10 o’clock list: 5 Most Common Thrill Comments

cat blog

One of my first realizations as a Thrill staff member was that we do not, in fact, always thrill our readers. Any article can garner a number of honest criticisms, exasperated grammatical corrections, unrelated rants, trolling, and occasionally, even an encouraging remark (we’re looking at you Claire Berman). Inevitably, we notice a pattern–so tonight we’re here to comment on your most commented comments. Yep. Comments on comments on comments.

  1. The Thrill only writes about their friends. Now you just calm your kitties! In a recent, unofficial poll in one of our Sunday meetings, we discovered that the majority of us are  significant-other-repelling, dodgy, geek-chic, so-pale-we-scramble-satellites, frequently hungover kids. So give us a break, man. You try scraping up people to interview on a Sunday morning.
  2. Wut. Y u no say mor anoneemus commentur? Culd u b robot?
  3. This is dumb. Roses are red, violets are blue, Ima do me, you do you. At least we were wittier. Na na na na foo foo.
  4. Is this supposed to be funny? Maybe it is, maybe it’s not. WE’LL NEVER TELL. But really–sometimes our writing isn’t as nuanced and witty as we would like to think it is. Sometimes things are funnier in our heads than to our readers. And by our heads, we mean those Sunday afternoon staff meetings. So let us down gently and blame it on the a-a-a-alcohol? Or just let us down gently.
  5. [Insert occasional positive comment]. We often hear many more negative remarks than positive ones, so these really are a dime in a dozen. All we can say is thank you, thank you very much.

21 responses

  1. Trolling the web: a guide
    By Steve Spumante

    There are some individuals out there who don’t just enjoy winding up people on newsgroups and bulletin boards – it’s their sad lifestyle choice! Using every known disruptive trick in the book, these troublesome types don’t go out to the pub, meet members of the opposite sex or enjoy life. They spend their time hunched over their computers trolling.
    Here’s how they work:

    INTRODUCTION

    The object of this post is to bring together a definitive document to cover the phenomena of the Usenet Troll. To many a troll is nothing more than an annoying method of defeating the killfile whereas to the heavily killfiled, trolling can be a virtual Godsend.

    What I want this document to focus on is how to create entertaining trolls. I have drawn on the expertise of the writer’s of some of Usenet’s finest and best remembered trolls. Trolls are for fun. The object of recreational trolling is to sit back and laugh at all those gullible idiots that will believe *anything*.

    Section 1: What Is A Troll?

    The WWW gives this as a definition:

    troll v.,n. To utter a posting on Usenet designed to attract predictable responses or flames. Derives from the phrase “trolling for newbies”; which in turn comes from mainstream “trolling”;, a style of fishing in which one trails bait through a likely spot hoping for a bite.

    The well-constructed troll is a post that induces lots of newbies and flamers to make themselves look even more clueless than they already do, while subtly conveying to the more savvy and experienced that it is in fact a deliberate troll.

    If you don’t fall for the joke, you get to be in on it.

    The following extract is from a broader expansion of the defining comments given above:

    In Usenet usage, a troll is not a grumpy monster that lives beneath a bridge accosting passers-by, but rather a provocative posting to a newsgroup intended to produce a large volume of frivolous responses.

    The content of a “troll posting generally falls into several areas. It may consist of an apparently foolish contradiction of common knowledge, a deliberately offensive insult to the readers of a newsgroup, or a broad request for trivial follow-up postings.

    There are three reasons why people troll newsgroups:

    People post such messages to get attention, to disrupt newsgroups, and simply to make trouble.

    Career trollers tend for the latter two whilst the former is the mark of the clueless newbie and should be ignored.

    top

    Section 2: Design Issues

    A troll is no different to any other Usenet posting. That needs to be stressed.

    Any article that you decide to write should be written with a view to it actually being read by large numbers of people. Simply X-posting to large numbers of irrelevant newsgroups is not creative trolling – it is just spam and should be avoided.

    The experienced troller spends time carefully choosing the right subject and delivering it to the right newsgroup. With trolls, delivery is just as important as the subject.

    Start the troll in a reasonable and erudite manner. You have to engage your readers’ interest and draw them in.

    Never give too much away at the start – although a brief abstract with hints of what’s to come can work wonders.

    Construct your troll in a manner to make it readable. Use short paragraphs and lots of white space. Keep line length below eighty characters. Use a liberal amount of emphasis and even the occasional illustration.

    A good rule of thumb is that as your troll becomes more and more ludicrous put extra effort into the presentation – this keeps the mug punter confused. Let confusion and chaos be your goal

    top

    Section 3: Content
    Make your subject a relevant one. Posting “Star Trek Sucks” into hk.forsale is not going to work very well and is liable to utterly destroy your hard earned reputation as a troller overnight.

    You do not have to make the subject clear. Trolls are aimed at two audiences, the respondees and the lurkers.

    The best trolls reveal their true subject only to the lurkers. In every sense those who reply to your troll are your tools. So choose a theme for your troll and stick to it.

    Outwardly you need to appear sincere, but at the same time you have to tell your *real* audience that this is blatant flamebait. Your skill is shown in the easy way that you manipulate large areas of the Usenet community into making public fools of themselves.

    top

    Section 4: Newsgroup Selection

    Choice of newsgroup is as important as the subject, tone and structure of the troll. You want to appeal to each group you X-post into to ensure responses from each group.

    A well delivered troll will anticipate what those responses will be and thus ensure that contradictions will arise amongst the different groups that you are setting up.

    BAD:
    Posting “USA Sucks” to alt.nuke.the.USA, alt.usa-sucks, aus.flame.usa
    This is totally on-topic and obvious. A truly useless troll.

    AVERAGE:
    Posting “God Doesn’t Exist” to all the alt.religion newsgroups
    Here you are being too obvious. People recognise this sort of trouble making and have usually learned not to respond to it. However, if your troll is well written you can actually entrap a lot of newbies.

    This, if executed correctly, can be exploited to cause great offence to those more experienced troll avoiders on the groups you are attacking. Go for it!

    GOOD:
    Posting an article that appears relevant to every group but with no connection between those groups other than the fact that you’ve just trolled them.
    The best trolls go out to an average of around eight or nine newsgroups. This will stop them from becoming spam as it’s not quite enough to be a real problem. However, to get by on so few groups you have to include a couple of popular ones in the list.

    When posting to say seven groups you should try to break down your theme into seven areas – each of which will be of specific interest to just one of those groups.

    You then write an eight paragraph troll with a paragraph for each group and a spare one for yourself with which to lob in a gratuitous insult to everyone who was dumb enough to read your troll.

    It is a matter of choice whether you choose newsgroups before or after writing the troll.

    Some experts claim that newsgroup selection is the key to successful trolling and should be done first, others will write general trolls and then apply the standard Perl script that trollers use for Automatic Random Newsgroup Selection.

    top

    Section 5: Know Your Audience

    Remember that you have two audiences. The people who are going to get the maximum enjoyment out of your post are other trollers. You need to keep in contact with them through both your troll itself and the way you direct its effect.

    It is trollers that you are trying to entertain so be creative – trollers don’t just want a laugh from you they want to see good trolls so that they can also learn how to improve their own in the never ending search for the perfect troll.

    The other audience is of course the little people in those newsgroups that your are attacking. Get to know them. Every newsgroup has its smartarse who will expose your troll if given half a chance.

