How to Deal with Internet Trolls

How to Deal with Internet Trolls

Learning how to deal with Internet trolls is an important skill for indie game developers to master. Why? Because knowing how to effectively disarm these vicious online personalities can not only save your game’s creditably, but your sanity as well. Like most outspoken people in the Web world, trolls are attention hogs. Problem is, their methods for attracting attention are slanderous. Next time you wonder how to deal with Internet trolls, try one of these psychological tactics to dissuade negative and reinforce positive behavior.

How to Deal with Internet Trolls

  1. Turn Useless Insults into Constructive Feedback
    Often times the hurtful comments trolls make are unfounded. However, if you respond with genuine interest, you can sometimes turn negative, useless comments into constructive dialogue.

    Let’s imagine, a troll makes a nasty comment on your blog about how he thinks your game “sucks.” Instead of lashing back or ignoring him, try to encourage constructive feedback by responding with something like, “Thank you for your comment. I would love to hear more about where you think the game is lacking so I improve in my next update.” While his response may still be negative, if he offers specific details as to why he thinks your game is lacking, instead of meaningless, hurtful words like “suck,” you’ve succeeded. You have now started a dialogue that dissuades useless insults and rewards constructive feedback.

  2. Incorporate Feedback in Your Next Version
    If you successfully encourage trolls to turn useless comments into constructive feedback, reward them by incorporating this feedback (where possible) in your next release, update, etc. This act not only reinforces good behavior, but gives trolls the ultimate in attention: bragging rights for your game’s future success. Feeling included in the creation of a game at this level, can turn any troll into your biggest fan.
  3. Translate Cynicism into Bug Finding
    It may seem a bit extreme, but as you ponder how to deal with Internet trolls, consider inviting them to become beta testers. Obviously, you would want to do some vetting first, but think about it… The most cynical people often make the best testers. Why? Because they scrutinize every detail and uncover even the most minor of issues. In addition to the QA benefits, the act of including trolls in your creation process encourages positive behavior, as discussed above.
  4. Ignore the Crazies
    There will be times when you encounter trolls so extreme, none of your efforts work. In these situations, simply stop trying. Allowing trolls to discredit themselves with their irrational behavior is sometimes the best course of action.

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Emmy

Emmy Jonassen is a marketing pro who helps indie developers build adoring fanbases. Marketing people who love buzz words call this "lead generation."

2 Comments

Csaba

about 10 years ago

Emmy, Great article. We have all seen some amazing troll battles. I think the above suggestions are great to consider, and I have used several of them myself, sometimes to surprising success. However, for those new to the art, responding to a troll in writing requires a certain amount of fineness. Just like a comic responding to a heckler, it can quickly get out of hand. Two additional suggestions I would make if you choose to respond: 1) Don't respond immediately. Everyone knows you shouldn't call people when you are drunk. And when you are angry and upset, would you write to your co-worker, your boss, or the CEO, on the spot? It's better if you wait at least a few hours if not longer. When you aren't calm and thinking straight fineness goes out the window. Stuff gets in your response that shouldn't whether it's content or poor phrasing and the troll will jump all over that. 2) Even if you wait, show a friend (preferably someone who reads the blog) your response and get their feedback. It helps with #1 and they will likely give you added perspective. The best situation is when you've built a community that is strong enough to handle trolls without your involvement. --Csaba

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Emmy

about 10 years ago

Great points! Thanks for the great comment!

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