How to Deal With YouTube Trolls Effectively, Creatively, and Hilariously

How to Deal With YouTube Trolls Effectively, Creatively, and Hilariously

There's a moment in your life that you realize: I want to make videos and express myself to the world!  And if you do some things right, you start to get a following from a bunch of people who think you're amazing and await new videos every week.  And you love interacting with those people in the comments.  Most of them love you.  Occasionally you might see something mildly off-putting.  And then there's the darker side: the trolls.  Or there are people who have misunderstood your video so completely that they feel the need to be offensive in their comments.  There is a way to deal with these trolls, however.  You can have the upper hand.

Dealing with YouTube Trolls the Correct Way

One of the easy things to do is to simply ignore them.  But what kind of fun is that?  What I've found over time is that commenting back to these people can be fun.  It's like creating even more content for the channel.  When a friend and I started a channel a few months ago, it was easy to get down when people spewed hatred at us.  They didn't get it.  Or they misunderstood the intent.  And we'd talk about it, and wonder how we could make those people change their minds.

In a couple of words, you can't.

There's a reason why there's an expression called "Don't feed the trolls."  And what that means is that when you fire back and let them know that in some way, what they said was able to hurt you, you have lost this war already.  When people are either ignorant or hateful, you can't do anything about it...except have fun with it.

Here are a few things to consider when interacting with trolls:

1. Never, ever say something hateful back.

How to Deal With YouTube Trolls Effectively, Creatively, and HilariouslyOnce you "come back" to somebody by saying something equally ignorant or stupid, then you've started a war that will likely never end.  It becomes a boring war of words and it will likely involve your mom at some point.  Coming back with negativity just means they got to you.  Even if you have the best "cut down" in the world, it just means their intent to rattle you worked.

Trolls or hateful commenters are much like hecklers at a comedy show.  Except there's one difference: there isn't any anonymity at a comedy show.  A heckler can get cut down by a stand-up comic and the whole room will turn against that person, or he or she will get kicked out.  It's a little different on YouTube.  It's all anonymous people for the most part.  People can say whatever they want and even if there's a mound of hate coming towards that person, no one knows who they are.

2. Find a way to be funny without (obviously) cutting the other person down.

How to Deal With YouTube Trolls Effectively, Creatively, and HilariouslyThis is an art form.  Because when you do this, you will still be cutting the other person down, but in a more clever, interesting way, and your followers will respect you for it.

In several videos where we were being willfully ignorant of facts, so willfully ignorant that any sane person would realize that we were joking, commenters have frequently come on to tell us, "Uuummmm, yeah...you got your facts wrong on this one."  And the best response to that is an incredulous, "What?!?!"  That leaves some mystery in your comment.  If people can't detect sarcasm then that's their fault.  And what have you left the commenter with at that point?  They either have that, "Ohhhhhhh" moment, or they continue living their lives with no sense of humor.

Either way, they won't have a comeback, or will look stupid to everyone trying to make their case that you're wrong.  By the way, if they decide to take that course of action, you never, ever let on that you understand what they're saying.  You either don't reply back to them a second time, or you continue to have fun with it and make them look silly.  If they have the same remarks over and over, continue to play dumb like you have no idea what they mean.

3. Agree with them in a humorous way

How to Deal With YouTube Trolls Effectively, Creatively, and HilariouslySomeone wrote something along the lines of "Your next video should be called, 'I never get laid and I'm a stupid c***.'" or something along those lines.  Let me tell you now: These comments are the absolute best, and I say that without sarcasm.

Because absolutely ignorant hate is easy to digest.  They don't know you.  They just got so infuriated by your video that they thought, "Man, I'm going to hurt this person with my spew of hateful words!"  You realize after awhile how silly these comments are, filled with filthy language, spelling errors, and incoherent thoughts.  Like they are seeing a keyboard for the very first time and spelling words by feel rather than knowledge.

When I see a comment like this, I laugh now.  At first, it was shockingly awful to my nervous system.  But now, they're hilarious.   My response back to the comment above was, "Yes!  I've been waiting for a long time to make a video about my love life!  And I especially like the 'c***' part, can I steal that for my title?"

Believe me, there is nothing they can say back that will be funny or make them look good.  When I see a comment like this and I have responded in this way, there's a part of me that feels great.  I've pretty much destroyed a person's insult without saying one thing mean back.  I have illustrated their stupidity without calling them stupid.

I said in the first step that comments will eventually involve your mom at some point if you feed the trolls.  I had a comment come through once that said something to the effect of, "You should do a video about how ur mom's a whore" or something to that effect.  So I wrote back, "We're doing that one in a few weeks, but we have to do a few other ones first before we get to that.  Thanks for the input.  We love our fans!"

