How do you recognize trolls? Here are some WarningSignals.

  1. SlimeBallsFirst? – Compliments and kind words in profusion at first, but as soon as you disagree, they heap abuse on you
  2. IgnoreBasicExpectations? – Could also be a sign of failing to LurkBeforeYouLeap?: Style, tone, quality, examples used – anything that doesn't match community expectations. You recognize the Troll when they don't stop after you tell them, flaunting their "freshness"
  3. MisrepresentAndDivide? – Misrepresent a comment as benevolent or respectful, and react friendly. When the misrepresentation is corrected, heap abuse on the person doing the correction.
  4. QuibbleAboutDetails? – Point out minor discrepancies and mistakes and ignoring the larger issue, basically errecting strawmen.

CategoryDiscussion CategoryDifficultPerson

The Term Troll

WhatIsaTroll? Basically "trolling" is describes a symptom, not a cause. Like pornography, I know a troll when I see him. So trolling can be limited to some messages sent at some particular time by a particular individual. We call it trolling, and we call the individual a troll, but what we're basically saying is that back then, those messages totally got on our nerves.

We need to acknowledge the limitations of the term. Basically we don't understand trolls: Why do they do it? They'll claim to care about free speech, or breaking up corrupt power structures, or having new ideas… Somehow their world view is warped. Sometimes it seems that these people do act in good faith, they can't help themselves and they cannot be convinced otherwise by rational arguments. Accepting that they truly have a strange world view, we might also understand why they insist to behave so incredibly in some situations. The sheer energy and persistence is often puzzling.

Sometimes the term is also used for plain misbehaviour – wild-mood swings and lack of empathy can lead to trolling. "Don't drink and IRC!"

Characterize trolls as sick in a medical sense is tricky because the medical jargon gives us the impression that it pathological and should be treated when in fact it might just be a part of human nature or at least within the bounds of normal variation… It could be us or our kids. Hopefully the above use of "warped world view" doesn't fall into this category of description.

Management literature uses the term 'difficult person,' from whence I came up with CategoryDifficultPerson. – SunirShah

Hm, I didn't know that it had turned into a technical term, so to speak. In that case maybe more discussion is in fact needed. (WhatIsaTroll)

I think the main advantage of 'difficult person' here is that it's less likely to fire up emotional responses - 'troll' is a pretty loaded word. 'Difficult person' may be a way to say the same thing while being less insulting (always a good idea when emotions start flaring up).

Maybe if management litterature used PlainTalk it would say "asshole" - "Ah, Mr Smith, from our careful and detailed study of the problems your company is facing, we have found several causes, the foremost is that you are an asshole (please don't take offence, it's a purely technical term with a precise meaning in the litterature) …"

… and maybe you should check out asshole-wiki

I'm in tears. :) "Ah, Mr. Smith,…"

Define external redirect: LurkBeforeYouLeap SlimeBallsFirst QuibbleAboutDetails MisrepresentAndDivide IgnoreBasicExpectations

EditNearLinks: WhatIsaTroll WarningSignals SunirShah CategoryDifficultPerson