    Research your targets and learn what their arguments are. Then avoid those arguments like the plague.

    Drag them off-topic – the further off-topic the better. Remember, you are trying to waste their time.

    Never take sides – remember that your goal is not to win an argument, rather it is to provoke a futile one that runs forever.

    If, for example you were attacking Fast Food then you should also X-post to Healthy Eating groups, Environmental Protection Groups, Animal Rights Groups etc….

    You want to try to ensure that you have the broadest possible range of opinions as this is the easiest way to sow confusion.

    The more confusion the less the likelihood of your troll being exposed for what it is.

    It can also be shown that the inclusion of just one totally off-topic newsgroup can have dramatic effects.

    The list above is taken from a genuine troll which also included an Artificial Intelligence group, the result of which was to draw Computer Guru Professor Marvin Minsky into a flamewar concerning Ronald McDonald’s exploitation of the disabled – an all-time classic piece of trolling – written by a practising veggie.

    top

    Section 6: Following-Up

    “Even if this is true……”

    That represents the perfect response to any troll. The mark of a gullible lunatic that will almost certainly believe anything you tell them. A total group embarrassment. Award yourself a Troll Gold Star every time you get one!

    Other good responses include, but are not limited to….

    “Although this is on-topic…..”
    “I disagree….”
    “Yes, but…..”
    “Can you provide a source for this….”

    Try not to follow-up to your own troll. The troll itself quickly becomes forgotten in the chaos and if you just sit back you can avoid being blamed for causing it.

    Remember, if you do follow up you are talking to an idiot. Treat them with the ill-respect they deserve.

    You should also learn to recognise follow-ups from your fellow trollers. Sometimes an average troll can be elevated into majestic proportions when several trollers spontaneously join forces via the medium of the follow up troll.

    Ignore cries of wasted bandwidth! This is pure drivel that will always be posted by the anti-troll lobby.

    These jerks fail to understand that trolls are the best way to drive people off the internet thus making available multi-mbs for the rest of us to download our porn.

    top

    Section 7: The Successful Troll

    A good example of troll success is the famous “How I Envy American Students” troll.

    This troll was written by an English brick-layer posing as an American student. He correctly posted it to all the college news- groups and then left american students to do all the work spreading it.

    His troll ran for over a year, it is known to have generated in excess of 3,500 responses (an average of 1 response every 160 minutes for a whole year) and the greatest coup of all was when an innocent american student lost not only her internet account but was also expelled from high school for abuse of the computer systems.

    Somehow she had managed to get the blame for causing the troll.

    top

    Section 8: Troll RFC

    Applications are requested for a standard API to the existing troller’s tool the “Automatic Random X-Post Generator” – now in pre-release beta.
    Experienced trollers and recovered trollees are invited to submit items for inclusion in this FAQ.

  2. In Internet slang, a troll (/ˈtroʊl/, /ˈtrɒl/) is a person who sows discord on the Internet by starting arguments or upsetting people,[1] by posting inflammatory,[2] extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community (such as a forum, chat room, or blog), either accidentally[3][4] or with the deliberate intent of provoking readers into an emotional response[5] or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion.[6]
    This sense of the word troll and its associated verb trolling are associated with Internet discourse, but have been used more widely. Media attention in recent years has equated trolling with online harassment. For example, mass media has used troll to describe “a person who defaces Internet tribute sites with the aim of causing grief to families.”[7][8]
    Contents [hide]
    1 Usage
    2 Origin and etymology
    2.1 In other languages
    3 Trolling, identity, and anonymity
    4 Concern troll
    5 Troll sites
    6 Media coverage and controversy
    6.1 Australia
    6.2 United Kingdom
    6.3 United States
    7 Examples
    8 See also
    9 References
    10 Further reading
    11 External links
    11.1 Trolling advocacy and safety
    11.2 Background and definitions
    11.3 Academic and debate
    Usage

    The advice to ignore rather than engage with a troll is sometimes phrased as “Please do not feed the trolls.”
    Application of the term troll is subjective. Some readers may characterize a post as trolling, while others may regard the same post as a legitimate contribution to the discussion, even if controversial. Like any pejorative term, it can be used as an ad hominem attack, suggesting a negative motivation.
    As noted in an OS News article titled “Why People Troll and How to Stop Them” (January 25, 2012), “The traditional definition of trolling includes intent. That is, trolls purposely disrupt forums. This definition is too narrow. Whether someone intends to disrupt a thread or not, the results are the same if they do.”[3][4] Others have addressed the same issue, e.g., Claire Hardaker, in her Ph.D. thesis[4] “Trolling in asynchronous computer-mediated communication: From user discussions to academic definitions”,[9] and Dr. Phil.[citation needed] Popular recognition of the existence (and prevalence) of non-deliberate, “accidental trolls”, has been documented widely, in sources as diverse as the Urban Dictionary,[10] Nicole Sullivan’s keynote speech at the 2012 Fluent Conference, titled “Don’t Feed the Trolls”[11] Gizmodo,[12] online opinions on the subject written by Silicon Valley executives[13] and comics.[14]
    Regardless of the circumstances, controversial posts may attract a particularly strong response from those unfamiliar with the robust dialogue found in some online, rather than physical, communities. Experienced participants in online forums know that the most effective way to discourage a troll is usually to ignore it[citation needed], because responding tends to encourage trolls to continue disruptive posts – hence the often-seen warning: “Please do not feed the trolls”.
    A popular early article defining and explaining the issue of Internet Trolls included the suggestion, The only way to deal with trolls is to limit your reaction to reminding others not to respond to trolls..[1]
    The “trollface” is an image occasionally used to indicate trolling in Internet culture.[15][16][17]
    Origin and etymology

