At BlogWorld in a couple weeks in addition to the big money baller panel I am also going to be on the “How to Deal with Trolls, Spammers & Sock Puppets” panel with John Chow and Patrick O’Keefe which will be moderated by Conference Founder Rick Calvert.

Rick has asked me to come up for a format for the panel and I thought it would be best if the panelists were just asked basic questions on how they deal with Trolls, Spammers & Sock Puppets.

Here are the questions I thought of off the top of my head…. If you have any pertaining to the subject of How to Deal with Trolls, Spammers & Sock Puppets please contribute it below!

    1) Tell us about a time someone on the internet tried to make your life hell. How did you deal with it?

    2) Have you ever taken legal action against someone on the internet over something they said about you.

    3) How do you deal with people posting anonymously or by being a “sock puppet”

    4) Do You moderate comments on your site?

    5) Do you censor people on your website that do not agree with you?

    6) Where do you draw the line between someone attacking you and disagreeing you (if it matters)?

    7) What is your biggest tip for dealing with comment spammers?

    8 ) Lots of times when asking for feedback someone may post a link to a site. How do you determine if this is spam or not?

What other questions do you like to see asked of the panel?

By Jeremy Schoemaker

Jeremy "ShoeMoney" Schoemaker is the founder & CEO of ShoeMoney Media Group, and to date has sold 6 companies and done over 10 million in affiliate revenue. In 2013 Jeremy released his #1 International Best selling Autobiography titled "Nothing's Changed But My Change" - The ShoeMoney Story. You can read more about Jeremy on his wikipedia page here.

107 thoughts on “How to Deal with Trolls, Spammers & Sock Puppets”
  1. Most of the time, not saying anything is the best. Many spammers eventually will lose interest, but then things start getting hairy you need to know how to defend yourself.

  2. I have no objection to sock puppets so long as they act like real people … it doesn’t seem any different to me than someone using a pseudonym. If the comment is relevant, interesting, and adds to the discussion, a sock puppet name is fine. But if it’s crap, it’s crap, whatever the name.

    1. Yeah. Spammers will eventually lose interest on you and
      focus on some other person. Its common on the web.

  3. Ultimately, your blog or website is your virtual property.

    1) Someone who tries to make your life hell: ignore them.

    2) No legal action taken yet.

    3) sock puppet: delete them

    4) All first-time comments are moderated. This leads to a better experience for other readers.

    5) No censorship.

    Differences of opinion are welcome, but trolling is not.
    I’d wipe out comments that are way out of line (according to my own standards).

    6) attacking is where they get personal. disagreeing is when they address the topic being discussed.

    7) Akismet, comment karma take care of comment spammers.
    IP blocks would be the extreme

    1. Wow, your standards would really be hard to satisfy. I mean it would be easy to satisfy some of them but most blogs do not do all of this. Even though I know many really try to do so. Are you saying that you want every blog to be this way that you read?

      1. Hi,
        I do this for my blog.
        It doesn’t take much time to enforce.

        As for other blogs, they have their own policies, so I wouldn’t
        impose my standards on them.

        Spammy/trollish comments kinda kill the pleasure of visiting a blog.

  4. Early on when I started blogging (2004) there was a guy who made a blog called I really Love donuts on Blogspot. I thought it was a friend of mine who had been making fun of me for blogging. So, thinking it was him I went and signed in to I Really Love donuts (the guy made his password donuts, it was the first thing I tried.) I made a few changes to the blog and also the password was changed to dickhead. I thought it was a friend of mine all along. Well, I forgot to change the e-mail address for the “I forgot my password” feature. Oops. Well it turns out that donuts was not one of my friends but someone who wanted to make fun of my blog. This guy would take my posts and re-write with a donut related spin. For a while I read the posts and it got me angry, He’s also comment on my blog from time to time but I would always remove the comments. One day I just decided no longer to look at the site. Best decision ever.

    1. Of course, ignoring them is a great decision. But sometimes is necessary defeat the problem starting from the root.

    2. LMAO. That pisses you off? Wait until people start scraping your sites for content to markov and rank with it.

  5. 1) Many times, in many and various situation. From speaking about dinner to the darwin’s theory.

    2)no legal action was necessary

    3) If he write some interesting comment it’s ok. If he write some stupid comment I’ll delete the comment.

    4) Sometimes moderation is necessary.

