Study object : Trolls

Blogging with some audience had an interesting effect; I attracted trolls.

The trolls here (I estimate them at about 3-6 different persons) have some traits common (and some have very distinctive styles). They're not very much different from the right wing nuts whom I encountered elsewhere before; usually U.S. American, male, white and no college education.
This shall be no nation-bashing; I know for sure that many (actually apparently more than half) of the U.S.American adults have very different views. I did recently write that every country seems to have its share of idiots, so diagnosing that for a specific country doesn't mean anything about it relative to others.

I'd like to clarify that I do not consider serious criticism or misunderstandings as troll activity.
Nobody is right all the time, and experts have become internationally famous for being 75% right. You can become a millionaire in some sectors for being merely 52% right.
My blog posts are almost exclusively about areas where I disagree with commonly accepted ideas (and I post almost never about topics if I agree with conventional wisdom/mainstream), so being right even less than 50% would still be an exceptional ratio for me.

Serious, skilled criticism is very welcome. Repeat: Nobody is always right, and I'm of course interested in learning about my mistakes.

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Here's a summary of the troll activity

There's one troll who never ever addresses any points of the blog post - he merely spews some insults and other offensive remarks. His targets: Me, other commenters, my country and/or my continent.

One troll has apparently superficial knowledge of Europe and Germany, he cites locations, writes some broken German words and points sometimes at German sources. I should emphasize "superficial" here, because he gets even most basic things wrong.

A quite widespread trait of trolls is that they assume to have knowledge that they cannot possess: About the future, for example. Or about me.
In fact, they sometimes assert to know for certain things that can be proved to be incorrect, like attitudes of mine (as evident in conflicting past posts).

Only two trolls dared to use (at least sometimes) recurring nicknames. Most troll comments are by "anonymous". I sign my posts with my real name - but these trolls are too cowardly to at least sign with initials. Well, I guess I wouldn't pay attention to being recognizable if I wrote such crap either.

Nation-bashing is very important to some trolls. Germany, France, Belgium and Europe (especially as EU) get bashed a lot, and I'd like to add; primitively, unrealistically and without any humour.

A huge and at times total inability to understand text is a strong trait of several trolls. They seem to be dominated by prejudices so much that it hampers their ability to read.

Blog posts are short, and require that the reader fills the gaps with active thinking. I don't, won't and cannot (in such short texts) explain the whole topic in perfect detail. Blog posts are no 300 p dissertations.
There are always gaps where I thought that something is obvious enough.* Trolls reliably fail to get to have reasonable thoughts at these gaps - they usually insert the maximum B.S. imaginable (and actually not imaginable to me beforehand) instead. There doesn't seem to be the slightest intent to think about what I might have thought.

Many (if not all) trolls get agitated quite reliably by blog posts that don't fit into the great-U.S.of.A.-all-else-are-wimps-hoooah! view of the world.
That tells probably a bit about their view of the world (and their origin).

Some troll comments were simply illegal. I was obliged by German law to delete/block them, because those comments were crimes by German law (and it would be illegal to tolerate them).

They also often pretend to be "amused". That usually looks to me as if they're amused by not understanding anything at all.

One troll did repeatedly assert that I had "Freudian slips" even though it was obviously just about a typo or a simple translation mistake.

Trolls often assert that I side with certain groups when there's absolutely no hint for it (at least none known to me) - and I wouldn't recount this if they weren't terribly wrong about it (actually trolls rarely if ever seem to get anything right IMO).

Trolls do at times assert that I have no clue. That's not helpful, because they don't show off any competence themselves.
I'd like to tell you that in my opinion they don't have a clue.
You see? It's meaningless. Everybody can claim that someone has no clue. Only argumentation is useful, personal attacks are pointless unless you can prove it.

At least one troll asserts that I hype the Bundeswehr and believe that it's a flawless organization. He seems to read another blog. Almost everything that I write about the Bundeswehr is is a critique (because of the 'no mainstream' thing). Look at the Bundeswehr mortars or Keiler texts, for example.

Trolls fall for hoaxes and wrong/misleading stories and keep using them for months. There was once an article about a German fighter supposedly delivering mustard to an embassy party in Croatia.
The story was stupid enough that most reasonable people didn't bother about it because it failed several plausibility checks. In fact, there was a fighter pilot carrying some mustard - while transferring the fighter to a static display. Croatia is looking into new fighters (about a squadron) for its tiny air force, and someone arranged for a display of the jet in Croatia. The mustard had about zero relevance for the flight itself.
Guess who used the hoax in an aggressive comment? Sure, a troll.
They fell for other long-rebutted stories as well.

Trolls treat the worst sources as credible arguments of theirs while rejecting far more reputable sources - in the same comment!

