The important difference between Flaming and Trolling

The word Trolling has now no meaning except in so far as it signifies 'something not desirable.'
- shamelessly stolen from George Orwell


Now that i have "All Eyez On Me", hear me out. There is one thing about this community that bothers me. It can quite easily be adressed, which is what i am going to do right now. You see, the word "Troll" is being thrown around quite a lot, much more than it reasonably should. Attack something you sincerely don't like? Troll! Have an unpopular opinion? Troll! Disagree with the staff in the smallest way? Troll!

In the immortal words of Inigo Montoya: "You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means." I have decided to create a thread solely to deal with the main misconception.

The classic definition of troll is: "one who posts a deliberately provocative message to a newsgroup or message board with the intention of causing maximum disruption and argument." Note the highlighted part, please. I understand that it can be hard to discern, but someone posting an agressively-worded yet sincere comment is NOT a troll. He's still breaking the rules, but his intentions are less malevolent.

Here are two examples, using a Generic Badly-Made Contemporary FPSTM as not to offend anyone.

TROLLING:

TacOps fan: My copy of Tacticool Operatives 3 arrives in an hour! The first part was the best game i've ever played, i'm so excited!

Attacker: zOMG ur stupid tacops suxxorz like ur mom LOLOLOL!

***
Obvious troll is obvious, ladies and gentlemen. Note the lack of explanation for why the game apparently sucks, calling the other guy stupid, and the "ur mom" insult. Troll may be completely iddifferent towards the game, he might have never heard about it before - he only says it sucks to provoke everyone and disrupt the thread.

FLAMING:

TacOps fan: My copy of Tacticool Operatives 3 arrives in an hour! The first part was the best game i've ever played, i'm so excited!

Attacker: I hate to break it for you, but you're wrong. I've already played TacOps 3 - and it fucking sucks. All the weapons have the exact same stats, the storyline is a cliche storm riddled with plotholes, your whole squad is full of unlikeable dicks, and the few awesome scenes we saw in the trailers are not even in the game! I've had so many expectations for this game, and it turned out to be a piece of garbage. It's not worth sixty cents, let alone sixty dollars.

Fan: No way, the game is awesome!

Attacker: No it isn't!

And so on.

***
For the purpose of this example, let's assume that the attacker's badmouthing of Tacticool has basis in reality, but he seriously exagerrates the game's flaws. For whatever reason - a different taste, or hopes set too high - he really did not like it. Unlike the troll, he believes in what he says: the stated opinion is honest, if very harsh.

UNPOPULAR OPINIONS:

When someone has an unpopular opinion, he is NOT A TROLL. I can't stress that enough.

DISCLAIMER: Those definitions may not be entirely accurate, but i've tried my best.

In summary, there's an overlap between flaming and trolling - but they are not one in the same. Those are distinct types of Internet rudeness, and everyone should know how to diffirentiate between them, as flaming, in my opinion, is a bit more excusable. But only a bit. The important part: all trolls flame, but not all flaming is done by trolls. Got that? Now, you may ask, "how do i know the difference if the troll is not obvious?". That part, my friend, is up to you - that's what your mind is for.

EDIT: Okay, so i didn't do a very good job here. As a matter of fact, i did an awful job. Every single time i want to say something meaningful it ends up like this.

I thought flaming was a personal attack on a user? Because the flaming example is just stating an opinion: the way in which he (or she, but that's unlikely) goes about it is harsh and a bit rude, but it's not flaming. He doesn't insult the other user.

Quite the interesting read here.

Even with the differences shown that still doesn't excuse them for being assholes.

I disagree with the flaming part. In my opinion, flaming, is something that one does to deliberately insult a person that disagrees with him.

Maybe it's just your example.

I will agree with the trolling part, however, I have always felt that trolling is doing something that will most likely elicit a negative reaction from the target and/or targets.

For example, the movie Bruno. Everyone that felt disgusted towards Bruno was successfully trolled.

Good attempt, However I would consider Flaming to be more of a series of statements that is purposely meant to goad someone into retalliation, thus engaging in a flame war. Trolling tends to be more random and meandering. Much less directed in my book.

So the way I am thinking, Flaming can consist of one very well timed and utterly specific post but tends to require multiple directed posts backing their initial claims up, where as trolling can easily be disruptive in one post, and tends to be more sporadic and consequent posts tend not to link to each other as much.

Just my opinion on it. Definitely a good analysis you made /applaud.

Valkyrie101:
I thought flaming was a personal attack on a user? Because the flaming example is just stating an opinion: the way in which he (or she, but that's unlikely) goes about it is harsh and a bit rude, but it's not flaming. He doesn't insult the other user.

Oh, i dunno, man. In my eyes, such a rude reply is bound to provoke a flamewar between those who like the game and those who don't. Therefore, flaming. But it's not intended to provoke said flamewar - therefore, not trolling.

I've deliberately held back on a "non-trollish" example, by the way.

Valkyrie101:
I thought flaming was a personal attack on a user? Because the flaming example is just stating an opinion: the way in which he (or she, but that's unlikely) goes about it is harsh and a bit rude, but it's not flaming. He doesn't insult the other user.

Agreed. The example you gave OP was an informed opinion, not a flame, that's not even against the rules.

A flame is usually a lot less informed opinion mixed in with person insults.

People honestly have trouble with these definitions? That's sad.

Trolls are characterised by saying things they don't believe in just to get people respond in ways that makes them look foolish to the troll. Flamers are characterised by believing what they say and saying things to shut people up so they stop saying things that the flamer thinks are foolish. A flamebaiter is is a class of troll who enters discussions to push the buttons of flamers, ideally starting an argument between two or more flamers for a maximum score multiplier.

