Greedy Goblin

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Fear of trolls

Larísa wrote that being linked by WoW Insider can be bad because trolls find your blog and well... they will troll it (is it a verb?). She expresses concern that "I sincerely hope that there aren’t more bloggers out there who consider turning silent or start to whisper because of the WoW Insider readers."

She links to Krizzlybear writing: "I wanted this to be a blog where I could feel safe to say anything I want, without having to face the scrutiny of people telling me to STFU or DIAF. With the advent of the Daily Quest, I’ve been scared to post anything of any value, fearing that the trolls from WI would come over and just destroy everything that I’ve worked so hard to make. And when you’re scared to write, something’s terribly wrong."

If you are just doing PvE, you can be nice to everyone, since raid bosses and farmed mobs do not belong to "everyone". However if you make business in WoW or real life, you compete with other people. Some of them do not share my views about competition and get mad at you. Others share it, just learned that it pays to act like being mad.

People, for some strange reason, fear from people with negative emotions. In a real life face-to-face situation I can understand them a bit, since he can lose control, attack you causing lot of the paperwork and bureocratic investigation until you prove that it was a self-defense situation. On the other hand in safe places like a workplace, a guarded shop, and especially the internet, the other person cannot cause you any harm.

Still, people afraid of being harassed, being told to STFU or called asshole or other not too nice things. I've never really understood why that is. To me, a harassing internet troll was annoying like a bug. I have to stand up from my seat and hunt the noisy fly with a towel. I have to click on the dustbin icon, the confirmation checkbox, the delete button and the link-back-to-post because of them. Annoying and time consuming, but not at all fearful.

In business (in WoW or real), you will face people who don't like what you are doing. They will write and tell you bad things. Most of these things are not even threats! "STFU", "you dumbass" and "you hearthless piece of shit" are not warnings of physical attack. They just mean that the other guy is pissed off. So what?

Trolls shall be ignored not because they are trolls (people who act offended/offensive just for fun), but because offended/offensive people altogether can be ignored. They cannot harm you. Their words are just noise like the big nasty fly's. You have nothing to fear of.

Would I fear being linked by WoW Insider? No. Would I be afraid if all the trolls would unite to come and pollute my site? No. I'd welcome them with a Clint Eastwood quote.


Townes said...

I won't try to explain the human psychology of fearing confrontation. But I will say that, yes, trolling is a verb. Its use as a fishing term probably dates back a century (trolling = pulling bait behind the boat to tempt fish to bite at it). You can likely find it at The etymology of the word as it's used in internet forums is not clearly related to fishing, though I think of trolls as trying to bait other forumites. For this use, you might have better luck at

mute said...

You should remember that many people (least people I know) read the comments after a post, trying to receive more opinions on the subject. If a person wants to create a "sterile" atmosphere in his blog or have concerns about the amount of people visiting his blog, he will be afraid of trolls. As silly fights, insults and such generally cause a hesitation for the normal blog reader to visit the site again.

P.S.: All your posts show 07:00 as posting time. If you're not doing this deliberately, you may want to check it out.

Hirvox said...

Many social people make it their personal goal in life to be likeable. But when faced with criticism, there are two particularly dangerous extreme reactions:

First, there's the rejection. The opposing person is not just wrong, they're evil. If the criticizer was right, this can lead them to ignore any and all helpful advice, and even make themselves worse just to spite the criticizer.

Secondly, there's the affirmation, which is probably the case here. They believe that it's all their fault, their personal failure to please the criticizer. Even if the criticizer was completely wrong, they'll try to make amends. At worst, this can lead to a downward spiral of victimhood, where the social person tolerates worse and worse abuse and still tries to please the unpleasable. Domestic abuse cases feature these frequently.

If one (even subconciously) knows that they'll be prone to succumb to one of these extremes, then fear of trolls is one of the first symptoms.

IMHO, the correct treatment is not to shut oneself out from the world, but to learn to debate properly: To be able to analyze arguments and craft appropriate responses without losing their cool. If done correctly, they'll end up pleasing more people than before and not waste time worrying about the unpleasable.

Larísa said...

