What is a troll?
The term "troll" can mean a number of different things, but in essence, a troll is a person who aims to have 'pleasure' at your expense. There are two main types of trolls:
people who are psychologically disturbed, and seek to feel good by making other list members feel bad. This is a sort of "psycho troll", whose deception involves deceiving themselves as well as others. In this respect, they are no different to the sorts of people we meet in everyday life who are disturbed - some of them are easy to spot, and others aren't. Such people may even use their real names on the internet, and they may not even realise that they are "trolling" because it is all subconscious.
people who pretend to be someone that they are not - they create personae that you think are real, but they know is fictitious.
Level one - "Playtime" - This is where the troller is simply out for
the gratification provided by a quick "win". An example of this might be
to join a list with a fictitious name, cause an argument, withdraw and
then boast to friends about what he/she had done. Such trolls are relatively
easy to spot because their attack or provocation is fairly blatant, and
the persona is fairly two-dimensional.
Level two - "Tactical" - This is where the troller takes the game more seriously, creates a credible persona with which to provoke the list, and uses recognised techniques or tactics to gain the confidence and support of individuals on the list. Provocation is subtle and invidious, so spotting this type of troll is not easy, because the persona is credible, and off-list email exchanges have caused you to believe that this person is genuine and trustworthy.
Level three - "Strategic" - This is a very serious form of game, involving the production of an overall strategy that can take months or years to develop. It can also involve a number of people acting together in order to invade a list. Once a list is infested, it can be nigh impossible to work out who is a troll and who is bona fide.
Level four - "Domination" - This is where the trollers' strategy extends to the creation and running of apparently bona-fide mailing lists. In such circumstances, their payoff may be the knowledge that they are dominating the emotional lives of list members, and is perhaps one of the ultimate forms of deceit that can be achieved.
It should be noted that trolling games are not restricted to the internet. Their tactics can also include contacting people in real life using snail-mail and/or telephone. The boundaries between real-life con-men and internet trolls are not as clear as they used to be.
Trolls see Internet communications services as convenient venues for their bizarre game. For some reason, they don't "get" that they are hurting real people. To them, other Internet users are not quite human but are a kind of digital abstraction. As a result, they feel no sorrow whatsoever for the pain they inflict. Indeed, the greater the suffering they cause, the greater their 'achievement' (as they see it). At the moment, the relative anonymity of the net allows trolls to flourish.
Trolls are utterly impervious to criticism (constructive or otherwise). You cannot negotiate with them; you cannot cause them to feel shame or compassion; you cannot reason with them. They cannot be made to feel remorse. For some reason, trolls do not feel they are bound by the rules of courtesy or social responsibility.
Perhaps this sounds inconceivable. You may think, "Surely there is something
I can write that will change them." But a true troll can not be changed
by mere words.
Why does it Matter?
Some people -- particularly those who have been online for years -- are not upset by trolls and consider them an inevitable hazard of using the net. As the saying goes, "You can't have a picnic without ants."
It would be nice if everybody was so easy-going, but the sad fact is that trolls do discourage people. Established posters may leave a message board because of the arguments that trolls ignite, and lurkers (people who read but do not post) may decide that they do not want to expose themselves to abuse and thus never get involved.
Another problem is that the negative emotions stirred up by trolls leak over into other discussions. Normally affable people can become bitter after reading an angry interchange between a troll and his victims, and this can poison previously friendly interactions between long-time users.
Finally, trolls create a paranoid environment, such that a casual criticism by a new arrival can elicit a ferocious and inappropriate backlash.
The Internet is a wonderful resource which is breaking down barriers
and stripping away prejudice. Trolls threaten our continued enjoyment of
this beautiful forum for ideas.
What can be Done about Trolls?
When you suspect that somebody is a troll, you might try responding with a polite, mild message to see if it's just somebody in a bad mood. Internet users sometimes let their passions get away from them when seated safely behind their keyboard. If you ignore their bluster and respond in a pleasant manner, they usually calm down.
However, if the person persists in being beastly, and seems to enjoy being unpleasant, the only effective position is summed up as follows:
The only way to deal with trolls is to limit your reaction to reminding others not to respond to trolls.
When you try to reason with a troll, he wins. When you insult a troll,
he wins. When you scream at a troll, he wins. The only thing that trolls
can't handle is being ignored.
Trolls intentionally post content that instigates other users to reply in an abusive manner. The usual result is that the Troll will report you to your ISP for abusive conduct and your ISP may cancel or terminate your account.
Snerts are usually younger in age, and usually don't realize that what they're doing can cause them to lose their account. Some intentionally post material as a flamer or Troll does, but without the understanding that they risk a loss of the ISP. The original name Snert, stands for "snot-nosed egotistical rotten teenager".
Why do they do this?
The internet is a great place, where many people from many places can gather and share information and learn from each other. The drawback is you don't have to qualify as "socially responsible" to get on the Internet. With that said, be prepared to meet these socially deprived personalities on the web.
Their basic characteristics:
1) They refuse to take responsibility for their
actions and behavior
2) They don't realize that they are disliked by other people, in fact they think they are above others and that others should accept them.
3) Many are depressed and may have severe problems dealing with their failure in social situations. Most are unable to face the issue that they are socially challenged, and are in denial of their situation.
4) They hate themselves, and pass that hate onto others because they can't deal with themselves. They feel that passing their hate to others will remove some of the hate within. What ever they say about you is a direct reflection of their feelings about themselves.