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Online Trolls, Toxic Disinhibition, and How We can Change the Internet

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This is the story of how Leo Traynor met a Internet troll, and how we can use this as a launching pad to change the Internet. It’s a story every blogger – no, every Internet user – needs to hear, understand, and take action upon.

As he outlined on his blog, Leo decided to leave Twitter. He and his wife were getting derogatory messages from trolls, and although they brushed things off in the past, things got serious when Leo started getting deliveries to his home.

Delivers like a Tupperware container full of ashes and a note that said “Say hello to your relatives from Auschwitz” and a bunch of dead flowers with his wife’s Twitter handle on it. Twitter messages calling him a “Dirty f*cking Jewish scumbag” had now escalated to say “You’ll get home some day & ur b**ches throat will be cut & ur son will be gone.” and “I hope you die screaming but not until you see me p*ss on ur wife.”

Leo was scared. I would have been too, petrified.

And then, with the help of a friend who knew how to trace IP addresses, he found out who his troll/stalker/harasser was: the 17-year-old son of one of his friends.

And so, Leo got the opportunity most of us will never have. He got to confront his troll. Over tea with his troll’s entire family, Leo showed him the screenshots of the abuse, pulled out the pictures of the mail, and told the boy how scared and physically sick he had been.

Then it happened…

The Troll burst into tears. His dad gently restraining him from leaving the table.

I put my hand on his shoulder and asked him “Why?”

The Troll sat there for a moment and said “I don’t know. I don’t know. I’m sorry. It was like a game thing.”

A game thing.

Leo’s story isn’t the only one out there. Remember the story of feminist media critic Anita Sarkeesian, who so angered the Internet with her kickstarter project that people threatened to rape her and kill her. They even created an online “game” where the entire point was to punch her likeness in the face? Or how about the story of Patrick Frey Patterico, who’s critical remarks on his blog led to a SWAT team showing up at his house after phoney calls about him killing his family?

And this isn’t a new threat either. Back in 2007, developer and author Kathy Sierra famously cancelled her O’Reilly ETech conference appearance after receiving death threats on her blog, and other instances of online content creators dealing with trolls both online and off date back even farther.

When are we, as the users of the Internet, going to stand up and say, “Enough”?

Disinhibition, Turned Toxic

The barrier of the screen creates a sense of disinhibition among Internet users. For most of us, this disinhibition means that we let our guard down and share struggles and triumphs with online communities even when we wouldn’t share those same experiences with our friends in a face-to-face setting. But for some people, this turns into a toxic disinhibition.

The best explanation of toxic disinhibition I’ve found in my research of this topic is this piece from John Suler’s The Psychology of Cyberspace. According to Suler, toxic disinhibition happens for a number of reasons, which include:

It’s Just a Game (dissociative imagination) – Like in Leo’s story, some people create this “game world” where the person online is just a character to them, and other people are just characters as well. Just like turning off a game, this manifestation of toxic disinhibition leaves the user feeling like they can turn it off because it isn’t real. And just like shooting zombies in a video game, how can someone be held responsible for something they did in a game world?

You Don’t Know Me (dissociative anonymity) – Because users can often be completely anonymous, they don’t feel vulnerable. Their actions can’t be linked to their “real” identity, so they can act out feelings of rage or hatred with no consequences even if those action are completely out of line with who they feel they really are.

We’re Equals (minimizing authority) – When you’re online, other people can’t tell if you’re the CEO of a major corporation or a fifth grader with no friends. The Internet is the great equalizer, and people believe they can say things without disapproval or punishment. They have the ability to be powerful online, even if they aren’t in “real” life.

This isn’t an exhaustive list. I really encourage you to check out Suler’s full article for further analysis of toxic disinhibition.

Beyond toxic disinhibition, it’s simply human nature to want to be part of a group. We have this pack mentality where we don’t want to stand out as the lone person not doing something, and when someone is being attacked, we don’t want to be the next target. It’s easy for lots of people online to gang up on someone when there’s a ringleader (or at least not say anything in opposition). All it takes is one bad egg and a few followers for an entire community to quickly dissolve. This is as true online as it is offline. We all want to be on the “right” side, and sometimes that leads us to make bad decisions.

What We Can – And Should – Do About It

We have a responsibility as online content creators. If you wouldn’t say it to someone’s face, don’t say it on your blog, on Twitter, on Facebook, or anywhere else online.

