Thursday, January 12, 2012

Troll: What Is It, and Why Do Stupid People Not Understand?


Let me be clear up front: I don’t troll, certainly not on my blog or in the comments of anyone else’s blog. Not even in my more bored 4chan moments do I initiate trolling (though I will gleefully join in there, since it’s harmless and amusing). While blogging, I have been facetious, ironic and I’ve played dumb, but trolling is something very specific.

First off, most people use “troll” improperly. This is mostly because they’re idiots who saw it used once and think it’s just an insulting term for someone in any number of cases. If someone is expressing an opposing opinion forcefully, they aren’t a troll. If someone is using hyperbole to illustrate a point, they aren’t being a troll. If they are replying to every single person in a thread of comments and dominating the conversation, they aren’t a troll. Those people may be pricks, but they’re not trolls.

A troll is someone who knowingly presents some obviously stupid/wrong idea with the sole purpose of watching naïve readers not in on the joke react to what was said. A good troll statement is almost invariably so wrong that no one could seriously believe it is true. For example, this might be a good troll post:


If there’s anyone in on the joke, they might brilliantly chime in with something like, “I loved him in Beverly Hills Cop and as the voice of Donkey in Shrek.” Suddenly, you have the epic double-trolling. If I have to explain why this is hilarious to watch, just hang yourself now, because life is going to be miserable for you.

On 4chan, another common one is the “Fingerbox” thread. Basically someone posts a picture of a small wooden box of some kind and begins discussing how awesome their fingerbox is, but they only have an ebony one made in Mexico for $190, and they’re saving up for a nice Ash or Mahogany Japanese one in the $300-400 range, so does anyone have any suggestions?

The more people who play along here the better, because the thread can be filled with pages of gibberish before some moron finally asks, “What the hell is a fingerbox?”

And that person loses, because there’s no such thing as a fingerbox, you dumbfuck.

The point of these sort of games is manifold, I suppose. Again, realize that while I am amused by it, I’m not a huge fan of the concept. The idea is to embarrass new people, to identify who is an outsider, to cause people to feel left out or dumb… basically, nothing constructive. Communities like 4chan thrive on feeling like they are exclusive and insular, and they do this in a number of ways. While I don’t like trolling, it’s better than some of their other methods for keeping the newfags (their words, not mine) out, like posting child porn, bestiality, extreme gore, and [most disgusting of all] hundreds of threads supporting Ron Paul.

There are different goals for trolling, but the hallmarks of a troll don’t change, regardless of the aim. The troll knows what they are doing, and they are being deliberately deceptive. Sometimes the goal is to manipulate a group, as when someone who believes X goes to an anti-X forum and begins expressing “concerns” about the community under the guise of being part of it. These are sometimes called “concern trolls,” or as I have come to know them, “con-trollers.”

But again, this term is often used improperly. Granted it’s hard to know if someone has legitimate concerns, it doesn’t make sense to assume someone is messing with you… at least in my experience. Most people who make serious-sounding claims are just expressing their views. It’s more likely that they’re wrong than that they’re trolling me, and just to be sure I often give a short, one sentence, glib remark in reply. If they get more insistent, they are almost never a troll.

It’s hard to use the term “troll” accurately, because it requires one to know the intent of the poster, who may be anonymous. Some people just throw around “troll” like a catch-all term for anyone they don’t agree with, perhaps even while knowing the meaning of the word. But how healthy is that? Is it a good idea to go through life thinking that everyone who disagrees with you is really on your side, but they’re just trying to mess with you? Isn’t this “denial?”

While you may not be able to identify if someone is a troll, hopefully now you at least know what a troll is.

31 comments:

  1. What does one of the Three Musketeers have to do with trolling, you fucking idiot!

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  2. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.

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  3. No No No No NO!

    A troll is a creature that lives under a bridge and beats the crap out of unsuspecting travelers in order to gut them alive just for the fun of it and then suck the marrow from their bones.

    Geesh.... come on

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9KCct4RwLNM

    ReplyDelete
  4. That movie is trolling. There are no trolls in Troll 2; those are goblins.

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  5. Another intellectually dishonest post from Mr. Alan. Terms take on additional meanings, they evolve, and so it is with "troll".

    He states "I don’t troll, certainly not on my blog or in the comments of anyone else’s blog". HAHAHAHAHA! Oh my God!

    Thus to justify his own trolling, he defines his obvious trolling away. Debate is one thing, deliberately attempting to get a reaction (and nothing more) from someone by provoking them is the sign of true trolliness properly defined by common usage (as a dictionary but not Bret would acknowledge). And Bret fits the picture of a very ugly troll perfectly. Let's all hope he dies screaming in a pool of his own troll blood, or something.

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  6. Another intellectually dishonest post from Mr. Alan. Terms take on additional meanings, they evolve, and so it is with "troll".

    No... that's not really how it works. When a moron uses a word improperly, it doesn't just take on a different meaning, that person is just a moron. For example, "orientated" will never mean "oriented," no matter how many people use it improperly.

    Look up for yourself the origins of the word's use. Or keep using it wrong and look stupid, I don't really care.

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    Replies
    1. What a crock of shit.

      When a moron uses a word improperly, it doesn't just take on a different meaning, that person is just a moron

      So, I was talking about one moron (maybe you?) you fucking liar? We weren't talking about one person, but common usage over time. There can be one main usage (listed as the first definition) and then secondary uses of a word. That's a fact, period! So give it up, loser boy. You've failed, again!

