"Trolling is divided into three parts: sinking and roving, trolling with gauge, and snap-hooks and spinning." -- Boy's Own Book, A Complete
Encyclopedia of Athletic, Scientific, Outdoor and Indoor Sports, 1881
"Trolls" have long been recognized as a problem for topical discussion boards, and ATS is no exception. Some notes concerning trolls can be found
However, rather than focus on "trolls" (since anyone can be considered a "troll" now and then), I prefer to focus on trolling itself. As a
moderator, I've found the following definition of trolling handy:
Trolling is the act of deliberately disrupting topical discussion.
Note that although trolling can take many forms, it must always be deliberate, and always intended to disrupt topical discussion.
Expressing controversial viewpoints is NOT trolling and, in general, even the most radical of opinions are welcome as long as they are expressed in
accordance with the AboveTopSecret.com Terms And Conditions Of Use
Rather, trolling requires activity that falls outside the boundaries of topical discussion, such as
ad hominem attacks
, spamming, flooding, shocking images, foul language, threats,
falsehoods, hoaxing, garbled/bizarre/absurd posts and other inappropriate behavior.
In all cases, the key feature is deliberate disruption.
What To Do About It
NEVER respond to trolling with trolling, or by giving trolls what they want: attention. Doing so just leads to more trolling and makes things
Instead, please ALERT inappropriate posts and bring them to the attention of the staff. In addition to a great deal of experience handling trolls, we
have tools at our disposal that simplify dealing with them effectively.
When reporting incidents of trolling, please be patient and recognize that it takes time to handle problem behavior, and that, due to a strong focus
on member privacy (even for "trolls"), our methods may not always be obvious. In the end, however, fate tends to catch up with those who devote
themselves to disrupting discussion on ATS.
That said, the best way to deal with trolling is to cultivate an environment in which trolling simply doesn't fit in, by posting courteously and
on-topic, and by treating all members with respect.
Done right, even the most persistent of trolls may be tempted to renounce the Dark Side and instead join us in Denying Ignorance.
At least, it's worth trying.
"Long before the Internet, there were trolls. Long after the Internet is gone, trolls shall remain." -- Anonymous
Definitions of what Internet trolls actually are vary widely from one source to another. Wikipedia has some great articles on the subject:
Wikipedia: Troll (Internet)
Wikipedia: What is a troll?
[edit on 7/18/2009 by Majic]