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 3)
on Feb 27, 2013

Look, trolling has been around in the media long before the internet was made public.  The real difference between the internet and everywhere else is all this amazing equal convenience brings it down to a micro level.  It raises your attention now because it targets you directly in addition to personally.  Before that was not the case.  Trolls had to go broad instead of surgical by attacking things people identify with.  Whether that's done through a petty billboard sign or an intentionally skewed newspaper article.

Toady, anyone who wants can google up an e-place and meet someone with an opposing viewpoint with little effort.  Before it wasn't quite that easy.

 

The good that has come from all this negative juvenile behavior is people will eventually recognize it where ever it manifests in society and reject it.  Who knows?  Maybe a real positive change will come.

on Feb 28, 2013

I think strong moderation is important. I think it's one of the reasons our forums are so popular and successful.

But most site owners can't do that. It's too much of a task.  I have watched my favorite non-Stardock forum (qt3) lose most of the industry insiders because they just didn't want to deal with the trolls.  

I would have killed to have the opportunity to host a forum that was populated industry insiders. Only a successful independent journalist (like Tom Chick who is both) could realistically do it.  But having a bunch of successful people in your community attracts the losers who think they can feel better about themselves by tearing someone else down.

Empathy is a pre-requisite for running a company. When the crazies from the politics and religion forum on Qt3 curb-stomped my book (Elemental: Destiny's Embers) on Amazon, I understood what motivated them to do it - most trolls get angry at seeing people do things that they themselves wanted to do but didn't/couldn't do. They usually rationalize why they didn't/couldn't do something and lash out.  Hence, when some novice author like me gets his book published by Random House, that pisses these guys off and they lash out (this isn't to say I wrote a masterpiece but it's not a 1 star book either). 

Like others have said, trolls want attention but more than that, they want validation. They want to feel better about themselves by making someone else feel a little worse. And we don't do ourselves any favors by denying reality - they succeed. Trolling gets worse every year because deep down, everyone knows that trolls do successfully piss off people all the time.

Nothing attracts a troll like the perception of someone doing something that someone else (the troll) thinks they could have done better if only they had had the chance/opportunity/money/time to do. Trolling is how losers try to get revenge on the world. If they can win the Internets they can forget, for a moment, their own miserable day to day lives. 

on Feb 28, 2013

Frogboy
Trolling is how losers try to get revenge on the world. If they can win the Internets they can forget, for a moment, their own miserable day to day lives.

Not to just talk about our little space here. But the news sites on their comments section, it's like a full flaming war that it gets off topic very quickly. Oh, I don't want to talk about other sites I go to like AICN, IGN and CBM...But yeah, not here but at other sites, I believe what you say could be true...

on Feb 28, 2013

G_Bison
But yeah, not here but at other sites, I believe what you say could be true...

Oh, it's true right enough...and left un-policed would be here, too.

Trolling [and its associated effluvium] is like littering....or grafitti.  Left unchecked/uncleaned...it attracts more.

on Feb 28, 2013



Quoting G_Bison, reply 33But yeah, not here but at other sites, I believe what you say could be true...

Oh, it's true right enough...and left un-policed would be here, too.

Trolling [and its associated effluvium] is like littering....or grafitti.  Left unchecked/uncleaned...it attracts more.

Indeed. There's nothing inherently magical about our forums other than Jafo, Kyro, myself and others don't faint when we get called brown shirts for taking out the riff raff.

Even Neowin, which has pretty good moderation, has a pretty high troll level (still good compared to most sites but compared to here).  The trolls, however, would say our community is a bunch of fanboys who suck up out of fear the moderator-gestapo.

on Feb 28, 2013

Frogboy
The trolls, however, would say our community is a bunch of fanboys who suck up out of fear the moderator-gestapo.

Oh, there are plenty still around on Stardock's forums who are by definition more 'troll' than 'fanboy' but it's all about the HOW they opine more-so than the what.

