Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Why You'll Never See Me Feeding a Troll

A long, long time ago in an internet village far, far away, I was a top blogger on MySpace. I shared the top spaces with big names like Matthew McConaughey:



And a whole bunch of people who were famous in the MySpace days:



It all started around 2006, when I discovered the site had a "blog" feature. I posted my first blog, began slowly getting readers, and soon had a fairly large readership. In 2007, when the site was at its peak, I was averaging around 5,000-10,000 views a day.



All of that meant absolutely nothing in the real world, but within that blogging community, it was huge. So huge, in fact, that once you reached that many views you began to be the subject of an astounding amount of hate.



The hatred did a little permanent damage (as I post this, I still have the fear it will unleash one of those crazy-bags on my blog), but I'd like to think it made me stronger. At one point, there was a guy who posted a blog parodying the blog I wrote every single day. If you can write while that's going on, you can write through anything!



Early on in all of that, I learned one very important lesson the hard way:



A woman had written a very hostile tirade because I'd angered her by posting a lighthearted blog about Barbie. I emailed her personally, apologizing for having offended her. Being a nice Southern girl, that's what you do to diffuse a situation...right?



She initiated a fight with me, then posted the entire private message string on her blog for attention. She got it. It was the first incident on the site but it was far from the last. I soon learned to ignore and keep going. The more you ignored them, the dumber they looked.



Recently an author learned this lesson the hard way. She chased a reviewer down and confronted her. That was an extreme example, especially since a negative review is far from "hate," but arguing with people who post negative things online is never, ever a good idea. In fact, if you have the self-control to do it, you should refuse to read the negative comments/reviews about you and continue to move forward as if they don't even exist. 

I know, easier said than done. This might help...




Have you ever been the victim of a cybertroll?


70 comments:

  1. That's an impressive amount of views. Like you said, didn't mean a whole lot though. (I was taught early that views mean little, so I've never worried about them.)
    I've done what you did - private email of apology - and gotten zero response. So, I guess that's better than the one you received.
    Some people are just bitter, angry, and unforgiving, and nothing we say or do will ever change them...

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  2. I had numerous run-ins on a message board that I frequented from 2006-08. The crap they would try to argue about was ridiculous, but the last straw for me was a woman who used multiple identities to create havoc, including faking her own death as one of the identities.

    One of my blog commenters has a few particularly vile followers who comment pure nastiness on his blog. I have no idea why he doesn't block them. I ignore them when they comment about my comments.

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  3. I had a short issue with 2 people at different times, one I ignored, one I reached out to and it did diffuse the situation. I knew I was lucky and not always the way it goes...

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  4. I see the same thing on sites like Huffington Post, when an article gets a lot of views because it's controversial and tweeted a lot. People can be BRUTAL in blog comments...luckily they're nice here! I've heard they can be the same kind of brutal on Goodreads, especially with the books everyone's talking about.

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  5. Nothing like that...now i'm afraid to comment.

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  6. I think that is why I am a self-imposed hermit.

    Just maybe

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  7. I've only had a few mean comments, but I felt they were very personal, which was much worse than just being told that they didn't like my writing or such. I've always been amazed by what people feel free to write on the internet that they would never say in person. Technology apparently allows all civility to go out the window.

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  8. The hateful stuff is beyond my comprehension. YouTube is bad about that, too. I've found interesting videos that I wanted to share with a young person and when I saw the comments below the video, I had a change of heart. It can be just vulgar - and serve no purpose!

    Luckily, I haven't had to delete any commentary to my blog yet - but I would, if it was really ugly and not in tune with what I do. It's supposed to be fun over on the Flipside...

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  9. So sorry you had to deal with that kind of crappy stuff, Stephanie. It's never happened to me, probably because my blog posts tend to be pretty dull...lol. I don't think you can reason with people like that either because they are coming from such a deeply negative place. I think it's important to remember that it's also never personal, they are just reflecting what's inside of them. So yeah, it's best to not engage and just move on.

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  10. Stephanie, I like your definition of haters.

    The word is mightier than the sword but it can be useless against the strength of steel.

    You seem to have built a strong armour to protect your vulnerability against such attacks. Having nasty negativity thrown your way can still be unsettling but it usually comes out of people with low self esteem. They need to belittle everyone else to make themselves feel good about themselves.

    Stay strong my girl, you're doing good.
    Hugs,
    JBl.

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  11. I'm pretty sure that posting a negative book review of a book you didn't like is not trolling.

    And especially since Blythe Harris did not send specific and direct messages to said author. She simply expressed an opinion.

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  12. I sadly learned this the hard way as well while be a moderator/administrator on a collectors site years ago.

