Published at www.searchlores.org in April 2002
Since many readers are often confronted with those phenomena that our ugly master troll
(and Kookology professor) calls
'colorful usenet behaviour', this essay will prove quite interesting for all
those seekers that need first of all to UNDERSTAND
what trolls are and then how -maybe- to counter them :-)
By Dr. Flonkenstein (Alcatroll Labs Inc.)
A description of trolling techniques and tactics. 'Troll' is a frequently
used word on usenet, but does everyone realize what is hidden behind this
word ? I will show that it covers a whole panoply of colorful usenet
behavior. Terms like cross posting, cascades, spanking, netKKopping and
others will become clear after reading this essay.
For a generally accepted definition of the word troll
please refer to the jargon
"1. v.,n. [From the Usenet group alt.folklore.urban] To utter a
posting on Usenet designed to attract predictable responses or flames;
or, the post itself. Derives from the phrase "trolling for newbies" which
in turn comes from mainstream "trolling", a style of fishing in which one
trails bait through a likely spot hoping for a bite...."
Although there is a vast number of trolls that act on an individual
basis, thereby purposely disrupting newsgroups, there is one type that
draws attention by its own folklore and jargon it developed in the course
of the years : "The Meowers" (and their ilk, the "Nosers", the "Flonkers"
[yes, you are right, that's where my nick derives from] and others. These
groups are generally called the UPA [Usenet Performance
Art] groups). It is my intention to peruse this cybernetic society in the
light of their trolling tactics.
Before I go into details about the description of the different figures
of speech used, I would like to start with some examples. Many examples
that I will use consist of a link to the Google
Archive for Usenet messages. If the link is to a thread, like here,
then your browser wil open two frames. It is a good exercise to learn to
navigate in the left frame in order to select an author. While commenting
a thread I will use the number that precedes the author.
Fred Ziffel is one of the meowers that always had a high quality trolling
standard. Sit back and enjoy :Homosezwhat:
Example 1: "Homosezwhat"
Fred has probably been lurking for a while in the Howard Stern news
group: alt.fan.howard-stern. H.S.
is an American comic with a rather fading popularity, so it was not
'that' difficult to "hit a nerve":
One times out of ten a "fish bites". Here the fish is called BoB Barnett.
B.B. was (rightly ?) vexed with this, not really openly insulting, but
rather harmless remark:
1 : "This is not some disc jockey stunt." - Howard Stern, while
desperately trying to keep a straight face.
Our fish deems it necessary to start name calling (every ng has his bullies,
luckily, otherwise the meowers would have no fun anymore).
2: Hey douchebag-are we a little obsessed? Are you whipping yourself
when you write?
Follows a typical Fred Ziffel style response: If you are unable
to form cogent thoughts upon which to base a follow up, why do you even
Remark the easy-going tone of the reply. Also have a look at the header
that shows that the message was crossposted to the alt.idiot.marsrules
newsgroup. We will talk about crossposting later on. Will our prey abandon
the party ? No:
Oh, poor, poor Bob, you've done that one thing you simply should'nt
have done. Fred's reply is the most logical there is, even a child could
reply to this. Pay also attention to this witty remark: You probably
watch the Home Shopping Network for its entertainment value, too.
Now the message is also crossposted to alt.fan.karl-malden nose (the
"home" newsgroup of the meowers). Bob has obviously been outwitted, will
he reply ? What do you guess his reply was ? Yes, you guessed correctly
When Bob was proven to be 'intellectually' spanked, it is plain fun poking
at him a little more:
The message is also cross posted to the alt.pizza.delivery.drivers news
group. In the following messages ( 8
9), we see that some trolls coming from this newsgroup are reacting.
But with message 10,
a new phenomenon appears : 'The Cascade'. Trolls coming from the 'Nose'
(alt.fan.karl-malden.nose) are attracted by the Barnett event. Look at
the result for yourself, the trolls have a real "trollenfest". Here is
a snapshot of the party.
