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Study: Trolls Are Machiavellian, Sadists, and Psychopaths

Discussion in 'The Attic' started by maxd, Sep 27, 2014.

    Sep 27, 2014
  1. maxd

    maxd Complaints (PAB) Manager Staff Member

    Occupation:
    The PAB Guy
    Location:
    Saltirelandia
    @ BigThink : You must register/login in order to see the link.

    Speaking as someone with over a decade of experience in forum moderation I can't say I am the least bit surprised. Thoughts?
     
    6 people like this.
  2. Sep 27, 2014
  3. weesie

    weesie Ueber Meister

    Occupation:
    retired
    Location:
    Old bag lady with a laptop
    Oh yeah! It's Friday! I wonder how many strange and oddball threads will have to be put to death this weekend!

    It seems every weekend these days there is a new nutball mucking up the forum!
     
  4. Sep 27, 2014
  5. Tirilej

    Tirilej On a Break

    Occupation:
    Breathing
    Location:
    Sweden
    I didn't think so. I know there are a lot of real evil people in this world, but I didn't think they bothered so much with forums.
    I thought they were more ''low status'' people with no self confidence that took it out in places like this. To get rid of some frustration.
    Here that kind can be anonymous and say whatever they want.

    I'm sure most of them are not that bad for real.

    Maybe I should add that I'm thinking of this forum and it's probably different in forums that are talking other stuff. What do I know?:eek2:
     
  6. Sep 27, 2014
  7. miso

    miso Meister Member MM

    Occupation:
    accountant
    Location:
    Ireland
    True.

    Need proof? One visit to 4chan will be enough.
     
  8. Sep 27, 2014
  9. chayton

    chayton aka LooHoo CAG PABnonaccred webmeister

    Occupation:
    Freelance Designer
    Location:
    Edmonton Canada
    I disagree. Online and anonymously you can say anything you want without fear of reprisal, whereas if you say some horrible stuff or threaten someone in person you'll have to face the consequences - like getting punched in the face or getting arrested.

    IMO people who troll online are the type who would only do stuff in real life if there's little to no risk of getting caught. Like they might be vandals or send anonymous letters or phone calls to mess with other people. But they're probably not going to even do something like park in a handicapped spot because they'd risk damage to their car or a ticket.

    Personally I think people who troll are pathetic, low self esteem losers who get a sense of self worth by making people upset or angry. The more outrageous or horrible they are the more attention they get, see RIP trolling. Even if it's once removed - people are paying attention to their persona, not the real person - it's still attention and it makes them feel alive.

    Look at most serial killers that have been caught recently - the media delves into their computer use and facebook and internet posting and looks for signs that "someone should have seen this coming" and there's really nothing along those lines - there's anger and a lot of ME ME ME, but anonymous trolling isn't something that comes up frequently.

    True psychopaths don't have feelings at all - they don't care about other people, they don't see other people as anything, so I can't see a psychopath getting their jollies by upsetting people secretly.

    There may be an element of sadism in trolling, but I doubt that's the main focus - trolls aren't looking at how they can hurt someone, all they want is the attention that they get back.
     
  10. Sep 27, 2014
  11. maxd

    maxd Complaints (PAB) Manager Staff Member

    Occupation:
    The PAB Guy
    Location:
    Saltirelandia
    Interesting. I would have said that what motivates a lot of the troll types is not so much the gratification of getting attention as the "thrill" of seeing that they can manipulate and upset others.

    One of the common traits, IMO, is their feeling of superiority: everything they say and do simply reeks of "I am smarter than you and them" where "them" is the general forum population they so enjoy winding up and manipulating.

    The only people whose opinions they really seem to care that much about are their "buddies" whom they hang out with in some grotty little corner of the web telling each other how stupid everyone else is and how clever they (obviously!) are. Of course those "buddy" relationships can end in a heartbeat but that hardly seems worth mentioning.

    JMO mind you, these are fairly complex questions.
     
