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Never mind not feeding the trolls – here’s a feast for SCMP readers

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“Trolls don’t hate you. They hate themselves,” British comedian and master troll-baiter Ricky Gervais postulates in one of his trademark Twitter posts. “They’re in pain, and you getting upset is like their morphine. Don’t administer. Enjoy the screams.”

It’s a tempting thought when dealing with some of the rather unsavoury characters who besiege the South China Morning Post website with obscene, abusive, racist, sexist, homophobic, threatening and defamatory comments day after day.

Of course, it goes without saying that we have no dearth of well-informed readers who add value to debates with eloquent and intelligent arguments. But I’m talking about those who blitz our forums with vile personal attacks against just about everyone and everything, reducing civilised discourse to expletive-laden, hate-ridden, name-calling rants.

I write a personal column once a week that is obviously neither the editorial stance of this newspaper nor official government policy, but it might as well be for some readers, judging by how they respond. Their feedback can be so viciously unhinged that I should be a traumatised, quivering heap of jelly under their assaults, were it not for the thick skin I’ve developed and sticks-and-stones philosophy I’ve adopted over all these years in the journalism business.

Water off my duck back, maybe, but the problem remains – our forums are often reduced to cesspools of hate speech by some truly unstable types among the many readers of the Post.

I recently went through page after page of deleted comments, looking for particularly illustrative examples I could share for this article, and ended up requiring a shower instead. They were that repugnant and unprintable.

My colleagues tasked with moderating our comment sections and banning the worst offenders have kept meticulous records, and can share some astonishing anecdotes about the lengths to which readers are prepared to go to fight the ban hammer every time........

© South China Morning Post