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OPINION: Do Not Feed the Troll

OPINION: Do Not Feed the Troll

Greendale, we have a troll problem.

I’m talking anonymous Internet trolls. There will always be those who enjoy making others miserable and stirring the pot. Trolls have decided it is their job to make personal attacks, spread rumors, lies and other nastiness about people, organizations or institutions.

We’ve all experienced their special brand of comments on Everything Greendale and elsewhere. It is an issue the Internet has been wrestling with for years. They exist to agitate and the bigger the argument becomes the more they love it.

Everything Greendale readers and commenters are — by in large — kind, decent and thoughtful folk. However, I have heard some people say they don’t like the negativity of some of the anonymous comments on Everything Greendale.

There are other people who believe the comments add value and enjoy trying to figure out the true identity behind the screen names. Others don’t understand why people in our little Village just can’t be more civil and get along.

Originally, comments on Everything Greendale were unmoderated. For good or bad, that policy was changed a few years ago after the Greendale Patch shut down and the trolls started to move in here. Our comments are now moderated and we’ve even considered eliminating comments all together.

When it comes to comments, our goal at Everything Greendale is to create an open forum for useful conversation about news and the issues. There’s an inevitable tension between those who want to be able to say most anything in our comment section, and those who want a level of civility and focus that encourages commenters from a wider range of readers.

You might ask, “Why isn’t [insert troll’s name here] being blocked on Everything Greendale?”

Only one commenter has been permanently banned from Everything Greendale for repeated and multiple violations of the Comments Policy including: general mean-spiritedness, bigotry, bullying, blatant trolling, the use of multiple identities and knowingly spreading lies.

Like most Internet trolls, he wants one basic thing: an audience. If he didn’t, he would spend his time emailing personal attacks, lies and half-truths to himself. Where’s the fun in that? Lately, he’s been blogging and camping out at GreendaleNOW.

Moderating comments requires balance and a deft hand. Rest assured, not every comment submitted to Everything Greendale makes it online. Some of those rejected comments are toe curling and there are well over a hundred pending comments that for one reason or another didn’t make the cut. Others are edited to keep the comment on point.

The Internet and society is still looking for the silver bullet for dealing with trolls. Some say don’t feed the trolls and starve them of attention. Others take the opposite approach and propose feeding them until they explode.

It is also important to point out that a person is not automatically a troll, simply because you disagree with their opinion.

I do applaud those who choose to comment under their own name. Sometimes that takes courage. However, the vast majority of the anonymous comments make a significant positive contribution to the public conversation, far outweighing any perceived harm done by allowing them. Remember, if you don’t feel comfortable commenting here, you can also comment about stories and issues on our Facebook page (with the exception of the troll mentioned above).

I invite you to leave your comments below and please remember, keep it classy Greendale.

A Parting Gif…


About The Author

Bill Attewell

Bill Attewell is the editor and publisher of Everything Greendale. He has over 20 years experience as an award-winning newspaper editor, writer and publisher. His work has been read in in over 50 publications across the U.S. and abroad. Bill is a long-time resident of Greendale and a Greendale High School alum. Go Panthers!


  1. Richard

    Proposal for consideration to readers.

    The Village has few trolls. Th Village communicate well and works and talks with EG. They work with people who oppose or disagree with them. They are visible and talk with anyone. They make good decisions with respect for their constituents.

    The School Trusties and management are invisible. They do not communicate much and when they do, speak in generalities and banalities and usually misleading statements. (Saying no school trustie meetings until July 20th and then a quickie meeting called on a off night behind the closed door meeting and no statement after.

    The school trusties have credibility and truth issues that aren’t getting better and got worse this summer. The Village has credibility and truth behind their decisions and they are getting better this summer.

  2. MJR

    Attewell, I’ve got bad news: No one will never win against the trolls. Best to ignore them. I’m in the starve them camp. Especially that particular slimly GreendaleNOW troll. He probably lives in the mud and ooze in the swamp behind the Industrial Loop. Great example for our kids — not.

  3. Mary

    Thank you for this Bill. It is very good to know who is behind much of the negativeness in Greendale. Maybe he should stop and think about the bad example this sets for our children. Greendale doesn’t need more bullies.

  4. Kim Kowalczyk

    Bill, First let me say to you, THANK YOU for acknowledging those of us who DO post under their name(I am not afraid of anyone). This is a very educational site to get all of our village news and happenings. I know that not everyone agrees on all of the issues, but Bill is right, we are all adults and we should keep it classy not trashy. Hopefully in the future, we the people can comment on things other than our so called school board. Maybe, just maybe one day the “stars” will finally align correctly in our little village.

  5. Dexter

    What’s an educrat?

  6. Richard

    Astute Opinion from those at EG.

    Some of us post with a first or fictious name because of fear of retribution from the educrats. This elected bunch are known to be retributive as many can attest.

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