Forum Troll Problems: Identification, Mistaken Identity and Solutions

  1. Shawn Gossman
    Forum troll problems often impact most forum owners out there who have a somewhat active forum. I know I have had my fair share of forum troll problems. I bet you have had your fair share of forum troll problems, too. As forum owners, we’ve experiences what true forum troll problems are for our communities. A forum troll can make an online community toxic if not properly dealt with because they will often put other members in a bad mood and create a negative vibe on the forum. But are forum troll problems always what goes on? It is important to identify actual forum troll problems from members who are not trolls after all. After a true forum troll has been identified, it is important to take the best action that will not harm your forum in the process…

    Confusing Something Else as Forum Troll Problems
    One particular wrong in identifying forum troll problems is with a mistaken identity. Some members of the forum whom might be acting negative are not forum trolls after all. We’re usually quick to judge based on our experiences with all the forum troll problems that we have had in the past – this isn’t exactly a good practice, to be honest. If you mistakenly identify someone as a forum troll and punish them for it, they will surely become a forum troll issue for you after making that mistake. Don’t ‘dig yourself into a hole’ as the old saying goes when identifying and misidentifying forum troll problems on your message forum.

    Some members are simply hard to convince. Some members who argue everything you have to say because the method you are using to convince them of something is simply not working to your advantage. This doesn’t mean that the member is a forum troll. It means that something has happened in their life, possibly, that has created issues about trusting people on the internet and winning them over is going to be a significant challenge. When people are mistreated, lied to, cheated and simply down right ‘screwed’ on the internet, especially in niche land, they lose trust for people online as a whole – and who are we to actually blame them? In reality, they don’t know us, we could be liars! They’ve been cheated before, why are we special enough to gain the full trust without really earning it to begin with?

    How about a solution for gaining someone’s trust so that they don’t become mistakenly identified as a troll? In the case, you strategically engage the member. Don’t try to publicly or even privately get them to expel their mistrust issues and reasoning why they are the way they are. Instead, focus your efforts on letting them gradually get their story out on their own. Engage with the members by developing a friendship, first. Make sure that they understand that you would like to learn more about them. Don’t act like a salesperson, though, because that is easy to spot and the member may feel like you are trying to win their trust over in a shady way! Try to befriend them in a way that you would try to actually befriend someone to make a new friendship. Once you and the member actually become friends and you truly remain a good friend, the negativity will likely stop and you will earn a loyal member on your forum. See, people need one and other – we need good friends whom we can trust. You just have to actually be willing to make new friends, online and actually mean it.

    Identifying Realistic Forum Troll Problems on Your Forum
    Some people on your forum are not trolls, as I explained above. However, there are realistic forum troll problems that you will likely deal with at least once (but probably more than once) on your message forum. A true forum troll is a member who is on your forum for one thing and one thing only – disrupting your forum. To disrupt your forum, anger you and your staff and modify the positive emotions of members to negative emotions – the forum troll gets what they want in the process. Disruption can temporary or permanently harm the reputation of your forum.

    The troll might be an aggressive form of competition or the troll might feel like you are a liar or have screwed them before or the troll might just very well get off on disrupting forums and your forum just happen to be in their targeting range. Whatever the reason, the forum troll is likely going to remain the forum troll and there is nothing you can do to make them stop being a forum troll. But you can stop them from trolling on your forum! That! You have complete control of!

    What a symptoms of forum troll problems on a forum? This is a great question! It is both easy and challenging to spot forum troll problems on an online community. The challenging portion of it is that you don’t want to mistakenly identify someone as a troll who is not really a troll after all, as I have talked about, above! The easy part of identifying a troll is because there is plenty of forum own experience out there, as well as advice, to help you out along the way.

    One particular favored avenue of a forum troll is dressing up their member account to be semi or completely offensive. The avatar, profile information, signature and even links on the profile are likely going to be offensive in some way or another. The forum troll will start an argument or turn a debate into a fight and make threats or resort to name calling. The forum troll will scold you in public and accuse you of taking away their rights as a human if you even attempt to discipline them or coach them at that. The forum troll will talk badly about you and your forum outside of your forum where you cannot do anything to stop it. The fuel for forum troll problems is simply your need to try to fight or change them. Trolls are tricksters and they love it when you are brought down to a level of control they can have over you.

