Internet Troll (© gustavofrazao / Fotolia.com)
Internet Troll (© gustavofrazao / Fotolia.com)

If you have web access, then you have heard of the Internet troll. This used to be a slang term that was confined to regular users of the Internet, but is entered the mainstream now and everyone knows what an Internet troll is.

They exist everywhere on the Internet, and in this article will be looking at the phenomenon, the people behind it and the ways you can combat Internet trolls.

 

What is an Internet Troll?

The Internet troll can either be a verb or noun. In the noun form, and Internet troll is a person that is trolling on the Internet. But the term Internet troll can also be a verb, referring to the act of trolling. In this article, we will be using the noun form for the purposes of clarity.

But what exactly is an Internet troll? Simply put, Internet troll is internet slang for a computer user who seeks to elicit a response from other computer users. What defines the Internet troll is that they use several different tactics to elicit very strong responses. They post on message boards, forums, video comment sections, social media and a variety of other places; most of the time, the Internet troll prefers to remain anonymous. There are very few instances of someone trolling with their real identity.

Common Places to Find Trolling

If you want to know where to find a mythical troll, the best place to look is under bridges. But just like the mythical troll. There are also places where Internet trolls prefer to hang out. These are places where they can easily post content under an anonymous pseudonym. That means that Internet trolls do not usually hang out in online community comment sections where every comment is moderated and has to be approved. They want to be able to post without any real delay and without moderation, and without anyone knowing who they really are.

One of the most common places to find Internet trolls in the comments section of the YouTube video. You can find lots of trolling comments below popular videos. But even more prevalent on YouTube are Internet trolls that hang out in the live chat section of YouTube videos that are streaming live. These live streams rarely have moderators on YouTube, and are therefore the perfect place for the Internet troll. You can also find trolls on forums, the comment section of video gaming websites, articles on major newspapers and any messages in an online forum where they can people troll. They will visit just about anywhere that people congregate to discuss things.

Tactics of Internet Trolls

Fortunately, Internet trolls are not very imaginative and the tactics that they use are well-known. Let’s take a look at some of the most common tactics that the Internet troll has in their arsenal.

  • One of the things that mark the Internet troll is a refusal to accept the normal philosophies or values.
  • In addition, Internet trolls will usually be inactive for periods of time and then have sudden spurts of activity where they are online for hours or days.
  • They often have strong opinions on controversial subjects.
  • Their posts are usually confrontational.
  • they use provocative language and generalizations.
  • They have no in-depth knowledge about the topics that they are discussing and instead rely on the most superficial information.
  • They make make racist, sexist, homophobic or violent comments just to get a reaction.
  • Their profile usually contains very little personal information and never contains their real photo.
  • They will take any side of an argument as long as it provokes the other person into an argument.
  • They may pretend to be a child, of the opposite gender or any other false identity that they can use in order to make what they are saying more controversial. In some cases, children that are trolls may pretend to be adults but they give themselves away with the writing style.
  • These free email services that are usually fairly anonymous like a Hotmail address.
  • That is various attention seeking gimmicks that are intended to draws many people into the conversation as possible, usually defending the opposite party of the Internet troll.

Types of Trolls

Now, let’s take a look at a few types of Internet trolls that are out there. These certainly do not describe every Internet troll out there, but they do cover the majority of them that hang out in the comment section, on social networking sites of social media platforms or the chat room.

The first type of Internet troll is called the insulter. An insulting troll simply hates certain people and starts flame wars with them on message boards and comment sections. They may not even have a reason for it, they just enjoy spreading hate. They may do battle with everyone on the message board, calling them names, accusing them of things and trying to get a reaction.

Another type is the debater. The debater troll is always looking for an argument. They don’t even care what the argument is. If you argue one side, they will usually argue the other. They can break down a well-researched article and use generalizations and faulty logic to make it seem false.

