Wednesday, September 3, 2008

The Psychology and Care of Internet Trolls

A major concern which I encountered when I considered building is blog is the disruption that internet trolls would cause. Luckily, this blog has never been trolled. However, trolling is still a problem on many websites I frequent. Wikipedia editors like me find themselves constantly bombarded by trolling, sometimes to the point where they receive death threats, leading them to quit editing altogether. (The trolling wiki Encyclopedia Dramatica even has an article about me, ) A tragic thing that drives people to leave online communities, trolling harms and annoys people and harms the website, both in reputation and user-count.

So, what motivates people to troll? The common answer is a lust for attention. When someone is angered by a troll, and responds back angrily, that troll has done his job and has been awarded. A reaction and recognition is what the troll wants, and gets. With that reaction, he gets a feeling of recognition and infamy. When he is denied recognition, the motive for trolling is not sated, thus, ignoring trolls is the only way to deal with trolls. (Well, besides hitting them with the banhammer, which would motivate them to come back under a different account)

So how should we deal with these nuisances? The best way is to do nothing at all and take the approach of the guards at Buckingham Palace: To attempt to ignore the annoyance until it gives up and goes away. The guard stolidly ignores the strangers making faces at him, annoyed that the guard did not react (and give them what they want), the strangers leave him alone. In the same way, denying these nuisances what they want would make them go away, as they would feel that they are doing it to no avail.

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