I’ve been making snide, snarky comments on public Internet forums for about 17 years. I even garnered some notoriety (nay, infamy) in the 1990′s for my posts to the Usenet group alt.tasteless. Oh, those were heady days full of sardonic barbs, razor-sharp quips and anecdotes about drinking dry the contents of a dead whore’s anal boil.
I also posted to sci.skeptic and a few other sundry newsgroups. This was back when your conversational skills meant everything and your cool avatar meant nothing. We didn’t even have avatars or icons. If you couldn’t express yourself in simple ASCII, you were road kill.
It was in this cauldron of writers, biters, raconteurs and saboteurs that I discovered the trolls.
Even though I wrote some outlandish things, I always meant them to be genuinely sarcastic or humorous – I wanted everyone to laugh with me. I never broke into forums specifically to upset the locals and goad them into responding to a bunch of hyperbolic nastiness.
That’s what trolls do. They’ll go into a web forum for cancer survivors and extol the virtues of smoking cigarettes and eating lead paint chips and tell everyone to “stop whining”. Their goal is to see how many outraged cancer survivors they can get to rise to the bait.
Trolling is as old as the Internet – maybe older. And I hate it.
I worked pretty hard to get a reputation for being outrageous and funny. I don’t like it when some illiterate punk comes waltzing in with a kit bag of insults and no eloquence to back it up. They simply stir up the natives, have a laugh and move on. