eradication is one of those jobs that is dirty but necessary, like pouring salt
Don't feel guilty about it; scientists assure us that they feel
nothing. Maybe the slime protects them, who can tell. Who cares?
key to a successful forum is the moderator; and the key to troll eradication is
low key. Never argue with a member; but if intervention is required, act
quickly, quietly and effectively. There are two rules for moderators that you
ignore at your peril:
- You loyalty is to the forum, no member is
- Whatever a troll does, you can undo much more quickly
In my youthful
days of running discos, I learned that trouble is best controlled at the door;
keep out the troublemakers, and life is much more fun for us human beings. Exactly
the same applies with trolls. You want to keep your forum settings as 'loose'
as possible, to encourage new members, and keep a warm atmosphere. And why not?
fine, so long as you have no trouble. By all means, let anyone in, let non-members
post, let them do as they please. But if that's abused, then you may need to tighten
The first line of defense is your moderators; few forums do much more
than cover their costs, so the only reward they are likely to get is being part
of a good place; appoint active members, give them some control over posts and
people, and they'll keep things going while you are away - or asleep. But don't
dump on them; give them a private forum so you can discuss policy and agree on
management - trolls are good at dividing a confused management.
should always require a 'working email address', and if things get difficult,
you should be able to hold all new memberships for review. Use that carefully;
people won't wait for long, but a 24 hour wait may be enough to lose a troll -
they have little concentration and no patience.
I believe in letting anyone read the forum, but only members can post. This means
perspective members can see if it's for them, but drive-by trolls cannot get in.
never manage themselves; trolls come and go, as do other problems. There's plenty
of other forums, so if you do not invest enough time, members will vote with their
feet. A troll should never be able to destroy a forum. But it happens.
means that unacceptable posts or threads can and must be deleted quickly, quietly
and without fuss, trolls and abusive members can be banned by name, email and
IP addresses. However obsessed the troll, they cannot win if you simply delete,
ban, delete, ban ... rejoining takes minutes and banning takes about four clicks.
Retyping takes minutes, deleting takes one click. A calm, consistent moderator
cannot lose this battle.
is no 100% sure way of preventing trolls from a forum, without denying membership
to all except those you know, or those referred by trusted members (and that's
However, most forums can allow all applications to be held
until moderator-approved, and others can prevent members posting in all or some
sections of your forum until permission is granted.
This is not ideal,
as it can put off new members, who feel rejected and go elsewhere (they know nothing
of your problems ... and telling them would be equally off-putting. But if you
have a particular problem - such as a concerted attack, where an ejected troll
is inviting his friends along, hoping for revenge, then entry control for a few
days is often all you need - after all, troll friendships are pretty superficial,
and their attention span is low. So most of the trolls best friends will soon
slime off somewhere more inviting.
you can decide what's acceptable to your forum; strong language, teasing, sarcasm
may all be alarm bells for some, part of life for others. What matters is what
the membership in general will tolerate. In most groups, attacking new
members is not acceptable - let's face it, most people read before joining; why
would they join to be abused? But if one member causes upsets, delete the posts.
Don't argue, delete. It may be wise to send a private message saying why, which
they could take as a warning. But, for most forums, never post that rebuke in
With decent forum setup, deletiing a troll post takes just one
click - you have the advantage over the troll. Use it.
are often slow to ban members; 'he's usually ok', 'she's never lost it before'.
So what? He's not OK now, she's lost it now. Nobody wants to lose
members, but if you are slow to ban, it's the other members - the good ones -
that you'll lose. Plus the lurkers who will never join. If a member is upsetting
the forum, they are out. If they've been good members, then emailing a reason
should be considered. If they have been deliberately stirring, don't bother, you
are asking for a stalker.
Second chances? Up to you. I would never ask
for an apology - some people will say anything - but an unasked for genuine-sounding
apology from a previously good member would usually warrant a second chance. But
here I diverge from Ronald Reagan - it's TWO strikes and you're out. If they've
gone back on an apology, they cannot be trusted, and I have a life. I banned one
person, and got fifteen emails in 24 hours, with untold explanations and waffle,
but no apology - the person he attacked apologised (quite unnecessarily!) for
accidently provoking him. Go figure.
But the point is, don't base your decision
on what that member wants or 'deserves' - base your decision 100% on what is best
for the forum.