Now some of you know me as a troll myself and that I may be someone of a controversial figure. You'll be correct in your summation, but this thread isn't a resume. I am writing this to contribute to the community by sharing my techniques and others I have seen with great affect. Some of the most amateur trolling methods go unnoticed by many users and it legitimately bothers me that since 2009 when I joined the Skulltag forums how people still respond. I am not a fervor anti-troll. I just believe that simple and obvious bait shouldn't illicit some of the replies they get and clicking on my warn button becomes meaningless if people continue to feed. You shouldn't feed trolls anyway, but do the community a favor and at least reply to well thought out trolling to give us the appearance we're much more cognitive than what other Doom ports believe we are.
Definition First let's define trolling. What is trolling?
We'll just read a cursory definition but many believe it is either to be "offensive" or to illicit negative responses. Honestly both are right and neither are correct. Huh? Well in reality a good troll is a troll that illicit ANY response whether it is thumps up, a debate, or someone saying "Bait". The adage has always been "don't feed the trolls" for a reason. They are looking for a response no matter how well thought out it is or how well conceived your counter argument is presented. You just got trolled. Congratulations. Do you feel better about yourself? The troll in question is not looking to make a dumb comment to just derail a thread. The troll is not trying to stirr a shitstorm. They can just posts for the very sake of being stupid and if someone replies to it then they've won. A troll's effectiveness or their "Got em" score is based on the legitimacy of the reply. The more serious a response the stronger the troll and ANY emotional reply within your text that is visibly seen counts as a defeat. You already lost. "Mobius how do you beat a troll" well there's a saying:
"What an interesting game. The only winning move is not to play."
The web some of us have weaved is so intricate and devious that you have no other choice but to ignore it. You are far better off shrugging it off and not replying, but for some of us we might be friends with the proponent in question. Do not reply. In that situation you are the odd one out. Context is required when it comes to notorious forum trolls or very special users but we'll get into that when we decipher exactly what we're looking at in greater detail. For now we're just going to arm you with basic forum reading skills. Remember! A good troll is there to illicit replies. A derail is a good 10/10 troll well memed redditor platinum challenger 3. See what I did? I strung together multiple internet jokes in one line. That's what a troll is thinking when he's messing with you. Don't feed it.
Vigilance A good troll is a funny one. A master troll is a vigilant one. There is literally no rest for the wicked. This section will help you identify what you are reading by observing the user in question, but before we begin I am not here to denote constant paranoia and suspicion of every user you come across. You geniunely have poorly educated, behaved, and ill-mannered users throughout the internet that espouse all types of garbage opinions. THESE ARE NOT TROLLS. Not everyone is a troll and not everyone who disagrees with you is a troll or trolling, and if you have a tendency of making this mistake then you suffer PTTD (Post-Traumatic Troll Disorder) and should probably step away from the computer for a good while.. I recommend your entire life. The irony now is that YOU have become a troll and trollbait respectively and now you are under the same watchlist any vigilant user made because your responses will perpetuate sophistry. Do not do this. This only harms you. The internet is NOT that serious.
Before you reply ALWAYS examine who you are replying to. This. THIS is the MOST IMPORTANT FACET of forum posting you should keep in mind. I hate to really say it, and this can create a bit of problems for people in the future but the messenger is as credible as the message. BE EXTREMELY SUSPICIOUS of known forum trolls, sockpuppets, or dummy accounts. Now a known or notorious shitposting troll is easy it identify so the rest is reading their actual post, but be very weary of suspicious dummy accounts. Before you engage any account you are unsure of you must make crucial judgement based on their statistics.
What is the person's join date?
What is their post count?
What do they post?
Do they even have an avatar?
What happened recently?
What is their email address? This is important for forum moderator and administrators.
