Troll mechanisms

Suzette is dealing with a particularly noxious comment troll, and Dogette explains the pathology involved:

I have theories as to why people do this. Let me list them.

1. They are sitting too close to their monitors. Seriously, this is probably the number one cause of troll-comment-leaving. People spend too much time on the computer but also they are just sitting too close to the monitor. After a while it makes them insane. All those little particles and shit. It’s brain damage.

This presumes the existence of a brain, but this isn’t too difficult a leap, so we will so stipulate. To continue:

2. They are repressing anger at some REAL issue(s) in their lives. Like, maybe they are really angry at their mailman. Or their trash guys. Instead of dealing with that anger through medication and therapy, which costs money, they troll blogs and get “upset” and leave these little comment turds. For a time, they feel better. But then the nagging thoughts, in the dark at night, alone: “I still hate my trash guys. I should go back to that Cripes Suzette site and spew at her some more. That felt good, I remember.”

Alternatively, we could charge people for commenting, which would make this maneuver something less than cost-effective, but so doing would drive away the non-trolls, and there are enough trolls who seem to be financed by [fill in name of shadowy rich guy who seems to have a thumb in all sorts of pies] — how else could they have so damn much free time? — to make such an action counterproductive in the extreme.

3. They have just lost touch with “reality.” “Reality” is this case must always be in quotation marks. “Reality” is pretty personal and customized in these cases. It’s not the same “reality” you and I might be in. It’s a “Special” reality. So I should have written “special” “reality” with both words in their own “separate” “special” “quotation marks.”

I suspect that “concern trolls,” of which there have been an abundance in blogdom generally of late, straddle the line between #2 and #3.

Personally, I think Dogette should formalize these subgroups and their definitions, and the rest of us should get used to the idea of referring to the troll in the previous comment as a “Type 1″ or a “Type 3″ or whatever. This would make, I think, a good Greasemonkey script, along the lines of Trollhammer. In fact, it could be incorporated into Trollhammer; in the process of eliminating the offending comment entirely in your browser, it would leave a reference to the troll type, for future reference.



  1. fillyjonk »

    13 November 2009 · 7:17 am

    I’ve never had a comment troll (Thank God for small favors) but I tend to lean towards explanation #2, there. It’s a whole damn pecking order thing, people who have nowhere to vent their anger. Though I suppose it doesn’t help to realize that trolls are, if not the Omega Chicken in the hierarchy, are the Psi Chicken*

    (* My stats book tells me that’s the Greek letter right before Omega.)

  2. One of the stupider things I have heard lately « A Conservative Shemale »

    13 November 2009 · 8:01 am

    [...] Dustbury examines comment trolls – fortunately I haven’t got that problem. [...]

  3. Suzette »

    13 November 2009 · 8:50 am

    I do seem to get a lot of negative comments from strangers, but to my surprise, they are not on any of my political fringe entries. They show up out of the blue on topics that seem so innocuous.

    The most blistering communication ever was in my early blogging days on my first site which I named after my dog – Bob the Corgi. It wasn’t a dog blog and Bob was a peripheral character at best – the guy who sold me morning coffee appeared in more posts than the dog. However, someone took great exception to the notion that I was “soiling the reputation of a fine little dog” by associating it with my brainless and disgusting writing, and told me so in a profanity-laced email of 2,000 words.

    Ah, memories!

  4. McGehee »

    13 November 2009 · 9:56 am

    The only troll I ever really had trouble with is one I would categorize as the “space invader” — he got his jollies by getting into a place, making himself unwelcome, and then getting around whatever banishment strategies were available at the time, just to show that he could.

    Of course, that was before spammers pushed banishment strategies far enough to where now those of us who really want to keep out space invaders, can. Plus, I think he finally got tired of his stupid little game.

  5. Lisa Paul »

    13 November 2009 · 1:55 pm

    Another category of trolls are those whose lack of coherent thinking and inability to form complete sentences mean they are always humiliated in face to face discussions. (Where they always resort to shouting over the other speakers.) Blog comments offer something of a safety zone for them and their frustrated argumentative tendencies.

    But, like Suzette, I’m amazed at some of the blogs they target. Like mine. I seldom write about anything approaching politics. Mostly about our animals, organic vineyards and the wildlife surrounding us. There’s always something crawling out from under a bridge to scream at me for something. Thank God for the delete button.

  6. Andrea Harris »

    13 November 2009 · 2:08 pm

    I used to get lots of trolls, but with the exception of a few (such as one who left gay porn in my comments but who otherwise didn’t say anything) most of them tried — in their own ill-educated, subpar intelligence way — to argue with me on the actual topic of the post! I’d get them on Tim Blair’s site when I ran it as well. Sometimes I’d just delete the comment and ban the troll, sometimes I’d edit them the way Suzette does, to make a mockery of them, and sometimes I’d leave them so the other commenters could rip them to shreds.

    Good times…

  7. Fishersville Mike »

    15 November 2009 · 11:49 am

    Fishersville Mike Justifies Rabbit Allergies…

    Dustbury shares tips about dealing with trolls….

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