  12. Sep 27, 2014
  13. Balthazar

    Balthazar The Governor

    Occupation:
    Leader
    Location:
    Woodbury
    I've met trolls online who are certainly psychopaths, and then I've seen regular people trolling because they find it funny (4chan style).

    One thing that I want to say though... people that:

    - have unpopular opinions
    - are a PITA in general
    - have more than one forum account
    - keep arguing with mods/admin

    doesn't automatically make them "trolls" and are often mislabelled as such.

    I remember when I joined the internet in the mid 90's, at the time the popular discussion groups were on a network called Usenet. That's where I met my first troll and he was a pretty hardcore one. He used multiple identities (often stealing other people's names) and was as destructive and attention whore as possible. He was making some of us so angry that many people would have paid big bucks just to have the "privilege" to spend a few minutes with him IRL. It was impossible to ban people on Usenet so he stayed there trolling the same groups for YEARS, many users just decided to quit because of him. Now this guy had some SERIOUS issues.
     
    1 person likes this.
  14. Sep 27, 2014
  15. chayton

    chayton aka LooHoo CAG PABnonaccred webmeister

    Occupation:
    Freelance Designer
    Location:
    Edmonton Canada
    Yes, but that thrill of manipulation and getting an upset response is the attention they're after. I picture a troll as some gleeful chuckling douchebag who writes up something horrible, then posts it and keeps coming back every 5 minutes to see if anyone's responded - the term "feeding the trolls" is pretty apt. Just saying something isn't the point, it's getting someone to respond in anger or insults or even agreement by other trolls. "Oh look someone said something, now I have proof of my awesomeness."

    As for the rest, I don't know, I'm not a shrink - and if I was I probably wouldn't be a very good one. :oops:
     
  16. Sep 27, 2014
  17. maxd

    maxd Complaints (PAB) Manager Staff Member

    Occupation:
    The PAB Guy
    Location:
    Saltirelandia
    True, it doesn't automatically make them trolls. But almost all trolls do all those things so those that aren't trolls are putting themselves in pretty shite company if that list describes their day to day activity on the forum in question.

    The thing is you can have and hold unpopular opinions without being a PITA about it, or fighting with the mods/admins, or violating the forum rules by creating multiple accounts.

    In fact I'd say that you can draw a line between "have unpopular opinions" and the rest on that list. Above the line is perfectly fine, legit, and even welcome on a forum. Below the line is trouble.

    Fair enough, and we may just be getting into symantics here but I think it comes down to a question of motive. Does the person simply want to be noticed or are they trying to hurt and upset people? is their purpose to be well liked or to wreck shit?

    Basically I think it's a grey scale like most of the rest of life: if the person is just trying to get attention then they don't have to be "evil" to do so. That puts them near one end of the scale. If being "evil" comes too easily to them and, overall, that's pretty much where they live then yeah, they're off somewhere near the other end of the scale and probably need to hit the road.
     
  18. Mar 8, 2015
  19. incrediblestuff

    incrediblestuff SearchingForTheHolyGrail! CAG webmeister

    Occupation:
    Currently: Self employed, Previously: Manager
    Location:
    Mostly the Netherlands
    I remember now and i must apologize :D

    Jokes aside, i too have seen this phenomenon grow into it's current status-quo.
    Let me first say i am happy to a certain extent, that now Internet Trolling has become punishable by law. On the downside is the hard to define ethical line which would be drawn in the sand figuratively.

    Where do you draw it, how do you draw it, and who monitors the point of crossing? It's a complex matter, as there are emotions involved. People's feelings can be and have been hard to use as a guideline, in really any random grade-meter for whatever cause. They are just too different, some people can burst into tears over stuff that makes other people laugh, quite hard and sincere.

    So, especially in written language, which is even more complex, as it's void of tone of voice, gesticulations and the face to face expressions that may play a part in conveying your intentions with the words you are using, it would appear to be wise stating at all times, either as a disclaimer on top, bottom or anywhere in the middle, what you are intending with your post. I wouldn't be too surprised if this would become "the law" in a further future, especially in some less democratic countries.

