THE BELLS ARE TROLLING – Marilyn Armstrong

There are subjects I avoid writing about because no matter where I go, there’s a troll lurking and waiting for an opportunity.

Gun control and “right to life,” or more to the point, the right of the unborn as opposed to the rights of the already alive are big troll-gatherers. They have always been two of the hot topics on the Internet and the trolls follow them like moths to flames in the dark of night. At least I have some control over them here on Serendipity. It’s the big advantage of blogging rather than being part of an “open” bulletin board — or heaven forbid Facebook.

How do you know you are being trolled?


I’m usually pretty good at spotting trolls, but sometimes, they creep in. They make a normal comment and as far as you can ascertain, they seem okay. There aren’t many ways to figure out if someone new is a follower or a troll other than whether or not they have a valid blog. But not all followers have a blog. Some people simply enjoy following other people’s writings.

So you have a new follower. They start a conversation, but they never quit. By the time the second day of conversation arrives, they have stood on every side of a “discussion” … and are getting aggressive.

I have been trolled on places like Amazon. You would think a biography about Alexander Hamilton would be essentially troll-free, but you’d be amazed at the damage they can do. I think Amazon has done something to control these jerks, but not enough. If they want reviewers, they will have to end the trolling.

Places like Facebook are obvious trolling sites. If you are fool enough to open yourself to that sort of thing, you will get what you deserve.

This isn’t Facebook, so it’s simple. I’ll put up with a conversation as long as that’s what it is. The minute it starts to edge into trolling, I will end it. One warning from me — and if there is another murmur from the aforementioned troll — he or she is blocked.

I tell them why and they say I’ve misunderstood them. They were merely trying to “liven up” the conversation. There was a time when I actually believed that line. I don’t believe it anymore.

These trolls actually think their viciousness is funny. They think they are being “cute.” Or anyway, that’s what they say. I still don’t believe it. Cute and funny isn’t nasty, angry, and mean. Sometimes, you get an apology. “Oh, I was just trying to make conversation.”

Don’t believe it. Trolls know exactly what they are doing. They do it wherever they go. They aren’t stupid. They think getting you angry and upset is hilarious. For them, anyway.

If it makes you unhappy, they don’t care. They are doing it for their own amusement, not yours. Their idea of livening up the conversation is to get a lot of people upset and if possible, feeling bad about themselves. When you ask them they will say they like “stirring the conversation” by which they mean insulting and harassing people they don’t even know. It’s their version of “getting the conversation moving.”

It’s trolling. If it is making your nervous system jangle, you can bet it’s trolling. Unless it is someone you know who has just gone a little over the edge, it’s trolling. Do not let them turn your site into a battleground. Spam them, block them, get rid of them. They will drive your real readers away and inflict a lot of damage — to you and others. Trolls are ugly people and their idea of humor has nothing to do with how anyone else feels. The more upset they can make you, the more they enjoy it.

I sometimes wait a while to see if the commentary is going that way, but when it’s a “new reader” with a flurry of nasty, sharp things to say? It’s a troll. Bet on it.

There are things we need to say and sometimes they are controversial. People argue, sometimes with considerable fervor, but I think you will know the trolls from regular readers with strong opinions who have maybe gone a little bit overboard. You’ll know the difference.

Shut down the trolls. Don’t let them back on your site, no matter what they tell you. Once a troll, always a troll.

11 thoughts on “THE BELLS ARE TROLLING – Marilyn Armstrong

  1. I’ve had a few actual bloggers with legitimate WordPress blogs who seem to get a kick out of “stirring the pot,” particularly on my more political posts. Most of them are far-right conservatives and Trump fans. I will engage with them because I can be argumentative at times, but I draw the line when they start insulting my regular followers. That’s where I’ve had enough and block them.

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  2. Stirring the pot might lead to debate and insight. We can stir with respect …That is possible. Trolls however don’t care about making a mess. I’m fully capable of holding my own against trolls. But therein lies the conundrum… Engagement is attention. It’s not worth it. Not once have I ever seen anyone “win” an online argument. Trolls are even worse, they feed off the emotion and chaotic melee… facts don’t matter. I’ve seen many clever people flounder and flinch when trolls find the soft spot in which they can stick a knife.

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    • I always recommend to “real” followers that we take the discussion offline to email where we can duke it out privately, but a lot of people WANT the attention. I’m not sure why, but they seem to think a bigger audience will win them more points. What points? Do we get points? If we do, can we buy something with them?

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      • Oh yes, an audience is paramount. They get off on seeing people cringe. Perhaps they troll scenarios/topics that secretly reflect their own inadequacies. They are nasty animals. I’ve also extended off- site debate -invites in the past. Never got takers. They thrive on raw reaction from as many people as possible.

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  3. I’ve not had many… but I think it was you who wrote the one piece of advice on trolls that made perfect sense in my early days blogging; it is YOUR site, not theirs… you can allow, or not, whatever comments you choose. I have no objection to debate or disagreement, but I won’t tolerate nastiness, especially aimed at readers.

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  4. I’m glad you highlighted this issue, Marilyn. Now I know what to look out for. Goodness knows why these people enjoy trolling – haven’t they got anything better to do with their time? Madness.

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  5. Couldn’t agree more! That they have nothing better to do than try to build up their pathetic tiny ego’s by upsetting and arguing with people they will never meet in their life (such as it is) should normally incline me to feeling sorry for them, but i simply don’t, i block them, not that i have had more than one or two.

    On a lighter note i love the Woodpecker banner photo! 🙂

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  6. Great insights. I have a hard line both on my blog and especially my YouTube channel: no one but me has any right to “free speech” whatsoever. I can and will delete comments (or prevent them from becoming public) for any reason or no reason. Trolls abuse the benefit of the doubt and presumptions of goodwill. If you don’t give those in the first place, they can’t thrive. I’m happy to have decent conversations. But I decide, totally and without input from anyone else, what conversations I wish to have at any given moment.

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