Dear Internet Troll

Cave troll as corporate bully

 Dear Internet Troll,

You live in Burbage, Wiltshire.

The first two times you came in at 16:41 and 17:17, your most recent visit was at 20:13.

Please see the picture of your visitations to my blog below.

These are the comments of yours which I deleted:

Dear Troll,

You are using Windows, running Internet Explorer and you searched for me specifically on Google UK.

As I run web analytics by tomorrow morning my stats will include your time-stamped IP address.

Think about this and thank you for not visiting my blog any longer - and by the way if you go back and remove your comment all by yourself, then you will find that I have no need to contact the police in your village to further investigate you and your time-wasting emotional-bashing activities.

You have been warned.  

Karenne Joy Sylvester loves her people, her friends and colleagues very much but as most people already know, bullies: she eats for breakfast.


17 Responses to “Dear Internet Troll”

  • Sean Banville says:
    November 12, 2010

    Fine sleuth-work Karenne. This is worth another blog post - How to identify trolls :-)

    Thanks for this.

  • sueannan says:
    November 12, 2010

    Well done Karenne. These trolls deserve you pointing out their malicious posts.

  • Adam says:
    November 13, 2010

    Karenne... you da man.

    I've never though to go to this extent but you've inspired me. Like Sean, I think a stpe-by-step how to post would be great.

  • Nik Peachey says:
    November 13, 2010

    Fantastic. I think what bullies need to know is that they can't hide behind anonymity online.
    Name and shame.

    Nik Peachey

    November 14, 2010

    Hi Nik, Adam, SueAnnan, Sean - thank you so much!

    As per Sean's request and others on FB/Twitter am going to be commenting here on how to catch a troll... rather than creating a separate post - easier to have one example and explanation methinks.

    I'll write a bit on the backstory to this particular troll and his forays through the ELT blogosphere; how it occured to me on how to "catch" him and finally muse on a bit on internet safety - how this sort of incident is something we really should help protect our learners from (teach them how to deal with).... maybe Sean you can do a Breaking News Lesson - that we can bookmark and provide to them?

    Anyhoo... my comments box doesn't like really long messages so I'll do this in parts.

    November 14, 2010

    Part 1: Backstory.

    In 2007 after creating my first and now defunct blog which didn't go much further than "Hello World, I teach English" and "What should I write about"... I set out to learn as much as I could from the other bloggers out there - reading and reading and getting quite addicted.

    Back in the day, say 2008, it was actually quite difficult to find ELT blogs! Other than Graham, Seth and a handful of others - some funny, some piss-taking, some provoking, some a bit dirty... there was one I followed avidly - Alex Case's, and I remember that he used to have a picture of himself on his blog - in fact his blog looked quite different from today.

    Then one day he began (Alex sorry if this story isn't completely's based on loose memory) talking about being stalked and his photo went down.

    Sometimes when I visited and in those days, mostly lurked - there wasn't so much commenting back then - there was someone writng on his pages with much of the belching nonsense as seen as above. This was also happening on Sandy McManus's blog and to be honest, back then I thought it was all a bit of an inside joke.

    Yet it was so disturbing.

    Then I remembered seeing a note in Dave's ESL cafe where Alex Case was calling for the then blogosphere to gather together to out a particular owner of a school in the UK and he named the troll. For issues related to libel, I will refrain from adding the man's name here but a bit of googling will lead you to these discussions.

    Anyway, point being I knew about Troll before today.

    November 14, 2010

    Troll pretty much stayed away from my pages and I think he's only commented once or twice before and didn't react after having his comment deleted and I thought he had obviously decided that I wasn't worth persuing.

    Or he was on his meds.

    As far as I was concerned, Troll was a relatively minor pest - we've all seen the profiles on the tele haven't we: over 50, white, middle-aged, living alone or with Mummy, ex-TEFLr with a grudge against life... so what can you do but feel pity, really?

    Anyway, that's probably enough back story!

    November 14, 2010

    Step 2

    How it occured to me on how to catch him.

    Well, it sort of all started a month or so ago. One of our female bloggers wrote me a few DMs privately about what to do with an aggressive visitor to her blog. We emailed back and forth as it was making her feel decidely uncomfortable. But in the end, other than telling her that she should block his comments and not publish them, I wasn't actually able to help her much.

    It niggled at me. In her case, unlike MrInsanity above, she was being persued by someone with, what appeared to be a personal grudge.

    I don't like bullies... I never have... and fighting them goes all the way back to kindergarten...

    Then I'm not sure whose blog it was, perhaps yours Adam? Or perhaps it was something someone said on Twitter... Someone made a semi-throwaway comment on what on earth is the point to the Feedjit button on blogs: you know the thing that tells you where visitors are coming from on from all over the world?

    Mine is only on the main page - when you click on home, at the bottom - but many people have these buttons on their sidebar or even have the globe where it marks all the visitors from around the world... do you know what I mean?

    Anyway, when I saw that comment I had had one of those self-reflective navel-grazing moments where I (like most bloggers) question my motives for blogging and if these articles are exercises in narcissism - I mean why on earth do I have this stupid widget on my page to show other people where my visitors are coming from, after all I have google analytics if I really want to know... and I almost deleted it.

