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Goodwood_Alpha

How to Spot and Deal With Trolls: A Field Guide

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Greetings, fellow captains and forumites!

Anyone who has spent any time on the internet, be it through social media, online gaming, or community interactions through discussion forums, has probably run into the term "troll" at some point in their lives. Some areas of the internet go years without seeing one—as difficult as that is to believe!—and others can't go five minutes without one stirring up trouble. World of Warships and its associated communities have seen its share, to be certain.

But what is an internet troll?

There are several online dictionaries that have entries on the term, and there's even a Wikipedia page about it that details the various subspecies. However, to truly understand what an internet troll is, and come to grips with how they might be dealt with, it is first necessary to take a look at human nature and how this online medium can and has shaped how we as humans interact. To whit, let us take a moment to examine the Greater Internet Dickwad Theory via this handy meme image:

Penny-Arcade-Internet-Dickwad-Theory-700

This is not an absolute, by any means, but it does provide clues to the motivation behind those who engage in trolling activity.

When meeting in real life, most folks tend to interact with each other with a certain amount of civility, if not respect, for various reasons. As a social species, we tend to take face-to-face conversations at face value, because in addition to words, we have at our disposal vocal inflections and body language to convey our meaning. Owing to its nature, the internet can cut our ability to communicate by as much as two-thirds. Add anonymity (the ability to create a pseudonym, etc.) and the public nature of most online realms into the mix, and it's no wonder so many misunderstandings occur. And without context clues such as those we have in personal conversations, often such misunderstandings can lead to heated arguments

So, what does this have to do with trolls?

In its purest form, the internet troll is someone who simply wishes to get a response—any kind of response—from anyone they can. Since they can hop from community to community, donning a different mask for each one, the common troll can theoretically find infinite pastures to graze. Fortunately, people who engage in this behavior tend to specialize in certain kinds of avenues of attack and are usually limited by their own interests; because of this, their patterns tend toward the predictable. For example, if you see someone posting Christian memes to an atheist forum, they are probably a troll and aren't interested in an actual conversation. Memes can range from captioned images to copy-and-paste ad-libs (also known as copypasta), and though harmless in and of themselves, memes are often a shortcut for trolls to do what they do, and should be taken in context.

Bringing this back to World of Warships in particular, let's take a look at how a troll can attempt to interfere with a match.

Let's say you've loaded into a battle and the countdown has just expired and you are moving toward the engagement zone. Someone on the enemy team might type something into allchat, be it a copypasta meme or just a comment about sensitive issues in real life. Since the battle has just gotten underway, it is more likely that you or someone else will notice this, and might want to react to it. This is normal, but this is also what the troll wants—to make you concentrate on the words in chat rather than the unfolding battle. This is known as psychological warfare, and has been used throughout the real world by nations across the globe for centuries.

Fortunately, you have a powerful arsenal at your disposal to deprive the troll of his fun.

  1. Ignore the troll.
  2. If the troll persists, block and report (via in-game tools).
  3. When in doubt, submit a support ticket.

YOU HAVE THE POWER TO CONTROL YOUR RESPONSE!

This cannot be stressed enough. The troll feeds on your replies; without fuel for the fire, the desire to troll can be quickly extinguished. The absolute best thing you can do is to simply ignore them—don't advertise it, don't tell other people to do it, just do it and stick to that resolve. Even telling other folks that said person is a troll, in public where the troll can see, can be enough to keep the determined troll in the game and shooting for responses. These same principles apply regardless of the venue, such as forums, where trolls simply have more space and time to lead people into their proverbial web. Fortunately, even forums have the same or similar sets of tools to deal with them, but ultimately it is up to you to use them.

But what if you engage with someone, only to later realize that they have been trolling you?

This is, perhaps, where there is the greatest potential for a simple trolling to explode into a full-on flame war. Nobody likes being played, and such a realization can elicit a strong reaction—the smartest trolls know how to engineer such occasions. The best thing you can do, if you find yourself in such a situation, is to simply stop posting replies. Even if such a realization occurs as you are finishing typing up a long, detailed rebuttal, refrain from posting it or anything else. This might feel like you are chickening out, ceding the argument, or any number of things, but you are doing yourself and others a favor by refusing to give in.

Always remember: anger is not your friend. You cannot think logically when your emotions are running high, just like you cannot think emotionally when you are deep in rational thought, and clever people can and will try to use both to manipulate others for their entertainment. If a thread is chugging along peacefully with rational point met with logical counterpoint, and someone starts bringing their feelings into the conversation, then they are likely trolling for replies. If a thread is proceeding just fine with folks swapping personal tales and how they felt about or dealt with them, a post that attempts to logically break down one such account (usually poorly), is most likely a troll post. Often, the ability to spot a trolling attempt is centered around the ability to spot the purpose behind the thread it is taking place in, whether it is the original post (OP) or not.

As a side note, just because someone disagrees with a point you have made, or an opinion you have, that alone does not mean they are a troll. The way they go about disagreeing with you speaks louder than that; it is all too easy to dismiss a valid counterargument as simple trolling.

So, what have we learned so far?

