Friday 22 August 2014

You Get Drawn Into a Forty-Eight Hour War With a Troll

Signs of a problem: a stranger is attacking you for no particular reason; you can’t work out how you got into the row in the first place; you are using an unmoderated forum.

The symptoms: exhaustion; despair; confusion.

In myths and legend, trolls are ugly, uncouth monsters. This is also an adequate description of the internet troll. Internet trolls are people who like to cause trouble and upset others for sport. Unmoderated forums are particularly rich in trolls, but they can be found in every corner of the internet.

Although not technically trolling, there can be occasions when you get into a row with a very opinionated person who genuinely believes their side of an argument is the only possible viewpoint; such folk will remain intractable whatever you say. Though more respectable than trolls, they need dealing with in a similar way for the sake of your own sanity.

Most internet forums allow anonymity and so people often say things they wouldn’t dare say to your face, or add things for effect, rather than as an indication of what they actually feel. It is important to realise this and not take forum exchanges to heart.

Whatever you do, do not engage with a troll. If you do, arguments can go on for hours or even days. Exhausting for you but exhilarating for the troll, by continuing an argument, you are conceding a win. Your strongest weapon is to walk away.

A typical scenario: you are a na├»ve newbie who doesn’t realise that eBook-promotion is not allowed in a particular eBook forum. You saddle in and start a thread called ‘My Sheep-Farming Thrilla is da best’. You grab yourself a cup of tea and when you come back, you find six messages scolding you for self-promotion, two messages saying that the sheep on your cover looks like a tampon, and one message telling you to die in an unfortunate shearing accident.

Do you deserve to be the victim of an onslaught of abuse? No. It is not unreasonable to assume that eBook authors would be allowed to promote their books in an eBook forum. You made a common newbie error. The users who insulted your sheep drawing are punishing you for a minor faux pas by hitting where it hurts.

Do not respond by telling them that your book is so good that they should be truly grateful to have been informed about it. Do not ask the troll if it could do better. Do not redesign your cover to include a less tamponesque depiction of a sheep. Do not walk into a pair of shears. Do not let the trolls have any impact on you whatsoever.

If you walk away now, the sheep comments may niggle for a while. If you argue with the troll, you could be stuck at your computer for days arguing your sheep’s case.

If you want to discuss books, find yourself a moderated forum. You will have to familiarise yourself with rules about self-promotion and will always need to be vigilant about getting drawn into pointless rows, but moderated forums can be friendly, wholesome places to hang out, as well as invaluable sources of support for the new author.

Additional Blog-Exclusive Advice

By L K Jay

Trolls Just Want to be Loved

I apologise now for my liberal use of the word arsehole. Or if you’re American, asshole. You see, this is what I like to call trolls, because essentially, that is what they are. I’m a down to earth person who likes to call a spade a spade, or a troll an arsehole.

I’m an indie author who’s written a few novels and novellas and quite possibly, made the odd punctuation error in my time. When I first started self-publishing, I made a few schoolgirl errors, such as over long paragraphs or the odd extraneous adverb or two. But a few kind people pointed that out constructively, thus I’ve developed my writing style and I’ve improved. They are normal people who have a balanced opinion and a life away from the keyboard. Trolls on the other hand are arseholes. Trolls do not want to want to enter into a healthy debate, or offer some useful advice or comment about a story they’ve just read, they just want to be mean because that’s their raison d’etre. Cool, that was a bit of French, that was!

So, may I reiterate the stellar advice offered by Rosen? Ignore them because if you respond to a trollish comment on a forum, or to a silly one star review or nasty comments on your blog, then you are giving the troll what he or she wants. Arguments and upset are what feed these creatures, it’s their amber nectar. If you ignore them, then you have the satisfaction of knowing that without their food you are making them shrivel up and die. You see, trolls hate rejection, and by ignoring them, you are rejecting them. In fact, when I find myself trolled, I’m happy in the knowledge that I’ve written something that has annoyed someone so much, they felt the need to comment on it. After all, the opposite of love isn’t hate, it’s indifference. By hating you, they are giving you attention, which is an emotion in itself. That emotion is otherwise known as jealousy, my friends. They want a reaction because they want the attention, they envy you because you had the nerve to do something they probably didn’t: write and publish a novel. Trolls just want to be loved! Doesn’t mean you have to date them though, bleugh.

Have you ever met a troll in real life? I have. He’s a local man that I had the misfortune of having a drink with once. In real life he’s a bit pathetic, weedy, lacks social skills and fortitude; I felt a bit sorry for him. Then I realised that he thought of himself as a bit of a keyboard warrior. It’s the only way he could feel powerful because he wouldn’t have the nerve to say nasty things to me in real life. Mostly because I’m a 3rd Dan in taekwondo but also because he knows I’d call him an arsehole to his face and that would make him cry.

So remember fellow indies; trolls are arseholes. You already have one, so there’s no need to have another in your life. Ignore, ignore, ignore.

I’m probably going to get trolled now but I offer a free trolling defence absorbance service because quite frankly, I couldn’t give a monkeys.


  1. Trolls are like pigeons. Feed them and they become an ever increasing nuiscance to everyone - although sometimes entertaining to watch from a safe distance.

    Stop feeding them and they have to forage for themselves. You'll still occasionally see them from a distance but what they'll be doing won't include stealing your bread, happiness and time, nor will you get covered in excrement.

  2. Sterling post, ladies! Both sound advice and hilarious too! While people always have a right to express their opinions, some opinions are not worth losing sleep over. Bravo and big hugs xxx

  3. This is an absolutely brilliant take on these individuals, with great advice. You have brightened up my evening. Thanks.