It's not unheard of for some poor soul to decide to try to troll SO under different accounts for a couple hours. It's happening right now on SO. This is probably the third time I've seen this happen, where someone posts the same stupid thing under multiple accounts until they get shut down.

When it's obvious that someone is a "serial troll", how should I, a non-mod, react? I've been flagging them and noting how they're obvious trolls, but one such flag was denied, and I feel that wasting the mod's time isn't the best outcome either.

Should I just downvote and move on? Should I flag?

2 Answers 2


Flag posts by trolls. If they are offensive, don't be afraid to use an offensive flag for them. If they are part of a larger pattern of trolling, use a custom flag and let us know that we should deal with the accounts involved.

Getting posts destroyed by community offensive / spam flags activates the anti-spam / anti-trolling system against these accounts and slows down their ability to post. Moderators destroying their accounts as trolls slows them down further (recreated accounts are immediately suspended by the system). It has been my experience that eventually enough friction builds up that it is no longer worthwhile for them to keep trolling and they move on.

Moderators rely on community members to be our first line of defense against trolls, so your flags really do matter. We can act proactively to catch new accounts as they are created, but community spotters are our best assets.

To your declined flag, the post itself seemed to ask a homework programming question and your flag consisted of only

Almost definitely a troll account. I was duped.

Out of context and looking at just that question, it isn't apparent why that post would be considered trolling. I can see why a moderator might have declined it. For posts that aren't obvious trolling, you might need to put a little more detail in your flags to make sure we connect them to other accounts or see why the question is considered trolling (fake programming languages, insulting wording in the code, etc.). Different moderators may handle different flags and not be aware of what others had acted on.

For the other posts you flagged, like the one where he threatened to blow up the White House, you didn't need to add much to get us to see what's wrong.

  • Thanks. And in retrospect, the declined one was a little obscure. They wrote in the comments "but if you don't do it for me, how will I get it done?", which to me was suspicious. I should have pointed to the comments section in my description. I'll try to give better flag reasons in the future. Nov 7, 2017 at 15:41

Don't engage. Nothing feeds trolls more than attention.

Least on SO, there's a pretty significant load so if its something extra special, keeping note of who's doing it, and mentioning it in the flag would probably be nice.

Other than that, there's nothing a typical user can and should do but DV (to take care of the immediate issue), Vote to delete (if that's an option), flag (so a moderator can take a look). A troll who's quietly taken care of, or ignored, is a unhappy troll.


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