    5) No never.

    6) If he writes clearly only against me this is a personal attack and not a contrary opinion.

    7) Like andrew I use Akismet, if necessary block the IP

  6. Jeremy Schoemaker (ShoeMoney) Joins Blog World Expo “Trolls” Panel (Looking for Feedback) - ManagingCommunities.com says:

    […] I wanted to bring this up was so that I could point to today’s post on his blog, where he is asking for feedback on what we should talk about. So, if you have any thoughts, please feel free to let him know. It should be a great panel. Is […]

  7. Jeremy Schoemaker (ShoeMoney) Joins Blog World Expo “Trolls” Panel (Looking for Feedback) » iFroggy Network Blog says:

    […] I wanted to bring this up was so that I could point to today’s post on his blog, where he is asking for feedback on what we should talk about. So, if you have any thoughts, please feel free to let him know. It should be a great panel. Is […]

  8. never moderate comments on your website unless they are over the line.. controversy = more readers normally

    1. Agreed, if someone disagrees with you, you look weak editing out bad comments, if someone has something to say, let them say it!

    2. What if it is obviously a hater comment directed personally at you and something unrelated to the post itself?

      1. that’s why I always have some kind of terms for comments. If you don’t respect my terms, well, you won’t have the opportunity to comment on my blog/site.

      2. You can either prove them wrong or just suck it up and let it bring more traffic and attention 🙂

    3. Im happy to be getting the comments I do get. Plus, who could get mad at me with a picture like mine? =)

  9. yes, we moderate comments and use akismet and similar plugins.
    We ban ip for comment spams and regisrations

  10. 4) I don’t moderate. But my signal to noise ratio is pretty good right now. I get about 10 spams for every valid comment. My filters catch about 99% of that spam with very little configuration.

    5) I never censor information, but I might censor language if it’s above a PG level.

    6) I consider attacks to be nonconstructive criticism. You can tell me my blog sucks, but if you don’t tell me WHY, then it’s an attack in my mind.

    7) Askimet. It catches 90% of my spam. 9% of it caught by the other WP filters. The other 1% I delete from my site by hand, usually after it’s been on the site a few hours.

    Obviously, it’s good to strike a balance between moderation and time spent on moderation.

  11. I have had a commenter be a troll on my site and I basically just let them say whatever they want, fortunately every other commenter recognized that person as being a pest and a troll and the mini-community managed itself. I moderate for spam only, not for content, and everything else makes it through (I’ll edit long URLs and make them links, but that’s about it). The community has a way of managing itself that will trump anything you do.

  12. I don’t really moderate many posts on my site other than making sure no spam gets through to the posts. Askimet and WP Ban definitely help me out when it comes to making sure I don’t get any crap showing on my blog. I don’t censor people on my blog simply because it’s their opinion and I have no problem with it.

    1. If someone posted a totally legit and relevant comment but their name linked to an adult site what would you do?

      1. just remove their url. I would also send an email to the commenter letting him know why I removed his url.

  13. 1) Tell us about a time someone on the internet tried to make your life hell. How did you deal with it?

    Answer: Competition webmaster uploaded a pornographic profile on my website, which was a social network and photos were moderated but not immediately, as we had to have a nice flow of things. He then reported to Google and in 5 minutes I was banned. Since then (January 2008) my incomes on PPC are dezastruous, I got no chance to get in the PPC market whatsoever and I’ve had to deal with this by appealing to Google and getting rejected. Bottom point, I hate google now more than that webmaster.

    2) Have you ever taken legal action against someone on the internet over something they said about you.

    Answer: No, I think this is stupid across the virtual world, or at least if money isn’t in the stake, say like you have a company and someone throws fake information on yourself or insults addressed to the family, I’d do so.

    3) How do you deal with people posting anonymously or by being a “sock puppet”

    Answer: I ban the IP address across the whole website and do a check on his IP address then launch a DDoS Attack on his whole ISP knocking him and his ISP down for ages. *Just kidding* Not!

    4) Do You moderate comments on your site?

    Answer: No, most of the time I allow to post freely, the only problem is that sometimes they start to get spammy. I hate spammy!

    5) Do you censor people on your website that do not agree with you?

    Answer: Absolutelly not, this way showing people I can face criticism and I’m not a fake person.

    6) Where do you draw the line between someone attacking you and disagreeing you (if it matters)?

