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Weland 06-30-2003 05:04 AM

OT: (or is it?) the troll bible
USENET Newsgroup Trespasser (a.k.a. "Troll") Tactics

This is a list of the tactics that trolls commonly employ in newsgroups
(especially those with a devoted readership). This list has been worded as
though you are one of them, so that you can better see through their eyes
how they contemplate these tactics. Be forewarned, putting yourself in the
mind of a troll can be a disturbing experience.

1. Act offended or claim that opposing viewpoints are incredible and/or
unbelievable. When you are unable to offer a valid argument to refute your
opponent's position, use empty statements such as:
* "Only a (fill-in-the-blank) would say that"
* "And they wonder why no one takes you seriously!"
* "How dare you say that!"
* "That's the way to offend thousands!"

2. Distract your opponent from the issues at hand by accusing your
opponents of being "petty", "pathetic", "childish" or any number of other
such terms.

3. Put your opponent off guard by insulting him. The liberal use of
profanity and vulgarisms can be very effective, particularly when used
against your more dignified opponents. Your experience as a schoolyard
bully (or passive-aggressive pansy) can be handy here.

4. Be patronizing, condescending and present an air of superiority. It may
hide your inferiority to the casual reader. Use phrases like "kid" or
"son", to elevate your relative apparent authority by attempting to diminish
that of the group's advocates you are addressing.

5. Discredit your opponent or his position through the use of inappropriate
laughter and other non-verbal grunts.

6. When your tactics are turned on you, call your opponents trolls. Do not
accept the fact that by calling someone using your tactics a troll that
makes you the real troll.

7. Keep posting non-stop. Flood the group with your idiocy and nonsense.
Some readers may equate your volume with proof of quality. You will tie the
newsgroup regulars in knots trying to refute you and they won't have time
for posting on-topic.

8. Brag about destroying other newsgroups and threaten to do the same to

9. Drive as many good newsgroup members out of the group as possible, then
attempt #8 with regard to that newsgroup.

10. Refuse to admit your errors.
Never ever admit your errors no matter how blatant they are. If you find no
way out and have to admit that you are wrong, phrase it so that you can
accuse your opponent of being wrong.

11. Never apologize for your misbehavior.
Never ever apologize no matter how out of line you have been behaving. If
you should ever find it to your advantage to apologize, phrase it as a slap
in the face of the person whom you have already wronged.

12. Blame your stupidity and lies on your opponent.
Blame your own stupidity on the newsgroup regular you are dealing with. For
example: when you have made an unsupportable claim that suggests a list of
details and you are asked to present your non-existent list, reply with, "I
don't have to list them for you; you aren't bright enough to know what
you're missing by using X instead of a real Y, I'm not going to explain it
to you." Then hope that nobody reading the thread realizes that your
statement translates as, "I lack the knowledge or facts needed to counter
your position or your position is too complete and accurate to be refuted.
So, I will say things to sound superior to avoid admitting you are right."

13. Embarrass your opponent.
Locate or create apparently embarrassing information and utilize it out of
all proportion, in an attempt to create a scandal around it, hijack a thread
or drive everyone to distraction.

14. Blackmail your opponent.
Locate or create apparently embarrassing information, then threaten your
opponent with exposure to force his hand (i.e. keep quiet about your true
motives). This tactic can be combined with the "Embarrass your opponent"
tactic if you can no longer get your way though blackmail.

15. Avoid answering direct questions.
Avoid answering a direct question that you fear may expose you by claiming
to not have seen the question, and then refuse to address it for other
reasons. Keep it up along with other tactics until your opponent is
distracted from the question.

16. Turn a question asked of you back on your opponent.
Better yet, turn the question back on your opponent with a question like:
"What do you think is the 'correct' answer, lamer?" You have now taken the
heat off your ignorance and have cast doubt on the credibility of your

17. Don't substantiate your claims.
Refuse to present evidence to support your invalid claims. Repeat your
invalid claims and have your troll comrades do the same. Do the same for
any invalid claims that you notice your troll comrades have made.

18. Don't discuss evidence that counters your position.
Avoid examining or discussing evidence counter to your position. This is
especially effective when combined with 3.2.8, Dancing Fool, wherein you
change your position with every post.

19. Ignore documented facts when they don't support you.
Rage against the use of such documents, their use can only hurt you and
expose your ignorance.

