Identifying & Dealing With Trolls 101

By: Rebecca Lynn
Troll 2
So lately we've had a rather large influx of problem users and "trolls" especially in our chat room. So I felt it was an appropriate time for a blog about trolls. Trolls can be very disruptive to chat and the wiki, but feeding them can be just as disruptive.....
The Basics of Identifying a Troll
First and foremost what IS a troll.... An internet 'troll' is an abusive or obnoxious user who uses shock value to promote arguments and disharmony in online communities. Named after the wicked troll creatures of children's tales, an internet troll is someone who stirs up drama and abuses their online anonymity by purposely sowing hatred, bigotry, racism, misogyny, or just simple bickering between others. Trolls like a big audience, so they frequent blog sites, news sites, discussion forums, and game chat. Trolls thrive in any environment where they are allowed to make public comments.

At the lighter end of the troll spectrum, trolls can be personal friends who like to goad and joke with their buddies online. In this case, 'trolling' will mean 'stop hassling me, or I won't invite you to my birthday party'.

At the harsher end of the troll spectrum, trolls are cruel and malicious users who want to set an online community on fire with hate and discord.


First and foremost, make sure you're dealing with a troll. Sometimes, what appears to be a troll may just be a very stressed out person or a very confused and scared newb. Avoid getting heated yourself and try to ask kind questions or make kind suggestions before assuming the worst.

  • Trolls generally use provocative and confrontational language. A clever one will mix it up with relevant and friendly posts.
  • Trolls hardly ever stick to the topic; they beat around the bush with the intention to confuse the reader.
  • Trolls of the subtle variety flag off their attack with innocent questions. You will often find them dressed up as new members of forums and chat rooms.
  • Trolls lack understanding of a topic. They will not respond with a proper answer to a proper question.
  • Trolls (especially the clever variants) use catch phrases to win sympathy. For instance, they may portray themselves as victims or specially challenged.
  • Trolls may make desperate efforts to make themselves liked. Sugar coated responses or overt-flattering comments are signature troll moves.
Sad Truths About Trolls
  1. Trolls are immune to criticism and logical arguments. True trolls cannot be reasoned with, regardless of how sound your logical argument is.
  2. Trolls do not feel remorse like you and me. They have sociopathic tendencies, and accordingly, they delight in other people having hurt feelings.
  3. Trolls consider themselves separate from the social order.
  4. Trolls do not abide by etiquette or the rules of common courtesy.
  5. Trolls consider themselves above social responsibility.
  6. Trolls gain energy by you insulting them.
  7. Trolls gain energy when you get angry.
  8. The only way to deal with a troll is to ignore him, or take away his ability to post online.
Types of Trolls
  1. Mischievous: Such trolls have a humorous intent. Often, they are a "regular" who has temporarily adopted a new identity in order to play a good-natured prank. They are not abusive to members and rarely create trouble within a community. Generally there is no harm in responding to them. Some members may find mischievous trolls to be annoying, particularly if their presence leads to lengthy posts that distract the community from its true intent; other members inevitably find that the troll's humor and light-hearted antics provide the community with an opportunity to laugh together, thereby enhancing and strengthening community bonds.
  2. Mindless: Mindless trolls have a tendency to post lengthy stories of questionable belief thus promoting good facial tone in members due to excessive eye-rolling. They are generally harmless. On rare occasion, the fictitious posts of a mindless troll may lead to insightful debate and discussion. Aside from encouraging them, there is generally no harm in responding.
  3. Malicious: A malicious troll arrives with the intent of being blatantly abusive to the group and/or specific individuals within the group. One of their characteristics is that within a very short time of gaining access they begin targeting and harassing members using both low-end and high-end tactics. In some cases, the troll has a prior history with the group or someone within the group. In other scenarios, the troll is simply looking for a fresh meat market.
  4. Destructive: Around 1999 a new form of troll began to appear on the net in mail groups and online communities. The primary purpose of this type of troll is to completely destroy the group it has infiltrated. Destructive trolls may work on their own, or possibly in teams or gangs.
Dealing with Trolls

Remember the golden rule: In all cases, the best response to a malicious or destructive troll is absolutely NO RESPONSE. Trolls will only stay where they are well fed. Explain Rules/Warn, Ignore, BLOCK

  • Always assume good faith initially.
  • Keep your sense of humour. You may be able to joke them out of their misbehaving.
  • Avoidance is the best policy: If you can catch them shooting their mouths off, totally ignore remarks left by trolls. Don’t feed the trolls should be stuck up on a yellow sticky always.
  • Avoid arguments: If you do get on a one-to-one with someone you suspect to be a troll, keep your remarks to an absolute minimum. State your facts and move on. Put the ball in their court. By the second remark or so, a troll would have identified himself.
  • Don’t let them flatter to deceive: There is a high chance that a troll will pay a compliment or two to ingratiate himself before he starts his attack. This is a tough one as there are many real admirers who do sugar coat their comments.
  • Kill them with kindness: As I mentioned, Trolls are often looking for attention in the worst ways possible. The anonymity of the internet gives them a huge advantage over the class clown. They know this, and tend to go for broke when confronted by moderators. You can expect them to start mouthing-off about the site’s staff, the unfairness of the rules, or complaining about how other people are acting. They’re just doing it to get a rise out of you. For whatever reason, they often find it funny to get you upset. No matter what they do to provoke you, always take the high road. ? Whatever you do, don’t start arguing with them. It’ll bring you down to their level. By being nothing but polite and calm with them, you affirming that you are, in fact, the one in charge around here. Power struggles are not worth getting into when you already know that you have all the power in the situation. It’s your site.

Why do Trolls Exist :-(

Sadly the short answer, it is a kind of power rush or ego trip to be a troll. Being online is a place that is largely free of perceived consequences... an insecure person can get a sense of power online, without ever having to face someone directly. With the Internet being a world of imagination and fantasy for some, cowardly users can forge an alter ego for themselves, and act out their feelings of anger and inadequacy. It's sad and unfortunate that our advanced communications also brings out the darker side of many people.

Important Reminders

Please remember, for those of you who are upstanding members of this community, especially users who have chat mod privileges and are tasked with upholding our policies, your actions define the flow of chat.

What does that mean you ask? Well, if you, someone who is perceived as a long standing member or someone with authority, are caught yelling, spamming, acting crazy, acting hurtful, you are setting the example for what newbs might perceive the community to be like. Being mindful of your own actions, and that you yourself follow the rules of online etiquette and our chat rules, is one way to prevent some trolls. If a new user comes to chat and sees users who are already there yelling, they may immediately think it's ok to yell, others are doing it, so why not.

Also, VERY IMPORTANT, because I know I've caught users doing this in the past. Breaking rules to take care of a troll is NOT acceptable. If a troll comes on chat and starts calling you names that is not a green flag to call them names. If a troll comes on chat and starts yelling at you that is not a green flag to yell at them. See what I'm getting at here?

I can't emphasise enough:

Remember the golden rule: In all cases, the best response to a malicious or destructive troll is absolutely NO RESPONSE. Trolls will only stay where they are well fed. Explain Rules/Warn, Ignore, BLOCK

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