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Tom's Journal: The Trolls 81

Journal by Tom

Wow, it's been 15 years but I've finally got my own personal troll! :-)

I must apologize to everyone I've ever called a troll now that I've seen a real one. Yeah, there are trollish comments, but this... it's a different league. If you ever wondered who these brain-damaged morons were who set up geocities homepages with blinking purple text on blue background with red dots in Comic Sans - that kind of different league.

Now it does make me wonder about trolls in general. Has there been a study on this? I really wonder if psychologists have tackled this because quite honestly, you cannot be mentally stable and post in this and this content at the same time. So I do wonder if trolls on the Internet (the real trolls, not the people occasionally posting something stupid) do have a mental problem. It definitely looks like it. Probably insecurity issues, definitely an exaggerated need for attention, might be related to borderline syndrome or schizoprenia.

And, of course, the Internet provides:

As someone who has had to deal with family members suffering from mental illness, let me tell you that it's not funny. So despite the fact that they are, in fact, obnoxious, aggravating assholes, these sad little fucks also need help and their miserable little existence is not something you'd want to trade for yours, no matter how much you think your life sucks. Trust me, with a mental illness on top, it'll suck more.

Obviously, we can't offer therapy to people who usually comment anonymously and will often go to great lengths to avoid being tracked down. What we can do, however, is get a better understanding for how they act this way (they can't help it, mental illness is stronger than your conscious mind) and that the best thing we can do for them is to not continue the feedback loop. "Don't feed the trolls" - old wisdom there.

The last link in that list contains a few more ideas.

Now that I'm at the end, I kind of regret the smiley face at the top. But I'm leaving it in because this journal entry is a bit of a journey, even if it is short. Thanks to some Internet resources, a bit of research and connecting the dots, I've come a short way, changing my mind a little on this particular sub-sub-sub-part of life.

-----

A short additional statement on how to treat trolling. From what I've gathered from the resources above, a few comments (both here and in the various spammed threads) and my own life experience:

First, don't feed the trolls. Most of them seek attention, so if you stop giving it to them, they become frustrated and go away. Notice that they seek attention, not validation. A rebuke or an angry rant or even a shootout of personal insults satisfies them as much as anything else. Much like the old PR saying "there is no negative publicity", it is all about the attention itself, not about its content.

Second, stand your ground. Do not leave the site or stop commenting just because you're being trolled. It takes a bit to do that, yes. Trolls consider it a "victory" if they shut you up, either by simple flooding or by frustrating you enough to disappear. In their twisted minds, it gives them validation and somehow proves that they were right.

Third, if you see someone else being trolled, give them support. Doesn't take much - a single sentence is more than enough. Someone under attack by a real troll is being flooded. The troll will commonly post under multiple aliases or otherwise attempt to appear as more than one person. Psychological experiments such as Solomon Asch's show how we humans as social animals experience conformance pressure. So give that other person support by showing him that the flood he's getting is no the only opinion around. It doesn't matter if he consciously knows it's just one troll, the pressure is subconscious.

-----

I'd like to have comments disabled on this journal entry, for obvious reasons, but you can't publish a journal entry with comments disabled, so... 1000:1 bet that he's stalking the journal as well and will add his drivel below?

Also, if the formatting looks atrocious, turn off beta and revert to classic. Seriously.

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The Trolls

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  • He's not signing any of his posts, but I'm pretty sure it's him. Same patterns as the attacks we've seen before, including those on Tom/Barbara Hudson that apparently drove her off the site. No need for links--go look for yourself.

    Apparently the little bastard lives at his keyboard, constantly reloads our user pages, and doesn't sleep.

    I try to rein myself in on the grounds that I should show compassion for all beings (no matter how abhorrent), and that it's obvious this person is permanently vapour-locked a

    • by Tom (822)

      including those on Tom/Barbara Hudson that apparently drove her off the site

      I can understand Barbara. But I'm not going anywhere. If the guy had any clue at all, he'd picked a different victim. I didn't carve in when they served me court papers about DeCSS, and I've held elected offices where political pressure and sometimes personal attacks were daily events.

      Nah, takes more than that to shake me up.

      One of these days, he is going to pick the wrong victim, one who's not only got connections in the proper places, but who also has the inclination to track him

      Only if it's not too much effort, please. The problem with the trolls is that they're a net-negative no matter what you do. You can minimize the damage, but there's always damage and th

      • including those on Tom/Barbara Hudson that apparently drove her off the site

        I can understand Barbara. But I'm not going anywhere. If the guy had any clue at all, he'd picked a different victim. I didn't carve in when they served me court papers about DeCSS, and I've held elected offices where political pressure and sometimes personal attacks were daily events.

