8 Steps to Stop a Grammar Troll
You write a great article, and someone comments to point out every typo. You express your opinion in a comment, and someone critiques your writing style. These self-appointed grammar overseers are grammar trolls. What do you do when a grammar troll tests your patience? An angry response often makes the situation worse. If you want them to leave you alone, you will need to shut them down once and for all! Here are eight ways to stop grammar trolls without sinking to their level.
Act as though they are invisible.
Why do grammar trolls pick on your grammar? If their motive is to make you feel bad, reacting angrily only gives them satisfaction. Learn from this Korean proverb: If you kick a stone in anger, you hurt your own foot. Don’t damage your credibility by arguing with unreasonable critics; ignore them! Nine times out of ten, trolls who fail to get a reaction lose interest and move on to their next victim.
Focus on the real problem.
On the other hand, perhaps your grammar troll isn’t trying to be malicious. Some pesky commenters have good intentions, but they lack the tact to express their opinions inoffensively. In that case, carefully prepare a polite response. Let them know that you appreciate their feedback, but the way they express themselves is hurtful. If their hearts truly are in the right place, they might think before they post their next comment. You never know—you might later find their insights valuable once you realize that they came from someone who is trying to help you.
What happens if birds can’t find enough food in one location? They fly off in search of new feeding ground! Trolls are also migratory. They need typos, misspellings, and grammar mistakes to survive. They move from one territory to the next in their search for sustenance. If you proofread carefully enough, your writing can be completely devoid of nutrition for these voracious beasts. You will leave them with no choice but to move on.
Have the first and the last laugh.
Can you look for the humor in the situation? In real life, you might chuckle at yourself if you trip on the sidewalk. Why take your words so seriously? A balanced self-view contributes to emotional health and confidence. Besides, trolls hate when you laugh at them! If they want to embarrass or anger you, your good-natured response will really get their goat! You might say something like, “Ha! I guess that apostrophe got the best of me this time!” To add an extra zing, add a funny gif from a website like giphy.com. You’ll find plenty of options if you search “typo” or “grammar.”
Join the club.
To err is human, right? Everyone, grammar troll or not, has made a mistake at some point in their lives. Ironically, trolls are frequently guilty of making mistakes in their criticisms. Why not give them a taste of their own medicine? Check to see if the trolls are following correct and current practices by consulting a style guide. If you find an inconsistency, link to the resource in your response. It might be just the wake-up call they need.
Tell your biggest buddy.
Grammar trolls often bully those they feel are weaker than themselves. However, you have more control than you might have imagined. For example, did you know that you can disable comments on your blog or block certain users? If it’s not your website, report the bully to the moderator or webmaster. Most moderators of forums, for instance, are willing to remove comments or revoke privileges of abusive community members. Be patient when you make a report. Sometimes moderators need time to gather evidence before permanently banning a user. You can help them by sending screenshots of inappropriate comments made by the offender.
Graciously give thanks.
Look on the bright side: not many things in life are free. Grammar trolls offer proofreading and grammar advice at no cost to you! After all, you can learn a lot from your mistakes. Rather than let disparaging comments get you down, make an honest evaluation of your writing and speech. When someone points out a weakness, research how you can improve. Then, practice what you’ve learned. You might find your grammar troll to be an ugly but beneficial blessing in disguise.
Avoid dark alleys.
Trolls like to hang out in the dark corners of the Internet. If you are selective about where and how you comment online, you might be able to avoid trolls altogether. If you do decide to comment, remember that your exchanges are public. People, even those who don’t go so far as to contact you, will judge what you write and say. If your posts are well thought out and in good taste, readers will respect you even if you don’t always write perfectly.
You can beat a grammar troll without using your fists. Maintain the moral high ground. Trading insults only brings you down to their level. If your responses—should you deign to respond—show respect and good sense, readers will quickly see your intellectual superiority. Sure, you made a boo-boo, but who are the real buffoons?