    Answer: Insults make the difference, facts don’t.

    7) What is your biggest tip for dealing with comment spammers?

    Answer: I haven’t faced any big comment spam, I’d say more strict captcha’s against bots and also make the specific article no-follow if it’s starting to get spammy.

  14. It happens all the time. What really bugs me is those track backs from the useless blogs that just copy your post.

    1. Yeah, those are really a headache. I used to run a Zune blog and nearly all the trackbacks were from splogs just copying.

    2. not everything is perfect in real life. What could we say about the internet ? You’ll get used to it.

    3. Theres an RSS plugin which forces it onto the post when its copied saying “originating from LINK” and/or you can implement a javascript code forcing it to change content…but its a little more complicated to still provide your feed to the users.

  15. 1) not worth worrying about unless #2 should apply
    2) no
    3) depends on intent – delete if warranted
    4) yes
    5) no. But I reserve the right to delete those that border on libel or go beyond rude.
    6) when the attack is personal AND untrue, or if a personal attack isn’t relevant to the topic. disagreement on the topic is not a problem. I welcome disagreement as an opportunity to prove or test my position.
    7) Delete or selectively no follow, depending on the comment. If it adds to the conversation in a way that someone would respond to the comment, then it stays and I wont nofollow.

  16. I moderate with a spam filter or two and just having to approve a first comment, I find this takes care of 99.9% of spam

  17. I’m the webmaster at Saabnet.com which started as a mailing list on the Internet in 1988 and has grown to be a website with nearly 8 million page views a month and about a million users in total. I’ve dealt with MANY of these issues below.

    1) Tell us about a time someone on the internet tried to make your life hell. How did you deal with it?

    At the worst point, someone actually threatened physical violence at an upcoming event I was going to be at simply because they didn’t agree with the site policies. We had to make sure there was adequate security at the event. Nothing untoward happened.

    3) How do you deal with people posting anonymously or by being a “sock puppet”

    While I allow anonymous comments on the site, I try to be diligent in not allowing open proxy servers or anonymous surfing services from posting to the site. I use public and commercial open proxy server listings to build up a deny by IP listing for Apache config. It works very well at keeping the riff raff out.

    4) Do You moderate comments on your site?

    Yes, there is a very detailed and clear site usage guideline that says what’s okay and what’s out of bounds. For this site, Politics and Religion are out of bounds as there are plenty of other better sites for those discussions which can be extremely divisive in an online community.

    5) Do you censor people on your website that do not agree with you?

    In a way, yes. Administrative issues are to be submitted by support email or form, not posted to the forums. Policy questions, comments, and feedback is also not up for discussion and should be submitted directly to the webmaster. Postings of this nature are deleted.

    7) What is your biggest tip for dealing with comment spammers?

    Have a hell of a word filter. I get 30,000 spam attempts a day and my filter eliminates all but one or two each day. Just keep building it up by adding words to the filter from spams that get through.

    -Scott

    p.s Nifty site here. I found you when you started following me on Twitter.

  18. I always think the best response is a combination of the silent treatment and severe beatings.

  19. Your Expo panel sounds fun. A few answers:

    3) How do you deal with people posting anonymously or by being a “sock puppet”

    I don’t mind anonymous posts as long as they stick to one name. Once they start using multiple personalities to argue with themselves or others, that I don’t like. I handle it by sending an email first telling them I’m onto their trick and that all their comments will be deleted unless they pick a personality and stick with it. If that doesn’t work, I ban IP addresses. If they slip through, I just delete.

    4) Do You moderate comments on your site?

    I have my moderation set up so that anyone who has never previously posted a comment will be held until I approve it. I do approve anyone who is a real person/not a spammer robot.

    5) Do you censor people on your website that do not agree with you?

    No.

    6) Where do you draw the line between someone attacking you and disagreeing you (if it matters)?

    I don’t mind anyone attacking ME, but I did have one instance where someone came on to rip at another blogger and used some libelous language. That I deleted.

    8 ) Lots of times when asking for feedback someone may post a link to a site. How do you determine if this is spam or not?

    If it’s a site that has to do with my blog’s theme, I’ll generally allow it, even if it’s a drive-by “here, check out this” link and they add nothing to the conversation. If it’s a random link that has nothing to do with the theme of my site or the post at hand, I delete it.

