Not Sure If TrollingMy approach to “trolling” on my communities is very simple. I don’t care. I don’t bother myself with trying to identify people as trolls – and I don’t encourage or allow my members to do it in public, either.

My belief is that good guidelines filter out the vast majority of harmful or annoying trolls. People aren’t kicked off of my communities for “trolling.” They’re banned for repeated violations of our community guidelines, such as inflammatory comments, profanity, general religious discussions, and so on.

I say this as someone who has managed communities that were targeted by groups with a plan to “troll” the community. These things happen. They come in waves. It’s a process. Identify harmful content, remove any trace of it, ban the offenders (sometimes more creatively) and don’t allow people to give them attention.

If someone is trolling, but they are doing it at such a low, inoffensive level that they aren’t violating our guidelines, and appear to be making a reasoned argument like any other, who cares? In that case, a non-troll could post the exact same thing and absolutely mean it. It’s like if a banned member wants to come back, create a new account and act like a totally different person. Who cares? That’s what we wanted, anyway.

Don’t lose sleep over trolls. Just identify patterns of behavior that are harmful to your community, codify them into your guidelines and then enforce those guidelines. Make it about the behavior – which is bad, whether or not the person is “trolling” – not about “troll hunting.” Make it a process and move forward.