Trolls: A Field GuideIdentify, avoid, and deal with various specimens of troll!
written by miontre for projecteducate's Community Week
Trolls are everywhere on deviantART. In the forums, telling you that your site suggestion sucks. In your gallery, saying that you're doing it wrong. In your journal, asking you if ur mad. And of course there are numerous lone trolls roaming around, looking for n00bs (such as yourself) to prey on. Naww, I'm just kidding! You're not a noob.
Trolls live to make you upset. They want to insult your ideas, artworks, interests, and so forth; because they love provoking people and getting a reaction out of them. It's important that you know how to identify, avoid, and deal with the many types of troll which roam and predate deviantART.
There are a few different types of trolls, and it's important that you can identify and distinguish between them so that you know what you're dealing with. In all seriousness, a lot of the people labelled as "trolls" are not actually trolls. This is an important point which we will cover.
First of all, there are two main types of troll. There are harmful trolls, and harmless trolls. Harmless trolls are just people who like to joke around and have a bit of a laugh. They are mainly pranksters with a knack for surprise. Usually, everyone can laugh at their jokes, even the victim. They are pretty much just pranksters under a different name. They can operate both online and offline. Here is a YouTube video detailing how to pull good (harmless) trolls. Trololol.
Harmful trolls, on the other hand, are completely different. These are people who hide behind their screens, under anonymous pseudonyms; and try to upset people online, because they find it entertaining. Usually, it's because they don't have anything better to do. Or maybe they try to make themselves feel better by ruining other people's moods. Some people have thick skins, and are simply not bothered by these sorts of people. If this is you, you're lucky. However, some people really get upset by trolls. There are a lot of people who really don't know the proper steps to take when they are approached by trolls. In this article, I aim to teach you how to avoid these trolls in the first place; and how to deal with them if this doesn't work.
Here are some types of harmful troll and their common behaviour:
- Not Actually Trolling
The term "troll" is widely misused. There are a lot of people who are accused of being trolls, when in reality they are nothing of the sort. This shouldn't even be in this list, since these people aren't trolls. On the internet, there are all sorts of people with different and conflicting ideas, opinions, and interests. As a result, there is going to be disagreement or heated conversation. Someone who disagrees with you, or isn't particularly kind, is not necessarily a troll. Trolls are out to upset you, whereas these people probably aren't. Someone who gives feedback on your artwork, is not a troll. If they're giving you tips on how you can improve your work, they are actually trying to help you rather than upset you!
- Fail Troll
This is a person who likes to think they're a troll, but they really aren't. They try to upset you, but usually they don't. In fact, most people can just have a laugh at these people. Fail trolls are few and far between.
A troll is a person who gets enjoyment out of upsetting other people on the internet. Usually, they probably don't have any genuine dislike towards their victim: they just like seeing them upset. They prey on people who seem as though they'll be easy to provoke and get a reaction out of. Once the victim has had a fair amount of grief, the troll moves on. Trolls are usually intelligent and masters of argument. Majority of trolls fall into this category.
- Over 9000 Troll
There are some trolls who take things way too far .. let's just say they attempt to ruin a person's offline life. Like fail trolls, these people are thankfully few and far between.
Prevention is the best cure. You won't ever need to worry about trolls if you can avoid them in the first place!
- Don't make yourself look vulnerable
The first step is to make sure you don't look like a worthwhile target. Trolls are unlikely to bother someone who looks like they have a thick skin - why would they bother when they probably won't get the result they like? It's difficult to explain how you can do this - just use your own good judgement and common sense! A good way to start is to make sure you don't look naive.
- Don't get involved with other incidents
If someone else is being "trolled", don't get involved. While it's nice to stick up for others, especially friends; getting involved will only make you a possible target. The best thing to do would be to send a note to your friend, and let them know what you learned in this article, so that they know what to do!
- Don't take the bait
You aren't silly! If you have a suspicion someone is about to try and troll you, proceed with caution. Don't take any "bait" which they leave for you - trying to put you into a position which allows them to easily troll you.
- Block in advance
If there is someone who you know is a troll, block them right away! Keep in mind that this doesn't give you an excuse to interact with them before you block them. More on blocking shortly!
Dealing With Trolls
Despite taking steps to avoid trolls in the first place, you may still fall a victim of trolling. This is the part where a lot of people do the complete wrong thing, and end up making matters far worse than they would have been. Follow these steps to make sure you deal with the troll as quickly as possible:
- Block them immediately
From this page, you can add any deviant to your block list. When you do this, they cannot interact with you in any way. They won't be able to reply to your comments, favourite your artwork, send you notes, or leave comments on your profile and deviations. However, they can still browse your profile, gallery, and journal, and see comments you leave around the site. You don't become completely invisible to them like you do on some other sites! As soon as you know someone is trying to troll you, block them immediately. Make sure you don't send them any messages before you block them - in other words, ignore their comments and don't respond. While it is tempting to get the last word, it really isn't going to help matters and could possibly provoke the troll into harassing you further. An ignore and block will hopefully be the only thing you need to do to stop them. Don't report them to the help desk just yet - you'll simply be told to use the blocking tool.
- End it there
Once you've blocked the troll, make that the end of story. By following the previous step, you've given the troll the opposite of what they wanted. They didn't get a reaction out of you. They may have made you a little upset, but as long as you don't show that, you've done well. When the troll sees you don't care about the matter anymore, they'll move on. However, if you try to carry things out further, you're only giving the troll exactly what they want and making things worse for yourself. First and foremost, do not ask your friends to go and leave a nasty message for the troll! Not only is it unfair to get your friends involved, but evading a block (even your own) is against deviantART's rules. More on block evading later in the article. Don't make a journal or rant about the troll either. Don't even visit the troll's page to see if they made a journal about you. Just pretend the nasty little troll doesn't even exist, and you'll be fine. However, if you try to carry out matters further, you're in for a surprise. You'll find your block didn't put you into the safe sanctuary you thought it did! The key here is to show the troll that you really don't care about what they said to you. If you show them you still care about the matter, and are still thinking about it; they'll keep trying to harass you. It's alright to be upset or angry over what the troll said to you, but make sure that's just your own little secret!
- And the three billy goats gruff lived happily ever after! Until...
Due to the public nature of deviantART, a troll can still contact you through shifty means after being blocked. They can still interact with the groups you're an admin in - such as sending a note or leaving a comment directed at you. They can still make a journal directed at you. They can still respond to other people's comments on your forums threads. And if all that fails, they can simply create a new account and use it to interact with you directly. If any of this happens, carry on as you did before. Keep your sanity, ignore then, block their new accounts, ban them from your groups, and move on. If they're harassing you by replying to other people's comments on a forum thread, you might want to close your thread. If they try to get to you through your profiles on other sites (such as an e-mail or Facebook account you have linked on your profile), use similar tools available on those sites to deal with them.
Luckily for you, block evading is something you can report. Visit the Help Desk, and file an Abuse Report. Tell the staff there that the troll tried to get around your block by using X method. Keep in mind that the Help Desk staff get a lot of reports, so it'll probably take them a while to get to you. Just keep dealing with the troll like you already have been until the staff can assist you!
If you're really unlucky and got a troll who took matters way too far and tries to get to you offline - contact the police immediately! A good way to make this almost impossible is to ensure that you're not revealing online too much personal information about who you are, how you can be contacted elsewhere, or where you live. And, if you can prevent and deal with the problem online first, you'll probably never have to worry about this.
Way to go! Now you can enjoy the greener grass on the other side.
How can I help my friends?
If your friends (or anybody, for that matter) are being harassed, it's tempting to stick up for them.
As you now know, this isn't the best thing to do because it'll make matters worse for your friend (and maybe you). If you know a friend is being harassed, the best thing to do would be to send them a note and share your new knowledge with them. Or, you could just link them to this article. Whichever works best for you!
Congratulations! You now know how to identify, avoid, and deal with all species of troll. Here's a quick summary of everything we've discussed in this article:
- Are they actually a troll? Are they purposefully trying to upset you?
- If so, avoid them! Don't look vulnerable, don't get involved with other incidents, don't take the bait, and use your block tool in advance if possible.
- If a troll does come for you, ignore and block them immediately.
- Forget about the troll. Don't show them you're annoyed or upset. Don't interact with the troll in any way, directly or indirectly.
- If a troll keeps attempting to harass you after this, contact the Help Desk to get the problem sorted out.
- If a troll tries to bring the problem into the real world, contact the police.