Dealing with Haters and Lolcows – Don’t feed the trolls?

In terms of Internet trolling, the summer of 2013 might be remembered for the vile rape-callout trolling against Caroline Criado-Perez and Stella Creasy MP. While shocking messages about rape on the Internet are nothing new – as people like Jake Baker have been brought before the courts for doing so before social media. This tutorial explains how people who are targeted by Hater trollers (i.e. Snerts, E-Vengers and Iconoclasts) can get enjoyment from all the attention, even if it is vile as that against Caroline Criado-Perez and Stella Creasy MP. I recently told Nicky Campbell on BBC Radio 5 Live that people who have been sent rape threats should “enjoy” them. He found this out of place, but what I meant was they should take it with a pinch of salt and use it to mock the Haters, as Isabel Fay did in this explicit video, which is available for download for charity from

If one has strong views that one expresses on the Internet it is likely one will be targeted by Haters in some shape or form. One can either feel overwhelmed by this or learn to enjoy the attention. If one goes into public life – even as a community councillor like I did – one should expect to be abused even if one doesn’t want to. Below you can see a message posted about me on the Internet on the Pontytown website. It was a reposting by a Pontypridd councillor called Mike Powell who supported the untrue comments about me by a user that hid behind the pseudonym ‘ValleyBoy.’

TROLLED: A message board post where untruths are told about me and agreed to by prominent politicians.

TROLLED: A message board post where untruths are told about me and agreed to by prominent politicians.

You can see from above that the comments are very personal and as an elected representative wet behind the ears – as I was at the time – can easily get grossly offended and report this free speech to the police as I did, but this is something that more experienced politicians would not do. When abuse like this is posted online the best thing to do is not ‘feed the trolls’ but just ignore it. It will eventually go to the bottom of the pile, but if one engages with it, one might end up being painted into a corner and/or the post be in the search results of Google or other search engines. One can see how this happened with me on the website in the image below:

INDEXED: This image shows how by engaging with people stating mistruths about me had unwanted consequences.

INDEXED: This image shows how by engaging with people stating mistruths about me had unwanted consequences.

Engaging with those trolling will usually end up in one becoming ‘Big Man,’ which is a type of ‘lolcow.’ Lolcows are people who after a series of attacks from other users (called flame wars) or the posting of other content not wanted by the community end up being regularly targeted if they stay on the community. The Big Men, who assert authority in their opinions, are created when a person is set up on by community members. Even if one thinks one is being pro-social, like a Flirt or MHBFY Jenny, if one is overly targeted by the Haters one becomes a Big Man.There are thus some things one might want to bear in mind if one is in a situation where one could end up being a Big Man:

  • Keep in areas where you control the content. If you use public message boards, like, you are at risk that content you post, or is posted about you, cannot be removed. Stick to your wall on Facebook or similar websites where you can delete content. If you want to say something you a friend whom you have loose social ties with post it on your wall with their name within it so you control the thread and not them.
  • Don’t take abusive messages seriously. If someone attacks you for your looks or any other aspect of you, it is not true, but the people posting it are saying it to hurt you. Act as if the cap doesn’t fit – if you were as bad as the Haters say you are, then they would have not interest in you, as if they are Snerts it is likely they want to dash your confidence as they lack it themselves.
  • Enjoy the attention. Even if abusive content is posted to you directly, you should see it as ‘all flames are good flames.’ If Haters post messages – even ones as vile as saying you’ll be raped as with Caroline Criado-Perez – that is a vote of confidence in you and can give you views more credibility due to that which the Hates lack. In a recent election I only got 3 votes, but that is three votes more than my critics who didn’t stand against me. Each vote, like each flame, is someone saying they care enough about you to vote for you. So long as the message is not grossly offence you might want to repost (e.g. retweet or share)  it so your followers can take on your Hater on your behalf, turning them into a Lolcow. For many Haters this is not what they want, but others will enjoy the attention, which after the reposting would no longer be on you.

2 thoughts on “Dealing with Haters and Lolcows – Don’t feed the trolls?

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