"Walk with me. Talk with me."
“Walk with me. Talk with me.”

“Familiarity breeds contempt.” Well, maybe not in every case, but in the case of trolls – – can we estimate > 99.999% of the time?

These online termites have been around as long as the internet has, but have you noticed that they seldom adapt and evolve as time passes?

They’re still using some of the shady debating techniques that probably annoyed Plato to the “pull-out-my-own beard” point. After all, resisting change is the hallmark of their minds. So, let’s take a look at the Obama-era approaches that they’re using. After all — to know them is not necessarily to love them. But knowing them can definitely help us all to save a bunch of time that we can spend doing more fun things.

Plato
Plato, still in possession of full beard. Pre-troll.

For starters — who has not read or heard the threadbare troll claim: “I voted for Obama. Twice! But now I’m sadly disillusioned. I’ve learned that he’s no different than the rest of ‘them'”?  Then follows the list of bitter complaints against the President — followed by the pitch for the Libertarian or far right GOP  chump (or position) they’re pushing. Do these folks seriously believe we’re buying that? No wonder they’re so easily won over by the climate change deniers. They’ll believe literally anything.

Then we have their standard debating “techniques” — which haven’t changed since Karl Rove had hair (and yet still deeply resented John Kerry‘s success with girls).

U.S. Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts
John Kerry, with hair Rove can only dream of.

Let’s take them, one by one:

1.  The Strawman. In my experience, it’s their all-time favorite. Since they don’t actually want to have a debate with you, they’ll create a false “you” (strawman) and debate with it. (Kind of like their approach to dating. Partners may or may not be real.) You’ll find yourself being “quoted” by them as having said all sorts of stuff that you never did — or would, even under the influence of the most powerful drugs. Make sure you don’t get sucked into defending comments that were never yours in the first place — but rather came from some inflatable doppelganger they’ve created!

2. Tu quoque. This translates from Latin as “you too!” “You Dems do it, too!” If you happen to take note of the fact that Dubya bombed the wrong country and crashed our whole economy, they’ll counter that Obama smoked weed in high school. So there. Even. I also think of this as the “two wrongs make a right” argument. And for them, there is no such thing as a scale of “wrongness.” Driving two miles per hour over the speed limit equals serial ax murdering. Period. (Depending which side of that lop-sided equation their guy is on.) Gray areas are not their strong suit. It’s all black and white. Or, in their case, it’s all white.

3. Ad hominem. Here we go again with the Latin. This time it means “to the person.” Meaning, if they can’t rebut the argument, they attack the person who made it. This is where things can get really ugly. Trolls will imply (or straight up say) that you are crazy, stupid, depraved….Preferably all of the above. And thus your argument is invalid. This is usually a last refuge when they really are out of ammo. The other goal of this technique is to make you lose your temper and say something foolish — or better yet, threatening! That just makes their day. Do not play along.

4.Personal incredulity. Because they can’t or won’t understand the argument, it’s invalid. “I refuse to believe that!” “What you’ve said is incomprehensible!” Don’t get tricked into doing their googling for them. They’re already lazy enough.

5.False choice dilemma. Again — the black and white thing. (They do seem fixated on that, don’t they?) They try to force a choice between two diametrically opposed alternatives — ignoring any middle ground between them. E.g.,The President either has to go into full-on war mode in Iraq, committing tens of thousands of ground troops again, or he has to stay out entirely. The middle ground of advisers and air support is just not on for them. This applies to all sorts of other issues as well.

6. Middle Ground. This is the flip side of the False Choice, in which the claim is made that the middle is ALWAYS the correct place to be. For example, since getting rid of the SNAP program for food stamps would be bad, and the GOP doesn’t like the current level of the SNAP program, cutting the program in half would be the right choice. In the Bible, Solomon proposed the middle ground when he announced he would split that disputed baby right down the middle. But he was kidding. They’re not.

7. Circular argument. We’ve all seen this one. In computer parlance, it’s the “endless loop.” Or it’s the practice of repeating a lie often enough and hoping it will eventually register as truth. This one is a real energy saver for them because they don’t even have to bother listening to what you say. (During those breaks, they can just stick their fingers in their ears and hum “Dixie” to themselves.) Then as soon as you stop, they can repeat the thing they just said, ad nauseum. Rinse and repeat.

