Have you ever hesitated to join a discussion online because you just know that you’ll be swarmed by trolls?
Fear not FEMGAMER is here to guide you through the process of dealing with them. Follow these easy steps and you will soon be able to avoid the troll’s traps and simply blow them out of the water.
Okay, first step to dealing with the trolls is to recognize what tactics they are using.
Whataboutism – the art of changing the subject
Used successfully by Russia during the Cold War (for real, I kid you not), Whataboutism is a way for the trolls to dismiss critic with a “What about…” Simply put, the trolls use this technique to change the focus of the subject and forces you into a defensive position if you fall in the trap of trying to reply to them.
Here’s an example of Whataboutism:
As mentioned, one of the most common examples of this type of bad rhetoric was Soviet responses to criticism by pointing out the United State’s own failings, such as the mob lynching of blacks. “And you are hanging blacks”, used when Americans accused the Soviets of violating human rights. Instead of attempting to justify the behavior of the Soviet Union, this argument is an easy way to deflect blame onto America by implying they’re hypocrites.
Modern day trolls use Whataboutism in the exact same way as their Cold War counterparts did. It might seem silly, but it is a very effective way of kidnapping a conversation and shift the focus away from the subject.
The Gish Gallop
In a Gish Gallop many bullshit points are stacked on top of each other creating a mountain of well… poo. It is a tactic named after creationist Duane Gish and has been used by several speakers and politicians, including Donald Trump.
In a Gish Gallop the troll drowns you in an overwhelming amount of “proof” that is suppose to show just how wrong you are. One at the time, these often very weak arguments are easy to deal with, but when presented in a virtual tidal-wave they are almost impossible to defeat, especially during discussions on Twitter or Facebook.
If the Whataboutism or the Gish Gallop doesn’t get to you, maybe the next weapon in the trolls’ armory will:
Ad Hominem – making it personal
As a last resort, a troll will almost always rely on attacking you personally. Name-calling, even threats are not unusual, and though they can be hard to dismiss, and even get to you on a personal level you should try to not let it. If the troll pisses you off, it has won, and we don’t want that, do we.
A tactic that is included in Ad Hominem is The Straw Man:
Also known as the Straw Dog or the Wooden Dummy, the Straw Man is used by the trolls to basically argue against a made-up opponent – someone who doesn’t fight back or counter their attacks. In online discussions it isn’t unusual that they turn YOU into their Wooden Dummy. This is done by assigning you, or the group you identify with with, opinions you probably don’t have.
An example of this can look something like this:
“Console Gamers hate the PC gamer community.”
“Console Gamers hate Facebook and Twitter.”
“Console Gamers reject all things PC specifically”
“Why aren’t you Console Gamers getting mad at people using their Cellphones for gaming?”
Okay, so it’s a lame example but I hope you see my point. What this does is that instead of you being able to present your argument or point of view, you have to spend time on rebuking statements you’ve never made and most likely doesn’t agree with. And as soon as you’ve started defending yourself, you’ve lost and the trolls have won.
So, how do we win against the trolls, you may ask. Well, FEMGAMER will show you how to beat them and come out shiny at the other end of it.
Defeating the trolls
Firstly, never let the trolls lure you into replying to the content of their comments or posts. You don’t want to waste your time by responding to their badly made arguments, their Whataboutism, or try to prove your point against their Gish Gallop. Instead you point out that you are aware of what they are doing, what tactic they are using. By letting them know that you are on to them, you take away their power. They can’t argue with you unless you argue back.
This might enrage some trolls and can make them resort to name-calling and threats. If they do, and if you feel the threats are serious, you should take a screenshot of their message/post and report them to the site Admin, and possibly even contact your local police.
DO NOT FEED THE TROLLS – It’s a cliche, but it works. It is the hands down single best way to defeat trolls.
Instead of engaging with the troll, or throwing an insult back at them, reply to their post/comment by informing them that you are aware of what they are doing and point out that you recognize the bad form of rhetoric they are using. This let them know that you see through their blustering, and that takes away their power.
It is not easy, sitting there staring at the screen, getting insults and threats thrown at you, but remember, you have every right to speak your mind, to make your opinions known. The net belongs to YOU not to the trolls. So, head out there, be brave, and of course, be respectful, and make your voice heard!
Happy troll hunting!