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FORUM TROLLS

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Kitkat
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FORUM TROLLS

Post by Kitkat on Wed 16 Oct 2013 - 14:09

What is a forum troll?

A troll is someone who registers a forum account and an identity (sometimes more than one) which he uses to post controversial, inflammatory, irrelevant or insulting messages. His aim is to upset members and provoke negative responses for his own amusement.

The widely accepted ethic of free speech may lead on to an undeserved tolerance of potential troll behaviour when striving to maintain an open discussion forum at the same time as avoiding undue censure.

At first, the word 'troll' referred mainly to individuals trolling for a response or opinion. Over time, trolling became more aggressive and the word began to be used to describe disruptive, irritating or hurtful behaviour.

Any bulletin board, newsgroup, forum, chat room, blog or other online community may attract trolls. Some may be, or present as, experts in a particular field. But equally they may just choose topics they know they will attract impassioned responses. Their own postings may indicate personal prejudices about sex, religion, gender, race, politics, etc.

Typically a troll may harass an online community for weeks or months, posting inflammatory or divisive statements in order to ‘push the buttons’ of members for the troll's amusement. Trolls differ in their attitudes and aggressiveness from ordinary users who just have different points of view. Their aim is not to discuss or debate but to antagonise and frustrate.

Some trolls go to extremes by harassing, cyber-stalking, outing or hacking threads and blogs, things they may do with great skill. Normal forum business can be greatly disrupted, member relationships compromised, community spirit spoiled and considerable administrative time needed in tidying up.


Types of troll

Trolls may pose as 'newbies' who ask questions designed to 'wind up' other members and/or provoke extreme reactions. Or they may spin a tragic personal story, pretending to be searching for answers and drawing in empathetic members who are unaware they are being taken in by a false story line.

They may attack by insults or provocative language. They may mount 'sneak attacks' by first posing as being interested in a topic before posting a message that includes controversial material.

On other occasions the troll may form a relationship with a well-known, regular member giving the impression (by that association) that the troll is just another member like everyone else, a neat and mostly effective deception.

A number of trolls (or one individual with multiple fake accounts and characters) may collude to cause problems. One troll or character may support another claiming the first was only trying to contribute to the discussion. Or a 'sacrificial' character (or troll) may deliberately transgress forum rules, unconcerned by the threat of a ban. When that happens focus gets pulled from the other troll(s) (or character) who, in turn, may then feign a 'hail fellow, well met' stance, just biding their time until the next opportunity to disrupt and upset.

Another form of trolling is truly bizarre. In this situation, two or more identities are created and postings made one in response to the other, the troll effectively speaking to himself. It's hard to be sure this is happening because IP addresses - indicators of the location of the characters - can be masked and it can then be impossible to see if the postings are coming from a single source. Successful trolls are masters of disguise and often computer literate and 'net savvy', leaving website owners/administrators uncertain about the situation. Members, too, get taken in because they think they're replying to different individuals.

This is just a selection of the various types.


Why do trolls do it?

It's likely there are many reasons and they fall into the field of the mental health specialists. The nature of the World Wide Web encourages troll behaviour by allowing easy access and anonymity. It's deviant behaviour which would have presented in other ways before the emergence of the web. Such individuals may be socially inept, isolated and/or unable to relate to others in ordinary ways. Certainly they give that impression as they show no empathy, compassion or genuine emotion.


Please do not feed the trolls

Trolls are desperate for attention - any attention. Starve them of it in one place and they will seek it somewhere else, often on the same website. Most responses encourage further disruptive behaviour. Once identified the best policy (short of a ban) is not to 'feed the troll' but members may not anyway realise they're being trolled and be unwilling to resist hitting back when they do realise.

Some folk who have long-time Internet experience know how best to deal with trolls and say they're something we're stuck with now the web is so deeply embedded in our lives. It may never be possible to prevent their antics and, as the saying goes, "You can't have a picnic without ants."

Freedom to enjoy worldwide communication is our picnic and we have to learn to deal with the troublesome ants.




    Current date/time is Thu 17 Aug 2017 - 12:26