Psychology of Trolling

Just done a little reasearch on the Psychology of Trolling and came across the following paper and forum discussion.

Both make interesting reading… Some quotes :-

[quote]They didn’t know about trolling and I think that would have helped them act more actively. Half the people said ignore him because they figured out he was getting off on the attention. But there were always newcomers or someone else who would take the bait.
There was another group that said we should just ban him. Then they had the whole discussion about banning him. Finally, the webmistress took matters into her own hands and did ban him. In the process they devised guidelines on how to deal with disruptive people.[/quote]
Sound familiar?

I know there are rules against trolling but are there guildlines for mods to identify the seriously disruptive variety of troll?

It seems that in Hatch’s case he was not identified as a troll which ultimately lead to the delay in dealing with him. Maybe, there’s enough information here to help mods identify and thus quickly deal with trolling posters like Hatch in the future.

The intention of this thread is NOT to discuss Hatch and how his recent behaviour can be classified. I’m trying to encourage some discussion on how trolls can be identified and subsequently dealt with…

I hope this hasn’t been done before. I really did do a search… :s

(Not sure if this is the best forum for this, so mods please move/flounder if need be)

[quote]Sound familiar?[/quote]Yes, sounds like the International and Taiwan Politics forums

[quote]The intention of this thread is NOT to discuss Hatch[/quote]Yes it is, or you wouldn’t have mentioned him, twice.

Seems to fit the bill for some.

Maybe a troll forum and they can just all hang around in there.

He’s in my post as an example, nothing more…


I don’t believe that this thread is unworthy at all. The quote below is exactly what alerted me to you-know-who’s trolling nature. I believe I repeatedly pointed out the “atrocious” grammar and spelling etc.

But sadly, it would seem that some of the moderators were blind to you-know-who’s trolling nature and got all morally uptight and fluffy about the supposed downtrodden and disadvantaged and singularly failed to see the signs. In another post you used the term ‘infection’ to describe you-know-who’s trolling and elsewhere, I referred to it as a ‘virus’. Despite my best intention to point this out, well, you know what happened next…

Maoman did the honourable thing and stated that at least he may have erred in omitting to spot it and he should be commended for that.

I agree with you that this thread is not about you-know-who but to be honest with you, given you-know-who’s ‘super-troll’ status, it would be difficult to have a discussion on the psychology of trolling without some form of reference point specific to


This is getting ridiculous.

You mean like this?


  1. recently joined
  2. calls attention to self with either controversial postings (e.g., Taidu); or moves to gain quick pity (e.g.,

[quote=“Dragonbones”]You mean like this?


  1. recently joined
  2. calls attention to self with either controversial postings (e.g., Taiwan independence); or moves to gain quick pity (e.g., “I got fired for no reason!”; “got hit by a taxi, what do I do?”, etc.); or wants an English teaching job, but writes with unimaginably poor grammar and spelling. When you see such a post and check the date the person joined, and it’s within a week of the posting, you should be suspicious. Chances are, the poster will soon shift to trolling very soon thereafter.
  3. never contributes in a substantive manner
  4. even though brand new, starts talking about how the NG picks on them or on newbies
  5. responds to nearly every poster in a thread individually.
  6. repeats his/her point over and over, Taiwan independence, Taiwan independence, offensive, offensive, racist, racist, bla bla, without adding value.[/quote]
    Well, yes, I guess that is what I mean by guidelines.

But not to everyone else… And that includes me.

[quote=“Dragonbones”]to be continued or floundered?[/quote] :astonished:


  1. recently joined
  2. calls attention to self with either controversial postings (e.g., Taiwan independence); or moves to gain quick pity (e.g.,

I like your description better than the one in the link dragonbones. Being complicated is one thing but being a complete and utter turd is entirely another. There were a couple of people here recently who fell quite squarely into that second category and they were dealt with quite effectively. I’d say the moderators are doing a great job as it is and I suspect that if they were to start analyzing everything in terms of the ideas discussed in that link then you would quickly start seeing a lot of paranoid moderating decisions. Who needs it.

Most of these will also describe others who are not trolls. I certainly didn’t mean to describe any individuals who have posted on the specific examples (e.g., attention-getting behavior with the “I got fired!” post) recently; but combine that with the poster having only joined within 24 hours, and a red flag goes up, for me anyway. I’ll watch that poster for a couple weeks, and if they quickly move into #7, I’ll use my ignore button. They are therefore not sufficiently defining features, but rather part of an overall pattern of behavior, which, assessed as a whole, allows judgment of trollhood. In particular, a combination of 1, 3, 4 and 6 within a fortnight of joining would be enough for me to give a warning, if I were the man behind the green velvet curtain.

Your points are well taken. I’ve added this par. in an EDIT note above.


7. posts apparently foolish contradiction of common knowledge, polls which intentionally leave out necessary alternatives, or deliberately offensive insults to the readers of a newsgroup, which invariably some folks feel compelled to respond to, instead of doing what they should: hitting the IGNORE this person button.
8. Deliberately misrepresents others’ views
9. Shows consistent pattern of causing discord in each exchange
10. Personalizes discussions – routinely impugning the character of the person who made the original statement, e.g.,

that sound kinda sexy

by the way does “trolling” come the noun “troll” meaning a monster or “trawling” (pronounced trolling) meaning to fish by throwing out a net or lines while catching fish.

The latter, methinks… throwing out a line to hook a sucker with trollbait.

I have one of these and never have problems with trolls:

I think it’s a bit of both, but primarily the latter.

And Dragonbones - the problem with your definitions is that they could, by and large, apply to people who are just assholes. Assholes aren’t necessarily trolls. The problem with trolls is that you can’t come up with a clear, explicit list of precisely what makes a troll. There are certain patterns of behavior that are red flags, but in and of themselves they can’t be taken as anything more than indicators of possibility.

OK, fair 'nuf… but basically, this is a board for people who treat each other with mutual respect. “People who are just assholes” don’t fit that description. The def’s I’ve given box that in pretty well. So do the Rules, and so do the mod’s and admin’s during my year-plus here, and I think they’ve done a fine job.

“If you are the type of person who just can’t get along with other people, and if you seem to repeatedly cause trouble, eventually we will decide that your presence is a disruption and we will ban you.”

And they do. :bravo: Great forum, great admin’s, great mod’s. Nuf said.

I’d like to have DB’s definitions to be used by mods in looking for trolls. If someone exhibits behavior like that then take a closer look. If they are starting threads to stir up trouble (and not discussion) or joining threads and disrupting them then go for disciplining them.

You know, Dungeons and Dragons has done us all a diservice. In their Monster Manual they say that the way to kill trolls and stop them from regenerating is with flame. But here, whever you flame trolls they just get nastier and may even multiply…

Yeah use them as a warning flag but not as specific reasons, especially when Dragonbones considers ideology that oppose with his as trolling.

To prevent such things from happening we must undestand that generally trolls seek to destroy a forum rather than perpetuate its existence. Since there are many ways to do this individual care must be taken as to not destroy the community in a witch hunt.

Dragonbones I have met you and you are a nice guy. However, dragging up all those posts seems to be the equivalent of standing in a community meeting and pointing to individuals as examples then having them stand and recite some past actvity for better or worse.

I know there is disagreement on boards generally about “real life” and “on screen” behaviour. Is this okay? I don’t think you are sure as you had to keep warming the post up all through. I’m not sure, asking for opinions in the interest of having parameters or borders to post within.