Don’t Feed the Troll: How to Keep Online Conversations about Birth and Breastfeeding Respectful


The rise of the social media has bred a new creature: the internet troll.

Defined by Wikipedia,  “…a troll is someone who posts inflammatory,extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community, such as an online discussion forum, chat room, or blog, with the primary intent of provoking readers into an emotional response or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion.”

Inevitably trolls show up almost everywhere online and are capable of destroying an otherwise healthy and productive conversation. When trolls comment on a blog, the blog owner has the authority to delete inflammatory comments, but when conversations happen in a public sphere, like Twitter, you do not have the option of deleting offensive content or users.

While you can block an individual and stop them from following you or replying to you, there is no way to stop them from wrecking havoc on a hashtag. This is particularly troublesome when a hashtag is is being used for a specific event or conference.

What should you do if you see a troll dropping in on a conference hashtag (or really any online conversation)? Well, legend has it that the more you feed the troll the bigger and angrier they become. Yes, they crave attention and conflict and by engaging with them you are feeding the troll and fueling their trollish ways.

For the sake of healthy communities and and productive communication please, don’t feed the trolls.

It’s not about agreeing about everything.

In order for women to be well supported throughout pregnancy, birth and breastfeeding there needs to be a wide range of viewpoints at the table, but there also must be respectful communications in order to move the conversation forward.

Internet trolls do not bring respect to the table and until they do it is best to ignore them and limit their effect on online conversations.

What is your best strategy for dealing with unwanted trolls?



About Jeanette McCulloch

For more than five years, Jeanette McCulloch of BirthSwell has been helping professionals and advocates build businesses and organizations, change policy, and spread your birth genius (and breastfeeding and MCH genius) through strategic digital communications.

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