We obviously can’t stop other people from acting in certain ways online, but here’s what we can do, beyond ensuring our own actions are responsible:

  • Stop referring to face-to-face interactions as “real life.” Online is real life too.
  • When you see someone bullying someone else online, speak up, the same way you would (I hope) say something if you saw a bigger kid bullying a little kid at the playground. It’s really hard not to get sucked into the group, but be brave.
  • Vote for politicians who understand the Internet and the laws that govern it, and who will make responsible decisions about trolling laws in the future and appoint judges who can adequately deal with Internet cases.
  • Don’t allow trolls to attack you or others on your blog under the banner of “free speech.” You get to decide what comments are approved on your blog. This doesn’t mean that you should delete all negative comments, but it does mean that you take responsibility for every word published on your site. There’s a difference between debate and trolling.
  • Call the police if someone is harassing you online. Do not be too ashamed. These are real, dangerous situations, and police need to take them seriously.
  • Boycott sites that allow trolling and harassment among community members. Tell the owner (politely) why you will no longer be a member of this community.
  • Reach out to people dealing with online harassment and offer words of encouragement and support.
  • Apologize for past wrongs. If this guy on Reddit can do it after laughing at a woman with facial hair, you can do it too. Admitting that you’re wrong is hard and uncomfortable, but it can make a huge difference.
  • Blog, podcast, or create a video about these issues. If you don’t have a blog, share this post or another post like it. Spread the word that trolling and harassment online isn’t cool. Encourage others to commit to troll-free actions online.

I’ve always identified with the Gandhi quote, “If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. … We need not wait to see what others do.” In other words, be the change you want to see in the world. I’m an optimist to a fault, but if everyone reading this post takes action, we can make the Internet – and the whole world – a better place. So let’s do it!

Photo Credit: Bigstock

Gawker has a Content Problem, Not a Comment Problem

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Over the past month, the Gawker family of sites has introduced a brand new way to comment. Called Kinja (previously called Powwow and not to be confused with their 2004 commenting system also called Kinja), this commenting system highlights the comments where conversation is happening, rather than the most recent comments.

It’s an interesting concept. With this system, commenters are encouraged to join existing conversations where people are already talking about the topic, rather than starting new threads. It’s like taking comment nesting to a new level. Kinja is more like a forum under each blog post than a commenting system. In fact, internally, they’ve banished the word comment, imposing a $5 fine whenever someone uses it.

A comment revolution is perhaps exactly what the world of blogging needs. But is Gawker the one to lead it?

Why Gawker’s Comment System is Different

Gawker isn’t the only company playing with the concept of a new commenting system for blogs. Comments have been evolving for several years. When I started blogging in 2006, most blogs didn’t even have nested comments, which is a pretty standard feature these days. Now, there are several commenting plugins you can install, including Disqus and LiveFyre.

What Gawker is doing is different. Why? Because it has to be.

Gawker’s new commenting system gives the house keys to the readers, so to speak, as Kat Stoeffel notes in the post linked above. They’re invited to create the content, not just respond to it, and staff writers hoping to keep their jobs have to take part in these conversations. Comments are arranged using a “secret algorithm,” which I’m guessing is easy for the Gawker staff to manipulate, and conversations can be controlled by those who start them – you now have the power to “dismiss” any reply you don’t like.

Gawker’s commenting system has to be different, has to be formatted in a way that gives both users and staff members more control, due to the choices they make with their content.

I’m a big believer that you get what you give. Trolls can – and do – attack online no matter how thoughtful your content might be, but if we stop demanding more of ourselves and instead cater to trolls, the problem is going to be rampant, as it is on Gawker’s family of sites. When you’re little more than an online tabloid and gossip mill, you can’t be surprised when you need a more closely controlled commenting system.

What is “Good” Content?

I don’t think all Gawker writers are bad, nor do I think that everything they post is without merit. But let’s take a look at what’s on these sites right now. The very first thing that comes up for me? Scorned Wife of Director That Kristen Stewart Humped Takes Sadness to Social Media Outlets

Seriously? “Director that Kristen Stewart Humped”? There wasn’t a better way to say that, especially in conjunction with a story about his wife, who had no part in the indiscretion and is likely going through one of the worst events in her life right now?

