Blake Snow

content advisor, recognized journalist, bodacious writer-for-hire

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How to fix online comments in one fell swoop

trollsTrolls — breaking online comments since 1994.

Online comments and reader reaction to news are often enlightening. Unless of course they’re disrupted by attention trolls, which they often are. Which is why commenting for the most part is still broken. Even the world’s largest bloggerprenuers know this.

Blocking trolls, however, is useless. They just create new accounts to perpetuate the insanity. To really nip them in the bud, you have to ensure that they fail to get a reaction.

Here’s how I would do it: Keep comments open, allowing anyone to register and make a remark. Flag the ones (either individually or by email/account) that are off-topic, rude, or spam.

But instead of removing these comments, keep them visible to the IP address from which the comment was made, while hiding it from all other readers. Basically making it visible to only the troll.

In other words, the best way to discourage trolls is to ignore them. Of course, a small minority of technical trolls might wise up and try logging in on different accounts from different IP addresses. But I think this could do wonders to fixing the problem.

Am I wrong?