Also take a look at the sig
at the end of the message, carrying additional information about the author
#d066y-57yl3 in fact reads "doggy-style"]).
7: Admit it, Bob. You're a pizza delivery boy.
Here's another Fred Ziffel special. Sabu424 (mockingly named Scrappy by
the trolls) was a plagiarizing wrestling sport journalist. Being debunked
many times, he continued to brag about his reporting abilities. Such an
over inflated ego is always a thankful object for trolls to poke at. For
more than a month his posts rise witty comments, silly parodies and impersonations.
Hundred of posts are involved reaching dozens of newsgroups. There is even
the successful creation of the news group alt.idiot.sabu424.
Sabu is driven to the point where he does not stand it no more, and asks
publicly help in order to get some 'hostile' posters 'banned'. Here is
one of his posts
that will lead to an hilarious trollenfest, thanks to Fred Ziffel. The
first message is the one in which he repeats a beg for help. Remark the
word 'worstest'. Helpfully, as we know our Fred is, Usenet Global Administration
Authority comes at his help in message 23.
Also have a look at the previous messages, in which Sabu is made fun at
by trolls from alt.romath. In message 25
he thanks for the advice given, but (message 26)
Usenet Local Administration Authority points out that Usenet Global Administration
Authority does not exist. This fact is immediately denied by Usenet Global
Administration Authority (message 27).
But Usenet Global Administration Authority takes over (message 30).
reply he also complains about some (fictitious) new news groups created
to mock him. This is our next example Remark how Scrappy is satisfied with
the upcoming result in banning other posters: here
clock is ticking ScottZf")
Example 2 : Usenet Global Administration Authority and Usenet Local
After having been explained that the created newsgroups are created using
the cmsg control message, and that they can be removed by issuing rmsg
control messages, Scrappy thinks it is sufficient to put this message in
the body of the message (while they normally are put in the header of the
message, it suffices to read the appropriate RFC).
Examle 3 : The Sabu Scrappy saga continues ...
Blub cooks up a little trap, will Scrappy bite ? Yes,
unbelievable but true ! This is really Troll fun at it's highest!
Those are another example where Troll creativiy is omnipresent. In this
'flaag' has been trolling the alt.religion.asatru newsgroup (where the
talking subject is some Nordic religion, but is alledgedly known to be
associated with extreme right organisations) and has been netKKKopped (i.e.
being threathend to be reported to the authorities, see also : here).
This practice of netcopping is heavily frowned upon by the meowers, showing
that the complaining party hasn't enough Usenet maturity to just 'Ignore
that what upsets you'. The message is crossposted to UPA
groups in order to gain the attention of the Trolls there. Here it
is clearly shown how it doesn't make sense to try to discuss on a rational
base with trolls. A priceless gem is brought here by Mister Usenet Performance
Art himself Raoul
Xemblinosky. One of the funniest things in this flamewar was the invention
of a local slang, that involved the interjection of the consonant 'j' before
some vowels, like in 'Bje
afrjaid, bje vjery afrjaid.'
. Look aat the sig and the nickname of this post,
Robert Gau, after having tried real life threaths, now invokes his 'high
profile hacker friend', and gets wat he deserves. This is the
time when the expression 'ljutefisk
' became one of those many legendary words of the Meow Empire Culture.
This flamewar episode is very rich in examples of why the 'DO
NOT FEED THE TROLLS' almost always fails. If you want to avoid the
trolls, just ignore them, and do not start warning the other posters. While
making fun out of religious fanatics can be entertaining for a while, the
general troll interest constantly changes focus. Trolling pizza delivery
boys, that are constantly complaining for not being tipped, can be a source
of great fun
too. We even see Trolls can give social advice.
Who says troll sare talking nonsensically? Trolls can be very compassionate
But mostly their thankless task was met with disbelief and negative reactions.
Like in this thread
( remark: the word used to denote people that don't tip is 'stiffers').
Examle 4 : Flamewars ...