DON'T FEED THE TROLLS!: Managing troublemakers in magazines' online communities

Binns, Amy orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-9173-3108 (2012) DON'T FEED THE TROLLS!: Managing troublemakers in magazines' online communities. Journalism Practice, 6 (4). pp. 547-562. ISSN 1751-2786

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“Trolling” and other negative behaviour on magazine websites is widespread, ranging from subtly provocative behaviour to outright abuse. Publishers have sought to develop lively online communities, with high levels of user-generated content. Methods of building sites have developed quickly, but methods of managing them have lagged behind. Some publishers have then felt overwhelmed by the size and behaviour of the communities they have created. This paper considers the reasons behind trolling and the tools digital editors have developed to manage their communities, taking up the role of Zygmunt Bauman's gardeners in what they sometimes refer to as “walled gardens” within the Internet's wild domains. Interviews were conducted with online editors at the front line of site management at Bauer, Giraffe, IPC, Natmags, RBI and the Times. This article shows how publishers are designing sites that encourage constructive posting, and taking a more active part in site management. Web 2.0 and the spread of broadband, which have made management of fast-growing communities difficult, may themselves bring positive change. As uploading material becomes technically easier, “ordinary” citizens can outnumber those who, lacking social skills or with little regard for social norms, originally made the Internet their natural habitat.

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