    There are competing theories of where and when troll was first used in Internet slang, with numerous unattested accounts of BBS and UseNet origins in the early 80s or before.
    The origin of the English noun troll in the standard sense of ugly dwarf or giant dates to 1610 and comes from the Old Norse word ‘troll’ meaning giant or demon.[18] The word evokes the trolls of Scandinavian folklore and children’s tales, where they are at times beings bent on mischief and wickedness.[19]
    In modern English usage, trolling may describe the fishing technique of slowly dragging a lure or baited hook from a moving boat[20] whereas trawling describes the generally commercial act of dragging a fishing net.
    Early non-Internet related slang use of trolling for actions deliberately performed to provoke a reaction can be found in the military—by 1972 the term trolling for MiGs was documented in use by US Navy pilots in Vietnam.[21]
    The contemporary slang use of the term is alleged to have appeared on the Internet in the late 1980s,[22] but the earliest known attestation is from the OED in 1992.[23]
    Another claim sets the origin in Usenet in the early 1990s as in the phrase “trolling for newbies”, as used in alt.folklore.urban (AFU).[24][25] Commonly, what is meant is a relatively gentle inside joke by veteran users, presenting questions or topics that had been so overdone that only a new user would respond to them earnestly. For example, a veteran of the group might make a post on the common misconception that glass flows over time. Long-time readers would both recognize the poster’s name and know that the topic had been discussed a lot, but new subscribers to the group would not realize, and would thus respond. These types of trolls served as a practice to identify group insiders. This definition of trolling, considerably narrower than the modern understanding of the term, was considered a positive contribution.[24][26] One of the most notorious AFU trollers, David Mikkelson,[24] went on to create the urban folklore website Snopes.com.
    By the late 1990s, alt.folklore.urban had such heavy traffic and participation that trolling of this sort was frowned upon. Others expanded the term to include the practice of playing a seriously misinformed or deluded user, even in newsgroups where one was not a regular; these were often attempts at humor rather than provocation. In such contexts, the noun troll usually referred to an act of trolling — or to the resulting discussion — rather than to the author.
    In other languages
    In Chinese, trolling is referred to as bái mù (Chinese: 白目; literally “white eye”), which can be straightforwardly explained as “eyes without pupils”, in the sense that whilst the pupil of the eye is used for vision, the white section of the eye cannot see, and trolling involves blindly talking nonsense over the internet, having total disregard to sensitivities or being oblivious to the situation at hand, akin to having eyes without pupils. An alternative term is bái làn (Chinese: 白爛; literally “white rot”), which describes a post completely nonsensical and full of folly made to upset others, and derives from a Taiwanese slang term for the male genitalia, where genitalia that is pale white in colour represents that someone is young, and thus foolish. Both terms originate from Taiwan, and are also used in Hong Kong and mainland China. Another term, xiǎo bái (Chinese: 小白; literally “little white”) is a derogatory term that refers to both bái mù and bái làn that is used on anonymous posting internet forums. Another common term for a troll used in mainland China is pēn zi (Chinese: 噴子; literally “sprayer, spurter”).
    In Japanese, tsuri (釣り?) means “fishing” and refers to intentionally misleading posts whose only purpose is to get the readers to react, i.e. get trolled. arashi (荒らし?) means “laying waste” and can also be used to refer to simple spamming.
    In Icelandic, þurs (a thurs) or tröll (a troll) may refer to trolls, the verbs þursa (to troll) or þursast (to be trolling, to troll about) may be used.
    In Korean, nak-si (낚시) means “fishing”, and is used to refer to Internet trolling attempts, as well as purposefully misleading post titles. A person who recognizes the troll after having responded (or, in case of a post title nak-si, having read the actual post) would often refer to himself as a caught fish.[citation needed]
    In Portuguese, more commonly in its Brazilian variant, troll (produced [ˈtɾɔw] in most of Brazil as spelling pronunciation) is the usual term to denote internet trolls (examples of common derivate terms are trollismo or trollagem, “trolling”, and the verb trollar, “to troll”, which entered popular use), but an older expression, used by those which want to avoid anglicisms or slangs, is complexo do pombo enxadrista to denote trolling behavior, and pombos enxadristas (literally, “chessplayer pigeons”) or simply pombos are the terms used to name the trolls. The terms are explained by an adage or popular saying: “Arguing with fulano (i.e. John Doe) is the same as playing chess with a pigeon: the pigeon defecates on the table, drop the pieces and simply fly, claiming victory.”
    In Thai, the term “krean” (เกรียน) has been adopted to address Internet trolls. The term literally refers to a closely cropped hairstyle worn by most school boys in Thailand, thus equating Internet trolls to school boys. The term “tob krean” (ตบเกรียน), or “slapping a cropped head”, refers to the act of posting intellectual replies to refute and cause the messages of Internet trolls to be perceived as unintelligent.[citation needed]
    In Sinhala Language this is called ala kiríma (අල කිරීම), which means “Turning it into Potatoes (Sabotage)”. Sometimes it is used as ala vagaa kiríma (අල වගා කිරීම) – “Planting Potatoes”. People/Profiles who does trolling often are called “Potato Planters” – ala vagákaruvan (අල වගාකරුවන්). This seems to be originated from university slang ala veda (අල වැඩ) which means “Potato business” is used for breaking the laws/codes of the university.
    Trolling, identity, and anonymity

    Jimbo Wales at Wikimania 2006 on a conference discussing the identification and elimination of trolls
    Early incidents of trolling[27] were considered to be the same as flaming, but this has changed with modern usage by the news media to refer to the creation of any content that targets another person. The Internet dictionary NetLingo suggests there are four grades of trolling: playtime trolling, tactical trolling, strategic trolling, and domination trolling.[28] The relationship between trolling and flaming was observed in open-access forums in California, on a series of modem-linked computers. CommuniTree was begun in 1978 but was closed in 1982 when accessed by high school teenagers, becoming a ground for trashing and abuse.[29] Some psychologists have suggested that flaming would be caused by deindividuation or decreased self-evaluation: the anonymity of online postings would lead to disinhibition amongst individuals[30] Others have suggested that although flaming and trolling is often unpleasant, it may be a form of normative behavior that expresses the social identity of a certain user group [31][32] According to Tom Postmes, a professor of social and organisational psychology at the universities of Exeter, England, and Groningen, The Netherlands, and the author of Individuality and the Group, who has studied online behavior for 20 years, “Trolls aspire to violence, to the level of trouble they can cause in an environment. They want it to kick off. They want to promote antipathetic emotions of disgust and outrage, which morbidly gives them a sense of pleasure.”[29]
    In academic literature, the practice of trolling was first documented by Judith Donath (1999). Donath’s paper outlines the ambiguity of identity in a disembodied “virtual community” such as Usenet:
    “ In the physical world there is an inherent unity to the self, for the body provides a compelling and convenient definition of identity. The norm is: one body, one identity … The virtual world is different. It is composed of information rather than matter.[33] ”
    Donath provides a concise overview of identity deception games which trade on the confusion between physical and epistemic community:
    “ Trolling is a game about identity deception, albeit one that is played without the consent of most of the players. The troll attempts to pass as a legitimate participant, sharing the group’s common interests and concerns; the newsgroups members, if they are cognizant of trolls and other identity deceptions, attempt to both distinguish real from trolling postings, and upon judging a poster a troll, make the offending poster leave the group. Their success at the former depends on how well they – and the troll – understand identity cues; their success at the latter depends on whether the troll’s enjoyment is sufficiently diminished or outweighed by the costs imposed by the group. ”
    Trolls can be costly in several ways. A troll can disrupt the discussion on a newsgroup, disseminate bad advice, and damage the feeling of trust in the newsgroup community. Furthermore, in a group that has become sensitized to trolling – where the rate of deception is high – many honestly naïve questions may be quickly rejected as trollings. This can be quite off-putting to the new user who upon venturing a first posting is immediately bombarded with angry accusations. Even if the accusation is unfounded, being branded a troll is quite damaging to one’s online reputation.[33]
    Susan Herring and colleagues in “Searching for Safety Online: Managing ‘Trolling’ in a Feminist Forum” point out the difficulty inherent in monitoring trolling and maintaining freedom of speech in online communities: “harassment often arises in spaces known for their freedom, lack of censure, and experimental nature”.[34] Free speech may lead to tolerance of trolling behavior, complicating the members’ efforts to maintain an open, yet supportive discussion area, especially for sensitive topics such as race, gender, and sexuality.[34]
    In an effort to reduce uncivil behavior by increasing accountability, many web sites (e.g. Reuters, Facebook, and Gizmodo) now require commenters to register their names and e-mail addresses.[35]
    Concern troll

