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Troll Information

Nov 24, 2008 - 26 comments




  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
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 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.

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599170 tn?1300973893
by Cherie762, Nov 25, 2008
good information, this troll thing is ridiculous, I have noticed adult like writting and knowledge on teen forums (claiming to be young teens ) and some attention seeking stuff, for example there has been a lot of different people on teen forum talking about desire to wear diapers,  I have two teen sons, I know how they think, I believe the diaper stuff is some adult with a fetish.

599170 tn?1300973893
by Cherie762, Nov 25, 2008
I think another hint about young teens being trolls is very bad spelling I just read a note on your home page and I dont beloeve one word was spelled correctly.

203342 tn?1328737207
by April2, Nov 25, 2008
Oh yeah! I can think of one person in particular that's been trolling around lately. The spelling is atrocious, they use bad language and just try to stir up drama and upset people. I wish MH would boot them off of here.

82861 tn?1333453911
by Jaybay, Nov 25, 2008
Don't forget that each post, either on a forum or in a journal, has a "Report this" button for the very reasons listed above.  If the Mods and Admins don't know about a problem they can't fix it.  I've been on a number of internet boards over the years and I think very highly of the moderation here at Med Help.  I can't imagine what a huge job it must be to keep the various communities cleaned up of problems and troublemakers.  On many boards the moderating is so heavy-handed that it drives away members.  That is not the case with MH in my experience.  The mods are here to help, so go ahead and ask them about any issue that crops up.  :-)

Avatar universal
by cowgirlnerd, Nov 25, 2008
So what do troll's do?  I am confused.    I could see a few people in those descriptions, but I don't actually know what the troll thing is - is it a danger?  

535822 tn?1443976780
by margypops, Nov 25, 2008
I have also noticed some very strange posts recently , I am never certain if it is a genuine question, I will read the above message from LetaB and learn more.

365714 tn?1292199108
by MJIthewriter, Nov 25, 2008
Good posting. I think I've seen this before. With some it's rather obvious, and some not as much. If there is any question whether someone is a troll or not, feel free to report the posts and use the "contact us" form at the bottom of the page.

Another thing to watch out for is bot posts:  They are posts compiled by a computer program that usually point to some scam site.  One way to tell is the grammer. If the sentence mixes up words that make no sense in a logical sentence and its trying to link to a website, then it probably isn't a legit member.

When I first joined medhelp I came across some posts like that and reported them.

Sometimes it's easy to confuse legit members as trolls if they have a bad day, blow up and you don't know those members too well. But one thing good I found through contacting the admins is they do tend to notice if someone is a legit member and they will do whatever they can to make sure those members are alright.

Speaking from personal experience, if you do come across something rude, please don't make public mention or mention to other users that you have been attacked by a rude posting. Report the poster quietly and let the mods handle it. After all trolls want attention. They want to see you make mention of whatever happened.  If it's a legit member that was rude or caused a conflict then you can decide if you want to let them cool down and reach them later or ignore them in the future. Best thing to do is not to retaliate in either case.

A legit user most likely will calm down eventually, appologize and seek to end a conflict.  A troll most likely will do whatever they can to stay angry and stir up "drama".

547913 tn?1317355667
by jimi1822, Nov 25, 2008

    I've heard the term troll used before. I don't know what it means? Is it the same as someone having two profiles and
    pretending to be two different people? Why would someone do this?

585414 tn?1288941302
by ILADVOCATE, Nov 25, 2008
Good points all. And in no way should this thread stir up aninomisity. As people go through the recovery process they can post something they regret or people can get into a personal conflict. That's not a "troll" and let's not have it be confused for one. My concern is giving people this link is people who sign up deliberately to misuse the forum. It can be to prank people, harass people or to try to collect personal information. And it can happen on any site. So the best advice is as people are saying don't respond back. Flag the offensive posts, block the user if they are pm'ing you and forward the pm's if they are offensive and if you have concerns go to the profile and if all the posts are like that click "report abuse" and report the profile. But let the site administrators decide. Don't "out" people as trolls or start gossip about it. Any emotional reaction they get is what they want and if site members turn against each other and not them that's their intentions.
  But more to the point, don't give out your personal e-mail or information to someone unless you really know them and even then take caution. One person posted about a "crisis situation". I responded to them out of concern. Then a note came from another profile, newly created, saying "I am __. I was banned. Contact me at___". The whole thing was a scam. That's much more of concern than someone playing a practical joke. The whole profile had been a scam to begin with. So all I can say is the general reminder. This is the internet. And the internet is anonymous. Someone can create multiple e-mails and misuse them. That doesn't mean we shouldn't support and trust each other. But we should just use caution. But that's a given any time people are online even when checking their e-mails and finding spam e-mail that's designed to look real.

