Ernie Hsiung
Ernie Hsiung
Rate this post

Dealing with trolls

Being the Network Creator of a social network is a little bit like being the host of a party. You vacuumed your house, you have the food and the drinks ready and, once people arrive, you know to make delightful conversation with your party guests.

So far so good, right? But every once in the while, there’s that one person who has shown up uninvited, had a little bit too much of the fruit punch and now they’re ruining the party for everyone. They’re — maybe even threatening — your guests. You would do something about it, right? All good party hosts would.

In the online world, there’s a term for these unwanted intruders: trolls. If someone is prohibiting others from contributing to your community, or worse, making everyones’ life miserable, then you as a Network Creator have the full authority to remove these trolls from your network. This web site for dealing with bullies on community websites has a great overview on when you, as a Network Creator, should step in:

As a general rule we recommend that administrators always involve themselves in situations of high-end harassment, involve themselves in situations of low-end harassment if absolutely necessary and involve themselves in situations wherein one member has a well-established pattern of conflict with numerous other members.

Or in layman’s terms: “Their drama isn’t your business. Until it becomes your business.”

Develop standard guidelines governing acceptable community behavior. Just like a list of house rules at your party, your Terms of Use should point out what is acceptable and unacceptable behavior. The “Acceptable Use and Conduct” section in Ning’s Terms of Service has a set of basic guidelines, and we’ve gone a step further with the Network Creators guidelines. Of course, feel free to build upon both of them. Your Terms of Use can acknowledge the possibility of trolls on your network and define how you’ll deal with them. The easiest way to add your own Terms of Use statement is by creating a document using our Notes feature.

And if someone violates your rules, feel free to remove them from your network. No one enjoys banning people from their network, but if the person is getting banned for harassment and intimidation reasons, you can safely imagine what this person’s behavior would be if let back in the network.

Any good party host has to deal with bad stuff as well as the good, and as the Network Creator, you have the privilege in doing the same, making your network enjoyable for everyone.

(Special thanks to Manny Hernandez. Flickr photo credit: photogirl7)