How to Deal with Cranks, Flamers and Trolls

How to Deal with Cranks, Flamers and Trolls

Ah, the anonymous Internet, the place where we can revel in knee-jerk reactions with little or no consequences at all. We cry out, “Freedom of speech!” and bash each other viciously with snappy, nasty words.

Beautiful, isn’t it?

Not really.

The virtual world is a faceless society where we can get away with doing a great deal of damage to other people. Bloggers know all about trollers and flamers, and businesspeople nod at the mention of those hurtful emails they’ve received.

Many a person has sat there hopelessly while watching their blog implode thanks to vehement commentary that makes them wish they’d never begun blogging in the first place. Many a person has sat there re-reading an email from a client thinking, “Wow. What’d I do?”

Because of the lack of face-to-face interaction and wide boundaries of societal rules of engagement, we can write out our reactions and walk away without a care. Take that, you bastard! We can trash people’s feelings, damage their ventures, and undo all their confidence in just a simple paragraph.

We can be nasty, condescending, and hurtful in this electronic society. Then we go to bed and sleep very well indeed with a clear conscience, thinking we’re great people with big hearts.

All Systems Go, Captain

Each of us has a set of internal switches, like a big control panel. This switch panel is the key to our reactions. Flick the switches up or down, hit the right combined pattern, and we react.

We light up like a rocket, whether it’s a good reaction or a bad one. It’s all systems go, the engine is flaring and we’re ready to rock n’ roll.

We could melt and say, “Awww,” because someone flicked all our “content and happy” switches on. We could rise to sudden anger because someone has pushed all our buttons.

Someone’s flicking the switches and pushing the buttons – are we really just mindless machines controlled by other people and running the gamut of emotions they create? Who is in control, here? Whose flight panel is it? Who says we have to take off in the first place?

Flick Your Own Switches

We have a control panel of switches that other people flick up and down, but it’s our control panel, no one else’s. We’re the ones who built it, and we can tinker or even dismantle the switch panel if we choose.

When our switches aren’t flicked into proper position, our engines don’t run as optimally. Maybe some switches are up instead of down. Maybe some are down and not up. If the pattern isn’t right, our ship can’t take off.

We may not have the energy to light up. We might coast a bit and lose steam. Maybe we can’t even get off the ground. It can make the difference between an explosion and just a mild engagement.

Where’s the Instruction Manual?

We have this big control panel full of switches, but no one is ever presented with the instruction manual. It’s up to us to figure out which switch combination produces which reaction. It’s our job to learn to control ourselves instead of letting ourselves explode.

Figuring out the switch sets that create reactions in you is a smart idea. We can learn what makes us react, why we have that reaction and be more aware of the triggers that flick our switches.

Then we can rewire our control panel.

We can dismantle switch sets to reduce our undesirable reactions. We can stop getting upset at certain comments. We can analyze why we feel certain ways, and come to terms with events of the past. We can calm ourselves down, bristle less and think more.

A good thing, no?

Introspection to Interaction

One of the easiest ways to figure out our control panels is to call a halt. Don’t respond. Feel the reaction you have, move your focus off the event that cause the reaction and concentrate on why you have these feelings in the first place.

What upset you? Was it the use of a certain word? Was it a perceived tone? What fears are causing the reaction? Why do you have these fears?

Question your own perspective, too. Have you read emotion into the comment or email that may not be present? Did you misinterpret the tone? Are you assuming what the person is thinking and feeling? Could you be making snap judgments without knowing the truth?

Silly questions? Not at all. When we being to explore our feelings and learn what upsets us – and what upsets others as well – we can work on tempering our reactions, correcting them or even increasing them to achieve better behavior and more positive results.

We’re lucky with our blog and our business. We built a thriving comment section full of great discussion, and people are always respectful of each other’s views. Our clients and colleagues are a pleasure to work with, too.

But many blogs aren’t like ours. Many clients aren’t like ours either. And for those of you who have to deal with flaming, snappy tones and troller comments, take heart. There’s hope.

Just take some time before responding to those hot emails or snarky comments. Curb the urge to snap back an answer. That cool-down period gives you a chance to think about why the message upset you and how to respond in a way that defuses the situation gracefully instead of exploding it.

Post by James Chartrand

James Chartrand is an expert copywriter and the owner of Men with Pens and Damn Fine Words, the game-changing writing course for business owners. She loves the color blue, her kids, Nike sneakers and ice skating.