365714 tn?1292199108
by MJIthewriter, Nov 25, 2008
jimi1822, troll refers to someone who creates a profile and intentionally goes around baiting people by posting rude postings. They do anything to anger members.  At one time I was on an unmoderated forum discussing concerns about politics.  No one had to create accounts to post either. Right there it was K (potassium) taken right out of the bottle.

I mananged to participate pretty well in the forum without being flamed at. The trolls and members shot at each other but if they tried to bother me, I just ignored their comments or said they are entitled to their opinions but I don't agree. If you don't give them any fuel (don't reply or reply politely without showing anger) then they get bored rather fast.

Here's more information:

203342 tn?1328737207
by April2, Nov 25, 2008
We do seem to be running over with trolls lately here. I've gotten to the point I can usually tell when a post is fake, unless they're really, really good.
We had an incident awhile back on the maternal forum where a lady pretended to be pregnant with triplets and led people on for months. Oh she was good! It finally ended with her making up a dramatic story that involved tragic deaths, etc. People were concerned and upset. They started investigating and found out there had been no case of this terrible car accident and deaths. They put two and two together and realized it was all made up. The lady never came back.

We had another incident of a young girl that was coming on and kept making up stories to get people to feel sorry for her. But her story kept changing. Only if you watched her profile or read more than one of her posts would you have caught on because she was bouncing around to different forums.

I've also seen people get their kicks out of shocking people with their language, manner of talking, etc. Those are easy to spot. They usually stay in one forum. They have nothing positive to offer people. They come on for one reason and that is to stir up some drama, upset people, get a fight to break out, etc. Then they disappear for awhile and come back on with a different username. I've seen this over and over.

These are all different types of trolls. The longer you stay on this site, the more you will recognize the real people from the fakes.

I agree with the above poster. Don't ever give out your personal email or phone number, etc. We need to remember this is still cyberworld and do we really know who we are talking to? Granted, I've gotten to the point where I can usually tell who are the real ones but I've still I've gotten pulled in before. I'm a lot more cautious anymore. That's why I don't post pictures of my family, for their safety. I don't give out a lot of personal information about me. I keep it pretty generic. But those who have gotten to know me know I'm real! I've been on this site for over a year and a half. I've met some great people and have learned a lot. We just all need to be cautious and report suspicious behavior when we see it. MH is pretty good about keeping on top of these things. I have to give them credit for that. This is one of the best sites I've been to. I hope it stays that way.

547913 tn?1317355667
by jimi1822, Nov 25, 2008
MJ, April, and All

                As long as there is a brother or sister out there who needs my help I will be there!!! If they are misguided
             and feel they need to make things up to get attention I will pray for them. If they are doing it just to be mean
             spirited or bored I hope they remember you can not hide from GOD you can only hide from yourself.

                                                                                                       Thank you everyone GOD Bless

                                                                                                                                             jim :o)


203342 tn?1328737207
by April2, Nov 25, 2008
You're a good man, jimi. :)

Still, if you find someone who's abusing the site, you should still report them as they cause a distraction and upset the other members. It also distracts from the true posters who really do need answers to their questions.
Like I said before, MH is pretty good about catching a lot of these but since it's such a large site I'm sure they appreciate any help on our end to report suspicious behavior.

Also, if someone is threatening suicide, report them. You never know if they're serious or not. I usually give them the suicide hotline number and then report them in the hopes that the moderators on here can do more to help the person than we can on here.

