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[ NNSquad ] Lauren's Handy Guide for Detecting and Dealing with Trolls on Google+

      Lauren's Handy Guide for Detecting and Dealing with Trolls on Google+


1) Trolls virtually always appear very suddenly, like a big, painful,
pus-filled pimple.  Typically they emerge (like a daemon from Hell) as
a provocative comment on your thread, and it's the first time you've
ever heard of this individual. They are not to be confused with
spammers, who represent a related (but largely orthogonal) class of
social networking vermin.

2) Your first impressions regarding whether or not a comment has been
generated by a troll will almost always be accurate.  That is, if your
gut reaction to a comment is that you're being trolled, you will
likely be very accurate in that appraisal.  Outrageous and/or highly
provocative statements designed to trigger emotional responses are
their hallmark.  Occasionally you'll come up against a troll who takes
a slower approach and attempts to draw you into a what appears to be a
reasonable argument, but this is quite rare since most trolls aim to
do maximal damage to as many threads as they can, as quickly as

3) "Professional" trolls ("pro-trolls") usually prowl public G+
postings explicitly looking to spread disinformation and propaganda --
or even "simply" to disrupt threads -- in furtherance of specific
goals, often politically or racially oriented.  Some of these trolls
work in organized packs, sometimes with serious funding behind them as
systematic social networking disruption agents. Despite the tone of
their postings, professional trolls are usually not actually nuts or
idiots, and are very goal-oriented.

4) Freelance ("opportunistic") trolls usually work alone, and unlike
"professional" trolls, they often *are* nuts and/or idiots.  Their
comments will be at least as provocative as those of pro-trolls, but
may tend toward higher levels of wackiness that expose their lack of
true goal orientation.

5) Both in the case of freelance and pro-trolls, a quick examination
of their G+ profiles and postings is usually extremely useful to
verify their status prior to blocking.  Dead giveaways of their
"trollness" include either a stream of nearly identical postings, a
variety of postings that tend to all be concentrated within the "troll
zone" of inanities, or very few (even zero) postings of their own at
all, the latter suggesting that they rapidly create new accounts as
their previous ones become heavily blocked.

6) Without exception, trolls should be *immediately* blocked when
detected.  Unless threats or the like are involved, it is usually not
necessary nor appropriate to also report their profiles.  I recommend
blocking troll profiles quickly and mercilessly, and not even
bothering to flag the individual comments, again unless threats or
other illicit behavior are involved.  In cases of threats, etc., you
may want to flag the individual comments, then block and report the
troll's account.

7) It is usually good practice to delete a troll's comments from your
thread, to avoid later legitimate commenters being drawn into the
maelstrom.  You may also wish to strongly consider deleting any
responses to the troll that fed the beast, especially since leaving
those other comments in place after deleting the troll's comments
tends to leave a disjoint comment flow that can be difficult for later
readers to understand.

8) Whenever you block/report a troll, and/or delete their own comments
and possibly other related comments, consider adding *your own*
comment on the thread explaining what you have done.  A note as simple
as "Troll blocked and associated comments deleted" will usually be

9) Most importantly, show trolls absolutely no mercy.  Block them
immediately. Your threads are your responsibility, and you are under
no obligation to host comments designed as weapons of destruction.
Individual trolls rarely return -- they usually move on quickly to
greener pastures.  Their entire purpose is disruption through
asymmetric attacks.  You should feel absolutely no hesitation at
blocking them, and no compunction for having done so.  The saying *Do
Not Feed The Trolls* (DNFTT) holds true.  Do not engage them in
conversation.  Do not argue with them -- you might as well be arguing
with a roll of toilet paper.  Block them now.  Report them if
necessary.  Clean up any damage they've done to your threads by
removing their comments and related comments that could waste the time
of other readers.

 - - - 

The wonders of social networking can only stay wonderful if we take
individual responsibility to moderate, manage, and curate our threads,
on Google+ or anywhere else.

This means taking our roles as thread creators very seriously, and not
enduring the presence of trolls on our threads at any time -- not for
any reason.  No excuses.  No exceptions.

Together we can help make Google+ as troll-free as possible.  Human
nature being what it is, we will never be entirely successful at this
effort.  But we can certainly give it the ol' college try.

Lauren Weinstein (lauren@vortex.com): http://www.vortex.com/lauren 
Co-Founder: People For Internet Responsibility: http://www.pfir.org/pfir-info
 - Network Neutrality Squad: http://www.nnsquad.org 
 - PRIVACY Forum: http://www.vortex.com/privacy-info
 - Data Wisdom Explorers League: http://www.dwel.org
 - Global Coalition for Transparent Internet Performance: http://www.gctip.org
Member: ACM Committee on Computers and Public Policy
Lauren's Blog: http://lauren.vortex.com
Google+: http://vortex.com/g+lauren / Twitter: http://vortex.com/t-lauren 
Tel: +1 (818) 225-2800 / Skype: vortex.com
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