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Troll Bans and Monitoring Comments

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My eHow editor threw some article ideas at me last week, gauging my interest for a few topics she wanted to highlight, one of them being how to maintain your voice in social media and how to deal with what the Internet has labeled as trolls. I obliged (tips coming to a website near you), and then laughed at the simple answer to which I finally arrived earlier this year: hire someone to monitor it for you. After years of allowing people to anonymously leave snarky comments—because “you put yourself out there, you should be able to take it”—I now adhere to the same rules I have in my home: if the dog shits on the carpet, I clean it up. I took it a step further this spring and hired someone else to approve blog comments and exercise the delete and block feature on my social media accounts, suggesting the if-it-walks-like-a-duck rule for weeding out trolls. I now rarely deal with the following:

A: None-of-your-business demands
Summarized as: “You owe it to your readers to tell us why you wear a size 9 shoe! I wear a 7 and sincerely don’t understand why you wear a 9! Please! I’m so confused. Explain to your loyal readers why!”

B: Unoriginal passive aggressive snark
Summarized as: “Cute picture. Too bad you’re stealing the limelight from your kids and making it about you again. But adorable family! Love your blog! (kissy emoticon, hand clap emoticon)”

C: Flat out cut-downs
My personal favorite: “You used to be hot, but you’re not anymore.”

…and…

D: Ridiculous conclusions
Summarized as: “You never show pictures or talk about having sex with your husband, so that must mean you never have it. Nice marriage.”

But I still see enough of it (snark, not sex) to remind myself why not allowing it in my space was a good choice to make. While we can’t always control the input in our lives (like the woman who flicked me off in traffic yesterday), we can control our engagement with that input. Snarky comments not only sometimes triggered my own engagement (which, I’ll admit, periodically included “%#$@ off” over breathe-love-and-kindness-to-someone-who-obviously-just-wants-to-be-seen because, well–I’m human.), but it triggered the engagement of a whole lot of other commenters—a distraction from content, a free-for-all place for people to be seen for their negativity, hooking anyone who begs to differ and coming back for a fight because, let’s face it—we all have tons of free time and engaging strangers on the Internet in argument is a grand way to make your mark on the world.

Defining the spirit of comments is a subjective job, one I’ve given to someone else now, and unfortunately—or fortunately, depending on how you look at it—skimming off provoking, passive aggressive or ill-intended comments is pretty easy beginning with anonymity equals goodbye.

I’ve talked to a lot of other writers and bloggers and have read numerous articles about managing feedback, an Atlantic article from this summer reporting that the National Journal (barely comparable to a mom blog, I know) opted to exclude comments on most stories altogether as a way to control the flood of abuse that appeared on the site. Blogging has definitely changed over the past seven years since I started, and navigating through all of it is a continued learning process. But right now, that’s where we are.

I suppose it might seem that what’s left in the comments is all praise. I mean, I’m not going to kick you out of my house for saying you like my curtains. Inside and outside of the Internet and throughout our entire lives, we deal with feedback and learn to filter both the good and bad. The seatbelt you must buckle before you begin that ride is the “know thyself” principle: you can’t think you’re amazing because someone says “You’re amazing!” just as you can’t think you’re worthless because someone says, “You suck!”

I appreciate meaningful conversations and differing opinions about everything from religion and politics to parenting, but personal attacks, demands and general “you’re doing it wrong, you suck!” comments simply aren’t tolerated here. No shirt, no shoes, no service. Kissy emoticon. Handclap emoticon.

And coming to eHow later this week…how do you maintain your own voice in the overstimulating world of social media?

Comments

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  1. I am so glad you posted this! i have noticed that your IG account has been much friendlier the past few months, but didn’t know why. I`M SO GLAD. Some of those comments were so ridiculous. I just can’t comprehend what people are thinking. Anyway. love your stuff. kissy face- high five.

  2. Good for you!

  3. I can’t imagine sifting through it all. Good for you.

  4. I decided a few months back after putting up with the garbage and trying to keep on top of deleting the snarky comments to moderate ALL of my comments. BEST decision concerning blogging! Now, I am in charge of what is allowed on my blog and what is not and they have largely left me alone. Yay! Peace finally.

