Five ways to defeat blog trolls and cyberstalkers

Trolling can lead to far worse things, including cyberstalking

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Even if ignoring the harasser doesn't get him to stop, at least you won't fan his flames, Wood says. "The more a person responds, the more they teach the stalker about themselves or divulge information they shouldn't," he says.

3. Maintain your privacy

Don't publish any personal information, such as your address or phone number. If you need to, use a Post Office box number. Wood suggests asking your state's motor vehicles and voter registry to put a block on your address and phone number. "Otherwise, any person may obtain them just for inquiring," he says.

Some longtime bloggers, such as Bray and his wife Lauren Wood, a senior technical program manager at Sun, refrain from posting photos of their children on their blogs.

4. Block and ban

If you're experiencing abuse on a moderated blog, you can appeal to the administrator, who can try banning the troll. Be prepared to include a history of the troll's posts, including full headers.

Some blog services offer technologies that enable you to block offensive participants. Using Wordpress, Silverstein can moderate the comments of anyone who hasn't contributed to the site before, which helps eliminate the hit-and-run type of trolls. "That allows me to weed out 90% of the abuse I get," he says.

Another plug-in enables him to ban certain IP addresses. "That's especially good for the really crazy people, if they post one comment that goes beyond the pale," he says.

5. Keep a log

Be sure to keep a copy of anything you receive from the harasser, Lauren Wood suggests. If they contact you by phone rather than e-mail, take notes on what they say and how often they call, she says. "You'll need proof rather than, 'I think he was calling three times a day,'" she says. "You'll want a log that says, 'He called at 9:14 p.m."

Above all, when you have an online presence, you need to prepare yourself for the possibility of becoming a target, Wood adds. "Just like in the real world, you need to realize which dark alleys you shouldn't enter at night, and if you do, have protection and know what you should do when," she says.

Adds Silverstein, "you're very vulnerable as a blogger. You're out there hanging on the line, and anyone can take a shot at you."

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