Updated: September 17, 2011; June 22, 2012
Nowadays, the phenomenon of trolling other people online is considered a bad thing. But it has not always been so. Trolling was a noble cause once, perpetrated by Usenet veterans, who would pull simple and innocent general ignorance type of jokes on unsuspecting newbies. There was much rejoicing and a handful of tears, but in the end, people learned through whimsical, violent allegories.
Lately, trolling has become synonymous with mass spam and viral videos, with regurgitated catch phrases and inane jokes practiced by the more computer savvy against the webplebes. Now, how about we reverse that? I'd like to shatter this dreadful image and revitalize trolling as a noble art of studying. To wit, I've compiled this guide to help you get around. Here, you will learn what trolling is and what it isn't, and how to use it to boost the quality of the Internet as a whole.
Introduction to Trolling & Etiquette
There's a saying, don't feed the trolls. In a way, it's true. But then, look at the whole thing from a different perspective. If online discussions are all the colors of the rainbow, trolling is mucky gray bordering on black. If quality is defined by the number of views in Youtube channels, trolling is The Rocky Horror Picture Show. You may loathe it, but you can't deny the impact. And if you pause to think for a moment or three, you might find a speck of higher genius hidden somewhere.
Feeding trolls is like website traffic. Controversy, anger, hatred, and baseless flaming breed popularity. Then again, when something is utterly stupid, there might be no hidden meaning. So what you perceive as trolling or an attempt thereof could in fact be nothing more than a stellar example of oligophrenia in the ASCII form. So how do you know good trolling from bad trolling? Simple. You read this guide and all shall be revealed.
This guide will teach you to separate the simple from savant, clickbait from roundhousekickbait, spot the fake, spot the lame, when to chuckle, when to use the forbidden language of LOL, when not to take heed, when to ignore your online challengers, and when to take things seriously. You'll get taxonomy, laughter, stupid fun, some mass media gratification, and the know-how to wade the hip waters of online groovy.
Lastly, it is important to remember never to troll people who can't understand they are being trolled, even if you explain it to them. This does not apply to just being plain stupid, socially inept or too kool. It's about who people choose to be, not how they were born. Now, let's dig in deeper.
Important note: All of the images below, except when noted, taken from memegenerator.net.
The five faces of Trolling
Your journey through the misty forest of trolling will take you across the painfully repeated use of graphics and words that depict the trollosphere. While the general rule says that phrases are inversely proportional to the number of times they are used, some survive the eroding of quality and become instant, all-spectrum legends. Others becomes retro-funny or negative-funny, but still funny. Time to get familiar with the five aspects of the trolling entity. Let's see them.
The original Trollface
This is the face that started it all. No one would have believed, in the last years of the twentieth century, that a simple and innocent MS Paint job would grow into a titanic legend. Trollface is like Yakety Sax. No occasion is too sacred to use with or against. P.S. If you don't know what Yakety Sax is, or who Benny Hill is, please hit the tubes this very moment, check what this is, get blazed, and then get back to reading.
Use case: When things go wrong. Anything.
This is probably the wittiest drawing of a crying spud ever made. If you gaze closely, you will notice the scrunched potato face on its tripod actually wears a semi-amused half-grin expression that wavers between sad and smug. And there's no way of knowing the truth. As such, it may yet become the new Da Vinci code.
Use case: Any situation where one or more parties get the short end of a stick, but deep down, feels glad of the outcome. For instance, when you NOT get invited to other people's weddings. In the first heartbeat, there's the fleeting moment of disappointment, the flicker of abandonment and panic, quickly replaced by a warm, gushing feeling. Not only do you need not participate in another tribal ritual that is absolutely identical to every other wedding ceremony, you save money and time.
Y U No
Y U No, alternatively spelled Why U No or Why You No, sometimes capitalized, sometimes not, is the ultimate form of disagreement with the world at large, and specific things at small. Whenever someone tries to argue with your cunning, use Y U No to blow them apart. Y U No also has many political and cultural undertones, which makes it even funnier.
Use case: Any disagreement with anything.
For example, a fruit of my creation:
Much like Forever Alone, Rage Face and its variant Rage FU (the upgraded version) hides a tricky second-layer of emotion beneath the obvious displeasure. You see rage twitching the facial muscles, but then you wonder why there's that calm, relaxed undertone in the expression you're seeing. Ambiguity like that can be maddening.
Use case: Like Forever Alone, except you are truly disappointed. Or when your printer runs out of ink. Or when you download a movie and it turns out to be dubbed. Or when you realize the online form you just filled gets blanked when you accidentally refreshed the page.
