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When studying the behaviour of trolls (cf. WhatIsaTroll) in online communities, certain tactical patterns emerge. These TrollingTactics may be used haphazardly, but more sophisticated trolls will use them in support of an overall strategy. By documenting these tactics, we hope to develop effective SoftSecurity counter-measures.

People may use selected TrollingTactics with good (or, at least, non-malicious) intentions to fight GroupThink, liven up a dull group, or for satirical purposes. The wisdom of this is debatable, but it is important to remember that not everyone who uses these tactics is a troll bent on disruption and destruction.

The Strategies

The Tactics



False justification to railroad "trolls" out of town. Often you can construct your troll through the PygmalionEffect, as verdict demands crime.

Some feel that trolling is a capital crime. If you see enough of these employed by one person, you may be inclined to give them a LifetimeBan. Of course, lifetime bans on the Internet are rarely for life; they are just very long. Keep in mind that a ban on the Internet is a technical tool that can be easily circumvented by anyone with enough knowledge and skills.

However, in any forum with a specific mandate that solicits some contributions from the public, or even donations from the public, especially something with genuine public interest implications, it would be very dangerous to let any one party or small group of same to make these decisions alone. They may turn out to be malfeasant GodKings. It's critical to maintain FairProcess to satisfy your contributors and donors that you are not taking their contributions and then subjecting them to political forms of censorship and railroading. If you look closely, though, it may be politics or racism or just personal differences that are driving the entire dispute, in which case, to preserve itself, the hierarchy should find a way to have the two parties that care, "duel" or something; if nothing else this recognizes the wizard and "troll" as some kind of equal citizens, which in itself may head off most conflicts.

Often people of questionable maturity who enter conflicts will use similar tactics. They are not trolls (persons), per se, but they may be use trolls (posts) trying to widen the conflict out of retribution, or may just troll (verb) once in a while.

It's imperative not to label them trolls and kick them out the door, as it will backfire. Real trolls will often leave once they are outed since the game is over, but the disaffected and immature do not leave. Nor would those who are pursing some kind of "crusade" leave. Do protestors give up just because they are kicked off the street, or jailed? No way.

Trolls are so painful because they make it difficult to determine whether they have a legitimate grievance or they are faking it, and thus they waste the community's energy trying for ConflictResolution that is never coming. Nonetheless, if a person who is aggrieved makes ConflictResolution impossible, then maybe it amounts to the same thing, except the final strategy is different.

The corollary to that, of course, is that the community should not make ConflictResolution impossible. Not the least reason why because being so hard makes it vulnerable to being trolled.

Mi scusa signori. But overeading this document without getting any deeper in the materia I sense this as a manual for terrorismn. May be counter terrorism, sure, but is it really that bad? I'm a newbie in wiki, are we that weak here or is the malevolence out there this bad that we need this? And if yes, do we need in in that language? CommunityWiki:HardAndSoftLanguage 040131 22:09 UTC, + 01h -- MattisManzel

No, it's not that bad, and it isn't a manual. All of these tactics are widely in use. Remember, MeatballWiki isn't about wikis, it's about online communities in all their forms. By documenting the tactics, we're hoping that people will be able to recognize them when they see them. Are you concerned about the imperative language, perhaps? That could easily be changed.-- StephenGilbert

See also:
CategoryTrolling CategoryRoadmap


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