What Is A Troll?

kaylarStarred Page By kaylar, 24th Nov 2010 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Guides>Web>Social Networks

An almost definitive guide to Trolls; how to recognise and confront them

One Step Back

Wherever there is human interaction, be it a forum, message board, comment section at the foot of a blog, a chat room, one will find Trolls. These are mammals who seem to exist for no other reason than to annoy others.

Whether spreading misinformation, spewing invective, disrupting discussions, the purpose of their existence is to annoy.

They have no reason to exist accept to gain attention, for in their lexicon, the most negative response is still a response.

History

In mythology, a Troll was a horribly ugly creature that lived under a bridge and interfered with passerbyes. Although there are many learned investigations as to how the term came to be applied to those who infest the Internet, the fact is, that from the earliest days of Bulletin Board Services in the 1980s, (where one used a modem to connect to a remote computer at a smoking 2400 kps) there were trolls.

During school vacations, normally sensible BBS would suddenly be invested by those who had nothing to contribute save obscenity, insult and stupidity. With nothing but time on their hands, these schoolers took joy out of bringing down a BBS.

Even today, in Thai Trolls are called Krean after the cropped hair cut of school boys; for that is where it began. School boys, suddenly 'free' in a place of depersonalisation where they felt invincible become Trolls.

The Power of Depersonalisation

No one knows who you are, what you look like. No one knows where you live, how old you are. All one knows is the Nickname you use. The belief that there is no way to uncover the truth, the belief in absolute security, is what empowers a troll.

This sense of safety is taken as a sense of power by the normally weak and helpless. Just as playing Doom imbues the participant with feelings of great power, so too the ability to get onto a site, see other people and attack them, with the sense that they are safe from retribution.

The ability to create the all powerful Avatar, the dual, and literally take over a forum or message board is as great a joy as the athlete crossing the finish line first.

A Repulsion of Trolls

Creating one Identity is often not enough for a Troll. Wise moderators will ban him/her/it at the first irregular keystroke. A few idiots will be fooled by a 'freedom of speech' slogan but the wiser will be guided by 'relevance.' The post is not 'relevant' therefore it is deleted.

Being banned at first entry is defeat. Hence Trolls try to make one or two innocuous contributions before attack and often they create 'duals', that is more than one account as insurance. If this Nick is banned, that Nick takes over.

Hence 'Shelly' has over a dozen duals because she isn't that good a troll on her own and needs the comfort of a Repulsion behind her. So Spirtshal will attack, joined by Shelly, joined by Spiritwalker...but these are all just one pathetic loser.

The newbie (new user) doesn't realise that 'all these people' who are attacking him or her is just one person who needs attention.

Look At MEEEEEEEEE!!!!

A Troll wants attention. Any kind of attention is good. It doesn't matter that of the 100 members of this Message Board 99 are writing; "Wish You Were Dead." They are responding.

Getting a response is what the Troll wants. This is why many sites post DNFTT warnings.

How To Respond; Don't

Over the decades many methods have been developed to deal with Trolls.

On Moderated fora, message boards, comment sections, deleting without a blink is the standard. Many have instituted a 'wait for approval' protocol so that the Troll's remark will never be posted.

On others, as previously stated, the Troll will make innocuous early posts, then when challenged cite; "Freedom of Speech."

Although remarkable, this gimmick still works. There are still moderators who actually think this person is publishing an 'honest' opinion instead of an attack on another poster or deliberate disruption of discussion.

On unmoderated fora, the idea of attacking a Troll is a Pyrrhic victory. It is like beating up a masochist.

The only method is to ignore the Troll. Do not respond no matter what. Many posters who don't want the Message Board to die or the discussion to cease, will, if the option to 'ignore' is built into the site, use it. If not, adopt a 'skip a post'; answer the post just above the Troll's.

They Are Evil

Recently, a number of Trolls, many of them from 4Chan, broke into the website of the Epilepsy Foundation. They posted flashing images to cause seizures among epileptic users.

In February of 2010, the Australian government became involved after trolls defaced the Facebook tribute pages of murdered children Trinity Bates and Elliot Fletcher.

These attacks were again done mainly by 4chan users. Tribute and memorial sites are magnets for Trolls.

Simply put, getting the most attention drives Trolls to the most outrageous behaviour.

What To Do?

What to do to avoid Trolls is more a list of 'nots'.

Do not join or participate in unmoderated fora, message boards, etc, or in those where a perfect idiot is in charge. Lurk first, see the trends, and if you don't like what you see, leave.

Do not respond to a Troll. If you can not delete the comments they have made, (or contact a moderator to do so) ignore. Deliberately ignore. Many people create duals for the mere purpose of Troll Defense. By having a running 'conversation' between you and your dual, the post of the Troll is buried.

Log off.

