July 25, 2010

Handling Christian Trolls on Atheist Blogs

TrollAlthough many of the blogging tips I provide here are aimed at atheist bloggers, most have a wider applicability to all sorts of blogs. This one is a bit different because it focuses on how to handle Christian trolls on atheist blogs.

Start by accepting that Christian trolls require some sort of response. I realize it may be tempting just to ignore them because they provide entertainment for some readers. There is nothing quite like a Christian troll to generate lots of comment activity on your posts, and you may find the increased activity desirable. The thing is, these arguably positive effects tend to be short-lived and are likely to alienate the atheist readers who make up the bulk of your audience. Over time, you'll discover that Christian trolls are not contributing anything new, and your readers will tire of seeing the same weak arguments trotted out again and again.

So, what should you do? Here are some tips I have found helpful:
  • Think proactively. With sufficient time, every atheist blog will attract Christian trolls like moths to a flame. Some hope to convert you and your readers. Others come to cause trouble. But they will come, and you want to decide how you plan to deal with them before they arrive.
  • Write a comment policy. Chances are, you'll end up modifying it a few times as you encounter more trolls. But you should put it together now and refer suspected trolls to it. You can find mine here.
  • Be prepared to moderate comments if you have to, but don't overdo it. Nobody likes to have their comments moderated, and we tend to comment less on blogs that moderate every comment. Use moderation sparingly, selectively, and only when necessary.
  • Recognize the toxic effects a Christian troll can have, and don't let it get to that point. You may have to delete comments, enable selective moderation, or ban certain trolls. This may make you uncomfortable, but failing to act will almost certainly drive away some of your readers.
I visited a fairly new atheist blog recently and was preparing to leave a comment on a post that caught my interest. As I entered the comment thread, I discovered that it was filled with nothing but drivel from Dennis Markuze (aka, David Mabus). There were at least 10 of his ridiculous rants and nothing else. Needless to say, I moved on.

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