Collecting and documenting abuse

  • Collecting and documenting abusive comments and or other attacks on you and/or your blog/site in a “poison cabinet” can serve as proof of what happened. This “poison cabinet” can be a separate folder in your e-mail system or a word document. That way you can collect abusive comments without having to look at them completely if you don’t want to read them. Collections can help in two ways: First, they might be useful information for later: if something happens offline that might be related to previous online messages and if/when laws will eventually catch up to better prosecute such cases. Second, having such collections can also serve to expose online abusive on one’s own blog or by contributing to other websites or projects that document abuse.
  • Expose abuse if you feel comfortable with this. Sites such as Working to Halt Online Abuse in the United States collect abusive statements to measure online abuse. One blogger also used Storify to expose a row of questionable tweets. Of course, you can also expose and write about the abuse on your own blog/site if you like to do that. Exposing abuse helps to further document the imbalances of online harassment that exist along gender and race boundaries and other dimensions of identity. It also helps other women bloggers to anticipate what can happen and to develop solidarity with bloggers who have been affected. It also aids researchers in studying patterns of abuse and what this means for women and society.
  • Know that you are not alone and seek support and help from fellow bloggers and writers before tricky situations might arise. Network! Comment on other people’s blogs, e-mail other bloggers your questions, get to know them in offline events or via Twitter. Build a support network, also to find out how you can best promote your blog. Ask others how they have dealt with a specific situation. Be available to support other women who might have less experience in dealing with negative incidents. Mutual education about problematic instances of abusive comments, trolling, shit storms and cyber stalking can help to recognize potentially disturbing comments and people early on. Then you can disapprove comments, ban and or block users right away – while also considering saving evidence of them.
  • Use a buddy system to let a friend or fellow blogger deal with comments that you might not want to handle. In turn, offer your help to deal with abusive comments if a fellow blogger/writers appears to be struggling.