A truly suspicious account are freshly made ones or ones that joined awhile ago and have not done anything. I've been apart of a few forum raids back in /i/ on certain imageboards and my technique was to create accounts far in advance for the off-chance I'd be banned in the inevitable future. I have infiltrated at least a few forums and one of them I became an adminstrator of even though I joined during a raid (I was actually being a legit user even though I came from a raid party). These are sleeper accounts for obvious connotation. New forum accounts made during huge splashes of activity and especially forum drama is obviously going to raise suspicions, but do not lynch or engage just yet. Read the content of the user and their context and if you truly, TRULY feel that you must reply please BE NEUTRAL. Only educate, postulate maybe, do not postrate otherwise you got goaded. Do not reply with ANY drama inducing post and in fact just stay clear of it. A legitimate user does not simply register just to talk about stuff not pertaining to them especially about drama, and if you feel so inclined then research. Read carefully what this person is saying because this could be a sockpuppet. A forum date and a few post is a sleeper if they decide to engage a serious discussion. Most forum drama is relatively insular in Zandronum so this should tell you the devices at work when you see very inconsistent behavior.
Outside of forum drama then comes random shitposting from anonymous users. Now believe it or not you may be a target for a troll if it's known that you or your user base (for mods) are easily triggered and exploited (Aow). There are small cliques of trolls in this community that look to take advantage of you, but the forums itself is a disadvantageous place for such attacks because there are barriers of entry (making an account for one). A true user usually stays after registering and talking in a topic especially one not pertaining to them. Be informal if absolutely necessary because what you think may be a troll or sock may actually be an overly opinionated or stupid user and last you need is to brow-beat someone. Be informal, precise, and direct when you reply to dummy accounts. Do not read ANYTHING related to their personal feelings. Do not read their appeals to emotions. Only respond to arguments and points that can be replied with absolute 100 percent factual information and keep it ridiculously short so you do not derail. When unsure then don't post at all. That's usually what I would do.
How to know if you are a victim of harassment? Well how often are you the target for trolling? Do you get constantly harassed? What are the parties in question? When you know a particular person(s) is targeting you usually means there's some background no one but you both know about. Keep logs handy. Keep your memory clean and do not reply unless you are 100 percent certain what you are reading is not a troll. I have adopted now a new tactic of not replying to troll-bait users who are infamous for trying to illicit negative replies, and if the user in question can somehow make you upset then don't respond. You do not necessarily need to warn, but just don't reply just yet. The forums aren't going anywhere.
Techniques I know most of you really want to read this part so let's get started
This is probably one of the funniest and oldest tricks of the trade but one of the hardest to detect if you do not know who you are dealing with. There are literally blind, poorly thought out, or even bad posts from genuine users. The ones you want to be very careful of are the not so forthright users, but now after reading this we're going to have an influx of "feigning" activity to "counter" my point "Well mobius how can you tell?" well if the person is doing it right after this thread then it's troll don't reply. A person who ask very obvious questions that have already laid out answers especially right in front of them is goading you. You do not really have to warn or call them a troll.. in fact doing the latter makes you the troll. Wait. Look at the topic and see if the information is readily available and if so what is the question. A classic way a feign works is by asking controversial questions that either goes against the grain or can illicit replies especially one that can start an argument. Context heavy but easily detectable if you know the question is going to agitate especially ones that can easily be replied or have conflicting opinions. That's usually what the poster wants. "Huh? I don't understand" Sure you don't. A user being obtuse is usually feigning ignorance to incite an argument about very "ambiguous" platforms of a discussion they already know and you know to. That is usually the determining characteristic of a troll.
