Brad Wardell's views about technology, politics, religion, world affairs, and all sorts of politically incorrect topics.
Published on February 25, 2013 By Draginol In Personal Computing

As we get more connected online, the haters of the world become more empowered. I am often astonished at some of the brazen behavior I see in comments and on forums by people who, one assumes, are functioning people in real life. 

I think a key ingredient is narcisism. i cant think of any other explanation for someone who puts effort into trying to upset other people while their own identities are just a bit of Google-Fu away. If you’ve ever read an article on someone before, there’s inevitably anonymous trolls who say unbelievably nasty things about them.  Of course, they do so because they think they're anonymous.

Imagine if their ugly behavior was quoted and attached to their “real name” when you Googled them? I suspect we’d see a change in behavior pretty quickly.

I have mixed feelings on anonymity on the Internet. On the one hand, I’ve seen people make threats against me, my wife and occasionally even against my kids. So I am very conscious of how vulnerable we are to the worst humanity has to offer.  On the other hand, I can’t help but notice that the worst behavior is usually done by people who think that they’re safe from retaliation because they think they’re anonymous.

So I’m not sure what should be done.  Almost everyone reading this has dealt (or at least observed) a persistent Internet troll. You can ban them but they’ll be back. As trolling becomes more common and increasingly nastier, it’s an issue that’s going to have to be addressed somehow.  Having seen the slow evolution of the Internet troll over the past 20 years, I can tell you, the ability to inflict harm on people is growing.  Sooner or later, it’s going to have to be dealt with.


Comments (Page 4)
on Mar 03, 2013

Have to defend the honor of our forums. fuzzy, you're posting from wincustomize which has only a small subset of all forums. On littletinyfrogs, which also only has a snmall subset the oldest response is 2 hours old. Ii the collective forum network we have gets millions of unique visitors per month. My point be that these forums are hardly niche.

i don't think forum popularity is a significant factor in troll problems.

we don't have much problem with trolling here because trolling is a problem that takes time to spread. The worst forums (somethingawful or brokenforum) tend to be made up by people who've been banned from elsewhere And trolling is encouraged. They're like the war boards from BBS days. 

Places where trolls aren't tolerated wont get that critical mass of them. you can have a popular site where trolls run wild and free and you can have a popular site where trolls are banished.  The main difference being the quality of discussion.

 

on Mar 03, 2013

My view is this: I don't tollerate people like this in my personal life, they are not tollerated in my workplace, so why should I tollerate them on the internet? Just because someone is attached to a computer doesn't mean they have to forget about politeness and good manners. If a site is over-run by trolls, I just don't go there.

I restrict my internet access therefore to those sites where I feel most comfortable. I'm still here 11 years on

on Mar 03, 2013

Political trolls are the worst.  Especially on Twitter.

For example, jumping on a bandwagon to say how against something you are, when you don't even live in said country any more and it says so in your profile?  Totally trolling.

on Mar 03, 2013

As a resident troll of the Sins forums (and a troll in real life), I'd like to offer some perspective on the issue...

I always see the same "logic" applied to trolling...trolls are losers, attention whores, people with no life...they just want to anger people, piss them off, get a rise out of people they never could in real life...trolls can be starved if you simply ignore them, because after all if you aren't giving them attention and aren't getting angry then obviously their trolling has failed...

But that's not really how all trolls are...some are, yes, but not all...


First off, sometimes there is a "misdiagnosis" of trolling...

A great example would be a lot of the anti-Starclad posts/threads/comments made during and since the Rebellion beta/release (I will stress that I am merely using this as an example)...

Some people were "true trolls"...they would post comments or start threads with the intent of getting a rise out of the developers...the key thing here is their intent...they genuinely wanted to piss off the devs or just throw shit around because it made them feel better about themselves...

There was another group of people though that genuinely had criticism against Starclad and certain decisions it made in regards to Rebellion...were they sometimes nasty?  YES.  Were they sometimes inappropriate?  YES...

But the key is that their intention was not to just piss people off...they had gripes about the game, and wanted to discuss them...they were genuine gripes, not genuine in that they were "correct" but genuine in that they really felt Starclad could have done things better...some of it was vented frustration due to perceived problems in a game they otherwise loved, and anyone when frustrated can of course be prone to ranting, nastiness, and the like...

