Trolling is an Internet slang term used to describe any Internet user behavior that is meant to intentionally anger or frustrate someone else. It is often associated with online discussions where users are subjected to offensive or superfluous posts and messages in order to provoke a response.
The etymological root of the word “troll” is generally attributed to hunting and fishing jargons. According to the Online Etymology Dictionary, the noun “troll” originated from an Old Norse word for a type of monstrous creature and the verb to troll comes from the Old French hunting term “troller.” According to Merriam-Webster, the English verb to troll refers to the act of slowly dragging a lure while fishing as bait.
The contemporary use of the term is alleged to have appeared on the Internet in the late 1980s, but the earliest known mention of the word “troll” on record can be found in a post on the Usenet newsgroup alt.folklore.urban from December 14th, 1992. The term continued to grow popular in the early 1990s through its usage in the Usenet group alt.folklore.urban and by the late 1990s, the alt.folklore.urban newsgroup had such heavy traffic and participation that acts of trolling became frowned upon. Prior to the widespread use of the term “trolling,” similar behaviors have been observed through “griefing,” the act of intentionally causing distress to other players in an online game, since the days of Multi-User Dungeons (MUDs) in the late 1980s and “flaming,” the act of instigating hostility or unpleasant exchanges in online forums, which also emerged through Usenet newsgroup discussions.
The TrollfaceEditThe Trollface is a black and white drawing of a face with a large mischievous grin that is meant to portray the expression someone makes while trolling. Posting a Trollface image into a forum thread is often used to claim that someone was being fooled or intentionally angered. The face commonly appears in rage comic indicating that the character is being mischievous in some way. The original drawing was created by deviantArt user Whynne on September 19th, 2008 to illustrate the pointless nature of trolling on 4chan’s /v/ (videogames) board.
In Other LanguagesEdit
In Japanese, tsuri (つり) means “fishing” and refers to intentionally misleading posts created with the purpose of eliciting negative response from other users. Arashi (あらし) means “laying waste” and can also be used to refer to simple spamming. In Korean, nak-si (낚시) means “fishing”, and is used to refer to Internet trolling attempts, as well as purposefully misleading post titles. A person who recognizes the troll after having responded (or, in case of a post title nak-si, having read the actual post) would often refer to himself as a caught fish.
Numerous forums and Usenet boards are dedicated to the fine art of what the New York Times called “manipulating other people’s emotional equilibrium.” Trolling can be considered a form of cyberbullying and in the context of online gaming, this practice is also known as griefing. In addition, Wikipedia has an overview of research behind the human motivation to troll. Griefing Griefing is the act of intentionally causing distress to other players in an online game. The tactics used to cause grief vary depending on which game is being played. Griefers sometimes record their victim’s reactions and upload the videos onto YouTube.
Shock Value TrollingEdit
Shock value trolling is a common tactic practiced by exposing the targeted victim to disturbing or shocking content, such as materials from shock sites, horror or pornographic images, in order to provoke a strong reaction. To an extent, shock value trolling has been demonstrated in real life as practical jokes like The Scary Maze Game and Scary Prank Reaction Videos.