One of the downsides of being a "celebrity" Tweeter is the preponderance of people who seem to hang about in dingy bedrooms in their dirty underwear "trolling".
A troll is somebody who sends abusive tweets, often to celebrities- some are simply negative comments on a career, others are far more abusive and personal. Accepted practice is "do not feed the trolls". The general feeling is that these low-lives need the attention and that by replying or interacting with them you are giving them what they want. I beg to differ.
I often take on the trolls as, in my view they are keyboard warriors, cyber-bullies who need to be confronted. I have even established a "troll of the day" ritual on my Twitter page. I choose the most hateful specimen and re-tweet his/her abuse for all to see. The first line of defence is invariably grammar. In three years on Twitter I have yet to find a troll who can use your/you're correctly. I therefore get loads of "your fat"/"your not funny"/"your a c**t and I hope you dy off cancer." I always take the time to correct the troll and ask him politely to Tweet back when he/she has learned to speak English. This tends to really annoy them, which is curious as you would imagine that education would not be high on their agendas?
The second line of riposte is simply to have a look through their previous Tweets. Often this will quickly disclose a gold mine of information. I once found a tweet that a troll had sent to his mother checking what time he should come round for Sunday lunch? I sent a copy of his abuse to the mother and his account was deleted about four hours later- most satisfying.
My favourite troll slay was quite recent. A "gentleman" tweeted to inform me that I was an "unfuny fat c*nt who will hopefuly die in a paynful car accident". (sic) This was pretty standard trolling but what caught my attention was that firstly his location was on- so I could see on a map that he was from Cirencester, a town just seven miles away from me. Not only that but he gave the name of his company and his position in said organisation on his Twitter bio. This was an open goal.
I re-tweeted his kind thoughts and inquired as to if any of my followers knew of the company? It turned out that loads of them did and I soon built up quite a detailed knowledge of my new troll. I was tempted to actually drive over and pay him a visit. I decided not to in the end and simply Tweeted my view that if I'd received an abusive letter from somebody at that company, with the company letterhead on it, I could quite reasonably go to the police with it. Twenty minutes later I got a tweet from the managing director who apologised and announced that "disciplinary action has been taken".
When my kids ask me- "Daddy, what did you do in the Troll Wars?" I shall not be found wanting...
Follow Dom Joly on Twitter: www.twitter.com/domjoly