Dealing with Trolls: A Primer in D.I.C.K. Moves

So too address the issue of trolls on the Jezebel forum and perhaps help, or simply coach folks more generally on how best to deal with trolls in the Kinja format.

The question of what constitutes a troll is a complicated matter. It runs the gamut from someone trying to get on your nerves through to people making real life threats and impinging on your quality of life, an unquestionably is more of an issue for women online than it is for men. I state this as fact, because it is fact.

Jezebel is many things to many people, etc and whatever. Nevertheless, it is for the most part a Women’s Site and there are certain precautions against trolling that I direct at women specifically, not because menz are the only trolls, but oftentimes it is women that are less equipped, socially, at dealing with this sort of blatant hostility. We are, after all, encouraged to be nice and to pay attention and attention is what a troll is looking for, mostly.

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I will be referring to this Krav Maga style troll combat style as… D.I.C.K Moves.

The basics of D.I.C.K :

D: Dismiss
I: Inform
C: Control
K: Keep It Moving.

Now, to each.

Dismiss...

Many of you may not be aware that it is in your power to dismiss comments directed at you, using the Kinja system.

Directions: At the right hand corner of any given response to you, personally, you will find a drop down menu (indicated by a V symbol) which offers you the option to ‘dismiss’.

Now, the dismissal of replies has very distinct properties on Kinja. If you dismiss a comment it will still be visible to you, and you only. For the rest of the community this comment, once dismissed, is now relegated beyond The Greys and into a ... Kinja abyss.

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For all intents and purposes this comment no longer exists to readers on the platform, and will not be seen by anyone other than you unless you chose to seek it out and share the time stamp.*

Dismiss is a great function. If someone is baiting you, or upsetting you; abusing you or being cruel or unnecessarily argumentative, it is entirely within your rights to dismiss their comment. This is a right afforded to you by this specific commenting system, which is sorely lacking in many ways, but in this excels. Use it.

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NB: You can only dismiss comments directed at you personally. If you find a comment offensive in any way and it is not directed at you, you may then move to Step 2 of D.I.C.K Moves.

Inform...

Informing, in this case, is simply another way of referring to “flagging”. You are informing Kinja that a boundary of decency has been breached.

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Directions: In the same drop down menu as mentioned above (right hand corner: V drop menu), you will find an option to flag. You will be asked to designate what you are flagging. The options are:

  • Harassment
  • Hate Speech
  • Spam

These may speak for themselves, but to break it down a little further (also, note: if you have been threatened or verbally assaulted you can both dismiss and flag a comment…) it is worth giving some thought to how you flag.

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Spam is really just those annoying work from home for $$$ type posts, or anything else entirely irrelevant to the article. This is not so much offensive as clutter. Flagging these posts is mere housekeeping and entirely up to you whether or not you want to bother.

Hate speech is far more important as a consideration, and includes any sort of bigotry, such as racism, homophobia, ableism, etc... and as is especially important to Jezebel, misogyny/ misogynoir/ racio-misogyny.

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Harassment may be the ‘one on one’ trolling of one party against another commenter, or a dog pile in which one commenter is being unfairly persecuted. However, we’ve all seen this. Commenter/s going for someone’s throat in an unseemly manner. And this may also be an attack on the author of the post. Flag it.

Honestly, often the person being attacked will be too caught up in their own defences to respond appropriately. You can remind them of their options. If it’s the author, no need to ass kiss... but they are people, too. Peace out, blah blah, accept it. Jez writers are not robots.

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If it’s a random bigoted comment, floating alone (usually in The Greys) flag that, too.

The Kinja public blogs do not have moderators at this time.

In terms of Internet Standard At Large, this is mind boggling and dangerous. Nevertheless, at this time you are reporting to the author of the article.

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Which means simple logistics are at play. Flagged comments may not be dealt with immediately as an author may either not have time (you try pumping copy on relevant issues on the daily), or or simply be burnt out dealing with hostile comments.

Never mind that! If enough flags appear on anyone’s profile Gawker should take note and potentially ban the commenter. Think of this one as a cumulative measure. Flag away and real trolls will be removed. It’s as simple as that.

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Control.

This is a double sided coin. Especially for commenters who are in The Black and already have far more “control” over the blog’s content.

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This is a matter of both control (and thus ownership) of the self, and of the offending party’s ability to harass.

To put this as simply as possible, it can be very difficult to step back from a personal attack or an aggravating opinion. Nevertheless, that is your responsibility to the community (whether of not you feel you have one... you do you!) and to yourself.

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On the other side of the coin, you do have the power to make these people ‘go away’, at least turn down their volume, or at very least, not unsettle you.

I do not, by any means, suggest that attack online is “just the internet” and nothing should be taken personally, but I would remind people that almost the very definition of a troll is that they seek to open a dialogue rather than shut it down. You own the keys to the gates of your attention. An avoided troll has no power.

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Someone may well be rude to you in a snarky way that you feel needs response, but I promise you, it does not need a response. This person does not know you. They do not know your life. You do not need to defend yourself, or your opinions and you have no responsibility to engage them.

If they are trying to shut you down with snark, ignore it. If they are baiting you to respond, then dismiss them. This is the real key to avoiding being trolled. Think of it as both self care and a community service.

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And finally...

Keep It Moving.

This one is simple, but as with many simple things, difficult.

Someone is trolling you. They are upsetting you for no good reason. Brush it off. Keep your cool.

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Only the commentariat can truly “control” trolls and this comes from recognising them and demoting them to outside of the conversation. Sure, try not to be too free handed with your opinions vs. others, but if you don’t want to deal, don’t. There will be more articles. There will be other battles. Keep it moving.

Just because someone is making you angry does not make them a troll, but there are people who are here solely to make you angry.

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Don’t fall for it. Play your D.I.C.K. moves, breathe, and keep it moving.

* the time stamp on any post lies directly under the initial commenters name. This will take you to the permalink for that comment.

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