How to deal with trolls

  1. What is a troll?
  2. What should I do (and not do) about trolls?
  3. What does IMDb do about trolls?
  4. If you remove a post, aren't you preventing free speech?
  5. Help me, a troll has assumed my identity.
  6. Help me, I'm being unfairly accused of trolling.

What is a troll?

A `troll' is an individual who enjoys creating conflict on the internet. He or she creates and fuels arguments which upset other members of the online community.

Trolls thrive in the anonymous space that is the internet. Trolls crave attention from others, and they don't care whether the attention is positive or negative. For trolls, other users are not quite real people; they are abstract characters on the other side of a computer screen. Trolls don't feel bad about hurting the feelings of other people in the digital space.

Trolls view chat rooms and newsgroups as a challenge where the winner is the user who creates the biggest argument, the user who upsets the most people in the most dramatic way. A troll wants to be the user getting the most attention.

Troll behavior discourages many users and makes for a less vibrant online community. New users may not post because they fear ridicule. Established posters may leave an online community because the noise has overwhelmed the real discussion. Trolls can make an entire community paranoid, leading users to become negative or to accuse a user engaged in normal criticism as a troll.

What should I do (and not do) about trolls?

Remember, trolls feel rewarded by creating the biggest altercation possible. They want to get a reaction out of you. When you fight with a troll, he wins. When you reason with a troll, he wins. Any time that you give a troll attention, he gets exactly what he wants.

The best way to deal with trolls is to ignore them. When you ignore a troll, he doesn't get the satisfaction of creating an escalated conflict.

To avoid reading/receiving posts from a specific user, you can use our Ignore User feature (click on the "Ignore User" link attached to any message posted by that user). You will not see or receive any more messages (including Private Messages) from that user.

If you decide to leave a discussion because of the negative tone, do not dramatically announce that you are leaving. While that message may make you feel better, it only convinces the troll that he is winning.

You may also bring an abusive post to the attention of our moderators. Please only do this if the comments violate our Terms and Conditions. Violations of our terms and conditions include any post which constitutes a criminal offense, pornographic content, an impersonation of an entity without permission, or an unsolicited promotion. A strongly stated opinion is not a violation of our Terms and Conditions even if it is stated in a way that you feel is insulting or hateful.

Please remember: the best way to deal with trolls is to ignore them.

What does IMDb do about trolls?

Our staff reviews posts that users report as abusive. Our staff has the ability to delete a single post, to delete a whole thread, or to block a user who has a record of continual abuses. Moderators are forced to make tradeoffs between censoring a viable but harshly stated opinion, encouraging open discussion, removing valuable discussion, and sparing people from hurt feelings. Because of the complicated factors in deciding whether or not to remove a post, our staff will only remove a post when it clearly violates our Terms and Conditions.

Policing abusive reports isn't always effective in reducing negative behavior. Removing abusive posts may be delayed due to backlogs or technical difficulties. Removing an inappropriate discussion may actually encourage a troll, because he likes the attention from the moderator. Some trolls actually make a game out of testing what behavior will and will not get the attention of the moderator.

Because it is so difficult to reduce the amount of troll behavior by removing posts, IMDb is also committed to building software which encourages safer and more vibrant discussion. We have built an ignore feature into our discussion boards that allows you as a user to ignore individual users that you believe to be trolls. Read more about the ignore feature.

Users can also choose to go through a process of additional authentication . This process uses a third party (such as a credit card company), to verify that the user is who he says he is. The additional authentication is purely voluntary and will help IMDb produce features to reduce the amount of spam, trolling and other malicious or disruptive activity on our site over time.

Please remember: the best way to deal with trolls is to ignore them.

If you remove a post, aren't you preventing free speech?

When troll behavior is removed from the community, the trolls frequently complain that their right to free speech is being infringed upon. Discussion boards are by design a forum for open communication, a place where the community is encouraged to freely discuss its opinions. IMDb staff will only remove troll posts when they become disruptive to open communication.

When a troll floods a message board with so many posts that they actually drown out the normal conversation, he is actually silencing the voice of a majority of the community members. When a troll continually turns the conversation to focus on his point of view, he is preventing the rest of the members of the community from expressing their own.

The goal of the IMDb discussion boards is to provide an open discussion forum for all members of our community. When a user or a user's post actually impedes open discussion, the moderator will ask the user to take their comments elsewhere.

Help me, a troll has assumed my identity.

Occasionally, trolls may try to generate attention by pretending to be another member of the community. In most cases, the troll has not breeched the user's account. Instead, they are using a name which closely resembles the user's name. For example, a troll may try to pose as John Smith by using the name Jon Smith, John Smyth, or John S. Smith.

Impersonating another user clearly violates the IMDb Terms and Conditions. If you believe that you are being impersonated, please report the abuse, with the reason that indicates that the user is impersonating someone else.

You may also choose to respond on your own behalf. If you choose to respond, don't respond in anger. That is exactly the kind of negative attention upon which trolls thrive. Respond with a simple message that says something like, "I did not write this. Someone is pretending to be me." Keep it simple, anger-free, and don't keep writing follow ups. Remember, the best way to deal with trolls is to ignore them.

Help me, I'm being unfairly accused of trolling.

Being accused of being a troll is painful and unpleasant. It's always possible that other users will misidentify you as a troll when your intentions are good. How you respond to a troll accusation says a lot about you. Your goal should be to diffuse the situation.

Start by stepping away from the situation. The last thing that you want to do is throw more fuel on the fire. Give all parties involved some time to calm down and gain perspective. Next, for a moment, assume that the other party had good intentions. They may have hurt you, but you may be able to find a solution working with them in a positive manner. Take an open look at the behavior and see if it's something that you can change. If he says you're a troll because you made many posts quickly, maybe your argument really would be more effective if you summed it all up in one post. If he believes your comments as hateful, perhaps you could try to rephrase your opinion with fewer charged words.

If you aren't able to come to a resolution after stepping back and working positively with the angry party, the best thing to do is to let it drop. If you engage in a bitter war of words in the public forum, you will only appear more troll-like. Use the same advice that we give above: The best way to deal with trolls is to ignore them.

You may not be able to work the conflict out with your peers. In this case, you may be tempted to create a new account so that you can start over. Please do not do this. It is strongly discouraged. By working with your peers you will build a stronger, more meaningful personal presence.


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