Monday, May 22, 2006

Behavior Modification

This is a Public Service Announcement...

The Contrarian Troll

A sophisticated breed, Contrarian Trolls frequent boards whose predominant opinions are contrary to their own. A forum dominated by those who support firearms and knife rights, for example, will invariably be visited by Contrarian Trolls espousing their beliefs in the benefits of gun control. It is important to distinguish between dissenters and actual Contrarian Trolls, however; the Contrarian is not categorized as a troll because of his or her dissenting opinions, but due to the manner in which he or she behaves:

-Contrarian Warning Sign Number One: The most important indicator of a poster's Contrarian Troll status is his constant use of subtle and not-so-subtle insults, a technique intended to make people angry. Contrarians will resist the urge to be insulting at first, but as their post count increases, they become more and more abusive of those with whom they disagree. Most often they initiate the insults in the course of what has been a civil, if heated, debate to that point.

-Contrarian Warning Sign Number Two: Constant references to the forum membership as monolithic. "You guys are all just [descriptor]." "You're a lynch mob." "You all just want to ridicule anyone who disagrees with you."

-Contrarian Warning Sign Number Three: Intellectual dishonesty. This is only a mild indicator that is not limited to trolls, but Contrarians display it to a high degree. They will lie about things they've said, pull posts out of context in a manner that changes their meanings significantly, and generally ignore any points for which they have no ready answers.

- Contrarian Warning Sign Number Four: Accusing the accusers. When confronted with their trolling, trolls immediately respond that it is the accusers who are trolls (see Natural Predators below). Often the Contrarian will single out his most vocal opponent and claim that while he can respect his other opponents, this one in particular is beneath his notice.

-Contrarian Warning Sign Number Five: Attempts to condescend. Pursued by Troll Bashers (see Natural Predators below), the Contrarian will seek refuge in condescending remarks that repeatedly scorn his or her critics as beneath notice - all the while continuing to respond to them.

-Contrarian Warning Sign Number Six: One distinctive mark of Contrarian Trolls is that every thread in which they dissent quickly devolves into a debate about who is trolling whom. In the course of such a debate the Contrarian will display many of the other Warning Signs mentioned above.

Contrarian warning sign behaviors may be shared by other breeds.
Click for more--scroll down to read about the Honorable Nitwit and the Old Warrior.

Here's a piece from the Wikipedia article (emphasis mine)...
In general, conventional wisdom advises users to avoid feeding trolls, and to ignore temptations to respond. Responding to a troll inevitably drives discussion off-topic, to the dismay of bystanders, and supplies the troll with the craved attention. When trollhunters pounce on the trolls, ignorers reply with: "YHBT. YHL. HAND.", or "You have been trolled. You have lost. Have a nice day." However, since trollbaiters (like trolls) are often conflict-seekers themselves, the loss usually is not on the part of the trollhunter; rather, the losers are the other forum-users who would have preferred that the conflict does not emerge at all.
You know, I don't like "labels" either, but I wanted to find something written about the phenomenon. There's plenty of stuff out there. I could also go into basic behavior modification stuff, like positive reinforcement and extinction...the way that even negative attention is reinforcing (or rewarding) and actually maintains the behavior one seeks to eliminate. Extinction is when you ignore the behavior you don't like (you are also supposed to reward appropriate, desirable behavior whenever it occurs--"catch them being good").

I'll "cut to the chase", as I need to leave for work. I fully understand people not wanting to let certain factions "win" at BFA. But it's kind of a bummer when that plays out by people mainly posting *there* and only "lurking" here. Whatever else this blog has become, I created it because I wanted to keep the community I had found at BFA and the dialog, without having to endure constant, nasty potshots. There's enough, pardon my French, crap to deal with in day to day life without subjecting myself to bonus crap.

But, yes, it is disheartening, when day after day I come here hoping for the opportunity to have some dialog, and find, instead, hours of dead air. I then peek at my old digs and find that an intentionally disruptive element is being given the nonstop attention he craves.

I'm sure that this sounds like whining to some of you. And "some" will absolutely delight in my admitting to being bummed about this, and will take the opporunity to crow about it. Whatever.

But I need to say one thing--the last thing I am asking for is for anyone to tell me how valuable this blog is. That's nice to hear, but it doesn't help much when it feels like I'm back at square one--not having a place to go (most of the day) for lively, back-and-forth discussion.

Okay, I've said my piece. Off to the salt mines.

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