Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Trolls, Boneheads and Bad Customers


A friend of mine just took an obnoxious hit on the FB page that promotes his business.
   It was pretty typical of the hurtful, stupid nonsense that you will see in the comment section of any popular blog, page, I guess anywhere there is space for comments and opinions.
   This blog taught me a little about trolls, but it was during my brief stint writing for FHOTD that really broke me in. What an amazing pack hyenas!
   I was criticized for spelling errors, riding western, writing about my daughter, liking quarter horses, living in Colorado, not knowing how to ride a hunter jumper, I could go on.
   I responded in kind, telling them to get over the spelling and sentence structure problems, grow up and take a look at western riding, etc. Ride a hunter jumper? Well of course I could, as long as I didn't actually jump anything.
   I made screaming, shrieking enemies out of a bunch of trolls when I suggested this:

was the ideal hunter jumper conformation.

    I thought it was pretty funny. The arm chair experts, trolls and angry horse blog readers did not.

I made some real enemies on that blog. It moved up to homicidal hatred when I  started to post a series about things I hated and started off with martingales and nose bands. Oh my goodness. There is some real craziness out there.

I couldn't wait to scurry back to the gentle world of Mugwump Chronicles. Those nasty people were turning me into something I didn't want to be. I was becoming angry, defensive and spiteful. Angry, I'm OK with, defensive too, as long as I'm being attacked, I feel free to defend. I didn't like the spiteful part though. I didn't want to become that.

In my friends case, the troll was complaining about his methods, his prices and the training of his personal animals. Anybody who knows this guy and is lucky enough to work with him, knows how quality his product is and the exceptional results his clients get.

Further research proved this whiner wasn't in their records anywhere. It looks like he never worked with them at all. A quick cruise of his FB page results in a dead end. No photos, no information, just an address in the Internet Netherworld, more than likely set up for the express purpose of trolling.

What a weird hobby.

Can you imagine, having enough poison in your system to hang around the Internet, looking for posts and pages to attack? To be so incredibly insecure, you have to hide in anonymity and scream foul, whether it be true or not, just because you can't shake the meanness that's turning your guts into a gangrenous mass of rot.

Since my blog, and my friends too, both are built around training animals, we are opening ourselves to criticism and difference of opinion. That's OK. Especially when it comes from an educated source. As far as I'm concerned, that opens the door for discussion, but not for gutting me like the Christmas goose. There are quite a few readers around here that send me private emails telling me I'm full of, well, let's say beans. I'll argue, and I'm good at it, but I try hard not to make or take things personally. If you're polite, and have a point, I'm all for it. If you're mean spirited, stupid, or a crazy stalker, well, I got nothing for you.

This blog has become really good at avoiding the troll trap, at least when I manage to ignore them and not get all pissy. I try to keep my yap shut, and so do most of you guys, and then we collectively ignore them until they go away. And go away they do.

I used to be stopped cold, hurt, and made very, very insecure by the armchair trainers,  trolls and crazy stalkers. Now, I think I understand them better and they don't bother me as much. These can't be people who are actually good with horses, dogs or the other stuff we talk about around here. Nobody with that amount of bad Ju Ju swirling around in their bellies can possibly give off the calm, open, peaceful vibes that go with sound training practices.

Being so unhappy with yourself that you cruise the Internet, trying to make others feel as crappy as you is just sad. I ward off any problems they could possibly cause by being as honest as I know how to be, and making sure I can back up my training methods and opinions with fact.

I've even managed to find  out some surprising facts about myself from my trolls. I've learned I'm a horse training guru, an expert and a BNT. I admit, these descriptions were all prefaced with "so-called," but I've never called myself any of those things, somebody else must have. Even if it only comes from my merry band of mugs haters, I'm good with that. Thank you.

Not all of the trash talk on the net comes from trolls. There is the bad customer problem. These are the customers that are unhappy for one reason or another, and instead of working things out between themselves and the pro, jump up and down and scream on the Internet. The worst complaints come from those who left us in a bloody wake of bounced checks, missed lessons, unrealistic expectations and the limits of their own inability to work with their animals. For some reason, those realities are never mentioned.

So, what's my point? I guess it's my recommendation to my friend. Ignore those trolls. They can't hurt you. Your readers and customers will grind their nonsense into dust for you. If you talk to them, they win. If you let them matter, they win.
Pay no more attention to them than a colt fretting on the tie rail or a puppy yapping to be let out of his crate. People really need good training help and it's a waste of all our energy giving a single thought to those trolls.


  1. I appreciate the reminder of this. I handle Facebook for my company (we make high end hypoallergenic dog food) and people will post complaints about our food on our Facebook wall or will Tweet about it. Most of the time, it's not even a solve-able problem, they just wanted to bitch about us in public. This was a good reminder to just say "Thanks for the feedback." and leave it at that. Happy Holidays!!

