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Know-How: Internet Trolls And How to Deal with Them (Antitrolling)

Know-How: Internet Trolls And How to Deal with Them (Antitrolling)The Internets are a social place. It’s like a vast sea full of opinions and discussions, where everyone can find interesting people to talk to. It’s shared by many millions of people which means a great diversity and freedom, but it also means that people with certain psychological problems are free to ruin your day. And i am sure they did – in those forums and blogs you read and in those games you play. I’m talking about “the Troll phenomenon” here. Who are these people? Why do they enjoy just to walk in and taunt other people? And how can you deal with them – both in games and on forums? This post is just about that: trolls, trolling and (so-called) anti-trolling.

Who are the trolls?

“Troll” is a person that comes in just to tell something stupid, or provocative, or rude, or just cussing – or all of that at the same time. Term “troll” evolved either from “trolling” (a fishing term) or “trawling” (also a fishing term, another known use is “to trawl for attention”) – which on was first is not really important now, what is important is that trolls are calling for everyone’s attention by doing their stuff. Trolls are generally divided on “thin” and “fat” kinds, where “thin trolls” are much worse than their “fat” counterparts. While a “fat” troll is easy to spot and deal with, a “thin” one usually doesn’t crossing rules of the internet resource where he is trolling at. If a “thin” troll is let into a community (a gaming one, for example) for a long time he may eventually break it from the insides.

Forum troll Troll doesn’t cares what the discussion is about, he has nothing to add to it, and his only goal it to call for attention by one way or another. He will do anything to get it, including insulting other people just to get noticed. If you will answer to him, he’ll ignore your words and will just write more nonsense to keep people engaged, or will just insult you. If you’ll keep quiet, he’ll be even more furious trying to provoke you into a rude or ill-considered answer. The classics of trolling are telling you’re scared of him or you have nothing to say to defend your point of view if you’re ignoring him. Sometimes if you keep ignoring a troll he will flood you with messages on a daily basis.

Often trolls come to an active discussion just to turn them into a “prove me wrong” type, where everyone are trying to make a troll understand he is telling bullshit – but that is pointless. A troll will never feel wrong or sorry, and doesn’t thinks he has to treat anyone with respect or be responsible for anything, including what he is saying. “Don’t feed the trolls” – this saying definitely has a ground beneath it!

How to spot a troll?Trolling

There are many ways to troll people, let’s name a few here:

  • Talking about obviously provocative or controversial themes (politics, abortion, etc.)
  • Opinionated statements (speaking like this person is the only guru and everyone else are morons, also starting a holy way).
  • Deliberate play on people’s feelings (writing in Apple community that Steve Jobs makes things only for stupid housewives).
  • Obviously off-topic messages.
  • “Media attack” (posting big-sized pictures, video or sounds to annoy everyone and/or make conversation barely readable, also counts for posting disguised links).
  • Inciting, including racist comments or similar stuff.
  • Asking an obviously silly question and getting everyone to sort the answer for them.
  • Cussing and insulting other people with no obvious reason.
  • Trying to get to a person rather than to a topic (for example, giving a negative evaluation to a person’s characteristics because they aren’t agreeing with the troll).
  • A demonstration of their imaginary superiority to other people.
  • Using a conversation just to get an emotional response from people.
  • Calling all other people trolls.

If you’re in a chat and someone’s saying in a common channel something like “’I'm playing this game for half an hour and it’s a total piece of shit, WoW is much better!” – congratulations, it’s a fat troll! If someone comes to your blog and starts writing that you are dumb, no one wants to know your opinion and you should go fuck yourself, congratulations – it’s an even fatter troll!

Why trolls are doing this?

Trollface There are several reasons for that behavior. The main reason is anonymity that people think they have in the Internets. If you tell your neighbor something “special”, he can punch you. If you tell the same thing to someone over the Internets, nothing bad happens to you unless that person is determined to get to you. But it’s not the only reason – there are several psychological problems leading to the “troll behavior”. Seriously, would a normal sane person come to an unknown person (that did nothing bad to them) and start cussing just for the fun of seeing that person hurt? Some trolls are deliberately trying to virtually “punch” other people, to find their pressure points, hidden fears and complexes and hurt them with that knowledge. When they’re able to do that, they feel happy. Why does this happens? There’s such a term as “substitution”, a kind of built-in human psychological defense.

Let’s imagine there’s a person X being hurt in real life – be it a schoolchild bullied by its classmates or an adult being insulted by his boss, doesn’t matter – he’s hurt and bubbling with anger, but X can’t defend himself due to some reason. If there is no person to talk to, to make X feel better, he will look for someone to “substitute” himself. Someone he can unleash his anger on, a person that did nothing bad to them, but will serve as a whipping boy. In real life, X can’t unleash himself on just the first person he sees on the street, but in the Internets there are so many people who will never know who X is, so he can hurt them all he wants.Net troll

There are other people, however, who are abusing the “substitution”. In the Internets, they don’t feel towards other people like other human beings, it’s just nicknames to them, a strings of text, nothing else attached. They’re not really aware of them hurting other people’s feelings, quite on the contrary – the more hate and hurt they’re causing, the more fun they’re getting. It’s not like they don’t have anything else to do – it’s just like that they had grown used to having their cruel “fun” in the safe anonymous territory. It’s the only way they found to discharge the emotional tension that is filling them and wants a way out.

And there are other people, who are not socially successful or have an inferiority complex, so they’re trying to compensate it by proving other people less smart or less educated in some field. They can appear normal up to some point until someone disagrees with them – and they’ll burst into aggression, accusing everyone around them of incompetence and dumbness. And also let’s don’t forget to mention those sick Munchausen syndrome victims, who are always craving for attention, any attention, so they are constantly trolling other people just to get it.

None of these situations are healthy, but part of being a troll is being pretty much happy with who you have become.

How to deal with trolls – anti-trolling policy

Don't feed the trolls! “Don’t feed the troll” – that’s pretty much it. If you meet a troll, keep ignoring him. It’s the most horrible thing for them – being ignored, not getting any attention. So if you’re in a game – put the troll into your ignore list, if you’re writing in a forum – just skip his messages and leave them unnoticed. If you have a blog – just delete the troll’s comments, don’t even answer to them. The only useful thing you can write, is to remind other people not to feed the troll and to stop talking to him.

DON’T EVER engage in a discussion with a troll. If you will try to talk some sense into him – he won, because you’re taking an effort that he’ll practically ignore. If you’ll try to insult him, he’ll drag you down onto his level of communicating. If you just stopped talking to him after a while, he’ll consider himself a winner because he’ll think you have nothing else to say to oppose him, or he has hurt you good enough ( and he can start boasting on “owning” you).

Is is possible to get rid of the trolls?

Antitrolling Chick Geek Games is not a popular blog – not that i have more than 500 hits per day, you see – but there are so many sociopaths and sick people that i have encountered several troll infestations so far. I never answer to comments that i consider being made by a troll, and as a general rule i simply delete them and forget about the matter quickly.

Some trolls are so offended by the lack of attention that one came after over a week to check if i have answered his comment, found it deleted and wrote even more rude one with all the “classic troll” catch phrases. After seeing it deleted too, he wrote more nonsense comments in random posts, but after i deleted these too he finally got bored and left. Dealing with people who are trolling in chat channels (in-game) are harder, but it works the same way: you keep ignoring them, they get bored and leave you alone.

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