Signal boost: How to Kill a Troll, by Erin Kissane

(via Neil Gaiman on Tumblr)

The most effective response to trolls is supposed to be ignoring them.

Anyone who was tormented by classmates as a child knows how facile that is. You can’t un-see threats and hateful comments, which is what the people who make them are counting on. 

"Don't feed the trolls" has always been pretty bad advice.  This should be obvious.  I remember, when I was younger, stupider, and frequented 4chan, what "Don't feed the trolls" meant.  It wasn't a strategy for diminishing trolling.  4chan is very nearly nothing but trolling.

"Don't feed the trolls" just meant:  Be good at identifying trolls, and don't fall for their trolling.  If you do, they win.  By 'win,' I mean the way you win a game of tag.  That's all it was.  That's all that not "feeding the trolls" is good for -- winning points in a juvenile game.

Trolling outside 4chan[1. Which is not to say that there's no serious, properly contemptible trolling in 4chan, but generally, I think the trolling on that site is often relatively benign, especially compared to the rest of its content.] isn't that playful game.  It's an attempt to control and dominate conversations.  Like propaganda in the early twentieth century, trolling is a weapon of opinion, and needs to be dealt with that way.

Erin Kissane's brilliant essay offers one solution, and she's right that it might be the only one:

 When it comes to actually changing minds, I think we’re stuck with love.

Read it here.  Share it everywhere.