10 April 2012

Don't feed the trolls and other good #PrepperTalk advice

A while back, we presented a post on 15 Tips to get the most out of #PrepperTalk chats on Twitter. The material in that post is still useful in describing what the #PrepperTalk hashtag is all about and how to use it.

Nonetheless, since that time, a few events have transpired inspiring us to present some info more about fine-tuning your #PrepperTalk experience.

#PrepperTalk versus #Preppers
A first question is what Twitterchat are you looking for? Recently, the #Preppers hashtag has seen far more traffic, particularly on Tuesday nights. That's because NatGeo promotes the #Preppers tag for discussion related to its Doomsday Preppers show. The #Preppers tweets are sometimes less an actual chat or discussion, and more about the reactions of Doomsday Preppers viewers.

Sometimes, #PrepperTalk participants will follow along and interact with the #Preppers tweets. Still, if you're looking for more serious discussion on prepping and preparedness, your best bet is to participate in the #PrepperTalk discussions.

Your participation is important
Don’t just sit there, say something! Asking questions is a great way to get involved in the Twitter chat. But it's best not focus only on your own needs; There will almost certainly be opportunities where you can help answer other people's questions. Of course, being able to point people to good resources (online or offline) helps demonstrate your knowledge, build trust, and is just generally far more helpful.

Be authentic and succinct
The #PrepperTalk chat are not professional presentations, nor do they require Roberts Rules of Order. It is an ongoing, informal discussion centered loosely around the topic of preparedness. Your character should show through, preferably. That said, unless you have a very complex concept or are responding to several participants, try and be as direct and specific as possible so the rest of the readers don’t need to read multiple tweets to understand your points.

Take it "outside"
Twitter’s a great place for debates, and #PrepperTalk often has its share of them. A few occasional tweets like that aren't a big deal, since they’re easy enough to ignore. The bigger problem is when heated debates  cause so much traffic everything else gets lost. When this happens, people start to tune out, which is the opposite of what we all want from #PrepperTalk.

Getting into a fight in the middle of #PrepperTalk is a bit like having a big argument at your local family restaurant. It makes everyone feel uncomfortable and awkward, and makes some people leave. If you find yourself in this situation, it's best to take out of the overall discussion by leaving the hashtag off of your tweets. Also remember: it takes two to tangle; even if you are 100 percent innocent, you'll still look bad, especially to newer participants who don't know you.

Don't feed the trolls
What about the people who won't keep their disagreements out of #PrepperTalk, or are otherwise abusive or disruptive? The Internet name for such folks is "trolls," and the best thing to do is to ignore them: please don’t feed the trolls. Trolls are often searching for attention; if they don’t get it, they will sometimes go away.

Ignoring them can be easier said than done, but by replying even once to a troll you are going to give them what they want and make it that much harder to shake them off. By opening a discussion you risk validating any accusations or comments and everything becomes public to your Twitter followers.

If at all possible, don’t respond in anger. Better yet, don’t respond at all. Instead, take the higher ground by taking a deep breath, counting to ten, and then moving on. Sometimes, though, people can’t resist responding [Editors note: sadly, I've been there before] and then discussion spirals out of control as mentioned above.

When the problem is ongoing, that's when you you need a little Twitter search magic. For example, suppose there's someone posting in the #PrepperTalk hashtag and causing so much disruption that they're crowding out other discussions. Instead of just searching for "#PrepperTalk",  type the following into your Twitter search box:
#PrepperTalk -from:Troll
When you type this in, just replace the "Troll" words with the actual Twitter handle of the obnoxious person.

But what if there are a couple of people (or one person with two or more Twitter accounts) that are the problem. No problem, just type in:
#PrepperTalk -from:Troll1 -from:Troll2
Note that using the above searches just filters out the burdensome tweets; it does not block the users at all (see below). Still, these searches will reduce the obnoxiousness that sometimes rears its ugly head. How cool is that?

The above searches should work in any Twitter site or software. I know that Twitter and Hootsuite both support them. Hootsuite's search tops out at 100 characters long, which should be adequate for filtering out  four or five users, depending on the length of the names. (I haven't hit a limit on Twitter, even with searches over 150 characters long.)

Blocking Twitter users
If you are receiving unwanted attention from spammers, trolls, or other abusive users, the best course of action is to block them. (For spammers, reporting them as a spammer will block them at the same time.)

Unfollowing them isn't enough, you must block them. To do this, visit their profile and click on the ‘block’ link. If you block somebody by mistake, just go back to their profile page and select "unblock".

Choosing to block someone means that neither you nor your avatar will appear within the blocked party’s profile page, Twitter feed, or anywhere else. The person will not be notified that they’ve been blocked, yet they will be unable to follow you.

It’s worth noting that if your account is public, the blocked party can still view your profile page. In addition, blocking somebody does not prevent them from sending you a message with the use of an @reply. While this won’t stop them from @replying you, Twitter reportedly monitors accounts with many blocks and removes them where applicable.


  1. Very good advice--I didn't know about the -from ability!


    1. Sorry for the late reply, but thanks for commenting!

      Yes, the "-from:" capability has made a huge difference in my enjoyment of #PrepperTalk discussions!