20. Use invalid statistics.
Introduce statistics to try to hurt your opponents, the "on-topic"
advocates, and/or the newsgroup's community at large. Don't worry about
them being valid or real. It would be nice if you can find valid statistics
online, but if you can't, invent them out of a whole cloth. If they are
discredited, don't let that bother you, keep citing them. If you see a
fellow troll using statistics, cite them as well, no matter their lack of

21. Lie, Lie, lie, lie, lie.
If you do it often enough you may create the appearance of truth (this also
applies to life in general).

22. Present multiple personalities.
Create throwaway identities to enter the newsgroup to spread discord and,
after a few days or weeks, stop using that identity. Change your identity
with every few articles you post to their newsgroup. Appear to be
supporting all sides of the issues. If things are getting slow, you can
even get into an argument with yourself. If you are losing an argument,
start a n-on-1 argument with your primary identity being outnumbered. Then
have each of your new identities be convinced by your primary identity to
the error of their ways. This could also cause readers to dismiss the
subject of the thread.

23. Narrow the scope of threads so that you can handle it.
Narrow the scope of the issues that are being addressed in a thread to
details you feel that you can refute, ridicule, or dismiss while leaving the
main issues unaddressed.

24. Widen the scope of threads to swamp out the original issue.
Widen the scope of the issues discussed in a thread to the point at which
the original issues are buried away and hopefully soon forgotten.

25. Attack new posters who favor your opponent.
Some of these posters may be new to the group. Show no mercy. Pounce upon
their innocence with every single one of these tactics. If you are lucky you
might turn them to your side; at the very least you might drive them out of
the newsgroup and neutralize them as a threat.

26. Attack typos and ignore the content of the message.
Point out your opponent's grammatical flaws and spelling errors. By doing
this you can concentrate on form while ignoring substance. This is a very
handy method to discredit your opponent and by extension his position,
without once again exposing your ignorance of the issues begin discussed in
the thread.

27. Use Spelling and Grammatical Errors to Distract.
You can also employ the inverse of #26, making statements like, "Why do you
nea d to dfrug the durv? Is WienDuz not working agen!" When this tactic
works, you have disarmed the posters who have chosen to ignore you because
of your idiot act. Others may react to your style and fail to refute your
disinformation. Meanwhile, you have posted more disinformation in support
of your cause.

28. Start trolling threads.
Start threads with subjects like "(fill-in-blank) Sux", "Why (newsgroup
poster's name) is a (expletive)", "(any completely off-topic political
jab)", etc. All that is important is: 1) that you consume the efforts and
resources of the newsgroup's advocates as they try to refute your trolling
threads; and 2) that you scare the new and casual readership of the group.

29. Unreasonably proclaim your reasonableness.
If your method to deliver misinformation is not among the more articulate,
you can try to claim to be reasonable. Of course if you really were
reasonable, you would not be a troll in the first place; however, compared
to your more radical comrades you might seem to be more reasonable. You
cannot be certain what the readership of the newsgroup will accept as
reasonable without your prompting them to think of you that way. Therefore
you need frequently mention how reasonable you are.

30. Expose yourself on the newsgroup.
Post articles containing ASCII art depicting your anatomy including your
genitals, either in the message body or in the sig. Discuss your bodily
functions and your bodily wastes, the more disgusting the better. This will
tend to drive away more of the casual and new readers. The group's
advocates who are frequent posters may become disgusted enough to avoid
threads that you involve yourself in.

31. Never let your opponents have the last word.
Always get the last word, even if your last "word" is merely a "The sound of
a weasel sneezing!" or a disturbing picture, which has the added bonus of
inflaming the regulars of a non-binaries group. With this goal in mind keep
posting replies to the thread until you have clearly been ignored; keep
checking occasionally just to be sure. Sometimes it helps to post your
reply as a new thread.

32. Claim false alignment.
Remind everyone that you are a long-time poster to and advocate of the
newsgroup. Of course this is not true, so you will inevitably be accused of
being what you really are. When that happens and you are accused of being a
troll... Deny! Deny! Deny!

33. When things get too hot, go away.
When all else fails and things get too hot, disappear from the group. This
is not as drastic as it sounds. You might stay away for a few months and
then return hoping that other trolls have softened up the field a bit. If
you don't want to stay away at all, create a new primary identity and drop
the use of the other one.

