A colleague of mine, also a freelance writer, deleted his blog last weekend. When I asked him why, he cited comment trolls as the primary reason as to why he had to shut it down. “I wanted to showcase my work,” he said, “not spend a few minutes a day feeling annoyed.”
What exactly are comment trolls? They’re the readers, often anonymous, who post inflammatory or off-topic remarks. They can be doing this to attract attention to themselves, promote their own web sites, or simply because they are bored.
According to my friend he received both inflammatory comments and off-topic self-promotion from his readers. Though I’ve gotten the odd troll in my own blogs, I don’t have the readership to be as bothered as he was. Even then, there must be a better way to deal with trolls than just by deleting your blog altogether. Here are some alternatives:
Have a comment policy. This is a paragraph in your comments section or a separate page that lists your policy for identifying and handling inappropriate comments. For an example comment policy, check out this one from ProBlogger.
What do you do when a reader breaks your comment policy? It depends on how long the reader has been participating in your blog. Personally, I prefer to delete the comment and move on.
Set comment approval rules. Blogging platforms and plug-ins can usually automate comment approval for you. Readers that have commented before can have their comments auto-approved, while first-time commenters will have their messages held for approval. This ensures that readers who already know your comment policy will be able to reply to a post without waiting. You can also filter out comments that have swear words and too many outbound links (often a sign of spam).
If you get too many comments and it’s no longer practical for you to moderate them, you can get a virtual assistant to help you. You can ask him or her to delete or unapprove inappropriate comments, as well as notify you when specific comments require an urgent reply.
Disallow comments altogether. This may sound a drastic move, but if you don’t want to deal with the commenting aspect of having a blog, then don’t allow comments at all. Most blogging platforms allow you to disable comments on your entire blog or on individual posts. The trade-off is that you then can’t build a community with your blog, but if that’s not part of your goals, then allowing comments doesn’t really matter.
Do you get many comment trolls on your blog? How do you deal with them?