This face is what Beethoven had in mind when he wrote the Ode to Joy. If you look closely, you'll realize it's the twin brother of Y U No, but let not subtlety confuse you. Me Gusta saves you the hassle of spilling your emotions into prose. Rather than hammering four paragraphs on your germ-infected keyboard about how your trip to Ibiza was great, just write Me Gusta. The simple Spanish phrase crosses all linguistic barrier and makes your innermost feeling plain writ to all.
Use case: When you feel satisfied or smug.
Now, if you want to impress your wife or her parents, here's a handful of phrases you must embrace, so that your linguistic skills match your graphics skills. Using images is fine, but what do you do when you're engaged in a heated conversation with other people and there's no computer nearby? Be versed, talk the talk and walk the walk. In no particular order:
Over 9000 - Means a lot.
Moar - Means more, but in a much more [sic] meaningful way.
Party Hard - Can be used to denote a person's stellar ability to party like no other. For example, Samuel parties hard. Make sure you use the phrase sparingly and without too much detail, leaving the other party [sic] wondering whether you were being supportive or condescending.
A challenger appears - There's going to be trouble. The Internet Police is going to badass their way in.
All Your Base Are Belong To Us - My oldtime favorite. Less usable in conversation, but extremely handy in written topics. The word Base can be replaced with anything you like. Us can be replaced with anything too. For example, All Your Software Are Belong To Bill is a great way to raise awareness to, say a new Windows update that people suspect is part of the greater New World Order (not the band) slash Big Brother conspiracy to control people's minds and pr0n.
<X>? In my <Y>? - Can be used for anything. A good example is: Financial crisis? In my economy? Used to express complete doubt or skepticism with supposed evidence or facts at hand. While the subtle tone of mockery could undermine the severity of your criticism, don't be discouraged and persist with rhetoric fun.
I accidentally <X> - Where X is a noun of some kind. For example, I accidentally the coffee.
And many others. But that's good enough for now. For more reading, here's a great guide to get you started:
How to troll people
It's very simple. People who deserve trolling are all around you. Stick to the etiquette and then look for vulnerable prey. Once you find it, you have two options: Try to use logic to explain to the other party the fallacy of their arguments and opinions, which is always pointless, or throw them off balance with an utterly preposterous and completely opposite stance to whatever they claim, even if you totally disagree with your own rebuttal.
Indeed, people hardly ever listen to others. They sometimes don't even listen to themselves, they just like the aural harmonics of their mouth spewing verbal diarrhea, or in the case of typing, the awesome sound of self-narration playing inside their heads, also known as the Unwarranted Self-Importance (USI) syndrome. Therefore, you being reasonable and polite in fact strengthens their opinions and perpetuates the problematic elements. Fighting head to head is a lost battle. But using anti-ballistic trolling always works.
For example, how do you argue with someone who claims the Earth is flat or that aliens are visiting us on a daily basis? Do you really think scientific evidence will work at this point? Think carefully. You can ignore them, but silence is acceptance, plus you won't really feel satisfied until you fire back. Trolling is your special weapon.Now, for less serious cases of moral deterioration, there's a different type of trolling.
Subsection - Rickrolling and Trololol
One of the best way to earn lulgolds is to send links to Youtube videos, claiming they are whatever, but make sure they point to either Rick Astley's Never Gonna Give You Up or Eduard Khil's Trololol song. If you're not familiar with either, run away now. You might be excused if you don't know the latter, but this is a great opportunity to get familiar with some proper Soviet trolling. BTW, Eduard has passed away, may he rest in peace.
For the fun of it, embedded here, plus links for those of you who don't like embedded stuff. And real links, not links to something else claiming to be something else. This is a case of recursive trolling, also known as divide by zero.
Rick Astley - Never Gonna Give You Up (link)
Eduard Khil - Trololol (link)
Hot trolling of 2011
Let's see what happened in the first half of this year.
Months January through April saw most of the trollfame focused on Charlie Sheen. Today, he has somewhat stepped away from limelight, but this is most likely the calm before the storm. And his memory and legend shall live forever. If you want to be cool and in the know, you might want to embrace some of his famous quotes. The emphasis is on using the word winning everywhere, even if makes no sense. Repeat unto oblivion. Winning. Me new shirt. Unique self design.
Whatever the man does or however he lives, there's undeniable trolling in his actions, which is commendable, as he manages to spin all of Hollywood on his little finger. This might be an unintentional byproduct, but this could also be a well-orchestrated plot to gain ultimate fame. So far, it's working. Yes, you may argue that we're merely seeing a quality buffer overflow phenomenon; that is, something is so bad that it's actually good. I disagree. If you listen carefully, Charlie's vocabulary is sharp like a razor. He knows what he's doing and he's in complete control. We are seeing the birth of a celebrity genius.
