Trolls, Haters and Flame War Generals… Thank You

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"Obsessive Techno-Trolls do a significant portion of your competitive research for you. "

Coooold-blooded!

Great article. Your work makes me distrust marketing more than ever.

JP Sherman:
Trolls, Haters and Flame War Generals... Thank You

Why marketers love the most savage members of the community.

Read Full Article

I thought the message of this post got a bit muddled and lost along the way, like the writer was trying to make a point and got off on a series of digressions. By the end... or even just the middle, the title felt deceptive.

This article just made me waste half an hour looking through flame warriors. Ah, good times, good times.

SomeBritishDude:
Example; How many people had heard of Justin Bieber before he gained hatred on the internet?

O_O

Its true! They are the most effective advertising method ever!

OT: In their efforts to be a nuinsense, they became useful. I think that is awesome.

Hey Troll, you're helping the company by saying it sucks! Now the company knows how powerful its fanbase is!

I wonder if trolls on political forums (if you've never been to one stay the hell OUT for the love of god) are also somewhat useful to someone. Aside from that great article, it really surprised me and taught me a good deal about some of the rather inventive ways marketing teams gather data.

JP, you have absolutely no idea what a troll is.

Some people have passionate and thought-out opinions. Other people are easily amused and care little about the subject matter. The passionate person isn't trying to incite an argument, they're trying to help people understand their stupidity and hopefully move the human race forward, including game design.

Calling someone a retard for saying Red Dead Redemption is the best game ever is not trolling. It's stating a truth.

All of your examples seem to stem from a misunderstanding of the above on your part.

beastrn:
JP, you have absolutely no idea what a troll is.

Some people have passionate and thought-out opinions. Other people are easily amused and care little about the subject matter. The passionate person isn't trying to incite an argument, they're trying to help people understand their stupidity and hopefully move the human race forward, including game design.

Calling someone a retard for saying Red Dead Redemption is the best game ever is not trolling. It's stating a truth.

All of your examples seem to stem from a misunderstanding of the above on your part.

Lol at the above poster (assuming this is irony).

Excellent article, I wish there were more like this on the Escapist.

GeneticallyModifiedDucks:
We're all trolls in a way it seems.

Pish, I've been sitting underneath a bridge, waiting to eat anyone who doesn't drop a coin into my toll box, for years now.

3nimac:
I wonder if i have ever been tagged. How cool would that be. Its a little like wondering if someone thinks of you while they are in the shower.

This comment was useless to you.

We have an anarchist-troll in the making!

I love these First Person Marketer articles. They're all very informative and Sherman writes in a way that makes you feel attached to what he's saying and that it's relevant to you, specifically. The one on Kinect made me think about it on a level more than just "Oh great, another stupid peripheral".

I think while you may sit there and chortle that trolls and flamers don't realise they're helping out the very thing they're hating, it's important to keep in mind that they (mostly) flame and hate for the very reason that they want that game or franchise improved. Look at all the Move / Kinect hate threads; the community is angry that they're being neglected in lieu of children, wives and families as being the focus of their beloved medium. So Microsoft and Sony have to address this by listening to why everybody is angry about Kinect and Move and say things like "yes, Move will work with Killzone 3!" or "Kinect is more than a mini-game collection peripheral; you will use it to make responses in Mass Effect 4 and look around in Call of Duty: Future Imperfect!". At the end of the day, most of these people take up arms against developers and the community because they're angry about something. Just look at the Blizzard debacle. The amount of hate received for having to post with your real life name on the forums forced the company into reverting that back into an option. Even the developers of the Final Fantasy series know that XIII wasn't quite the success they'd hoped and long-time fans are angry with the linearity of it.

So to our brave brothers in arms fighting the good fight with unorthodox tactics, i salute you.

image

Wow, I've really learned a lot from this article. For example, if you have an opinion or if you constructively criticize someone for their crappy work, you're officially a troll.

All I have to say is: Successful Troll is Successful.

Interesting article. I'll never look at trolling the same way again.

Hmm interesting. I'm slightly intrigued about taking a troll's view point as I thought they'd be a relative minority within an audience voice (even within the hc realm). I would certainly weight their information in the vocal minority from a business viewpoint, though agree every opinion is valid to some degree.

