What is a Troll?

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Mike Sales
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What is a Troll?

Postby Mike Sales » 26 May 2019, 8:14pm

I hope this topic is not too controversial, but I find it interesting.
I think the word was originally derived from a variety of fishing.
Trolling is motoring slowly along in a boat, usually a small one, dragging a hook and seeing what bites.
In the cyberworld I think it was applied to deliberately planting a post which one knew would rattle the bars of some cages, in order to see who bit. The intention being to enjoy the resulting quarrels, occasionally adding another stir.
By a mistaken etymology, one who indulges in this antisocial activity became known as a troll. Nothing to do with the Billy Goats Gruff.
Of course, lexicography is descriptive, not prescriptive, so now troll means something else, not a sort of digital fisherman.
Is there any consensus on what troll means nowadays? It is certainly an insult to call someone a troll, but why? What is meant?
It has been used on this forum, what did the users mean by it?
Does it mean deliberately provocative, perhaps insincerely so?

Edited last line, after Bonefish posted.
Does it mean deliberately and openly provocative, perhaps insincerely so, or does it refer merely to expressing a strong disagreement, as it sometimes seems to. Has it lost the suggestion of a trap?
Last edited by Mike Sales on 26 May 2019, 9:22pm, edited 1 time in total.

Bonefishblues
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Re: What is a Troll?

Postby Bonefishblues » 26 May 2019, 8:34pm

Yes and no respectively
Last edited by Bonefishblues on 26 May 2019, 11:28pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Cugel
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Re: What is a Troll?

Postby Cugel » 26 May 2019, 10:44pm

Mike Sales wrote:I hope this topic is not too controversial, but I find it interesting.
I think the word was originally derived from a variety of fishing.
Trolling is motoring slowly along in a boat, usually a small one, dragging a hook and seeing what bites.
In the cyberworld I think it was applied to deliberately planting a post which one knew would rattle the bars of some cages, in order to see who bit. The intention being to enjoy the resulting quarrels, occasionally adding another stir.
By a mistaken etymology, one who indulges in this antisocial activity became known as a troll. Nothing to do with the Billy Goats Gruff.
Of course, lexicography is descriptive, not prescriptive, so now troll means something else, not a sort of digital fisherman.
Is there any consensus on what troll means nowadays? It is certainly an insult to call someone a troll, but why? What is meant?
It has been used on this forum, what did the users mean by it?
Does it mean deliberately provocative, perhaps insincerely so?

Edited last line, after Bonefish posted.
Does it mean deliberately and openly provocative, perhaps insincerely so, or does it refer merely to expressing a strong disagreement, as it sometimes seems to. Has it lost the suggestion of a trap?


To those who enjoy cyber discussions, a troll is primarily a provocateur. Their motives don't matter although their conduct does.

How one feels about the troll is itself revealing. Personally I greatly enjoy them - as entertainment; interlocutor dredging up my responses (which are illuminating for me too); archetypes of certain mass media attitudes, tropes and memeplexes; handy (and willing) verbal sparring partner; an opportunity to practice my mockery; and much else.

As you mentioned, trolling is from the fishing. I don't mind being fished as the troll doesn't usually have a knocker.

There is another variety of provocateur who is more a cyber football hooligan - seeking to do serious harm to all those wearing a scarf not like his, as it were. These are the lads who get sweary, highly personal and often intemperate to an extreme degree. If they were in a car, they'd be doing serious road rage on you. One here recently told me he hoped I would die from cancer for disagreeing with his opinion about a road closure.

Those lads deserve a serious verbal smacking! Followed by 37 weeks of anger management courses.

But no ban or post-deletion, plis, as their posts reveal them for what they are.

Cugel, just an imp.

PDQ Mobile
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Re: What is a Troll?

Postby PDQ Mobile » 26 May 2019, 10:48pm

I thought they were Scandinavian, lived under bridges and couldn't stand being exposed to sunlight.

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=myY-PRnLlts

windmiller
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Re: What is a Troll?

Postby windmiller » 26 May 2019, 11:16pm

The Term troll has been become almost meaningless, much like the word respect which is often used as a passive threat, rather than as an olive branch. Anyone who angers the intolerant can be rubber stamped as "troll" for convenience. It really is a term of lazy abuse particulary when the option of ignore can be used instead.

reohn2
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Re: What is a Troll?

Postby reohn2 » 26 May 2019, 11:19pm

Cugel wrote:....Does it mean deliberately and openly provocative....

Yes,and as has been proven they don't like being exposed as such :wink:
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windmiller
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Re: What is a Troll?

Postby windmiller » 26 May 2019, 11:24pm

No need to expose the hypocritical and intolerant, they kindly do it themselves :roll:

reohn2
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Re: What is a Troll?

Postby reohn2 » 27 May 2019, 12:15am

Wild accusations without any proof,ignoring any questions when asked to provide proof and not engaging into discussion about their outlandish claims speaks more about a poster's troll like nature.
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mercalia
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Re: What is a Troll?

Postby mercalia » 27 May 2019, 1:56am


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Lance Dopestrong
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Re: What is a Troll?

Postby Lance Dopestrong » 27 May 2019, 7:10am

Or could it be that a troll is sometimes someone who points out an inconvenient truth?
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Cugel
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Re: What is a Troll?

Postby Cugel » 27 May 2019, 9:24am

Lance Dopestrong wrote:Or could it be that a troll is sometimes someone who points out an inconvenient truth?


The trick is to arrange one's life and conduct so truths are never inconvenient.

This is harder than it sounds - unless one can also arrange what's true and what isnae. Many have tried and succeeded. See Stalin, Trump or M. Thatcher for details. :-)

Of course, each new truth-drug needs a properly-shaped receptor. These can be formed using a newspap, which can also deliver the corresponding new truth, pleasing certainty-addicts everywhere.

Cugel

mattheus
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Re: What is a Troll?

Postby mattheus » 27 May 2019, 9:25am

Mike Sales wrote:In the cyberworld I think it was applied to deliberately planting a post which one knew would rattle the bars of some cages, in order to see who bit. The intention being to enjoy the resulting quarrels, occasionally adding another stir.
By a mistaken etymology, one who indulges in this antisocial activity became known as a troll. Nothing to do with the Billy Goats Gruff.


I think you've nailed it - this is exctly how it was used for many years. (there was a link to the fishing aspect, in that
"getting a bite" was the term for provoking an angry response. And thus commenters often write
"OK, I'll bite:" )

In recent times the meaning has been much broadened - generally just to label people as being rude or unsavoury, in some way that suits the accuser.

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Audax67
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Re: What is a Troll?

Postby Audax67 » 27 May 2019, 9:40am

Image
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drossall
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Re: What is a Troll?

Postby drossall » 27 May 2019, 10:37am

I still think of it in the traditional sense, as referring to someone who posts views that (s)he does not actually hold, or is indifferent to, in order to trigger a debate and enjoy the resulting conflagration. The fact that some people resort to using it of opponents who do not provide sufficient convincing evidence to support their views is unfortunate (especially as the point of debate is that you get different views, and people often fail to convince each other).

Generally I wouldn't expect a troll to be very active in the debate, except to throw in the occasional extra hand grenade. The distinguishing feature, though, is not unsupported arguments, but taking positions that are more to do with generating controversy than with the poster's own views.

Bonefishblues
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Re: What is a Troll?

Postby Bonefishblues » 27 May 2019, 10:45am

Its modern use has debased the piscatorial term, which, done properly, is far from unsophisticated and indiscriminate!

Here's a traditional and highly-specialised version:
https://youtu.be/iipO-LEisHI