I know I’ve only scratched the surface here. I’m sure we all can come up with lots more examples.

But the thing we really need to remember is that trolls are never interested in dialogue. At heart, they’re saboteurs. As we all know, that term comes from the old practice that rebellious Frenchmen had of tossing their “sabots” (wooden shoes) into the gears of machinery to grind it to a halt. The only difference in the internet era is that trolls — lacking wooden shoes — have to toss their heads into the gears. Needless to say, the gears don’t know the difference.

 

85
Leave a Comment

Please Login to comment
16 Comment threads
69 Thread replies
0 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
15 Comment authors
traceymarieMurphTheSurf3James Michael Brodiefunksandspinkpantheroz Recent comment authors
  Subscribe  
newest oldest most voted
Notify of
MurphTheSurf3
Editor

[img]http://cdn.cultofmac.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/Hobbler-trolls.jpg[/img]

FOUR KIND OF TROLLS

Troll Trolls. The most primitive kind, these unhappy denizens are characterized by bad spelling, lots of CAPITAL LETERS, and a fondness for phrases such as “you liberals”, “America haters”, or “OBAMABOTS”.

Concern Trolls. Marginally more clever, they pretend at being progressive Democrats, but at every turn seem to suggest the most obviously damaging or boneheaded or offensive thing they can. These are easier to catch than you might imagine: since it hardly matters whether someone is an obvious concern troll or just an unmitigated idiot, sometimes it doesn’t pay to think about it too hard.

Conspiracy Trolls. Anyone who repeatedly posts badly sourced stories from site where lunacy is normalcy. What the topic is — 9/11 theories, Israel theories, whatever — is irrelevant, it is the quality of the evidence presented that matters.

Purity Trolls. These are trolls from the left. Otherwise known in real-life as drama queens. No matter how pure your position is, their position is more pure. No matter how compassionate or informed or skeptical or vigorous your opinion is, theirs is more of it. These trolls are insistent that they are the true spirit of liberalism, and spend their time being quite put out that the rest of us don’t turn over our resources, our audiences, and our respect to them, regardless of how thin their positions may be on the merits.

With thanks to Daily Kos.

James Michael Brodie
Member

Cute Yahoo troll trick — scour Facebook to find something to use as an insult. My response is there as well. (BTW, this was in response to a sports comment I had made)

Your Daddy
“@James, that picture of your sister on Facebook, is she still dead?”

James Michael Brodie
“Yes, she is. Thanks for asking. May you never know what that feels like.”

traceymarie
Member
traceymarie

I remeber you, one of the most astute, polite and kind posters I have ever had the pleasure of seeing, reading and knowing

Nirek
Member

Brodie, that was the perfect answer to a troll. Kill them with kindness! Show them you are better than they are without flaunting it.

monicaangela
Member

Speaking of Trolls:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G_nENS9oQy8

🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 !!!!!!!!!!

James Michael Brodie
Member

Kesmarn, my friend, you hit the nail on the head. I have tried, really hard, to engage with the fine minds at Yahoo…

(yeah, I’m gonna let that linger for a minute…)

What I have seen is all of what you point out, with the most fun being the notion that only Black and Brown peole commit crimes. And that somehow it is a statistical possibility that 20 percent of the population can commit all of the crimes in America — which, of, course, is justification for the slave trade…

When I heard this I felt as though I was letting down the race — not doing my part. I need to hit a few liquor stores and fast, lest I be called a traitor or something…

Then, or course, I get labeled a racist for pointing out the racist things I am responding to.

On a good day, it can be kinda fun seeing how many “thumbs down” I can collect.

On other days…

KillgoreTrout
Member

Hey JM, always good to “see,” you here. About a year ago I was spending quite a bit of time over on Yahoo, where all the yahoos hang out. The name of the site is so fitting.