    A concern troll is a false flag pseudonym created by a user whose actual point of view is opposed to the one that the user claims to hold. The concern troll posts in Web forums devoted to its declared point of view and attempts to sway the group’s actions or opinions while claiming to share their goals, but with professed “concerns”. The goal is to sow fear, uncertainty and doubt within the group.[36]
    An example of this occurred in 2006 when Tad Furtado, a staffer for then-Congressman Charles Bass (R-NH), was caught posing as a “concerned” supporter of Bass’ opponent, Democrat Paul Hodes, on several liberal New Hampshire blogs, using the pseudonyms “IndieNH” or “IndyNH”. “IndyNH” expressed concern that Democrats might just be wasting their time or money on Hodes, because Bass was unbeatable.[37][38] Hodes eventually won the election.
    Although the term “concern troll” originated in discussions of online behavior, it now sees increasing use to describe similar behaviors that take place offline. For example, James Wolcott of Vanity Fair accused a conservative New York Daily News columnist of “concern troll” behavior in his efforts to downplay the Mark Foley scandal. Wolcott links what he calls concern trolls to what Saul Alinsky calls “Do-Nothings”, giving a long quote from Alinsky on the Do-Nothings’ method and effects:
    “ These Do-Nothings profess a commitment to social change for ideals of justice, equality, and opportunity, and then abstain from and discourage all effective action for change. They are known by their brand, ‘I agree with your ends but not your means’.[39] ”
    The Hill published an op-ed piece by Markos Moulitsas of the liberal blog Daily Kos titled “Dems: Ignore ‘Concern Trolls'”. The concern trolls in question were not Internet participants; they were Republicans offering public advice and warnings to the Democrats. The author defines “concern trolling” as “offering a poisoned apple in the form of advice to political opponents that, if taken, would harm the recipient”.[40]
    Troll sites

    While many webmasters and forum administrators consider trolls a scourge on their sites, some websites welcome them. For example, a New York Times article discussed troll activity at 4chan and at Encyclopedia Dramatica, which it described as “an online compendium of troll humor and troll lore”.[22] This site and others are often used as a base to troll against sites that their members can not normally post on. These trolls feed off the reactions of their victims because “their agenda is to take delight in causing trouble”.[41]
    Media coverage and controversy

    Mainstream media outlets have focused their attention on the willingness of how some Internet users to go to extreme lengths to participate in organized psychological harassment.
    Australia
    In February 2010, the Australian government became involved after users defaced the Facebook tribute pages of murdered children Trinity Bates and Elliott Fletcher. Australian communications minister Stephen Conroy decried the attacks, committed mainly by 4chan users, as evidence of the need for greater Internet regulation, stating, “This argument that the Internet is some mystical creation that no laws should apply to, that is a recipe for anarchy and the wild west.”[42] Facebook responded by strongly urging administrators to be aware of ways to ban users and remove inappropriate content from Facebook pages.[43] In 2012, the Daily Telegraph started a campaign to take action against “Twitter trolls”, who abuse and threaten users. Several high-profile Australians including Charlotte Dawson, Robbie Farah, Laura Dundovic, and Ray Hadley have been victims of this phenomenon.[44][45][46]
    United Kingdom
    In the United Kingdom, contributions made to the Internet are covered by the Communications Act 2003. Sending messages which are “grossly offensive or of an indecent, obscene or menacing character” is an offense whether they are received by the intended recipient or not.[47] Several people have been imprisoned in the UK for trolling.[48] Sean Duffy, who mocked the testimonial page of a dead teenager, was sentenced to eighteen weeks in prison and banned from using social networking sites for five years.[49] Jamie Counsel was sentenced to four years for trying to incite riots.[50] Trolls of the testimonial page of Georgia Varley faced no prosecution due to misunderstandings of the legal system in the wake of the term trolling being popularized.[51] In October 2012, a twenty-year-old man was jailed for twelve weeks for posting offensive jokes to a support group for friends and family of April Jones.[52] Later that month, The Register said there was a viewpoint that “the Crown Prosecution Service needs to reel in cops who are busily collaring trolls more or less at random … usually responding to public pressure from media or social media”.[53]
    United States
    On March 31, 2010, the Today Show ran a segment detailing the deaths of three separate adolescent girls and trolls’ subsequent reactions to their deaths. Shortly after the suicide of high school student Alexis Pilkington, anonymous posters began performing organized psychological harassment across various message boards, referring to Pilkington as a “suicidal slut”, and posting graphic images on her Facebook memorial page. The segment also included an exposé of a 2006 accident, in which an eighteen-year old fatally crashed her father’s car into a highway pylon; trolls emailed her grieving family the leaked pictures of her mutilated corpse.[8] In 2012, the subject of trolling was featured on the HBO series The Newsroom.
    Examples

    As reported on April 8, 1999, investors became victims of trolling via an online financial discussion regarding PairGain, a telephone equipment company based in California. Trolls operating in the stock’s Yahoo Finance chat room posted a fabricated Bloomberg News article stating that an Israeli telecom company could potentially acquire PairGain. As a result, PairGain’s stock jumped by 31%. However, the stock promptly crashed after the reports were identified as false.[54]
    So-called Gold Membership trolling originated in 2007 on 4chan boards, users posting fake images claiming to offer upgraded 4chan account privileges; without a “Gold” account, one could not view certain content. This turned out to be a hoax designed to fool board members, especially newcomers. It was copied and became an Internet meme. In some cases, this type of troll has been used as a scam, most notably on Facebook, where fake Facebook Gold Account upgrade ads have proliferated in order to link users to dubious websites and other content.[55]
    The case of Zeran v. America Online, Inc. resulted primarily from trolling. Six days after the Oklahoma City bombing, anonymous users posted advertisements for shirts celebrating the bombing on AOL message boards, claiming that the shirts could be obtained by contacting Mr. Kenneth Zeran. The posts listed Zeran’s address and home phone number. Zeran was subsequently harassed.[54]
    Anti-Scientology protests by Anonymous, commonly known as Project Chanology, are sometimes labeled as “trolling” by media such as Wired,[56] and the participants sometimes explicitly self-identify as “trolls”.
    See also

    Portal icon Internet portal
    Anti-social behaviour
    Cyber-bullying
    Flame war
    Griefer
    Heckler
    Hit-and-run posting
    Patent troll
    Poe’s Law
    Social gadfly
    Sockpuppet (Internet)
    Vandal (Wikipedia)
    References