A recurring theme is also an assertion of trolls that I get "defensive". That's a bit confusing, as there's no such thing in German language that would fit the context. There's apparently at least one English-speaking country (or one of its subcultures) in which defending one's opinion with rational arguments is considered to be despicable.
That's *probably* no good thing for rational debate. It's great for ideologues who believe that yelling louder and more means to be right, of course.
The accusation(?) that I get "defensive" is especially funny as it came only from people whose comments were filled with aggression.

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Much of the troll activities may be explainable by an unhealthy amount of aggressiveness/hate and cognitive dissonance problems. The latter may explain why "unpleasant" info agitates the trolls and the former may explain why they bother to write at all (and how they do it).

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Sadly, this kind of trolls isn't a small group of half a dozen. As I said before; I encountered such people before. Preconceptions and sentiments as well as a discussion culture that's sophisticated only in dirty rhetoric tricks (like straw man arguments, ad hominem) are quite wide-spread in certain environments.

I wonder how much damage such stupidity does in the Western World. I imagine that this kind of people was easily duped into invading Iraq for no good reason, for example.

Sven Ortmann

*: I know from reasonable people that my jumps are at times too long, and I should make texts easier to understand. The difference between a reader failing to get my idea because of my failure to add detail and a troll is this: The troll fills the gap with most idiotic, personally hostile assumptions.

edit 2009-08-10:
Believe it or not, the trolls are active even in this topic. One still believes in the ridiculous mustard story, asserting to know that I'm embarrassed (he's clueless as always).
Another one calls me ignorant - without addressing anything in the blog post directly (apparently the never-touch-facts guy).
The third one simply spewed nonsense.
All three cowards posted as "Anonymous" (again).

@trolls: Forget about it. Launch your own blog.


  1. and those same people were nearly duped into attacking Iran around 2006 because of its nuclear program, yes the exact same reason for attacking Iraq which was a lie in the first place.

    anyway don't bother letting trolls get to you, the two blogs I write for get such comments nearly as stupid as the ones you mention daily!

  2. This is always a great opportunity to link to one of the greatest and truest Penny Arcade comic strips.

    Don't let these idiots get to you.

  3. Then just post one link to a story proving your point about the static display of the Eurofighter as the actual purpose of the flight. Just one.
    It can be in English, German, even Hrvatski.

    Just one link, to prove how much more knowledgeable you are.

    Just one. I'll be holding my breath.

  4. Trolls aren't susceptible to facts, but a good challenge is a good challenge. This one is even an easy one.


  5. As expected, he doesn't accept the evidence.

    @Troll: Dude, learn to understand texts. The provided source couldn't be more explicit on the actual purpose of the flight.

  6. For those who still cling to the mustard story:

    Look at a map. It takes just nine hours to drive to Bavaria and buy the mustard (if it was unavailable in Austria) and to return.
    A Typhoon pilot would take more time to prepare the flight over a neutral country than a few hours. The flight was obviously planned long before the need for mustard could have become urgent.

    The story is utterly implausible - you should need no evidence and no official Bundeswehr statement to see that if you think about it.

    It was just a silly season hoax.

  7. It's great for ideologues who believe that yelling louder and more means to be right, of course.

    When I studied classical and symbolic logic, my instructor failed to teach me two important methods of proof that are in common use today: proof by repetition, and proof by decibel level.

  8. I am against most of what you say from the standpoint of knowledge and experience.(You have attempted to stereotype me as a troll because as an ignorant fanatic, you cannot endure criticism.) I have both a civilian and military education with a doctorate from a typical US university in Psychology as well as an MS and two BS's. (Every civilian university that I attended was a dogmatic hot house for growing more ignorant communists. I put you in the category of ignorant communist by a content analysis of your views.) As a serving Special Forces officer, I have attended many military courses, most of which are taught by ignorant leftists influenced by college bred commie "professors" (that includes West Point and Sandhurst, BTW). You complain about the fact that none of your critics send you a complete dossier on all the evidence of why you are wrong. Why should we? If its thorough you will shit can it. If it make some strong points, you will shit can it. Therefore the only thing fit for your biased moderation is what you call "right wing nut" attacks.(When addressing a bigot throw shit, not facts.) We don't care what saps like you think of us. We however, we do hunger to destroy your sort in some future protracted domestic civil war. In the meantime what you receive is like the ragged registration of an artillery division duping YOU into thinking its an amateurish artillery battalion because the truth, or logic or facts, are beyond you, as a communist fanatic pretending to be a Trotsky. Yet we want YOU to know that your enemies abound.

    1. Thanks for this specimen of trolling.

      Now to the other readers; he kept "writing" afterwards, but I see no need to click the publish button on the other specimens, for they include more direct attempts at insulting me (all rather comical if you ask me!).

      Let me refer to an earlier post that appears relevant in this context:

    2. One of the interesting things about the internet is that you don't know if you are corresponding with a human or a computer science experiment.

    3. To quote "Big Bang Theory": I'm calling robot...