Hope this helps.

TheComedown:
Agreed. The example you gave OP was an informed opinion, not a flame, that's not even against the rules.

A flame is usually a lot less informed opinion mixed in with person insults.

Okay... maybe i did tone it down too much. Now what should i do: add personal insults or rename the example? I'm open to suggestions.

Your trolling example doesn't give trolling the glory it deserves. It's a somewhat lacking explanation in the way that it pretty much says that everyone on GameTrailers is a troll. You should acknowledge that trolling may go alot deeper than just doing something random a little quickly to annoy someone and then you leave. For an instance, when I troll forums, I nestle my way inside the community and kill it from the inside. I just troll'd them by getting them to take their angers out on one another.

Also, trolls flame. You don't seem to realize that the two are very, very, related. I was hoping someone would give this community the examples it really needs to learn what is/isn't trolling, seeing as stating an impopular opinion around here will get you a bunch of "u troll" replies.

Kollega:

TheComedown:
Agreed. The example you gave OP was an informed opinion, not a flame, that's not even against the rules.

A flame is usually a lot less informed opinion mixed in with person insults.

Okay... maybe i did tone it down too much. Now what should i do: add personal insults or rename the example? I'm open to suggestions.

Umm... I'm not entirely sure, probably just remove most of the reasons why the game was bad and replace them with something along the lines of OP is a fag for liking said game, but a tiny bit more subtle then that... well actually No, the way I see it trolls generally are subtle and try to sneak around while inciting a flame war. I think the best way to put it would be something like, Troll is the person, flame is the action. Trolls flame things.

Psychosocial:
You should acknowledge that trolling may go alot deeper than just doing something random a little quickly to annoy someone and then you leave.

I do, but trolls that know what they're doing are rare. I don't have much experience with them.

Also, trolls flame. You don't seem to realize that the two are very, very, related. I was hoping someone would give this community the examples it really needs to learn what is/isn't trolling, seeing as stating an impopular opinion around here will get you a bunch of "u troll" replies.

I only wrote that because i couldn't stay silent. If anyone can explain that better, he probably should.

TheComedown:
I think the best way to put it would be something like, Troll is the person, flame is the action. Trolls flame things.

All trolls flame, but not all flaming is done by trolls. You know just give me a minute to rewrite that.

Personally I thought 'Trolling' was making commentary designed to create an argument and disrupt a discussion (multiple methods, usually intentional logical fallacies are the most effective at creating an argument). Of course there are some people attributed the title of 'trolls' who are simply idiots saying uninformed stuff and then play the 'troll' card in hopes of convincing themselves it was intentional. It's sometimes hard to tell which is which though.

Meanwhile "flaming" would simply be insults or very negative comments without any qualification. I.E. saying "This sucks balls!" without stating why that is the case.
With a qualification to the statement it is still very rude, but not a flame.

There is some amount of overlap between the two, as flames may be used as an Ad Hominem by trolls and things like that.

That's just my take on it, though.

Gah! Even your definition of trolling is off!

Trolling, as it exists today is little more than a defense mechanism people use to protect themselves from harsh realizations. Things like "people that stupid exist," "their beliefs may not be objectively true," etc. We don't like to believe it, but someone might actually think "zOMG ur stupid tacops suxxorz like ur mom LOLOLOL!" is a valid way to express his/her honest opinion. Theres a good chance hes too young to have an account on this site, but that doesn't mean s/hes trolling... s/hes just stupid.

The biggest problem is you used a clear flame and... well... something that maybe true. A better example of trolling is "whats better, [thing intensely popular to one demographic] or [thing intensely popular to an opposing demographic]? Versus threads are frowned upon here, so that doesn't come up much. A somewhat frequent example of trolling, though, is "whats the deal with X." These threads exist only to generate vitriol and thus should be treated as trolling.

The biggest problem is trolling isn't overt. Flamers can start flamewars, but proper trolls tend to have no direct part in the flamewar. They simply encourage one or two sides to keep doing what they're doing and when moderation comes down, they appear innocent.

Kollega:
The important part: all trolls flame, but not all flaming is done by trolls.

Probably true, but I don't think it matters much to be honest.

Behaviour on these forums is either within the forum guidelines, or outside the forum guidelines, for whatever reason. That's really all that people need to worry about.

Cynical skeptic:
Gah! Even your definition of trolling is off!

The biggest problem is you used a clear flame and... well... something that maybe true. A better example of trolling is "whats better, [thing intensely popular to one demographic] or [thing intensely popular to an opposing demographic]? Versus threads are frowned upon here, so that doesn't come up much. A somewhat frequent example of trolling, though, is "whats the deal with X." These threads exist only to generate vitriol and thus should be treated as trolling.

What can i do now? I can only ask people not to shoot the message, the only thing i wanted to say is that a word "troll" is frequently misused and abused here. When i want to say something important, i always end up making it the least noticeable part of what i say.

BonsaiK:

Kollega:
The important part: all trolls flame, but not all flaming is done by trolls.

Probably true, but I don't think it matters much to be honest.

Behaviour on these forums is either within the forum guidelines, or outside the forum guidelines, for whatever reason. That's really all that people need to worry about.

Pretty much what I was going to say.

The example of flaming may have been aggressive, but it was not directed at the person who disagrees so it wouldn't be against the rules either as the profanity was used in relation to the game itself.

Seriously, if everyone who wrote like that was breaking the rules we'd have a lot less users discussing computer games.

This thread...could have been better. Though either way I think most people understand what a troll is, I've never seen anyone unjustly labelled as such.

 

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