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  1. James,

    This is a great topic (with a hidden “best-of” in the links). It’s something I only struggle with occasionally, but when you are in the middle of it, it can really throw you off balance.

    Best advice here is to call a halt. Switch off. Walk away to “real” life for a while. Breathe. Works for dealing with trolls or just for regular folks whose buttons you’ve unwittingly pushed.

    You can figure out some of your own switches, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned in my time blogging, it’s that the ones where I’m jonesin’ for a great discussion will produce nada, while innocent little posts can sometimes hide a flame-thrower I didn’t see while I was typing. Trying to figure out other people’s switches isn’t nearly so easy.

    Though I know a few of yours, hehe. And no doubt folks know a few of mine. :)

    Regards,

    Kelly

    P.S. Did you just put in the “previous” and “next” links or have I been blind? Nice touch, whether they’re new or not. I like being able to pace back and forth in a blogger’s living room, so to speak.

    Kelly´s last blog post…Inspiration Points: Fake It ‘Til You Make It?

  2. @ Kelly – One huge problem I see is that people DO switch off. They just say, “Whatever,” and they don’t deal with the underlying issues. I feel that’s a mistake, because it means they don’t have to look inside to their own feelings, and they don’t learn to interact better with other people.

    The previous/next has been there since the new launch. As I recall, you’d suggested it… and we listened :)

  3. Amen re: stepping back to see if there’s a better perspective. It’s so easy to misinterpret or assign tone, and there’s ego at play, too. All of us at one time or another have pounded away at the keyboard and hit send before we should. Thanks for the reminder.

    Betsy´s last blog post…AS I WANDER OUT UNDER THE SKY…

  4. James,

    Oh, now I only meant switch off for an hour or two. I’m a huge self-examination proponent, I always want to know whether I am taking this in a certain way b/c I’m me. But a little air first can help you do that check.

    Yes, I did suggest it. Somehow I just didn’t notice that it had appeared until today. :)

    Men With Ears. You’re excellent listeners.

    Until later,

    Kelly

    Kelly´s last blog post…Inspiration Points: Fake It ‘Til You Make It?

  5. This is an excellent topic! I love the analogy you used as well.

    I find that 90% of all negative/harsh comments/emails are birthed from the negativity inside the ‘author’. I even struggle with this myself. I may react to someone’s content in a negative way, only to realize that I was just in a bad mood at the time I read it. So unless I obviously deserved the ‘harshness’, I try to see it as ‘their’ problem, not mine. But this is MUCH easier said than done. This is where the re-wiring needs to take place.

    Thanks for giving me something to chew on. Eric.

    Eric Hamm´s last blog post…The Rats Stole My ‘Stuff’!

  6. Brett Legree says:

    Good post James.

    It is all too easy to do this even by accident sometimes, because (if my memory serves me well) only about 7 percent of a message is in the written words.

    The rest is in the tone, and the body languange.

    A good example would be you and I the other day at Michael’s blog. If we had been chatting about this over beers, it would have been a real simple 2 minute thing and on to something else.

    Of course, we ended up figuring it out but it is just an example of how things can go strange in a hurry.

    Oh, and I was lovin’ my snow tires today ;)

    -Brett

    Brett Legree´s last blog post…viking fridays – give and give again.

  7. When I first started blogging (long before I started Writing Journey) these kinds of experiences got to me. Some reader would leave an insulting comment on my gaming blog and I’d fire back. In the end, it didn’t help anyone. It didn’t encourage thoughtful discussion, either. Quite the opposite.

    Keep in mind I’m not talking about disagreements. Those are fine. I love a healthy debate. No, these are the comments that would say something like “ur wrong, and this blog is dum.”

    I got to the point where I started flicking my switches. When I’d get a comment that was out of line, I’d delete it and send the author a quick email. It would always go something like this:

    “Thanks for visiting my blog, and taking the time to comment. I’ve deleted your comment, however, because it was insulting and out of line.

    Discussion and disagreement are fine. If you want to comment on the ideas on my blog, please do. But don’t come into my house, piss on my carpet and expect me to say, “Thank you.”

    I never hear back from them, strangely enough.

