The sole purpose of an internet troll is to provoke a reaction from the recipient. Trolls are happiest when a person reacts with great emotion and upset. The best solution is this – don’t feed them!

Who are the trolls?

Online trolls are people who don’t belong on the person in question’s social media account, chat, forum, or blog.  The reason they don’t belong is because they have caused an unnecessary argument, they are saying something extremely nasty, they are targeting just one person, they are continually abusive or they have preyed on someone vulnerable.

The trolls have been found to have real personality problems, scoring highly on sadism (gaining pleasure from other people’s pain) and Machiavellianism (being highly deceptive and manipulative).

Real internet trolls are thankfully in the minority but this depends on your definition of trolling. Some people see it as any negative posting that is designed to hurt others and it could take many forms.

Can we stop them?

An argument can’t happen with just one person.  Let them speak but don’t respond is the best advice for stopping a troll.  Delete them if possible and if not report them, especially if you are feeling very vulnerable and they are targeting you because they know you are having a bad time.

Or, you could try a little reverse psychology!  Reverse psychology is where a suggestion is made with the desire of gaining the opposite to that which has been suggested.  A troll will be thrown off balance if you just compliment them.  They are used to creating pain, anger and upset and won’t know what to say if you don’t react that way.

Examples to use include

  • That suggestion sounds quite uncomfortable but I’ll give it a go
  • Thanks for a well written and thought out contribution – well done
  • You must be very highly educated  – where did you go?

These would probably be difficult for a troll to respond to.

James Blunt is the King of Twitter comebacks to his online trolls and really doesn’t seem to care what people say about him – see a full version of how he won the twitter trolls here.  Favourites include:

Troll: ‘James Blunt just has an annoying face and a highly irritating voice’, James: ‘ and no mortgage’.

Troll: ‘ Does anyone still care about James Blunt?’, James: ‘thanks for asking’

Troll: ‘Bloody hell why is James Blunt still going’, James: ‘Viagra and coffee mostly’

And we can’t argue with those!

Finding the trolls

It’s easy to be rude and nasty when an identity is hidden but some people have managed to find out who their troller really is.  We aren’t suggesting that you go out and try to find trolls yourself but sometimes taking away a person’s anonymity might just make them get off your online radar!

We will leave you with an example of how a twitter troll was found by a boxer and lived to regret it:

Troller Jimmyob88, who had been abusing Chris Woodhouse for months, continued his tirade after the boxer lost his English Lightweight title.  He tweeted that Woodhouse was ‘a disgrace’.  Woodhouse was so fed up with this troller’s tweets that he offered his followers a 1K reward for locating Jimmyob88.  Upon finding out where the troller lived (not near a bridge, although that would have been ironic!), he tweeted his followers at several points of his journey to seek out this troller in the flesh. Tweets included: ‘i’ll be there in 50 minutes’, ‘17 miles to go’, a picture of the road sign and ‘what’s his house number?’.

Now you’re probably wondering about the response from the troller, Jimmyob88?  Initially he went quiet, but as Woodhouse was closing in, he tweeted “I am sorry it’s getting a bit out of hand. I am in the wrong. I accept that.”

Woodhouse was labelled a hero on Twitter and supported by other celebs including Lennox Lewis.  The moral of the story is that it’s not such a good idea to troll a boxer – or anyone else for that matter.