    ^ Jump up to: a b “Internet Trolls”. Internet Archive. July 2001. Retrieved 2013-06-14.
    Jump up ^ “Definition of troll”. Collins English Dictionary. Retrieved 2012-09-17.
    ^ Jump up to: a b Howard Fosdick (Wed 25th Jan 2012 06:58 UTC). “Why People Troll and How to Stop Them”. OS News.
    ^ Jump up to: a b c Tastam90, Message # 369489 (Jun 9, 2013). “Terminology: Trolling in CNet?!?”. CollegeNET.
    Jump up ^ “Definition of: trolling”. PCMAG.COM (Ziff Davis Publishing Holdings Inc). 2009. Retrieved 2009-03-24.
    Jump up ^ Indiana University: University Information Technology Services (2008-05-05). “What is a troll?”. Indiana University Knowledge Base. The Trustees of Indiana University. Retrieved 2009-03-24.
    Jump up ^ “Police charge alleged creator of Facebook hate page aimed at murder victim”. The Courier Mail (Australia). 2010-07-22. Retrieved 2010-07-27.
    ^ Jump up to: a b “Trolling: The Today Show Explores the Dark Side of the Internet”, March 31, 2010. Retrieved on April 4, 2010.
    Jump up ^ Hardaker, C. (2010). “Trolling in asynchronous computer-mediated communication: From user discussions to academic definitions”. Journal of Politeness Research. Language, Behaviour, Culture 6 (2). doi:10.1515/JPLR.2010.011. edit
    Jump up ^ “Accidental Troll”. Urban Dictionary.
    Jump up ^ “DE-TROLLING THE WEB: DON’T POST IN ANGER”. 2012-06-04.
    Jump up ^ MAT HONAN, date=1/06/12 11:45am. “Why We Troll”.
    Jump up ^ =Mike Elgan (Jan 6, 2012). “What is a troll?”. Google+.
    Jump up ^ “Accidental troll mom rage”. RageComics. Retrieved 9 July 2013.
    Jump up ^ Trollface hack strikes PlayStation 3? PSU community member reports XMB weirdness.
    Jump up ^ “Pasta” y “MasterDog” ya son parte de la jerga universitaria.
    Jump up ^ “Forever Alone” y “Ay sí, ay sí”, entre los más populares.
    Jump up ^ Harper, Douglas. “troll”. Online Etymology Dictionary. Retrieved 2013-06-14.
    Jump up ^ “Trolls. Who are they?”. unknown. Retrieved July 3, 2013.
    Jump up ^ “troll”. Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary. 2010. Retrieved 7 January 2010.
    Jump up ^ John Saar (February 4, 1972). “Carrier War”. Life.
    ^ Jump up to: a b Schwartz, Mattathias (2008-08-03). “The Trolls Among Us”. The New York Times. pp. MM24. Retrieved 2009-03-24.
    Jump up ^ “troll, n.1”. Oxford English Dictionary (Oxford University Press). 2006. Retrieved 1 March 2010.
    ^ Jump up to: a b c Tepper, Michele (1997). “Usenet Communities and the Cultural Politics of Information”. In Porter, David. Internet culture. New York, New York, United States: Routledge Inc. p. 48. ISBN 978-0-415-91683-7. Retrieved 2009-03-24. “… the two most notorious trollers in AFU, Ted Frank and Snopes, are also two of the most consistent posters of serious research.”
    Jump up ^ Miller, Mark S. (1990-02-08). “FOADTAD”. alt.flame. Web link. “Just go die in your sleep you mindless flatulent troll.”. Retrieved 2009-06-02.
    Jump up ^ Zotti, Ed; et al. (2000-04-14). “What is a troll?”. The Straight Dope. Retrieved 2009-03-24. “To be fair, not all trolls are slimeballs. On some message boards, veteran posters with a mischievous bent occasionally go ‘newbie trolling.'”
    Jump up ^ Stevan Harnad (1987/2011) “Sky-Writing, Or, When Man First Met Troll” The Atlantic
    Jump up ^ “Troll (aka Trolling)”. Netlingo.com. 1994-2011. Retrieved 2011-11-21. “In general, to “troll” means to allure, to fish, to entice or to bait. Internet trolls are people who fish for other people’s confidence and, once found, exploit it. Trolls vary in nature.”
    ^ Jump up to: a b Adams, Tim (24 July 2011). “How the internet created an age of rage”. London: The Guardian (The Observer).
    Jump up ^ S. Kiesler, J. Siegel and T.W. McGuire (1984). “Social psychological aspects of computer-mediated communication”. American Psychologist 39 (10): 1123–1134. doi:10.1037/0003-066X.39.10.1123.
    Jump up ^ M. Lea, T. O’Shea, P. Fung and R. Spears (1992). “‘Flaming’ in Computer-Mediated Communication: observation, explanations, implications”. Contexts of Computer-Mediated Communication: 89–112.
    Jump up ^ Postmes, T., Spears, R., & Lea, M. (1998). “Breaching or building social boundaries? SIDE-effects of computer-mediated communication”. Communication Research (25): 689–715.
    ^ Jump up to: a b Donath, Judith S. (1999). “Identity and deception in the virtual community”. In Smith, Marc A.; Kollock, Peter. Communities in Cyberspace (illustrated, reprint ed.). Routledge. pp. 29–59. ISBN 978-0-415-19140-1. Retrieved 2009-03-24.
    ^ Jump up to: a b Herring, Susan; Job-Sluder, Kirk; Scheckler, Rebecca; Barab, Sasha (2002). “Searching for Safety Online: Managing “Trolling” in a Feminist Forum”. Center for Social Informatics – Indiana University. Retrieved 2009-03-29.
    Jump up ^ J. Zhao, Where Anonymity Breeds Contempt, NY Times, 29 Nov 2010.
    Jump up ^ Cox, Ana Marie (2006-12-16). “Making Mischief on the Web”. TIME. Retrieved 2009-03-24.
    Jump up ^ Saunders, Anne (2006-09-27). “Bass aide resigns for fake website postings”. Associated Press. Retrieved 2010-02-05.
    Jump up ^ “Bass Aide Resigns After Posing As Democrat On Blogs”. WMUR. 2006-09-26. Retrieved 2010-02-05.
    Jump up ^ Wolcott, James (2006-10-06). “Political Pieties from a Post-Natal Drip”. James Wolcott’s Blog – Vanity Fair. Condé Nast. Retrieved 2009-03-25.
    Jump up ^ Moulitsas, Markos (2008-01-09). “Dems: Ignore ‘concern trolls'”. TheHill.com. Capitol Hill Publishing Corp. Retrieved 2009-03-25.
    Jump up ^ “How to be a Great Internet Troll”. Fox Sports. Retrieved 2009-12-13.
    Jump up ^ “Internet without laws a ‘recipe for anarchy’, 1 April 2010. Retrieved 5 April 2010.
    Jump up ^ “Facebook takes (small) step against tribute page trolls”, TG Daily, 30 March 2010. Retrieved 5 April 2010.
    Jump up ^ Jones, Gemma (2012-09-11). “Time is up for Twitter trolls and bullies | Information, Gadgets, Mobile Phones News & Reviews”. News.com.au. Retrieved 2012-09-15.
    Jump up ^ “Twitter trolls attack radio host Ray Hadley, NRL star Robbie Farah”. Herald Sun. Retrieved 2012-09-15.
    Jump up ^ “Twitter makes moves to prevent online trolls”. Herald Sun. Retrieved 2012-09-15.
    Jump up ^ Bishop, J. (2010). “Tough on data misuse, tough on the causes of data misuse: A review of New Labour’s approach to information security and regulating the misuse of digital information (1997–2010)”. International Review of Law, Computers and Technology (Taylor & Francis) 24 (3): 299–208. ISSN 1364-6885.
    Jump up ^ Tom de Castella and Virginia Brown (14 September 2011). “Trolling: Who does it and why?”. BBc News Magazine (BBC News). Retrieved 14 September 2011.
    Jump up ^ Camber, Rebecca; Neville, Simon (2011-09-14). “Sick internet ‘troll’ who posted vile messages and videos taunting the death of teenagers is jailed for 18 WEEKS”. Daily Mail (London). Retrieved 2 February 2012.
    Jump up ^ “England riots: Four years for Facebook incitement”. BBC News. 2011-11-16. Retrieved 2 February 2012.
    Jump up ^ “Georgia Varley-inspired trolling law is waste of time says internet campaigner”. Liverpool Echo. Retrieved 2 February 2012.
    Jump up ^ “Lancashire man JAILED over April Jones Facebook posts”. The Register. 8 October 2012. Retrieved 11 December 2012.
    Jump up ^ Fiveash, Kelly (22 October 2012). “Prosecutor seeks sports-bodies guidance on troll-hunting rulebook”. The Register. Retrieved 11 December 2012.
    ^ Jump up to: a b Bond, Robert (1999). “Links, Frames, Meta-tags and Trolls”. International Review of Law, Computers & Technology 13. pp. 317–323.
    Jump up ^ “All that glisters is not (Facebook) gold”, CounterMeasures: Security, Privacy & Trust (A TrendMicro Blog). Retrieved 6 April 2010.
    Jump up ^ Dibbell, Julian (September 21, 2009). “The Assclown Offensive: How to Enrage the Church of Scientology”. Wired. Retrieved October 5, 2010.
    Further reading

