Twitter can be great for exchanging ideas and sharing links. It’s my favorite news source, a sort of wire service that I can customize and interact with.
It has its downsides, too. A big one is the problem of trolls — people who seek to harass, badger and engage in straw-man arguments. They’ve been an issue online for a long time, including in comment areas on news websites.
I’ve fallen into trolling traps on Twitter a few times over the years. Lately, I’ve been working on ignoring and, in some cases, blocking trolls. Here’s how I decide whether to respond to someone on Twitter:
- How many followers does the person have? Less than 100 means it may be a troll.
- Does the account have a profile photo and a link to more about the person elsewhere online? An egg avatar and lack of a link mean it may be a troll.
- What is the name on the account? Is there a first and last name, or name of an organization? If not, it may be a troll.
- What are the account’s other tweets like? If they are mostly replies to other accounts that take a hostile tone, it may be a troll.
I like chatting with people on Twitter. I’m open to constructive criticism and civil discussion. But I have no time for trolls.