As most of you have probably noticed, Gristmill has attracted a few trolls. I guess we can attribute that to some combination of increased popularity and the recent Coby-driven focus on global warming.

There’s a lot to say about this, but I’m jammed with other things right now, so just a quick note.

I’ve been reading blogs for a long time. I reckon I read about as many blogs, as often, as anyone alive. I’ve seen and participated in many, many comment boards. And here’s the simple rule I’ve learned:

Don’t feed the trolls.

They work by playing on more honorable people’s good will. They pose as people who just aren’t yet persuaded. No matter how crudely it’s done — and this clown is not exactly the Michael Jordan of the genre — it seems always to work. People offer evidence. Trolls demand further evidence. People tell them to STFU. Trolls claim they’re being suppressed. People call them names. Trolls claim that’s because they have no evidence. People offer still more evidence. Trolls ignore the evidence they’ve been offered and demand evidence.

It never ends. I don’t know why people are so unable to resist engaging with trolls, but they are — it’s true on every public internet forum I’ve ever seen.

Still: It’s clear when someone’s a troll. If you suspect they are, they probably are. And there’s only one thing to do: ignore them. Don’t engage. Don’t try to persuade. Don’t insult. Just ignore. It’s hard, but their whole purpose is to distract and anger you. If you simply refuse to be distracted or angered, they’ll go irritate someone else.

Don’t feed the trolls.