Tuesday, March 26, 2002

In one of the chat-rooms I habitually roam through, there are several different boards. On one of them, which has been blessedly free of trolls and flames, there was a likely troll-post today. It was kind of lame, posted by an unregistered chatter, and it didn't stir the people regularly posting to the board into much action.

But I am a little fascinated with posts like that. I think trolls are interesting. I find myself spending more time trying to understand the game of trolling than considering the actual post. There are some boards I read only for the flaming and the trolls - because of the way troll-posts are playing with the conventions of the boards, searching for the weak point of the chatters.

The conclusion I have come to on troll-posts, is that they rely on people getting upset, shocked or very exited about a topic: preferably the post should be designed to split the audience in two camps: those who are angry and those who are happy. If you take a troll-post seriously, adressing the topic rather than the emotion, they can lead to good discussion. Now a good troll would make certain the topic is controversial. But on boards with a fixed topic and a moderator, that's complicated, because either it's a good question which deserves debate - or it's far out and will be deleted.

So at which point does a post become a troll? When it's posted, when it's discussed, when the people discussing start flaming each others?

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