Here be trolls

Lee Suckling at Stuff has an in-depth article on trolling and bullying on-line. I’m one of those quoted in the story.

Trolling and cyber-bullying are related phenomena, although not interchangeable terms, argues David Farrar of the Wellington-based Kiwiblog.

“The intention of the troll is to disrupt, be provocative and get a reaction,” he says. “Trolling can be mixed with bullying, but cyber-bullying requires very personal, very vindictive behaviour; either of someone the bully has met in person, or someone in the public eye where there’s lots of personal information out there about them.”

Cyber-bullying often involves a sustained campaign against an individual, while trolling has no rhyme or reason, says Netsafe’s chief technology officer, Sean Lyons.

are just painful, while bullies are nasty.

A troll, conversely, deliberately goes against the grain of the other posts, with a goal of creating outrage among other commenters, Farrar adds. “Trolls say inflammatory things in lots of places: on popular blogs like Kiwiblog, in sections that allow comments on Trade Me, on Facebook and Twitter.

“They’re persistent for one or two reasons. Either they do it simply for the reaction or they use it as a weapon because they’re ideologically against whatever that blog or page is about.”

And a typical troll:

Farrar says his posts about religion always elicit trolls. “I have one troll, who goes by many fake identities, who I call a ‘Christian baiter’. He’ll jump into a post and say something like, ‘All Catholics are paedophiles’, then sit back and revel in the chaos caused.”

And Greer Berry on troll profiles:

Typecasting the typical troll is difficult. “The presumed profile of the troll is a single, unemployed, overweight white male with two cats,” says Greer Berry, former social media editor of

“But in reality, trolls are working people, and they’re just as likely to be women – though they often go by male usernames online.”

I’ve noticed a lot of women use male usernames.

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