I love YouTube. This is for many, many reasons, but there’s one in particular that stands out.
If you’ve been holding off starting your own YouTube channel because you fear a backlash from horrible trolls – I’d like to set your mind at ease.
I suspect that around 99% of the comments I receive on YouTube are either absolutely bloody lovely or considered, constructive critique.
Honestly, I still can’t get over how nice people are on there. They’ll go out of their way to tell you how wonderful your videos are, how much they like your accent and how they think you should have “at least 500K subs by now”. It’s such a boost and reveals that the internet is actually a pretty welcoming place when you put yourself in the spotlight.
Unfortunately, there are always a few who try and spoil the party. They’re known colloquially as ‘trolls’, and they can be either mildly irritating or incredibly hurtful.
Thankfully, you can deal with them very easily.
What is a YouTube troll?
A YouTube troll is someone who barges into the comment thread of a video and leaves a note for the video creator. Their words are usually intended to gain a reaction and they typically do this by being either judgemental, defamatory or downright nasty.
They’ll criticise your appearance, call you names and poke fun at your video. Their criticism is never constructive, and their tone will be unpleasant, spiteful or just plain cruel.
YouTube trolls are your atypical school bullies, albeit bullies who only exist as avatars and text. For some creators, that can be far harder to deal with, and result in untold mental stress and self-doubt.
Receiving a comment from a troll is never a nice thing and, naturally, you’ll feel angry, upset and compelled to respond. I do, often – and sometimes I react badly. It’s human nature.
But there are ways to ensure that these people don’t get in the way of your YouTube domination plans.
Remember this (fake) Chinese proverb
In June 2018, Casey Neistat introduced his “mega-nega-tron” YouTube haters, to a “fake” Chinese proverb.
Fake or not, I love it.
”The person who says it cannot be done should not interrupt the person doing it.”
Having received endless flack about his ‘368’ business venture, Neistat clearly felt compelled to issue a no-holds-barred “shut up” to the people who dared question his motives, effort and strategy.
I understand exactly how he felt – albeit it on a far smaller scale. Making YouTube videos is damn hard – whatever they’re about. Therefore, when you receive comments suggesting that you should be doing it a different way or – worse – not at all, it can hurt. This is particularly the case when the ‘advice’ is delivered in such an abrasive fashion.
The saying above is all you need to think about whenever you receive a hateful comment about your content. Remember – you’re doing it; the person on the other end of the digital divide isn’t. And I can almost guarantee that if you take a look at their YouTube profile, they won’t have posted a single video. You have.
Ignore them (and report or hide them)
Hands up – I really struggle with this.
Ask any seasoned, successful YouTuber how you should deal with trolls on your channel, and they’ll say, “just ignore them”.
This is much easier said than done. It’s human nature to want to respond and fight back; indeed, that’s exactly what Casey Neistat did in the example above.
But the right response is pretty much always to remain silent.
There’s a simple reason for this. The more your channel grows on YouTube, the quicker those troll comments will sink down the pile. As noted from the outset of this guide, in my experience, they’re in the minority, which means as soon as their comments appear, they just as quickly disappear both from immediate public view and your mind.
So, the next time you receive a comment from a troll, take a deep breath and get on with your day. No one cares about their comment, and it’ll soon be replaced by ten others that are far nicer.
Remember also that YouTube offers useful moderation tools which enable you to report specific comments and hide users from your channel. Use them!
Kill them with kindness
If you want to respond to a troll’s comments, there are two ways to do so. The first is to be kind.
That might sound odd, but it’s the best way to position yourself as the bigger person (which you already are, but you catch my drift).
I received this comment on my channel the other day:
“That’s 10 minutes I will never get back. Terrible video buddy.”
Now, I could have got very cross indeed about that. A lot of effort went into the video in question, and to have it dismissed as ‘terrible’ with no reason as to why the viewer drew that conclusion, is rather hurtful.
Alas, do I really care what this person thinks? Clearly, the content wasn’t for them. So, I responded with:
“Appreciate you giving me some of your time, in that case. Thanks for watching!”
After all, this particular troll did at least watch the video in its entirety, which helps my stats and algorithm performance. In a way, he did me a favour.
He didn’t reply. They never do.
I operate in the tech niche and have a particularly heavy swing towards Apple-related content. As you can imagine, if I publish a video about Windows, it invites more trolls than my content usually attracts.
The premise of my last Windows-related video was that, despite the huge soft spot I have for that platform, Microsoft’s abysmal PR effort surrounding the Windows 11 preview program was a genuine shame. I want to try Windows again, I said. Microsoft isn’t doing it justice – that was the narrative running throughout the entire video.
Alas, trolls are inherently lazy, and this one in particular clearly hadn’t bothered to watch the video properly (or at all):
””A Mac guy’s perspective” Without listening to much of it, this is no different than any other Windows bashing by a Apple user that’s too lazy to double click!”
The second way to respond to a troll’s comment if you feel compelled to do so is to challenge them. That’s what I decided to do here. His comment wasn’t good enough. It was lazy. Clearly, he hadn’t watched the video; indeed, we may even have a similar opinion of Windows!
So, I responded with:
“Watch my video from start to finish mate. Seriously. Then come back here and we’ll chat.”
He didn’t reply. They never do.
Have a laugh with them
I’ve lost most of the hair from the top of my head. For trolls, this is low-hanging fruit. For me, it’s biblically boring when someone points out that I’m follically challenged.
I know I’m bald.
In my most recent video, I received this comment:
“Why should I trust you, you are bald?”
As comments go, this is about as stupid as they come. Firstly, zero effort has gone into the bald gag (I can take a joke – if it’s a good one), and, regardless, it doesn’t make any sense. What does someone’s hair (or lack of it) have to do with their advice?
So. I responded with this:
“If I wore a wig, would you take me seriously?”
I’d urge caution with this approach because some trolls will respond if you decide to have a laugh with them. In my experience, this has sometimes resulted in healthy, good-humoured banter which ultimately results in the troll either apologising or effectively shaking my hand. But, sometimes, it’ll push them to simply be nastier with their subsequent responses.
If you’re witty, having fun with a troll is a great way to make them look a little dafter than they already do. But, again, the best course of action is nearly always to simply move on with your life.
Need a chat?
I hope this has helped. However, I know that I’m relatively lucky; I’m yet to receive a comment from a troll that has genuinely hurt my feelings. I also have pretty thick skin, which helps.
Other creators aren’t so lucky. In some niches, trolls are absolutely evil and can say some incredibly hurtful things.
If you’ve experienced the worst trolls have to offer, the advice above still stands. But if you’d like to talk in confidence and let off some steam, just send me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org. We’re all in this together, after all.
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