The other point, that marketing should act as a conduit between feedback and development is very valid and a view I aspire to! Though in the example you give the information seems more retrospective than proactive especially in a competitive analysis test. Plus I don't know of many practicable examples where this is actually the case within any industry (though it is in pretty much every text book).

To a point above that mentions that games should survive on their merits, agreed in many respects but that isn't the point of many businesses as the studio matters more than a single game (peoples livelihoods are at stake, compared to an individual's enjoyment). Also marketing is how many hear about a good game in the first place.

I understand the google alerts idea, even use it myself. Marketeers need to track results and using opens, clickthroughs, forums, alerts and web traffic are valid measurements but I always suspected that people wouldn't take kindly to being tracked. I don't know what the solution is as it's a privacy argument and people have many takes. Businesses and by extension marketers need this information to prosper and offer additional services though how much access to data should businesses have is anyone's guess!

beastrn:

Calling someone a retard for saying Red Dead Redemption is the best game ever is not trolling. It's stating a truth.

I got one! Tag him! Tag him quick! Crikey, he's a big one! Look at those jaws!

The "catching trolls like the Crocodile Hunter" part of that article made milk come out of my nose. This is why I go on the internet. A break from all the college essays.

Hmm. Never really thought about how helpful a troll could be to a marketer. Uniting your fan community against them, pointing out what competitors are up to, and even finding your weak points in your marketing for you. Nice.

moosek:
I'm only posting here to say that the dude who writes these articles posts his likeness with them. His face and body creeps me out.

Hey, I have to live with that face...

Also, yes.. the Google alerts are pretty creepy. There are times when I've felt weirded out myself when setting up the alerts. However, the information gathered really identifies the pain points of the message and of the campaign.

beastrn:
JP, you have absolutely no idea what a troll is.

Some people have passionate and thought-out opinions. Other people are easily amused and care little about the subject matter. The passionate person isn't trying to incite an argument, they're trying to help people understand their stupidity and hopefully move the human race forward, including game design.

Calling someone a retard for saying Red Dead Redemption is the best game ever is not trolling. It's stating a truth.

All of your examples seem to stem from a misunderstanding of the above on your part.

Firstly, thanks for your critique. I think I need to clarify. You're absolutely right. The passionate person is trying to educate and help people understand their perspective. Where that passion turns into trollery is when that discussion is one sided and that passionate person refuses to read or respond to contrary arguments. The troll's mind is made up, they are right and you are wrong.

We could disagree on points passionately, we could argue our cases and our points. If I were to use ad hominum attacks or other troll-ish tactics, that's when I cross the line into being a troll.

What I should have clarified in my article is that there are no hard lines between the passionate person and the troll, it's very fuzzy and often very subjective. That's why I "follow" trolls, if it's a consistent pattern of incitement, then I've just tagged a troll. If it's a passionate person who may not be eloquent, then they're not a troll.

While marketers absolutely read the passionate responses, what makes the troll useful is the frequency and seemingly obsessive way they defend or attack their targets.

I hope that clears it up a little bit.

One of the best kinds of advertising is free advertising by conflict. Let loose that something is in the game, and tell them something else is in the game. Some will hate, others will love, and the advertising begins and expands as more are caught up in the argument. There's plenty of games that could use such advertising, and there's plenty that skate under the radar by never being more than mediocre, and knowing it.

I argue to the point that there is a distinct difference between a troll and a person who will single-mindedly not change their opinion and express it in a nasty way. Trolls don't care, and sometime craft their posts specifically to also be hilariously funny to other people who don't care abut the outcome of the argument.

The troll is not passionate about the subject matter. They're only passionate about getting a rise out of people. Taking them as seriously as the article implies is simply giving them what they want. The truth of it is they're not taking their OWN arguments seriously. The argument and it's subject matter isn't the point. They could make a post on a gaming forum, then switch to a paper-crafts forum occupied by middle aged housewives, then to a cat-lovers forum, then to a fishing forum... all of the tools they need existing on the internet to blend seamlessly into each environment, whether they actually engage in the associated activites or not. Their activity isn't gaming or scrapbooking or kittens or fishing. It's trolling.