For example, Triond has unmoderated fora which are overfilled with Trolls. There is no reason to go to those Fora. Sure, if you like to watch freak shows you can lurk and read, (term used loosely) their posts, but there is absolutely no reason to participate.

Other Troll Actions

Many times a Troll will pretend to be 'one of -----' so as to gain credibility.

A male will join a feminist site as a female, and begin to post slightly skewed views in an attempt to undermine the group.

Republicans join sites for Democrats and post untrue items, offering what is called a 'poisoned apple'.

On Delphi, the 'Lavender Wolves' will join sites where there is anti-Gay rhetoric and pretending to be heterosexual will try to push their agenda; this is done on any site where the title contains the words "Conservative" or "Jamaican".

Simply put, a troll is a person whose only reason to connect to the Internet is to annoy other people.

Tags

4Chan, Avatar, Depersonalisation, Dnftt, Duals, Fora, Forums, Ignore, Message-Boards, Pwned, Trolling, Trolls

Meet the author

author avatar kaylar
I am passionate about history, culture, current events, science and law

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Comments

author avatar Mark Gordon Brown
25th Nov 2010 (#)

trolls target sites that are against their personal views. as you said republican trolls haunt democrat forums..
Christian trolls haunt muslim forums..
I have even had some overthe top animal rights people troll pet care forums telling people that owning pets is wrong. or worse.. when kids ask about pet care the trolls offer tips on cooking the pets.

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author avatar kaylar
25th Nov 2010 (#)

oh yeah; there was a women's health site that became infested with men incarcerated at prisons discussing anal sex. That ended that forum pretty quick. but the real prob is when a Mod doesn't act quick enough.

Btw...it's 26c now...chill for my country

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author avatar Retired
25th Nov 2010 (#)

once again you have excellent advice, and as always very informative and useful. Best way..as you've said, ingnoring them is best. Bravo.

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author avatar kaylar
25th Nov 2010 (#)

thanks

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author avatar Retired
25th Nov 2010 (#)

wow very creative

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author avatar kaylar
25th Nov 2010 (#)

you are welcome

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author avatar You're wrong.
25th Nov 2010 (#)

The term 'troll' doesn't refer to the mythical creature, but to 'trolling' as in fishing.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trolling_%28fishing%29

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author avatar Angelique Newman
26th Nov 2010 (#)

Great article kaylar. Basically still a newbie when it comes to computers, I have a better insight now when it comes to trolls. Thanks for sharing.

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author avatar kaylar
26th Nov 2010 (#)

The word is Trawling, not Trolling. Fishing vessels Trawl, not Troll. This is just one of the many reasons why wikipedia has to be used with caution. To give you another example, a chap named Doug Spearman, and actor, learned he had AIDs via his Wikipedia page. He did not have AIDs. Be careful with wikipedia, You're Wrong.

And you're very welcome Angelique

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author avatar joeldgreat
26th Nov 2010 (#)

gee, I just hope that my comments written here are not tagged as trolling or trawling. Thanks for the info.

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author avatar kaylar
26th Nov 2010 (#)

I'm glad to be helpful

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author avatar Denise O
26th Nov 2010 (#)

Great take on such fools.
Loved the presentation.
I still will never get it.
I have been in chat rooms, it be Repub or dem ( I have no party affiliation) and I see them come in the forum and just cause havoc.
Even though I have issues with both sides, I respect the forum I am on.
I wish more would do the same.
Thank you for sharing.:)

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author avatar kaylar
26th Nov 2010 (#)

I have been on a Forum, saw a particular Troll, told the mod, and she dismissed my concerns. In ONE Week, that lively and popular forum was dead. (Sure I sent her an I Told You So...).

Wise Mods use the term 'relevance', as I mentioned.

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author avatar Retired
28th Nov 2010 (#)

well.. kaylar, you are right =) it is trawling..
you're wrong is well, wrong... and a wikipedia article to boot.. I was hoping you were joking....

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author avatar kaylar
28th Nov 2010 (#)

Poor baby, quotes Wikipedia of all 'sources' as to what 'trolling' is. it is actually his comment which provoked my Wikipedia article.

Look, I love Wikipedia. I'll watch Star Trek and want to know about Quark or about the Jem Adar...and I'll go right to Wiki. But when I want to know about the Battle of New Orleans, I might skim Wiki, but then I'm going for real sources.

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author avatar ghazala zafar
2nd Dec 2010 (#)

:)) Don't feed the troll!

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author avatar Retired
17th Feb 2011 (#)

Thanks for the share

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author avatar kaylar
18th Feb 2011 (#)

You're very welcome Lucia.

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author avatar Rathnashikamani
15th Aug 2011 (#)

Wonderful discussion and great points to remember!

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author avatar kaylar
22nd Feb 2012 (#)

thank you

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