A troll by any other name...

I often scroll down after reading a news story to see what comments people have, despite better judgement. There is a script you can run to remove the comments from some more famous Canadian news sites, but some online publishers such as World of Warcraft and the New York Times have taken to forcing those who comment to use their real names.

By removing the protective shield of a user name, the person tempted to spew angry and inappropriate comments will think twice before posting anything under their real name.

Ya, you’d think.

Where I work, I help out the marketing department with their social media campaigns. This includes guiding the coordinators through posting messages on Facebook. In this experience, having a user’s real name isn’t stopping “fans” from making unnecessarily angry, shocking and downright racist comments regarding the posts. In this environment, we not only see their names, but can easily click through to their profiles and learn all about them. They must know we now know everything about them and this is terribly wrong, right?

On the other hand, our Twitter account rarely gets these types of angry comments. It’s a love fest on this forum – and strangely, this is the place where users rarely use their real name. Why the difference?  On Twitter, we’re re-tweeting and engaging in conversation with the users whenever we can. On Facebook, we simply don’t have the resources in place to engage in these conversations.

It would be an interesting study to see why people get so angry when posting comments online, and determine if it’s the environment that’s encouraging this behaviour.  Do you think we get more angry responses on Facebook because we’re not engaging in a conversation with them? Or does FB provide a better sounding board for everyone to see their comments?

Or… if the anonymous trick fails, should moderators evolve from removing offensive posts into spokespeople, challenging and ‘calling out’ those who are unnecessarily troll-like?