    How to Stop Forum Troll Problems on Your Forum
    Don’t let the idea of forum troll problems scare you away from running a message forum! Forum troll problems are not the hardest thing in the forum world to prevent or eliminate. In fact, forum marketing is probably 10 times harder than dealing with a forum troll. But you need to realize that eliminating a forum troll threat will mean that you have to keep your cool, remain professional and continue using the methods you are using to combat forum troll problems on your online community. If you lose your cool and go down to their level, things will only get worse after that and recovery from that is very challenging. Plus, your members will be watching you closely during this time, with expectations that you will handle these matters with professionalism and skill – don’t disappoint your membership!

    Preventing forum troll problems on your forum boils down to two tactics – creating a proper set of forum rules and enforcing your proper set of forum rules. You should be creating a forum rules page or topic on your forum and it should everything from forum troll problems to illegal activities being done on the forum and everything in between. Some forum owners report that trolls often find loopholes to bypass – in this case, make some rules out to be broad in nature. One particular rule that I can easily use on any sort of troll on my forum is my “Constant negativity is not allowed on this forum” term. A forum troll is negative, because their actions are disrupting the forum – there is no loophole for that rule. After you make your rules, you better enforce them with pride. Don’t let others bend the rules or they will grow to expect to always be able to do it and use past activities against you if you finally do decide to stop them from bending the rules. Allowing someone to do something that is prohibited and then stopping someone later on for doing it will make your forum toxic and many people will likely start to lose any trust they had for you. It is a community reputation ruin machine to do that!

    If forum troll problems are becoming a persistent issue on your forum, fight fire with fire and be persistent right back. Delete troll postings, ban the account and don’t talk to them – say nothing to them at all. Repeat this process each time they create another account and try to be quick about it. Tell your forum staff team members to do the same and explain to them that they should not talk at all to the forum trolls because that only ‘feeds the troll’. Eventually, the forum troll is going to lose – it may take a long time but eventually it will stop and they will move on to their next victim. If you feed the troll, you and your forum are in for a world of hurt, so take that as a warning.

    Off-Site Forum Troll Problems
    Forum troll problems are not always on your forum where you may have complete control of them. At times, forum troll problems are off-site, as well. This is when a troll is bashing you or your community away from your community, somewhere, where you have no control or say so. How do you effectively deal with that? First of all, ignoring the troll is one of your main weapons – ignore them and know that they are doing nothing to harm you as long as you keep ignoring them.

    In some cases, you might decide to respond and in some cases, it is okay to do it…such as…

    I used to run a message forum geared at the forum administrator community. I spent a lot of time on making new topics that were highly creative and contributing to the forum admin industry. In fact, I am well-known for my ability to create topics that turn into page after page of contributing responses. I take pride in that but I will say that is requires a lot of hard work and research on my part. Anyways, I probably posted somewhere in the range of 300-400 new topics to start my forum with. I then got to search other admin and promotion forums looking to help develop my niche-based reputation and I found one particular promotion forum that caught my attention. The owner copied most of my topics (title for title, word for word) and posted them as their own on their forum. I was furious! I contacted the forum owner and informed them that I was the person they had ripped on and then they accused me of ripping them off and threatened legal action against me if I didn’t take my posts down. So I made a public post on my own forum about it, in a professional way and showed members the differences in the post dates. Mine were posted months before the thief copied and posted mine. I become the trusted player during this example of off-site forum troll problems and the content thief took all my posts down and eventually closed their forum down after losing trust from everyone.

    Sometimes, public talk about forum troll problems work, other times, it does not…

    On one occasion, I remember a forum owner in desperate need of advice over a website that was targeting them as an individual and their forum. The website is known to troll forums and try to ruin the online reputation of internet users. Those who post and comment on the site are there to create drama and they feed off any sort of response, whether from on their site or away from their site. The forum owner in question eventually created an account and attempted to defend their assets in a professional manner – the members of the site totally destroyed every comment they made and turned it into negative information. The forum member then resorted to threatening to get the website shut down, the website responded by hacking the person’s forum and defacing it. The person lost quite a few members because of that. The forum owner eventually got so angry that they closed down their forum and simply vanished from the internet. Do you want that to be you in the future? Of course, you don’t! Don’t feed the trolls!



    What sort of Forum Troll Problems have you had on your Online Community?

    Think back…maybe not even too far away! What sort of forum troll problems have you had on your online community? How did you deal with these forum troll problems? Please comment below with your thoughts, ideas, opinions and comments about dealing with forum troll problems on our online communities in this day and age!

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