    Bishop, J. (2012). Scope and Limitations in the Government of Wales Act 2006 for Tackling Internet Abuses in the Form of ‘Flame Trolling’. Statute Law Review. Online (Subscription).
    Bishop, J. (2013). Examining the Concepts, Issues, and Implications of Internet Trolling. IGI Global. ISBN 1466628030.
    Walter, T.; Hourizi, R.; Moncur, W.; Pitsillides (2012). Does the Internet Change How We Die And Mourn? An Overview Online.
    External links

    Look up troll in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.
    Wikimedia Commons has media related to Trolls (Internet).
    Wikinews has related news: UK court jails man for trolling online tribute pages
    Trolling advocacy and safety
    The Trolling Academy – trolling advice, comment, and training
    The Troll Network – trolling discussion and comment
    Cyber Mentors – youth support group run by young people
    Get Safe Online – free expert advice on online safety
    Background and definitions
    Usenet and Bulletin Board Abuse on the Open Directory Project
    NetLingo definition
    Urban Dictionary definition
    Trolling lore and essays
    Trolling news and features
    Academic and debate
    Searching for Safety Online: Managing “Trolling” in a Feminist Forum
    Malwebolence – The World of Web Trolling; New York Times Magazine, By Mattathias Schwartz; August 3, 2008.
    Building relationships online with avatars and characters

  3. 13 Types Of Troll You’ll Meet On The Internet
    We preferred it when trolls were things you stuck on the end of your pencil.
    posted on August 19, 2013 at 5:55am EDT
    Robin Edds
    BuzzFeed Staff
    Follow
    Share303 Tweet231EmailPin it
    1. The Grammar Nazi.
    13 Types Of Troll You’ll Meet On The Internet
    csicable.net
    Traits: They’re physically unable to not point out any and every spelling mistake or grammatical error they find on the internet, and are under the impression that such mistakes instantly discredit what the writer was trying to say. Basically, their dicks. (See what we did there?)
    How to combat them: Employ a proofreader.
    2. The Shouter.
    13 Types Of Troll You’ll Meet On The Internet
    tumblr.com
    Traits: They’re angry. So, so angry. They’re angered by happy people, sad people, other angry people, cats, badgers, themselves, politicians and humus.
    How to combat them: Steal their Caps Lock key.
    3. The Hater.
    13 Types Of Troll You’ll Meet On The Internet
    tumblr.com
    Traits: They don’t need a motive, they just move from victim to victim saying not very nice things and making you feel like you’ve done something to deserve it. Which is nice.
    How to combat them: Say the words “haters gonna hate” three times in the mirror every morning.
    4. The Twister.
    13 Types Of Troll You’ll Meet On The Internet
    tumblr.com
    Traits: They take everything you say out of context, and use it to make you sound like a douche. The tabloid journalists of the trolling world.
    How to combat them: Don’t say anything. Ever.
    5. The Preacher.
    13 Types Of Troll You’ll Meet On The Internet
    tumblr.com
    Traits: Whatever the topic, they’ll find some way of turning it into a great theological debate. And all you wanted to do was Instagram a picture of your dinner.
    How to combat them: Avoid touchy subjects, and learn to use the block button.
    6. The Point Misser.
    13 Types Of Troll You’ll Meet On The Internet
    tumblr.com
    Traits: The Point Misser lacks the part of the brain that detects humour and loves nothing more than complaining about TV shows they haven’t even seen.
    How to combat them: Add a winky face to everything you write so they know you’re joking.
    7. The Line Crosser.
    13 Types Of Troll You’ll Meet On The Internet
    i1.wp.com
    Traits: In the words of Joey Tribbiani, “You’re so far past the line, you can’t even see the line. The line is a dot to you!”. They hide behind their online persona and think this means the usual rules of society don’t apply.
    How to combat them: Leave them to it. They aren’t worth the worry.
    8. The Cryer.
    13 Types Of Troll You’ll Meet On The Internet
    tumblr.com
    Traits: They tend to take everything as a personal assault, and love nothing more than feeling offended. And if they can’t feel offended directly, they also love being offended on other people’s behalves.
    How to combat them: Ignore them for ten minutes, they’ll soon find something else that offends them.
    9. The Know-it-all.
    13 Types Of Troll You’ll Meet On The Internet
    gifstumblr.com
    Traits: Whatever you know, they know more. They spend a lot of their time attempting to discredit every Guardian article ever written, whilst still claiming it’s their favourite newspaper.
    How to combat them: Introduce them to Stephen Fry. When they realise they don’t know more than him their head will implode.
    10. The Idiot.
    13 Types Of Troll You’ll Meet On The Internet
    tumblr.com
    Traits: You haven’t seen them since you were 14, and you’re suddenly wondering why you accepted their Facebook friend request.They comment on your pictures of the Eiffel Tower telling you how much they love Blackpool. Hmm.
    How to combat them: Defriending them is perhaps too harsh, but this is when Facebook’s restricted profile functionality comes into its own.
    11. The Political Commentator.
    13 Types Of Troll You’ll Meet On The Internet
    Traits: Imaginative use of swear words and an ability to twist everything into an argument about misspending the taxpayer’s money is a must.
    How to combat them: To be honest, they’re often quite funny. As this article proves.
    12. The Peacemaker.
    13 Types Of Troll You’ll Meet On The Internet
    tumblr.com
    Traits: Arguing with a troll is a dangerous game, but it turns out that some internet commenters are in fact normal people with unprecedented levels of common sense.
    13. The Genuinely Funny Troll
    13 Types Of Troll You’ll Meet On The Internet
    mrwgifs.com
    The concept of trolling isn’t necessarily wrong. Sometimes people say stupid things, and they deserve to be gently ribbed. Occasionally you’ll see someone write something you don’t agree with, and of course you have the right to reply. Keep your tongue in your cheek, don’t be cruel, and wonderful things can happen…

  4. What is turning so many young men into internet trolls?
    There’s misogyny, of course. But sometimes it’s boredom, a need for attention, or a grievance against a world that is passing them by. An academic specialist in online behaviour asks, how should we treat these disparate kinds of abuser?
    Claire Hardaker
    The Observer, Saturday 3 August 2013 10.42 EDT
    Jump to comments (558)
    Caroline Criado-Perez
    Twitter trolls inundated Caroline Criado-Perez with threats of rape after she petitioned for Jane Austen’s image to be on the new £10 note. Photograph: Jason Alden/eyevine
    Two thousand, three hundred and ninety-three years ago, in 380BC, Plato wrote the myth of the Ring of Gyges, in which the shepherd, Gyges, discovers a ring that makes him invisible at will. He promptly uses the protection this offers to infiltrate the royal household, seduce the queen, assassinate the king and take the kingdom. Plato goes on: “If now there should be two such rings, and the just man should put on one and the unjust the other, no one could be found, it would seem, of such adamantine temper as to persevere in justice.”

