Why are people trolls and what can we do about it?

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"I definitely need to more often step back and think a bit more before. I usually do; sometimes I fail.”

Said the Troll…


Why do trollies trolley?

Seriously, that’s the question?


  1. It’s easy.
    It literally takes no intellect, talent or ‘courage’ to talk trash to a stranger who in most cases cannot see you and/or touch you. The lack of immediate tangible consequences makes certain people act very bold (and often) foolishly.

  2. People who trolley perpetually are unhappy within themselves, IMHO.
    Whether they cop to it or not, there are a lot of miserable and emotionally/mentally unstable people out there in the world. Lots of them have internet access, and they use it to futilely try to make themselves feel better by making others feel worse.

  3. The illusion of anonymity.
    Even after all this time, some people still don’t get it that the internet is not and never was truly anonymous. Yet there’s always someone who acts shocked when their negative words or actions online end up having real life negative consequences.

  4. For the attention.
    Having been on numerous sites over the years I can attest that there’s one constant to them all no matter what the focus of any given forum may have been; attention whores and energy leeches.

Also known as emotional vampires, these folks will go to great and sometimes ridiculous lengths in order to be noticed by others.

Lastly, what can be done?

In my experience, ignoring them as if they don’t even exist is the most effective tactic, but it’s certainly not the easiest; especially if the trollies already know where a person’s buttons are.

Using humor and excessively polite language is also a good method of dealing with flamers and so called internet tough guys; because 9 times out of 10 the goal is to get a rise out of their “targets.”


Whenever I’m in a comment thread and see trolls, I always post to the other people to simply ignore the trolls. It never works.

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I believe that I did say it wasn’t easy.


There are a few mitigating factors at work there, methinks; the types of troll you’re avoiding and the content of the comments that you make to others while avoiding them.

If your comments to other members address anything that the troll posts, then it’s still an acknowledgment of its existence.

Don’t give them an “in.”

Now speaking from personal experience, I know that some trolls are relentless in their harassment, to the point of obsession and sometimes, even criminal activity in real 3D life.

I had one fixated lunatic try to harangue me and a group of my friends for years, literally; disparaging us, spreading unfounded & ridiculous rumors and actively trying to turn entire forums against us and anyone who was even amicable with us.

He took a special interest in me particularly as his “arch-nemesis” made it his mission to “run me off” a now defunct site, to no avail. ( I was still there when that sinking ship went under, just to prove a point.)

This unstable individual made countless sock puppet accounts, and scoured social media like FB trying to dig up real life personal info on us, and stalked some of us to other discussion sites.

And that’s just the most dedicated one; over the years, there were numerous other “psycho-fangirls.”

Long story short (too late!) I have a fair amount of experience when it comes to the internet energy leeches, and after all this time, I’ve found that the best method for dealing with them is to just NOT.


Regarding number three.

there’s always someone who acts shocked when their negative words or actions online end up having real life negative consequences.

This is something that is very interesting to me, because some of my friends have gotten threats and been seriously harassed online. I know that the people sending the threats are not really anonymous, we could track them if we wanted to and ensure serious consequences (get them fired from their jobs). But the harassers would know who came after them and got them fired. And then they would become really pissed. They are gun nuts. They make it clear that they have guns and they know where my friend lives.

Why would we go after them? Because it pisses me off that they can get away with it. And they know that the gun threat is used to remind us that they might REALLY go nuts if someone tries to take their guns.

Also it would be good if their buddies knew death threats are not okay, and that it’s not “free speech” when you make one. Threatening speech is not protected speech.

What would happen? Would people stop making threats, or would they start being better at being anonymous?

As much as it pains me to ask, because I don’t really like them, but has your friend reported those threats to their local law enforcement?

You are absolutely correct, and your friend has my sympathies; that’s a disturbing situation to be in.

I presume that your friend is not a gun owner him or herself?


When the topic of trolling is discussed, there’s not always a consensus definition useful for distinguishing the hard cases of heartfelt advocacy from digital harassment.

For tougher, interesting questions, one person’s troll may represent someone else’s advocate. The conversation then varies too extremely and unpredictably between tolerance of abuse OTOH or suppression of interesting discussion OTO.


Yes, and they took it seriously. The friend speaks out against gun violence. Which always emboldens the threateners. “HA, HA you can’t do anything to protect your family since you don’t have guns! I’m going to post your address to the internet and tell thieves to come and steal your stuff!”

Of course if my friend engaged them, got the ones making “true threats” arrested for their emails/posts then they would lose their rights to own guns. But that might not be the thing that scares them the most. I think that would be losing their jobs. That would enrage them and they would act, or suggest others act. The, “He’s just crazy enough to do it!” vibe is what they want to cultivate, so people do NOT act for fear of upsetting them. “People are polite to you when you are armed…”

The gun extremists want people to know that they and their buddies know where the people working against them live, and they know how to suggest violence without crossing the true threat line. They believe that if someone goes after them for their threats they are still fine. They’ve will proclaim they have their “1st Amendment rights backed up with their 2nd Amendment rights” Regarding 1st Amendment they are wrong about what they can say, but they also know that law enforcement often doesn’t know how to handle this very well. And if they do, they think that nobody from law enforcement is going to arrest, prosecute and convict them on a felony, which would mean they would lose access to their guns. Even then they think, "Who and how are going to enforce it? "
They are golden.