It’s not just the headline though. The entire article is full of conjecture rather than fact. Worse, it is full of misleading statements. For example, the post ends with:

Ross’ latest dig at The Huntsman starlett? An instagram photo of a less-than-pristine looking Snow White with the caption: “Not so pretty or so pure afterall …..” Burn.”

If you actually click on the link to read the story, however, you learn that this was “an Instagram photo from the user “libertyross” (which may or may not actually be Ross, who is the director’s wife).”

As a long time gamer and previous writer in the video game industry, I’ve seen similar problems with Kotaku, another site in the Gawker family. Headlines are often misleading and rumors are presented as fact. Furthormore, writers on all of Gawker’s sites seem trained in the art of getting a rise out of people. I believe the term spin doctors might apply here; perhaps they aspire to careers in politics. At the very least, Gawker’s writers seem to understand the rhetoric required in blog posts to elicit emotion.

This in and of itself is not a bad thing, but rhetorical power in the wrong hands leads to…well…posts about the wife of a man Kristen Stewart is “humping.” It’s almost like readers are being trained to be trolls.

Good content is not only that which seeks a neutral stance. Controversy, when done correctly, can be extremely effective. But quality has to come before the spin. Reporting is still important, and fewer and fewer bloggers are retaining this skill. When a large “media” company like Gawker doesn’t value quality, it hurts the entire industry because they’re sending the message, “This is okay. This is what blogging is about.”

It’s Time for Better Commenting

It is, in fact, time for the blogging industry to embrace new ways of thinking about comments. Kinja might be the start of that, but there are still some problems. Peter Stern of the Columbia Journalism Review writes,

“The goal is to erase the traditional distinctions between writers, editors, readers, subject, and sources,” Denton told CJR in a Gchat. At the same time, he insisted, “our goal is to help our writers each achieve greater influence and reach with the same amount of work.” So which is it—does Denton want to empower writers or replace them?

But the future of commenting is here, and we can’t just ignore it completely. We don’t have to embrace it, but as bloggers, we can work to understand it and improve it. Says community management and social media strategist Natalie Rodic Marsan from Broken Open Media,

This is the natural progression of comments, and in fact, I’m thrilled to see that the thinking around blog comments is catching up to the AI-driven, algorithmic social web as we know it. I’d say this is the first step in what will be an even more customized approach to how each viewer can interact with a post and ensuing comments. While sites like Mashable, HuffPo, and now even LinkedIn are encouraging us to customize the news and updates we receive, as well as the other readers/members we want to follow, the natural progression is for these choices we make to also affect the comments we see on any given post (especially posts with upwards of hundreds of comments).

As Gawker continues to tweak Kinja in the coming weeks, it will be interesting to see how readers react. Gawker’s content issues pose a huge problem to us, though – can we really understand the value (or lack of value) with a system like Kinja when readers are trained to be trolls?

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this with a comment below. And yes, we still call them comments here on the NMX/BlogWorld blog!

 

What is an Internet Troll? The Answer Might Surprise You

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What is a troll? It seems like a simple question, and one that those of us online wouldn’t even give a second thought before answering.

“In Internet slang, a troll is someone who posts inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community, such as an online discussion forum, chat room, or blog, with the primary intent of provoking readers into an emotional response or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion.” or so Wikipedia tells me.

But I think this is a definition that is changing before our very eyes, and if we’re not diligent about understanding what trolling is, we could have a very serious problem on our hands. Maybe we already do.

In the coming weeks, I’m going to be posting a series of articles about trolling, online harassment, and Internet behavior, so I think the logical place to start would be here, with the very definition of troll.

Definitions from Twitter

To start, I asked Twitter. Twitter knows everything, right? So I asked, “In the length of a tweet, give me your definition for “Internet troll.” Here are some of the responses I received:

@Seth_Waite: ugly little monsters with nothing better to do than leave mean spirited, off topic, and nasty remarks across the web

@elvestinkle: someone seeking reactionary response rather than than a meaningful back and forth discussion #likeafisherman

@ManyaS: One who makes comments specifically designed to generate an often defensive, argumentative or opposing reaction from someone.

What A Troll Is Not

So a troll is argumentative, a troll is a troublemaker, a troll is mean. But are we applying this term too loosely to people online? I’d like to make an argument for people who are often called trolls, but who are not.

Not everyone who disagrees with you is a troll, even if they disagree in a mean or nasty way.

