First of all, if you are publishing your work and you have a troll, that’s a good sign. Why? Well, they think your work is good enough to try to discredit, destroy, disrupt, and otherwise damage it in any way possible. They’re paying attention. You’ve gotten someone’s attention enough that they’re putting in the extra energy to make negative commentary and be a critic in regard to your work. That’s a plus for you.
Trolls. How do you deal with them so that they don’t throw you off your game? Well, the first thing you could do is ask them to produce a link to their work. Chances are good that they won’t produce one because they don’t have one – they don’t have a body of work. Now, that speaks, in and of itself, to the character of the troll. Suppose they do have a body of work, though. Okay. Now don’t be mean to the poor troll because they probably have a fragile ego, low self-esteem, and nowhere else to post their complaints about how unfair the world has been to them. Obviously, something’s not going right in their lives, so be objective if and when you read their body of work (or a portion of it). You could leave it at that, having a better understanding of the troll’s plight, or you could objectively critique their work, again, being honest, straightforward, and possibly offering some suggestions on how they might improve or what you like about their work. That totally disarms a troll. They don’t know what to say in reply to someone whose work they’ve trashed online when that author compliments something they’ve done. It’s that deer-in-the-headlights moment for them and they don’t know what to do.
Now, let’s assume the troll has no body of work to disarm them with by killing them with kindness. It’s time to ask the troll a few questions, such as, “Isn’t it time for your mom to do your laundry for you?” and “I think I just heard your mother calling for you that it’s time to clean your room. Shouldn’t you be going?” This may enrage the troll and you can get some colorful comments out of these types of questions. Expect either retaliation or silence. One or the other. I personally think that a response from the troll would be more fun. Be creative with your questions. Chances are good that the troll is inept, doesn’t know what they’re talking about, and is just a bored, negative, lonely, well, troll. Not that you should be extremely mean, though. Do remember that this is a person on the other end of the digiverse, pleasant or not, and that just because they are a troll doesn’t mean that they don’t have feelings. You might just remind them that their mission in life could be something other than trying to be down on you for your efforts to better the world. That’s all. Just a friendly jab here and there…
If you are a troll, and you’re reading this, be assured that you are an important part of humanity. You fuel my sense of humor and my sense of accomplishment at having gotten someone’s attention enough to respond (even if negatively, with extreme bias, and without qualification). And I might ask you if that was your underwear with the skid marks hanging from the stop sign on the corner if you comment negatively on my blog… Just be warned, haha!