Are You An Online Troll?

There’s a guy I know who’s not necessarily a bad guy. Matter of fact he’s a pretty good guy. Loves his wife and son, treats his friends pretty well, and has a pretty good sense of humor as well.

Marcos Telias Barra via Compfight

And he’s a troll. He’d probably argue with me on this one but I’m going to state the case. He has a Twitter account not using his own name. That’s not a big deal overall.

He also uses an image that’s not his face but someone else’s face. That’s a bit bad because it reminds me of those dating sites where most of the time people aren’t using pictures of themselves, or are using pictures of themselves when they were 100 pounds lighter and 10 years younger.

With his Twitter account however, every once in awhile he decides to crash Twitter chats and says stupid stuff just to be annoying. He does this because he doesn’t like the concept of Twitter chats and thus feels its his right to say whatever he wants to, which is always something rude and off-topic, and on purpose.

That makes him a troll. It’s no different than someone showing up on a blog with a fake name and fake avatar and deciding they want to be stupid just because they can. It’s one reason why I will delete a comment in a heartbeat without worry about protecting anyone’s first amendment rights, which they don’t have, because it’s my space and I’m paying for it.

Are you an online troll? It’s an interesting question because though I gave you one scenario above, it can apply to multiple similar scenarios. I’ve talked about the trolls that write comments on news sites. Child bullies who pick on people in their Facebook groups are trolls, even if you get to know their names. For that matter an overwhelming number of comments on YouTube videos are from trolls. And, oddly enough, I have another friend who, on some of my serious posts on Facebook, will throw in a rude line trying to be funny, and in a way that makes him a troll.

What makes you a troll outside of the things I mentioned above? If every website you go to or every blog you comment on leads you to leave a rude comment, whether it’s on topic or not, you’re probably a troll. If you never have anything nice to say about anyone you’re a troll.

There are many people who live off that sort of thing. Trust me, you’ve never seen that behavior around here for long because I’m not putting up with it. But I thought about myself and wondered if I could be considered by anyone as being a troll. After all, I’m not necessarily always saying nice things when I visit blog posts I disagree with. And on Facebook, if you show any kind of insensitivity towards someone else, I’m probably coming after you.

Does that make me a troll? Nope, not one bit. I don’t go out of my way looking for trouble; I actually let a lot of stuff that irritates me pass. I set up a filter on Facebook to block a lot of stuff that used to get me riled up. I comment on a lot of blogs and talk to a lot of people on Twitter and Facebook. And for the most part I think I’m pretty nice.

Can you say the same thing? Can you say the same thing about people you know and their online behavior? And how do you feel about it?

36 thoughts on “Are You An Online Troll?”

  1. I seriously think that posting such horrible comments on a DEAD person’s Facebook page is pretty disrespectful. I don’t think that’s trolling, but rather just people who are very rude.
    Seriously, bullying isn’t really that cool (although funny if just to mess around with friends or people with good humor). Especially when someone dies.

    1. Thanks for your perspective erda. I lump them all together when talking about behavior online. Bullies are trolls because in literature not all trolls are hidden, so knowing a person’s name can still make them trolls in behavior. At least that’s how I see it.

  2. Stalkers are as bad as trolls. There’s this one person who signs up for my updates and then use my ideas for “their” ventures. It’s so annoying. At least give me credit for the idea.

    1. That’s horrid Marcie, but those weasels are everywhere. That’s why I added the copyright notice to my blog posts and why I always try to add a copyright logo to articles I post in other places, because most of the time these folks automate everything and don’t realize that stuff is there.

  3. I have seen many trolls online and the first thing to spot is an avatar of a beautiful woman. I think this is silly strategy that used to work before, but not now. On top social networks, I don’t hesitate to report that kind of profiles, as it is a bit irritating to me, to deal with somebody that is not exactly “real”.

    1. Oh yeah Carl, I see those all the time as well. I still check out the accounts to make sure. I called one person out on LinkedIn because I recognized the person whose picture they were using; fools.

      1. Ouch, this one is very serious and potential case of stolen identity. Actually, somebody use to impersonate me about 2-3 months ago on Facebook, relaying on the fact that I am no longer living in my home country.

  4. Hey Mitch

    I don’t tolerate trolls. I would shop them as soon as I saw anything untoward.

    I always approve the first comment anyone makes on my blog. After that if you don’t play nicely, I’ll more than likely block your email address and IP address!

    No-one needs that kind of abuse. It’s just obnoxious, lazy and stupid!

    1. Tim I don’t moderate comments, although people sometimes end up in the spam filter because they didn’t read the comment policy. I find my biggest issue is removing comments that I know aren’t addressing the topic, though at first glance they appear to be. I’ve only ever had one troll, and this was a guy I knew online but I’d had a different name when he was a newsletter subscriber. I wish I had the knowledge now back then because I could have made his life miserable. Would I have though? 😉

  5. I completely agree to you Mr. Mitch. You are a Troll when you purposely do something bad to someone with your fake identity. But if you do not agree on someone’s point and provide a proper and decent justification then that doesn’t make you a troll. I know few people who pretends to be someone just to take revenge on others using social media site. This indeed is very bad and action must be taken to stop online troll. Great Post Mitch! Enjoyed reading it!

    1. Thanks Peter. I don’t think disagreeing with anyone makes them a troll. How they do it though, and whether they’re actually disagreeing or just being stupid is another thing. The way I see it, if you can’t really tell play on the side of caution and kill their submission. They’re probably not coming back anyway.

  6. I can safely say that I am not a troll and I dislike those who behave in such a manner. If they can do that online then what are they like in real life? Perhaps they used to be a bully and now can only get their kicks online where they feel they are safe from retribution.