Not the typical style of harassment. This technique can be employed by a single user but much preferred in groups and describes when a person(s) over-load a topic or person with an plethora of messages usually in questions about a hot topic. The idea is to congest and overwhelm a mechanism from properly functioning such as a person getting an assignment done or a verdict. This is NOT to be confused with a legitimate discussion happening fast. This tactic is widely used in roleplay communities during times of conflict when a ruling or verdict is being made and the party on the unfavorable side attempts to derail or slow the progress down to lobby agendas issued by partisan of a group. So if say you have a ruling you do not like? Rally people favorable to your position and either swarm a thread about the particular topic or bombard a judge or moderator directly. It's an effective way to artificially build consensus because weak administrations fold under immense community pressure even from a vocal minority. Solo trolls or malicious users will adopt "Feigning Ignorance" with "Consensus Cracking" and obfuscate issues by deliberately being oblivious or hyper analytical to slow or derail a decision. A very experienced harassment strategy alone is to continue to ask specific questions that are meant to only argue semantics or to turn legitimate points into semantics of larger arguments to prolong the discussion. Another is to just "argue the point" and ask a flurry of questions. When someone you encounter is intentionally being "obtuse" then you should recognize these tactics immediately and either call it out or don't reply (don't reply if you aren't truly involved but either works, but it's a troll so remember that you''re feeding it. Moderators should just warn or ban a user in this practice). Don't reply, if you do have something to say make sure you stick to your point and guns. Do not confuse this with legitimate concerns because as before if you scream troll too much then you're the troll. Remember context is extremely important and investigating the relationship and cost-benefit causation of all parties involved so you can glean a bigger picture of the intent of those around you -- very important. Regular harassment is just being constantly hounded in which case ignore, don't reply, and call a moderator for assistance.
We have many career flamers in this community and that is not a gay joke. Zandronum is rampant with insults and not all of them are from trolls. You'll find yourself knee deep in insults often around here, and in fact my first few interactions were me being insulted. I learned very quick that Doom is not a safe-space.. and I don't even LIKE that term. I have a harder time now fitting in normal communities than I ever did before I ended up here, and that's because the amount of nonsense a user is tar-pitted by is astronomical. Do what all forum moderators/Administrators have been saying since the start of forum posting: DO NOT REPLY! There's a warn button right there. Use it. Use it with extreme prejudice. Use it to your advantage. The game in forum politics is "first to report" or "He who dares: wins" because you should be the one to strike first and strike fast. The only effective way to stop flaming dead in its tracks is immediate moderator intervention because it's the most obvious derailing technique there is. Now of course if you DO want to engage in a flame-war then by all means invite yourself to the mess that is internet arguments, but you waive your rights to NOT BE WARNED EQUALLY for turning a thread into a fiasco. Do not engage. Do not reply. Do not get involved. Report. By all means though if you are going to reply in the hopes of getting your point across then remember to NOT REPLY! DON'T! DON'T GET GOADED! DON'T GET TROLLED! Look for a legitimate argument and only reply to that. Ignore the rest of the post.
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"Uh you're so retarded. Most textures are within 64x64 or 128x128 units so make your linedefs that you dumb dumb."
My favorite trolling method. The idea is to pit two groups against one another for them to duke it out. This doesn't happen too often visibly on the forums, but just be aware that this does happen a lot in PMs on irc. Essentially the idea is to blow out of portion the magnitude of a person's comment with the intention of starting a fight. The easily offended and excited fall for this ploy and are usually the "marks" for subtle manipulation, but because they are dogged to conflict they have all intentions of doing something to you anyway. There's no other way to handle this but NOT to reply. I have been challenged a lot in the community and I seldom ever accept them. I fight on my terms when I feel it's favorable. Do things at your pace and speed and not at someone else's because that's how you end up.. being a meme and that's bad according to Zandronum parlance. Fun at your expense is NOT fun. Do not reply.
The act or practice of polluting a topic or premise of discussion with almost unrelated or weak premises. This is within the same spectrum of subtlety of feigning ignorance, but this is easily more detectable if you are of the type to wanna stay on topic. Their are a lot of posters in this forum alone who actively muddle a topic either out of amusement, confusion, or fear (such as drama they'd chime in with something stupid and unrelated). Do not let them fool you: this is a derailment attempt. Do not give this person attention if the proportion of discussion is as serious as their derailment attempt. Meaning: if it isn't a serious discussion then who cares. You'd be surprise the amount of forum subterfuge that goes on around here.
