A common problem faced by bloggers are troll comments and self-promotion.
As most bloggers use WordPress as their content management system, some spammers have even found ways of commenting on WordPress blogs automatically and in bulk.
Putting auto-spam-bots aside for a moment, we still have to contend with real-life humans who are hell-bent on making as much noise as possible. These folks are called Internet Trolls.
Trolls get a kick out of making people angry or getting into arguments.
It’s surprising to find that a person who would seem mentally stable, mature and law-abiding in the real world can become a fierce troll behind the keyboard.
A lot of why trolls troll is because they can be anonymous. 99% would never say such things to a person’s face or if the recipient could identify them.
Professor Ian Rowe of London’s University of Kent refers to a study that finds Facebook users are almost twice as civil as the anonymous trolls in The Washington Post‘s comment section.
“The occurrence of uncivil communicative behaviour in reader comments is significantly more common on the website version of the Washington Post where users are able to maintain their anonymity, compared to the Facebook version.”
Professor Rowe found that trolls commonly posted comments on stereotypes, sarcasm, name calling and general incitement when they could remain anonymous on the website version of the same article.
Users were more than half as likely to be uncivil on the website, however not all Facebook users came out smelling like roses.
Other news publications tend to agree with this assessment. When the LA Times switched over to Facebook comments, the level of discourse dramatically improved.
Jimmy Orr, LA Times online managing editor says
“Trolls don’t like their friends to know that they’re trolls.”
The availability of Facebook comment plugins, hasn’t stopped some sites from disabling comments completely.
PopScience recently closed all commenting on their site because evidence showed that trolls skewed how readers interpreted evidence and crushed open-minded discussion.
TechCrunch has experimented with different comment plugins and methods before settling on Livefyre. They found that Facebook does kill trolls, but it can also hurt community and insightful anonymous commentators.
It’s worth noting that trolling cannot be stopped completely. For example, in South Korea laws were passed that forced internet users to use their real name. It failed to improve the quality of comments or discourse among users.
If want to allow commenting on your blog and what to reduce negative commentary, try implementing the Facebook Comments plugin or Livefyre.