(AKA: Webtroll, Troller, Attention Whore, Character Assassin, Flamer – i.e. “starter of a flame war”)
Since the electronic billboard, there have always been a few bad eggs that decide one morning, or what constitutes as their morning, “I think I shall go on a forum/chatroom and be a total shithead to a complete stranger.” However, probably not said in so many of those words; usually it’s said with a click of the mouse and a maniacal chuckle.
Again, not all Instigators are necessarily bad. Some push the positive points of a discussion or help keep people on-topic. Others challenge the ideas, notions, and crackpot theories allowing others to view and dissect any truth in the proposed matter.
The positive Instigators are few in attendance. Theirs is a number overshadowed by the throngs of maddening little bastards whose primary goal is to simply piss people off. Many of the Instigators that believe they are doing something positive for a forum have a very good chance they will be mistaken for their trollish ilk.
The definition of an Instigator is: "someone who deliberately foments trouble" OR "a person who initiates a course of action". By internet standards, Instigators appear on forums, chatlogs, comment lists, and so forth with three different agendas:
- “I’m here because someone is wrong on the internet.” – Meaning that they will target someone’s post that others in the forum are in question of. The Instigator proceeds to harass and harangue the poster by asking pointless questions against the content of their posts. They gain the intellectual stimulation from posing every question possible; even those that have little to do with the main topic of the original post. All done to absolutely show they are smarter or more correct and that the original poster is an outright idiot. (Favorite targets: misspelled/grammatically incorrect posts, poorly-cited or inaccurate information used in posts, cut-and-paste posts used out of context, Soapboxers posting against the Instigator’s beliefs / interests)
- “I’m here because I don’t think a / this / that person should even be posting on the internet.” – Meaning they will target a specific individual or individuals in league on the same forum thread – frequently another Instigator – and relentlessly hammer them with sharp remarks, insults, and counter-questions with the hope they can chase off the offending poster. This kind of Instigator is more welcomed by The Cyberhood Watch based on their agreeable stance on the thread’s topic or actions. You may even recognize a lapdog Instigator by the figurative leash around their neck. This lead is usually held by a prominent member of a forum’s Cyberhood Watch. Instigators only agree to this arrangement so they’ll have someone watching their back while making posters look like outright idiots. (Favorite targets: Spamjackers, opposing Instigators (trolls), Soapboxers the Cyberhood Watch doesn’t agree with, anyone THEY don’t want to agree with)
- “I’m here because I get my rocks off pissing people off.” – Meaning they have no other purpose to be on a forum than to derail conversation, target posters that target them, or anger posters any other way they can. Affected by delusions of adequacy, they want to get a rise out of someone. If you respond you’re in for a long night of irritation. I consider them the equivalent of a toy-sized dog giving you a surprise during a good friend’s dinner party by mounting your leg. As you try to shake it free, it gives you that canine smile that means, “My master only invited you over so I’d have something new to hump, and you can’t do a thing about it! Lie back, relax, and expect me to be here all night.” Telling them off or asking them to leave will amount to nothing. Remember that if you “feed the troll” they’ll only want more and more of the same attention. Ignore them or do what you can to have them removed from the system with the appropriate functions available. This assures they will be the only ones appearing as outright idiots. (Favorite targets: ANYONE)
FINDING “MR. RAGE-QUIT”: This game is played by one or more Instigators. Once located they pummel a poster with useless attacks, insults, and meaningless diatribe until the target lashes out at the Instigator and threatens not to post in the thread again.
CHARACTER ASSASSIN: This game can be played by one or more Instigators, and comes with the occasional cronyism add-on from one of the other Malicious Personalities. The object is not to get the poster to leave, but rather make a fool of themselves in front of everyone else and ruin any positive reputation they might have had. This is a favored tactic against Soapboxers, but SPA's also stand a chance at being targeted this way. Most especially if the Instigator likes new SPA's who slip up and break forum decorum, if only once.
SPITEVOTING (AKA: “The Downvote Fairy”): This game is played normally by more than one Instigator. The object is to use all functions provided by the owner(s) of a forum to negatively affect the target's posts, their product reviews, and thus placements in sales ranks. An example is Amazon.com's “This many people think your post is worth more than merely fly-spit, do you? (YES/NO)” as well as several other buttons that determine the fate of someone's words.
U Mad Bro?
NEXT: The Soapboxer