We need to be clear about whom we are calling trolls, because a lot of people who are not trolls are getting lumped into that mix. In my opinion, a troll has to satisfy the following points:

  • A troll does not add to the conversation in any way.
  • A troll’s main purpose is to cause trouble.
  • A troll is not angry or otherwise emotional about the topic. In other words, they have no horse in this race, nor do they care about the “outcome” of the debate. They will say whatever gets the biggest reaction.
  • A troll does not respect your comment or community policy. They do not care if they get banned.
  • A troll is not trying to be funny.

I bold-faced the most important point, the one that can most easily tell you if a commenter is a troll or not.

Sometimes, people leave really negative comments on my blog posts, but at the end of the day, if they are adding something to the conversation, I can’t justify calling them trolls. Even if the conversation is off-topic. Because they’re emotionally involved.

So let’s say that someone comes to my blog, reads a post, and leaves a comment about how my post makes no sense, how they disagree with everything I’ve said, and how everything I do is wrong. They end it with a comment wishing my demise. Stuff like that is not uncommon online.

But is that a troll? I would argue no. They are not commenting in order to disrupt the conversation or get a rise out of me. They truly feel like I’m a horrible person and they hate what I do. Now, if it’s my blog, I have every right to remove that comment if I want, but the person isn’t there to just make trouble. They’re voicing an opinion because they feel emotional about a topic.

Often we say to one another, “don’t feed the trolls,” when we really mean is, “don’t feed the haters.” Haters and trolls are two different beings.

The Rise of the Troll Kings

What scares me is the new level of “troll” out there. Or, at least, they’re often called trolls, but I don’t think that’s the right term for them. These people aren’t trolling. Trolling is annoying, but typically harmless. What these people are doing is harassment.

If you haven’t read it yet, I invite you to check out this tale of “trolling,” which tells the story of a feminist blogger named Anita Sarkeesian who has been harassed and attacked since she posted a (since successful) Kickstarter project to raise money for a research project involving the portrayal of females in video games. Anita’s Wikipedia page was vandalized, her inbox was filled with drawings of her being raped, her site was attacked in an attempt to take it down, and her persona information (including phone number and address) were posted in online forums. Someone even made a “game” where the player’s only mission was to click on Anita’s picture to “beat her up” – with clicks revealing increasingly black-and-blue images of the blogger.

This is not trolling, people. This is something far above trolling. If you call that activity trolling, those must be the troll kings, at the very least.

Yet, one of the problems we face is that these attackers are being called trolls and many of them think of their actives as trolling, nothing more. Trolling does not have consequences (beyond occasionally being banned from a website), but harassment does.

So What’s Next?

Like I said, over the course of the next few weeks, I’m going to be publishing a series of posts about this very topic – online harassment, trolling, and Internet activity in general. For now, though, I’d love to hear your thoughts on trolling. What is your personal definition of Internet troll? Do you agree with me that not all negative commenters are trolls? Do you think there’s a difference between trolling and harassment?

New Media News Break: Pinterest Spammers, Teen Opera Stars, Hunger Game Racists, and More

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It’s Wednesday afternoon, and I think we all need a little break to get through the work week. Here are some of the top new media news stories you may have missed this week:

Daily Dot runs a Tell-All Interview with a Self-Proclaimed Pinterest Spammer

Pinterest is quickly become a hot spot for content creators of all kinds – but there’s a dark side too. In an interview with Daily Dot, a Pinterest user going by the name Steve admits to making $1000+ a day by filling the boards with affiliate links.. Steve’s operation is massive, but the interview raises questions for all Pinterest users about when self-promotion and affiliate links become spam.

Teens’ Stunning Performance Goes Viral

If you haven’t seen it yet, check out this video where teens Charlotte and Jonathan surprise the audience on Britain’s Got Talent. The video’s gone viral because it is so emotional, which is a lesson to all content creators out there who have hopes of going viral. You don’t always have to be funny or cute. You just have to elicit some strong emotion.

I’ve seen a little buzz on Facebook that his schlumpy look is a marketing ploy to make him the underdog, the type of person people want to like. He has definitely been seen in finer duds in other homemade videos of him performing, which are on YouTube. Perhaps that’s another lesson for all of us, though – good content is only half the battle. You also have to market yourself well.

Google to Get into the Comment Game

Online publishers will soon have another comment system choice – Google is reportedly building a new platform. Reports say it will be similar to the Facebook commenting system, as well as rival Disqus, LiveFyre, and Intense Debate. Do we really need another commenting system? Probably not. But I think this will up the Google+ game, and it’s also going to be interesting to see how this will factor into search. If your SEO improves ten folds by using Google’s system, I can see a lot of bloggers making the switch.

Racist Fans Hate the Hunger Games Movie

Twitter has be buzzing with tweets about The Hunger Games, and not all of them have been applauding the movie. As Jezebel reports, there’s a group of fans upset that the characters on screen didn’t look like the characters they pictured in their heads when reading the book…mostly surrounding the fact that a few of the important characters were portrayed by black actors. In a few instances, the author even described the characters as black, but fans still glazed over when reading those sections and pictured them as white instead.

It’s an interesting conversation, but what’s even more interesting is seeing how the Hunger Games community is dealing with trolls. A lot of fans are fiercely protective of the books and the movie, so I’ve yet to see the author or any of the actors speak out on the topic. Moral of the story: Moderate, but create such good content that your fans go to bat for you.

Live Tweeting Banned by the U.S. Supreme Court

Lawyers may want to live tweet the healthcare hearings going on in the Supreme Court right now, but releasing information to the public has been banned. This ban is actually upholding a current rule that electronic devices aren’t allowed in the courtroom (or the overflow “lawyers lounge”), though this didn’t stop senior counselor Casey Mattox from trying, according to Reuters. He was eventually stopped, even though he was actually leaving the room and sending emails to his staff who were then updating Twitter from their offices in Arizona.

The ban does make sense in some respect – it’s not only to decrease distractions but also to limit media and public influence over what lawyers are saying while court is in session. Traditionally, audio is released – but only after arguments are over. On the other hand, this perfect demonstrates the “need it now” attitude that people have about information. Are you filling that need with timely updates?

Pottermore Break the Mold

Harry Potter can now be enjoyed in all sorts of digital-y goodness thanks to Pottermore, a new ebook store controlled by Team Rowling. This marks the first time a writer and her publishing team have essentially given retailers the middle finger and instead taken control of their own digital publishing. Amazon and Barnes & Nobel have both bent knee and actually send users away from their own sites to buy Rowling’s books directly for her. Apple, however, is still holding out. How will this affect other authors wanting to get in on the digital game? Is anyone else popular enough to do what Rowling is doing? Wired has a great feature story posted on their site all about Pottermore’s rule breaking model.

Teen Expelled Over Tweet

Indiana high school senior Austin Carroll was recently expelled and will have to finish out his final year at an alternative school thanks to a tweet that he says was posted on his own computer from home outside of school hours. The tweet used the f-word several times and school officials say that their system shows that the tweet was made during school. Regardless, should a student’s Twitter account be reason for expulsion? Big brother is watching, apparently. In any case, it is a reminder to all of us to be careful that our tweets represent us well. You may not have to worry about being expelled, but you do have to worry about losing readers/listeners/viewers.

In Case You Missed It

Here’s what you might have missed on the BlogWorld blog in the past week:

Awesome from the Archives

There are some golden posts in the post hidden in the BlogWorld archives. Here are three of my favorites that I think you should check out:

How Do You Respond to Trolls who Blog?

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When you hear the term “troll” online, it is usually in reference to a commenter or forum poster who is hijacking the conversation with hateful and idiot comments to elicit a response from people. I think we can all agree that trolls stink, and the best course of action is typically to avoid feeding them and instead steer the conversation back to the original topic or even moderate heavily to control the mood of the conversation. But how do you respond when that troll is a blogger too?

Today, I read a post that was written purely to get a reaction from people. It was hateful and made claims that were unfounded, and the author freely admitted in the comments that he was hoping his post would get people talking. I’m refusing to link to it here because I don’t want to give that guy any more traffic, nor do I want to draw anyone involved with that debate to this blog. Trust me; the post was horrible, negative bile and you don’t need to waste your time reading it.

I come across posts like that way too often. I’m not talking about posts that are controversial – I love that kind of thing, even when I disagree with the author. I’m talking about really negative posts that are meant to anger people into commenting and sharing. Often, the author doesn’t even believe what he or she is writing. The goal is as much traffic as possible, leading to a bunch of comments that are really mean-spirited, while the author stands by smugly and occasionally prattles on about his/her “right to free speech.”