    Bob Younce´s last blog post…Writing Your Way Out Of A Recession

  8. @ Bob – LOL! My emails go something like this:

    “Thanks for your comment on our blog. I noticed that you feel angry and upset about what I wrote, and I’d like to know your thoughts on that so that I can understand them a little better. I’m having a hard time seeing what might have been so upsetting to you, but that’s only my perspective and I’m interested in knowing yours. So feel free to let me know, and maybe we can talk something out. Cheers!”

    It basically says, “You have a voice and you have been heard.” Sometimes that’s all people need.

    Then they write back and go, “Oh! No no no, I wasn’t mad! Geez, I’m sorry, here, let me go apologize. Wow! So cool of you to write, sorry, man…”

    *chuckles*

    @ Brett – In your case and Friar’s… Um… yeah. Text didn’t help, we lost a lot of communication and got into conflict because of it. My switches were flicked to “FULL POWER, CAPTAIN! STRAP ON YOUR SEATBELT!!!” and that’s why I took it to email – because we had to talk about more than just whether snow tires are cool or not. Especially in Quebec.

    I’m glad you and I could do that together.

    @ Eric – YES!! We read so much into people’s comments! And even when we’re not, even when it’s clear, we need to be able to think, “Man. This person is so angry. I wonder what’s going on in her life to feel that way. That must be so hard to live with.”

    Of course, that’s after we think, “God I would love to stick a fork in this person’s tongue and rip it out to dance on it!”

    @ Betsy – Ego. Ahhh… Yes. We all have huge ones, don’t we? (Except for me. My ego is teeny tiny to match my insecurities!)

  9. Graham Strong says:

    The best thing to do is let it go, I find. Yes, you could sit there and argue with them. But to quote an analagy I heard once, you’re fighting ghosts. Because commenters can be anonymous, they can write nasty things and push your buttons like emotional poltergiests.

    It helps to remember that there is a reason they are beating up people anonymously: bullies are often weaker in character, and need to find a way to make themselves feel bigger. If that is something that needs to be directed at me, well, whatever. Hope I’ve helped.

    As a blog owner, you can shut it down pretty easily too. Have a policy of “no hurtful words” and then delete those comments. I know we all are sensitive to censorship — especially our own — but I don’t think the right to speak your mind trumps the right to protect yourself and others.

    IMHO,

    ~Graham

    Graham Strong´s last blog post…Is Creativity Fractal?

  10. James- what an accurate and smart piece you have written here….these are actually very valuable words! I find that passion about things (particulary music) or say politics for some….are grounds for virtual snake pits innocently labeled “leave a comment” :D

  11. Brett Legree says:

    @James,

    Yes, me too – I wouldn’t have wanted to let that one go without shaking on it.

    (we both needed coffee and I needed some cold medication to boot!)

    Brett Legree´s last blog post…viking fridays – give and give again.

  12. @Graham – I was wondering when someone would bring in the “C” word…

    For my part, I feel like a blog is a place for me to express my ideas and interact with other folks interested in that topic.

    Once things degenerate to name-calling, it’s time to stop. My blog isn’t some free-for-all un-moderated forum; it’s my place. Yeah, it’s there for others to enjoy, but I’m the host. I’ve got every right and inclination to kick out a troublemaker.

    Now, is that censorship? Nah. Not at all. Censorship would be to say, “You can’t say that” rather than “You can’t say that here.”

    There’s also a big difference between limiting the expression of ideas and limiting the expression of insults.

    Heh. This is another discussion entirely, but I rather narrowly define censorship as having the threat of force, and typically comes from authority figures, such as a government.

    Bob Younce´s last blog post…Writing Your Way Out Of A Recession

  13. I think one of the best tips you mentioned is the cooling off period. Time heals all wounds. In addition, waiting a bit and reflecting can save you some embarrassment and is much better for your blood pressure.

    In my younger days, I would get sucked into the negative vortex. When necessary I can be scathing in my written word and can eviscerate, skin and quarter a troll in under 14 seconds. As fun and as tempting as that is, I now avoid it. it’s like that old saying about not wrestling around in the mud with a pig: You get all muddy and the pig likes it.

    Cheers

    George

    Tumblemoose´s last blog post…What this writer learned this week

  14. The only thing this comment section is missing is a nice flaming comment like, “Look who’s talking you flaming mother of troll dung!” But I suppose that would be inappropriate, which is what you were trying to get at…. Right, I got it–I’m catching on.

    What Eric said about bad moods is all too true. We’re not robots. We bring our emotions to the table. This is OK in a family setting, but in a public setting it’s a bit different. The real chore is to create that family feeling on a blog.