With a little reasoning [micro-management] even people uber-critical of Stardock can be tolerable.   It's only ever an issue when mindless trolls actually affirm how mindless they really are...and THAT's just plain sad...

on Mar 01, 2013

Here is a good example of a run-of-the-mill troll. Probably around 15 to 17 years old. Mostly harmless.  Still a jerk.

http://www.neowin.net/forum/topic/1135898-new-deskscapes-8-beta-for-windows-8/page__p__595550766#entry595550766

 

on Mar 01, 2013

They must be stopped by any means necessary. There will be no survivors, no prisoners of war!

on Mar 01, 2013

Frogboy
Here is a good example of a run-of-the-mill troll. Probably around 15 to 17 years old. Mostly harmless.  Still a jerk.
 

the "ad bot" was offensive but which other post was trolling, guess I don't get it?

curious question: what's the difference between trolling and posting a different/opposing/disagreeable opinion?

on Mar 02, 2013



Quoting Frogboy, reply 37Here is a good example of a run-of-the-mill troll. Probably around 15 to 17 years old. Mostly harmless.  Still a jerk.
 


the "ad bot" was offensive but which other post was trolling, guess I don't get it?

curious question: what's the difference between trolling and posting a different/opposing/disagreeable opinion?

Trolling is the act of posting something obnoxious in the hopes of annoying someone or getting negative attention.

if you really don't understand the difference, try imagining the participants of a thread talking in person. if someone says something that in real life would likely get them flicked on the back of the head, they're trolling.

So if a group of people were discussing a new program and one person makes a loud exaggerated yawning noise I suspect that would not be considered an "opposing opinion" but rather an obnoxious, rude display.

 

on Mar 02, 2013

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.

on Mar 02, 2013

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

I think trolls need a reasonable sized target audience to bait.  They cannot survive in a vaccuum...and like most animals of low intelligence are in peril of forgetting to breathe in rarified atmosphere....[ah, metaphors...ya gotta love 'em]...

on Mar 02, 2013

Trolls tend to be like viruses and go where the most people are. The most I encounter are on youtube comments, and yes, usually about politics. I don't use, but I hear facebook and twitter are real bad as well. Trolls may not be as retarded as some think, they can actually quite often make people stop posting there views on a subject of importance which only leaves a one sided view.

I have yet to see any trolls in the Sins m0d scene, the worst I had was asking for stuff we will not put in or the constant "when is the nest release coming".

on Mar 03, 2013

Thankfully the astronomy forum I'm a mod on is troll free. Anyone trolling is just banned without warning. There's also a decent swear filter, and, substitutions such as WTF and **** are removed by mods. Persistant offenders who have an attitude (sarcy posters etc) are warned and put on moderated posts. Anyone being 'nasty' to others is gone pronto. The mods are constantly discussing members who are 'on the radar' to make sure they are watched and a concensus is reached should their future be in doubt.

There are several 'reason' selections available to go with the ban button. One useful one is the spam selection; that gets rid of the individual and all their posts - saves a lot of manual spam removal

Yes, the moderation is firm, but what we are left with is a highly active and pleasant forum where people can talk astronomy freely and without fear of being put down by others.

Is it active? Well, the oldest forum post here (sites combined) on recent posts is March 1st at 0:10. On the astronomy forum the oldest post is... 12 minutes ago...

on Mar 03, 2013

Fuzzy Logic
Is it active? Well, the oldest forum post here (sites combined) on recent posts is March 1st at 0:10. On the astronomy forum the oldest post is... 12 minutes ago...

Do you mean Authored thread [op] or comment...because since march 1 I've probably done a hundred myself....

It looks like your Forum is even tighter than here....though we do have a 'wipe-out-people-totally' button that removes EVERYTHING ....but we're all too chicken to use it.  [don't tell anyone but I tidied up after a spammer with it once - but I think I got away with it]...

As you know with 'moderation' the phrase is....'moderation in all things' [and that includes moderation]...