By - Doomsday :: Doomsday@brawl-hall.com
This article is intended for the curious reader or novice troll. Actual trolls are much too varied and their tactics far too expansive and spontaneous to ever possibly attempt to categorize or place them into any type of neat little lists full of vague descriptions. Also, although this article will focus and pay special attention to the cyber-phenomenon commonly referred to as "Newsgroup Trolling", it's relevant in regards to trolls on any venue.
Despite the fact that trolling as an art may have been perfected in Usenet, trolls have always been around in one form of another since the inception of the internet. Everything from chatrooms, newsgroups, message boards, mailing list, and in almost any social environment where cyber-citizens gather are common places to find trolls. In fact, many of the former usenet exclusive players in the game of trolling have already expanded into other venues. Including the forum located on the very website you're reading right now.
The particular venue that a troll chooses as the location to operate on is a matter of preference or opportunity and only differs in which tactics will be applied, yet the end goal is always the same, to create various forms of disruptions or simply to attract attention.
What exactly is an internet troll? The basic definition for a troll is any remark designed to attract predictable responses, actions, or flames. It can be argued that any flame is a form of trolling, however all troll posts are not necessarily flames. Insults and flames, while very effective, are simply one element of trolling. The term troll derives from the phrase "trolling for victims" which in turn comes from mainstream trolling. Mainstream trolling is to fish by trailing a lure or baited hook from a moving boat. The particular bait used by a newsgroup troll varies depending on his targets and intentions. Trolling can mean a lot of things to different people, and the methods employed by trolls can also be applied to other areas as well. However, the term "trolling" in the context of this article refers to the most common form of trolling; which is trolling for entertainment purposes and treating it as a game. Like all games, there is a goal. Trolling is not that dis-similar to a typical Role Playing Game. In this game the Trolls are the predators/villains while the civilians are unarmed participants to be manipulated and controlled as the troll sees fit.
However, caution should be took in separating the recreational trolls from the psycho trolls. Psycho trolls generally stay in the same newsgroup or a related community of newsgroups for extremely long periods of time. As opposed to those trolling for recreation, psycho trolls are generally out for revenge against a select few, or maybe everyone, who he feels has done him wrong. Psycho trolls often are mentally or emotional disturbed and may not even realize that they're trolling. To psycho trolls, what happens on the internet is very real and personal. On rare occasions real trolls will also fall into the above category and will possess the same traits. These are the sore-losers and bottom feeders of the troll community.
The most basic form of trolling is to submit a post that will attract the most possible amount of responses, negative or argumentative replies usually preferred, and then to sit back and bask in the chaos that has been created. This troll is simply out for immediate scoreboard and a quick win is enough to satisfy him. The tactic is basic, relatively uncreative, and only touches the surface of what a troll can really do; yet its effective in accomplishing its singular task--to attract attention and garner as many responses as possible. The content delivered by this type of troll generally falls into several areas; It may consist of an obviously foolish opposition of common knowledge, many intentional offensive insults or flames directed to the readers of a community, or a blanket generation on a specific category which is sure to attract a large number of argumentative replies.
While these trolls may be completely satisfied with just getting a desired reaction to his bait, and therefore consider it a "victory", a more well rounded and creative troll-job will encompass much more time and effort. Victory or winning for a troll depends on his particular goal. Depending on the desired goal a troll may not be content with an easy victory and choose to expand his exploits to the next level. Exactly what pursuit the next level turns out to be, is entirely up to the imagination and ability of the troll. The options are almost limitless.
Another type of troll worth mention is the "post whore". A post whore is a post-humping nuisance whose only purpose is simply to annoy by sheer volume of submitted post. They are intentionally aiming at being a pest. The post whore is generally looked down upon by most trolls and is often referred to as a spammer. They posses very limited verbal ability and are easily taken apart by flamers and civilians alike. Post whores do not possess the talent, personality, patience, or intelligence to troll using any form of advanced tactics. The true spammer on the other hand takes this one step further. Spamming is usually the exploits of the lowest caliber of troll. However, community based retaliation or mass attacks on civilian territories in an organized trolling venture are the exception to this rule. They lack creativity, but can create extreme chaos in quick order.
The experienced troll spends time carefully choosing the right subjects and delivering his bait to the appropriate communities. The most effective trolls will often posses very advanced flaming and/or debate ability in-order to aid and further his trolling potential. Just be sure to keep in mind that although there are many similarities and most flamers do troll, flamers are generally not trolls. Yet many advanced trolls are expert flamers. These master trolls employ the most advanced tactics and strategy and the art involved with trolling is taken seriously(Sometimes too seriously). Yet regardless of whether the troll is novice or advanced, the overall strategy can take several weeks or months to develop. It all depends on the trolls ability and what level he wants to take the troll to. This troll effort can also involve a number of people acting together as a unified group.
Now that we know what trolls are and have learned a little about a few different types of trolls, here comes the inevitable question..."why do trolls do what they do"? There are many reasons why people troll forums. Despite popular belief among many civilians, trolls are not all disgruntled, bitter, immature teens taking out their aggression on the innocent in-order to feel better about themselves by inflecting harm onto others. In-fact, many trolls are highly intelligent, witty, humorous, "normal", and quite friendly when in neutral settings. However as mentioned previously, caution should be took when separating the psycho trolls from the recreational trolls!
To get attention, causing disruptions, annoy people, or general chaos are almost always at the top of a trolls agenda. Yet as hard as it might be to believe, it's all done in the name of good light-hearted fun. It cannot be stressed enough that trolling is a game. In-order for this game of trolling to take place players are a mandatory ingredient. Some players are willing, others are unknowingly thrust into this game. As a civilian one will often serve as a pawn. You're not real, you're simply a digital abstraction to be used and manipulated. Still, rarely are recreational trolls out to hurt anyone or cause any real suffering. Remember, trolls can only upset you if you let them. After-all, it's only harmless words on a screen. As always... Don't Feed the Trolls.