  20. Trolls are often looking to engage you and waste your time, confounding your thoughts + feelings in a war of words. That makes it seem harder to ignore them (which is an INaction) than to respond (which does sap your resources and makes you even madder when they come back for another round).

    Judging criticism is simple: do you benefit from it and can effectively apply it? If not, it’s practically useless.

  21. -Are there any basic tips you have for beginners to avoid spamming? Any good websites to look at as a resource?
    -What tools do you use, what tools have worked, which haven’t?
    -Plans for the future: where will spamming go next? What do you need to do to stay one step ahead of the game?

    1. I think jeremy made a post about it last month especially on wordpress blogs… he also made mention of blacklisting ips…

    1. Any site that doesn’t moderate out of control flame wars is a useless waste of time… the noise to signal ratio is just worthless.

  22. Ban spammers and trolls and then tear them limb from limb so to speak, and laugh long and hard at their pathetic antics.

  23. I was just reading about this topic in Biz Stone’s book, “Who Let The Blogs Out.” Biz Stone works at Google and is the co-founder of Twitter and has helped make Xanga, Blogger, Odeo, and Obvious.

    This guy is a genius, and he has an awesome view of this topic. I actually got the book from my local library. You should read it… it is very good.

  24. I’m so sick of spammers coming to my website and attacking my chatbox. Even with akismet it’s SO hard to keep all of them at bay. 🙁

  25. That’s like asking how to deal with deadbeats, wisecracks, weazels, weirdos, goofballs, stinky people, lazies, rudes, etc etc in society

    Unless they are breaking any laws – you have to tolerate them.

    i’ll end this comment with: I AM THE BEST – AND YOU ARE ALL NOT

  26. A little bit disbute may be good for you to get more traffic, as long as it’s not out of control. Akismet is good enough for me to keep spammers at bay at the moment.

  27. Wow – seems to have generated a lot of interest. I do moderate, but haven’t censured except for spam – askimet gets most, but some still get through. Haven’t had some of the other experiences. I look forward to attending this session.

  28. I would ask this:
    Apart from filtering geo targeted IP addresses how to you reduce the amount of scams coming from Nigeria and other scam proned countries that target users?
    We have a lot of these users coming in and trying to scam users that ligitimately use the site.

    1. I’ve built up a database of these IPs over a long period of time. I’d probably be willing to share it with you. My site does between 5 and 7 million pages a month.

      -Scott

  29. You might want to fix this glaring typo on your twitter bio.. It makes you look like a hack…

    “Just another guy tyring to make a living off this intarwebnet stuff”

  30. How do you deal with Twitter Spammers? You know, these guys who inflate their Twitter Followers numbers by following everyone and their mother for a day in order to get them to follow back and then deleting them. The only thing I’ve found is to just block them after the fact, but what bogus way to pretend to be popular. Someone around here, no names, does it too…

    1. I dont really care about those.. I mean for me if they follow then they will, and it doesnt mean that I would follow them back too…

  31. It’s rather late in the day so there are a lot of good questions posed in the comments already, so on another note…. do you plan on posting a follow-up after the Blogworld panel? It would be interesting to see your answers along with some compare/contrast of the other guys.
    Mark

  32. A good question for the panel:

    Do you think certain well-known communities need better standards on what the definition of spam is?

    Many communities struggle with this inconsistency. Sphinn springs to mind. Your post there about the contest got 67 Sphinns before it was marked as spam. 67 Sphinns before anyone took action? Lazy mods, or mods that can never agree on what the definition of spam is. The latter obviously.

    Why can’t anyone ever come to an agreement about what spam is on Sphinn?

  33. We have a very strict moderation policy. No fellow user harassment, no trolling, no hate speech or inappropriate comments or behavior allowed.

    When first started cracking down and enforcing our new policies, they was an outcry from the trouble-makers. Don’t question your direction over complaints from a few members who have been abusing your community. Stick to your guns, and get rid of the problems if they don’t follow the rules.

    We’ve had to ban a number of folks from our site who would not get on board with our new policy of respecting other members.

    You would be amazed how many previous users returned to our site and started using it again once they found out the trouble-makers were gone.

    Don’t make the mistake of thinking you cannot upset a few power users if they themselves are abusing your rules. As a site owner, you need to set the tone for your community, and enforce it!