34. Enter the newsgroup as a lurker.
If you are a new troll, or at least your current false identity is new, then
make your entrance as a dedicated advocate of the newsgroup's subject.
After a little while, spot a promising flame thread and join an attack on
the poster. Then you can post all you want for a while, before your true
nature is commonly known. Sometimes this works for several hours before you
are shouted down and have to move on to a new identity or continue on as
"normal" troll.

35. Enter the newsgroup as a false disgruntled reader.
Create a throwaway false identity to enter the newsgroup in order claim to
be a short or long-term poster who has "had enough of (newsgroup subject)
and am leaving." Stir things up for a day or two and disappear forever
(this makes for as close to a "graceful exit" as is possible in the realm of
trolling -- hardcore trolls will scoff at this notion).

36. Never leave a positive thread unchallenged.
If there is a thread developing that is positive with regard to a topic or a
past opponent, hijack that thread at all cost -- even if it means
sacrificing your current identity. One approach is to ramble on about other
topics, with or without the use embedded insults. Even if you fail to
hijack the thread, you may be able to derail it enough to cancel the
positive impact that it could have had.

37. Lie about what you know.
Claim credit for experience, knowledge, or education that you do not have.
It will impress readers who are not knowledgeable about the topic of the
moment. Be careful to not engage someone who is truly knowledgeable on the
subject or your actual ignorance will be exposed.

38. Avoid providing any help.
Because you claim to be such an expert so often, you may from time to time
be asked for assistance. Don't provide it, lest you destroy the image you
have lied so long to create. Treat an honest request based on a real
situation as an argument: restate the request for real assistance as a
hypothetical situation that you can argue against.

39. Use of Undefined Terminology.
Use terms such as "indoctrinated" as a substitute for "educated" or
"experienced" when referring to another poster. Use "pedantic" in place of
"correct", "precise", or "accurate" when referring to a given posting.
Create and use personal definitions such as "commercial quality," as
impressive sounding terms mislead the unwary -- but never share your
definitions for your inappropriate terminology. This is commonly known as

40. Use fake email addresses.
Use a fake email address, not just a de-spammed address like real newsgroup
regulars use, but a completely fake and artificial one. If you feel the
need for the appearance of normality use a credible looking email address --
maybe not one of yours, but you can later try to explain your act of
identity theft as an accident.

41. Cite vapor postings.
Cite the statements that you had "intended" to include, but never actually
wrote in your prior postings. Gamble on the possibility that nobody will
remember what you posted and that nobody will do the research to determine
what you have posted. If you loose that bet, use another disinformation
tactic to deflect the results of your using this tactic. If you find that
regulars of the newsgroup are particularly adept at using Google searches to
refute such tactics, be prepared for tough times ahead.

42. Use being an idiot as an excuse.
When you are criticized for using disinformation tactics, claim ignorance of
the disinformation tactics and use your apparent idiocy as an excuse for
your actions. Do the same for your comrades, such as when a regular poster
corners one of your fellow trolls tell that person something like "What are
you doing? It's only John Doe for goodness sake!"

43. Criticize the group's regulars, but ignore troll transgressions.
Always criticize the behavior of the regular posters, but ignore the same
and even worse transgressions that are being committed by your fellow

44. Accept the claims of other trolls at face value.
Always treat other troll's statements as being true. Accept their
interpretations without question, don't bother verifying their statements.
If they claim something against an advocate of the group, always side with
the trolls.

45. Don't do your own homework.
Make your opponent do your research for you. How much credibility you still
have will determine how successful you will be at this tactic.

47. The devil made me do it.
When you are caught in a situation for which you cannot explain your actions
without a confession of your dishonesty and your alignment, blame it on
someone else. Create a bogeyman to take the blame.

Brockhurst Pertwee 06-30-2003 03:30 PM

Re: OT: (or is it?) the troll bible
Very interesting and a fairly accurate portrayel of Max Christ Offersen,
Gerry, the late Anthony Gaza (who has returned to certain ngs with yet
more new identities), Johnnie Kendricks, Steve Hanson and on and on.

Now let's see how many of them come on to take part in this thread.

Steve Hanson 07-01-2003 05:06 PM

Re: OT: (or is it?) the troll bible
Brockhurst Pertwee wrote in

>Very interesting and a fairly accurate portrayel of Max Christ Offersen,
>Gerry, the late Anthony Gaza (who has returned to certain ngs with yet
>more new identities), Johnnie Kendricks, Steve Hanson and on and on.
>Now let's see how many of them come on to take part in this thread.

I didn't see the original post in this thread. What did it say about
me? I have to know!

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