Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Ten Toxic Troll Tricks from the WoW Forums

I was once a firm believer that every MMO should have its own forums and that they should be managed by the developers and not left to community fan sites. After all by using multiple fan sites the opinions of the player base is fragmented and it becomes harder for developers to research player reactions. That was my argument back then. It’s changed dramatically since World of Warcraft surpassed the million player mark and I found my daily journeys onto their forums starting to resemble walking through toxic waste. There are numerous moderators trying to keep the community in line but the massive number of subscribers just spawns too many trolls.

I've since given up the good fight and now depend on rss readers and community fan sites to read and discuss the play mechanics of my favorite MMO. It’s ironic that I eventually started using methods that I argued against so much. There are still large parts of the World of Warcraft forums that are uncorrupted but any sign of a serious discussion attracts the army of ravenous trolls which lurk in the muck. I haven't visited the official forums for over a year but I have a pretty good idea of what still goes on.

Top Ten Troll Tricks

10) FTL :-(
"For the Loss" is the least powerful of the forum troll attack moves. It’s a basic maneuver which uses lewt speak to back up a claim usually meant to inspire others to anger. The troll doesn't really believe in the claim but instead is trying to give the impression that a single ability/class/developer/game mechanic is directly responsible for a player's bad experience. An example could be "My Warlock dies all the time, Cloak of Shadow FTL".

9) Nerf [insert class or ability here]
The staple of any MMO forum troll's arsenal is the Nerf attack. It's an overused and weak attack especially when compared with the more specialized trolling techniques. However, by its very nature the nerf attack is very versatile and can be used for a multitude of purposes. Making nerf posts against classes in their very own forums is a popular pastime on the WoW forums and helps foster class animosity. Witness the recent fight between warlocks and mages over warlocks getting their life tap nerf canceled. I wonder just how many posters in the warlock forums were actual mages and how many were trolls?

8) FTW!!!
"For the Win" started out as an opposite expression to balance against FTL and was meant to be exclaimed during victory. However, it’s been corrupted by the trolls and is now mostly used sarcastically in the same manner as "For the Loss". Trolls depend on people not being able to tell if the term was used sarcastically in their posts and thus they can appear to support and be against a topic at the same time. One example could be "I love paladin healing. Only 2 spells FTW" Is the poster a fan of the simplified healing mechanics of the paladin or does he find it boring? Who Knows? Let’s spend 5 pages fighting about it.

This is one of the more entertaining type of troll posts and much like a traffic accident it catches the eye of everyone passing through. Unfortunately, just like in real life it causes a massive slowdown since everyone has to stop on by the thread and find out what's happening. These posts almost always "out" an unfair relationship in the guild's upper tier of officers and usually throws out every rumor they can about the guild. Half the time the poster is on a level 3 alt and might not even be the person who left the guild.

6) L2PLY
An instant classic that became such a popular rebuttal that it even got its own music video. The most effective troll techniques are insults because people naturally want to defend themselves even if the entire thread is garbage. It’s also an effective way of crushing the spirits of new players because nothing tastes sweeter then noob tears. *actual ingredient in Ben and Jerry's Ice-cream.
Myndflame L2PLY Video

5) Dev Plays a [Insert Class Here]
This is a highly developed form of troll attack which is often accompanied by fake evidence. Recently the nerfing of elemental shamans was met by accusations that Kalgan (Tom Chilton) played on an arena team which lost to burst lightning damage quite often. I believe the "evidence" was a player who called the shaman nerfs before they were implemented on the test realm and supposedly Kalgan's arena team. Luckily, the overuse of nerf attacks on the forums makes it very easy to find any all sorts of different predictions for every type of class, talent, or ability.

4) Thread Necromancy
The only thing more powerful and hated then a warlock is of course a necromancer. Thread necromancers were a real problem for a period of time but luckily moderators now quickly lock any old threads that mysteriously rise from the dead. The basic premise of the attack is that trolls would search very far back in the forum archives to find threads which could be mistaken for being about a current topic. They would then post a comment to make it look like the discussion was still recent in the thread. This was especially effective if a CM had posted in the thread since their comments could be taken out of context.

3) Theoverlylongtrollpostwithnospacescopiedfromothertrollposts
Trolls aren't the most original manner of internet monster and sometimes they just don't feel like writing their own posts. So a common and brain scrambling tactic they sometimes use is to copy bits and pieces of other posts to make a loose collection of thoughts and ideas which tricks the reader into thinking there might be a point somewhere in the mess. In reality the post is an undying mound of garbage made of political opinions, philosophy, bad game design, history, and religion and is technically related to fruitcake despite not being edible. *fruitcake is only supposed to be edible and usually isn't.

2) N RL IM [insert famous/rich/attractive here]
Ah one of the more insidious troll tactics on the face of the internet. I said earlier that the most successful troll attacks are insults and this goes double when they invite people to pay attention and insult themselves. These threads usually start off with some thread making fun of everyone who plays a MMO and ends with something like "I'm glad I'm married to a supermodel, make 200 thousand a year, and not a loser like you guys." Everyone knows he's lying and mostly like resembles that guy from the "Make Love Not Warcraft" episode of South Park. The problem is that knowledge isn't enough and the weak willed can't help but call the troll out on it. In the end the troll wins because he gets attention and the keylogger url on his signature now has a better chance of being copied and pasted.

1) Hardcore vs. Casual
If ever a troll is having problems coming up with a pointless topic or wants to derail a good discussion about the game then they can simply call up the Hardcore vs. Casual argument. This is the bane of any moderator since it has a habit of being hard to kill. A nice long thread on reward structures can quickly be ruined by some troll nudging it into a Hardcore vs. Casual debate. It doesn't matter if it’s locked right away since five new threads all on the same subject will quickly appear accusing the moderator of favoritism. The whole argument basically hinges on outdated stereotypes accompanied by outdated game design. If it rears its head in your forums often then chances are the developers were lazy at some point with the end game.

CTL+ALT+DEL Comic on the Subject


Rhey said...

STFU Nub, your just bitter because while U cant figure out those two Pally heals ive got relmstein on farm. heres what i think of your playing skillz ∅, SET THEORY FTW!!!!111. I would post more but i have to go have relations with my supermodel GF on a bed made of hundred dollarbill$. i would post a pic of her but she lives in canada and they dont have cameras there yet.

I dont want to beat a dead horse but here is the post in which you slandared me.


Tobold said...

Can you post a link to the L2Play music video, I haven't seen that one yet. :)

Viet said...

All good points, I wish every forum reader knew all this so they wouldn't be so quick to argue with trolls. Or perhaps they do...

Ontherocks said...

My favorite retort of the forum troll is made when someone challenges them. The troll asks "Who are you?" as if to insinuate they have some measure of online fame, and that the person who dares to challenge their ass-hattery is a no-body due to their lack of online notoriety.

The funny thing to me is that one unknown person with a fake name, just asked another person with a fake name to identify himself.

Or as V said:

I'm not questioning your powers of observation I'm merely remarking upon the paradox of asking a masked man who he is.

Relmstein said...

Yeah if everyone just learned to recognize trolls and ignored them then they would die out from starvation.

The L2Play video was the one that myndflame did awhile ago. I'm sure you saw it around the internets somewhere Tobold but it can be found on YouTube by just typing in "Learn 2 Play"


Kaziel said...

If you haven't, here's a comic from about two weeks ago that matches this post:


Relmstein said...

Yup, that comic hits the subject on head almost exactly. Think I'll include a link to it in the post.

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