This means in a troll's case, any 'in depth research' of the market could very well be a 5-minit wikipdia searched lie meant to convince anyone reading that they have, in fact, done their research.

The normal passionate person says things to inflame not -just- because they are intending to inflame, but because they are passionate enough about it to let their emotions into it, and those emotions happen to piss other people off. They're being genuine.

The troll's post is more craftily composed. Whereas the singlemided zealot is pounding away at their keybord in a frothing rage to get their point across, the troll is tapping idly at the keys while smirking. Their lack of genuine care or interest in the topic is what makes them a troll.

I believe there is a point of confusion here. The old 1980s-90s BBS term for the person that is being identified in this article is a 'flamer', (but these days the term has quite a different connotation) aka - someone who is going to take their opinion and pound it down your throat.

The troll is the person who busts into that chain of conversation with a random meme that will spark a huge thread derail.

Seeing you list the trolls out in this way was somewhat annoying. Saying, "for the lulz" was especially cringeworthy.

(You're welcome for the market resaearch I just gave you.)

It's the marketer's job to be a bridge between the outside world and the production and management teams.

Man I would love to have a job with a description like that. Where nobody can say exactly what I did but I can still take credit for everything that goes right but pass the buck when it goes wrong. How do you know when your efforts contributed anything to success? How do you know when you can be blamed for failure? How do you know you weren't counterproductive?

"Trolls", are usually the term that people like to throw whenever someone else's viewpoint doesn't match theirs anyway. Besides, a lot of trolls nowadays are subtle.

That article was creepy, really creepy.[/sarcasm/]

Edit: Also, what poster no.53 said.

AvauntVanguard:
Yet another pointless list classifying different types of trolls.

Nothing new here, everyone. I wonder how this even bothered to be put up.

lol
u mad

How was that JP?

hyperdrachen:
Haha, fun read. The google alerts bit was a little creepy to think about. .

Me too, I wonder if I'm tagged by Sony....

SomeBritishDude:
Trolls help the things they hate.

Example; How many people had heard of Justin Bieber before he gained hatred on the internet?

Yeah, a lot of the things people bitch about end up getting promoted for their trouble. It's one of the reasons I wish people would just ignore Westboro Baptist Church.

How are Google alerts used to track forum members? I've never heard of this. Can someone hip me to it?

I can't help but think that all the beneficial aspects of a troll for someone in marketing also work for 'reasonable' gamers with a lot of enthousiasm for the medium. But then without the tsunami of crap that trolls produce.

Nonetheless: nice article, looking forward to your next one.

I think the term "troll" is gruesomely misused, both here, and on a lot of other forums.

Trolling is when you're just baiting people into a reaction. When you want to see nerds rage, and make a post, that's trolling. If you make comments, with the sole intention of getting reactions out of people, you're a troll.

Most of the types you mentioned aren't trolls, because they sincerely believe in their own words. They're more like Hitler or Stalin, close-minded extremist assholes, but they're not trolls.

Interesting article. Though in itself I fear it feels a little like troll food.

I wonder if you take into account the number of people who simply spot the troll and keep walking -- if you're taking responses into account you'd certainly want to note that the majority of the people responding are probably unstable in some measure themselves.

Klepa:
I think the term "troll" is gruesomely misused, both here, and on a lot of other forums.

Trolling is when you're just baiting people into a reaction. When you want to see nerds rage, and make a post, that's trolling. If you make comments, with the sole intention of getting reactions out of people, you're a troll.

Most of the types you mentioned aren't trolls, because they sincerely believe in their own words. They're more like Hitler or Stalin, close-minded extremist assholes, but they're not trolls.

I disagree. A troll is concerned with misdirecting the normal flow of a topic, on a regular basis. It is more about his actions over time, repeatedly acting to do so, rather than how it is achieved. I've come across every single one of those trolls, many times. Belief in their own words is unimportant as to whether they regularly act as a disruptor, I guess you could just say that some trolls are inately so, others like to justify their trolling and others admit to being trolls outright. None of which affects their troll status.

RobfromtheGulag:
Interesting article. Though in itself I fear it feels a little like troll food.