It was like watching a train wreck or a really bad car accident. Horrifying, but you can’t quite look away. I ended up being something of a troll myself, only in reverse. I would tease and taunt the racists and homophobes and fanatical RW Christians, often with a lot of joy. I knew that I was pretty much sinking to their level, but there was a real (perverse) joy in doing that. I used to really infuriate them, by easily shooting down their prejudices and various forms of paranoia.

I had to stop doing that after a while though. I was seriously worried about becoming even a little bit like them. I also realized that such activity was bad for my brain. I have to admit though, it was fun, knowing that I could get them so irate, with such ease.

James Michael Brodie
Member

Indeed, KillgoreTrout, my friend. Sometimes it is almost too easy. I am usually done when they resort to the insults.

At other times, it can get a little depressing to think there are so many people who think that way — or at least so many “accounts” that post that way… 🙂

Nirek
Member

Brodie, I think you are right about the accounts. There can’t be that many people who are so prejudice. On second thought maybe there can be. I ran into one playing cribbage last night with seniors. She said PBO was a poor leader. One rule at the senior center is no politics, so I said the President was an extraordinary leader and left it like that.

funksands
Member

Kes, this was a great article and as Ad mentioned, should be a required primer for anyone looking to engage in conversation on the internet. The anonymity and distance of the internet is certainly a double-edged sword. It allows everyone a chance express their inner selves in a manner that they may not be comfortable with face to face.

Unfortunately, too many people (of all stripes and persuasions) have issues…many many issues…

As my old pappy once told me: “Son, half of the people in the world are assholes. But that’s not the problem. The problem is that only half of that half are easy to identify. The rest you’ll have to find out the hard way”

Thanks internet for giving us a much easier way to identify them! 🙂

KillgoreTrout
Member

funksands
Member

KT, this was perfect. Personally the only stupid people I have a problem with are the ones that are deliberately so.

monicaangela
Member

LOL!!! I truly miss George Carlin. 🙂

KillgoreTrout
Member

Oh, me too! The man was a comic genius! And a very courageous one too. 😎

pinkpantheroz
Member

Kes, many people are just hard wired to be contrary ratbags and will spout all kinds of nonsense to justify their position. It is wonderful to see the way the folks in our Planet respond to trolls and give them nothing in the way of satisfaction before banishing them to the ether. It has been a very successful strategy, in that few trolls get past their first rant before they are recognized and dealt with, with humor, firmness and politeness, which they can’t stand. Let’s all keep POV as troll free as we can, giving no ground to their idiocy.

Nirek
Member

PPO, I agree. If they want to discuss our differences that is one thing, but to intrude just to disrupt the Planet. NO! Banish them forever!

monicaangela
Member

Very well said PPO!! I agree 100%.

GreenChica
Member
GreenChica

Pre-internet troll: Check out this anonymous letter written to MLK by JE Hoover’s FBI, in hopes that MLK would take his own life. It turned out Coretta was the one who had to open it.
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2832413/You-filthy-abnormal-animal-graphic-content-anonymous-letter-sent-FBI-Martin-Luther-King-FINALLY-revealed-50-years-sent.html

James Michael Brodie
Member

Hoover was nothing but a thug with connections.

monicaangela
Member

He was worse than any troll I’ve ever met on the Internet. According to President Harry S. Truman, Hoover transformed the FBI into his private secret police force; Truman stated that “we want no Gestapo or secret police. The FBI is tending in that direction. They are dabbling in sex-life scandals and plain blackmail. J. Edgar Hoover would give his right eye to take over, and all congressmen and senators are afraid of him”.

Presidents Harry S. Truman and John F. Kennedy each considered dismissing Hoover as FBI Director, but ultimately concluded that the political cost of doing so would be too great. Government failure at it’s worst IMHO. This is why many in this nation do not trust government leaders, imagine allowing one man to control the nation in this way, a man with a license to kill.

Nirek
Member

Very interesting clip, Monica. Thanks.

monicaangela
Member

There is an entire 53 minute documentary about this, and the other 5 parts of this is also available on YouTube. I found it very interesting that things like this go on in our government unchecked.

Nirek
Member

Chica, I could only read a little of the letter before I was so disgusted and ANGRY! This is the kind of thing that jerks with tiny hearts and no conscience do. MLK was a wonderful loving man and deserved better.

