Nov 24, 2008
I'm just copying this here so I have someplace to refer to it on short notice. When I read these descriptions right away I started to make some sense out of some of the stranger or more controversial posts I've read here. I understand that lLadvocate has put this information out before but I'm too new here to have seen it so...
This page is a supplement to our main troll article, and provides a detailed analysis of the four different types of trolls, how to spot them, and what to do when you encounter them.
Playtime trolls are relatively easy to spot, but they may not be apparent to the naive user. There isn't a single set of characteristics that applies to playtime trolls, but you can look for some or all of the following signs:
a lack of buy-in to the list philosophy or values
generally low level of activity, with sudden spurts of interaction - or perhaps a new persona that has strong opinions on controversial subjects
a mixture of friendly posts with a confrontational style of interaction
the use of provocative language and sweeping generalisations about certain topics or categories of people
a lack of in-depth understanding of the topic
a lack of personal information
a lack of a genuinely unique perspective on the topic
a lack of humour
restarting topics that have already been done
use of language that encourages the dialogue to enter topics that are controversial and likely to upset some team members
the use of an attention-seeking gimmick (e.g.: "I was once exploited by an XYZ")
they follow up their own articles if the group doesn't respond to their posts
inconsistencies in the style and nature of the post and any proclaimed information (e.g.: claiming to be a child but writing with an adult style; claiming to be adult, but writing with a childish grammatical construction).
also note that trolls often seem to use free email services (such as hotmail.com) or have email addresses ending in .edu. However, trolls could be virtually anyone, and the email address is no guide as to whether the persona is a bona fide user or not.
To counteract playtime trolls, the best action is to ignore them. If you are convinced they are trolls, then you can advise the list manager. However, if other group members respond to the suspected troll's posts, then you may have to consider some of the responses outlined for tactical or strategic trolls.