  5. *hand clap* Excellent! I prefer to have comments moderated too – it keeps Debbie Downer from spreading her negative energy though otherwise wonderful articles.

  6. Kiss face! Hand clap!

    -Angie

  7. People are very brave with their comments when they have the anonymity of the internet. I have learned it from some message boards. Keep on putting it out there and ignore the haters.

  8. “After years of allowing people to anonymously leave snarky comments—because “you put yourself out there, you should be able to take it”—I now adhere to the same rules I have in my home: if the dog shits on the carpet, I clean it up.”

    Spot on. I get so tired of every site on the internet (mostly news) feeling like comments enhance the articles. They don’t. If people want to share their (usually offensive)opinion on whatever news headline, let them start their own blog. I don’t want to read it and it definitely doesn’t enhance my experience. I actually badgered a local news station about this (on Twitter LIKE AN ADULT!) for a long time, because they need to take responsibility for what people say in THEIR SPACE that is then broadcast to the world. I don’t know if this is why, but they no longer allow comments. It feels like a victory, haha.

  9. Well, you ARE amazing and hilarious and super hot and human, which makes you relatable, which is why I’m always rambling on to my husband about how I want to be you. I think that’s really all that needs to be said.

  10. Good for you! And for your readers. I’m sending warm supportive vibes to the person who’ll do the actual culling.

  11. Ok. So I want to finally comment since this is an official post about what I wanted to comment about when you were traveling with your kids to the wedding. You posted this great picture on IG and someone had the audacity to question how many days were your kids going to be out this time. I don’t know you, but my mama heart and protective sisterhood self wanted to pounce on her. I somehow managed to not comment after going back to it all day. I had to remind myself this was not my fight. But. What I felt was complete sorrow for you and that it was your fight. So. I am sorry that you have to deal with those people and thrilled that you gave yourself this gift of a person to deal with it for you. I hope that you are gaining some free space in you mind and heart that was otherwise full of other people’s issues. God bless you and your family. You are doing a wonderful job!

  12. You go girlfriend!! Cue the Taylor Swift song ” Haters gonna hate hate hate hate hate… So Shake it off.. Shake it off!”

  13. I have never commented on a blog post before, but, I feel compelled to do so after reading this.

    I want you to know,I have thoroughly enjoyed reading your stories and watching all of your beautiful children grow each year.(found your blog about 6 years ago)I have to say that I have occasionally pinned a picture or two that you posted, because just looking at a child’s smiling face makes me smile and why not share that joy? (your photography is AMAZING!!) I find humor in your writing and I believe you have wonderful insight when it comes to your children’s minds! (I have 4 of my own 21 yrs-16 yrs)I try to visit your site once a day and each time you have a new post, I’m excited to read what you have shared and maybe catch some newer pictures of your children at play! So, thank you, Kelle (great name!) Thank you for sharing your stories and your family. There is so much sadness in this world and the fact that you bring such happiness to a small part of mine,makes a difference and I thought you should know! :)

  14. I have so so many times, on IG seen the crazyness of people that comment just outlandish things, & come upon a site that is is just trash. I have found myself commenting back a few times, & other times wanting too. But i realize then im no better then them & giving them what they want. I will never ever ever understand that you “owe” these people anything, or they have the right to judge you just because you “put your life out there” it pains my soul, & heart that these people spend there time doing this. I am however glad it has not gotten you, because of the year im so so glad you havey our shared your life with us.

  15. Some people are just miserable! I’m all about a good debate, but omg look at the comments in any CNN article. The comment sections are just awful, full of uneducated arguments, ignorant jabs, and trolling in general. I wonder… how do these people have so much free time to just sit on the internet and spread their hate????

    Good for you! Do your thang girl :)

  16. It’s sad that we are living in a day and age where comment monitoring and moderation has to be a thing now. I don’t understand why people have to resort to cruel words and harsh judgement…that being said I’m a long time reader and have never commented but wanted to take a moment to tell you how much I appreciate your posts; some days they come at just the right time when I need it the most. Many a day has been brightened by stopping by your blog!