@Mute: Gevlon's posts are prewritten and posted regularly. I think that's just great. You know when you can expect a post as you know when the news will be broadcasted on TV. Most of the time I do the same myself, posting at 01.00 AM. I don't have any special reason for picking that time. Or maybe I have, it's that there aren't so many bloggers posting at that hour - most US blogs tend to update at a different time. Spreading the posts over the day seems like a good thing - there's always something new for people to read.

About the topic: I agree about the ideal way to handle those things. Hirvox expresses it very well. But we aren't ideal. We're sometimes weak, vurnerable and human. There are times in our lives when a troll is the last thing we need to deal with. However generally there are many others out there prepared to support you if this happens. I'm thinking about how Ixobelle recently was attacked in a silly way. He's more of a fighter than I am, he can take trolls properly. But he also got tons of supporting comments from non-trolls.

The sad thing about trolling comments is that unless you censor them and take them away, as Mute says, they create an atmosphere in the blog that you may not want there.

I'm really glad that the trolls haven't found my blog so far.

Yaggle said...

You arrive at town square and see everybody is throwing rotten fruit at the person in the middle. Everybody says he did terrible things. They hand you some rotten fruit. It is tempting to throw the rotten fruit at the bad person, isn't it?
I fear if too many people place negative comments on my blog, that others will arrive and will think it enjoyable to do so, also.
Plus I am lazy and I really don't want to check my blog regularly to swat away the insects.

*vlad* said...

Ape sub-routines: I think most people have heard of Fight or Flight syndrome.

Of course someone writing insults can't physically hurt you, but it is in-built into our nervous system; your body prepares for a physical conflict; even though there is no-one to have that conflict with.

Even a goblin must feel these things now and again.

Cdin said...

Getting linked by WoW Insider is definately not a bad thing IMO.

1. The few times I have been linked it greatly increased my traffic. I get visits from WI Months after I was linked. There are a lot of WI trolls, but they are WI trolls, not Gray Matter trolls. Most trolls, troll because they want to stroke their epeen and lets be honest. Most player blogs are just to small for them to care. I do get a few trolls, but I would say it is a small minority of my comments.

2. Trolls can be helpful, even if their comments aren't made in the most constructive way. If they are telling you your stupid or STFU because something you said was wrong, look into it. I've improved several of my posts this way because the troll had a good point dispite his piss poor attitude.

phoenixboy said...

They are trolls. They are annoying not dangerous. Deeply offensive sometimes, but, you can erase the really offensive or make a explanation post of why its offensive/really stupid. You also can(and should) put a ad/spam blocker.

Besides those measures (and the first two is more explaining why X thing is REALLY wrong), well this is the Internet. Any opinion posted in here and watched WILL atract trolls. More viewers = more trolls. Its not personal, its just more people watching what you write.

Im with Gevlon, trolls are just like the General chat morons. They arent against you, they just want to annoy somebody.

Ben said...

Yes, it's a verb, it comes from trolling as in the style of fishing, not troll as in an ogre. So it was probably used as a verb before it was used as a noun.

Markco said...

Wow Insider posts are the best thing that can happen to a starting blog. After four wow insider posts my blog went from 500-1000 readers a day to 2000-5000 in less than a month. Sure you'll get trolls and people who don't like you, but if you have enough vocal readers they will shout down the trolls without needing your intervention.

Anonymous said...

What's "hearthless"? Does that mean the person has no hearthstone?

HP said...

I hate being trolled because even though logically I know they are POS and what they say don't matter but emotionally, I would still be unable to help but react to them because I know behind every troll is a human and to have someone be so inciteful, spitefully hostile is still something that can be infuriating. So I would prefer being anonymous as I blog.

pugnaciouspriest said...

I struggle not to feed trolls because what they do is affront to my core beliefs about respecting other people. There is a different between disagreeing and attacking someone. When asked they are only doing it to entertain themselves. Yes I know they want a reaction, and someone always gives it to them. I try and make sure its not me feeding them. said...

Ironically, I think it is your post that has sent a negative comment to Kriz's Blog...

Ink said...

Spot on. If you fear trolls, then get off the internet.

The only time I'd get scared is if a troll starts trying to track down your RL identity. (Yes, it has happened, though thankfully not to me.) That level of persistence suggests that the troll in question is nuts enough to be leaving animal heads in your bed or something, and it's probably wise to start freaking out.