The twelve types of troller are quite unique and will be grouped into pairs because some are quite similar and differing in that one group posts kudos to be friendly and the other flames to be nasty.
|Troller Character Type
||Driven by ‘Surveillance’ forces. Lurkers make silent calls by accident, etc., clicking on adverts or ‘like’ buttons, using ’referrer spoofers’, reporting posts, modifying opinion polls or user kudos scores.
||Driven by ‘Escape’ forces. An Elder is an out bound member of the community, often engaging in “trolling for newbies”, where they wind up the newer members often without questioning from other members.
||Driven by ‘Chaos’ forces. A Troll takes part in trolling to entertain others, bringing some fun and mischief to an online community.
||Driven by ‘Order’ forces. A Big Man does trolling by posting something pleasing to others in order to support their world view.
||Driven by ‘Social’ forces. A Flirt takes part in trolling to help others be sociable, including through light ’teasing’.
||Driven by ‘Anti-social’ forces. A Snert takes part in trolling to harm others for their own sick entertainment.
||Driven by ‘Forgiveness forces’. A MHBFY Jenny takes part in trolling to help people see the lighter side of life and to help others come to terms with their concerns.
||Driven by ‘Vengeance’ forces. An E-Venger does trolling in order to trip someone up so that their ‘true colours’ are revealed.
||Driven by ‘Creative’ forces. A Wizard does trolling through making up and sharing content that has humorous effect.
||Driven by ‘Destructive’ forces. An Iconoclast takes part in trolling to help others discover ‘the truth’, often by telling them things completely factual, but which may drive them into a state of consternation. They may post links to content that contradicts the worldview of their target.
||Driven by ‘Thanatotic’ forces. A Ripper takes part in self-deprecating trolling in order to build a false sense of empathy from others.
||Driven by ‘Existential’ forces. A chatroom bob takes part in trolling to gain the trust of others members in order to exploit them.
Lurkers and Elders
Lurkers do not have a persistent identity or obvious visibility in the online community. While they take part, such as by clicking advertisements, voting in polls and voting others kudos points up or down. More often than not their posts are kudos trolling and occasionally they will change their web browser’s ‘referrer address’ which tells the community the last website they visited to one of a search engine with entertaining words in the search results. Lurkers are best suited to communities where one doesn’t need to take part to stay a member and where there are a lot of activities that can’t identify them, such as polls, and other voting. Elders on the other hand, while experienced and knowledgeable about the community and its norms, are cynical and looking for a reason to leave the community. Their flame trolling will often be directed to the novices, commonly called ‘trolling for newbies’, who they will try to incite to start a tirade of abusive messages, known as a ‘flame war’, which they know the Big Men and Snerts will get caught up in. Elders, like Trolls, are best suited to communities where there is a clear divide between “Us” and “Them” groups which novice members are likely to be strongly for or against and therefore easily susceptible to flame trolling.
Flirts and Snerts
Flirts are those who take part in online communities to share their experiences and support others achieve the things they want. To do this they take part in kudos trolling where they pretty much only post comments which are in agreement with others and which they support with evidence from their own lives. Flirts like communities to have a solid chat or discussion forum open to anyone. Snerts on the other hand take part in flame trolling where they offend and abuse others. They will call people names that are insulting to them and attack them personally rather than attack the substance of their arguments. They will sometimes go to great lengths to offend others, such as by making offensive videos about them or starting posts dedicated to abuse of them. Snerts take well to communities where there is complete anonymity, “free speech” and no checks or recording of their true identities.
Trolls and Big Men
Trolls are people who liven up online communities through post messages that while having someone at the butt of the joke are entertaining to others. A type of kudos trolling, the messages posted by trollers, while not usually constructive, hold the community together, especially when the targets of the jokes are the Snerts. Trolls tend to target communities where there is a clear “Us” and “Them”, such as those based around sports teams where there is clear tribalism and competitiveness. The Big Men also unite the community, but not in a peaceful way. They take in upon themselves to be the arbitrator of right and wrong forming a de facto council which the Snerts especially object to leading them to unite against the Big Men.
The messages of Big Men can therefore be seen to be a type of flame trolling. Big Men are best suited to communities which are disorganised with no clear structure where they can try to assert some order, such as flaming people if they go off topic.
MHBFY Jennies and E-Vengers
MHBFY Jennies, or in other words ‘My Heart Bleeds For You Jennies’ are the agony aunts and counsellors of the online community. They show empathy for all members, whether the Big Men who are often set upon by the Snerts, or even the individual Snerts, who they try to fix into being nice people. Their kudos trolling takes the form of humorous comments that help others see the lighter side of life. MHBFY Jennies are best suited to health support communities where people are looking for advice and support during troubled times. E-Vengers on the other hand have a point to prove and grievance to air. They may have been wronged by a particular group of people or previously banned from a community which they then re-join under a pseudonym. E-Vengers are best suited to communities where there is a clear bias that supports their point of view, or where there are few identity checks and pseudonyms can be used to support anonymity or multiple identities.
Wizards and Iconoclasts
Wizards provide a creative spark to the online community. They are always looking to be original, through editing wikis to make them informative, designing and selling virtual goods in virtual worlds, or helping others think ‘outside the box’ in forums. When they do their kudos trolling it might be to make a ‘deliberate mistake’ or put ‘hidden code’ into pages which if found could be entertaining. Wizards are best suited to communities where one can make lots on contributions or a difference to others’ lives. Their opposites, the Iconoclasts on the other had seek to destroy content or shatter the certainty others have in their beliefs. For instance in a forum, if they know someone holds a particular point of view they will link to an authoritative source that disproves it. The Iconoclasts are best suited to communities where they can remove or change content or otherwise disrupt them through ‘edit wars’ where they battle with others to have their unconstructive edits accepted. In wikis they are the ‘deletionists’ who want content which does not support their worldview removed.
Chatroom Bobs and Rippers
Chatroom Bobs are driven purely by their desire for a thrill. They will post jokes others find entertaining but this is only to seduce them so that they do something to fulfil their needs, such as asking them to send sexualised photographs for the Chatroom Bobs own pleasure. Chatroom Bobs are best suited to communities that are not moderated and where there is a private messaging feature and ability to share images privately. The Rippers on the other hand provide a depressive look at the world to online communities, which strangely promote community cohesion through the Flirts and MHBFY Jennies having a ‘victim’ to support and nurture. Their kudos trolling is often in the form of self-deprecating jokes, which can help make others feel a sense of superiority, such as the Snerts. Rippers are best suited to communities that are made of people who offer lots of suggestions, which they can keep giving excuses to turn down as they are only looking for sympathy.
Citing this model
Cite this model as follows:
- Bishop, J. (2012). Scope and Limitations in the Government of Wales Act 2006 for Tackling Internet Abuses in the Form of ‘Flame Trolling’. Statute Law Review 33(2), 207-216.
- Bishop, J. (2013). The Psychology of Trolling and Lurking: The Role of Defriending and Gamification for Increasing Participation in Online Communities Using Seductive Narratives. In: J. Bishop (Ed.) Examining the Concepts, Issues, and Implications of Internet Trolling. IGI Global: Hershey, PA. Available online at: http://www.jonathanbishop.com/Library/Documents/EN/docIGIPaper_GFP.pdf
For more information on these different types of troller you can read the associated published research article by Jonathan Bishop.