Miglo was considering that it might be timely to repost this topic from June 2010.
This week’s blogging topic had intended to be Citizen Journalism, but I stumbled upon another aspect of blogging that bloggers generally need to be aware of: Harassment.
The internet offers unprecedented ways for people to interact. Social networking sites, in particular blogs, have made it as easy for us to interact with someone the other side of the planet, or simply even someone down the street.
However, as wonderful a technology as blogging is, some of the blogs posted on the information highway are often harmful.
Some people, including myself, have come under attack by bloggers who freely say hateful and false things and encourage other people to follow suit, even though we are complete strangers in every sense of the word.
The blogging word for these types of bloggers is trolls.
Anyone who blogs needs to be aware that trolls – especially those that enjoy online harassment – are out there. In my years of blogging, thankfully, I have only encountered trolls on rare occasions and despite their behaviour, they have not deterred me from the blogging experience. But they can still pose quite a threat, as is being reported in the United States, where profiles of a troll have been developed and distributed throughout the blogging community.
It is important for bloggers to understand the psychological makeup of trolls so that if they encounter online abuse, they’ll have some idea of what they’re facing and how they should respond to it.
According to the Computer World article by Mary Brandel, linked here, they are characterised by having an excess of free time and are probably lonely and attention seekers who often see their own self-worth in relation to how much reaction they can provoke. There are three types of blog trolls which Brandel says are:
- The Flamer: Does not contribute to the group except by making inflammatory comments.
- The Hit-and-runner: Stops in, make one or two posts and move on.
- Psycho trolls: Has a psychological need to feel good by making others feel bad.
OK, so what can we do about them? If you are unfortunate enough to be in the sights of a troll, Brandel suggests
- Know the trolls’ tactics. The first rule for dealing with trolls is to avoid being deceived by them in the first place.
- DFTT. Don’t feed the trolls. Under no circumstances should you acknowledge the behaviour or repay it with anger or defensiveness. If you don’t react, they’ll get bored and go away.
- Maintain your privacy. Don’t publish any personal information, such as your address or phone number.
- Block and ban. If you’re experiencing abuse on a moderated blog, you can appeal to the administrator, who can try banning the troll.
- Keep a log. Be sure to keep a copy of anything you receive from the harasser.
Brandel’s informative and highly recommended article concludes with:
Above all, when you have an online presence, you need to prepare yourself for the possibility of becoming a target. Just like in the real world, you need to realise which dark alleys you shouldn’t enter at night, and if you do, have protection and know what you should do when. You’re very vulnerable as a blogger. You’re out there hanging on the line, and anyone can take a shot at you.
Very sobering indeed! But let’s still enjoy ourselves.
Postscript from Min:
The law pertaining to Online Harassment can include:
5. Any imputation concerning any person, or any member of his family, whether living or dead, by which the reputation of that person is likely to be injured, or by which he is likely to be injured in his profession or trade, or by which other persons are likely to be induced to shun or avoid or ridicule or despise him, is called defamatory, and the matter of the imputation is called defamatory matter.
Equally unlawful are the acts of Stalking and Intimidation:
Section 562AB of the Crimes Act provides that it is an offence to stalk or intimidate another person:
A person who stalks or intimidates another person with the intention of causing the person to fear physical or mental harm is liable to imprisonment for 5 years, or to a fine of 50 penalty units, or both.*1 .