reviews Update
Product Review Update Targets More Languages?
The person asking the question was rightly under the impression that the product review update only affected English language search results.
Continue Reading Below
But he asserted that he was seeing search volatility in the German language that appears to be related to Google’s December 2021 Product Review Update.
This is his question:
“I was seeing some movements in German search as well.
So I was wondering if there could also be an effect on websites in other languages by this product reviews update… because we had lots of movement and volatility in the last weeks.
…My question is, is it possible that the product reviews update affects other sites as well?”
John Mueller answered:
“I don’t know… like other languages?
My assumption was this was global and and across all languages.
But I don’t know what we announced in the blog post specifically.
But usually we try to push the engineering team to make a decision on that so that we can document it properly in the blog post.
I don’t know if that happened with the product reviews update. I don’t recall the complete blog post.
But it’s… from my point of view it seems like something that we could be doing in multiple languages and wouldn’t be tied to English.
And even if it were English initially, it feels like something that is relevant across the board, and we should try to find ways to roll that out to other languages over time as well.
So I’m not particularly surprised that you see changes in Germany.
But I also don’t know what we actually announced with regards to the locations and languages that are involved.”
Does Product Reviews Update Affect More Languages?
While the tweeted announcement specified that the product reviews update was limited to the English language the official blog post did not mention any such limitations.
Google’s John Mueller offered his opinion that the product reviews update is something that Google could do in multiple languages.
One must wonder if the tweet was meant to communicate that the update was rolling out first in English and subsequently to other languages.
It’s unclear if the product reviews update was rolled out globally to more languages. Hopefully Google will clarify this soon.
Google Blog Post About Product Reviews Update
Google’s New Product Reviews Guidelines
John Mueller Discusses If Product Reviews Update Is Global
Watch Mueller answer the question at the 14:00 Minute Mark
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