The bottom line is that there is a huge difference between someone saying nasty things and someone being a troll...that is why I have a problem with defining a troll as someone who is rude, nasty, or angers other people...sure, someone may say something that is nasty and does anger you, but it doesn't make them a troll...they may just have a very different perspective, very different opinion, and aren't exactly "confined" to social norms like courtesy, tact, and respect....


Second, not all trolls want to anger or piss off people...some trolls just want to entertain, either entertain themselves or entertain others...of course, that means there are also trolls that want to both anger and entertain other people...

Not going to mention any names, but there are quite a few people on these forums that get positive feedback and/or karma for "funny" trolling...now, their trolling may be nasty or mean...it may even anger someone...but it also may be funny, maybe not to the devs or moderators, but to someone out there...in many of these cases, the troll really could care less about angering someone or getting a rise...all they really want is to say something funny and have other people think it is funny...that it may be mean, nasty, or inappropriate is either a coincidence or simply a "mean to an end"...

It's easy to say "well we aren't really talking about those trolls, the ones that are just clowns"...but the problem is that a "clown troll" may genuinely believe their insult or nastiness is obvious trolling, obviously sarcastic, obviously just for shits and giggles....and when the other person does get mad, the troll doesn't think "YES I pissed them off" but rather "don't they know I'm just trolling them????"...

Sometimes, trolls (especially those that live and interact every day with other trolls) just assume other people think like they do...it's not a matter of "thick skin", but a matter of simply understanding that "it's just trolling"...


Third, not all trolls are losers with no life....some trolls like to write and be witty...some trolls come on to these forums for "productive" or "legit" reasons but occasionally come across an opportunity to troll that's just too hard to pass up...

It's usually obvious to me which trolls really have no life and which trolls do have a life but also just enjoy trolling...I've learned though that most people do not readily distinguish between the two...

Sometimes it is easy to look at a troll post and immediately think "that person has no life, they must just spend all their time getting on the net and doing nothing but trolling"...but if someone spends an hour everyday posting "legit" and "productive" posts on a forum (like certain moderators obviously do), then magically they are just seen as normal....

The point is that it doesn't actually take that long to make a lot of troll posts...in fact, most trolls are probably spending far less time posting than the serious forum warriors are, so don't readily assume they "have no life" because odds are they spend less time off the forums than you do....

And if you think "but the trolls are just wasting time while the serious posters are being productive", then ask yourself this: how much time do you spend watching TV?  How much time do you spend playing games on your PC or phone?  Cause every minute you do is another minute of being just as unproductive as the troll writing his troll forum post...and as a troll, I can tell you that I troll in place of other time-wasting, unproductive sorts of entertainment that "normal people" do for hours every day....

on Mar 03, 2013

MarvinKosh
For example, jumping on a bandwagon to say how against something you are, when you don't even live in said country any more and it says so in your profile? Totally trolling.

Nope, not 'trolling'.  To voice an opinion re a country...as an outsider is legitimate...and if it's on a 'bandwagon' of common opinion it's just that - common.

Trolling is more accurately a fatuous comment with no other purpose than to incite adversarial response.

In reality trolls are about as easy to spot as spammers....and we just don't have too many of them around these here parts... [note to self...stop using American slang].

on Mar 03, 2013

Finally, don't assume trolls act the way they do just because they are on the internet...

I troll people all the time in real life...I troll my friends, I troll total strangers, I troll my students (*GASP*), I troll troll troll every day...

The internet isn't the only place where one can get anonymity...additionally, one doesn't need anonymity in order to reach the "troll goals" like getting a rise or entertaining people...trolling friends (or people you know) is just as fun/fulfilling....

Was there ever a time you said "strange things" abnormally loud in a restaurant just to troll the people next to you?

Was there ever a time you drove really slow cause the person behind you was obviously in a hurry and was tailing your ass?

Was there ever a time you made a comment while two friends had a heated discussion just to stir the pot?

Most people have troll tendencies or do troll things sometimes...it is simply part of being human...

Some humans just get more of a kick out of it or are far better at it...not any different than when some people are more prone to arguing/debating, more likely to blame someone/something else other than themselves, more likely to embellish a story, etc....

on Mar 03, 2013

Seleuceia .... curiously here you defend your being a troll...and in a contemporary thread I have suggested personal attack can see you gagged.

