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Taxonomy of Trolls

Looking up some information on various types of Internet Trolls, I think I found this one to be the most useful. Namely the first two posts in this. I’ve seen most of these types out there. This is probably the one most likely to be seen around these parts though:

The Contrarian Troll. A sophisticated breed, Contrarian Trolls frequent boards whose predominant opinions are contrary to their own. A forum dominated by those who support firearms and knife rights, for example, will invariably be visited by Contrarian Trolls espousing their beliefs in the benefits of gun control. It is important to distinguish between dissenters and actual Contrarian Trolls, however; the Contrarian is not categorized as a troll because of his or her dissenting opinions, but due to the manner in which he or she behaves:

  • Contrarian Warning Sign Number One: The most important indicator of a poster’s Contrarian Troll status is his constant use of subtle and not-so-subtle insults, a technique intended to make people angry. Contrarians will resist the urge to be insulting at first, but as their post count increases, they become more and more abusive of those with whom they disagree. Most often they initiate the insults in the course of what has been a civil, if heated, debate to that point.
  • Contrarian Warning Sign Number Two: Constant references to the forum membership as monolithic. “You guys are all just [descriptor].” “You’re a lynch mob.” “You all just want to ridicule anyone who disagrees with you.”
  • Contrarian Warning Sign Number Three: Intellectual dishonesty. This is only a mild indicator that is not limited to trolls, but Contrarians display it to a high degree. They will lie about things they’ve said, pull posts out of context in a manner that changes their meanings significantly, and generally ignore any points for which they have no ready answers.
  • Contrarian Warning Sign Number Four: Accusing the accusers. When confronted with their trolling, trolls immediately respond that it is the accusers who are trolls (see Natural Predators below). Often the Contrarian will single out his most vocal opponent and claim that while he can respect his other opponents, this one in particular is beneath his notice.
  • Contrarian Warning Sign Number Five: Attempts to condescend. The Contrarian will seek refuge in condescending remarks that repeatedly scorn his or her critics as beneath notice – all the while continuing to respond to them.
  • Contrarian Warning Sign Number Six: One distinctive mark ofContrarian Trolls is that every thread in which they dissent quickly devolves into a debate about who is trolling whom. In the course of such a debate the Contrarian will display many of the other Warning Signs mentioned above.

Sounds familiar, I think. Of course, so does this one:

The Mutt. Alternatively known as Dogs or Yapping Dogs. Mutts are pack animals characterized by their loud barking – vociferous, repetitive, usually ignorant and irrational criticism of anything and anyone they do not like. Mutts frequently become obsessed with a few or even a single poster with whom they disagree, often for purely personal reasons. Like a dog gnawing at a bone, the Mutt will attack the object of its ire over and over again, making a fool of itself in the eyes of those who understand such childish behavior for what it is. Often one Mutt in a group of Yapping Dogs will act as the alpha of the pack, while the others chime in to voice their mindless (but loud) support for their leader’s opinions.

These two as well in our issue, and not just on the internets:

The Honorable Nitwit. Honorable Nitwits absolutely love to speak about honor. This breed invokes the concepts of honor, integrity, humility, and other traits straight from the Boy Scout Oath more often than a Klingon warrior on anti-depressants. Honorable nitwits are convinced that everyone around them suffers from a lack of honor – an idea they thoroughly fail to understand in attempting to use its lack to smear others.

The Old Warrior. The Old Warrior has been there and done that. He has little time to spare for those who have not been there and done that. The Old Warrior has been there and done that to such an extent, in fact, that he is always right. Anyone who disagrees with him, therefore, is wrong by definition and should shut the hell up. Old Warriors place a very high premium on one’s credentials relevant to the subject matter discussed – failing to understand the logical fallacy of appeals to authority.

And who does this sound like?

The Pretend-novice: Has an agenda to push but pretends to not to understand arguments against said agenda in order to push the agenda further. By appearing to be a new user, she can get away with combativeness without appearing aggressive or hostile and can always excuse any poor arguments as ignorance or genuine inquiry. (credit: ays)

There are certainly more types, but I found these to be the most humorous, and the types we seem to mostly normally come across.

13 Responses to “Taxonomy of Trolls”

  1. tjbbpgobIII says:

    Looks like we’re all afraid to speak now. Don’t want to get tarred with those brushes.

  2. Scott says:

    Like tj says.
    Agree with me or else. Don’t talk to me the way I talk to you (see bullet point 1).
    The 2A can’t deal with the 1A.
    Wonderful.

  3. Weer'd Beard says:

    Another interesting definition:
    “The Deceptive or “Classic” Troll. More sophisticated but often easily identified and exposed, the Classic Troll gratifies his ego by pretending to be someone or something he or she is not. Classics make up elaborate stories about themselves, sometimes weaving some amounts of truth into their lies. As a web of lies is difficult to build with consistency, however, Classics are often “outed” by other forumites. When this happens, Classic Trolls have a bag of tricks to which they turn:

    – Classic Troll Tactic Number 1: If the heat gets too much for you, claim it was all “a joke.” In this way you can excuse any and all deceit by claiming people just weren’t smart enough to “get” the humor of it.”

  4. Sean Sorrentino says:

    “The Old Warrior. The Old Warrior has been there and done that. He has little time to spare for those who have not been there and done that.”

    i don’t think i will ever be caught by this guy again. I’ve met a REAL “Old Warrior,” and the difference is striking. It’s an involved story, but the short form is, a WWII vet of multiple combat jumps, blinded after being shot in the head in Holland, made me feel like a real warrior. He was convinced that if he and his friends could do the impossible then, my buddies and I could do the same today. I’m not sure I could have, but I’ll be damned if I let the old guy down.

  5. mikeb302000 says:

    Sebastian, I resemble those remarks.

  6. Weer'd Beard says:

    So you admit you’re a troll. There’s a first step.

    Maybe you can next work on adding something to the conversation, or silently reading and attempting to learn next?

    Pardon me if I don’t have much faith in you, Mikey.

  7. Dixie says:

    “Maybe you can next work on adding something to the conversation, or silently reading and attempting to learn next?”

    Next time, Weer’d, say it in Latin. Qui non intelligit aut discat aut taceat.

    Quidquid latine dictum sit, altum sonatur.

  8. Weer'd Beard says:

    Jeepers Dixie, I haven’t touched Latin (besides scientific latin which I’m fine with) since High School, and IIRC I averaged a solid C on it.

    Of course that’s ok, I’ve never been to Latin America anyway! ; ]

  9. Dixie says:

    “Of course that’s ok, I’ve never been to Latin America anyway! ; ]”

    Eres casi tan malo como él, pero eres divertido. Eso, y que no se quede a sí mismo en círculos.

    Sí, yo hablo un poco de español.

  10. Weer'd Beard says:

    Dixie, you are awesome!

  11. Dixie says:

    “Dixie, you are awesome!”

    Why, thank you. And I wondered how three years of Spanish would help me in life. (chuckle)

  12. ASM826 says:

    I got caught by the idea of a Klingon warrior on anti-depressants. What a concept. I hope to see it used in a Star Trek movie in the future.

    I agree with your taxonomy, although further research could be done to add to the sub-categories. The question I have is, once identified, how do you choose to deal with them? Ruthless deletion of comments? IP blocking? Editing of their comments to make them appear deranged? Ignoring them does not work, I delete, but it’s not a big problem for me since I get about 2 comments a week.

  13. Sebastian says:

    The best way to deal with trolls is to ignore them.

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