    There are some people out there that I think honestly have nothing better to do than create drama and then feed off of it. Sad, but true.

    I think even within Goodreads I have seen people talk about it happening, thankfully I stay away from things like that now and try to not even pay attention to the posts let alone the members doing it.

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  13. No, I haven't, and I really really hope I never am. =/ I hate confrontation, so it'd probably(I think, hope) be easy to ignore them.

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  14. I still have a troll called Beatrix who will appear from time to time and leave a lunatic comment, she does that to other bloggers too...
    HOLLYWOOD SPY started at MySpace too :) it was called FILMANIA back in those days... I do miss MySpace... I forgot my password there and haven't visited in many years

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  15. Wish I'd known you back then, Dezmond!!! It was an interesting time. I made some good friends who are now some of the biggest supporters of my books. I think because it was a closed community and the site ranked bloggers by popularity, it made blogging MUCH more intense and competitive than it is anywhere else. Imagine if our blogs were ranked by "most popular" every day. The second you saw you were even in the top 100 in a category in the blogs over there, you got this weird competitive streak that made you want to move higher and higher up. That's why it got ugly--nothing more. Kind of like gaming for writers!

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  16. I haven't had a cyber troll but I've known of other people that have. I feel sorry for the troll(s). Makes you wonder why they feel the need to bully like this and why they might have such hate against someone. I think it is always easier too to hide behind the computer screen and be nasty, especially if some post as anonymous. Some of it I think is jealousy. It takes a lot of work to be a popular blog and have a lot of readers. Some don't see that.

    betty

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  17. ugh will internet trolls ever just go away?? I'm doing a blog Friday about how I'll handle reviews when the time comes (spoiler alert: not well) I can't even imagine how I'd handle trolls, but you're right, if you can write through that you can write through absolutely anything. Sometimes even my own FB page doesn't feel safe--I'll write a random status update and someone will start an argument with me or one of my other friends who commented. It's ridiculous.

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  18. Negative reviews are never easy--successful authors usually say NOT to read them. It's hard not to, though, especially when a new book comes out and you want to see how it's doing. It's also hard not to spend your day obsessing over the sales figures you see through Amazon Author Central and your publisher's dashboard...but doing that is SO unproductive. All we can really control is the book we're writing/revising now. I try to do that! Once a book is out there, there's not much we can do about the complaints people have about it. A reviewer's job is to basically give an objective review of a piece of fiction but it's never, ever objective. As long as reviewers are human, reviews will always be subjective.

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  19. i purposely keep my blog about birds, animals, rural scenes, and almost never touch on religion, politics, current events. i've seen some bloggers go off on tangents about something in the news, then be surprised when they get 'haters' in their comments.

    as you've shown, folks will be cruel for any reason - no need to welcome it by being incendiary. :)

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  20. I can't say there has ever been a rude comment on Blogger that I remember. Even when I post sort of controversial topics, people are REALLY polite. This is a great group! I try not to really be controversial, though. If I write about a topic, I take an objective approach. Still...with the MySpace group, some people were looking for a fight. It happens in any closed forum. People just have some issues they never really deal with and it comes out online!

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  21. haha oh I've had quite a few as I sometimes stir the pot a bit. Even got a november post about a few idiots. But I just read and ignore and away I go. The more you say to them the more they'll hate or get on their high horse and pretend they are soooo right. So ignore the ignorant and all is okay.

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  22. Not this bad, but yes I've had some hate thrown my way. Some folks don't have a life outside their computers. They live through their computers and whatever they are they can't hide. These are the folks that I blocked from my online experience.

    It seems sad, as nice as you really are, that people can't be happy for your success. It's a shame really.

    Have a fabulous day. ☺

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  23. Excellent advice. I'm astonished by how many mean people there are out there. I just finished a book I really enjoyed and as I went to publish my review, I was shocked by the book's overall rating. It wasn't horrible, but it totally deserved a higher overall rating. Then I looked at my book ratings, and I realized, haters are all over. For small pub, big pub, debut authors and established big names. It's a sad truth.

    Unleashing the Dreamworld

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  24. I was at a conference recently where authors and agents repeatedly talked about how BRUTAL Goodreads users are, Crystal. At one time, a reviewer was someone who had an expertise in an area, as well as an ability to remain objective and continue to learn as much as possible about that industry. Think Siskel and Ebert. Now ANYONE with an internet connection can be Siskel or Ebert with zero knowledge of what makes a good book, movie, piece of music, etc. In the end, it's all opinion, but at least before the internet, those opinions were fully informed opinions!

