Come in! Come in!

"If you are a dreamer, come in. If you are a dreamer, a wisher, a liar, a Hope-er, a Pray-er, a Magic Bean buyer; if you're a pretender, come sit by my fire. For we have some flax-golden tales to spin. Come in! Come in!" -- Shel Silverstein

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

A Very Short Seminar on Internet Trolls

Okay, class, summer vacation has ended and school is back in session. Pay attention, now.

It has been brought to my attention that there has been an annoying recurrence of those pesky 'Internet Trolls'. I have some information that may be helpful to you.


"An 'Internet troll', or simply 'troll' in Internet slang, is someone who intentionally posts controversial or contrary messages in an online community such as an online discussion forum or USENET, with the intention of baiting users into an argumentative response."

"The contemporary use of the term first appeared on Usenet groups in the late 1980s . It is thought to be a truncation of the phrase 'trolling for suckers', itself derived from the sport fishing technique of trolling. The latter can be compared with trawling."

"The word likely gained currency because of its apt second meaning, drawn from the trolls portrayed in Scandinavian folklore and children's tales; they are often ugly, obnoxious creatures bent on mischief and wickedness."

"The image of the troll under the bridge in the "Three Billy Goats Gruff" emphasizes the troll's negative reaction to outsiders intruding on its physical environment, particularly those who intend to graze in its domain without permission."

"The word occurs also in John Awdeley’s Fraternity of Vagabonds (1561) to characterize the first four of twenty-five types of disobedient male servants or "knaves." The first entrant in Awdeley's list is particularly illustrative:

Troll and Troll by is he that setteth naught by no man, nor no man by him. This is he that would bear rule in a place and hath no authority nor thanks, and at last is thrust out of the door like a knave."

"It seems a singularly apt description, though no provenance has ever been demonstrated to connect it with the modern usage."

For excellent examples of this phenomenon, see
here(Comment #5 and following), here and here.

Warning: do not engage the trolls in discussion. They have been known to throw stones, spit, bite, and engage in other unseemly behavior.

Maintain strict silence at all three of the sites. If they think you are paying attention, that will only excite them and encourage continued bad behavior. This is strictly a lesson in observation.

Here endth the seminar.

This information will be included in this week's pop quiz, which will ask, "Compare and contrast: 'Internet Troll' vs. 'Cyberspace Bottom Feeder'."

For the edification of your soul, please also meditate on John 15:12 - 17.

Class dismissed.


Caminante said...

If that is a Maurice Sendak illustration, it seems awfully nice for the subject matter.

Rowan The Dog said...

It just gets easier and easier to walk away... far, far, away.

I am sorry you have to deal with these people as part of your job. Thank God, I don't.


Rachel Stampul said...

You know, I always felt sorry for the poor old troll. Ugly and rotten, poor and neglected. They remind me of my five year old who, after a full day on best behavior at school, comes home and unloads her inner monster. Don't you ever want to just scoop them, up hold them close and soothingly whisper: it's OK, it's Ok, your theology can change without sacrificing your faith and dignitas. For what they lack in self-esteem they make up for in emotion. Some day their loving Mother will indeed scoop them up and soothingly comfort... well, all of us, as we foolishly inflict ourselves on the world around us, sometimes even with the best of intentions.