Killing Trolls

Or how to ban people on WordPress

Blogging can be fun, you’re sharing your ideas with the world and people from all over this planet engage with you to discuss those ideas. Unfortunately, some commenters aren’t interested in a proper discussion, but want to disrupt your blog. These people are known as “trolls“. But you can deal with this problem. I won’t get into the psychology of trolls, which is not of interest for you as blog owner. Instead I will discuss how to get rid of them.

The first key is moderation. On WordPress there are basically three moderation options: moderate all comments, moderate only the first comment of someone or no moderation at all. The last option is a bad choice, it would allow everyone to comment everything on your blog and you can only deal with it afterwards. However, moderating all comments might slow down the discussion, this might be a good thing especially when emotions are high.

On this moment all comments on Republic of Lagrangia are moderated, but we are considering moving to option 2. In most cases you can assume that if someone’s first comment is okay, his or her further comments will also be okay. In WordPress you can in your dashboard, go to “settings”. Under “discussion” you can find a section “Before a comments appears”, you can choose between either “Comment must be manually approved” or “Comment author must have a previously approved comment”. The first option will allow you to moderate all comments beforehand, the second will allow you to moderate only the first comment to be moderated beforehand.

If you choose for the first option the problem of trolls disappears, simply because a comment won’t be visible immediately and any comments you suspects to be from trolls can be refused. However, when you choose the second option you might get the following problem. A person might comment a nice comment first, and then (s)he is free to comment all kind of irritating stuff.

Fortunately you can ban those people. Under “Discussion”->”Other comment settings” you can (and you should) require commenters to fill in their email address. WordPress allows you to withhold comments in two ways. First you can fill in under “Comment moderation” words, IP addresses, and mail addresses, any comment which contains any of those words will held for moderation. And the same thing can you by “Comment blacklist”, only difference is that the latter will throw any thing to your spam folder.

Once you believe a commenter is, despite a previously approved comment, a troll, you can place his or her  email address under either “Comment moderation” or “Comment blacklist” (whatever you like, given the circumstances). From now, his or her comments will not appear automatically on your blog, and hence there’s no incentive any more for the troll to continue his or her activities on your blog.

Of course, a troll can make a new email address, and start over his campaign. In this case you can consider to place an IP block. But also this can be circumvented. However, if you block some one time after time, even the most rampant troll will give up sooner or later.

14 thoughts on “Killing Trolls”

  1. I have had two trolls on wp, both personality disorders and I knew who they were. The one I spammed, the other one I rlied to. She was pretty shocked that I knew who she is.

      1. He wasn’t making any meaningful contribution to the discussion. You must know of him. I recently deleted his comments on Atheistenquiry too.

              1. Hahaha, it was the last resort. I would follow your comment policy, I like it very much but I just thought moderating all comments was quite a hassle for me.

                Have a fine week my friend.

              2. I have not that much comments, but as you have read I quite willing to relax my moderation policy to requiring that commenters only to have a previously approved comment. Basically you and John are the top commenters. And you two are quite civilised.

                And have a nice week you too!

  2. This was very helpful. You explained it very well. I have only had three comments I didn’t like. They weren’t bad at all….but made me feel bad.

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