    But before I did that, I clicked on the bottom of it where it says: Real-Time View

    November 14, 2010

    And continuing on with my navel-grazing I thought, oh that is freakishly coool...

    Even though I have no way of really knowing "who" it is in the world - the IP Address stuff is basically a bluff it was really sort of funny looking at the time stamps of the visits and where from, also kind of informative... anywhoo..

    Pure narcissism. Forgive me.

    But then I forgot about it.

    When Troll came round on Thursday, I simply deleted his comment as I do the spam commenters. In the beginning all the crap on my blog used to bug me, now I resign myself to it and just moderate posts over 7 days old (they come through google and it takes google a bit to catch up to my posts) - anyway it's not been a hassle to delete the baddies who slip through...

    But then he came back.

    November 14, 2010

    And I deleted it again.

    And then he came back again and this time it bothered me. Was I going to become his next target?

    As I mentioned I don't like bullies and I know this about bullies:

    - they are insecure
    - they need attention
    - they get their jollies out of your emotional reaction
    - they prefer to hide under the cover of anonymity and do not use their real names...

    - the only way to get rid of a troll/bully is to face him head on.

    I went out for a fag...

    And then I started thinking about my terrible lack of help to the female blogger who really wanted someone's advice...

    And then I started wishing there was a way to get real-time stats of visitations (Google Analytics doesn't show you until the next day and without times)

    and all of a sudden I remembered the feedjit button.

    I came back in, clicked on it - cross checked the blog comments time stamps against the feedjit stats and saw the pattern!

    And well, the rest as they say is history....

    So the point to this incredibly long response which could have been written I suppose in 3 quick points is

    a) install a feedjit button
    b) face bullies head on by publishing their details

    have a happy sunday!


    November 14, 2010

    Oh... I was going to talk about internet safety too...

    Here are some important resources for students:
    (see chapter 6 on bullying)


  • Erika Osváth says:
    November 14, 2010

    Well-done, Karenne and thanks for the great advice on teaching kids about internet safety.

  • sueannan says:
    November 14, 2010

    Karenne, many thanks for the advice.

  • Sean Banville says:
    November 15, 2010

    Thanks Karenne

    A Breaking News Internet safety lesson coming soon.

  • Anonymous says:
    November 16, 2010

    Karenne, I have no doubt that you'll be able to find out who I am from your widget (though this time I'm choosing to post anonymously) but just to reassure you, I'm not a troll!

    You're absolutely spot on as far as troll motives are concerned, but I don't share your faith that the over-stretched, budget-strapped UK police are going to be interested in tracking down an internet pest in Wiltshre - unless he's also involved in crime.

    But your points about internet safety really hit home for me (which is why I'm posting anonymously). Many years ago I was stalked by an ex, and though irritating, it wasn't particularly awful. Not like some of the cases you hear where people are frightened of leaving their homes.

    I moved around a lot and I no longer live in my home country - let alone my home town. Then out of the blue, my stalker contacted me again via a social networking site. I felt sickened. I closed down that profile. Then I was contacted again - another networking site. To my horror, what I thought were private settings weren't, and my stalker knew who my friends were, could view my photos, and all the info I had (unwittingly) thought was private.

    I googled my name, and up came my address, tel number, other bits and pieces, though, fortunately, not my inside leg measurement. Phew. At least that was safe.

    Getting the local tel company to remove my phone number from their records (online / print) was a long process. Who knows in which other directories it's been stored. But there's plenty of other info out there which points to my location. The one thing I'm grateful for is that nobody apart from the postmen and my immediate neighbours knows where my street is - the joys of a rural location and no signposts...

    My point is this (and sorry for rambling): whatever you post online (and an awful lot you don't) can be visible for months, years afterwards. If you've ever been stalked, you'll understand the fear of someone getting hold of your new contact details, so here are some extra security precautions:

    - go ex-directory, or put the landline account in someone else's name if you can.

    - Be supervigilant over your privacy settings. Some networks will change default settings without warning you.

    - Use usernames (not so great if you're working on building a personal brand, but you'll feel safer).

    - google yourself occasionally, and go beyond the first few pages of results. Look yourself up on other sites, too, such as (who buy contact info from national telephone companies)

    - always tick the "no publicity" boxes when you sign up for loyalty schemes, free accounts etc. Remember that people do sell your info on. A company only has to incorporate another for email addresses etc to be "merged" etc.

    Yes, I know some people would think I'm being paranoid. But I was shocked at how easy the internet makes stalking. And I'd rather be safe than sorry.

  • The TEFL Tradesman says:
    November 19, 2010

    Ah yes, that looks uncannily like the work of PL!

    See him off, Karenne. Or just ignore him, and he will eventually go away.

    The big advantage that you have is you know who he is and where to find him. Look his telephone number up - it's on the school's website, or I can supply it.

    Then let him have a full blast of your ire.

    I'm sure he'll get the message right away!

  • Anonymous says:
    July 25, 2011

    Hey there, I must admit I've found this webpage because of the troll picture, kinda like it :) But on a serious note after reading it's content I have to say that I am glad to know that you were able to kick that troll's ass big time, my hat goes off to you :D


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