  2. Great advice, Mugs! I'm sorry you had such a hard time at Fugly. I can imagine that anyone who runs that blog (writes) gets some mad flack. I am not made out of tough enough stuff to do it, that's for sure!

  3. JJ - I sure wasn't tough enough.

  4. I once had a reader create a blogger account just to leave a super mean, hurtful comment - couched as patronizing "advice".

    Nothing like what you went through at FUGLY. (I witnessed the legion of haters)

    Ignoring is definitely the best policy.

    I'm rubber
    you're glue.
    Whatever you say,
    bounces off me
    and sticks to you.


  5. I value your blog - as a rider and a partner to my horses I always know I can find sane, sensible advice here. And I love your stories, can't get enough of them. :-)

  6. I am with Venom. And cant get enough of your stories. Mort. Mort. Mort. I am remembering the story about you rising early, calling him across the field, his coming, rearing and you tagging his chest. Loved the image. And I could see your Dads face, too.
    Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, and a Grand New Year, to all of us.

  7. Amen to that! That was one of the best lessons I got out of my time at the Buddhist monastery- now instead of getting angry at the trolls I just feel sad for them. If their lives suck that much that they need to take it out on other people, well it just makes me glad that I don't have to live like that.

  8. I love this "If you let them matter, they win."

    I preach it all the time but unfortunately in "real life" situations with crazy people.. internet trolls are crazy, but some of them exist in the real world too and think they can do the same manipulative, crazy stuff in real life.. the thing that amazes me, is that there are people who let them! Their power is in the ability to disrupt your life... when you take that away from them, they go look for someone else to bother.

    Takes patience .. which I hear is a virtue..

  9. I love this "If you let them matter, they win."

    I preach it all the time but unfortunately in "real life" situations with crazy people.. internet trolls are crazy, but some of them exist in the real world too and think they can do the same manipulative, crazy stuff in real life.. the thing that amazes me, is that there are people who let them! Their power is in the ability to disrupt your life... when you take that away from them, they go look for someone else to bother.

    Takes patience .. which I hear is a virtue..

  10. Briefly, my experience with computers started in the 80's with classes to help accelerate my degree in Accounting. So I learned it that way, and it all changed when I walked into a class where the teacher said, "what do you think is the answer." It was at that point that computer users went from being told what strokes to use, to trying to figure out what the programmers were doing. All my computer knowledge was useless. I do not have that turn of mind and if not for my techy husband, would not be able to write here at all. That being said, I was very aware from the get go between a private computer that used disks, to a computer tied into the internet where everybody is hooked up and can look at you.

    I'm sorry about you FHOTD experience. I have followed a few of the blogs that splintered out from that, and really enjoy them. I only comment, and do get slammed, I either respond or ignore as I see fit. But these school yard bullies are just that. And since they can hide, there seems to be much more of them. I feel that I am lucky that I can enjoy what's good of the internet, and avoid what I don't like. Don't have a smart phone, never ride while talking on the phone, and when annoyed by someone yakking it up while in line somewhere, by realizing that that person is not aware of their surroundings. Something that I always keep in my mind. This gives me an advantage, the same advantage that I have when someone slams me. They are all caught up in themselves, and I am aware of the world around me.