    And as a side note, I would say that some of the beauty of the internet is that people open up–they don’t see restraints on what they can do. It’s a two-edged sword. Sure, the cranks have a heyday, but so do many others who would not otherwise express their emotions and feelings. If it weren’t for this freedom, we would all sound like a bunch of government handbooks.

  15. I think it should be a requirement for all budding bloggers to read Dale Carnegie’s classic, “How to Win Friends and Influence People.”

    I hear of things like, “blog wars.” What the hell is that? I’m not sure if that is the right terminology, but who has the time or the energy to get into scuffles with other blogs? Or for that matter, those commenting on your blog.

    Taking the high road is the only road that will actually make the blogger look good.

    It’s also the enlightened choice.

    Bamboo Forest´s last blog post…7 Reasons the Holidays Rock

  16. The Office Newb says:

    I’m so glad that there are bloggers out there willing to write on this topic. As someone relatively new to the blogging scene, I was horrified when I encountered my first troll and spent a lot of time being upset about what the troll was saying about me (“you’re an idiot,” “your employees must have working for you,” “you’re a horrible person,” etc.)

    It was tough, but I chose to take the high road and not engage with this troll at all. I also chose to delete his comments since they contributed nothing of value to the discussion (this troll didn’t even bother to comment on the topic, just used the comments as a forum to attack me personally). When he responded to this “censorship” by calling me a “communist” I just had to laugh.

    This troll clearly had nothing to do with his life other than read my blog and call me an idiot. He even went so far as to offer me his resume and challenge me to weekly debates on topics of my choosing–a challenge he knew I would lose and wouldn’t accept anyway. At that point I just started feeling sorry for him.

    Sometimes the best way to handle a difficult person, be it online or off, is to simply step back and try to empathize with the person attacking you. Usually they have other completely unrelated stuff going on in their lives that make them lash out at you–even if you have nothing to do with it.

  17. The Office Newb says:

    Oops!

    I meant to say ““your employees must HATE working for you.”

    And yes, he did really say that. And no, I actually get along very well with my employees.

    The Office Newb´s last blog post…Cool Facts About Blogging

  18. Graham Strong says:

    @Bob – I agree 100%. What I was recognizing was the fact that many of us as writers are hyper-sensitive to censorship. So much so in fact that we may cringe at the thought of deleting hurtful comments from our own blogs.

    I believe in free press, freedom of expression, and all those good things. But I also believe that censorship has its place. Certain things should not be available to children, for example. Some writing falls under the category of hate crimes, which I’m also in favour of censoring. And here in Canada, courts routinely have publication bans in place during certain trials so that jury members are less likely to hear the details of a crime in the media, and the media is less likely to turn any given trial into a media circus. I believe in this too — and cite the OJ Simpson trial as a perfect example of why this is such a good idea…

    I guess my point in terms of this topic is that if you think that deleting a hurtful comment is censorship, consider what is more important: your (or someone else’s) feelings, or that jerk’s right to anonymously speak his or her mind.

    ~Graham

    Graham Strong´s last blog post…Is Creativity Fractal?

  19. I think Ryan has a point.

    What if a random kid, or your kid, or your nephew/niece, etc. wanders over to a blog/your blog that has nasty comments or a nasty post? Especially if there is no rating on the blog as some are? Or they’re not being watched over?

    Tips:

    Keep it neutral.
    Remember audience.
    And what would happen if you said that to them to their face? You’d be sporting a black eye or charges, and the list goes on…

    “Freedom of speech!” has its limits too, i.e. online bullying/threats on blogs/websites.

    “faceless” not if you have your pic. on your blog like some do.

    Michelle Kafka´s last blog post…Writing Tool For The Writer/Virtual Office – Zoho

  20. Totally off-topic… I swear I’ve read the books that those Trolls up there are from. Do you happen to know? It’s driving me crazy!

    I also agree with your post, but, you know, that’s not enough reason to comment. ;)

    Amy Crook´s last blog post…Happy Holidays!

  21. @Amy: I don’t have any idea. I couldn’t find a credit for that image and I’ve seen it a few places on the web.

  22. I don’t know what I’d do about a really nasty comment.

    Fortunately I’ve never had one. I’ve had people say I was wrong (and sometimes I was) and I remember one guy who had a pretty low opinion of me and my website but he really wasn’t nasty.. just harshly critical. I’d like to think he was jealous, but he may have just been a person of high taste.