        Nah, takes more than that to shake me up.

        Me, neither. Never held office, but I spent a number of years in the public eye (well, ear, actually) and even though my ratings were pretty good, I'd still manage to piss off some listener or other every so often. Only once did it get to the point where I felt obliged to go have a little chat with my friend the country sheriff, who thereupon sent a deputy round to have a little chat with him, which stopped that little problem very quickly.

        One of these days, he is going to pick the wrong victim, one who's not only got connections in the proper places, but who also has the inclination to track him

        Only if it's not too much effort, please. The problem with the trolls is that they're a net-negative no matter what you do. You can minimize the damage, but there's always damage and that sucks. Sadly, that's largely the bigger story in everything involving mental illness.

        Yeah, there's always that Tar-Baby thing to consider.

        Sooner or later

        • by Tom (822)

          Sooner or later, he'll get bored. In the meantime, life goes on.

          Yeah, he will. Until he finds someone else to troll. The problem with trolls is the same as the problem with spammers: There's always someone else. You don't fall for the spam, but you still get it because others do. And even if all this particular pitiful individual with whatever mental issues he has does to me is making it slightly more troublesome to sift through replies, for him that's validation, it satisfies his craving for attention, and he's probably getting some satisfaction from even being discuss

    • by gmhowell (26755)

      Barbara's real life impeded on life on Slashdot. Somewhere on Facebook, I've got an update from her from a couple of months ago.

      Regarding APK, previously, I thought he was a mentally damaged troll. But tonight I've been wondering if the person(s) posting as apk on /. aren't a bizarre act, like the doctor of homeopathy or whatever the hell it was a year or two ago.

      Tom, apk will go away when he finds another target. He bugged me for a few weeks. My only complaint is that the message notifications on /. were i

      • My only complaint is that the message notifications on /. were impossible to use since the apk troll's replies caused my 25 messages to roll over.

        Interesting--I've got 77 messages in my queue right now.

        In any case, I've dealt with freakier toy surprises in my breakfast cereal. Our little friend has nothing on my first wife (bipolar, multiple, borderline--the doctors could never agree on which it it was). After living with that for a dozen years or so, a few troll posts ain't shit.

        Anyhow, I gots stuffs to do. Y'all have a good week.

        • by Tom (822)

          Zontar, we should compare notes. I'll send you a mail.

          But same here. I've had real-life shit that I would have instantly traded for this troll.

      • But tonight I've been wondering if the person(s) posting as apk on /. aren't a bizarre act, like the doctor of homeopathy or whatever the hell it was a year or two ago.

        APK's law perhaps? For him, I offer: "Sufficiently egregious mental incompetence is indistinguishable from intentional trolling"

        Tom, apk will go away when he finds another target. He bugged me for a few weeks.

        Yeah, it takes a little while for him to froth out. It may also be that Slashdot is but one of his many bile ducts.
        I do enjoy seeing him at work though! I've never been into sports, much less gymnastics, but the contortions APK goes through so he can claim he 'dusted' you and play the 'bitter taste of defeat yadda' violins every post are worth the exercise themselves. APK is a nee

        • by gmhowell (26755)

          For a good long time, he dropped in here at fairly regular intervals for about a week each time. My theory was that he was slow getting some meds refilled and dropped by when he was out.

          • LOL seems quite plausible to me! :)

      • by Tom (822)

        His replies won't cause a rollover if you don't reply to them. See my update above about how he reacts to being completely ignored.

        It's not an act. I've had to deal with mentally damaged persons in real life. Faking a mental illness convincingly is not as easy as the movies make it. And unless it's a commercial or art project, the sheer perseverance is a strong indicator.

  • by Tom (822)

    I'll just keep this updated.

    It appears frustration is beginning to set in with our mentally challenged friend. First, he has considerably reduced the amount of effort he invests into each reply, down to posting the same reply over and over. Second, as he apparently craves for attention and requires validation through replies (no matter which kind, see above), he has now begun to reply to himself, of course in such a way as to make it appear as if he were someone else. Or at least he might think that, anyone

    • by Tom (822)

      Meanwhile, he's completely oblivious that I'm having great conversations on this site with one of my alias accounts, and that him spamming me on this one has absolutely zero effect except amusement. :-)

      And of course that was a total lie, but sometimes I just can't help myself and a little comeback is nice, and he's probably still hunting around for my "aliases".

      Time to close this, it's served its purposes. 62 comments to this journal entry, 20 of which are content, 42 are spam and trolling. All at -1. If there was any doubt that there's a mental illness involved here, that alone would remove it.

Faith may be defined briefly as an illogical belief in the occurence of the improbable. - H. L. Mencken

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