  1. The nature of the internet can hobble honest communication.
  2. Internet trolls are inevitable, so it is essential to understand the nature of the internet.
  3. Normal person + anonymity + audience = total dickwad.
  4. Memes can be fun to use, but easy to abuse.
  5. Trolling can be a psychological weapon, but only if you let it.
  6. You have the power to deal with trolls, using tools such as block and report.
  7. Engagement is at your discretion; it is never too late to abandon thread and deny the troll his prize.
  8. The troll loves it when things get heated—keep your cool!
  9. Strong emotions are not your friend when dealing with trolls.
  10. Honest disagreement =/= trolling.

Everyone has the potential to be a troll, or else to do trollish things, but as with anything else, the activity need not define the person. No one is perfect, and indeed it can be fun to play with a troll for various reasons, but it always pays to keep the boundaries of common decency—and the forum's rules—in mind. Ultimately, trolling is a test of character; how you deal with a troll can speak to your own mindset, just as how they troll can speak to theirs. Just because you can do a thing, does not necessarily mean you should do that thing, and it is often a sign of greater personal development when you choose not to act.

But hey, I'm just a rando on the internet.

5414660_8716bf615a.jpg

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Did you just troll us?

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Did not read past the meme, I smelled Troll. No, it was very entertaining.

Edited by Sovereigndawg

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This post is golden. Thank you Alpha! :Smile_medal:

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This field guide is very useful and fun to read, thanks Alpha.

 

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Does commenting here cause a troll to lose heart and become a regular human being again?

 

If so, then please copypasta my comment eleventy billion times.

 

I'm off to blow sh*t up. Hopefully.

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Just now, TheKrimzonDemon said:

Does commenting here cause a troll to lose heart and become a regular human being again?

 

If so, then please copypasta my comment eleventy billion times.

 

I'm off to blow sh*t up. Hopefully.

Maybe it does. Maybe it does not.

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Sorry, but at this point and time a troll has changed to anyone you disagrees with you in a topic that they know nothing about but strongly believe in whatever it is they believe to the point of religious furver. This is now a desease of epidemic proportions.

 

Typical symptoms and signs of a troll ad nasuem, and ad hominem attacks to the point debate either stops or degrades into  unending amount of posting that goes nowhere. As trolls do not have any shame and will never admit defeat as that would literally destroy their figurative world and shatter their faith in everything they believe in and hold dear.

 

Cure for troll, add to ignore list.

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29 minutes ago, GreyFox78659 said:

Sorry, but at this point and time a troll has changed to anyone you disagrees with you in a topic that they know nothing about but strongly believe in whatever it is they believe to the point of religious furver. This is now a desease of epidemic proportions.

Typical symptoms and signs of a troll ad nasuem, and ad hominem attacks to the point debate either stops or degrades into  unending amount of posting that goes nowhere. As trolls do not have any shame and will never admit defeat as that would literally destroy their figurative world and shatter their faith in everything they believe in and hold dear.

Cure for troll, add to ignore list.

This is where trolling evolves into aidspig theory, which is a separate topic.

See my profile for some info about that.

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1 hour ago, Pulicat said:

This write up is what a troll wants. 

I know man I have lived for this day!!!!!! I will break his calm demeanour in about 5 mins I bet no probs

 

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On 9/12/2017 at 9:03 PM, GuntherPrein said:

I know man I have lived for this day!!!!!! I will break his calm demeanour in about 5 mins I bet no probs

It's been a week and you haven't even taken up your chisel. Troll harder, damn it! :Smile_trollface:

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Never considered the psychological aspect of in-game trolling. Just thought it was guys (lets face it, the player base for the game is predominantly, though not exclusively, male) being jerks. I generally don't get caught up in the flamefest because I am a slow typer and know it would take too much game time to respond. I run into enough islands as it is.

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i'm going to shorten this down just a bit, without losing the message or feeling.

On ‎9‎/‎12‎/‎2017 at 4:05 PM, Goodwood_Alpha said:

Greetings, trolls, and the common Christian. Someone might type about sensitive issues in real life.

This desire for a troll can explode into a full-on emotional personal break down that can lead to Engagement, but it is never too late to play with a troll.

But hey, I'm just a rando on the internet.

5414660_8716bf615a.jpg

well, dammit, goodwood, I LOVE what you have to say, and how you went about saying it, even if I don't really get what it is your saying. and I agree completely!! except for thing about getting engaged to a troll. i'll have to pass on that.

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On 9/28/2017 at 2:28 PM, Sabot_100 said:

Never considered the psychological aspect of in-game trolling. Just thought it was guys (lets face it, the player base for the game is predominantly, though not exclusively, male) being jerks. I generally don't get caught up in the flamefest because I am a slow typer and know it would take too much game time to respond. I run into enough islands as it is.

It's like playing chess with a pigeon, except this game isn't turn-based and the pigeon can't knock the pieces over and pretend it's winning.

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Someone trolled the entire team a few weeks ago and spammed chat with the "F" keys, and then when I told him to be quiet, he turned broadside and deleted me. :cap_like:

 

Edited by Snipereagle23

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On 9/28/2017 at 3:56 PM, Spud_butt said:

except for thing about getting engaged to a troll. i'll have to pass on that.

Leave Goodwood's sister out of this...

 

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