4. Let your fans handle it.

How to Deal With YouTube Trolls Effectively, Creatively, and HilariouslyIf you pretty much have a good following, your videos get way more likes than dislikes, and for the most part, you have good feedback, many times they'll deal with the troll.  Although, many times, they deal with them in ways that do not follow the steps above.  But, many times your fans will "down vote" stupid comments and make them go away, or attack that person with gusto.

On occasion, though, you'll see a negative comment that is wrong or ignorant that is "up voted" several times and that can be annoying.  Not to worry, you can follow the steps above, give an incisive comment back, and before you know it, that comment is being down-voted and responded to.  Your community wants to fight for you and they will.

Comments Can Be Fun: Use Them For Good

It's a known thing that commenting early on your videos after launch helps it in search.  I think this is sort of a "signature" that helps the search engine realize you're legit.  And starting a conversation is a good way to interact with your fans, who are the first ones to watch your videos.  You create a community with your channel by being accessible.  And I know from personal experience that the way we've dealt with the trolls has been appealing to our followers: we diffuse situations rather than exacerbate them.  We offer humorous "bonus" content with our comments, even when we respond to positive responses.  We show that we are ever positive about ourselves, not negative.

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About the Author -
Chris Atkinson joined ReelSEO in 2011. He is a longtime film and television reviewer, and has almost two decades of experience in the theater industry. He also writes on his personal blog - http://nymoviereviews.com. View All Posts By -

What do you think? ▼
  • Nathaniell Brenes

    You definitely hit on a lot of familiar points here. I had an issue with one commenter a few weeks back, and it did turn into a 'war of words', that no one won. Luckily he was just disagreeing with me, and wasn't trolling in the sense that he was just spewing garbage. But you are right that it's impossible to change people's minds.

    I do have a question for you regarding comments though. What do you think about holding comments for approval? I did this from the beginning to prevent things like trolling and stupid comments from showing up on my channel, but one person brought up the point that it could prevent me from getting real comments, because viewers are reluctant to say something if it's held for moderation.

    My thinking was that this option made it more like a blog, where comments are typically held before being approved. But YouTube is something different. I'm actually surprised more people don't hold comments on YT. So is getting spam/troll/hate comments better than none at all?

    • http://www.reelseo.com/ Mark Robertson

      Just chiming in with my own thoughts here. The reason that we tend to moderate more with a blog, for example, is that most of the time, we're moderating to try and protect our website from spammy comments, which is a rampant mess across the web with bots trying to spam comment a blog to build links... As for YouTube, I prefer to leave them approved and then moderate after the fact. I think that to your point, users are less likely to comment when they see that. I also think that people are more likely to comment when they see others discussing. Lastly, I think it's important algorithmically to let GooTube see that there's active engagement on the video, which I'm guessing may not be as robust a signal if it's moderated.

    • http://www.facebook.com/chris.atkinson.560 Chris Atkinson

      It's my experience that getting comments, period, is good. Whether they are good or bad. Obviously, if you have nothing but bad...that's not good. But a little mix of bad comments stirs up discussion and it can be a good thing for your video in the end. I don't see a positive to turning off comments except in certain cases.

  • Cris0000

    I agree with these except #2. Just saying "What?!?!?!" to someone who doesn't understand that you were being facetious doesn't convey that message very well to an inexperienced commenter.

    If the person is a genuine troll, then yeah, you might as well entertain yourself by continuing to pretend you were serious. But then, you're also being a troll. And if the original person was just missed the point and was genuinely you offended or incensed by what they perceived your content to be about, then going full sarcasm just means you're the only one trolling in that convo by making fun of someone for a misunderstanding.

    It's a little more friendly to add something more than "WHAT!?!?" in response to something like to make it obvious you knew you were joking like, "OMG. You just blew my mind with all those facts and informations."

    • http://www.facebook.com/chris.atkinson.560 Chris Atkinson

      Cris, I agree that it shouldn't be an end-all response. But when you are obviously, painfully, being sarcastic and someone wants to say something mean to you, it's a great way to respond. And yes, you are in a sense becoming a troll at that point. But you aren't being a nasty one, and it's simply turning the other cheek to someone who IS being nasty. We don't respond to people who are simply confused. The ones who make it personal are the ones who get that treatment.

      And, on our channel...we don't want to spell out a joke when we're making a joke. Nothing takes the funny out of a joke more than explaining it. We'd honestly rather them be confused than to spell it out.

      For the purposes of my article, I probably should have clarified more on that point. But it's not the only response. It's just A response.

      But thanks for giving your thoughts!

