TROLLS  —  They’re a nuisance that have made many a message board mod bang his head against his keyboard: How in the world can we effectively manage those annoying users who disrupt the peaceful flow of daily discourse?

Trolls are an archetypal figure in game communities. Many trolls relish the position of being trolls and they aren’t even offended at being called one. They will often lie, exaggerate, and offend just to get a response.

Your average troll will have these characteristics:

  1. Have strong, often contrarian, opinions
  2. Aggravate other community members by creating aggressive, combative, or offensive discourse
  3. Tend to be “keepers of the rules” (this is their greatest weakness, by the way)

How can you prevent a troll from taking over your boards?

There are a few things you can do to try and prevent trolls from spawning. Don’t feel like you’ve done something wrong when they form, there is only so much preventative work you can do.

  1. Have crystal clear rules and be prepared to enforce them
  2. The first experience in your game community needs to be a positive one (you don’t want to turn these guys sour)
  3. Be forthright with information; the good, the bad, and the ugly

If preventative measures don’t work, here are some ways we’ve effectively dealt with trolls:

  1. Start with a direct PRIVATE warning from a moderator. This warning should be personal, direct, and long. Explain exactly the type of behavior you are seeing out of them and what you’d expect to change. They are likely in direct violation of a rule or guideline. Make sure to cite those rules
  2. Take a small and appropriate action against them. Usually this means restricting their posting privileges or access to something they care about. This should be short and well communicated. The point here is to show them you are serious about maintaining a healthy community
  3. Exile! The last and final measure that can be taken against a troll is to outcast them to the 7th circle of hell, exile. Banning them from the community likely wont solve your problem. That will just enrage them.

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