Report. Don't reply
See flaming: Report
As I continue to write I realize how many malicious and even disruptive these paragraphs might paint me, but misinformation is probably one of the most fierce. Obvious lies can be countered by obvious logs, but a community at large doesn't care about myths or slander so long as it doesn't pertain to them, and even worst is that reputation proceeds integrity because of the amount of suck ups this community actually has. Do not be a victim of falsehoods. LOG EVERYTHING. The greater the logs and proofs of harassment the bigger the case you have. Misinformation comes in many forums such as gossip, wrong information, mishandling of information, sabotage of information, or rightful lying. There isn't a rule against dishonesty but there isn't a rule against defending your public image and your image in this community is the collateral you use to purchase power and respect. Defend this. A very, very verse troll is adept in turning others against you and getting people to turn you into a meme or joke. Again: a joke at your expense is not funny.. unless you're me then you probably will find it funny, but I do not find falsehoods funny in the heat of the moment. Do not reply to falsehoods and if so do it at your own risk as this may be an attempt to get you in trouble for participating in drama threads. Have logs available at the ready. I cannot stress this enough: HAVE LOGS AT THE READY AND ALWAYS ON STANDBY. Log. Log often, and log everything. Text files are extremely small and there are services out-there for you to use such as pastebin.com. A direct attack on your character can destroy your reputation. A destroyed reputation will hurt your chances of gaining traction for ambitions you have whether it's clan related activity or modding. Do not fall for it. Remain calm.
Flame-bait aka "Shitposting"
The intention of turning a discussion into a complete drama storm is posting controversial opinions to illicit replies especially emotionally fueled replies. The most offended usually are the most likely to flame. You've been had. This is in the same spectrum as feigning ignorance, but in this case this is not a question being asked but a statement being made. This person knows the statement will be met with much resistance but really that's the troll itself. Remember what I said earlier? All of trolling is to get a reply no matter what it is. No matter what you reply with and flame-bait met with flame-bait is just trolls trolling trolls. Ironic shitposting is still shitposting. Sarcasm, patronizing, my opinion > your opinion, inflammatory remarks, and intentional miscalculation are all weapons of flame-bait. Easier ways to discern is knowing who you are speaking to: observe, examine, remain calm, and assess. You do not necessarily HAVE to reply, but if you do then remain on point and be composed. A bored troll is a beaten troll.
This is the most obscure method ever seen on this forum, and has only happened twice in my tenure in Zandronum. Essentially a forum-slide is when you push a topic into the 2nd or 3rd page of a sub-forum by either making a lot of topics OR replying to MANY other topics within a short time-span. Since this event is incredibly rare it is the most easiest apparatus to observe since Zandronum is not readily active at any given moment. Replying to this person only helps them forum-slide which makes you an accomplice. Report.
These techniques seem rather devious compared to what people commonly associate trolling with, but understand that a troll is not a good or evil person. A troll is egoist. They only seek pleasure for themselves at the expense of others. A good troll will make use of a mark for maximum satisfaction. Do not feed. A bored troll is a dead troll. Be bland, boring, not responsive, and at all cost vigilant. Report when necessary. Do not overreact. Do not crusade. Do not become Batman. When you feel it is necessary go to the staff and make your case with discretion, calmly, and at all cost non-intrusive unless it's really necessary. Someone there will asset you in time so be patient. Only when you are comfortable with your emotional levels and have enough social capital should you engage forum trolls, but do so passively and non-confrontational.. unless you have logs and evidence. Only you can prevent yourself from being trolled. You are the controller of your emotions and how you reply. Remember it takes longer to convey your point through text than through mouth so think and remember that there's no need to reply right away. Not everyone is out to get you and sometimes someone is just either misinformed, dumb, or just silly. Not every joke is a troll. Not everyone tease you is a troll.
I'll write more to this when necessary. Please be helpful in this discussion and keep it on topic. I will report anyone attempting to dilute this into anything else, and NO I will NOT share working examples on request.
Update ONE LAST THING
KNOW YOURSELF! Most experienced and we versed trolls profile their marks very well. They will clutch weaknesses about your psyche just from observing how you react to stimuli. ALWAYS be composed, and always be behaved. A troll will always hit for the weakspot first and effectively. Know your weaknesses and profile yourself metacognitive to keep your emotional levels stabilized.