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  25. So sorry, to hear of these experiences, as you say you sometimes have to be the bigger person and not engage with these people even if your first instinct is to defend yourself.

    Reminds of the time my blog was continually ridiculed. I got in touch with all of those other bloggers outed as also having crap blogs and made some really good friends that I would probably not have otherwise come across.

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  26. Eh, many have tried but most run away crying ....

    True story, on another venue I frequented there were many trolls. Starving worked for most, the rest I subdue with sheer repetition ...

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  27. I'm SO glad I'm not the only one who has been through it. I can't even imagine what people who have any level of fame must go through. Eventually I'm guessing you just tell yourself you can never, ever Google your own name again!

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  28. I started blogging over at opendiary.com and yes, I had so many trolls! It didn't make sense to me. If they didn't like what I had to write, why did they keep reading?!

    I also had people take entries that I wrote and they'd add their comments. They weren't ever nice. I also apologized if I hurt someone's feeling, but some people just like to be cruel it seems. It's sad.

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  29. I have never had that experience in blog land but I am not surprised as bullies are everywhere and they hate being ignored so you did the right thing in the end. They are not worth the trouble of typing anything to them

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  30. Trolls, like the oxygen thieves they are feed on attention. Any attention. Every Sunday one pops up on my very minor blog, spews some irrelevant obscenity and slides away. I delete and ignore. Which I would find much, much harder to do if he/she attacked a brain child - which writing is.

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  31. My daughter "talked" to me the other day, like I'm famous or something, about feeding trolls saying haters will be haters, leave them alone.

    When I get to meet/greet my first troll, I plan on only saying two words. *Love you!* Of course that may be the worst thing to do, but maybe all they need is love. NO? :)

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  32. Fantastic advice. I really never ever believe in feeding the trolls, and cringe when I see authors arguing with people online. Ah well.

    And anyway . . . look at you slammin' it with the big peeps on My Space back in the day. Go Stephanie! ;)

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  33. Instead of fame, I'd say it's much more like high school. The popular kids get more attention, so people are more likely to talk about them. So trolls are like those unpopular people in high school who get people to laugh by making fun of other people. The popular kids were easy targets because everyone knew who they were, but really it could have been anyone. That's why celebrities deal with so much online hatred--people are looking for a common person to gossip about and ridicule, so they search for someone the most people in a group will know.

    Yeah, love you doesn't really work. Nothing does. One of the trolls on MySpace committed suicide a few years ago...you're dealing with a mindset that you can never quite understand with some of these people. There are far deeper issues than just disagreeing with something they've read.

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  34. I should also add that back in those days, someone famous would post about her lunch and get a ridiculous # of comments. I was up there with them, but only because my well thought out blogs got the same number of comments as a one-sentence post from Mariah Carey saying how much she hates frogs. There were lots of other non-celeb bloggers who ranked up there, too--I just screenshot the ones where I was sandwiched between celebs, so those were the only ones I could find!

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  35. Hi Stephanie! I have not. But I have never been as well-received as you have been. I did have someone private message me on my blog's FB page. She didn't like the person who I quoted. Like you, I apologized to her, and she backed down.

    Now I wonder if I should have done that. I liked the quote, and it filled my need at the time.

    People are funny, and think they have the right to correct or denigrate. I just don't think that way. If I don't like what you write, I move on. If someone doesn't like what I comment, they can chose not to publish it. Seems like that's enough 'stops' to block haters. I do feel very badly for you, what a terrible experience. I think you're right about ignoring and moving on. What's the point to adding to the fire?
    Blessings,
    Ceil

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  36. Yes, I was a victim, and at one point it was so bad I made my blog private. After a while the troll seemed to forget about me. As you know, my blog is open to the public again. I don't like arguments.

    Love,
    Janie

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  37. I've been a victim on a public pregnancy forum app that I use. I posted what I thought was reasoned, well-thought out advice and got slammed for it. Repeatedly. By mean, hormonal, very pregnant ladies. I have since learned it's easier and healthier to ignore the haters, but it's so hard sometimes!

    Anyway, you give solid advice, and from one cyber-trolling victim to another, I'm sorry you went through it (on a much grander scale than I) too. :(

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  38. I understand this too well! I'd say I had this experience on a message board back in 1999. I had commented on a very controversial topic dealing with he said/she said type of incidents and one of the members of that message board was deeply offended by my post.

    I'm telling you, it's like a rabid dog. Once they have it in for you, there's no chance escaping unscathed. I managed to evade as much of it as possible, but I sure did get a lot of experience in dealing with the trolls.