This is the issue.

Trolls believe they are justified in whatever they do.  They are not.

Re someone complaining about a game.... there are simply 2 ways to do that.

1. Voice a complaint.

2. Be a troll.

On Stardock's forums the former is tolerated - actually encouraged/accepted.  The latter will see your access revoked.

It's not quite 'what you say' but actually more about 'how it is said'.

on Mar 03, 2013

And just to add...

The forums [and sites] are for the enjoyment of all, and not for the few at the expense of the rest.

When a user adversely impacts upon the enjoyment of Stardock's sites by others his access is removed.  Call it 'troll management' ..... or call it 'getting rid of idiots'.  I'm happy either way...

on Mar 03, 2013

I don't defend being a troll anymore than a drug addict would defend their addiction...

I simply have given my perspective, since most people here seem to only come from the "other side" of the issue...

on Mar 03, 2013

Some things are simply indefensible.

There can be reasons, but not excuses...

on Mar 04, 2013

RogueCaptain

From my experience you can always challenge them to start modding their own.  Too often the young majority treats the mod scene as a free arcade and troll about the finished product.  This is despite all the tiring, non profit effort put into it by individuals who only want to create something.  They need a taste of their own medicine to grow up.  Thick skin is a requirement.

 

Do niche markets have higher troll ratios or less?  I haven't met that many trolls on Civfanatics.com for example.

 

Depends on what sort of folks the niche attracts.  I think TBS's are less trollish, but I remember Brad saying years ago that he made TBS's partially because TBS gamers had more money and were more likely to pay instead of pirate, justifying no need for DRM. 

 

Now, if your niche is something like most fighting games or a shooter, you're going to get tons of trolls, and that's a similar-sized community.

 

Also, trolling is also a function of how much you agree or not with it.   You tend to not notice the trolls you agree with.  

 

What about folks who say, troll animal abusers or the WBC?

 

on Mar 07, 2013

There has been a trend lately in the UK for people to go onto Twitter and rant about subsidising all the spare rooms that benefit claimants are occupying.  I don't know if that's trolling or whatever, but it's really bad form to go demonising the poor for being able to use Twitter, for having a spare room through no fault of their own, and so on and so on.

And the UK government has basically created this rift between the people who work and the people who don't, hoping to use it for their own political ends.  I think it will blow up in their face but in the meantime things are ugly and getting much uglier as time wears on.

on Mar 10, 2013

It's worse in the US, where said ranting is considered acceptable, especially in the South.

 

 

on Mar 10, 2013

Seleuceia

Finally, don't assume trolls act the way they do just because they are on the internet...

I troll people all the time in real life...I troll my friends, I troll total strangers, I troll my students (*GASP*), I troll troll troll every day...

The internet isn't the only place where one can get anonymity...additionally, one doesn't need anonymity in order to reach the "troll goals" like getting a rise or entertaining people...trolling friends (or people you know) is just as fun/fulfilling....

Was there ever a time you said "strange things" abnormally loud in a restaurant just to troll the people next to you?

Was there ever a time you drove really slow cause the person behind you was obviously in a hurry and was tailing your ass?

Was there ever a time you made a comment while two friends had a heated discussion just to stir the pot?

Most people have troll tendencies or do troll things sometimes...it is simply part of being human...

Some humans just get more of a kick out of it or are far better at it...not any different than when some people are more prone to arguing/debating, more likely to blame someone/something else other than themselves, more likely to embellish a story, etc....

 

To me personally, everything you just stated is something only someone wanting to be difficult to deal with would do.  Everyone might take out a bad day/week on someone sometime, but to actually get "fun/fulfillment" (as you put it) out of "trolling" someone is just being a pathological asshole in my opinion.  I would guess such a person is likely extremely unhappy with themselves and/or their circumstances and therefore continually seeks enjoyment at another person's expense.

I'm sure there are examples of me having "trolled" someone somewhere, but I believe I can honestly say that I've never done so with the goal of "fun/fulfillment" in mind, nor has any trolling on my part (if I can even be accused of some) resulted in my feeling fulfilled.

on Mar 10, 2013


Some things are simply indefensible.

There can be reasons, but not excuses...

 

I have used that time and again with my children.....