A little more about trolls


Since the two replies I got to my “Censorship!” post were about trolls, I’ll go with that for a while, as it might interest somebody.

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.

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3 Responses to A little more about trolls

  1. Pingback: A good whine, I believe I’ll have another. | kitchenmudge

  2. RAB says:

    Hardly favorites, the Rant Trolls. I believe many of them are paid to disrupt. They go onto actual, serious fora (The Nation, for instance) and hurl abuse at what they perceive as The Opposition (i.e., the predominant social or political orientation of the site’s serious readers, or any features of that orientation). I read an interesting OpEd on The Nation site and want to see what other readers have said about it, intending to join the conversation myself if my point hasn’t already been made effectively by someone else. And what I encounter is 1/5 serious discussion, 4/5 abuse of President Obama (not his policies, mind you: his mother, his species, his godless Islamist thinking–yes, I know that makes no sense, but none of it generally does–his hatred for America, his wife’s appearance, and on we go, all the way sometimes to suggestions as to how to get rid of him permanently…), of “liberal” ideas, of “liberal” causes like environmentalism…. The assertions are offensive, the language even more so. These Trolls turn serious people off and then away, preventing them from engaging in serious dialogue. And, good liberal that I am, most of the sites I go to are good liberal sites, with discussions censored only in cases of direct physical threat. Freedom of speech and of the (e-)press used against the people who actually believe in those freedoms.

    • kitchenmudge says:

      Aye, I would call those something between the “obvious” and the “lecturing” trolls. I wonder why such comments aren’t just deleted by the mods. It’s as if the Nation would WANT us all to see the crazies just to scare us into subscribing to the Nation, at the expense of making the comments too cluttered for any real discussion. This is how Limbaugh campaigns for Obama, for instance. He makes us forget about the real misdeeds of the Dems by promoting discussion of non-issues.

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