  11. You're most definitely tougher than me! :)

  12. It's funny too, how often times the "trolls" are the ones who have the real issues.
    In my neck of the woods there is an online troll "war" between two competing horse businesses. Disclaimer: I have never met either of them personally or visited their facilities. But I'm a horse person who knows horse people so;
    Business A boards horses, teaches lessons & runs a petting zoo on the side. Most employees are fresh young things passionately interested in pursuing a career with horses. They get flak for not being a "competitive" or "professional" barn. I usually point out that not all horses or humans are athletes & there's nothing wrong with enjoying horses. If you want to be an athlete then move to a barn that serves potential athletes. Let's face it, great riding comes at a price, you need to be willing to take honest criticism about both you & your horse, remain both motivated & dedicated in the face of hard work, setbacks, & potential injury. Why do so many people have such a grudge against "Riding for Fun"? This barn has insurance, teaching credentials & a clear focus on safety.
    Business B also boards horses & teaches lessons. They practice "natural horsemanship" & are horse dealers on the side. Face to face, they seem like nice people, & their new facility is very nice, but they have a reputation for shady & dishonest business deals. They also hit every single one of my warning signs, they avoid mentioning their names in ads, change locations frequently, are suspended with various equine associations for nonpayment, & it's not too hard to find pictures of them behaving inappropriately. Worse, most of their detractors seem to be customers hurt by their business practices.
    It's not so surprising people have taken to the internet to complain about B. Some are mean trolls, but if someone sold me a broke kid-safe horse for my young daughter that was neither, I might descend into homicidal craziness too. Especially, if I was a newbie, who had not yet learned that buying a horse from a professional was not like buying a car from a dealership. There are no warranties or guarantees, & it's possible that a broke kid-safe horse will remain neither in the hands of a complete beginner. Selling a horse to this person without educating them is creating a "bad customer". If they won't be educated, you absolutely have the right to refuse to sell, because your business depends on customer satisfaction first, not cash.
    As you prolly guessed, B is not run by "thank you for your input" people. So they have started their own smear campaign against business A. It is pathetic especially because it is so easy for anyone remotely computer savvy to trace these "trolls" back to B.
    Obviously, these businesses have history – they’re in the same area & unhappy customers have switched from B to A, which definitely strains relationships between any trainers/barns/etc. Eventually, things got so strained that A made it clear that B was not permitted to be on their property.
    Things came to head when B had to get a horse that was being boarded at A. Circumstances are cloudy, but it seems that they had agreed to take back a “kid-safe” OTTB that was not working out for the new owner. This OTTB had flipped itself over backwards while being led, & had suffered & been treated for injuries. A told B to get a shipper, because B was still not welcome on the property.
    When B showed up in person to pick up the horse, A was unexpectedly home, & charged them with trespassing. Later, when B made it clear that they were not able to get a shipper to pick the horse up, the RCMP supervised the exchange.
    Photos of this event are now all over the internet with the caption "RCMP SEIZES HORSE FROM BUSINESS A FOR SEVERE ABUSE & NEGLECT"
    I suppose the moral of my story is: Perhaps, you should judge someone not on what their enemies say, but by the quality of their enemies.

  13. A few months ago I was trying to evaluate boarding options for dogs for a friend out of state. There was a lovely facility,with a nice web site and people running it that seemed to be competent and professional. Their comments were very positive but one was a real troll dump. The owner of the establishment had entered a response that they have looked in their records and can find no evidence that the person who made the comments ever boarded at their place. (There had been dates mentioned in the bad review, and a last name.) I thought this was a classy response. Not out right defense or response, just the facts.
    And I quit reading FUGLY after you left. My life is happier for it. Why would I want to re-experience the worst of middle school snark, amplified exponentially by the anonymity of the web? All that negativity over nothing really. It's not like they were curing cancer or negotiating peace in the Middle East or something major.

  14. I was a reader of FHOTD, and thought that Okapi was a scream when you put it up the first time. ;) I know you had a bad time at Fugly, but I did remember seeing at least a few people stop and think after your posts and try something new because of what you wrote, so I wouldn't say it was a complete waste of time. You learned something, and at least a FEW people learned something as well.

  15. Fugly was quite the experience wasn't it? I sure learned a lot from it and I was only on the merest fringes of the whirling vortex of Wackadoo's and Evil Trolls. Like many others when you left I was close behind.

    Sometimes it takes those experiences to show us how little the opinions of other's can matter.

    It also allows us the opportunity to figure out where our alignment with our values and beliefs are. When we are in alignment with ourselves it is easier to dismiss the rantings of Trolls and Wackadoo's so we can continue to learn and grow in a much happier and more positive frame of mind.

  16. As a dressage/eventing person, I highly highly approve of the Okapi and am wondering if I can steal one from the zoo to make into my next jumper!

  17. Thank you Andrea - I would think those Okapi's could really get under themselves.

  18. I had a cranky customer last week, and we very, very rarely get complaints so it was kind of a shock. I asked her what she didn't like and it was mainly the price, but she wasn't happy with anything else, even though she couldn't say exactly why. She told us we really weren't worth what we charge... Ouch

    It was upsetting, but we had some wonderful customers come in that day and the rest of the week. They made it easier to forget about the crank.

  19. Haters are everywhere, the Internet just lets them be faceless. I play a game with myself when one of my co-workers comes in for shift change. I time how long it takes her to start bitching, and I tick off in my head how many times in the few minutes she complains about the same thing. One subject went on for 6+ mo. First thing out of her mouth. I pity her.

    If not for Fugly I wouldn't have followed you here :)


  20. I don't think anyone was tough enough for Fugly. That's why it closed up shop. I liked reading the blog and I like that it funneled me over to your blog, but the comments were just one big eyeroll.

  21. Ya know. I am not a troll. I AM a real person. But Mugs isn't the beginning or end of anything. She's just another person. Her mind is pretty closed to a lot of concepts too.

    I'll leave it at that. Have a good new year Janet, hope your health improves.

  22. Thanks for coming back, Mugs. And thanks for hanging out and chatting with us.

    Honest people like you and K are hard to find, and should be treasured.