365714 tn?1292199108
by MJIthewriter, Nov 25, 2008
Being an artist I have a gripe that I notice on a number of profiles. If you're one of these, *please* take the artwork off your photos or at least link to the original artist.  Please. Please don't ever claim you created the artwork either.

Elfwood and are not clipart galleries. The artwork on those sites come from various artists and usernames, just like on medhelp. Think of it this way, you wouldn't want someone taking an image of your child and uploading it on their profile or on their website.  The same applies to artwork. If you're going to use someone elses artwork, please ask the artist, but even so, more often than not, it isn't a good idea to put someone elses artwork up.

Don't try to fool anyone. I happen to have an account on both Deviantart and Elfwood. If I have any suspicion the artwork does not belong to an user on medhelp I will look up those sites and see if I can pinpoint the artwork.  I have so far with a few pictures and reported them. This is not a fun task. I can think of many more interesting ways to spend my time, so please show respect to the artists and not upload their artwork to ones profile without permission.

And poetry/writing: The same applies. Even if you got it from someone else through email and they didn't mention the author, please make sure to find the author before posting the poem.  Thankfully I haven't come across it often (then again I may have overlooked many poems) but I have seen it happen....and I was a bit disappointed that those entries didn't provide a link or give credit to the original author.

That said, the artwork and writng on my profile is my own. I do not use anyone elses's artwork or writing without providing links or giving credit where due. If you stumble upon my art on another website, likely it belongs to me. If it doesn't belong to me and is on another location, please let me know so I can report them for stealing my art.

505907 tn?1258369340
by LetaB, Nov 25, 2008
Wow! And to think, before yesterday I would have described a "troll" as a squat, crabby "monster" that lived under bridges. This has been a very interesting and educational discusion for me and I thank you all for your contributions. As soon as I posted this (on my own page) I was accused of ridiculous, wild things by a... .possible troll! I mean, if you weren't one how could this bother you? I'm afraid I've fallen victim myself by trying to take a young girl under my wing on this forum who, the more I counseled and showered with attention, the more it was apparent that she had no desire for any real help - she was just bored. Her cries of "suicide" were just attention grabbers (thank god, I suppose). I'm much more wary now about getting emotionally invested with people on here who constantly play the "nobody likes me, everybody hates me, I think I'll go kill myself" over and over again.

365714 tn?1292199108
by MJIthewriter, Nov 25, 2008
LetaB, I know. I used to think of the Bully Goats Gruff when trolls were mentioned, but when my mom went though a stage in her life in chat rooms some dealing with theology and religion, I got used to the term "troll" rather fast. There would be quite a few of them and sometimes there was voice enabled in those chatrooms. I got the added pleasure of hearing them speak. Then again the structure of those chatrooms were set up to be a war zone.  i.e. Athiest vs. Christian....what can you expect?  I can enjoy listening to an educated discussion, but when it turns into name calling, or a contest of how many 4 letter vocabuary words one can speak in a sentence then it gets rather pointless.

April2, I also report suicide journals. Being a former CL, I can email the mods directly to alert the staff of those kinds of postings.

354706 tn?1279470795
by PinkTissue, Nov 26, 2008
This is really good information and should be shared to everyone on the forum. I gave up counting the number of times I came across trolls.

356929 tn?1246389756
by Sandymac, Nov 26, 2008
You know.. that is scary !! I just saw this information myself.. Great minds and all that... Gosh.. sure reminds me of a few people I've run across doesn't it??? --- especially the part about all the drama!! And the plea for sympathy..I never heard the term before , but it sure explains a lot !!!

Thanks whoever started this thread !!

187666 tn?1331173345
by ireneo, Nov 26, 2008
I agree - thank you for the information. I've never heard the term "troll" outside of fairy tale stories for my kids. I try to stay informed but I doubt I'll ever understand why some people are so desperate for attention that they'll pull this type of stuff. Just like the others that steal identities and hack into computers. They're clever enough to pull that; why aren't they clever enough to do something positive and legal?

