Two kinds of stealth trolls

I think it’s relevant to post this again, since we spend so much time online these days. These are trolls that hide in the shadows. Be on guard against them.

Lucky Otters Haven

stealthtroll

In two earlier posts I wrote about online bullies and trolls (not exactly the same thing, but close enough). I won’t explain here how they differ and are the same (you can read the articles which I’ve posted links at the end of this article), but I neglected to mention stealth trolls. Stealth trolls seem benign, but can wreak havoc on web forums and social media. I will describe two types of stealth trolls. There are probably others.

The Concern Troll

concerntrolls

The Urban Dictionary defines a concern troll as:

A person who posts on a blog thread, in the guise of “concern,” to disrupt dialogue or undermine morale by pointing out that posters and/or the site may be getting themselves in trouble, usually with an authority or power. They point out problems that don’t really exist. The intent is to derail, stifle, control, the dialogue. It is viewed as insincere…

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3 thoughts on “Two kinds of stealth trolls

  1. I’ve met another category of online commenter. They seem to have mental health issues of some sort, probably not diagnosed or treated.

    Even if they aren’t intentionally being trollish, their comments can have the same effect. For whatever reason, they lack appropriate social skills and their behavior is a bit off. Their comments can seem designed to provoke a response.

    If you respond to them, they comment even more often as they are quite likely lonely people who are in desperate need of any kind of human contact. But what they really need is mental healthcare. And spending so much time on the internet is likely not helping their condition.

    No matter how much sympathy you may have for them, it is almost impossible to have normal dialogue. But it is easy to feel pity for them and not want to entirely block them. What distinguishes them is that there is no evidence that they mean harm.

    Liked by 2 people

    • This was on my mind for a reason. A commenter like this has been on my blog lately. He does seem like he means well, in his own dysfunctional way. He claims to have no mental illness but obviously he is not mentally normal. His comments seem designed to antagonize, although he says he just has an odd sense of humor, but I suspect that is a psychological defensiveness.

      It’s really hard to deal with him because he seems to lack both self-awareness and social-awareness. Yet when I reprimand him, he might behave slightly better for a time, not that he can do so for very long. The next time he comments he is back to making bizarre comments that are often a non sequitur or else not-so-subtle digs — either way his comments are rarely relevant to the post. He always seems to be looking for a reaction in order to feel acknowledged. He tests my patience. I did block him once, but in feeling bad for how pathetic he is I unblocked him again. I don’t know why I tolerate him. Even pity only can go so far.

      I wonder how other people deal with such people. I’ve seen his comments at another blog. That personally obviously allows his comments, but I noticed she doesn’t seem to ever respond to him. That might be a decent approach. Allow him to express himself while not encouraging him. I must admit that, if I allow a commenter to post on my blog, I’m not good at just ignoring them. If a comment isn’t worthy of a response, then to my mind it probably isn’t worthy of being allowed. I have mixed feelings about this, as I have immense sympathy for those with mental illness and don’t want to silence someone who is struggling in life.

      Liked by 2 people

      • I’ve had commenters like what you described, so I wonder if it might have even been the same person. Some people are just trolls, and others are mentally ill or just strange. Unless the comments are obviously trollish or abusive (in which case I usually won’t approve the comment) I usually just let the comment stand, without liking it or commenting back. Sometimes it’s hard to know what to say to such people.

        Liked by 2 people

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