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  • Linda Smith
    THE DAY OF THE TROLLS Thorn logged onto UseNet and into the newsgroup Rec.sport.fencing, where there were sometimes interesting exchanges ranging from
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 13, 2005
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      Thorn logged onto UseNet and into the newsgroup Rec.sport.fencing, where there were sometimes interesting exchanges ranging from technique to politics. Threads...followups that began with a single post....tended to stay on a subject for awhile. After twenty or so responses, if the original subject was sufficiently covered, then the postings in that thread tended to veer into other areas before dribbling to a stop.
      In this group, people came to discuss the French versus the Italian grip: why the Spanish grip should be allowed in competition; or where to buy the best blades and furniture. Many of the people who wrote in were knowledgable about all aspects of fencing. Some were typos who didn't know an epee from an elephant. And some posters were flat-out trolls.
      A troll was somebody who logged in to a newsgroup and posted something provocative purely for the sake of generating attention or starting an argument. The term supposedly came from fishing, wherein lines were set to troll for fish.Some said it came from those mythical beasts who lived under bridges and menaced passers-by. Either way, a troll on UseNet was a waste of time and space, posting insults.
      Some trolls were more clever than simply shouting obscenities into the faces of anybody around: they would pose a question or comment in such a manner as to seem serious. But clever, or merely loud, trolls were an annoying fact of net life.
      Sometimes very annoying.
      Thorn had attracted a couple of these pests in his years on the net, and when he opened the thread on pistol-grip handles, versus straight grips, that now ran to forty-three messages, he found that one of the most irritating trolls of recent months was there, dogging him again.
      Thorn had posted the question: Has anybody had problems with tendonitis using the straight grip that switching to a pistol grip has helped?
      There had been several helpful replies, a few more that were interested, and, invariably, the idiot who tried to hijack the thread to serve his own ends.The troll--he had several pseudonyms
      he hid behind, but his current netnom was "Rapier"---had entered the building:
      " Tendonitis, Thorn? Must be you're gripping your blade wrong. Or, wait. Maybe it's just that you're gripping the wrong blade! Is that it, Thorn? So why don't you hire somebody to give you that kind of attention? You can afford it, a rich guy like you....
      Thorn gritted his teeth.What was wrong with somebody that the only way he could get attention was to jump up and down, spitting and cursing at people, acting like a two-year-old? Look at me! Look at me! See how clever I am?
      Unfortunately, yes, we see exactly how clever you are. Which isn't at all.
      Responding only made it worse. These fools didn't care what you said, only that you said something....anything....thus providing the attention they craved. The best way to respond was to ignore it. "Don't feed the trolls" was the advice that seasoned UseNetters gave to newbies. If nobody reacts, they leave.
      Which, unfortunately, was not true of the really obnoxious ones. They simply changed their netcoms and came back in a new disguise, looking to get your goat.
      Somebody ought to do something about these idiots.
      Even as he thought it, he had the realization: He was now in a position where he could do something. He was running Net Force.

      From Net Force/ by Tom Clancy

      I hope ya'll enjoyed my little story.


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