Today, I have signed off for the last time. The 3 forums I have contact with are now history. It's turned into a study of behavioral patterns of individuals in different forum venues. Forums can be intriguing but can also be dangerous depending on your psychological stability. I'm completely convinced there have been many people harmed by their brutality and the fiction of social acceptance.
Information gained from forums is tainted for the most part by control mechanisms and social status. Groups are key and absolute power. There is no place for natural concourse. The most ignorant troll can move the intelligent base by social manipulation. Worse, the psychological pattern of trolling is learned by the intelligent few though association. They don't even know they have become trolls. Therefore the term has become fuzzy and nondescript and really has no basis in value unless it can be properly explained and/or defined. People use the term for about anything and for any reason.
Trolling is a psychological mechanism that uses social memes to do several things:
1. To affect a response for the sake of a response.
2. To inflame people's emotions for the sake of inflaming people's emotions.
3. To make statements that control the social balance of the clientèle while excluding any individuals who could make a defense of such control.
4. To offend another member by planting innuendo in separate threads avoiding direct contact, direct naming or argument.
5. To create a forum base that excludes those that don't conform to a certain social behavior or clique, in ways that transcend the management's intent.
6. To affect, control, make, offend or create dissonance either purposefully or subliminally (learned)
Maybe there should be 3 different definitions of troll. One that depicts the ass who just has fun generating a response, one that manipulates by social controls on the inside, and the other that has a motivated agenda. I would suggest:
1. Sociopathic Troll
2. Socially Exclusive Troll
3. The Motivative Troll
One might consider "low troll" and "high troll" and "spy troll" respectively. The first two definitions take care of themselves by the definition of sociopath and social exclusivity. The Motivative Troll depicts someone who may have an underlying motivation such as to gain money or information. That motivation could be anything from personal information as would be sought by a private investigator or for fraud, to general information for political reasons or propagation of misinformation such as anti-global warming propaganda, etc.
The use of forums should always be understood as a game. Never make the mistake of assuming forums represent any reality whatsoever. People who use forums are anonymous. They take on any desired persona and speak in a voice not their own. It is based on digitally typed information, not person to person contact. It doesn't take long to get in a habit of believing a user is a real personality; they most assuredly are not.
Mistakes of social order or even mistaken interpretation of your writing can immediately put you into a position of being an outsider and victim to scorn. In effect, you are never allowed to make human errors of judgment. An error can become part of the interpretation of your character that is passed from person to person by indirect communication outside of your control. There is no recourse, as confronting the accuser proves the accusers "assumed" accusation. Since an accusation "really wasn't made" only alluded to, you have no defense base. In confronting an accuser, you can also be accused of being out of order which is the easiest way to defuse responsibility.
Considering this, I think care should always be taken when considering joining any forum. Never take any statement for face value, never become personally evolved, never make the mistake of assuming that what you offer will or can be understood by anyone. Never assume that if only one person takes offense or misinterprets your statement that it's insignificant, and you will remain immune to social expulsion by humiliation or exclusion.
Forums are mob rule in the most primitive form and no FAQ or Administrative Rules can protect you from it. It's all about the lowest common denominator, the base rule of the social order... and dumbing down is the social order of our day.
End of informal study.