Troll FAQ


Troll - A person who sends duplicitous messages to get angry

Note: The term 'Internet Troll' is frequently abused to slander
opponents in heated debates and is frequently misapplied by those
who are ignorant of Internet etiquette.


Trolls are sometimes caricatured as socially inept. This is often due
to the fundamental attribution error, as it is impossible to know the
real traits of an individual solely from their online discourse.
Indeed, since intentional trolls are alleged to knowingly flout social
boundaries, it is difficult to typecast them as socially inept since
they have arguably proven adept at their goal.


Calling someone a troll makes assumptions about a writer's motives
that are impossible to determine. The term troll is highly subjective,
and some posts will look like trolling to some while seeming like
meaningful contributions to others.

The term is frequently used to discredit an opposing position in an
argument. This can amount to an ad hominem argument; a
purported troll of this nature may actually hold an insightful but
controversial position that is generating controversy precisely
because it has successfully challenged entrenched opinions.


Attention-seeking: The troll seeks to dominate the thread by inciting
anger, and effectively hijacking the topic at hand.

Cry for help: An indication of disturbing situations regarding family,
relationships, substances, and schools.

Effect change: Stating extreme positions to make his or her actual
beliefs seem moderate.

Blatancy: A blatant violation of forum guidelines in order to see
whether any action is taken by the forum administrator.

Amusement: To some people, the thought of a 60-year-old Internet
user being sent a sexually explicit or gross post is funny.

Time Wasters: One of the greatest themes in trolling is the idea that
you can spend one minute of your time posting a troll, causing 10
other people to waste ten minutes of their time, more or catalytically
affecting lots of other people.

Satire: In these cases, the individuals do not think of themselves as
trolls, but misunderstood humorists or political commentators.

Self-promotion: Attempting to discredit the Maharishi so you can
drive new recruits to your own cult.

Related Structures

A. Trolls - users who actively provoke conflict.

B. Trollhunters - They behave according to a principle of "second
strike". They do not initiate conflict, but escalate it once it begins.

C. Trollbaiters - They use other trolls as an excuse for their own
misbehavior, and in many cases, typecast a user as a "troll"
regardless of his or her intent.

Ignorers: They seek to ignore the conflict, continuing with the topic
at-hand. They usually express a nonchalant disdain for the troll, but
does not seek actively to insult him or her.

Elders - They issue simple words of wisdom such as "Don't feed
it." or other phrases that generally mean the same thing.

Moderators - They seek to resolve the conflict, making all parties
happy, if possible.

Kwitters - They withdraw from the conflict and in particularly bad
cases, they will leave the forum in disgust.

Related Terms

1. "Feeding the troll" - often the poster will become defensive when
the argument is refuted but may instead continue the thread through
the use of further flawed arguments.

2. "Schlocks" - A subclass of troll who posts links to offensive or
disturbing pictures or cartoons or shock sites that contain such
media. Often these links are disguised as legitimate links.

3. "Sock puppets" - Dilettantes posing as experts or impostors that
don't vote trying to get you to vote for their political position.
Sometimes called a sock puppet troll.

4. "Devil's advocates" - to strengthen opposing convictions with
which he or she usually doesn't even agree with.

5. "Domino effectors" - Starting large chain reactions in response
to one's initial post. Achieving a disproportionately large response to
a small action is the general theme.

6. "Groupthinkers" - Many trolls defend their actions as, when a
sort of conformism settles, shocking people out of it.

7. "Waxed" - The act of waxing, besting, or discrediting personal
attacks against one particular user or group of users in a fair debate.

8. "Soapboxers" - They overcome feelings of inferiority or
powerlessness by getting the experience of controlling an

9. "Lurkers" - In general they avoid dialoging with trolls and ignore
temptations to respond, instead they send you a private email.

10. "Postal" - They go ape-shit over the slightest mention of their
ex-wives, when you know they believe in polygamy.

Analysis from Wikipedia:

Responding to a troll inevitably drives discussion off-topic, to the
dismay of bystanders, and supplies the troll with the craved
attention. When troll hunters pounce on the trolls, ignorers reply
with: "YHBT. YHL. HAND.", which translated means "You have
been trolled. You have lost. Have a nice day."

However, since troll hunters (like trolls) are often conflict-seekers
themselves, the loss usually is not on the part of the trollhunter;
rather, the losers are the other forum-users who would have
preferred that the conflict not emerge at all.

Literature on conflict resolution suggests that labeling participants
in Internet discussions as trolls can perpetuate the unwanted
behaviors. A person rejected by a social group may assume an
antagonistic role toward it, and seek to further annoy or anger
members of the group. The "troll" label, often a sign of social
rejection, may therefore actually perpetuate trolling.

Better results normally ensue when users take the moderator role
and describe more constructive behaviors in a non-judgmental,
non-confrontational way.

Trolls are excited by troll hunters and frustrated by ignorers, and
neither of these emotions produce positive results for the forum.
Engaging trolls results in "flame wars". Trolls frustrated by the
"ignore strategy" may leave the forum (and either troll elsewhere,
or become constructive users) or may become progressively
more inflammatory until they get a response.