Turns Out Chronic Internet Trolls Really Are Bad People

February 17, 2014    By: Geoff J @ 5:11 pm   Category: Bloggernacle

I saw this provocative Slate article today. It was inspired by this recent study. Here’s an excerpt from the article:

Overall, the authors found that the relationship between sadism and trolling was the strongest, and that indeed, sadists appear to troll because they find it pleasurable. “Both trolls and sadists feel sadistic glee at the distress of others,” they wrote. “Sadists just want to have fun … and the Internet is their playground!”

So the basic take away I get from this is that chronic internet trolls are pretty much sadistic psychos. (Seems like an apt description of some of the rabid anti-Mormon trolls I have encountered over the years.)

Anyhow, three cheers for active moderation of comment sections! We may not make trolls cease to exist, but we can at least keep these psycho sadists out of our own blog comment sections with a little effort.


  1. What about us nice trolls?

    Comment by Jack — February 17, 2014 @ 7:51 pm

  2. Ha. Nice trolls don’t exist. We just call the nice ones cool people.

    Comment by Geoff J — February 17, 2014 @ 7:59 pm

  3. Two thoughts come to mind. I get to the bloggernacle through ldsblogs.org, so I read through a lot of LDS themed blogs. Yet, I have been accused of trolling if I am an infrequent commenter on certain blogs that I may rarely read. The second thought relates to the number of anti-Mormon and truly disaffected that spend much of their waking hours griping about the church on these blogs. If I wasn’t a member or truely felt the church had nothing to offer, the last thing I would be doing is surfing LDS themed blogs. “Ain’t nobody got time for that.”

    Comment by IDIAT — February 18, 2014 @ 5:17 am

  4. Well folks are in the habit is flinging the word troll about pretty loosely. The term can be used to describe anything from light teasing all the way to the sadism described in this study.

    I agree that some of the more extreme anti-Mormons seem to fit the obsessed psycho category described in the study. (Seems like the angry ex-Mormons are the worst offenders.) Interestingly, one of the categories self-described trolls agreed with said this:

    The more beautiful and pure a thing is, the more satisfying it is to corrupt.

    That makes the restored gospel of Jesus Christ a huge target for these sadistic nutjobs.

    Comment by Geoff J — February 18, 2014 @ 8:17 am

  5. One man’s legitimate question is another man’s troll.

    Comment by Mark N. — February 18, 2014 @ 2:38 pm

  6. Mark N,

    Exactly. And usually if it challenges your argument the label trolling most often comes out.

    Comment by Riley — February 19, 2014 @ 3:48 pm

  7. In the Slate lexicon, and most other more-or-less public Internet mediums, an Internet troll seems to be anyone who does not conform to your web-site agenda.

    Steve Evans keeps trying to ban me from his list, apparently because I make comments that irritate him. I broke through his security features, just to prove to myself that I could, but found that once I could comment again, I couldn’t find anything much to comment on that I really cared about. :-)

    Comment by Jim Cobabe — February 19, 2014 @ 9:02 pm

  8. The Bloggernacle has virtually no real, severe trolls. Anytime a true troll comments on a ‘nacle site, the comment gets deleted and the troll is usually banned.

    You’ll find the severe trolls dwelling in under-moderated places like some newspaper comment sections.

    Comment by Geoff J — February 20, 2014 @ 9:34 am

  9. I can’t find it right now, but there was another study that showed a strong correlation between the type of communication provided by the internet and negative behavior.

    The study had to do with the effect of interactions that parallel internet use such as:

    a) Not facing the person you are interacting with b) The ability to remain anonymous as to your identity
    c) The ability to remain anonymous as to your location

    The study showed these conditions significantly increased psychopath/sociopath behaviors in people that in many other circumstances would behave normal.

    So, I think there is a factor of the internet being so impersonal and people not taking the time to reflect on the fact that the text that appears on the screen is not just text, but a human being communicating. Also, the internet allows for people with extremely different backgrounds to come together and share their opinions.

    Frankly, I have seen a lot of good and a lot of bad in many different forums (I visit a wide range from automotive, fitness, religion and other topics). Many brilliant commenters and permas have said things that would fit the thinking of a sadist troll. I don’t know if you could simply conclude they are sadists or sociopaths.

    At the end of the day, who hasn’t said something in a forum that could have been perceived as cruel or upsetting by someone else?

    Comment by Manuel — February 20, 2014 @ 1:55 pm

  10. The Bloggernacle has virtually no real, severe trolls.

    Thats because LD$ Inc brainwashes its Morg followers into givng away they’re mony n take other peopls kids

    Funny? No? Okay, I’m done.

    Comment by DavidF — February 21, 2014 @ 8:49 am

  11. You can never know with trolls. Some are only set up by computers to trick people.

    Comment by David — March 2, 2014 @ 3:42 am

  12. I haven’t read any of the above comments yet, but I did a little trolling on former mormon sites some years back, and the vitriol of some of the replies far outweighed the sarcasm of my remarks. I think I have learnt my lessons. I’m not as thick-skinned as Daniel Peterson (but then, I’m a non-believing non-practising member who nonetheless is FOR the Ch

    Comment by Jonathan M. — March 4, 2014 @ 4:52 am

  13. Posted above accidentally before finished. Last sentence should read ‘..’is FOR the Church in general not against it’)

    Comment by Jonathan M. — March 4, 2014 @ 4:53 am

  14. As one poster said, the term troll and even anti-Mormon are tossed around maybe a bit too loosely. Some people put those labels on all who disagree with a particular POV. I do not see it that way.

    The article in question was about extreme behavior by some internet posters. I don’t think that they are in a majority. But they are prolific in their postings.


    Comment by Glenn Thigpen — March 10, 2014 @ 10:30 am