What Should We Do About Uninvited Guests On A Blog?

Curzon Street, Eastside - sign - Private Property - No Trespassing

A fellow dad blogger asked me about how I deal with uninvited guests on my blogs. He told me he would like to be more honest and open with his writing and that he can’t because there are family members that read his blog as well as a few trolls.

We’ll skip past the part where we suggest not telling family and friends about your blog unless you don’t care if they read along or are willing to censor yourself.

Once the barn door is open the horses are off and running so unless you close up shop and start over anonymously there are no good solutions.

I suppose you could ask them to stop reading but that might raise questions. People are funny, tell them you don’t want them to do something and they’ll try harder to do it.

What About Trolls?

In the old days I was foolish and willing to engage with trolls. I used be quite willing to jump in the mood and splash around there but I stopped doing that because I didn’t see the upside.

Instead I just ignored them or blocked their IP address.

The problem with blocking IP addresses is that every now and then you end up blocking readers who are good people whose sole crime is to live or work within the same IP range as your troll(s).

Once in a great while I received an email from someone I blocked asking why I did it. I almost never responded.

An IP block doesn’t mean the troll can’t find their way back. There are lots of ways around that but most of the time it takes too much effort and they go away.

Really Aggressive Trolls

If a troll becomes really aggressive I label their IP address and watch for useful information. You might be surprised how much information you can find in your stats.

There are lots of bread crumbs you can use to identify someone. During my tenure I have posted the IP addresses of trolls here on the blog and a note that explained I would take screenshots that showed how much time they were spending here and send them to their employer.

Oh, did I forget to mention that if you come from work it is not unusual for the statcounter to show it. Years ago one nasty troll crossed the line and I sent him the note saying I would call Bob Boorke LLC (I made that name up) and ask them to figure out who was harassing me.

That ended the harassment.

There Are No Perfect Solutions

If you spend enough time writing online you’ll find your own troll(s) and you’ll wonder why someone can be enraged by your writing about potty training but trust me, they are out there. About seven years ago I received nasty emails and comments from someone who said it was wrong to teach boys to pee standing up.

They didn’t think it was funny when I suggested they try to pee while sitting in a urinal either.

Anyhoo, it is worth mentioning that sometimes when you change your webhost you have to go deny IPs again because the old blocks aren’t enforced.

One of the reasons I am not using CommentLuv at the moment is I was getting besieged with spam from China and Bangalore. Livefyre does a pretty good job of filtering that out and since I am not offering the same link juice some of that nonsense has slowed down.

Suppose I ought to go through the list anyway to make sure some of the knuckleheads of the past stay locked up in their igloos, caves and shacks.

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  1. TheJackB April 2, 2014 at 7:16 am

    wonderoftech  Invitation only is something I played around with. Puts a bit of a cramp in the sponsored post stuff so…

    Yeah I’ll have to remind Ashvini to ask his pals to give me a break. 😉

    I got hit pretty hard recently, had about 3k spam comments each week for the past month or so.

  2. wonderoftech April 2, 2014 at 3:35 am

    Uh oh. I had no idea that I needed an invitation to visit The JackB. Oops… Silly me, I thought your hosting issues were why I couldn’t read your blog last month.

    I will tell Ashvini from Bangalore to stay away. He can be pesky at times. 😉

    I struggle with trolls too. I delete about 2 dozen spam comments a day but I stick with CommentLuv because I want to reward my commenters.

    I use Stop Spammers to block email addresses and IP addresses of spammers. There is a form for legit commenters to request to be put on the White List so you can see if your besties were accidentally excluded. 

    Maybe you should try a new title for your blog: The JackB — By Invitation Only. That could give an air of exclusiveness to serious readers and scare away trolls. Just a thought.

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