Trolling: What’s it All About

As my regular readers may have noticed, this blog has been plagued by a troll (possibly two, if the latter person is a real person, but I have my doubts).

I wanted to tell you a bit about trolls  and how to recognise them.  For a really in-depth definition, the Wikipedia one on (Internet) Trolls is pretty good.  Click here to read it.
What I want to bring up is that as annoying and confrontational internet trolls are, letting them stop or disrupt a discussion is exactly what they want.  They crave attention, and are unable to get it in the regular healthy ways that you and I do, so they stir up trouble and are generally just irritating to all others involved.
I really believe that the best way to deal with trolls is a two part action.  Firstly, do not change your behaviour in your blog, or other forum that the troll has turned up.  Ignore them as best as possible, and keep to your normal activities on that site/application.  
But secondly, when you do spot a troll, it’s a good idea to call them out if nobody has before.  Because once they realise that people can see through them, they tend to just go away.
I choose not to delete comments that trolls leave because it outs them to the internet community.  But if it is particularly offensive or upsetting, it is ok to delete it, that’s up to you.  And don’t worry if they crap on about how you’re censoring them, it’s your blog, if someone is behaving like a troll you have every right to delete that.
Unfortunately, as much as we pick up on trolls behaviour, they find new ways to be a pain in the arse.  For every new application there is out there, they find a new way to troll.  So it’s something that genuine people do need to keep clear about, and share information when they do suffer troll behaviour.
If you are not sure if you are dealing with a troll, a few questions to ask are:
  • Do the posts this person makes stir up the community un-necessarily?
  • Does this person hold double standards? (ie, accusing others of name calling but being name callers themselves, spouting their opinion loudly but not liking it when they are challenged or debated with etc)
  • Does this person try to get other people “on their side”?
  • Have a look at their account profile and others connected to them.  Do they look fake, lack detail or depth, or seem to come from the same source?
  • Take a look at spelling, punctuation and grammar.  Trolls are more likely to have bad writing skills.
  • Trolls are rarely rational.  They contradict themselves, throw insults, swear, ridicule people, and generally create a bad atmosphere.  Someone who is sharing a valid point is rational and balanced about it.  Trolls are not.  Trolls often end their posts with things like “HA!  I told you so!” like small children would.
  • And most of all, trolls disappear when the subject is positive, fun or happy.  They like creating anger and misery.
I just found this rather interesting article from the eCommerce Journal, which gives a  nice simple explanation of trolling behaviour and the type of trolls you will find.
Most of all, I guess the wisest advice is:
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May 17, 2009. etiquette, internet, trolls.

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