  • Charles Terrence Harper

    I am guessing it depends on what your channel is about. If your personality on video is to be a little cheeky, I can see how you might want to direct a little sarcasm their way. However, if you're trying to establish a brand where your image is professional, I think you'd have to either hope your fans handle it or just be friendly back to them.

    That said, this was a very good article directed to a problem that any YouTuber is going to deal with from time to time.

  • Matt W.

    Any tips on dealing with trolls on the subscriber list? Every time I post a new video, its gets hit with a lot of negative votes almost immediately. Over time, it ends up positive, but it still is irritating.

    • http://www.facebook.com/chris.atkinson.560 Chris Atkinson

      Matt, are you talking about "down votes" on your "likes" and "dislikes" bar? Because there isn't much that you can do about that. I agree that having a bunch of those right off the bat is annoying, because anyone new to your channel is going to see that discrepancy at first and may be swayed not to watch the video.

      The only thing I can think of is that you put something smart in the description. Write something like, "Dislike this video in the first hour and [insert witty phrase about those people's intelligence here]." It really depends on what kind of channel you have, but you want to make it so that the people who dislike immediately will be somewhat dissuaded. You want to write something that shows you have a good sense of humor, but doesn't sound like you're bitter about the dislikes.

      Unfortunately, you'll likely be hit with that no matter what, because it sounds like people who don't even watch the video are immediately disliking it.

  • josemfrancisco

    We cannot please everybody. Let us respect those who have bad comments about the videos that we share or upload. And I agree that we cannot change minds of those who bash around.

    _______________

    Jose Francisco

  • Brian Taylor

    I think that many times "silence is golden". The one thing that haters hate most is being utterly and completely ignored, as if they simply didn't exist.

    Basically, you're saying "You're beneath notice...you're not worth my time" - but you say it by saying nothing at all.

    Meanwhile, their post sits there exhibiting everything that's pathological about them, and nothing whatsoever about you except the fact that you were secure and mature enough not to fall for their game. The very absence of your response speaks volumes about you!

    • http://www.facebook.com/chris.atkinson.560 Chris Atkinson

      Yes. There are many reasons to be silent and just let their comment just sit there as a display of their stupidity and then just vanish to obscurity. And I'd say that happens most of the time even on our channel. But if you want to respond, you should never give in that their comments have any power. But yes, ignoring works too.

  • http://webtechnology.ph/ John Denver

    hahahaha :))

  • Angi Wren

    Thank you for your article, it really proved useful to us when we experienced our first silly comment on YouTube the other day and instead of retaliating or deleting it, we took your advice on board and found a nice way to deal with them. Not sure why people are like that in the first place but there you go, you can't please everyone :)

  • http://www.youtube.com/user/yourjudgeandjury yourjudgeandjury

    This is so very true. I am currently battling a YouTube troll for over 3 days all over YouTube. It started on one video I made a comment on which was neither of our videos and he went nuts. Instead of lowering myself to his level, I simply kept asking insightful questions to explain his position. That made he him begin to make wild claims off topic and level crazy accusations against me. Rather than get angry, I decided to string this troll along for as long as he keeps it up, and all I do is ask him to prove his accusations which I know he can't and keep asking him more questions.

    As I write this, he is still continuing his rants on YouTube and I keep replying every time he trolls a new video. Funny thing is he is so pissed off now I can find every video he comments on, he fails to realize his comments and viewing history are public on his channel because he doesn't make it private. First rule of troll battling, make your history and comments private. Use the trolls view history and comment history against them if they have it public. Most do.

  • DA LI

    You're so very right! I've read posts from trolls talking about their "Hobby" & they admitted that their biggest enjoyment comes from getting a rise out of people-it makes them feel powerful. Only 2 things disarm them-responding in a lighthearted manner as you suggested or ignoring them. Example-there's a YT channel for supporters of a man who claims to have been falsely accused of a murder. His trial begins soon & well wishes were being posted. A troll posts variations of "He's guilty as hell & is going to prison for a long time." People were outraged & began arguing back & forth with him. I responded "wow, I've never met a psychic before,so cool! Call the prosecutor's office to let him know to skip the trial because you've already determined his guilt & appropriate sentence. It will save tons of taxpayer $$" People fell in behind me making posts like "Yeah, you're gonna be famous! Can I get your autograph? " and "How much do you charge? I wanna know if Lizzie Borden was guilty." and "What about O.J? and Casey Anthony? Please Please tell me!" and "Hey man, can you do lottery numbers too?" And so on. The troll never responded. Knowing that we were laughing at his expense instead of raging at his remarks was just too much to bear I guess. I wish I'd figured this out earlier before wasting time arguing with people who aren't swayed by logic or reason. Thanks for your post!!!