I wonder if you take into account the number of people who simply spot the troll and keep walking -- if you're taking responses into account you'd certainly want to note that the majority of the people responding are probably unstable in some measure themselves.

Excellent questions.
1: It's not easy to measure the number of people who ignore the trolls. However, if you own the forums, you can measure the number of people who clicked "quote" or "reply" to the trolling comment and then not post. This gives you a decent sample size of people who ignore the troll.

2: Another thing to consider is that there are some pretty standard commenting percentages. If a site's articles averages around 1000 views and 100 comments, you can measure the effectiveness of the troll's activity using basic analytics compared to a benchmark.

However, if you're doing this kind of analysis on a site you don't have access to the analytics to (which is most often the case) your data is much more subjective and inaccurate. This is the primary reason why trolls are tagged and followed to see if you can identify a pattern.

The key is to identify a behavioral and contextual pattern... one troll-ish comment is just one data-point. This is why I look at the patterns of comments and the types of troll-ish behaviors to research.

Straying Bullet:
Damn man. You really hit some good points in that article. Forwarding it now.

Thanks for breaking down the "Troll" demographic for me, it makes sense now you have stated different segments.

Well actually...

Klepa:
I think the term "troll" is gruesomely misused, both here, and on a lot of other forums.

Trolling is when you're just baiting people into a reaction. When you want to see nerds rage, and make a post, that's trolling. If you make comments, with the sole intention of getting reactions out of people, you're a troll.

Most of the types you mentioned aren't trolls, because they sincerely believe in their own words. They're more like Hitler or Stalin, close-minded extremist assholes, but they're not trolls.

This.

The 'Anarchist' Troll mentioned here is the only true type of troll. Granted the rest fall into slightly similar categories, but they shouldn't be described as trolls.

The vast majority of people here don't understand trolls, and it makes me cringe seeing people discuss things they misunderstand.

I had never looked at trolls as a shark-tagging opportunity. This was a very interesting and thought-provoking piece. I look forward to more of your writing.

GLo Jones:

The 'Anarchist' Troll mentioned here is the only true type of troll. Granted the rest fall into slightly similar categories, but they shouldn't be described as trolls.

The vast majority of people here don't understand trolls, and it makes me cringe seeing people discuss things they misunderstand.

Heaven forfend that the internet categories we made up for market research purposes get ruffled, eh?

Really, you can only ever know a troll by the consequences of their actions, and all the types of 'trolls' listed are means to very similar ends. Purposefully or not.

Aphroditty:

GLo Jones:

The 'Anarchist' Troll mentioned here is the only true type of troll. Granted the rest fall into slightly similar categories, but they shouldn't be described as trolls.

The vast majority of people here don't understand trolls, and it makes me cringe seeing people discuss things they misunderstand.

Heaven forfend that the internet categories we made up for market research purposes get ruffled, eh?

Really, you can only ever know a troll by the consequences of their actions, and all the types of 'trolls' listed are means to very similar ends. Purposefully or not.

Regardless of what they achieve, a troll is defined by it's intentions. Trolls aim to provoke a response.

They'll join Facebook groups dedicated to the loss of a child and claim how funny it is, or how the child was to blame/deserved it. They will turn up in specific forums and claim extremist views. They will pretend to be offensively ignorant, or absurdly opposed to mainstream logic.

They could be more subtle, and disguise themselves as normal peole with an offensive outlook. For example, something as simple as a '2012 apocalypse' believer. Or maybe they'll create a thread spouting how ignorant and stupid atheists are for not following the God of their choosing. They'll pick on sensitive subjects.

This applies to gaming exactly as it is intended. It is to poke at sensitive topics among the community of their choice (the flaws of a game in a forum/thread full of fans) in a certain way as to pull out the nerd rage from their victims.

If they succeed, and others fall prey to their 'troll-bait' by replying with a flurry of rage and insults, the troll receives exactly what it wants, epic lulz, thus 'feeding' the troll.

Now tell me anything other than the 'anarchists' falls into this explanation.

Fensfield:

AvauntVanguard:
Yet another pointless list classifying different types of trolls.

Nothing new here, everyone. I wonder how this even bothered to be put up.

Allow me to be the first to say - I see what you did there.

And yet, it's still true :/

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