  17. And that right there is why I rarely read comments. :) I don’t have a following to leave comments on my blog, but I do manage my FB feed, I block everything that gets my goat. If I want a political rant or a commentary on parenthood I prefer original sources, thank you very much 😀 I LOVE the idea that you can hire someone… I would have never thought about that, if I ever put in the effort to try and “make it” in the blogosphere and do – Oh I’ll be all over that option!

  18. I had stopped reading comments because I was always so taken aback by some of the negative comments. What a healthy move for yourself and this blogging community. I admire your confidence in yourself and I think you are very brave for continuously coming back despite all the crazy critism.

  19. Sending you sincere kissy emoticons and hand clap emoticons, plus thumbs up emoticons, and a glass of wine emoticon because, hey, it’s after lunch so why the heck not? :)

    Love your stuff. You inspire thousands. Maybe millions.

  20. My thing is that the trolls feel that on social media they can say anything that comes to their mind, but will they if they saw you in person?! probably NOT! The haters hide behind their computer screens/ phones and bully. If they don’t like what you write about “carry their happy a&&& somewhere else” :)

  21. I opened my step 2 email and was pleasantly surprised to see Nella–or I’m assuming it was Nella from your
    previous blog post about working with step 2. She had a beautiful smile and brightened my day! Thanks for sharing your daughter (and your life) to brighten my day.

  22. I want to me you! I mean I already think that, cause I wish I could do some fun stuff with my kids. They are a bit older, so I really need to find a blog of teenage girls to follow to get ideas, sometimes I look through the pictures and think wow, I wish I would have done this and this etc with my kids. Recently I’ve thought of some different things I’ve done with my kids and left me not feeling so bad about myself. But sadly I’m not the amazing remember the camera to document everyday life you are. I so wish I had been. I am certainly my worst enemy. Keep up the encouragement, some of us need it.

  23. Right there with you! Totally live by “my house, my rules” mentality at my blog and don’t tolerate nastiness of any kind. Heck, some comments aren’t necessarily nasty . . . I just don’t like the tone, etc. It’s my personal space that I run for fun, so I really don’t care if someone disagrees with a book review or wants to start an argument over a personal matter I choose to divulge — ain’t nobody got time for that!

  24. well done! good for you

  25. Good for you Kelle! People can be so aggressive- obviously bashing out their own demons and inadequacies. I applaud you for recognizing the abuse and hiring someone else to deal with this- it’s not something you (or your family) needs or deserves. Bravo, as usual!

  26. I love that you’re being so public about this! And cheers to the idea of hiring someone to deal with it. I have a teeny little blog so not many people are commenting, but once someone left a comment so cutting that it haunted me for weeks…especially since I knew there was a good chance that it had been left by someone close to me.

    I love your unabashed optimism and celebration of all that is good in your life. There’s quite enough awful things in the world, and I love that you are creating this beautiful and joyful space to call your own. Keep it up, Kelle!

  27. I almost never read comments online because they are usually one of the two little notes you’re holding in your hands in that picture, and why waste my precious time on “Boo!” “Yay!” when I could read something better? Hiring help for weeding out trolls seems like a great solution – though I’m curious if you ever get around to reading through comments if someone else is already reading them for you – I certainly hope so. Anyway, thumbs up on your no-nonsense policy, or in the words of my three-year-old, “No shirt, no pants, no sausage.” 😉

  28. Seeing the negativity on here has hurt my heart for you many times over. I’ve never understood all the haters. SOOO yay! High five, butt slap, chest bump;) Good for you. I’m sure you are feeling a lot less stressed. Smart chick!

  29. I enjoy your blog for the obvious reasons 1)beautiful pictures 2) sweet ideas but most of all your insight into the world at large. You have wisdom beyond your years. You and my daughter would be good friends. She too is a deep thinker and very wise. Keep up the good work

  30. Be sure to send your Filter Person some flowers once in a while to brighten their day, that can’t be a fun job keeping the meanies out.
    From a person who has all of 23 followers and still doesn’t allow comments on her blog! :0)
    allsquaredup.blogspot.com

  31. I love this!! I actually stopped commenting and reading other comments because they made me so mad. I’m glad you have someone else doing it for you now. Blogging sure has changed a lot! I’m glad you’re still doing it. :-)

  32. Brava!

  33. Brilliant. I agree that we all need a good critique now and then, but anonymous blog comments are not the same thing. You can’t trust it, it’s not coming from a place of love like your friends and family (and even those comments need moderating in real life amiright?) and there’s no need to allow a free-flow of negativity into your world. I applaud you.