GreenChica
Member
GreenChica

Agreed, Nirek. I couldn’t even read the whole thing. It was just vile troll poison.

Beatlex
Member
Beatlex

Kesmarn,I ran into some trolls on another site a couple days ago.They were trying to get a rise out of me,and they finally succeeded.It was a thread about that young man who died after having his neck manipulated by a Chiropractor.I have been having that procedure done for 30+ years and was defending it.I usually ignore Trolls,but these ones got to me and I ended up telling them to F off.I am only human after all.And I was being ganged up on!HP was rife with Trolls,and it was fun toying with them once in a while.

AdLib
Admin

Kes, this is a great primer that every blogger should read to understand the games trolls play.

Along the way, I’ve tried to imagine what such people are actually like in the real world, people who would dedicate themselves to such mindlessness.

I can only imagine that most are social misfits and have few friends, are probably low on the economic rung and desperate to feel a sense of power and purpose instead of the insignificance they feel about themselves day after day.

The desire to disrupt the healthy discussions of others seems like a natural to come from those who envy the ability to have such discussions.

And lastly, their need to believe in delusions, to override their dismal realities, could make them as aggressive as they are to interject their groundless, follow-the-authority-figure’s BS into every conversation between reasonable people that they can.

Even so, I think most do so with the intention to spread what they know in some way is phony propaganda and disrupt the substantive arguments of the reasonable. To such people, the end always justifies the means so they can somehow justify being dishonest and spreading lies since they see it as advancing their “team’s” cause.

Unprincipled, emotionally disabled, obnoxious and ignorant. Sounds like the ideal Repub demographic to me.

James Michael Brodie
Member

True, and most would never have the bravery to say such things to a person’s face.

One trollie, who I called out on this, noted that I was using my real name and looked up some info on me and posted it, figuring I would be scared or something.

Unprincipled.

Emotionally disabled.

Obnoxious.

Ignorant.

Yeah, that about covers it.

AdLib
Admin

James, I would guess because the greatest fear they have is what they projected on you, if their identity was to be made public, they know how they would be seen and treated as the awful people they are and that’s why they need anonymity.

The idea of someone believing in the integrity of what they write and seeing it as a positive reflection of who they are is a foreign concept to them.

James Michael Brodie
Member

I agree, my friend. It is a primary reason why I use my name. Nothing against those who do not. I have learned that integrity is integrity — no matter what handle one uses.

I made a career as a writer, so it seemed to make sense to keep my name out there. In the early days, I dreamed of a grand meetingplace of ideas and concepts.

Besides this site, where even disagreements are civil, I have seen very little of that.

HP came close during its glory days, but…

GreenChica
Member
GreenChica

Hi Kes, I always say, if they had anything of substance to use to support their beliefs, they’d use it, wouldn’t they?

Kalima
Admin

I’m back and want to thank you for this very timely article, kes.

After leaving the HP slum, and once again finding my equilibrium, I made it a rule to never engage or feed another troll unless they insulted me personally. Now having to patrol to keep the peace on The Planet, it’s not that easy to ignore them once they are outed and become ferocious. When that happens we will tell them their behaviour is unacceptable, and if they continue we have no choice other than to either moderate their comments or remove them. Our policy on disruptive trolls is plainly stated at the end of our Terms of Use.

I agree on the complete waste of time and effort in trying to have a normal conversation. Having a normal conversation is not what they come here for. However hard it is to ignore them, it’s the quickest way to ensure that they will move on if no one bothers to challenge their nonsense.

As we all know, many have tried here, but all have failed. I think we have seen it all in our 5 years, don’t you? Keep up the good work!

As a small reward for an excellent post kes, here by popular demand, is the “troll-lo-lo” sing along. 🙂

Troll-lo-lo Sing Along!

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=2Z4m4lnjxkY

GreenChica
Member
GreenChica

I still love that!

Kalima
Admin

Me too GC, hits the spot every time. 🙂

funksands
Member

I think I’ve found the song for my funeral… 😯

Kalima
Admin

😆 Laughs you’re after is it? Ok.

monicaangela
Member

LOL !!!!