    For now we will have to use smilies and subtext.
    In my days i have seen some incredible abuse, even by admins to "innocent" members
    -not really talking about CM, but other forums and places i used in the past). I have to be fair and admit that when i was still a teen, quite rebellish and also angry with society at that point, i did play my fair share of troll parts, in both real life and the internet.

    The few times i may have really hurt someone 's feelings i really figured they had it coming. The few occasions where in retrospect i may have stepped over a line, i did try and make things up later.

    If for some reason, someone would want to hold me responsible for those events, or even go as far as to label me now, following the philosophy, once a "psychopath" always a psychopath, or whatever label may fit, i would be highly displeased, surprised and in the end probably outraged too.

    People can still learn, change and adapt to their circumstances, growing mentally and emotionally, which means a higher understanding of feelings, what's what in the world of emotions and the "learning by doing" of the great timeless concept "Try not to do things to others that you would not like them to do to you" which will grow more meaningful, sadly, after one's self has been hurt deeply for the first time.

    I'll stop rambling now, but i hope i could share my yet incomplete view on this concept and the resulting humanitarian dilemma in regards to it's handling in daily life, specially in the virtual world.
     
    2 people like this.
  20. Mar 9, 2015
  21. Mousey

    Mousey Ueber Meister Mouse CAG

    Occupation:
    Pencil Pusher
    Location:
    Up$hitCreek
    Many years ago in a chatroom where I hung out.... WBS? does that sound right? ... back in the 56k days. Anyway, it was way late one night and only a couple of us were on chatting about this and that. A kid we didn't know came in trying to troll. We ignored him or answered questions with a simple yes or no. Meanwhile he was getting angrier and more aggressive. In the end he was shouting (all caps to be noticed) and slammed us with something about being fat dumb cows without enough sense to know we were being insulted. I replied, "Moo?" and he totally went ballistic. We all said goodnight and logged off as he was still raging into an empty room.

    I still wonder about people like that. I mean what's the point of specifically trying to p!ss people off? Especially people you don't know from Adam?

    Anyway, thanks for the link, Max.
     
    2 people like this.
  22. Mar 10, 2015
  23. maxd

    maxd Complaints (PAB) Manager Staff Member

    Occupation:
    The PAB Guy
    Location:
    Saltirelandia
    Good question, in fact probably the question when it comes to understanding the troll mind. The article says what people do online is a fairly direct reflection of who they are offline: "nasty Internet comments are a manifestation of everyday sadistic personality traits".

    I think the anonymity of the internet is a big "Play Here" sign for those types of people because they get to do their dirt without having to face any of the consequences such behaviour would bring them in real life.

    And I strongly suspect there is another major factor at work: the frustrations of everyday life. By that I mean that many people are pretty marginalized in their day-to-day lives: too many hardships and too little recourse, to put it bluntly.

    Life on the web could be very liberating for such folk I would think, expecially if they have a lot of pent-up anger and frustration they want to unload. Becoming a hell-raiser online could be very empowering for them, a place where they can finally even the score a little. Of course that's completely misguided and delusional -- the people they attack online typically have no connection whatsoever to the actual causes of their real life troubles -- but I can understand that if you're in a certain frame of mind it would feel good anyway. Stir in a big, fat helping of "no repercussions" and I could see how it might become irresistable. To quote a song I used to like very much:

     
    1 person likes this.
  24. Mar 10, 2015
  25. jetset

    jetset Ueber Meister CAG

    Occupation:
    Senior Partner, InfoPowa News Service
    Location:
    Earth
    Whilst in general I agree with what Chayton is saying here, there is - as I think Max pointed out - the malicious and harmful end of the trolling scale where these character flaws all come together in a deliberate attempt to damage the reputation or business of a target (usually chosen in revenge for some past sleight which was probably caused by the troll's behaviour in the first place).