      You can be Humpty Dumpty and have a word mean whatever YOU and you alone think it should at any given moment, but the rest of us don't really care how stupid you are and aren't paying attention to your idiocy, fool!

      In fact, this entire post was simply another of your pathetic attempts at trolling. How amusing to see the little troll wail when he's exposed!

      Delete
    2. Actually 'oriented' is american english, and 'orientated' is british english.

      The only purpose of language is used to communicate. There are generic meanings to words that are accepted by the population at large. But as soon as two people decide on an alternative meaning for a word, that meaning becomes valid because it enables the two to communicate effectively by agreeing on a common meaning for that word. There is no language police, english has always been a creole that evolved from a pidgin anyway.

      However, if an american travels to a french-speaking country and orders an 'entrée', he shouldn't expect a main course, because they'll bring him an appetizer. By your logic, americans are morons who can't use the word entrée appropriately.

      Delete
    3. Regardless (not irregardless), there (not they're or their) are a lot (not alot) of words people think its all right (not alright) to use, which I am not only averse (not adverse) to using, but which are incorrect.

      Delete
  7. but common usage over time

    It's just being commonly used by a large pack of morons. You should leave the neologisms (and apparently their very simple use) to those who know what they're doing.

    You could have done 5 minutes of research and seen how wrong you are. *shrug*

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  8. Nikk "Troll" Jakson1/14/2012 8:03 PM

    You bought it!

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  9. anyone who used the word troll instead of the correct english word should be marked for execution.

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    Replies
    1. Or perhaps just made to wear a funny hat, so we can all identify them.

      Delete
  10. You have spelt "Anything" wrong on your page.

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    Replies
    1. Damnit, you got me on that one. Made me look.

      Delete
  11. ... I just know I'm going to be ganged up on for this, but I am going to say it anyway.

    Bret, I have never before read your blog nor your posts, however I do have to point out the blaring fallacy of something you have said. Whether you admit it or not, language -does- evolve. Otherwise we would all be speaking Middle English, which sounded far more Germanic than our current languages does. -Or- we would all still be speaking King's English and would use words like 'thou' or 'thee'. It is a fact that language evolves, and usually it evolves through the addition of new words to said language, or in the way words are pronounced and/or spelled. If language did not evolve, there would be no used for Linguists.. and we would not have so many different languages in the first place.

    The fact is, many languages have evolved from one root language which they can trace their etymology to. The Gaelic languages are all evolved roots of an older language, which is why Irish Gaelic and Scottish Gaelic both sound so similar in a lot of ways. And this is also why some Latin American languages are so similar and yet different.

    Instead of proving your point, you simply made inflammatory comments to pull the reader into a pointless, frivolous argument, which... I must say... is what -I- call a troll. That isn't trying to win the argument, that's trying to humiliate and/or hurt someone.

    I'd tell you to grow up and learn to argue with logic to prove your point, rather than baseless insults, but I'm fairly certain it would be a fruitless endeavour. I guess I've said it in a way, though, but you probably still won't heed it.

    So bring it on. Let the gang-up begin. I'm ready for it.

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  12. ... And yes, I do realise my comment was made four months later. However, it is still true.

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    Replies
    1. Your argument would make sense... if it weren't for the fact that the term "troll" isn't some ancient insult that has been used for hundreds of years and slowly evolved. It already evolved, from a term for a monster that lives under a bridge to meaning someone who lures people into getting angry through deception.

      The term "troll" as it pertains to the internet means something, and people are using it wrong. That isn't language evolving, it's idiots who do not know what it means using it improperly. I'm all for language evolving, but this term already evolved into something... and people don't get it, they just use it ignorantly.

      Delete
    2. Troll actually is derived from trolling a form of fishing where you drag a lure along the ocean floor.

      Delete
  13. go back to uk limey

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    Replies
    1. I think I'd rather stay in America...

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  14. I didn't red this blog, nor did I read the comments. I was just stumbling along when I saw this comment window. So I decided to write this comment. I love you all... well I mean I like you all a whole bunch.

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  15. Sorry, I meant "read" not "red".

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  16. I am a brilliant author (go look me up on 'Amazon').

    Interesting discussion; particularly between Mr. Bret Alan and Amarinth (Pigweed? Odd).

    Curious thing I find about 'Facebook' and these comment lists is that so many people choose to identify themselves anonymously through 'nom de plumes'

    The whole point of 'Facebook' is that everybody knows one another, thus anonymity is unnecessary.

    Consequently, the use of pseudonyms is, primarily, cowardice so that people can hide behind anonymity to make remarks/comments that would otherwise seem to be obscene, outrageous, factually misleading, taunting or othrwise offensive; remarks that they would not feel free to make if they used their real name.

    Such comments are, then, to be ignored as irrelevant no matter how 'wise and considered' they may appear to be.

    Thank you for your informative post, Mr. Alan.

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  17. ......Am i the only Dumbass here who cant understand half the shit these brits are saying?

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  18. Yes, as another poster pointed out, the word 'trolling' in the context of the internet has nothing to do with an ugly beast that lives under a bridge but a form of fishing where one slowly drags bait to see if a fish takes it. In the web context the bait takes the form of an inflammatory post. If a 'fish' takes the bait, the troll gets the enjoyment of the sport.

    ReplyDelete

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