A Reminder To Not Feed The Internet Trolls

A Reminder To Not Feed The Internet Trolls
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Whenever someone is bullied – or just plain trolled – on the internet there’s a tendency to focus solely on the attacker. As this interesting post by an EVE Online Gamemaster reminds us, though, it often takes two to tango.

Elizabeth Wyand is one of those responsible for keeping things running smoothly in CCP’s online universe, and while she is in no way blaming the victim of an online attack, a post she’s written about “the act of Revealing Things” serves as a handy reminder than when it comes to online communication, it always pays to put a little thought into what we say and where we say it.

We give out information about ourselves every time we type into a chatbox; internet denizens and tourists alike need to be aware that this can and will be used against them if it falls into the wrong hands.

CasualPlayer3284 didn’t HAVE to tell RandomStranger3746923 that they live in Milwaukee and volunteer as an EMT. InnocentMind42 didn’t have to say in an open forum that they suffer from depression and social anxiety, George4th didn’t have to proudly announce that she’s a woman in RL, and Happy2Live wasn’t forced to tell IWillHurtYou that they’re gay.

These are all things that I have seen turned around and used against the unsuspecting poster. The question that gets asked most by support teams when complaints about the retaliation come through is, “Why did you feel the need to tell people that?”

Why DID you feel the need to tell people that?

It’s bleak reading for eternal optimists, and, to be sure, reflects only the opinion of one person working on a game where people can be pretty shitty.

But there’s sound advice to be had there too. Nobody is saying to avoid reaching out and making friends on the internet. Just… exercise some of the same caution you might exhibit in the real world, where screaming your daily itinerary out of a moving car and painting your biography on your front door would make you a crazy person.

Miranda[Elizabeth Wyand, via Gamasutra]


  • The “over-share” always seems like a cry for help or as an explanation on why their view has more merit than someone else’s. Which of course leads to the personal attack kind of trolling we’re discussing here.

    Though the cynic in me most also concede that sometimes people feed the trolls to ensure they can be the victim. So it’s at this point I’d like to state that I’m a short fat geek who gets depressed whenever a new CoD game comes out.

  • Definitely sound advice. The person who gives out too much information, because quite frankly they’re seeking attention when doing so, is getting exactly what they asked for.

    It’s just, that it’s not always what they deserve.

  • Yeah this is how the internet works.
    often people will stupidly reveal something thinking it will gain empathy or simply because they were trying to share something defining about themselves. Trolls will instantly pick it up to use

  • Presumably it is only over-sharing for a user to reveal that they are female: if they were male, it would have been okay.

  • Very good advice. I’m a musician and was oversharing online far too much. I have just hopefully ended the most terrifying experience of my life. I was stalked online and offline by someone who made my my life hell for the best part of a year. Even getting help from the Police internationally was a real struggle as there is not much in place to help victims of things like this.

    This person got too confident in their perceived bullying power over me and really went too far. That person now has now lost their job and has a criminal record due to this sustained obsession (carried on during working hours as well) with trying to bully me into an early grave. I can’t feel happy about that. Just be careful. On social media especially. It’s very easy to trust or make friends with faceless people who can devastate your life.

  • Sorry, Blaming the victims is a stupid position to start from. Seriously telling people that saying they might be a woman is an invitation to invite people to tell them rape jokes or try to pick them up? X) I don’t know about the internet but in real life we don’t let people get away with that. Blaming the victim doesn’t nothing to say that what the Bully has done is bad and only makes a victim feel worse and hide their feelings more and makes the Bully think they have a free pass to say what they want. In australia it is actually ILLEGAL to Harrass people online or otherwise. Sure it might be hard to track perps down but it can be done and if its serious enough the police will take notice. So no. People can be proud to say who they are without feeling like they shouldn’t because they might invite trolls. Trolls are in the wrong not victims. Some people like being victims Sure. That does not excuse bullies from their behaviour. that CCP rep should feel bad for writing that. Bigots might shout at you for looking gay and you may not even be. In some parts of the world people have been murdered just for looking different. This is quite possibly the stupidest position to take. Bullies and Trolls deserve no sympathy for this behaviour.

  • The comments so far, and the tone of the articles sounds very apologistic. It’s now the fault of the victim that they are bullied online? Next, it will be said it’s the fault of women rape victims for wearing short skirts and getting drunk. Or the Jews for being hated by Hitler. Yes, I’m invoking Godwins Law.

    • “Don’t do anything on the Internet ever, because someone will be a jackass about it.”

      I might get hit by a bus, crossing the street – I guess the agoraphobes can now say it’s my own fault for being outside.

    • I agree, this is disgusting…

      I grew up on the internet, I know people are awful and can attack with little to no provocation. Doesn’t mean we should accept it.

      If I was at a bar with some friends and came out, would that entitle the guys at the next table to attack me for it? If I wore something provocative at a party would that entitle a stranger to make an unwelcome sexual advance?

      Whilst it can be safer to hide who you are, there should not be an expectation to do so. Anyone who asks the question “Why did you tell them” needs to be slapped.

      • I disagree. If you don’t want to attract douchebags, don’t bait them with info. It’s good advice.

        Said as someone who in his youngers years was in many a flame war. It was because I was immature and had an ego problem.

        • The problem is that’s the same argument that was used for years to tell gay people not to come out.

          The advice isn’t all bad I’ll admit, I just felt it was delivered really badly and with a disgusting accusatory spin. It’s a good idea to hold back and be careful of your information, at the same time though you have a right to be yourself.

          If someone does give out information and it comes back onto them we should still try to help them and not make them feel like more of a victim.

          • Yeah that’s a good point. But I think you’re taking it out of the context. They’re not saying dont’ share info. They’re saying share it with the right people. Not the population of youtube.

            It’s like coming out as a gay person. Do you really want to do that in front of random people who don’t care about your feelings? Because if you do, you’re probably going to hear awful things from the ignorant. Trolls basically.

            A lot of this advice is about how to avoid horrible people who make life harder. I agree that we shouldn’t have to, but it’s not a perfect world and these people are out there.

          • Which is why my initial examples were the ideas where people might find out without being expressly told. I’ve read too many stories of people being beaten up simply because they were leaving a gay club.

            Some of the examples possibly could have been avoided, telling strangers where you live and your job could be dangerous. But admitting you suffer from depression? Reaching out to a potential support network seems like something we should do everything in our power to allow.

            I spend so much time being disgusted by fellow human beings that I would like to actually support people who have trust in others. If one bad apple spoils it for them then the rest of us should be coming to their aid instead of shrugging our shoulders at it.

  • 4chan is a prime example of this working in person. Do you want to identify yourself as a female? Suffer the consequences.

  • I remember letting slip a bit of personal information in an argument, which was immediately used against me. Felt dumb for letting that happen, and I bitterly vowed “never again”.

  • Do you lock the doors when you leave your house? Of course you do – it’s basic risk management. No-one deserves to be robbed but you have to factor in that there are many douchebags out there in the world who don’t care about you and will happily take advantage of a easy target.

    The internet is arguably worse because there are no real consequences for bad behaviour on-line. Being careful with your personal information is good advice.

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