The old adage “Don’t feed the troll” comes up with increasing frequency in the cryptocurrency world, where fans of various coins and projects all too often resort to toxic forms of promotion. There’s some truth to this, but I think it’s largely misused, and typical means that you shouldn’t engage with toxic commentaries. As someone who has fought off trolls for a living for some time now, I disagree with that notion. You need to push back against the trolls, and here’s why:
Trolls thrive because of societal rules they flaunt
The reason trolls get the headway they do is by creating an environment of unfair advantage. They do this by participating in a space with rules of conduct (spoken or otherwise), and then breaking those rules. They gain the upper hand by “cheating” while betting that others will not. The result is that they are able to harass, intimidate, and lie with impunity, while others feel it improper to respond strongly or call out their behavior directly. The trolls troll, and others are either silent or politely defensive. This lack of force in dialogue exhibited by the polite parties comes off as a lack of confidence, which in turn makes that side look like the wrong one, granting the vitriolic trolls credence.
Dominant toxicity makes good actors exit the space
Now that the trolls have free reign, the space becomes toxic. Trolls are not discouraged by trolling, and passive politeness only encourages them to troll harder. Meanwhile, the civil members of the space will become disheartened, and eventually exit. This turns whatever opinion is espoused by the toxic members into truth, as alternative viewpoints are either vastly outnumbered or completely absent. Then, all it takes is a few “respectable” people to take the trolls’ side and the issue is decided definitively.
Simply standing your ground tires out the trolls
The entire trolling strategy revolves around passive actors remaining complacent and then eventually giving up and leaving. So, in order to avoid this outcome, do the opposite. Don’t leave. Don’t be silent. Dig your heels in, and push back against every false narrative presented. Answer false arguments with the truth. Label repeated, blatant lies as what they are: lies. When the trolls move past their arguments to straight toxicity, point out publicly that they’re trolling. Keep holding the line. Remember, their entire strategy doesn’t revolve around winning a fight, it revolves around you abandoning the fight.
Whatever you do, though, don’t troll back. Baiting you into doing so is another key element of that strategy. Look out for an upcoming piece that will cover that in more detail.