RSGmusic
Member
RSGmusic

HI Kes ,
Ya you got it all there on trolls and the GOP strategy.

congrats

The Ghost!!

Kalima
Admin

This is wonderful, kes, and I will be back here as soon as I can. Well done!!

monicaangela
Member

Excellent article Kes, well thought out, and I don’t believe there is a need to add more to help describe the act of trolling on the internet, well maybe I’ll just contribute this:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FMEe7JqBgvg

Seriously speaking though, when I first encountered trolls on the net, I couldn’t distinguish a troll from a regular user. I would wonder what I said that offended, or why my questions were not being answered, or why even being polite and acquiescing to some of their less lethal ideas did not work. Then one day it hit me……I thought of a ladder, and then I thought of a troll on that ladder either refusing to or not knowing how to use it. A ladder as we all know is meant to be climbed, a manner in which one gets from one lower position to a higher position right? Well I begin to think of trolls as not having the ability to move off the first rung of that ladder. No change in thought, no change in attitude, no growth, just the same repetition of garbage collecting around that bottom rung..made me feel a bit sad for them, so instead of arguing with them, I consider the source and move on. 🙂

funksands
Member

Moncia, I love this video! So true on so many levels. You are spot on with your ladder analogy! I’ve always viewed trolls as people that can only engage the lizard parts of their brains: Stimulus = response = stimulus = response.

Anything outside of that pattern is simply beyond them.

monicaangela
Member

🙂

monicaangela
Member

Hello funksands!!

The video is short sweet and to the point. It reminded me so much of encounters I had when I used to exchange comments with some of the terrible trolls at HP. Glad you liked it. 🙂

KillgoreTrout
Member

Hey Monica, pretty much the same for me, although I was perfect troll-bait when I got my first computer. I started on Yahoo’s old “message boards,” and seriously tried to debate with them.

After a few months I found a really nice site called Grassrooters. It was pretty cool and had few trolls. That’s where I first saw music videos being posted and I really fell in love with the site. Unfortunately, it was eventually taken down and Yahoo had eliminated their message boards, so I was without a place to go for discussion.

I tried Politico, but soon found it to be a real snake pit. Then I found HuffPo and it was really great….for a while. I got to hone my debating skills and began learning more and more about politics. When Arianna sold out to AOL, I had had enough, as the moderation became completely ridiculous. I realized I was wasting a whole lot of my time and thought with each comment that disappeared into the ether, never to be seen again.

Then, with great fortune, a fellow at HuffPo told me about the Planet. I actually felt quite at home here and reveled in my new found freedom to express myself, without all the rigid control. I’ve been here ever since, and have no plans of leaving anytime soon.

I’ve learned a lot here, about all sorts of things, including how to be more tolerant and accepting of differing views. I DO consider the Planet to be a real community of not only bright people, but good friends as well. I think, if possible at all, my IQ has gone up a few points since becoming a member here.

monicaangela
Member

I remember reading your comments at HP, I was so happy to find you here when I arrived. I agree with your assessment of the Planet, we are all fortunate to have this place where we can actually have meaningful conversation, comradery, chastisement when necessary, friendship and fellowship when needed etc., I too enjoy the atmosphere here, and it is all thanks to the members beginning with AdLib and Kalima, but you, Nirek, Kes and others are instrumental in keeping this place going. Btw: Have you heard anything from Sally? I really miss the Sunday Funnies. I hope all is well with her and her family.

EXFANOFARIANA
Member
EXFANOFARIANA

Monica, I LMAO! Precious! And I admire your posture in studying the structure of trolls. It came to a point where I’d lose my mind on HuffiePuffie..So I realized that’s exactly what they wish.I shrugged them off and never gave a damn dignifying their imbecilic posts.

monicaangela
Member

I’m so glad you figured it out EXFAN, time is too precious to waste on an internet troll. 🙂

KillgoreTrout
Member

Many kudos Homie for an excellent piece! You’ve very successfully nailed the troll tactics. Some of the trolls are clever, but the majority of them are really obvious and use the tactics you so well pointed out.

Quickly spotting trolls and eliminating them expeditiously is one of the things I love about the Planet.