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Well, it’s good that it was reported so it’s on record, at least… but generally speaking, the police usually don’t prevent bad shit from going down, they just show up afterwards and tend to make things worse, IMO.

That being said, I fully advocate protecting oneself and one’s family from undue harm, and that doesn’t always mean being ‘armed to the teeth.’

In fact, the position that only firearms can be used for adequate self-defense is short-sighted and often erroneous.

Personally I think not taking any action at all only encourages the type of bullying you’ve addressed here; IMO people like that only learn when they have to deal with the harsh consequences of their actions.

But likewise, your friend should plan for any attempt of retaliation on the part of those who’ve been harassing him or her; collect as much info as possible and look into getting a lawyer if he or she can afford one. Moving to unknown location is another, but I don’t know your friend’s situation to know if that’s even a viable option.

“HA, HA you can’t do anything to protect your family since you don’t have guns! I’m going to post your address to the internet and tell thieves to come and steal your stuff!”

I’m pretty sure that equates to criminal solicitation in many states.


I think even our resident gun nut would agree with that sentiment.


Who would that be again?

And dammit, I skipped a word while typing; I hate it when I do that.

I don’t want to tag him, as these forums are ~300% more efficient than “Bloody Mary”. But he is known as one “Mister 44”.

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Thanks. I totally agree with the position that only firearms is adequate for self defense, in fact that is a concept that we are working to disprove. Of course the people who are pushing the “guns are the best defense” know that it sells more guns.

The topic is trolls, gun nut trolls are a sub category. I would like to work with my friend and a lawyer to proactively go after these people, but it would require my friend to engage with these trolls, some thing she doesn’t want to do. Also, there are different levels of harassment. What they are doing might stop short of being criminal, but there might be civil penalties. Do trolls have assets? (I mean they live under bridges, so it’s not like you can take their house.)

But, and I’ve investigated this, there are ways to impact them financially, like let their employer know that they are doing this at work, during the day using company computers. Yeah it could get them fired, and mess up their life.

I’ve gotten people fired before, but it’s not as satisfying as you would think. Is it worth it? It might be for me, but does my friend want to spend the energy on this?


Ah, I’ve seen that chap around.

We recently had a short but amicable chat about Animaniacs and Tim Roth, but ordinarily I don’t usually engage him as he seems rather fond of posting ginormous walls of text rife with condescension and dissidence.

And at this point in my internet life, I just cant muster up the energy to “even.”


*lmao @ [quote=“ActuallyARegular, post:13, topic:76900”]
these forums are ~300% more efficient than “Bloody Mary”.

The last two forums I frequented didn’t have member tagging as a feature, but it might as well have, given the rapid response time of our digital grapevine;

“OMG, look at what so and so posted about you!”


I agree; it’s an entire subgenre and probably needs its own post.[quote=“Spocko, post:14, topic:76900”]
But, and I’ve investigated this, there are ways to impact them financially, like let their employer know that they are doing this at work, during the day using company computers. Yeah it could get them fired, and mess up their life.

In my opinion, your friend taking action would be an act of self preservation, not one of ‘revenge.’

But if he or she is unwilling to do anything proactive, then there’s not much that I can tell you; other than an ounce of prevention is worth 10 pounds of cure, these days. (Inflation, and all.)


You rang?

Gun nut trolls are the worst.


I see my observation holds true, regardless to the lack of tagging.



…and what can we do about it?

We could simply follow the World Health Organization’s lead in eradicating other pests.

Some experts have proposed combatting the spread of the Zika virus by breeding and releasing mosquitoes that have either been genetically modified to prevent them from transmitting pathogens or that have been infected with the Wolbachia bacterium, thought to inhibit the spread of viruses. Another proposed technique consists of using radiation to sterilize male larvae so that when they mate, they produce no progeny.

So we capture and sterilize a few Trump and Cruz supporters, global warming deniers and “protect the sanctity of traditional bigotry” types, and then release them on Reddit and Gawker. Sure, it’ll take a couple election cycles to get results, but it’s humane.

I see it as a sticky cultural problem between the concepts of emotional honesty, and emotional manipulation.

The difficult and necessary struggle as an individual I think is that of knowing precisely what I feel. When meeting others, I am interested to know what they feel. But the US seems to be a culture based upon emotional incontinence, that what matters is not how people truly feel - but rather, how they can be manipulated to feel. There is a prevalent idea that if I like a person, I am going to try to induce them to feel one way. If I dislike them, I am going to induce them to feel another way. What gets lost in the shuffle here is that the more I respect a person, the more I want to know what a person truly feels without influencing it.

Most people manipulate each others’ emotions to some extent as part of how they communicate and build relationships. Trolls are the people who make a sport of it for their own entertainment.


And what terrible ‘sports’ they are.

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