Community managers always advise, “don’t feed the trolls,” but what does that really mean?
Before we delve in, let’s define what we’re talking about. Generally, a troll is someone who is consistently disruptive, abusive, or unruly in an intentional way.
When dealing with a real troll, there are certain things you definitely don’t want to say:
"You’re wrong, and here’s why..."
Logic and reason do not work on a troll. In the same way you don’t argue with a two year old child, you should not try to explain to a troll why they are wrong. I guarantee they aren't listening. In fact they're probably copy/pasting your carefully reasoned arguments into their own community so their troll friends can laugh at you.
"We don’t allow (profanity, abusive behavior, repetitive posts, spam)."
The troll knows the rules, he or she doesn’t care about them. Publicly calling out a troll to remind them of the guidelines will only result in further attacks. Remember we're only talking about trolls here, not just a member who messed up once.
"You’re a troll."
This is like handing out an Academy Award to a troll. Bestowing the label is exactly what the troll wants, and your community is just another notch on his belt.
"I’m going to ban you."
Here’s where dealing with a troll is different from dealing with children. You generally want to tell a child what the consequence will be if she violates the rules. However, with a troll, you don’t want to reveal your arsenal. Don’t tell him/her that you have a way to see their IP address, or that you know about their other identities; that just gives him time to combat your tactics. Ban them immediately and without warning for best results.
Don’t sink to the troll’s level. If you get ruffled, and start to deal with a troll in a troll-like manner, you are opening a can of worms and setting a bad example for the rest of your community. If a troll's behavior is making you feel like responding in this way, go grab a pillow and scream into it for a while, then come back and deal rationally.
Want to add to the list? What would you advise someone to NEVER say to a troll?
Image: Flickr CC License, Antonio Campoy Ederra