Please don't feed the trolls. Keeping your reputation spotless conference, 21 May 2014.
The Field Spotter’s
Guide to Trolls
Rachel Collinson, supporter whisperer
Richard Andrews, troll keeper
What is a troll?
Somebody who - deliberately or otherwise - engages
in a set of behaviours, online, designed to provoke a
negative emotional reaction in others.
How to respond to a troll
• Understand their motivations - not all trolls are alike
• Decide what type of troll you are dealing with
• Approach carefully
• Tailor your response appropriately
The 8 basic breeds of troll…
…how to spot and respond to them.
The Lost Troll
• Habitat: mainly web forums
• Behaviour: makes mistakes to do with
• Warnings: can turn into a grudge troll if not
• Tactics: be gentle and corrective, not punitive
• Habitat: mainly sticks to communities such as
web forums and Facebook groups
• Behaviour: uses sardonic humour, tends to be
intelligent and talented but rebellious
• Warnings: can turn vicious if authority is used
• Tactics: figure out their talents and engage
them to contribute to the community
The Common Bored
(majoris genus carborundii)
• Habitat: found everywhere but especially Youtube and
• Behaviour: generally lacking in social skills – the
internet is their only means of engaging people.
Humourless, personal attacks, verging on criminal.
• Warnings: responding makes things worse
• Tactics: always divert the conversation away from
them and back to yourself / original poster
The Anxious Troll
• Habitat: subject-based communities like Facebook
and web forums
• Behaviour: has a narrow / obsessive focus and shifts
• Warnings: tend to rely on their online communities
and be isolated in real life; can turn into Grudge troll
• Tactics: handle carefully and personably
The Drunk Troll
• Habitat: appears in subject-based communities on
evenings and weekends
• Behaviour: spells badly. Look at position of keys
on keyboard to distinguish from a Bored Troll
pretending to be drunk (or otherwise intoxicated)
• Warnings: can be easily riled if you are patronising
• Tactics: humour them, especially with friendly wit
The Paid Troll
• Habitat: blog post or article comments, Twitter
accounts and popular Facebook pages
• Behaviour: repeatedly posting links or unreasonable
comments regarding a certain message (or variants
• Warnings: intelligent and may be chameleonic
• Tactics: be clear about your community rules. Warn
and then remove / ban if violations continue
The Grudge Troll
• Habitat: community members who have, or could make, a
• Behaviour: overly fawning in public and yet will
badmouth others privately or send direct messages to
intimidate and isolate.
• Warnings: will often keep to the rules insofar as they can, in
order to pass for a legitimate member. May goad you into
doing something you regret.
• Tactics: stick to the rules. Make any threatening or bullying
private messages public.
The Stalker Troll
• Habitat: may appear across all social media, particularly
tight communities, Facebook & Twitter, less so Youtube
• Behaviour: has narrow interests. Appears hyper-focused
or obsessed about particular issues and eventually
people. Posts a huge amount of messages.
• Warnings: if handled directly, stalker will generally
become worse and aggressive
• Tactics: take action to support the target and check
whether they feel uncomfortable. If they are, DO NOT
RESPOND to the stalker in any way. Ban. Ignore.
Other general hints and tips
• Devise sensible rules for your community BEFORE trolls become a problem
• Read up about mental illness. Know the signs of disturbance.
• Remember to identify the breed of troll before doing anything
• Keep in regular touch with your community about how to approach trolls;
they may be more helpful than you think
• Trolls thrive on attention; make sure the target has your focus, not the troll.
Now, it’s over to you!
Try to identify the troll and their breed.
Outline how you would respond.
Lesser-Spotted Bored Grudge
Common Bored Drunk