    1. Actually Sire, most of the time you find that these people were most probably bullied in their younger life and feel that, with anonymity, they can get back at society. Still, I’m with you, don’t like it, hate seeing it, won’t tolerate it in my spaces.

      1. That may be true but I would have thought that would have worked in the reverse. I know my parents were really strict with me and because of that I’m less strict with my kids. I suppose it all depends on the individual.

  7. Well Mitch, you called it how you see it once again. Trolls are people looking to get a response from you or they want attention.

    I have seen so many on political sites it is crazy. They say things they have no proof and things you can not verify.

    I get tempted to say something, but I tell myself it is not worth your time.

    1. Now that you mention that Michael, I see a lot of that going on in Facebook updates when it comes to things like religion; with all sides of the debate. If someone puts their beliefs or views on their social profile there are others that feel obliged to argue the point to the point they’re belittling others. That’s just shameful in my opinion and it’s best to stay clear of those people.

      1. I am glad you agree Brian. I try not to pay people any attention on Facebook. Some are cool, but the majority of people have no agenda and they are looking for a place for their opinions.

  8. I haven’t really given much thought on what defines a troll Mitch, but I guess I’m pretty lucky overall. I get plenty of blog comment spam but they are using the opposite approach which is being super agreeable in hopes of getting approved. I can’t remember the last comment that was there just to pull someone’s chain.

    I’m glad you brought up YouTube though, I’ve noticed it there a lot. When I start reading video comments I begin to realize we’re dealing with a bunch of immature kids, regardless their age.

  9. OMG! Maybe I’m a troll but I never thought of it that way. I tend to go on a rant on Twitter (you know that) and pick on some folks when I think they are making ridiculous comments—especially about our President. I have also called out people on diversity issues—like the Huffington Post but I never hide my identity. I don’t like the word “troll” so maybe I better tone it down. As far as Facebook goes, I don’t challenge folks—as a matter of fact I encourage differing opinions. It makes for a more lively discussion.

    1. Beverly, in the spirit of things you’re not a troll, but there are times when you might take it a bit too far too long, and at that point you might risk someone thinking you’re acting like a troll; I’m thinking of some of the reactions you got on the Don Lemon thing (although I knew you were right, I also knew younger people would totally disagree with you, which they did). You don’t hide your name though and that’s what keeps you from truly being a troll.

      I do challenge people on Facebook, though once again I have to know when it’s time to leave. If someone puts out something I deem stupid and insensitive, they’ll hear about it from me. No one gets a free pass unless I miss it.

  10. When I see trolls, I actually laugh at myself – and at humanity itself (I ask myself, what have we come to? Disturbing others through online sites so that we can have some fun? Really?)

    You are right, there is no first amendment rights in the online world (yeah, sure you could say anything you want, with limits of course, but you can’t do it in my blog!)

    Twitter, Youtube and FB – all full of trolls (I wish these sites had better ranking systems in which we can completely get rid of these trolls – or maybe even help them by suggesting to change their behavior, not that it will work, but it’s worth a try).

    Appreciate the post, Mitch! Thanks!

    1. Thanks for your opinion Jeevan. I’m with you, there’s really no need for these people who need to hide behind other names to participate in social media at all since they have nothing to offer except to be an example of what’s wrong with the world.

  11. Hey Mitch, can’t say about others but as far as I am concerned, I am not a troll and I can say that proudly. I actually don’t get into all this, I interact with a limited number of people and try to stay out of things which can create confusion. Not that I am scared but I just don’t want to get involved.

    1. Keith, truthfully I don’t think anyone who comments on this blog is going to be a troll. However, knowing one when you see one is another thing, and that’s more of what I wanted to get across. Well, that and my dislike for them.

  12. I guess these people have always been around, Mitch. They used to drive by your house and throw a rock through the window. Now, with an Internet connection, they can do more damage with less effort. It has to be a reflection of a sad, empty life. I can’t think of any other explanation.

    1. I feel the same way Charles. I know that sometimes one has to rail against bad stuff but when stuff isn’t bad and they’re still being mean and vicious… what sad lives they must lead.

  13. Personally I would not refer to myself as a troll, and I have to say I haven’t come across many of them on the forums and blogs I frequent: probably because they are moderated well. I notice them more on sites such as Yahoo, Youtube, Daily Mail etc, all who have extensive comment sections. Likewise online games seem to have their fair share.

  14. Trolls upset me Mitch. It seems like a lot of people hide behind the anonymity of the Internet and behave in ways that they would never in real life. You’ve summed them up nicely. I’d also go so far as to include the words button-pushers and bomb-tossers in the description of an online troll. Some people simply want to cause chaos and disruption. Personally, it’s beneath me.

    You are so far from being a troll. If anything, I’d describe you more of a knight-in-shining-armor of sorts. 🙂 I’m referring to the LinkedIn discussion that I started on PPC advertising. It would have been very easy for you to have not joined the conversation and supported my position but you offered your insight and supported my post.

    Great topic and great image too.

    1. Thanks for that Sherryl, but that guy was totally off his rocker and his response wasn’t warranted, and I couldn’t just sit back and let him think others would agree with his position. Yeah, I’ve been told that I’m the protector of sorts but I’ll also get on someone if I think they’re totally off-kilter on something, kind of like I did yesterday. But I try to offer something as well, an explanation of why I think they’re wrong, in language that’s, for the most part, non-confrontational. At least to date I don’t think I’ve ever called a fool a fool in public. lol

  15. I believe all the spammers out there will be punished one day and die in hell 😉 Seriously, there are many on-line trolls out there. Many of them come to my blog and comment like they never read the whole article. Something really must happen to get rid of them forever. Great article!

    1. Thanks Martin. I delete the spammers, or folks who don’t seem to actually have read the article, and they never know because they have no intention of ever coming back. Works for me.

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