First thing to remember:
Whether something irritating is being done by a troll, a noob, or a “permanent noob” (as some clueless people are called) is not always easy to tell. The effect of making a listserve or forum unpleasant, however, is the same. A temporary noob should be given some slack, but by their fruits ye shall ultimately know them.
Oh, I love to make lists, don’t I? Let’s see what we have for trolls.
(1) Obvious Troll: Most of my readers wouldn’t have seen these much on the listserves that we usually deal with, but they’re pretty common on online fora. Usually a child, though it might be well over 21. Doesn’t care about being spotted, just hits & runs. Goes onto a forum and maybe posts something like “Hai U guise all suk rly hard, LOL”, 30 or 40 times before the moderator notices and removes him.
(2) Overload Troll (or Noob): Simply posts massive quantities of articles, commentary, or whatever. Usually vaguely on-topic, maybe not, but quantity is the irritating thing. Might be news stories that we all get from other sources, might pertain to a special interest that the noob or troll has which is not shared by other subscribers. Might be hammering away at a common interest subscribers have that just doesn’t warrant that much discussion. Might dwell on the obvious quite a bit.
The overload troll, or noob, might also use weird formatting to create confusion. Might try to send attachments on a listserve that doesn’t permit them, then ask “What’s wrong with this listserve? My video didn’t come through!”. Might elaborately compose things in HTML, not understanding (or understanding, with malicious intent) how messy this can look at the receiving end.
On a listserve that allows attachments, of course, the troll (or noob) can send massive ones, jamming some subscribers’ inboxes.
(3) Lecturing Troll: Finds a listserve or forum clearly created by the troll’s “opposition”, and proceeds to tell the subscribers how wrong they are. Probably done by an individual who hopes to “talk sense” to people with different opinions. The futility of it makes it unlikely to be done by anyone with a real clue. Doesn’t last long, but maybe the subscribers will enjoy a little “debate”, if it could be called that, before the troll gives up and unsubs. “Debate” usually turns illogical rather quickly, and can get someone removed.
I occasionally see something from what appears to be a libertarian on a Green listserve. A little global warming denial, a little “socialism” paranoia. Such trolls can actually be useful if they’re not also overload trolls. Gives readers a little challenge to keep their own wits sharp.
The lecturing troll must be treated with humor. Any attempt at serious debate can get tedious quickly.
(4) Concern Troll: Here we’re getting into something that paid political operatives might do. Goes onto the opposition’s listserves, pretends to have all the same values that regular members have, but expresses some little “concern” about something, effectively spreading one’s own, opposing, propaganda. Real members, with real concerns, can be mistaken for concern trolls and vice versa. Can be very effective at making confusion.
I’ve seen concern trolls on Green-related listserves as far back as I can remember: people saying “Gee, I really like the Green platform, but aren’t we just drawing votes away from Dems and getting Reps elected?”
There’s also the “Green” who wants to broadcast loudly and repeatedly, on listserves open to the public, any weaknesses he sees in the GP. “Concerns” can have widely varying degrees of truth to them, including zero.
(5) Free Speech Troll (or Noob): Another thing that might be done by real political operatives. Very effective at distraction sometimes.
Doesn’t recognize the concept of “off-topic”.
Kinda like the lecturing troll, but doesn’t seek out anything oppositional. Just goes onto any listserve to rant about whatever he wants to rant about. Might choose listserves where he imagines he will find the “like-minded”, but is wrong.
Might go onto an antiwar listserve and post extensively about ill-treatment of circus animals.
Might go onto a Green listserve and wonder why we’re not all interested in magic crystals.
(6) Hoax Troll (or Noob): Might be a political operative (either paid or duped), might just be someone with too much time on his hands. Effect is similar to the Free Speech Troll.
Might go onto a Green listserve and tell us how vitally important it is to expose the “moon landing” hoax, or microwave mind control being used by the CIA.
I believe much of the “9/11 Truth” movement was created for this purpose, but not all of it. Great Rovian coup. Legitimate questions about the administration’s handling of 9/11 were drowned out with nonsense.
What am I missing here?
Tell us about your favorite trolls, folks.