    I’ve never had a real problem comment yet.. must be because I’m so darn cuddly and lovable? Or maybe because my hide is so thick that I just haven’t noticed.. my money is on the latter.

    Tony Lawrence´s last blog post…The Hard Truth about Easy Money on the Internet by Anthony Lawrence

  23. Another option, which I’d do if I knew anything about computer programming is to wipe repeat offenders off your screen. I knew a site that did just that, and offered anyone who wished to install this program that would cause just one person’s comments not to show up – so they simply didn’t know he was writing nasty comments (anyone who didn’t have the software could still see the comments).

    It is hard to turn off the reaction to negative comments, but I think if you write for the internet, you have to get used to it. I also think after a while, negative comments reach a critical mass and you cease to place value in such opinions. I was told to “eat” a commenter, and his brother. You can imagine how that made me chuckle and just keep moving…

    Milena Thomas´s last blog post…What Is Happening To Me?

  24. Great post James, and a topic I am sure struck a chord with many of us.

    I especially liked what you said about taking a halt and not responding for a while. This usually calms down the urges to respond with a half-dozen four letter words…most of the time at least :)

    I have had some great little instances with readers, mostly people who don’t get blogging and think it is ‘gay’. Like the guy who wrote me to tell me that his name was Conrad Hees as well, and that he was going to hack into my blog and destroy it because he was afraid that prospective employers would find my ‘gay’ blog when Googling him and mistake him for me.

    I responded by saying that any employer who found the blog and mistook us would actually think he knew a few things when he saw the articles, and that I would make extra sure to never, ever, ever let our domain name go.

    What has been your craziest experience with a jerk reader?

    Conrad Hees´s last blog post…How Willing Are You to Invest in Yourself?

  25. @ Conrad – I set the blog on fire once by accident and got absolutely fucking torched by some mommy bloggers. I don’t recommend it. I wrote something about PLR articles ( ) and they didn’t like that. Yuck.

    http://menwithpens.ca/take-the-heat-or-get-out-of-the-kitchen

    I’ve had a few WILD clients. The kind where you write “fuzzy kittens” and they run SCREAMING, coming back with gas, pepper spray, spikes and flamethrowers. Those were… mm. Interesting. Especially since I kept saying, “Help me understand,” and they’d just keep screaming.

    Ah, well, makes a day interesting!

    @ Milena – Yeah. Some people have no class. That comment blocker sounds cool, though!

    @ Tony – Indeed, pearls fall from your mouth, o CuddleBears! Actually, I like your comments. Okay, some make me wince, but in general, you have good thoughts. Grumpy ones, but hey. Valid ones. Thinker ones. And we have good conversations. I enjoy them and can’t complain.

    Actually, this post made me think of you, not for your comments, but for how others perceive your comments and how they react. Too quickly, very often.

  26. You’d be grumpy too if you had to live with me.

    Seriously – I know I sound grumpy, but really I’m a happy dude. There’s a sign on my office wall that my wife gave me: “I smile because I have no idea what’s going on”. That’s me.. I’m always grinning like an idiot..

    Tony Lawrence´s last blog post…The Hard Truth about Easy Money on the Internet by Anthony Lawrence

  27. “Just take some time before responding to those hot emails or snarky comments.”

    Hard to do, but usually worth it.

    Given a little time and honest reflection, we may realize we don’t really care that much about the vindictive comment or the issue itself to merit ramping up the intensity of the animosity.

    In other words, often, it’s just not that big a deal. Much more important things to focus on.

    Jesse Hines´s last blog post…The Key to Writing Concisely

  28. James, great post as always.

    I like it when I remember (key word) that I don’t have to be right. Ever. And I love the feeling of taking responsibility for something, even when it’s *clearly* not mine.

    “Wow, I’m so sorry about that. I see your point. What can I do to make it right for you?”

    Like I said, I like it when I remember…an ongoing dance. Some wise guy, can’t remember who, said if something makes you pop out of your shoes in reaction, chances are you’re looking in the mirror.

    2 cents

    Lisa Gates´s last blog post…Free Preview: Goal Setting from the Inside Out

  29. I had to remember, because you know how those things bug you, and I finally did! The image is by Rien Poortvliet from the book “The Complete Gnomes”, which I read as a child, and still have.

