Trolls are members of the online community that intentionally instigate conflict, arguments, or hostility just to get attention or a reaction.
You can often identify them through one or more of the following characteristics:
- they use foul language
- they have no personal photos on their profiles
- they write long-winded responses and/or respond quickly to comments
- they only want to justify their own opinion
While the best and most effective response is to ignore trolls, sometimes doing so may backfire. So what can you do to disorient them?
- Use sarcasm
For example, if a troll calls you an idiot, you can respond with, “I nearly burnt my toast this morning, I guess you’re right.”
You can also try to respond to rumours about you with:
“I am?! Thanks for letting me know! I had no idea!”
- Respond with kindness
Sometimes, it can be difficult not to take comments personally. However, getting you riled up is their goal, so reacting with kindness disrupts their vitriol.
Blogger, Nik Shier, describes her strategy this way:
“I handle trolls so much like we are coached to handle arguments with people we love. I use ‘I’ statements; I acknowledge multiple truths when valid; I acknowledge their humanness in a way that either forces them to acknowledge mine or makes them ashamed of themselves.”
- Confuse them
Respond with something completely unrelated and random. See our post about the power of #Ottertime.
In our work to amplify the voices of women and gender-diverse individuals, Informed Opinions is also developing strategies to combat the online hate silencing voices that are already discouragingly under-represented. Our #ToxicHush campaign is funding the development of a research app that will gather evidence making clear how pervasive the problem is, to help equip policy-makers and governments to deliver on that action.