What Would Barbara Do: How do I handle trolls?

Question: A really obnoxious visitor won't stop chatting with me! How can I make them go away!?!?


We all get unpleasant visitors from time to time — folks who are silly, ridiculous, rude, or completely inappropriate. It’s a given when you interact with the public, but it’s no fun.

At Olark, we believe that no one on our team should ever have to put up with anything that is not appropriate. All of our agents are empowered to decide when a chat crosses the line. If you’re not sure about your own company’s policy on this point, you'll want to check in on it ASAP.

So — once you know that you have a problem visitor, what should you do?

If you're chatting with someone who's rude but has a legitimate complaint, you can try to work with them - but this does not give them permission to be abusive. If you think the issue may be caused by a personality conflict or that another agent may lead to a better interaction, you can offer to transfer the visitor (with fair warning to the other agent ,of course!). If no one else can or should take them, you can let them know that you will continue your discussion over email; email puts a lot more distance between you and them, and usually makes their unpleasantness easier to ignore.

If you're being trolled by someone with no legitimate complaints, label and block them. I like to do this with two commands in the chat console:

!tag troll


The !tag command adds a tag, which lets you keep track of how many troll chats you have.

The !block command prevents you from seeing this visitor's messages for 24 hours, or until they clear their cookies.

You can also block trolls completely by using a targeted chat rule that hides the chatbox based on their IP addresses. A !block is usually sufficient, but know that this option exists when it's not. Check out our help page about blocking trolls for more details.

One thing I have learned — it turns out that my mom was totally right! If you ignore the trolls (or an annoying big brother) they get bored and they go away. I find it's most effective to tag and block trolls and then just leave the tab open so they can harass themselves (without me having to see it - thank you !block!) until they slink back into their caves.

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Barbara Maniar

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Barbara is part of the support team at Olark and she loves to chat. When she's not talking with all y'all she's chasing around her 2 kids, having mild success at craft projects and trying to schedule in a nap.