Wednesday, December 22, 2010

My Thoughts on Internet Trolls

Welcome again folks for today’s blog posting. Today’s topic will be on a collection of people, called trolls – internet trolls to be precise. For safety concerns and the fact that the topic is so broad, I won’t delve too deep into this topic. But, I’ll cover the jist of this topic and on how “we” can stand up to them and reduce the problem.

The Urban Dictionary defines Trolls as “One who posts a deliberately provocative message to a newsgroup or message board with the intention of causing maximum disruption and argument”. As many internet users could tell you, they have encountered one or more trolls in their experiences with the internet. The effect can be either minor or profound depending on the circumstance. But, of course, troll(s) always stir up anger and controversy for their own self-indulgence or pleasure. They go to a multitude of sites on an impromptu basis in either groups or by themselves. No site is safe from their attacks – they can bring down a site by spamming or worse. They sprawl all across the web either active or “lurking” – no one’s safe from their wrath. There is an important thing to note on this matter though, they do not work in groups most of the time. When I refer to them as “them”, I’m referring to these people as a collection, not as a group. They sometimes work together and most of the time they don’t.

However, what attracts these people to particular sites or fandoms? Why are some more vulnerable than others? The answer is that it all has to do with the size of the fandom, the “eccentricity” of the fanbase, and the anonymity of the internet playing a role. Generally speaking, the larger the fanbase the more the fans there will be – which makes the message boards on these fandoms more popular. Unfortunately, this means that trolls will be able to attack a larger audience and a larger number of fans will not be able to resist the temptation of “feeding” the trolls – as in responding to them. The same thing with “eccentricity” of the fans, the more fans like a work, the more the chance they will protect it from criticism. Sure, some fans will accept criticism, but when the eccentricity is at high-levels like in some certain fandoms, they will attack the criticizers without mercy. This will just add fuel to the fire for trolls.

Of course, the other main reason for trolling would be the anonymity of the internet. In most cases, people on the internet feel more inclined to be less “conservative” or more aggressive because of their belief that they cannot be tracked or punished for their behaviors – unlike in real life where these behaviors would have negative repercussions. In fact, on the internet, trolls barely have any repercussions - they could always make another account or go to another site to troll if they are IP-banned or even use other methods.

Any person could become a troll with enough aggravation or desire. However, there are ways of dealing with their antics and the like. The first step would be to ignore them and continue on with the preceding conversations. Trolls love to have attention as it’s their “main food source” to keep going. With ignorance or indifference to the trolls from the targeted members, trolls will grow disinterested, and will either quit or move to another site. As the saying goes, “ignorance is bliss”. Although getting all fans to comply would be extremely hard due to the aforementioned problems on disagreement. The second method would be also decrease the number of arguments on a multitude of things in fandoms. Of course, this according to today’s standards would be practically impossible to achieve due to the human race. A third way and much less popular way would be to bait them away from un-expecting users. As Know Your Meme/Rocketboom put it, they are known as cannibalistic trolls. With enough time and effort put into this (by ironically mostly doing nothing other than education), trolls can be put down safely – unless they have their own agenda(s). Then, we can focus on some of the many other issues plaguing various fandoms.

That’s it for today’s topic folks! I apologize if this posting seems a bit half-hearted or something related – I was having some issues choosing and writing a topic today. As always, suggestions, comments, and corrections are always appreciated. Have a wonderful day folks and I hope to see you tomorrow. This is Delvarian signing off!

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