    Amy Crook´s last blog post…Happy Holidays!

  30. @ Amy – I had to laugh. Did you wake up in the middle of the night screaming, “I’ve got it! I remember!” I can picture that. Actually, I think I do that.

    @ Lisa – YES. Yes, yes, yes. So many people NEED to be right that they inflame situations incredibly. I always think to myself, “Do you want to be right, or do you want to be happy?”

    Okay, Dr. Phil said that, not me, but still.

    James Chartrand – Men with Pens´s last blog post…How to Deal with Cranks, Flamers and Trolls

  31. I’ve had some doozies of miscommunication happen through email – usually with people that were looking to be offended in the first place.

    With all communication, I try very hard to take my ego out of the equation and look for a way to find common ground. Of course when the other person has no interest in that common ground, it’s a futile conversation and I drop it.

    Other times when I’ve very calmly and carefully replied to an attacking email, I never hear back, even when I specifically ask for details on what I did to produce the reaction so that I can avoid doing the same in the future with that person and others (my mother calls it killing with kindness) ;)

    Fortunately I haven’t had anyone be a troll on my blog yet – I guess that’s a benefit to (relative) obscurity…

    Alex Fayle | Someday Syndrome´s last blog post…Are You Motivated or Held Back by Fear?

  32. Sometimes switching off for a bit can be hard, especially when you know you’re right (or in the right) and the other person has no feet to stand on.

    But in business you’re right, we have to keep our emotions in check, even if it means stepping away for awhile.

    John Hoff – eVentureBiz´s last blog post…Understanding The Psychology Of Your Website Visitors

  33. The thing about being right…

    It’s only one perspective.
    If the goal is to be right, trolls will predominate.
    If the goal is, perhaps, connection and collaboration, being right is nowhere on the map.

    2 cents in a shrinking economy

    Lisa Gates´s last blog post…Goal Setting From the Inside Out Starts with the Big Picture: Declarations

  34. “We can trash people’s feelings, damage their ventures, and undo all their confidence in just a simple paragraph.”

    When I got to this paragraph disaster alarms started ringing “Danger, Will Robinson, Danger!”

    I thought to myself “Oh, shit. This is someone who’s trapped in a victim mindset.”

    And as my alarms were at their loudest you starting speaking the sweet language of personal responsibility. Whewwww!!!

    I had to do what you talked about later in this article because I’ve wired up in my mind that victim speak is corrosive to the self esteem of anyone who wallows in it.

    This is only the second time I’ve been to this site so after you started talking about who’s actually in control you soothed my mind by demonstrating I wasn’t in the company of losers.

    The questions you propose we ask ourselves when we’re criticized resemble some of the ones I picked up in Tony Robbins Negotiating Conflict: Leadership in Times of Crisis program.

    Very astute.

    Thank you for the awesome reminder of how to manage my state. I’ll be back for more.

    Note Taking Nerd #2´s last blog post…Super Bad Ass Stuff You Can Use To Make Your Life Dreamier

  35. @ Note Taking Nerd – I assure you that anyone who reads this blog more than three posts in a row clearly sees that I am no one’s victim, least of all my own.

    Heh, I bet there are people that wish I *would* be, sometimes!

  36. Really wonderful post. :-)

  37. Very nice post as well as courteous comments from fans. I wish I had read this an hour or so ago as I read a post concerning a paperback book about Pro bloggers. One of the comments immediately irritated me as he was attempting to justify the TCO with the cost of a paperback book? It wasn’t my intention to be hurtful or discourteous it was my intention more or less to correct his terminology (he wrote TOC) and try try if only briefly to slip into his thought process. (I couldn’t) With that being said and after reading this I will try to be a bit more patient and once again acknowledge how much I personally enjoy your work.

    Cheers,

  38. Bill in Detroit says:

    (So far) I only got one really nasty comment ALL CAPS AND IMPECCABLY REASONED AND I’M MAN ENOUGH TO SAY SO!

    I posted a link to an internet etiquette site in re caps & shouting and then I told him that I would be willing to discuss the matter further when he had identified himself with his full name, as I had. (His post showed that he knew me IRL.)

    The person had insisted that he was “man enough” to call me down and I responded that he hadn’t been man enough to sign his name. That was enough to end it.

    Anything that adds to the discussion can stay on my blog. Anything that detracts from it gets spiked. I am the Decider.

