A Guide to Trolls and Trolling…Emeraldbee considers how Celtic supporters should deal with Trolls on Celtic Quick News…
In the day or two immediately after the fantastic achievement of getting into the Champions League Group stages, CQN was a miserable place. Where there should have been much happiness, positiveness and even delirium, there was instead disharmony and discord. Two of our regulars in particular had a fairly intense fall out, leading to others joining ‘sides’ and adding to the general miserableness on a blog that should have been euphoric.
And the cause of all of this? The sterling work of a troll! As I repeatedly urged my fellow posters “Don’t feed the troll” to no avail, I had this recurring vision of the troll sitting back, laughing his stupid, twisted face off at the success of his trolling.
Greenpinta asked me on the blog to define what I thought a troll, and trolling was and that got me to think about it more deeply, and consider how we could tackle the problem. So here goes.
The whole raison d’etre of the troll is to spoil. This blog, which many have referred to as the best Celtic blog on the web, must be anathema to your average ‘sticky’. Good Celtic stuff, in-depth (and usually respectful) discussion, informative, up-to-date and occasionally mannerly disagreement. No foul language allowed, certain topics off-limits, a blog that’s administered properly. What’s not to be despised by your sticky?
Your troll then appears on the scene and tries to disrupt things. Drop a wee snide remark here, make a derogatory reference there, put out ‘facts’ that demean and undermine Celtic and/or its supporters and someone takes the bait. An argument starts and if the troll is good, and there have been some very good ones on here over the years, he’ll play one off against the other, supporting one or two against some others, hoping that more join in. As I referred to above that’s exactly what happened last week. In no time at all he has got the whole tone of the blog changed and people come on, read the invective and post that they are offski because of what is happening. Result for the troll!
The difficulty for us is separating the strong opinions of some, opinions with which not everyone is going to agree, from the deliberate malevolent work of the troll. One simple method of doing this is based on history. There are literally dozens and dozens of posters on here who are well known, recognised for their postings over years in some cases. It is extremely unlikely that those guys, who may come up with something unpalatable in someone’s view, are trolls. You may not like their opinions and you may take issue with them (it is a blog after all), but they are not trolling.
There are different types of troll. The thick ones are easy to spot, you know the visitors who have called over from some zombie site and who just can’t help themselves. Within a short time their language deteriorates to the level they are used to, their ‘opinions’ are couched in scurrilous invective and they more or less out themselves. There have been cases of such visitors departing with a tirade of verbal abuse, usually containing various references to bodily parts, personal habits and an unhealthy interest in sexual activities. Such trolls, if you can call them that, are no real problem because they are so transparent.
The real problem trolls are those who box a bit more clever. Winning Captains outlined on Sunday how a former outed troll, believed by some to be Kill Ultra (was the name a giveaway?) had been posting on here trying to derail Resolution 12. At times he successfully got a heated discussion going, with some taking the bait as to the success or otherwise of the Res 12 process. That was successful trolling! He played a long game initially, posting about things Celtic, watching his language, making sure he came over as ‘Celtic-minded’ in his early days. Once settled in he started to drop a wee contentious remark now and then, coming over as a guy who just likes a wee discussion. Then he upped the ante. In his case he was in cahoots with a bigot recently banned from Twitter, linked to one of our national newspapers.
That was clever trolling, professional even. Another clever approach is the man-of-many-aliases. It’s difficult, but not impossible, to keep up with the changes if you are on the alert. Talking nicely between your own aliases is a simple way of building up credence in the eyes of other readers. Really clever trolls will have been on our blog for some time and are waiting their chance – or possibly for their instructions, for I’m not against the idea that the success and influence of CQN has not gone unnoticed in certain quarters where decisions to upset the blog through trolling would be taken. The knuckle draggers don’t like anything to do with Celtic; the Level 5-inspired trolls are in fact more sinister in their hate for/fear of us: both are guilty of trolling CQN.
It has reached the stage now that when I see a newcomer I immediately wonder if this is the start of a new troll’s career on CQN; very unfair and hopefully wrong, but the thought does occur to me. I then spend the next few weeks/months watching and carefully reading what the new poster puts on the blog, ever alert to the possibility of trolling.
What can we as CQNrs do? Be ever alert and if you think there is a possibility of a troll at work on the blog contact the admins directly. The only real way to deal with a troll is to starve him. It is so, so very difficult not to react to utter, anti-Celtic garbage on a Celtic blog, but as the only reason for a troll to be on CQN is to get people to react to him, and with each other, then the only answer is to totally ignore him. If he gets no reaction he will get worse and worse trying to goad someone into starting an argument. If he gets absolutely no reaction he will eventually give up. Or move on to another identity.
Don’t feed the troll!