Again, thanks.  Irene

119341 tn?1232563757
by PPhelps, Nov 26, 2008
It's a shame that there are people like this in the world. But people need to be aware of the dangers from the internet. Right now in the news the lady that caused a yound girl to commit suicide is on trial. She is a grown woman, a neighbor of the girl, that pretended she was a young boy and  befriended this girl. Then started saying alot of cruel things to her. This young girl killed herself because of some grown woman's (I don't know the word for it) hatefullness, cruelty. I hear towns, and some states are passing laws against this type of fraud. I hope it works.

505907 tn?1258369340
by LetaB, Nov 26, 2008
Unbelievable, right? I mean what went so terribly wrong in these people's lives that they need to mess with people's minds this way? What could the woman above say during her trial was her motivation?

365714 tn?1292199108
by MJIthewriter, Nov 26, 2008
PPhelps, I heard of that story. It was awful!

119341 tn?1232563757
by PPhelps, Nov 26, 2008

Here is an article referring to the above trial from our local TV news.

585414 tn?1288941302
by ILADVOCATE, Nov 26, 2008
Yes that's why some states have passed cyberbullying laws and cyberharassment laws and all states should consider them. This kind of thing is common on two well known social networking sites (to be fair I won't name them) and some common video posting sites. They are basically unmoderated and people can stalk and harass each other. As to why people do it, it depends on the person. In some cases its basic human cruelty. In other cases its anti-social personality disorder which often causes extreme and destructive behavior. The Times Magazine article opened my eyes to this phenomena but the extremities some of these people who self identified as "trolls" went to such as putting blinking lights on an epilepsy site to set off seizures in the people clearly was not only a criminal mindset, it was a pathology as well. And the recent suicide of that college student who posted it, was another issue because on that site, no one reported it until it was too late (12 hours) and he was encouraged by some people.
  Basically if a social networking site is not well moderated don't sign up and if you have children who are under 18, make sure you give parental approval to any site they sign up for and don't be afraid to keep them from any site that's unmoderated or poorly moderated as they may be a victim of this kind of activity. A person who is a troll of the pathological nature described in that article specifically look for poorly moderated sites. Avoid them until they make changes in how they monitor things.

Avatar universal
by RJ233, Nov 26, 2008
I thought of the little ugly troll we used to see as kids with the hair sticking straight up too. I ran across a person that I believe was just that. No matter how I tried to help her, she kept getting darker and darker in her thoughts. Finally, I kinda got fed up with her reactions, because she begged for help, but never did anything about it, just continued in that deep dark world. I told her it was up to her to get help, no one else could help her. She stopped writing on the forum. She did misspell every thing big time and presented her self as a child. I am glad you posted this information, because I never thought people would come to a site like this and do such a thing. Though I did fall for that one person, but finally saw through it. Thanks for the information. I also went to one question that had a link for some reason or another and it was a link to sell something. I started to report it, but evidently someone else did because it disappeared. I did know spam was not allowed. Now I know about the information, I will be more careful.  Thank you.

I heard about the boy that took an overdose of pills, that was bp, while people watched on my space, and edged him on. I thought it was a young kid. But they did wait 12 hour to report it. Of course he died. So I'm sure it was the same one. That was horrible as well as the young girl with the neighbor that pushed her into suicide. It makes you wonder what is wrong with people to do such a thing.

Avatar universal
by randomvisitor, Jan 06, 2009
Regarding the myspace situation, it's absolutely disgusting. What happened was the mother's daughter was overweight. And this other girl was making her life a living hell. So the mother took revenge in her own hands. This is the part that disgusts me. Her daughter was being bullied. That is awful. She retaliates by more bullying. In this world, vicious cycles have become habit. It's like everybody is trying to prove themselves. And if anyone is nice, they are considered a wuss. Honestly, this world's values are changing drastically. It's sick.

And as for trolls, that is sicker. Going in an online chatroom and saying stupid stuff is one thing. Going on a MEDHELP site where people are going through serious LIFE-THREATENING conditions and bullying/harrassing them is inhumane. If you make fun of someone in a chatroom, they will just cuss you out. But if you make fun of someone going through some serious medical situations, it could really hurt that person's life. Someone's fun could be someone's suicide. I don't know if trolls realize this, or they don't know their impact. I stopped trying to understand the cruelty of people's hearts sometimes.

Thank you for this entry. Take care.

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