The psychology of the troll?

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Re: The psychology of the troll?

#21  Postby Mike_L » Jan 25, 2013 1:45 pm

nunnington wrote:I did actually write a short piece on trolls, after working as a mod, not on this forum, and I got sort of interested in them. There are obviously different types, for example, there are some really nutty ones, and some very bright ones.

However, I noticed the following:

1. narcissism - they want people to talk about them a lot.
2. incontinent - some of them spew their emotions around, but not all of them.
3. inflammatory - this is pretty standard, and is often the definition of trolling.
4. aggressive (connects with 3).
5. paranoid - some of them see bad people at work in every forum. Of course, they set it up also. They need enemies.
6. personalized - they often want to reduce the discussion to very personal terms and accusations.
7. rage and envy - seem quite common.

I think these factors are either/or; I mean you don't find them all at once.

As to why people troll, I guess they like manipulation, they may be sadistic, controlling, envious, full of negativity, and kind of cold. But I guess some do it for fun.

Why are you people always attacking me like this?!
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Re: The psychology of the troll?

#22  Postby reddix » Jan 25, 2013 4:30 pm

I think there is an important difference between trolls and cyber bullies. The former is confined to only online, the latter effects elements of real life. For the most part I think trolls are harmless. I don't like them, I'd rather they just go away, and I will kick them out of any webspace that I have control over, but as long as they keep their activity confined to online, I'm not too concerned.

On the other hand if, for example, they find out where I work, post my personal information online, start bothering my kids or if they are actually a real life colleauge who harasses me on the internet and shows the results to others where I work, this would be cyberbullying. I would say that cyberbullying is a crime and trolling is not. Richard Bacon's description is of cyberbullying. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-17399027

I also think that anyone is capable of trolling and there is no special psychology involved. Any description I have ever found about trolling tends to be more of a reflection of what the person describing the troll doesn't like rather than how the actual "troll" is experiencing things. One of my favorite examples of this is here. Can you spot the troll? :dopey:

How do you tell the difference between a troll and an annoying person?

Also, I really enjoyed this article on trolling. It's long but I think worth the read:

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/03/magaz ... lls-t.html


This one is somewhat interesting too.

https://scholarworks.iu.edu/dspace/bits ... 2-03B.html
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Re: The psychology of the troll?

#23  Postby nunnington » Jan 25, 2013 4:39 pm

Reddix

Your point about no special psychology is interesting, and I tend to agree. I think that narcissism, sadistic manipulation, voyeurism, and so on, are probably universal. Still, some people seem drawn to expressing these repeatedly online, and presumably enjoy it.

One of the interesting side-issues which I noticed as a mod, is how tempting it is to people to respond to baiting. You can keep saying to people, don't feed the troll, but it seems to be irresistible, and for some, apparently fascinating.
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Re: The psychology of the troll?

#24  Postby Ironclad » Jan 25, 2013 4:55 pm

My father is a physicist & he told me (after I explained what I did here as a staff member) that in the days before the internet some of these bad behaviours still existed. News letters were a source of flame wars, he tells me, with debunking attempts on others papers met with printed fury.
Perhaps the troll is so prevalent because anyone can join any forum.
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Re: The psychology of the troll?

#25  Postby reddix » Jan 25, 2013 4:57 pm

nunnington wrote:Reddix

Your point about no special psychology is interesting, and I tend to agree. I think that narcissism, sadistic manipulation, voyeurism, and so on, are probably universal. Still, some people seem drawn to expressing these repeatedly online, and presumably enjoy it.


I think they are the same nice people you meet offline, but they are not constrained by niceties. Some people think that the cure would be to insist on the same constraints online, but I would rather see people for who they really are, but that's probably just me. And as I said, how do you tell the difference between a troll and someone you find annoying?
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Re: The psychology of the troll?

#26  Postby kennyc » Jan 25, 2013 4:58 pm

Ironclad wrote:My father is a physicist & he told me (after I explained what I did here as a staff member) that in the days before the internet some of these bad behaviours still existed. News letters were a source of flame wars, he tells me, with debunking attempts on others papers met with printed fury.
Perhaps the troll is so prevalent because anyone can join any forum.


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Re: The psychology of the troll?

#27  Postby kennyc » Jan 25, 2013 5:09 pm

reddix wrote:
nunnington wrote:Reddix

Your point about no special psychology is interesting, and I tend to agree. I think that narcissism, sadistic manipulation, voyeurism, and so on, are probably universal. Still, some people seem drawn to expressing these repeatedly online, and presumably enjoy it.


I think they are the same nice people you meet offline, but they are not constrained by niceties. Some people think that the cure would be to insist on the same constraints online, but I would rather see people for who they really are, but that's probably just me. And as I said, how do you tell the difference between a troll and someone you find annoying?


It has to do with consistent and across the board behavior. If I am the only one that finds a particular poster annoying then the issue is with me, if others do as well then that behavior moves along the spectrum towards trollish behavior.
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Re: The psychology of the troll?

#28  Postby nunnington » Jan 25, 2013 5:10 pm

reddix wrote:
nunnington wrote:Reddix

Your point about no special psychology is interesting, and I tend to agree. I think that narcissism, sadistic manipulation, voyeurism, and so on, are probably universal. Still, some people seem drawn to expressing these repeatedly online, and presumably enjoy it.


I think they are the same nice people you meet offline, but they are not constrained by niceties. Some people think that the cure would be to insist on the same constraints online, but I would rather see people for who they really are, but that's probably just me. And as I said, how do you tell the difference between a troll and someone you find annoying?


