For as long as there have been blogs and discussion forums, there have been trolls. A troll is a commenter who hangs around your site primarily to annoy and aggravate you and your readers. Trolling is different from simply being critical. Not all of your readers will agree with everything you write — in fact, we bet your favorite readers are the ones who swing by for a healthy intellectual debate! But a troll’s comments rarely have anything to do with the topic at hand — they’re there to anger and intimidate others, and derail your discussion.
How do you decide when someone is a troll?
It depends. Sometimes, it might be tempting to get into an argument with a commenter, or to watch an intense debate unfold between two commenters on your site. It’s up to you to decide what is challenging, critical, and healthy — and what is flat-out inappropriate.
Sometimes disagreements between regular readers can turn into trolling. Let’s say two of your readers, Jim and Jane, get into an argument about the morality of eating meat on one of your recipe posts. Is this trolling? No. But if Jim continues to pop up in the comments of every post after that to try to pick a fight with Jane about vegetarianism, then he’s trolling. Ultimately, it’s your site — it’s up to you to decide when someone has become a bully and when it’s time to ban them.
On IntenseDebate, you can automatically flag comments for moderation if they contain a keyword, or are submitted by a specific commenter based on their email address or IP address.
Things to note
- Entering a keyword will flag any instance of that particular word, including partial matches. What if you’ve noticed that a particular problematic user seems to get into a heated argument every time you or someone else brings up religion? You can flag the keyword “religion” for moderation. But choose your keywords wisely, especially when adding two or three letter keywords (like “the” or “ex”). This may cause a lot of false hits and inundate you with too many comments to moderate.
- Separate multiple entries with a space — a space in an entry designates that it’s a separate entry. This means you can’t stipulate phrases to be flagged — for example, the inputted phrase “Facebook privacy settings” identifies three separate entries rather than one phrase (in other words, you’ve entered “Facebook,” “privacy,” and settings” into your keyword list).
- Flagging an IP address can be handy for blocking comments made by spammers who don’t leave an email address, especially if they change their email address.
- Easily block trolls from commenting by entering their IntenseDebate or WordPress.com username or email address in the text field.