    Bill in Detroit´s last blog post…The Other Night, Dear

  39. Great post James,

    However I want to point to another security threat in blog comments, which exists in this blog as well.

    Here’s the trick. Bad guy wants to mess the reputation of a good guy up. He finds a third party popular blog post, enters the name and the website of the good guy in the comment form, and he leaves a messy but still acceptable comment there. The owner of the third party blog doesn’t know the email address of the good guy, so he doesn’t have any clue to verify the identity, and accepts the comment. A messy comment is published with the signature of the good guy.

    That’s why this type of comment forms are not safe and better be avoided. There are two solutions. Don’t allow commenting but allow trackbacks. This is my favorite. At least the commentator has the full responsibility, since he leaves the comment in his own domain. The second solution: allow commenting to only registered users.

    I hope this security flaw is addressed by blogging software like WordPress soon, and all the bloggers take full caution.

    PS: Please be good girls and good boys, and don’t use this trick:)
    PPS: I accept no responsibility of the use or misuse of this information.

    Burak´s last blog post…Tools for Beginning Writers

  40. @ Burak – Heh, too funny: “Here’s the instructions on how to make a bomb, boys and girls. Should you do so and blow up your own arm, I had nothing to do with this!” Mmhm!

    I do agree that the potential for misuse is there. But we, for one (or two, or three, depending on how many Pen Men you count), would prefer to give the benefit of the doubt and respond to the majority, which are good, decent people, rather than address the minority and make everyone pay.

  41. We have, on occasion, pre-released chapters from our Precise Edit Training Manual, specifically looking for criticism. While most feedback is very positive, we will get a negative comment or two (sometimes very harsh negative comments). These negative comments have helped us refine and revise the chapters before they “go live,” resulting in a better final product. And it’s free.

    Thanks, criticizers!

  42. I think there’s bound to be some nitwits around forums and blogs, but on the whole I find the net quite alright.

    Once I rejected a guy because he was calling me “honey” and “darling” once too often. I told him I wasn’t and will never be on the internet looking for marriage because you don’t marry someone after just one or two emails, or several phone calls. The fact is, he doesn’t understand that the ones who are eager to marry may do so for ulterior motives.

    He did not appreciate my honesty and he started stalking me to a free online text sms service and sent me nasty text messages. I told him I KNOW WHO YOU ARE BUT YOU DON’T SCARE ME. IF THERE’S ANYONE YOU’RE LYING TO, IT’S YOURSELF. I then placed his bloody “online dating profile” in my blog for all to see so they know what sort of a person he was.

    Usually guys are either intimidated or they are attracted by women who have control. I never had any other problems.

    I’ve never met any trolls YET, but if I do, I will ignore them. Nothing gives me more pleasure than to make them realise they aren’t worth my time nor response. I am expecting trolls, because afterall – I do not support unethical corporations that create harmful food and say otherwise. Eg. some children’s prescribed drugs still contain ingredients that are banned from tidbids and food.

    Some people often forget that freedom of expression on the internet comes with responsibility. And sometimes they learn the hard way that no one wants to speak with a trouble-maker or one who acts like a drug addict.

    You really got me talking here! Thank you very much for allowing the discussion!

  43. How I wish I used the cooling off period more. I got a nasty email this afternoon and instead of deleting it, responded. Now I have a nasty person on my hands, telling me that he’s going to report me to my publisher for what I said. Interestingly enough, I noticed his speed patterns and the way he responded were almost identical to a troll that I had commenting on one of my youtube posts. It almost seemed as if the same person was flaming me, but in a different guise. While it was useful, I wish I’d followed the advice here. To get away, and if necessary, delete the email.

    As I’ve discovered, some customers don’t care about service. They only want to put you down.
    .-= Nathan Segal´s last blog ..Worst Airline Experience Ever: Air Canada’s Response =-.

  44. @Nathan – It takes practice and a lot of talking to ourselves to stay cool. Not something that comes naturally or easily, based on human instincts. But as they say, practice makes perfect!

Trackbacks

  1. [...] folks who write for “Men With Pens” (A writers blog) had a nice post this week on “How to Deal with Cranks, Flamers, and Trolls” regarding emails and our responses to them.  This applies in so many areas but the key here is [...]

  2. [...] How to Deal with Cranks, Flamers and Trolls at Men with Pens [...]

  3. […] Real fans always come with a bunch of haters. […]

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