All serious writers eventually hit a threshold when we know we are now doing something right. We break the gravitational pull of our family and friends who tell us we’re crazy and hit the Trollosphere. The Trollosphere is an invisible layer filled with noxious gas that most of us cannot detect with the naked eye until it manifests in our comments section (or book reviews). The Trollosphere is something we all must get through on our way to the stars and, if we smell the stink, we know we are doing something remarkable. The key is to get through the Trollosphere without contributing to it.
There are many levels of Internet Trolls, each imbued with distinctive qualities.
This guy just makes no sense. You post something about gardening and he claims that all gardeners are women and all women are soul-sucking incubus—incubi?—who are only out to lure men into bed so they can marry them, then divorce them and take all their money to buy more tomato plants and meth.
Just send this guy to the trash bin and, if possible, report him. Obviously he has issues with a divorce, custody battle, or very teeny male body part, and he is a ticking time bomb. Of course, when you delete this type of troll, fully expect him to start a blog about you.
Kristen Lamb–The Face of Puppy Punching
Crazy Troll is the worst of the bunch and report him if you can. Just don’t engage. Hit delete.
Ranting troll has an ax to grind and his preferred place to do this is on your blog or in a review of your book. Like Crazy Troll, Ranting Troll kind of makes some sense, though his argument might be very tangential.
This is one of the reasons I plead with writers to NOT blog about anything political or religious unless you happen to be a faith or political writer. The infestation of Crazy Trolls and Ranting Trolls will be almost impossible to eradicate, and, instead of writing more brilliant novels, you will spend that time apologizing to friends who have become the collateral damage of Ranting Troll. Ranting Troll won’t stop at hating you. He will send e-mails to you, your friends, your mother, and your editor.
I’m Better Than You and You’re a Moron Troll
This type of troll isn’t out-of-control-crazy, just more condescending and smug. This troll looks for picky things to criticize as justification for why you are an idiot with the mental capacity of a sea cucumber. These trolls will also take time to spell out specific reasons why they are too good/talented/smart to listen to you.
They will ignore the 1200 words of well-crafted or thoughtful FREE advice and focus on one misspelled word or typo. I’m Better Than You Troll likely doesn’t have her own blog because creating would take time away from tearing others down.
Why is I’m Better Than You Troll Dangerous?
I’m Better Than You Troll is the most dangerous because:
It is easy to become one.
It is easy to have a bad day and take it out on-line. If we see something that rubs us the wrong way? Just move on. Trust me.
It is short-sighted and unprofessional.
It is easy to have a bad day and snap on-line, but here’s the thing. That is a luxury only afforded to amateurs. If we are serious about being successful writers then we know that publishing/the blogosphere are small worlds. People who blog and take time to serve other writers are generally viewed in high regard, because let’s be honest. They don’t have to help other writers.
NYTBSA Bob Mayer, Candy Havens, James Scott Bell, and Jody Hedlund etc. could use that time to just keep writing more awesome best-selling books. They really don’t have to help the new kids. So being a jerk in their comments section is just disrespectful and dumb if we hope to make a career as an author.
Here is the thing. If we don’t like a blog? We can move on. The blog was FREE! It isn’t as if we spent six bucks on a magazine for it to be riddled with typos. Bloggers have taken their time and energy to create something that is fun, entertaining, enlightening or educational and they often do it multiple times a week. They don’t have a month to revise and edit and make it spiffy perfect. We need to remember that before we get too huffy.
I blog in a very conversational style, because I teach using humor. NOT a style for everyone. If you want to read posts from someone who sounds like they should be writing for The Harvard Review or Smithsonian Magazine? This ain’t the blog for you. Yes, I used ain’t and I also use um and like and @$$clown. The above image is an actual commenter on this blog. Notice I didn’t include her name…cuz I’m classy like that :D.
Most bloggers who are professional don’t even mind respectful disagreement. I’ve actually learned a lot from people who respectfully disagreed with me. A time or two I even changed my position on a subject. We are all friends, here. We can even agree to disagree. It’s what friends DO.
It is dumb and is forever.
When we comment, we can’t take it back… EVER. Short of writing to the blogger and begging for mercy, our comment is as trapped as a prehistoric dragonfly in sediment. It is there for all of posterity.
One of the wonderful aspects of a blog, unlike other social media, is that blogs have a permanence that no other site can offer. The blogs will be there until the Internet collapses or the author decides to take it down. I still get comments on blogs that are two years old, because search engines will drop tourists by my place. Seriously, Google Falcor the Luck Dragon and see whose blog is STILL on the first page. Search engines are great at delivering new fans.
So if we act like an @$$clown in the comments…it is there for good. Agents and editors regularly follow some of the top writing blogs and they remember names. Also, on a lot of the more popular blogs, readers read the comments too, so forget about getting buried in anonymity.
It’s a good way to get pounded by the loyal commenters.
Last fall, unbeknownst to my followers, my great aunt slipped into a coma and died. I blog no matter what. I’d been up all night by her bed, and, when I blogged the next day, I had two fairly bad typos that I didn’t catch. Anyway, an I’m Better Than You Troll absolutely slayed me in the comments. Even though many people had enjoyed the post and learned a lot, this fellow had to write a long dissertation about why I was a moron and why he would never listen to me.
…and that’s when you guys stepped in and it was EPIC.
Here’s the deal. If a blog is written properly, there is a reason for the large numbers of comments. It is often because the blogger has successfully created a community. Pick on one of our peeps and GAME ON. You might as well try to bully our little brother or one of our kids.
We will CUT you.
So remember, we can all have bad days, but the power of the pen is mighty. It can take us to new heights and make for a successful career, or it can forever taint how people view us and make people not want to work with us. Most of us, God willing, will never become a Crazy Troll or a Ranting Troll. We are writers and so we can deal with most of our anger issues by creatively killing people in our fiction. Yet, we should be ever-vigilant of ego. We can disagree, but we at least owe others basic respect.
For more about trolls, my earlier post Here There Be Trolls–How to Spot Them and What to Do might help. Trolls, Sockpuppets and Cyberbullies by the wonderful and brilliant Anne R. Allen is another fantastic resource. Also, since it is a holiday and you might just want a laugh, The Bloggess, Jenny Lawson, posted a quiz How To Tell If You’re a Troll.
Any thoughts about trolls? Have you encountered a Crazy, Ranting or I’m Better Than You Troll? What is your experience in the Trollosphere? And congrats about your newfound fame. Eleven trolls= Internet Celebrity.
I love hearing from you!
To prove it and show my love, for the month of July, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. If you leave a comment, and link back to my blog, and mention my book We Are Not Alone in your blog…you get your name in the hat THREE times. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly.
***Changing the contest.
It is a lot of work to pick the winners each week. Not that you guys aren’t totally worth it, but with the launch of WANA International and WANATribe I need to streamline. So I will pick a winner once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages of your novel, or your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or less).
And also, winners will now have one business week (5 days) to claim the prize, because what’s happening is there are actually quite a few people who never claim the critique, so I never know if the spam folder ate it or to look for it and then people miss out. I will also give my corporate e-mail to insure we connect and I will only have a week to return the 20 page edit.
I will announce the June winner on Friday. Need time to tally the names. THANK YOU.
At the end of July I will pick a winner for the monthly prize. Good luck!
I also hope you pick up copies of my best-selling books We Are Not Alone–The Writer’s Guide to Social Media and Are You There, Blog? It’s Me, Writer . And both are recommended by the hottest agents and biggest authors in the biz. My methods teach you how to make building your author platform FUN. Build a platform and still have time left to write great books.