Identify & Prevent Trolling on Your Website To Boost Engagement
While they used to hide under bridges and in caves, trolls have made their way to the dark corners of the Internet. Having a commenting platform on your brand’s website is a great way to increase consumer engagement, but unfortunately, trolls will see your forum as a beautiful place to wreak havoc.
You’ve probably seen passive advertisements simply telling you, “Don’t feed the trolls” or advising to “just ignore mean people,” but as it’s your website, you want to take active steps toward banishing these pests. The reality is that allowing trolls to take over your website will hamper discussion, intimidate people into silence, and decrease engagement month over month.
What Is an Internet Troll?
In the modern world, trolls are anonymous Internet users looking for any opportunity to post sarcastic, divisive, or cutting remarks online. Why? Simply to cause chaos.
Trolls know that they can hide behind their screen and make anonymous comments which empowers them to post risky, offensive, and abusive statements.
Nearly half of all Internet users in the US have experienced online harassment. When left unchecked, trolls become the source of online bullying, name-calling, and harassment. To say the least, it’s not the kind of content you want to be associated with your brand.
It’s essential to recognize the difference between a run-of-the-mill negative comment and a troll’s comment.
Since everyone is entitled to their opinion, not everyone who engages with your content will agree with you 100%. Disagreeing comments are normal and a little bit of (on-topic) debate helps keep users engaged. Different people sharing their opinions also shows that your content resonated with them. Of course, you’ll want to be prepared for more heated comments if you’re posting about a controversial topic, but when heated turns to abusive, you should have a plan to step in.
How to Prevent Trolling
When the negative comments seem illogical, unreasonable, and mean-spirited, then you’ve likely got a troll on your hands. Here are some active steps to keep trolls off your website and protect your community:
Establish a Commenting Policy & Clear Guidelines
Keep trolls away from your community by creating a commenting policy that outlines the rules of engagement and the consequences for breaking those rules. You can amend your policy at any time, but it’s crucial to share each iteration with your users.
Your guidelines will give commenters a clear outline of what they can or can’t say on your website. You can include items such as:
• Users must stay on topic or discussion points
• Comments will be deleted if they contain abusive, vulgar, offensive, racist, threatening, or offensive terms
• Comments will be deleted if they include personal attacks of any kind or target individuals or groups
• Spam comments will be deleted
Although your guidelines won’t keep every troll out, publishing your policy establishes impartiality and protects you if you block someone from your site.
Encourage Users to Report Trolls to a Moderator
The members of your community will want to help keep your space safe. It’s beneficial to use moderators (even if the moderator is you) to check comments, but you may not be able to catch everything.
Giving your dedicated users the ability to report offensive content puts power into their hands. It shows them that you care about their protection and want them to feel comfortable while they’re engaging with your website.
If your users report a troll, then your site’s moderator can review the post and decide on the course of action to take with the person who posted it.
Use a Moderation Tool
Another option for stopping trolls in their tracks is to use a moderation tool for comment platforms. These elite tools combine the power of AI and human moderation to eliminate trolls from your site.
The AI removes comments based on language, filters comments, and flags any suspicious posts for human review. The human moderator reviews the flagged posts and makes a final decision on whether the comment is offensive. If the comment is offensive, they’ll remove it and reprimand the poster based on the community guidelines.
A moderation tool streamlines the efficiency of enforcing the rules you set for your brand in your community guidelines.
What to Do If a Troll Gets Through
No matter how hard you try, a troll will sneak in from time to time. There’s no need to worry—you can mitigate the situation quickly and efficiently.
Be Professional and Uber Polite
When you read a negative comment—especially if it’s directed toward you—you’ll want to take a moment to step away from the computer and take a deep breath. It can be so tempting to type back a snarky response, but the best thing you can do is calm down before taking action.
While it’s easier to believe that a negative comment is coming from a troll instead of an unsatisfied customer, you don’t want to risk saying something that will offend a client who is already on the fence about your brand.
If you choose to respond to a negative comment, stay professional, positive, and kind. Your comments are as public as the negative posts, so watch what you say before someone takes a screenshot. And if it turns out to be a troll, you know what to do.
Don’t Involve the Community or Other Users
In the same vein, don’t drag other users into a troll’s nest. If you have a troll, you don’t need to make a big fuss over it. Trolls want to cause drama; your customers aren’t following you for the drama, they’re there for your brand. Simply delete the comment and move on.
Managing Trolls with Insticator
The good news is that you don’t have to fight trolls on your own. Insticator offers an extensive commenting platform that will bring your community together and keep the trolls far, far away.
We provide around-the-clock human moderation to monitor your forums. While we moderate, you can focus on other aspects of your business, like polishing your next blog post. Additionally, you can engage your users with reputation points to encourage positive posting and discourage harassment.
Insticator’s commenting solution also comes with a customizable configuration, seamless cross-screen integration, and ad-supported technology.
Get in touch with us today to discuss how we can revolutionize your website’s commenting platform.