Why does a troll toll?

I know why a blogger blogs, so I wonder why does a troll troll?

Is a troll a person who goes online with nothing but trolling in mind? Or are they people who get sucked in when they read other troll comments? For them is it just a smart comment competition, one trying to be more ridiculous than the other?
I have read some troll comments which so incensed other readers that they engage in a full blown heated argument online, often straying far from the topic. Is this what the troll set out to do? Is this what a troll would consider “a result”?

It made me wonder at the internet experience in general. It would appear that many forget normal acceptable behaviour when they are engaging online. Surely these trolls are not like this in everyday life?

When we engage online the comments we make are instant and often prompt immediate reaction. Tone and humour is sometimes misinterpreted and can lead to unintentional misunderstandings. However that is not the type of comment I am referring to. I am speaking of the cruel and often vicious comments posted by trolls. photo credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/pagedooley/2788648775/">kevin dooley</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/">cc</a>

I have been reading certain online publications in recent weeks and on many occasions I have noticed the comments getting out of hand. I have read heartfelt pieces which were written by brave individuals, and the trolls have struck. I have read well researched and thought out pieces and the trolls have barely read past the title. Occasionally the in house journalists pitch in and try to moderate, but generally it would seem that anyone can say anything. It would appear the same is true in all areas of internet interaction.

Yes we are all entitled to our opinion, but people don’t speak like that to each other in real life, so why do we tolerate it online? I would very much advocate free speech for all, but is this really what we are talking about when we speak of free speech? Is it not important to entertain both sides of an argument not dismiss or ridicule those you disagree with? Is this type of “free speech” not silencing the many who are put off writing online for fear of trolls? Is it perhaps time that these publications did a better job moderating, and afford some protection to their contributors?

I don’t have the answers but as someone who enjoys reading, writing and commenting online I wonder what the future holds. I can only hope that somewhere in the future we figure out a way to kick trolls off the internet and back into fairy tales where they belong?

photo credit: kevin dooley via photopin cc

28 thoughts on “Why does a troll toll?

  1. I think the publisher has a duty to delete anything offensive, but I’ve heard what the site owners say to that regarding free speech etc. It’s horrible to think that the trolls are actually preventing free speech by deterring some people from writing. Horrible little trolls. That image is the stuff of nightmares!

    1. Ha I thought it was a great image of an internet troll. They are the pits, but I don’t think they would put me off, although I do think their comments would upset me.

  2. I’ve seen trollers before. And have to admit I often refrain from commenting when something I read has troll commenters. I just don’t want to waste my time with people like that. I never let it stop me from returning to sites I like. But commenting…yes.

  3. I have run into a few in the years I’ve worked online. It did not seem so bad until Facebook. Some are very creepy; it’s almost like you can feel them breathing down your neck. Ditto what was said above… if I see evidence of trolls I get out and delete it if I can.

  4. I must admit my ignorance. I had to think about what a troll might be. I’m going to assume that it would be a person who is just nasty on comments. I guess I have been extremely lucky in that I have had only one really hateful, nasty comment made to me since I started blogging and it upset me for days. I had to fight the urge to fight back, but glad that I decided to take the high ground and not encourage it. Why can’t we all play nice?

  5. Your troll picture scared the crap out of me – looks like the Alien after a three hour stint in the oven. I prefer the trolls from my youth with long hair, a pot belly and a big grin.
    I haven’t had any trolls on my blog yet. Moderating all comments seems to be the best option. There are trolls and trolls – I’ve seen nasty trolls who just criticize to get a trip out of putting others down, but there are a lot of ego-centric trolls out there who don’t seem capable of writing a blog post on their own, so they take over someone else’s space and monopolise the conversation and the attention. It seems to be an attention-seeking thing rather than anything else.

  6. Great post T! As to trolls – ‘if you type it, then you say it’, basically meaning that yes I believe they are like this in the ‘real world’. Starving them is definately the best policy. Don’t approve their comments and they won’t show on the blog. It must also be said that the bloggers who do allow it, WANT it. Perhaps they think that any traffic is good traffic to bump their figures…..

  7. Reblogged this on IvyMosquito and commented:
    I’ve been thinking about trolls a lot and trolling in general… As a fenomen, what it has become.
    Because internet trolls do not care what it is written, what it is shared, they will write the nastiest comment just to get a reaction. Then they feel like they “accomplished” something. They call it “a kill.” What freaking stupid and disturbing way to communicate online and go out of your way to upset someone…everyone. They even have contests, I’ve seen it. On YouTube they make accounts taking names of serial killers and going to inspirational videos, videos of teens just vloging or singing, and on videos of disabled and sick people and their stories. And there they set their fury. And how many people get caught up, they feel better. They got more “kills”. And I’ve seen those comments… You DO NOT want to see them. I just click report anytime I can. Also I have found a site (A SITE!!!!) which serves only to degrade women in the articles as well as in the comments. They call each other Pro or something, if they are mean enough. I couldn’t read that page, I just coudn’t. I am sick that these pages exist and that there it is rewarded to call a woman “fat cunt – would not bang” or “she has a cancer, I hope she dies.” I would with no thinking whatsoever shut down that page and similar if I found them and charge real person, real people hiding behing computers. To see how they like to be call upon what they say. I would make it a crime to do that. That is disturbing, crossing limitis of bullying and I can’t put my mind around the idea that a person goes home and then does that. It’s is scary to me. I would put their words against them in court, make them pay or go to jail for online violance and threats, show them that what they do is not a joke. It is not fun. It’s SICK. (My comment would be a “kill” if it was an answer to a troll comment because I got upset enough to write.)

    I would show them the meaning of a expression: BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU WRITE BECAUSE ONE DAY YOU MAY HAVE TO EAT IT.

  8. People do write things online that they would not say to a person’s face. I think they have a bully’s mentality and when online they feel safe from retaliation. I would like to see stronger measures to block these people and prosecute where appropriate (such as for hate speech).

  9. That’s one of the things I like about wordpress, we can moderate and approve or disapprove a comment. When I am on a public site, I hit that hide button beside comments that are extremely offensive. I don’t know if that triggers anything at the host site, but maybe if enough people hid comments like that the trolls would start being blocked from being able to post that type comment. Something similar to what Amazon does if you are a seller and get too many negative feedback comments. They suspend your account and you have to justify in writing a reason to be able to come back. The only thing I wish wordpress would change is to let us see what they are considering spam and automatically blocking. Sometimes I wonder if the things that were auto-blocked were legitimate comments and were blocked because of email addresses used.

      1. I do it too, even on Facebook I will hide stuff I don’t want to see in my newsfeed. I usually don’t block the person that posted because most of the time they are family.

    1. I can go to comments on the dashboard and then spam and see all they said was spam. You can then unspam it, which reminds me I have not done that for a long time.

      1. I haven’t looked in the comments section for a while, all I could see when I did that was the number of comments that were spammed but not the comments. There is another section called hammed that I would love to see too. Maybe tonight I will go back and explore again, it is possible they did change it in the past year.

        1. Okay, I have apparently not received any spam this year. On the askmet part of the dashboard it shows how many spam and how many ham. I guess everything is ham until you approve or disapprove it.

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