Advice for Communicating with Trolls Properly

Some Advice for Communicating with Trolls Properly

  1. Relax: don't worry if you don't get everything exactly right.

  2. Communicate clearly: write in the best spelling, grammar, punctuation, capitalisation, idiomatic speech, etc. that you can, no matter how bad the troll's messages were in this respect.

    It may be a good idea to avoid too high or complicated words, because many foreign speakers of English often have poor English vocabulary.

  3. Don't criticise what he says directly or the way he says it (Style over substance etc.)

  4. Avoid logical fallacies: see the Nizkor project about them and the List of fallacies on the English wikipedia.

    Especially avoid ad hominem: "You're under age and much younger than me and not a lawyer, so you're not qualified to give your opinion about open-source licences."

  5. Be polite and friendly.

  6. Don't be too terse. Write coherently, and explain what you want.

    Proper human communication has a lot of redundancy, but people prefer it this way. Even in Information Theory, you cannot compress an arbitrary amount of data to a message which is too short.


  7. On the other hand, don't be too verbose, as people won't bother reading you. It may be better to put a claim and reiterate.

  8. If using E-mail, always do bottom-inline post and never top-post (unless you know better than that, which you probably don't). When top-posting, the one who responds can often reply not to the point or miss many important posts:

    1. Quote a selected message
    2. Disarm the troll using the methods above.
    3. Repeat.

    See the English Wikipedia article about posting style for more information.

  9. Don't selectively trim the message without leaving enough context.

  10. Don't mis-interpret or jump to conclusions - ask the troll what he means if you don't know.

  11. Try to avoid using aphorisms, proverbs, "famous" quotes, rhymes or verse etc. Instead use free-form, coherent speech and say what you want in your own words.

    The problem with aphorisms, and their ilk are that they tend to project authority, and usually backfire because a person intuitively knows that.

    Sometimes they may lead to an aphorism war or for "correcting" the aphorism or discussing its larger context and origins.

    All of these can sometimes spice up a friendly conversation and add humour to it, though, but your kilomterage may vary.

  12. Don't make fun of the troll. Respect him and try to avoid unnecessary humour. Be pleasant - not funny.

  13. Don't be rude; use soft words such as "I think", "I believe", "In my opinion", "I find that", etc.

  14. Don't label: "open-source and Creative Commons are Socialism" (So what if they are? They are still beneficial.)

  15. Always start the conversation with a "Hi [name-or-nick]," and possibly thank him for what he says or otherwise start with a compliment. This will better allow disarming him.


Things to keep in mind and practice when arguing with Trolls.

Folksonomies: politics centrism rhetoric debate persuasion

/technology and computing/internet technology/email (0.630466)
/art and entertainment/humor (0.581186)
/business and industrial (0.447312)

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coherent:OperatingSystem (0.997718 (negative:-0.500803)), Information Theory:PrintMedia (0.988467 (neutral:0.000000))

Wikipedia (0.927663): dbpedia | freebase | yago
Communication (0.754360): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
Creative Commons (0.744473): website | dbpedia | freebase | yago
Fallacy (0.599290): dbpedia | freebase
Jimmy Wales (0.590180): website | dbpedia | freebase | yago
Message (0.571251): dbpedia | freebase
Troll (0.560700): dbpedia | freebase
Wikimedia Foundation (0.558421): geo | website | dbpedia | freebase | opencyc | yago

 Dealing with Internet Trolls - the Cognitive Therapy Approach
Electronic/World Wide Web>Blog:  Fish, Shlomi (Mar. 6th, 2011), Dealing with Internet Trolls - the Cognitive Therapy Approach, Retrieved on 2011-03-07
  • Source Material []
  • Folksonomies: centrism rhetoric debate trolls forums comment threads persuasion


    05 JUN 2011

     Illuminate the Opposition

    Memes on communicating science and rationality to the masses in a way that is honest and genuine.