When I read posts like that, it makes me upset. I get emotional pretty easily, and it’s always hard for me to resist jumping into the comments to call the author and idiot and sharing the post so my friends can  do the same.

Except that exactly what the author wants.

Just like a commenting or forum troll wants to tick you off enough to make you respond, a blogging troll wants you to share the link and jump in with a comment, essentially turning you into a troll yourself. The author knows that nobody is going to defend their post. They might play all “woe is me” victim when people start attacking or they might even feign surprise that people are upset. But rest assured, they are sitting behind their computer screen giggling as their traffic explodes and giddy with excitement over every new comment. This is how a troll feels important.

The reason why this is such a good set-up for the troll is because it is a lose-lose situation for the reader. If you read the post and don’t respond, you haven’t added yourself to the side of good. You haven’t raised a voice against evil in the world. You’ve remained silent instead of standing up for what is right, and that doesn’t sit well with me or with most people. If you read the post and do respond, the troll is getting what he/she wants. You’ve been baited into replying, and even if you disagree in a respectful way, you’re lumped in with all the people who can’t control their emotions and leave hateful comments disagreeing with the author.

I sometimes think the best response is to blog about it, taking the conversation off the negative site and onto your own site, but even that isn’t the perfect solution, since you’re still giving that blogger traffic. Even if you don’t provide a link, curious readers will google it to understand what you’re talking about.

I’m not sure that there’s a right or wrong answer to how you should respond to trolls who blog. What do you think? Do you ignore the post? Leave a respectfully disagreeing comment? Leave a passionate, angry comment? Blog about it? Something else?

Overheard on #Blogchat: Haters (@EGlue)

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Do you participate in #blogchat? Every week, this weekly discussion on Twitter focuses on a specific topic and bloggers everywhere are invited to join in. Because I often have more to say than what will fit in 140 characters, every Sunday night (or Monday morning), I post about some of the most interesting #blogchat tweets. Join the conversation by commenting below.

(Still confused? Read more about #blogchat here.)

This week’s theme: Open mic night!

As many of you may already know, in addition to working here at the BlogWorld blog and running my freelance writing blog, I also serve as site manager for Binge Gamer, a video game blog I founded with my best friend a few years ago. The video game community is not…nice. And that’s an understatement. Even if you write a post that is straight news, containing no opinion at all, you’ll likely get called an idiot by someone in the comments, or two+ of the commenters will start attacking one another. That’s just the nature of this niche.

But that’s not every niche. In fact, that’s not most niches. Most communities are inherently positive, so it can feel jarring when you get a negative comment on  your site. I actually feel kind of lucky that one of my first major blog projects taught me to have a thick skin.

One of the participants at this week’s #blogchat spoke a bit about this topic:

@EGlue: Whatever you do, you can’t make everyone happy. If you got a hater or two, you’re probably doing something right.

Easy enough to say, but I also definitely understand why some people get upset when a hater starts leaving comments. We put a lot of work into our blogs, to the point where they feel like our children. If someone doesn’t like our child, that’s anger-inducing…but when someone makes fun of our child? Well, I don’t know about you, but it makes me want to lash out right back.

It pays to remember what @EGlue mentioned – if someone is hating on you for some reason, it’s probably an indication that you’re doing a good job with your blog in general. People may not like a certain post you write or a certain decision you make for your blog, but they feel connected enough that they have to leave a comment. You want your community to feel so invested in your blog that they leave emotional comments when they don’t like someone. If you’re community’s reaction is, “Meh,” that’s probably an indication that you’re not doing a very good job connecting with them.

And remember too, there’s a difference between a hater and a troll. A hater might hate you, but they make valid points or actually have something to say, even though it might come out in a not-so-nice way. A troll, on the other hand, is just trying to piss you off (or piss off another commenter). They don’t actually care about your blog, your community, or even, in many cases, the topic. Haters warrant a response, though do so tactfully. Trolls rarely warrant a response and sometimes even warrant being deleted, depending on their comments and your blog’s policies.

The bottom line? Although negativity often hurts, try to find the constructive criticism in it and remember that just because someone has a different opinion doesn’t mean that you’re doing something wrong as a blogger. Work on building up that thick skin and keep moving forward.

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