    Sounds like you did, too! :)

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  39. I've never been trolled, but I've seen friends deal with it. And since I haven't published anything, I haven't had to read any negative reviews of my work. But I'm sure that day will come, and like most authors I'll learn the hard way to stop reading those reviews.

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  40. I have to knock on wood as I type this, but luckily, no: I haven't been trolled. As you say, it's best not to feed them. Starve them and forget about them seems to be the best policy.

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  41. I haven't been trolled yet. But the trolls do it for attention, so I agree it's best not to feed them.

    Just so you know, I busted out Taylor Swift's song Shake It Off during this post. "Haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate..."

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  42. To balance your victimization back then there was Brian (my now ex-boyfriend) He eagerly awaited your daily posts and I believe that he was quite enamored of you. One comment from you implied he had "settled" in his search for a mate. I have no hard feelings toward you. He has moved on and so have I.

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  43. I think that is amazing and impressive. I remember the days when Myspace was rocking. It was THE thing. I started blogging on Myspace, but only one or two of my friends read it. HAHA! And how neat that you have those pictures as proof.

    I haven't been victimized by an Internet troll yet. *Knocking on wood with Quanie* I like that you didn't let any of it stop you from blogging. I agree that the best thing to do is not say or do anything. Nothing. NADA! ;)

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  44. On my old blog, I had a reader who attacked me for no real reason. When Sarah Palin first hit the mainstream news -- before the public really knew anything about her -- I did a short post in which I jokingly called her a "babe." A new commenter, "Julie" -- someone I strongly suspected was a regular reader using an alias -- attacked me, saying "And I suppose you wouldn't vote for her because she's a woman and couldn't handle the job?" I'd never said that, or anything like it. I'd never commented on Palin's qualifications or lack of same. "Julie" continued to comment on my blog, always calling me a sexist, and finally, my readership started leaving comments telling her to get lost... and she did.

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  45. Amy, I can't imagine myself ever saying (or intentionally implying) that someone had settled in their choice of a mate, but I deeply apologize for anything I might have said. I don't even recall anyone being enamored with me at ALL (I always assume nobody is, honestly!), so even that is news to me!

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  46. Ignoring is the very best thing to do. As my grandma would say- water off a duck's back. Then run and whine to writer friends.

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  47. I didn't know you were such a MySpace celebrity - that's pretty cool, whether it means something now or not. Still cool :)

    Also, great advice. I love that last gif...

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  48. Ignoring trolls is a smart strategy. Some people just want to get started with whoever is willing to engage.

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  49. ah yes everything is a bit tricky... It's complicated because persons are different, but they don't have to be mean or else... COmplicated.

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  50. Oh the Myspace days, good times :) that's where I wrote my very first blog posts as well! That's what stirred the blogger within me. Yep, once your blog becomes well-read, you definitely will attract some crazies (lord knows I have). I don't know what it is about anonymity that turns people into Neanderthals.

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  51. We have a saying in our house: you can't argue crazy. I don't even want to get in an argument with someone who is looking for a fight. I know it won't end well and that's what they want. It's not fun getting a bad review but it is part of the business. I read it and then move on. It does sting, but debating it would make it worse.

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  52. Sorry, you apologised to someone for posting about Barbie? She is one lucky person! She would have had nothing from me.

    To me blogging is simple. You don't like what you read, bugger of! I liked your post a lot, by the way. :-) Thanks.

    Greetings from London.

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  53. I had a MySpace blog for a while, too. Never had more than a couple readers. And it would wig out and delete a post just as I went to post it. Frustrating, so I finally left.

    The reason that trolls troll is about them. Their angers. Their insecurities. I think we all need to remember that when confronted with the anger and vitriol that some of them unleash.

    MySpace famous? That is really kind of cool.

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  54. When I was in my mid teens I was on a video game site called 1up, and they had message board and pretty impressive social network-ish member system as well.

    They didn't do the greatest job stopping trolls, and there was a group that was notorious for stuff like that.

    But I suffered a lot of verbal attacks. One idiot sunk so low that he said I had fetal alcohol syndrome. Karma fortunately existed in that situation because one of the guys who worked for 1up altered his "rank" that is right next your name to say he had fetal alcohol syndrome. I did appreciate him doing that especially since it was his idea.

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  55. So far so good but it makes me anxious just thinking about it! Why do some people think it’s good to be hateful, as my mum used to say “if you can’t say something nice don’t say anything at all!”

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  56. Aahh yes, My Space, those were the good ol' days. ;) I learned my lesson about trolls a long time ago—Do NOT engage—but it definitely bares repeating. I'm Canadian, so we apologize about everything, even when it's not our fault, but RL and the blogosphere are two very different things.