Yes, that's also interesting. I think there is a difference, but I'm not quite sure what. I will have to go and think. Maybe I deluded myself! I suppose that's a good reason for having a team of mods, then you are less likely to just suspend somebody you don't like. What a nice idea.
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Re: The psychology of the troll?

#29  Postby ScientificSkeptic » Jan 25, 2013 5:25 pm

It seems like trolls take what everyone is enjoying talking about rip it apart and show how it is not true. Thats it. And yes, it fun. :grin:
Last edited by ScientificSkeptic on Jan 25, 2013 5:30 pm, edited 4 times in total.
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Re: The psychology of the troll?

#30  Postby kennyc » Jan 25, 2013 5:27 pm

HuH? Never mind, I see you edited your post...
:grin:

But no, just objecting and providing reasons and/or evidence or proof is not being a troll.

But being consistently antagonistic can be.
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Re: The psychology of the troll?

#31  Postby Ironclad » Jan 25, 2013 5:35 pm

kennyc wrote:
reddix wrote:
nunnington wrote:Reddix

Your point about no special psychology is interesting, and I tend to agree. I think that narcissism, sadistic manipulation, voyeurism, and so on, are probably universal. Still, some people seem drawn to expressing these repeatedly online, and presumably enjoy it.


I think they are the same nice people you meet offline, but they are not constrained by niceties. Some people think that the cure would be to insist on the same constraints online, but I would rather see people for who they really are, but that's probably just me. And as I said, how do you tell the difference between a troll and someone you find annoying?


It has to do with consistent and across the board behavior. If I am the only one that finds a particular poster annoying then the issue is with me, if others do as well then that behavior moves along the spectrum towards trollish behavior.


I'd eventually flag some individual as 'troll', if it was just me they stalked across the board (or further afield). I may just be to inflame me but persistence is surely trolling.
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Re: The psychology of the troll?

#32  Postby Spearthrower » Jan 25, 2013 5:41 pm

ScientificSkeptic wrote:It seems like trolls take what everyone is enjoying talking about rip it apart and show how it is not true.


That, to me, sounds like an educational service! :)
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Re: The psychology of the troll?

#33  Postby nunnington » Jan 25, 2013 5:48 pm

I would say persistence plus baiting, since persistence on its own might just be someone's interest or obsession. I noticed a case recently on another forum, where a poster kept writing that homosexuality is akin to paedophilia. He was warned repeatedly, but kept doing it, and was banned.

You could argue that he was following his own authentic beliefs, of course, and the repetition is not trolling. I suppose you could also look at his other posting activity, to see if there is evidence of baiting.

But then it's a judgement call, as a mod, and in any case, I guess he was not banned as a troll, but as just breaking the rules against homophobia.
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Re: The psychology of the troll?

#34  Postby kennyc » Jan 25, 2013 5:49 pm

Ironclad wrote:
kennyc wrote:
reddix wrote:
nunnington wrote:Reddix

Your point about no special psychology is interesting, and I tend to agree. I think that narcissism, sadistic manipulation, voyeurism, and so on, are probably universal. Still, some people seem drawn to expressing these repeatedly online, and presumably enjoy it.


I think they are the same nice people you meet offline, but they are not constrained by niceties. Some people think that the cure would be to insist on the same constraints online, but I would rather see people for who they really are, but that's probably just me. And as I said, how do you tell the difference between a troll and someone you find annoying?


It has to do with consistent and across the board behavior. If I am the only one that finds a particular poster annoying then the issue is with me, if others do as well then that behavior moves along the spectrum towards trollish behavior.


I'd eventually flag some individual as 'troll', if it was just me they stalked across the board (or further afield). I may just be to inflame me but persistence is surely trolling.


Agreed.

By across the board though I meant more that the 'troll' applies the same behavior to many or all posts/posters/topics.

BTW I'm reading the Study provided in the link above (https://scholarworks.iu.edu/dspace/bits ... 2-03B.html) and it's an excellent analysis.
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Re: The psychology of the troll?

#35  Postby Doubtdispelled » Jan 25, 2013 5:53 pm

surreptitious57 wrote:So all that remains is to welcome you to the Skep ship while you patiently wait for some to turn up and be interviewed now. One sugar or two, by the way ?

:lol: Nice one, Surr!
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Re: The psychology of the troll?

#36  Postby Aern Rakesh » Jan 25, 2013 5:56 pm

:coffee:
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Re: The psychology of the troll?

#37  Postby reddix » Jan 25, 2013 6:08 pm

I think trolls are mostly in it for the game or fun factor and a "good" troll will change to fit each targeted group.

How they are identified is different topic than the troll's psychology. It's still interesting though. :nod:
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Re: The psychology of the troll?

#38  Postby kennyc » Jan 25, 2013 6:15 pm

reddix wrote:I think trolls are mostly in it for the game or fun factor and a "good" troll will change to fit each targeted group.

How they are identified is different topic than the troll's psychology. It's still interesting though. :nod:



True, but I still believe the behavior can be identified as 'trollish'

I mean, the whole point is the disruption and the Lulz, eh?

(Again Thanks for the links above!)
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Re: The psychology of the troll?

#39  Postby Spearthrower » Jan 25, 2013 6:21 pm

Trolls are people who just post coffee smileys in threads and....

Nora_Leonard wrote::coffee:



Oh err hi Nora! :whistle:
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Re: The psychology of the troll?

#40  Postby kennyc » Jan 25, 2013 6:22 pm

Spearthrower wrote:Trolls are people who just post coffee smileys in threads and....

Nora_Leonard wrote::coffee:



Oh err hi Nora! :whistle:



:rofl:
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