Some great Charlie Sheen moments:
Alternative spelling - Heynis. If you don't know who this person is, you must have hibernated through the winter, or rather Australian summer, as this lad happens to be an Ozzie school kid, who was bullied for years until one day he snapped and body slammed his arch-enemy bully in front of a camera. In that instant, his fame was born. He also happens to be winning.
Casey has inadvertently become a public figure, an Internet phenomena and a protege of the global Internet community. What has this go to do with trolling, you ask? Everything. Trolling is not just about teasing and taunting and annoying other people. It's about living at the very end of the humor chasm and sometimes taking the leap. The same people who would so easily prank their colleagues and friends put their Guy Fawkes masks on and stepped in to help and support a complete stranger.
Psychologists worldwide may argue that violence is bad and whatever blah blah, but Casey did what he had to do, he defended himself and the world has his back. The good bit about this incident is that there's a whole new plethora of memes and catchphrases available to the trolling community, as well as much delight in sharing the legendary footage. And if there's a lesson to be learned here, a good, positive one, it's that trolling is as much about jokes and pranks and silly, mindless humor as about integrity and preserving the basic minimum quality of the World Wide Web. In a way, trolling is the anti-police of the Internet, the essence control, the unsung knight. Trollers make sure those who exercise the Darwin Awards' affinities get what they deserve.
More reading, see these pages:
Victim of school bullying a web hero - Herald Sun (Ozzie version)
Casey Haynes - A gentle giant who had enough - The unofficial official page
Superb trolling sites
Now, a handful of great trolling-dedicated sites, where you will learn a lot more about the fine art of destabilizing the mental state of your Web foes, as well as bask in good laughs, innocent pranks, and the pointless existential absurdity of the world we call the Internet.
Note: Encyclopedia Dramatica update, see P.S.S. for more details just below
Oh Internet (formerly Encyclopedia Dramatica)
Encyclopedia Dramatica (ae)
used to be - is, see below - one of my
favorite humor sites. While it was extremely rude, coarse and definitely not suitable for children,
feeble-minded, people with a weak stomach, and anyone severely lacking in dry, dark and cynical sense of humor,
Encyclopedia Dramatica was a retro-intellectual portal of informative goodness. It was the anti-thesis to
whatever you might find and read in mainstream media, which is exactly what made it so valuable and unique. Of
course, you could react with rage and revulsion to its crude contents, which is, again, exactly what the authors
had in mind, or you could just chuckle at the ultra-pointless, ultra-witty lulzology of it all.
Alas, one day, the admins had it enough. Their site had gained extreme notoriety and they wanted a clean, fresh start. So they assassinated Encyclopedia Dramatica and established a much watered down, much more politically correct, much more mass-suitable Oh Internet. In essence, it is the same site, minus seven orders of magnitude or pure shock. Oh Internet can be read even by your grandma and grandpa, should they choose so.
Oh Internet is definitely worth reading - and following. It's a young site, and there's yet hope it will develop into a full-fledged battleship of humor. Just make sure to keep children away. Don't blame others for being funny, do your job as a parent.
P.S. Encyclopedia Dramatica is still available under the .se domain. But the .com site is gone forever.
P.S.S. Encyclopedia Dramatica has been added to my Greatest sites list.
The Art of Trolling
This site is mainly a compilation of screenshots showing all kinds of pranks perpetrated on chatroullette, Omegle and Yahoo Answers. People ask stupid questions and they get stupid answers in return. It's fair game. There's also a lot of bizarre and cretinous. Most of the stuff is just plain funny.
Moreover, the Art of Trolling is a part of the wider Cheezeburger network, which includes tons of other funny sites, like Poorly Dressed, Engrish Funny, Very Demotivational, This is Photobomb, and others. The LOLCat features in there mightily, which we have already seen before.
And we're done here!
That was long, but most necessary. Now, you know what trolling is all about and how it can be used to better the world. Trolling allows you to fight the online pollution on its own terms. Your friendly, conventional and chivalrous methods of yore do not apply here. Trolling is what must be used to sanitize the net. Hopefully, this beautiful guide has provided you with enough data to start enjoy and participating. You know the faces, you know the phrases, you have videos to help you, and two great sites to draw inspiration from. Winning.
There you go. Soon enough, we will have several new websites, specifically dedicated to trolling, added to the Hall of Fame, the Greatest sites but not necessarily THE Greatest Sites section. And so we end this merry chapter.
P.S. The small teaser image used on the index page is in public domain.