    Carmel @ Rabid Reads.

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  57. When my first book was contracted and posted on Goodreads I got a review from someone before any ARCs went out or anything. They clearly hadn't read the book, but they rated it anyway in a very hurtful way. Still, I didn't respond at all. I ignored it and nothing ever came of it, thankfully.

    So, yeah, just ignore those haters. They are always going to be there.

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  58. I've never had that experience, but it sounds like it was pretty awful. The haters are going to hate. So far, people in the blogging community I have interacted with, have been awesome!

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  59. People have been very supportive of me so far, but I still have a small platform. I can see how the trolls come out of the woodwork when someone becomes more successful. Tisk tisk

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  60. I never knew you were a MySpace blogger. And that's a LOT of daily views you got. I'm sure you are doing just as well now.

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  61. I heard about that blogger and and author and think the whole situation is craaazy.

    I've only had a few weirdos visit my blog...lol Thankfully if you ignore them, they will go away. Not always but most times. I had one person following me all over the internet and he kept letting me know he was tracking where I went by following me on different sites so I would see he was following me. I was being stalked and not even by a stranger, it was by my half brother that I don't speak to. I actually posted a "Open letter to my stalker" post on my blog and believe it or not, he finally got the message and has left me alone for a few years now.

    For the most part I agree, don't feed the trolls but sometimes it pays to let them know you won't take it.

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  62. So true. It's hardly ever a good idea to engage. I have had a cyber bully. One of the NYT best selling authors who has been around for ages decided she didn't like my review for her book and used her ST to attack my reviews. Was SO much fun (gah!).

    For the current stalking author I still stand behind the thought that it was complete fiction. There were just too many things in the story that really made absolutely no sense when looked at.

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  63. I have had two authors give me a hard time, one even stalked me on facebook, goodreads and amazon.Asking me to read her third revision, and remove my review. She sent others to comment on my review etc. Which is odd since even my 2 star reviews are respectful.I always point out the good and never ever make it personal. I share my opinion of the work, not the author. Anyone who reads my blog would agree. I ignored the one, and advised the other it needed to stop (after almost a year) that her actions and comments were only pushing my review back into view. That I considered her action harassment and did not want to take it public but would if necessary. Thankfully it stopped.

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  64. This is really cool that you had such a popular blog. I was never on MySpace and was very slow to get involved in anything online at all. I've always been amazed at the haters on various sites and forums though, it seems no matter the topic people will post idiotic remarks to start a fight. I can imagine ignoring them is easier said than done but it's definitely the smart thing to do.

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  65. I remember in my 20's getting so hot and bothered by what happened in chat rooms, message boards, and other spots. I learned to be cool and never respond.

    I haven't had anything nasty happen to me since 2009, which was when I increased my social media usage.

    I am aware of what happened between that author and blogger. Yikes.

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  66. I had a mom completely go off on me once because I post pictures of my granddaughter. She was very nasty and claimed that if my granddaughter's parents knew they would be outraged, too! I did politely reply to her that I would never have started the blog without their permission and that had she just looked around a bit she would have found pictures of them, too. She went away quietly -- lucky for me.

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  67. I must have been really bored. Because I sought them out in their own lair and started arguing with them. Well I learned a lot about trolls. So I can avoid them nowadays...

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  68. Hi Stephanie!
    I read this post half-way a while back but didn't comment...something came up, can't remember, but I hunted down this post because I wanted to respond...
    Those were a LOT of MySpace views.
    I can't fathom the hatred...why are people so negative/bitter and seem to carry the whole world on their shoulders...and then take it out on the next person?
    It's really scary...and sad...

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  69. Wow, congrats on having such a popular blog. That must have felt amazing.

    I've had two incidents of really nasty comments. One was clearly someone I knew who had a grievance with me, but of course I couldn't prove it. I wrote what I thought was an innocent post on how we choose our friends more wisely as we get older, and she ripped into me. I didn't handle it well. I argued with her online, and then my bf got into it with her as well. When I looked back on my response to her a year later, I winced. I sounded so defensive!

    The second one was a really personal attack on a post I'd written while in fight camp. I don't think I knew this guy, but what he said was so brutal I almost quit blogging. That time I didn't respond, and I just deleted his comment without a reply. Both posts were anonymous, of course.

    I'm not big enough to have trolls, and sometimes that's a good thing.

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    Replies
    1. I dislike the trolls, they can be really mean for no reason at all. They want to stab you and squeeze the life out of you, if they could. I have learned from a very smart site never to feed the trolls. The best thing is to ignore, which is very hard to do.

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