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Friday, June 18, 2010

Trolling, dead?

You probably know what a an internet "troll is" or at least think you do. The current definition of "troll" is far different from what it used to be.

In the past, a "troll" was someone who would flame, harass, argue and generally act like an asshole. This person would go into, say, a forum thread about soccer and start talking about how much the sport sucks, everyone there was a retard for liking it, etc. That was trolling.

Today that doesn't seem to be the case, at least in most places. Today, most people consider "trolling" to be making someone believe something false. Lying or stating something obviously not true and getting people to argue with you.

Something like posting a fake ad on craigs list wanting to sell an obvious piece of shit car for 50,000 dollars. A bunch of people tell the guy he's out of his mind and thus he has "trolled" them. Perhaps this is thought of as more modern or clever but it just seems dumb. Modern "trolling" is basically the art of trying to convince people you're stupid and then laughing at them if they believe you.

Guy: Hey everyone, the sky is purple and clouds are made of cabbage!
Everyone else: What? Are you high or stupid?

Now, recently I was temporarily banned from the World of Warcraft official forums for trolling, although I wasn't intentionally trying to troll. I had called some guy who got hacked an idiot for not securing his system. So at least some places still recognize the old definition.

So is this the internet getting dumber? Just the changing of the times? I'm leaning towards the former but I'm not sure.


I've been told by several people that stating falsities to "troll" has always been the case. That may have always been part of the practice/definition of the term but it wasn't widely done until somewhat recently. In the last few years or so. I've been on the internet for around 16 years, I've seen it happen.

As for those who think it's a more "artful" or "sophisticated" version of it... well, I think it's just stupid.

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  1. I think you're confusing "trolling" with "poorly trolling". Trolling is and always has been about striking a nerve, and getting an overblown reaction from people.

    If being stupid gets a long rant written in response, it might have been a good troll. If being an asshole gets a good rise out of someone, it might have been a good troll.

  2. Making false statements as an attempt to get a rise out of someone didn't use to be the definition, though. That seems to have happened somewhat recently.


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