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Perl The Internet Technology

Disarm Internet Trolls, Gently 417

Shlomi Fish writes "The best way to react to people trolling on Internet forums is not to feed them, right? Wrong! 'Don't feed the trolls' is also usually ineffective. Luckily, however, there is more effective approach, inspired by the book Feeling Good by David D. Burns."
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Disarm Internet Trolls, Gently

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  • Depends (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Kittenman ( 971447 ) on Sunday March 06, 2011 @06:06PM (#35400416)
    Treating them like an adult ("why do you say that Windows is a load of pigs' livers?") will maybe get them to respond to the question in an adult-sense (come back, Eric Berne...) but life's too short.

    Just don't respond, add them to your ignore list and do something more productive.

  • by foolish_to_be_here ( 802344 ) on Sunday March 06, 2011 @06:19PM (#35400548)
    One mans troll is another mans hero. All to many times I hear the cry of "troll" and sure enough out come the torches, pitch forks and mod -1 Troll, well before anyone has properly read and moderated the post, only to have someone with mod points save the comment from obscurity. Care must be taken to not completely silence discussion. BTW what ever happend to my mod points?
  • Misdirected advice (Score:4, Insightful)

    by pavon ( 30274 ) on Sunday March 06, 2011 @06:22PM (#35400582)

    The approach he gives is good for preventing disagreements from turning into flamewars, but it is worthless and even counterproductive for dealing with real trolls. Reading the article he seems unaware of the fact that people who troll do it simply to get a rise out of people. Any response (even a calm boring one) just gives them another opportunity to respond, which increases the chance that someone else will eventually bite the bait.

    If someone really is trolling, then ignoring them is the best thing to do. Having moderation systems to keep them out-of-sight out-of-mind will help with people who can't control the urge to feed the trolls.

    Finally, while it is sometimes hard to tell the difference between a troll and and an angry rant, I don't have any problem treating them the same in general forums. When talking with people that you will see again (like work, friends, family, or development mailing lists) and you know they genuinely disagree with you then it is worthwhile to keep the peace and follow the suggestions here. But on a random discussion forum, "if you can't be civil you will be ignored" is good policy IMHO.

  • Re:Trolls? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DarkIye ( 875062 ) on Sunday March 06, 2011 @06:25PM (#35400612) Journal

    And you've hit upon the reason TFA is useless.

  • by tomhudson ( 43916 ) <> on Sunday March 06, 2011 @06:32PM (#35400660) Journal
    Exactly. Real trolls don't need to resort to profanity.

    Besides, you'll never convince a fanboi, whether it's Windows, Apple, Ubuntu, or Neocon, so why not have some fun with them?

  • by DNS-and-BIND ( 461968 ) on Sunday March 06, 2011 @06:38PM (#35400728) Homepage

    The definition of "troll" has changed. It used to be, back in the good old USENET days, a troll was someone who intentionally took an outrageous viewpoint, purely to generate responses and enjoy the excitement of being in the center of attention.

    Now, "troll" is anyone who disagrees. I've seen some pretty bad abuses on other forums, where someone advances a reasonable idea that doesn't dovetail with the way the group prefers to perceive reality, and is instantly labeled a troll and banned. The trend is self-reinforcing over time. Result: groupthink. The meaning of "normal" gets distorted as the goalposts move farther and farther away from the world outside the forum. This is especially jarring when these folks move out to a mainstream forum like Slashdot and nobody shares their preconceptions.

    You can see it in the linked article, the author's examples such as "You are on a Vim channel" - who the F spends time on a "Vim channel"? Himself and his tiny group, I'm sure. Jeez, the guy bought and is reading a self-help book called "Feeling Good"...obviously he has major life problems that the rest of us consider lameass Stuart Smalley territory "I deserve good things. I am entitled to my share of happiness. I refuse to beat myself up. I am attractive person. I am fun to be with." OMG TROLL -1

  • by petes_PoV ( 912422 ) on Sunday March 06, 2011 @06:41PM (#35400760)
    Then another pops up. And another and another.

    Trolls have been around for as long as individuals have been communicating online. From what I understand, they're essentially lonely, attention seeking people. Even if you do engage one in dialog, what then? All you're doing is feeding their addiction. There are just too many of them to warrant trying to help them all (and trying that may point to bugs in your own personality, too)

    No, the best course is to killfile them or use whatever options your forum implementation has to achieve the same results. You don't raise your signal to noise ratio by trying to negotiate with the noise, you just filter it out and try to make sense of what remains.

  • by goodmanj ( 234846 ) on Sunday March 06, 2011 @06:55PM (#35400888)

    The definition of "troll" has changed. It used to be, back in the good old USENET days, a troll was someone who intentionally took an outrageous viewpoint, purely to generate responses and enjoy the excitement of being in the center of attention.

    Can we go back to the Usenet definition? Please? It referred to a specific new phenomenon (mostly) unique to online conversation, which was desperately in need of a name. And the name made sense: when you're trolling you're dragging bait through the water hoping some sucker will take a bite.

    The word "troll" doesn't make sense when applied to hostile posters, and we already have lots of good words for people who are overly confrontational in conversation. "Asshole" and "dick", for a start.

  • Re:Troll island (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dominious ( 1077089 ) on Sunday March 06, 2011 @07:20PM (#35401044)
    You must be in management because you have no idea how to do that yet you think it's a great idea.
  • by serviscope_minor ( 664417 ) on Sunday March 06, 2011 @07:55PM (#35401228) Journal

    From what I understand, they're essentially lonely, attention seeking people.

    I dunno. I've seem some pretty wonderful trolls in my time. I remember a guy called "egg troll" who would pop up. Despite the name, he still hooked plenty of responses because his posts were frankly works of art.

    And besides, there's an excellent troll thread on slashdot about once per week or so. You know the sort, they get at least 500 comments and diverge wildly into politics, OSX versus Linux, piracy and so on all in one go.

    Despite the obvious trollishess of the OP, noone (myself included) quite seems able to resist them.

    I've never really considered the goatse posters as trolls. Perhaps it's from the usenet days, but I think of trolls as those who manage to drag people into pointless and rage-filled arguments despite their better judgement. Goatse never gets a visible rise out of someone, since you can never see the victim.

  • Re:Pfft (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ekhben ( 628371 ) on Sunday March 06, 2011 @10:00PM (#35401924)

    People who believe that ignorance is a synonym of stupidity are ignorant.

    This holds true even if you have a stunted vocabulary and believe just that. It holds true also if you ignorantly mistake stunted vocabularies for semantic drift.

    I am happy to be disagreeing with you!

    Troll thread is fun.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 07, 2011 @02:38AM (#35403180)

    Don't forget that /. even employed one of the better ones... []

When a fellow says, "It ain't the money but the principle of the thing," it's the money. -- Kim Hubbard