  34. I love that word snarky! It has such a vibe to it.
    And you are right, snarky messages just send so much negativity out into the world, you can literally feel it oozing from the message as you read it. Oh, and you wear a size 9 shoe, so do I, but I am only size 10 -12 in clothes, so go figure. I have big feet too. High 5 emoticon.

  35. I have followed you for years and remember a few of those people who would just have to unload their very small, hurtful comments…the funny thing is the only thing they accomplished in my eyes was wanting to protect and a greater appreciation for your integrity. You always came out in a very classy way and never went into the gutter they were trying to drag you into…the one in which they live. I remember one of these trolls in particular….she was a teacher…and when I went to her blog not only did she confirm with her blog how sarcastic and harsh she was but it made me want to protect the students who she on a regular basis ridiculed and in her own words loathed. I was always taught that if I did not have anything nice to say then just shut the hell up. lol. You stay classy girl. I would love to rid the world of Trolls one troll at a time.

  36. Totally derailing with this but Lindsay above – I saw the same question on Instagram and I felt exactly the same way. What on earth?! I’m so grateful my parents pulled me out of school for vacations and also for the times my mom tricked me into getting ready, drove to school and then said, “Hey, want to go to the mall?” and we went to the mall.

    I wouldn’t dare compare my superfluous mall trips to an actual vacation with traveling, but some things are way more important and beneficial than sitting in a classroom. If the fluorescent lighting of a mall in Ohio is one of those things, how much more the mountains in North Carolina? 😉

    It was not my fight. It took a lot of willpower to not go off in your Instagram comments. …And I lasted until just now, apparently.

  37. “Democracy destroys itself because it abuses its right to freedom and equality. Because it teaches its citizens to consider audacity as a right, lawlessness as a freedom, abrasive speech as equality, and anarchy as progress.” ~Isocrates
    Today our society is the same. We know our rights, but we forget our responsibilities. We forget about politeness and we think it’s our right to express our opinion even with the most offensive way possible. The funniest thing is that people think they have to be polite only when they talk to somebody face to face. In the web, they throw that poor savoir vivre book out of the window.

  38. It’s incredible what people will say when there’s a screen between them and the person they’re saying it to! I love this post, looking forward to the eHow article. *kissy face, hand clap*

  39. I’m typically like a duck and just let things roll off my back, but I totally get how snark can really just eat at your pysche. Luckily I was well groomed because my sister is a complete and total Debbie Downer! Ha! Good for you!

    Kiss kiss, hug hug clap clap! HAHAHA that was my favorite! Passive aggressive bitches… my facebook feed is full of them too!

  40. Interesting. I’ve actually said that if people have caddy/negative things to say about me, I’d rather them do it behind my back because all it do is hurt my feelings. I love the notion that what someone thinks of us is really none of our business.

  41. I have been saying for years that it is cowardly to blast someone on line; especially anonymously. I’m not sure what people get out of doing it, but I usually assume that they are unhappy people and are taking their misery out on everyone else. And, geeeeze…the rude questions??? Unnecessary. What ever happened to etiquette? I’m glad to see that you have found a way to rise above it and, yet, continue to share your world. Happy Halloween!

  42. This makes my heart happy. I started following you after I stumbled on Nella’s birth story. Now I read you as often as possible because I crave the joy and positivity that flows from your family. As a future OT and mom, I cannot get enough! This post is such a testament to what your blog represents to me, and how often you choose to face the world with sun and smiles.

  43. After being attacked when I won a blogging competition before, I decided that all comments on my site would need approval first. It was bad enough that these 2 women attacked me. But they made sure to go the extra mile and insulted my readers/ supporters too. That was just waaaaaay below the belt. Thanks for this essay and the final reminder that we are never who others say we are online.