The grammarian is the next type of troll that we will discuss. You will find the grammarian on message boards, often correcting people spelling or grammar. What is ironic about this is that they are so often wrong about the rules of grammar or spelling, and suffer from the same problems themselves.

The offended troll is a type of troll that will take things out of context or completely misread a situation or article and become offended by it. They can become offended by even a simple sentence. They may go off on huge rants in their troll comments and it is unclear whether or not they are actually offended or just pretending to be.

The big mouth troll likes to show off how much they know, even if what they actually knows very little. This type of troll loves to share their opinions anywhere they can, and usually lays them out in great detail with multiple paragraphs. They always claim to be more important than they actually are, sometimes insinuating that they are secret agents or with the government.

The profanity troll likes to use as many curse words as possible. They also like to use all caps when they are posting on boards and comment sections. The more people that become offended by their profanity, the happier they are.

The single response troll likes to get on message boards and post one word replies to everything just to be annoying. You can usually ignore them, and most people do not even see them as trolls. They like to be disrupting normal on topic discussion with one word answers.

The derailment troll is the next type that we will discuss. The derailment troll likes to enter a forum or discussion that is being had and completely derail it in favor of something that is totally off topic. Their goal is to get everyone to start talking about the topic that they bring up instead of the topic that they were focusing on before.

Finally, there is the spammer troll. The spammer troll may be the worst offender among all of the trolls because they are there simply to get people to buy a product or service that they are going to make money from, visit their own page or do something else that are going to benefit them. The trouble is, they will be willing to do just about anything to get someone to bend to their will, including hijacking a very sensitive discussion such as a new story on a recent murder.

Why Trolling Happens

There are lots of theories out there as to why trolling happens so often on the Internet. Obviously, one of the benefits for the troll or is that they are mostly anonymous. Unless they do something really bad that is going to get the attention of law enforcement, it is very difficult for someone to track them down.

Psychologists list a number of reasons why Internet trolling happens. You can subscribe to as many of these theories as you want, but the bottom line is that trolls just want to act badly. There are virtually no consequences for trolling thus far, and the worst that can happen is that they get banned from a particular site. Some trolls may actually believe in their arguments and are expressing themselves passionately, but do not have the social skills to do so constructively.

Many trollers are simply unhappy with their own life and so they try to make the lives of other people miserable. This is classic bully syndrome, and since the Internet does not require height or strength or any of the factors that might make a physical bully, there are many more trolls out there than there are bullies in the world. In fact, many trolls may have been bullied themselves.

Expert Tips: How to Deal with Internet Trolls

Here’s some expert tips on dealing with Internet trolls, so the next time you encounter one you will know what to do and how to go about your discussion without them affecting you.

  • Don’t feed the troll. Remember, the person that is saying these things may not even believe what they are saying. It does no good to get angry at someone who is posting on the Internet because you have no idea what the motivation is behind it.
  • Ignore them if it all possible. Sometimes this is not possible, because they are hijacking every single thing that you say or do and are relentless. But remember, they have the intent of provoking an emotional response. If you give them one than they will keep poking and prodding, but if you ignore them, there is a chance the move on somewhere else.
  • Report them to the site administrators or moderators as soon as possible. If the troll is making it difficult for other members of the site to have a discussion, then the moderators should step in right away and ban the person or keep them in line.
  • If the person is saying extremely dangerous things, making violent threats or talking about actions that they have done or will do that are illegal, it may be a good idea to contact law enforcement and report them. Law enforcement can often track down these people and find out if they are legitimately dangerous.

Summary

An Internet troll is simply a person that gets on the Internet and goes to message boards, comment sections or other anonymous discussion forums and tries to get a reaction from the other people having a discussion there. They have various tactics that they use, so it is easy to recognize them when you see them. There are several different types of Internet troll as well, based upon their particular method of trolling. The best way to deal with these people is to ignore them or report them to the site administrator, or to law enforcement if necessary.



         



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