Objective: apply lessons we’ve learnt from hunting real trolls to diffuse internet pests.
Real trolls are stinky, slimy, stupid and hungry but the name of troll has been further blemished by a bunch of internet morons set to ruin the web for everybody else.
According to Wikipedia an internet troll is ‘someone who posts inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community … with the primary intent of provoking readers into an emotional response or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion’. A real troll would never do that.
Real trolls do not hunt with malicious intent; they just need to eat. Only a small handful of trolls are smart enough to find an alternative to eating children. Real trolls are disruptive but that is because they are built like giant potatoes filled with rocks and not through any spiteful desire to cause havoc.
Rufus Sebbleford is a real-troll hunter. He uses troll weaknesses to turn the trolls on themselves and thus rid his town, Sludgeside, of the creatures that threaten its happiness. Whilst we cannot dress internet trolls as food and watch them try to eat their reflections, we can take a tip from Rufus – to beat the troll, we need to focus on its flaws.
Your garden variety internet troll feeds on generating an emotional response from their victims. In recent times, a new strain of internet troll has arrived. A few despicable individuals from the publishing world have taken to trolling to damage the reputations of rival authors. This includes leaving fake negative reviews, voting down positive reviews and leaving false ratings. These trolls feed on damaging careers. Without food, internet trolls will have no purpose. Thus, their flaw is their strong dependency on reactions.
To beat them, we need to minimize the impact of their actions.
Reviews: work hard to collect dozens of reviews. Offer free copies in exchange for honest reviews. Remind readers how much authors rely on customer feedback. The more sincere reviews you get, the less spiteful ones will affect your overall ratings. Who’s going to listen to one person’s claim that your ‘book is a pile of juvenile horse manure’ if fifty people write that it’s highbrow gold.
Forums: stick to moderated forums like KUF (Kindle Users Forum) and UKAKF (UK Amazon Kindle Forum). They are welcoming to authors who promote in moderation and the admins won’t tolerate abuse. If you do find yourself sucked into an insulting thread, step away from the troll. If it says your cover looks like somebody was sick on a canvas, just accept that it doesn’t appreciate the merits of modern splatter painting and move on.
Blogs: enable comment moderation. That way you can check all comments for troll action before they become visible on your website. Screw freedom of speech – it’s your blog and if you don’t want ‘I use ya book to wipe my arse after a curry’ on your front page, you don’t have to take it.
Without reactions, internet trolls will be powerless. They will become trapped in a pool of their own bitterness with no outlet for their pain. Knowing that an internet troll has been diffused may not be as satisfying as watching a real troll plop into a crocodile infested river, but troll avoidance will certainly help with your stress levels and career protection.
If you feel that you do need to witness a troll plopping into a crocodile infested river, then look no further than my new book, The Troll Trap. It’s designed for kids, so you won’t find the sort of troll that writes comments like ‘I did ya mum with a copy of yer book’, but you will find a little harmless escapism that will take your mind of the pressures of the modern world.
Rosen’s newest novel, The Troll Trap, is now available to buy from Amazon and will soon be available in paperback.
Find out more on Rosen Trevithick’s blog.