    That sort of troll tends to repeatedly appear in some new guise in further attempts to inflict damage. Fortunately most of them overplay their hands as they become more involved in the attack and are thus themselves discovered and discredited...which spurs them to more attacks in the future.

    Vicious and malicious circle, really I guess.
     
  26. Mar 10, 2015
  27. IanO

    IanO Regular Human

    Occupation:
    Marketing and promotions
    Location:
    Ireland.
    counterpoint....

    I hate trolls as much as the next guy... normally.... but there is the odd exception like 'PHDineverything' and David Thorne who I admit to finding very amusing. (remember him? he tried to pay a bill with a drawing of a spider)

    I'd be curious what you think of *that* kind of troll? Do you even consiser them trolls, or do they deserve a whole different label? You must register/login in order to see the link.


    Also... I'm sick and tired of poor Machiavelli getting such a hard time. Nobody talks about his awesome poetry or comedies! Unfair!! Shame on you Max!
    (what... me... troll? ;))
     
    1 person likes this.
  28. Mar 10, 2015
  29. Casinomeister

    Casinomeister Forum Cheermeister Staff Member

    Occupation:
    Homemaker
    Location:
    Bierland
    I have met in person on a few occasions a former member who can be categorically defined as a vicious troll. During the several times that we met he seemed skittish and a bit unnerved. I remember once when we both actually sat together at a table and met a casino rep from (I think) Coral; this was years ago at the ICE. She was quite charming, pretty, and very amicable. This guy got all blustery, his face flushed, his hands were shaky, and he started asking her questions that were a bit aggressive, something about player complaints - I can't remember exactly, I'd have to look at my notes. But he was definitely out of his comfort zone. She in turn remained smiley and cordial with a promise of a follow-up. I gave her kudos for that.

    The thing is, this guy was 180 degrees away from how he appeared online. Online he is brusk, tough, and mouthy. In real life, I actually pitied him. I could go on, but that would be trollish. :p
     
    1 person likes this.
  30. Mar 10, 2015
  31. Simmo!

    Simmo! Moderator Staff Member

    Occupation:
    Web Dev.
    Location:
    England
    The key issue here is anonymity.

    If you think about it, we all behave differently when we are anonymous. Unfortunately, humans by nature are selfish but when we are held responsible for our actions one generally thinks about the repercussions (mainly because the wrong actions might impact ourselves negatively) and we actually start to treat other people how we like to be treated ourselves, which makes (most of) us much nicer people.

    Look at how we are (as a race) in cars: we protect our own space, act generally far more aggressively than we would normally and treat other people (car drivers) differently to how we would if we met them face to face. We regard most other car drivers as in our way because all we are interested in is our own journey.

    This is why I think anonymity online is a bad thing. If everyone had the motto "Treat others how you want to be treated" trolling wouldn't be an issue but those sorts of people don't think about that: they just think about themselves and their own little bubble. And as an aside, that is why humanity will ultimately wipe itself out.
     
    Last edited: Mar 10, 2015
    3 people like this.
  32. Mar 10, 2015
  33. maxd

    maxd Complaints (PAB) Manager Staff Member

    Occupation:
    The PAB Guy
    Location:
    Saltirelandia
    :lolup:

    Select .. copy .. open file things-I-wish-I'd-said.txt .. paste .. save.
     
    1 person likes this.
  34. Mar 10, 2015
  35. Simmo!

    Simmo! Moderator Staff Member

    Occupation:
    Web Dev.
    Location:
    England
    You must register/login in order to see the link.

    Actually, trolls are just mentally subnormal misfits and cowards aren't they, just in varying degrees. It's as simple a categorisation as that.
     
  36. Mar 10, 2015
  37. dunover

    dunover Unofficial T&C's Editor Staff Member CAG PABnononaccred PABnonaccred PABinit mm3 webmeister

    Occupation:
    International Money Launderer
    Location:
    the bus shelter, opposite GCHQ Benhall
    Indeed:

    Study: Trolls Are Machiavellian, Sadists, and Psychopaths: troll1.jpg,Mar 10, 2015
     

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