Christian Heilmann

Inbox gold: The Psychology of the Internet Troll

Tuesday, June 11th, 2013 at 2:35 pm

I get a lot of emails regarding my blog and many people offer to write guest posts, give me infographics to publish or blatantly ask for google juice for their services. This can get annoying, especially when it is obvious spam or link farmning or the people sending me mail don’t even bother reading my blog beforehand.

From time to time, you do get some gems though, like the other day when Jack Collins contacted me with this email:

Hi Christian, My name is Jack, and I’m hoping to get in touch with you about a video I helped create that explores the psychology of internet trolls. I saw this post “De-trolling the web – don’t post in anger“, and thought you and your readers might find some value in it. The video highlights the phenomenon of the online disinhibition effect. Let me know if it’s something you’d be interested in seeing or sharing, and I can forward it along. Thanks for your time, Jack Collins

I was intrigued, answered Jack and got a second mail with the link to this video. I love it – it is a great example how to present research information in a short, informative and creative way. Whilst I am utterly tired of rage comics and consider them a massive waste of bandwidth and perceived creativity it makes sense to use them here to show what the research was about. I learned a few things, for example I did not know trolling came from fishing and that there were even trolls on ham radio in the past. The best, however is the advice at the end.

Trolling is not a game of solitaire. Unless we want to actively suppress freedom of speech, the only way to beat a troll is to not play the game.

In other words – don’t feed the troll.

A strange game. The only winning move is not to play. How about a nice game of chess?

You can watch the video and read the transcript of The Psychology of the Internet Troll or use the embed below.

Created by

Share on Mastodon (needs instance)

Share on Twitter

My other work: