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Traffic Trolls – Creating Controversy to Increase Blog Traffic

Wil Wheaton’s post “On the Rise of Trolls” takes a good look at the rise in sensationalist to attract blog traffic.

Trolling online is nothing new, but trolling to drive traffic to your blog and make money is definitely on the rise. I first noticed this new trend a few months ago when this guy obsessively attacked for weeks, with copious links back to his own blog, where he did little more than bitch about what other people were doing. I’m sure it was a coincidence that the people he was complaining about all happened to be high-traffic blogs, right? I’ve also noticed a disturbing increase in blogs which try very hard to be sarcastic and acerbic, but just end up being cruel and mean . . . and of course draw a lot of links from the widely-read bloggers they target…

…Bloggers should never censor their opinions because they may be controversial; the whole point of this medium is that we all have the ability to express ourselves on a relatively equal footing, and we can learn a lot from each other when we disagree about things. But bloggers who stir up controversy where there is none, or intentionally attack other bloggers for the sake of generating traffic to their blog are just like UseNet trolls and should be plonked accordingly.

Website administrators and bloggers often go to great lengths to attract traffic to their sites. What do you think about increasing traffic by creating controversy where none exists? Wheaton says they should be “plonked” but how do you recognize such unethical tactics and how to you penalize them?

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Copyright Lorelle VanFossen


  1. Posted March 23, 2006 at 9:00 am | Permalink

    When I get a comment or a trackback saying something bad about me , I look to see how much truth is there in the accusation.

    If I feel it to be just a reason to stir up some stupid controversy, I just delete and ignore it.

  2. Posted March 24, 2006 at 2:11 am | Permalink

    I’d rather be “cruel and mean” than redundant and irrelevant. Nice of him to explain to us the whole point of the medium. Guess social communications via information technologies is a new minor at Clown College. Wait, was that mean or cruel or both?

    If it’s any consolation, I considered, at length, doing a site as a purely dedicated “attack blog.” There’s a ridiculous supply of material. Surely there is a lurking demand. Say, maybe the tense is wrong there. Considered, considering…

  3. LOVEgoesMLM
    Posted October 20, 2007 at 5:29 pm | Permalink

    Just found your blog doing a traffic troll search.

    Not sure about stiring up a controversy is unethical.

    Guess it depends on the controversy.

    Many controversys Coke VS Pepsi are fun.

    Perhpas I’m just a troll at heart?

    We are the trollers my friend and we will keep on trolling until the very end.

  4. Posted October 22, 2007 at 10:15 pm | Permalink

    It’s worse if they try to start a controversy through a comment on your blog and then link drop in the comment. Link dropping is one way to commit blog suicide. For one thing, it tells everyone you have no other way to get traffic to your blog besides blatantly throwing your link around. Comments like that should just be deleted, they aren’t professional and often lack depth. If you just plain don’t like something and want to start a controversy by expressing your opinion, at least have the dignity to keep it from looking like a strategy to pull the thunder away from someone else’s blog. Your a blogger not a thief.

  5. Posted October 22, 2007 at 11:36 pm | Permalink


    Many share your feelings on this subject, but others treat comments like letters and email, correspondence, thus deserving of a “dear sir” and signature. In general, each blogger has to decide for themselves on what they will or will not allow in their comments.

    For most, a signature link in a comment is the least of the damages a commenter can do on a blog.

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