Saturday, May 24, 2014

Dealing with Internet Trolls: Wisdom from Proverbs

By Bruce Atkinson
Special to Virtueonline
May 23, 2014

Over the past few years I have experimented with different ways of dealing with trolls and other discontents on the comment sections of websites, with varying degrees of failure and success. Most of what I discuss here is specific to my favorite website ( but it is likely that these points can generalize to other websites as well. I have discovered that the book of Proverbs contains some insightful wisdom appropriate to this topic which I am happy to share.


So what is an internet troll? From Wikipedia: “In Internet slang, a ‘troll’ is a person who sows discord on the Internet by starting arguments or upsetting people by posting inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community (such as a forum, chat room, or blog) with the deliberate intent of provoking readers into an emotional response or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion… Media attention in recent years has equated trolling with online harassment. For example, mass media has used troll to describe a person who defaces Internet tribute sites with the aim of causing grief to families… As noted in an OS News article titled ‘Why People Troll and How to Stop Them’ (January 25, 2012), ‘The traditional definition of trolling includes intent. That is, trolls purposely disrupt forums. This definition is too narrow. Whether someone intends to disrupt a thread or not, the results are the same...’”

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