    1. Here is an interesting question for the panel and/or community:

      Do you publicize your moderators and their actions? What are the pro’s and con’s?

    2. Very well written. I could not agree more! The quality of the site will be better for you sticking to a policy like this.

  34. Someone started to spam my chatbox on my website with a url. I banned the IP, but he still kept coming. So…. He was using a proxy, thus I redirect my a few or my proxies, and gave him more traffic then his servers could handle >:)

      1. Not really. I had a friend of a nice high use site with a
        steady income stream decide to fight a spammer this way
        and his ISP simply terminated his site’s access to the net
        for net abuse, which is what it was. So he had to say goodbye
        to his revenue while he hauled out his hardware from one
        co-location facility to another.. What a dufus.

        -Scott

  35. I use Akismet and moderate the comments, if their comments about adultery, pills or more than two URL Akismet will send it to the hellbox or I will

    1. Akismet still isn’t enough as spammers are still getting around it. Although the 2 URL is a standard WP feature isn’t it?

  36. Since my blog is a do-follow link in comments, I sometimes get more SPAM then other blogs. BIGGEST TIP: I use Akismet plug-in to monitor spam and I delete all SPAM comments, it works great, filters and allows me to reinstate comments I approve and delete the rest.

    To me, SPAM is any comment that sounds lame and is obviously there for the link back and has nothing to do with the post.

    I only allow links in comments that support the post in some way, and other erroneous or irrelevant links are deleted.

    I do not censor commenters who do not agree with me I am open to having debates in fact I like them, if someone would become belligerent or rude then I would probably stop the debate and delete them.

    Thanks,
    JR

  37. Deal with sock puppets?

    Akismet? Bad Behavior sucks though – too many lockouts of legitimite people (including admins!)

  38. Ignoring , blocking , banning spammers is the answer to me .. Taking legal action , warning and other methods are pretty useless and time consuming

  39. Jeremy, does ‘Moderation’ become unworkable when ‘you’ have so many readers in 24 hours?

    I started to moderate, but turned it off when I reached 110 visitors in 24 hours. You might ask the panel if they still moderate?
    Respectfully, Nicholas

  40. I dont moderate my comments. I have seen where people just left there links but I dont pay too much mind until it gets out of control. I am sure there are many tools bloggers use to crack down on spammers.

  41. Do trolls exist? Crush the hand in the sock puppet and i don’t moderate comments i let askimet do it for me.

  42. Being such a popular blog that you are, It is expected to receive tons of spam. That’s when you employ a proper team to just deal with that because I would lose my mind if I had to do the cleaning myself.

  43. Just ignore the comments. Atleast, they will tell people that you have many readers in your blog even if they are spam.

  44. I don’t moderate comments but I have been stalked by a blogger for more than 2.5 years and they have been successfully prosecuted, albeit because she stalked a number of us, and in particular one high profile blogger who they hung the case on. When I say stalking, I mean attempting to groom me with insincere adulation about my personal blog, then making demands about what I should write, then posting posts on their own blog and setting up other hate blogs, plus spamming with hateful and sometimes racist comments, then sending malicing, threatening emails, and posting comments and emailing various blogs making false claims, projecting their behaviour on me.They’re not supposed to contact or write about me for 5 years. But trolls are trolls. I have zero tolerance for anything that reeks of trolls and sock puppetry simply because if you keep feeding the monster, it grows. Cutting off their attention supply is a good start but with some people, like mine, they just find new avenues and the legal system is the only way. Thankfully the UK has some pretty strict laws regarding harassment although it is a longwinded process to silence the most serious and delusional of trolls. I don’t give a monkey’s if someone disagrees with me but I draw the line at anything that is personal, off topic, or racist. There is free speech…and there’s abusing it and taking the p*ss and contrary to opinion, the internet is not the wild west. As for spammers, Askimet.

  45. I definitely moderate comments- but if someone writes a nasty one that is just bad (but no racism, sexism, etc.) then I will leave it up so people can see what a jerk the commenter is.

  46. I dont moderate my comments. I have seen where people just left there links but I dont pay too much mind until it gets out of control. I am sure there are many tools bloggers use to crack down on spammers

  47. Excellent article. The part about colors was interesting. But I think you have to treat color schemes on a case-by-case scenario. As suggested, there are lots of examples where colors could be made more vibrant with contrasting backgrounds or bright titles to brighten things up. very great

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