    Plato felt that the protection of being unidentifiable could corrupt even the most morally upstanding person. After the week she has had, Caroline Criado-Perez might well sympathise with that bleak assessment. After she had successfully petitioned to have Jane Austen’s image appear on the new £10 banknote, Twitter trolls used the anonymity of the internet to inundate her with threats of rape and violence.

    It took another petition and a media storm to overcome the inertia that seems to exist when social networks and the police are asked to deal with online abuse. When MP Stella Creasy stepped in to support and defend Criado-Perez, the Twitter trolls began to target her too. And in the latest twist, several female journalists were sent bomb threats. So who are the trolls sending these messages? And what motivates them to behave like this?

    The Gyges effect – the way that the internet can encourage a disinhibition people simply would not experience face to face – is only part of the explanation. Linked to that is the way the internet allows us to shut down our sense of empathy. In a nutshell, we are sending words through a screen, and seeing words come back. No tone of voice, facial expressions or body language. This makes it easy not only to pretend there isn’t a real, emotional, possibly fragile human being at the other end, but also to play down any emotional reaction that they convey back as an exaggeration or a lie.

    In fact, we’re all capable of shutting off our empathy when it suits us. When someone we love to hate suffers some minor inconvenience or self-inflicted trouble, we can choose to enjoy their misfortune rather than feel sorry for them. The internet, however, drastically increases that ability, and allows us to emotionally divorce ourselves, not just from the people we don’t like but also from those we don’t even know. It is, after all, a rare person who hasn’t written an online review, email or comment that was more abrasive than anything they would ever say in person.

    But this still doesn’t tell us why someone would do this. Many of us have internet access, yet few of us choose to troll. So what motivates those who do? One difficulty in trying to discover the motives behind socially unacceptable behaviour is that the individuals in question will usually be reticent or deceitful about their motives – even to themselves. Trolls are not often in a rush to discuss their behaviour with a stranger who might spill their darkest deeds to the world.

    This is hardly surprising. There are potentially serious consequences to being outed as a troll, ranging from mere social stigma and relationship breakdowns to job losses and prison sentences. The result, however, for anyone trying to analyse and understand trolling, is that we’re left to either investigate the few cases that have come to court or divine motives and intentions from the data the trolls provide. So, on review of both of these, what reasons suggest themselves?

    One motive for trolling, and perhaps one we’re all most familiar with, seems to be simple boredom – too much free time after school, at work, or between jobs. These are the individuals who are trolling to kill a few hours, entertain themselves, and even impress others of a similar mindset.

    Groups of trolls coalesce on bulletin-board sites such as 4chan, where they post links to targets that might prove “fun”, and compete with each other to see who can be the funniest, cleverest, or most extreme. Interestingly, those same sites also tend to be the powerhouses that generate internet “memes” – popular concepts that spread beyond the internet to become part of our offline culture.

    A second motive appears to be a need for attention, a craving that will accept any kind of attention, however positive or negative, as long as that person is at the centre of it. Such individuals may not just post offensive messages, but also annoyingly implausible stories, grand claims, and obvious lies.

    A third motive seems to involve a sense of disenfranchisement. In a climate where even graduates with good degrees are struggling to find jobs, and house prices make getting on the property ladder an impossible dream for many, it’s little surprise that a selection of the population may consider themselves short-changed. It would take a strong character not to feel a sense of injustice at the fact that, a generation earlier, their exact counterparts were walking into secure, lifelong employment and able to buy nice homes.

    For some individuals, this sense of being cheated may extend into pure epicaricacy, a malicious desire to try to make those enjoying greater success feel as miserably trapped and oppressed as themselves. The rather sad logic of this is that by dragging the more successful person down, the damaging contrast with their own failure is lessened, and they won’t feel quite so bad about themselves.

    Are they all angry young men, as the stereotype suggests? When we look over cases that have gone to court, we do find some evidence of this: Reece Messer, 17, who tweeted that Tom Daley had “let his dad down”; Matthew Woods, 19, who posted sick jokes on April Jones’s tribute page; Reece Elliott, 24, who threatened to shoot 200 school children only weeks after the Sandy Hook incident; and Sean Duffy, 25, who posted offensive images on a Facebook memorial page. Here we have reports of the broken homes, substance abuse and/or social disabilities that are often linked with trolling, as though they were natural bedfellows.

    However, when we look at further cases, we also find Colm Coss, 36, who defaced Jade Goody’s memorial page; Frank Zimmerman, 60, who emailed threats to a range of public figures; Jessica Chantelle Cook, 22, who posted offensive comments on tribute pages; and teenager Jasmine Vanmidde, who lied about being a cyberbullying victim to get on to Australian TV show Today Tonight, then boasted of her success in a YouTube video.

    This second group of individuals – young women, and men easily old enough to be fathers and grandfathers – don’t readily fit the classic troll image. Our nice cat-loving neighbour, that funny work colleague, or the nerdy cousin we went to school with could just as easily be trolls too.

    A final important issue that these cases raise is the lack of agreement over what the word “troll” means. It is being used to describe everything from playground insults, sick jokes, and deliberate insensitivity right through to threats of violence, rape and murder. We don’t have a fixed definition for the term “trolling”, and while some may think of this as a mere detail, it is one that can have far-reaching legal implications. If we are to take the meaning of trolling to include everything from the merely irritating to the clearly illegal, then this definitional issue will only become more important as more cases are prosecuted.

    Despite the potential harm trolling can inflict on others, as long as the internet offers the appearance of protection from consequences, it will, for some, also present itself as an opportunity to kill a few hours by being abusive to strangers.

    Of course, we could simply refuse to understand such behaviour, and even ignore it, but that offers little hope of stemming the tide. Instead, it seems both morally and logically better to face the problem head-on. This could take the form of training and education for those amenable to change, or convictions and prison terms for those who are not.

    But perhaps most usefully, it might start with considering how much trolling is symptomatic of social injustice, economic disadvantage, and political disenfranchisement.

    Claire Hardaker is a professor of linguistics at Lancaster University, who specialises in researching online aggression

  5. Diary Of A 5,000-Hours-Per-Year Internet Troll
    Posted Jun 15, 2013 by James Altucher, Contributor

    Editor’s note: James Altucher is an investor, programmer, author, and several-times entrepreneur. His latest book is “Choose Yourself!” came out this past June 3 (foreword by Dick Costolo, CEO of Twitter).

    I know you do it. We all act like we don’t do it, like we’re all pristine human beings who WOULD NEVER do perverse things like that. But I know you do it. And you do it a lot.

    You respond to trolls.

    It starts like this: You post something intelligent on the “World Wide Web.” Triple-dub to those in the biz. You expect that the entire world is going to praise you for coming up with the one thing that’s never been said before in the history of mankind.

    Then HE shows up. Someone who says something to provoke you. Most of the time you say “troll” to yourself, and you get back to living your larger-than-life existence. But every now and then, the troll takes the place of your father. Or your mother. Or your ex-spouse. Or your ex-something. Some button is pressed. Right there in the center of your head.

