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Trolling posts on SE sites are not very uncommon, and people often respond in exactly the manner the trolls hope for: outrage/indignation/other similar strong reaction.

I admit I've fallen for a troll question in the past, but I learned from it not to waste my time. Common traits of troll posts are:

  • extreme situations, overly dramatic, sometimes to the point of being outlandish
  • often express heavy bias against one group of people (years ago, we had a series of posts about Islamic women)
  • often are about, or include, sexual issues
  • are often about (previously/current) taboo subjects
  • posted, and troll never returns to check the answer(s) (look at the time of their post and check their activity; usually they post and leave, never to return.)

Just two recent troll posts:

If the spanking draws blood and leaves bruises? Should I call the police?
If the spanking and grounding is not deserved how do you fix it? (The comments under this post are fairly amusing - given that it's a troll post - and pretty much exactly what the troll hopes for, I imagine.)

Some sites prefer to take a troll at their word and try to help them, e.g. IPS. Maybe this is true of Parenting as well? Is there a role for moderators on troll posts? How could they be handled (or should they be handled at all?) Are troll posts bad for a site?

Edited to add: Ironically - so soon after this post - there is another candidate, but that's yet to be determined. Not that such things just don't happen; terrible things happen all the time. It does fit most of the categories, though.

(I sincerely do regret having gained so much rep from a troll post. I now check before answering.)

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As a site grows, I think it becomes harder for a mod to spot troll posts due to the volume of posts - that said, we get to follow the flags, so we rely on a larger number of people flagging.

As you will be well aware, on Parenting we arrive with a certain element of belief, as we want to help folks more if they are in very difficult situations, but the pointers you call out, if a few appear related in one post, raises the alarm.

All I'll say, is please continue to downvote, vote to close, or flag (or all 3) and they will be dealt with.

  • Thanks for the answer. I don't know, honestly, what the role of a moderator is with regards to troll posts. It's kind of a quandary: are they bad for a site? If so, are there enough users flagging and downvoting? Ideally they would be dealt with by users, but ideal situations are not that common. – anongoodnurse Nov 23 '20 at 3:27

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