  44. I think it’s kind of like trying to monitor the thoughts in your own brain…you don’t want all the crud mucking up the place.

  45. Oh my goodness…laughed out loud at the ‘you used to be hot…” one!

  46. Made me smile. And made me laugh.

  47. I never understood the need to be snarky and plain mean. Some people just need to grow up, we arent kids anymore. When I read something I don’t like, I frown, roll my eyes, shake my head, etc and move on without having to be devious.
    Good for you taking care of that s**t. Nicely put, btw. It made me giggle. 😉

  48. Bravo! I love this post, especially your comment examples :)

  49. You’re still hot Kelle! Xo

  50. What a terrify idea to have someone monitor your comments. I sure hope those heartless people read this post. You just popped their balloon for sure. I imagine it makes them really mad that you won’t be reading their comments.
    I love your blog. I fell in love with Nella from way back. Lainey and Dash are just as special. I love all the fun things you do with your kids and with their families. You are so real and share the good and the bad.
    Let me tell you, I wanted to come through the screen at some of the comments left. So glad that you won’t even see those.
    Just keep on being who you are and know that there are many more people that like you than those that are hateful.

  51. Good for you, Kelle! Absolutely. Your house, your rules.

  52. Thanks so much for posting this. I have to admit that my fear of having people leave nasty comments have kept me from starting a blog (which is something I’ve been wanting to do; I can’t shake the idea). I’ve been thinking of ways for me to pursue that dream without hurting myself or my loved ones. I’m a sensitive soul so I wouldn’t even know what to do if somebody totally trolled my blog. I’ll be waiting for your ehow post.

    BTW, are people blind? In my humble opinion, you are totally hot! I’m thinking something else, but I don’t know if it’s appropriate to share. All I can say is milk. Winking emoticon.

  53. Amen! Good for you- no reason to have to let that negativity into your life. It rings true for me too. This past year I’ve been sorting through the negative people in my life too.

  54. I haven’t commented in a long time, for other reason than how many times can I say I love a post? But this begs my congratulations. I have always wondered how bloggers handle the snark and meanness. My other fav blog is Momastery (thanks to you!) and I try to emulate her mantras “Love Wins” especially, but I would be hurt by negativity aimed at me, even if I knew it may not have anything to do with ME. Good for you! Thanks for posting about this topic.
    On another note, I was thinking of this same thing with all of the articles lately about the shooting on Parliament Hill in Ottawa (where I live). I couldn’t believe how people commented in online articles in both loving and hate-filled ways. The internet is a crazy place.

  55. Kelle please don’t think is snarky or backdoor negative, but does this mean you don’t read our comments?

    I only ask because in the past it is so much fun when people have asked about clothes, sent you some pictures and we got to interact with you. I know haters are going to hate but don’t take away the really fun part of being online!

  56. I truly cannot imagine why anyone would post a snarky comment to you. You are one of the most genuine, honest, upfront bloggers I have ever “read.” 😉 When I read the nasty comment examples you gave I had to say, “are you kidding me?!” I cannot imagine saying any of that to anyone, let alone a sweet blogger like yourself. Getting someone else to deal with all that crap was genius. I’m sad you had to do it at all. – Karen

  57. OMG… I can’t believe some of the comments. HA!! Goodness. :0

  58. @unknown,
    I read the comments once they’re published like this one here. 😊 and I try my best to respond where appropriate.
    -K

  59. I truly love this post and thank you so much for writing it. Never will I ever be as big as you to hire someone to moderate my comments and social media accounts, but since I started blogging about some controversial topics I have had a flood of negativity and it can be really really wearing! Thanks for bringing this to light so eloquently.

  60. I’m glad you read the comments (not the snarky ones, who has time for that?). Your blog is one of the ones where I actually read some of the comments, because a lot of times, someone has something really wonderful and uplifting to say!
    Just wanted to add that I love your blog – it’s my ‘me & coffee time’. Once a week or so, after naptime starts, I’ll get my cup of coffee and just read what you’ve written for the last few days. I love it!

