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"To go beyond the bounds of moderation is to outrage humanity." Blaise Pascal

An old-school guide to Usenet Trolling...

October 28, 2003

Just in case anyone thinks I'm paranoid about trolls and having techniques to manage and control extreme situations, then I'd very much recommend reading this extremely interesting and useful Usenet Anti-Troll FAQ which describes the extent of the problem, the level of organisation and dedication occasionally demonstrated and demonstrable fact that it often does not take very many trolls at all to completely cripple an otherwise vibrant community - unless you build in ways of dealing with these situations should they occur and make your community more resilient to external attack. Here are a couple of particularly pertinent quotes:

If anyone does anything which will interfere with the troll's ability to cause mayhem, they can become very nasty, posting from obviously incorrect variations of the name etc. insults, call them netcops, netnannies, homosexuals. Various off usenet methods are also used to force the victim to stop posting: Subscribing the victim to hundreds of unwanted pornographic email newsletters, and sites. Complaining to employers about non existent misdemeanours. Sending garbage emails without indication of sender. Telephone calls at dead of night. Harassing the close relatives of victims.

If anyone does anything which will interfere with the troll's ability to cause mayhem, they also forge posts in that persons name and internet address and libel them on usenet. Both these are illegal.

The whole document is worth reading because - while it can be vaguely alarming reading - it really does investigate most of the options for handling highly problematic users in Usenet, and many of the solutions have web, gaming or mailing-list analogues.


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