July 26, 2011

Don't Feed the Trolls

Recently I posted a video thank you to NPR and its supporters on NPR's Facebook Page. The thank you was for their positive reaction to an earlier video from NPR's social media training seminar in California where they mentioned the story of the beginnings of their Facebook page.

It was generally met with a positive reaction. Out of 1,812,667 Impressions there were 773 likes and 117 comments, most of them positive. There were, however, a few negative ones. It kind of blew my mind that people could get so upset and leave negative comments on a thank you video.

I thought I was being fairly clear, especially by linking the current video to the one I was referencing, but as can be expected, there was a little confusion:

were a lot of kind words

the generic anti-NPR comments that were to be expected/

and then a reasoned rebuttal (with 42 likes):

There were a few generally negative posts along the lines of "You're being self-promoting" "What' the big deal", etc. I don't really see how a simple thank you message that lacks any sort of boasts or requests for a job or anything of the sort is self promoting. I keep getting reminders from YouTube that I could monetize the original video but continue to reject it so I don't think that sort of comment has any validity. Here's an example of a negative comment:

but they were the very slim minority and they were more than overcome by the more thoughtful comments.

There were a couple off-topic but funny comments:

All of those comments are generally to be expected on a public forum. However, there was one post that kind of surprised me. Someone took time out of their day (apparently not very valuable as he admits he's unemployed) to say, among other things, that I am clueless, should get a job in a high-stress, commissioned sales environment (maybe that's where he got 'laid off' from?), says again that I need to get a clue, that I lack wisdom, and that I should be more like Don Draper because apparently he has charisma. Then...

Next comes a series of recommendations about how I could "adult up" and get "a clue about life" with typos almost every other sentence.

I really doubt anyone who stays up until 4:29am (Atlantic, at least) trolling on Facebook pages has the competence to give advice to me or anybody else on earth advice on anything, much less having clue about how to live. Mr. Peter Wong aside, there was some useful, constructive criticism.

 I'm not very practiced at recording videos speaking to a camera in an empty room to nobody in particular so I got a little nervous. That being said I really need to improve my on camera speaking ability. I appreciate the humanely-worded advice that I should have presented a more polished version of myself to a public audience. I admit the video is not the most gripping and I'm not the most engaging in it because I recorded it around 11pm after a long day of work, going to the gym, and recording trial runs of my WorkStory video

I should have waited another day when I would have more more well-rested and given a better looking and sounding performance. I realize that now and I had I had been more patient. I figure it was a positive video where I was expressing my gratitude and that people may forgive my slowness in getting to the next point but really, in the end, people aren't going to pay attention to the substance of something if the style in which it is presented is not up to par. 

Someone else then actually gave some useful advice about watching TED talks to get inspired and have more confidence (especially on camera). There are a lot of TED talks that are very inspiring but I think what I needed at that moment was a good night's rest.

Anyway, back to the point I was making. I eventually realized the commenter, for whatever reason,  had nothing better to do than troll around Facebook and demean someone who expressed gratitude for having stumbled upon something that helped him see himself on a career path in which he could be happy. This is what is called Trolling. As I've been researching best practices to develop social media guidelines for Mount Allison, I found the Air Force's Web Posting Response Assessment. It's a flowchart giving directions on how to respond to positive or negative postings about an organization online. It is so simple, powerful, and all-encompassing that it has been slightly tweaked and used by countless other organizations (including The Ohio State University Medical Center). Just as it would be unproductive for an organization to engage with someone who is posting bashing and degrading comments, there is no point for me to pay them any mind either.

In fact, after ignoring the negative posts, there were multiple people who posted retorts to the Troll and supportive of me. I doubt any of them read my blog but if any of you are out there, thank you.

If it was at all unclear in the video I don't think at all that the fact I created the NPR page got me either the job at the Argosy or the job at the school, nor should it. I was simply being thankful for the fact that after I posted a video, a tiny tidbit about the start of the NPR Facebook page that people reacted so positively. It was their reaction that helped me realize that the social media skills I had been developing over the years might have some value and I could use them in a future occupation. I think it was the years of being active on social media and demonstrated ability to write well that helped me land both jobs.

It seems that I was clear, as more than 100/115 were positive, that most people understood that.

I don't think there will be any need for any more posts by myself on the NPR page but if there is something NPR related that I believe people would be interested (and garner 700+ likes) I'll be sure that it is more rehearsed than my less-than-polished thank you message.

For those of you who aren't fans of NPR on Facebook 1) You should. There's nothing wrong with supplementing the banal Facebook status updates from your elementary school pals with some really intelligent journalism 2)You probably haven't seen the video so here it is:

Unsurprisingly the trolls were to lazy to log into YouTube to continue complaining about a thank you message. There are 12 really nice comments in addition to the nearly 100 on Facebook. Thank you all for the kind words.