  61. I really am SO VERY PLEASED that you have a comment moderator. It used to hurt my heart to see people being so mean as if they actually had a say!

  62. LOVED THIS POST!!!! Good for you taking back control of your blog life!!!!

  63. I think this is fabulous. I completely agree. The negative comments on past posts were distracting. No one has time and energy for that! Thank you!

  64. Excellent posting! Thank you for being brave enough to share this with all of us, and I’m so sorry you’ve had to deal with negativity. We love you, Kelly! Keep doing what you do!!

  65. My blog is way way small compared to yours so I have to moderate my own comments, but I love using this proverb to help me respond to questionable remarks:

    “Do not rebuke mockers or they will hate you;
    rebuke the wise and they will love you.” Proverbs 9:8

    I delete the mockers and and answer the wise. Like you said, it can be subjective but I’ve found that guideline helpful. I’m so glad you’ve been able to fine someone to help you. You definitely don’t need that toxicity in your life!

  66. Genius idea.
    High five emoji.
    :)
    xo,
    KJ

  67. Ah the good old keyboard warriors who feel they can say whatever they want. Big middle finger to them. Good for you for taking a stand, no one has to put up with that.

    -Pam xx

  68. Great idea! Worth the price in gold!
    I don’t have a blog, but my thought is… “If I wouldn’t allow that behavior in my house, I won’t allow it in my online home either.” Especially if I want that home to be comfortable for everyone. Just because it’s online, isn’t an excuse,

  69. Mean people suck.

  70. I am glad you could do this. It was such a bummer to see the awful stuff that people said, it almost kept me away. I had one troll comment on my blog once, because I said something positive about Ree Drummond when talking about a recipe of hers. The weirdo goes around the whole internet to spread bad news about Ree, not just on her blog, but anyone else who mentions her. It had fun telling the person to get a life, but that would get old quick. I actually have the fear that if my blog ever got big, I’d have to listen to haters. Nice to know there would be a way around it.

  71. You rock! I feel bad because I regularly read and totally adore your posts but have maybe never left a comment because you’re so amazing you don’t need ME to tell you that you are. But after reading your blog for a couple years I am compelled to tell you that of all the blogs I read yours is the best written. You are a true writer and I admire that. You are an inspiration and thank you for sharing your insights and motherhood journey. Love wins!

  72. Well done. Now go on with your bad self!

  73. I’m glad you ban the trolls. The negative comments distract from the posts, super annoying….! >insert glitter canons and unicorn dust here<
    Best,
    Caryl

  74. WTG Kelle! :)

  75. Life is too short to put up with snarky. When I turned 50, that’s when I stopped putting up with it. Should have done it way sooner. I surround myself with positive and try to spread it around to others. It has made my life so much better. Kudos to you Kelle!

    Diane

  76. “While we can’t always control the input in our lives, we can control our engagement with that input.” Awesome, just awesome! :]
    And, some of the crap dished out was a distraction. I think most of your readers come here to relate or just to visit enjoying the small things. -As your blog implies 😉 Looking forward to celebrating the holidays early, presently, and beyond, as well as the everyday and some of life’s lessons too with ya.
    Autumn hugs from Tejas,
    Melissa

  77. Size 9 shoe is big? It think it’s on the upper end of average now a days. I wear and 11 by the way.

  78. Okay, so this comment is going to be a bit different from lots of the “You rock!” ones above, but: I think I have possibly been seen as a “bad” commenter in the past, in some places. Not that I have intended to be one, but I sometimes struggle to pick up on social cues – I have a thing for honesty and being honest and straightforward, to me, means showing respect; I make an effort to be very honest towards people I have respect for. Unfortunately it is sometimes seen as “snappy” and several people – most of them my friends now – have said that at first when they’ve just met me I have come across offensive and it’s only with time that they’ve learned that I’m not doing it to be offensive, I just haven’t learned to smooth out what I say. I am learning though! And I am getting better :). And so I wonder if some of what your moderator deletes could just do with an honest reply of “Look, you’re being offensive by saying x, y, z”. Doesn’t apply to anonymous comments though – those can just burn! :)

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