Dealing With Trolls in WordPress

The Internet

If you run a website that's available to the general public, you WILL get trolls to your website. Think of a troll has a flesh-eating parasite, that feeds off your anger and emotion. Trolls are simply retarded members of society, trying to express "their" point-of-view (whatever that may be) in a very evil way. As a former troll back in the day (I always hate to admit that) and as a victim of trolls on my WordPress blog, I've come across some GREAT solutions for defending your WordPress blog. (some of these techniques may work with other blogs or CMS websites).

First, I'm going to assume you have a WordPress blog (or at least some other type of blog). So you've just made a blog post about your cool trip to QuakeCon, and you're excited to tell your side of the story. You wake up the next morning, and find five new comments! After reviewing the comments, you find that they contain harsh words and abusive insults to you. Angry, you decide to write a comment back telling them to "STFU" (I've done this). This does not work. The troll has won if you attack full force like this. OK, so what about changing or editing his comment to make him look bad? Again, I've done this before, but that tends to make YOU (the admin) look bad, because posting a comment with your name or nickname requires a slight bit of trust, and you might scare away legitimate people because of that. Outright deleting comments CAN work, but chances are that the troll is going to keep coming back for more and more, never letting up. They have nothing better to do, so you're going to have to fend off at least 3 or more nasty comments per day, which can get old very fast.

So how do you get rid of this pest? Simple: Ignore them. Make it so that their post never shows up in the first place, and don't respond to their insults. For the people using WordPress, here's some techniques and plugins you can use to stop the trolls.

Let them crash into the Spam Filter

A VERY good way to curb troll activity on your blog is to use a spam filter to filter out comments from trolls. In WordPress, sign into your administration console, and then click "Options", and then in that sub menu, click "Discussions". At the very bottom of that page you'll find a box that you can enter spam words. Enter a new word on each line, and never leave an empty space in that list, because it will affect ALL comments. What happens when a comment is posted and it matches one of those words is that the comment will NOT show up on your blog, and you (as admin) will have to manually approve/disapprove the comments. If it looks like a troll post, just delete it. That comment will never show up on your blog, thus like nothing ever happened. I've compiled a list of common spam/troll words, that you can use for your blog. This file is going to be always updated when I put in new words.

  • View Spam Words
    (CAUTION: These are some of the world's worst words, handle with EXTREME care)

Don't Let Them Link

They might try to get around your spam filter by putting blank HTML links in between their words. On that same page as the spam filter, you can change the number of HTML links someone can enter into your comments. If it goes over that number, the comment will be subject to moderation. I like to set this number to “2” (if it's legit, you can always let the comment through later).

Give 'em a "vowel" movement

There's a neat and interesting plugin available for WordPress. Now, this goes against the "don't modify their comments" policy, but in some extreme cases, you might want to use this. The plugin allows you to enter the IP address of the offending troll, and each time that troll makes a post from that IP address, all vowels will be removed from their comment. It's all automatic, and can be used in conjunction with other techniques to create a multi-layered defense. To use the Disemvoweler plugin, download the PHP file, open it up in a text editor, and change "0.0.0.0" to the IP address from the troll (you can get their IP address from Edit/Comments menu). Now, upload that PHP file to your plugin directory (wp-content/plugins), and go to your administration console, and click on "Plugins", and then activate it.

Updating your Spam Filter with One Click

Back to the topic of the spam filter, you can quickly add in values to the filter with this next plugin. "Kitten's Spam Words 2.1.1", does just that. Once you download it, upload the files to your plugins folder (wp-content/plugins), and activate is via the "Plugins" link in your administration console. To use it, once you receive a spam/troll comment, go to "Edit" and then "Comments", and click on "Mass Edit Mode". Check off the comment(s), and at the bottom, select "Delete Checked Comment As Spam". After you do that, it'll take you to a page, asking you if what's in the small box is the word(s) that you want to be added to your filter. Once you click on OK, you're ready to go!

These are just some of the many techniques you could use, but these are some of the best IMO. Even though I may not be 100% safe from trolls, I can sleep better at night, and perform better in school, with one less thing to worry about. Life is complicated enough, your personal blog shouldn't be. Good luck in getting rid of trolls!