    And you have to respond. Because…because…because…if you don’t respond then EVERYONE will think maybe this guy is right and you HAVE to set the record straight.

    chooseyourselfbook[1]One weekend I had an article right here on TechCrunch. A little over a year ago. The article came out at 8 a.m. on a Saturday. Around 9 p.m. the next day, 37 hours later, my wife came up to me and said, “you know you’ve been glued to that message board all weekend. You NEED TO SHOWER NOW!”

    I published a book last week. “Choose Yourself!” It was No. 1 for all non-fiction for a couple of days, even beating out Sheryl Sandberg’s “Lean In.”

    I was very happy. The book is about how we can choose ourselves for success instead of rely on the masters who would love to keep us on a leash. It’s about breaking the shackles so we could have financial freedom. It’s what every TechCrunch reader wants to do.

    In the book, among other things, I threw out a challenge. I asked any Internet troll, someone who prides himself on driving people crazy, someone who spends 10 hours a day or more responding to message board comments, to please contact me and describe the mentality.

    We all get advice on trolls all the time. I get 100 hate comments a week across various message boards. I’ve even gotten death threats.

    But sometimes…sometimes….there’s just those buttons. It’s daddy or mommy and they know how to press them.

    Then, in response to the challenge in my book, GVOK wrote me.

    You may know GVOK.

    You may know him if you spend thousands of hours on http://www.startrek.com arguing about politics. Or, after he was banned from startrek.com, if you spent another several thousand hours on sistertrek.com. Or if you spend thousands of hours on YouTube arguing whether or not Jesus is real.

    GVOK is no teenage, pimply idiot typing out screeds from his high school computer lab.

    south_park_wow_computer_lab

    He wrote: “After graduating law school I worked for a law firm, bored out of my mind and miserable for eight years and was laid off in 2009. I had also bought a large, beautiful house that I am now renting out because I could no longer afford the mortgage.

    “Your message that these types of middle jobs will eventually become temp jobs definitely speaks to me. I never enjoyed working these kinds of jobs anyway. They’re boring, coworkers are gossipy and I always felt underutilized and looked down upon. Your daily practice you mention inspires me and I can definitely see breaking out on my own.”

    But every now and then, the troll takes the place of your father. Or your mother. Or your ex-spouse. Or your ex-something.
    So GVOK, while he was at his former job as a high-priced lawyer, started spending hours every day on message boards. His only goal: to drive other people completely insane. All of the bold lettering below is mine. He wrote:

    “I’ve had three experiences trolling. Two message boards on Star Trek and one comment section of a Youtube video on whether Jesus was real. Trolls rarely admit they are wrong and I’m no exception. I was converted from being an upstanding board member into a troll by a board bully named Admiralbill.

    Now Admiralbill was a staunch Republican, a real ditto head, ex-navy guy from Texas. He vehemently attacked anyone who remotely espoused a liberal viewpoint. After it was determined that there were no WMDs in Iraq and the whole basis on the invasion was based upon a false premise I began to have my doubts about conservativism. This brought me into the cross hairs of Admiralbill. After a few times being attacked by him and observing him attack others I decided to attack back. All this is to show that I thought my motives were pure.

    The following is a list of methods I employed:

    1. I would post a news article that tended to put the Republican / Conservatives in a bad light. This was obviously intended to push Admiralbill’s buttons but I could always argue that I thought the article was interesting and might stimulate discussion. It had the effect of putting him on the defense because he felt compelled to respond to it.

    2. I would then keep him tired and on the defensive. I did this by responding quickly and concisely. When I did post commentary I would keep it short and only address one particular point. I always found it funny when another poster would get so worked up over something and take the time to write a long drawn out post responding to every single point in the previous post. I would just choose one point to refute or agree with. This had the effect negating all the work the previous post made. I conserved my energy with small posts that took me ten minutes to craft they exhausted themselves with long ones that took an hour. The longer they take to respond, the more rest I have and the more agitation they feel to get a response out.

    3. I usually asked questions in my responses. This also put him on the defensive because he felt compelled to respond to a direct question. Thus he never set the tone because he was always responding to the tone I set. Questions (for some reason) also had the effect of pissing him off. I naturally asked questions to begin with not thinking this was strategy but once I realized he didn’t like it I did it more.

    4. I specifically stated at times that I did not want Admiralbill to respond in specific threads to avoid conflict. Of course this had the intended opposite effect.

    I spent quite a bit of time baiting Admiralbill. I think it was more than five years before I was banned from the website. By the time that happened I wanted to be banned. I needed to end the endless cycle. It drained my energy. I was constantly thinking of new ways to piss Admiralbill off. To this day part of me still hates how mean and self righteous he was. James, I know you don’t vote but it’s enough motivation for me to vote Democrat knowing that in some small way it gets back at him.

    There’s definitely an addictive cycle when it comes to trolling. The exhilaration is the drug that for a moment takes away the pain I feel during the 90% of the rest of the cycle.

    I can only speak for myself but I suspect most trolls (and people who engage in e-debates in general) probably share a common personality type. They probably work jobs or live lives that are in someway unsatisfying. They want to feel special and crave attention and respect. They are highly dependent on the opinions of other people.

    And this is really at the heart of the matter, a message board troll feels intense shame. It is shame that motivates him to shame others. Where this shame comes from is a whole other discussion but part of it definitely had to do with working a job I hated for so long.

    As you mention in your book it is basically pointless to try to change another person’s mind but I suppose at some level I was also operating under the delusion that if I said the right thing he would admit he was wrong.”

    I asked GVOK three questions in response:

    Did you ever feel like it was a waste of time? Like, maybe you could’ve been finding a better job or relationship or whatever?
    Did you ever get really really angry?
    Would you get mad if someone didn’t respond to you?
    His response.

    “Oh wow. You responding just made my day – sitting here auditing legal bills in the basement of my parents’ house on a rainy day.

    Yes, I felt like it was a waste of time but I was compelled to do it. That’s why I had to eventually got myself banned from the message board. There should be a rehab for this sort of thing. Just think of all the trolls who can’t force themselves to stop. It is probably ruining their lives because getting back at these people who wronged you on the message board is all you can think about. It’s incredibly draining emotionally and at the same time takes top priority in your life.
    Yes, I got really angry – but you try hard not to let that show. I guess I need to emphasize this point – you have to put forth the image that nothing affects you and you think it’s funny how your victims can’t control their emotions. Meanwhile, you are a simmering volcano.
    It was slightly infuriating when someone didn’t respond but I knew my targets pretty well and was pretty confident they would respond. In fact, that’s how they became targets in the first place – because they were so reliable.
    There is an interesting connection between trolling and working these boring corporate / cubicle jobs that became clear to me after reading your book. You feel intense shame, you are bored, you have access to the internet – of course you will end up trolling!”

    And he ended his discourse with:

    “Thanks”.

    GVOK, you’re welcome.

  6. You forgot to mention the annoying, old, pretentious alumni who troll The Thrill waiting for the opportunity to comment, “when I was on The Hill, things were much better BEFORE THE INTERNET AND CELL PHONES…”

    By the way, things were much better on The Hill when we were there. We invented the shit you guys do now (though our blog amounted to notes passed during lectures, but still…)

Share your thoughts on this post.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: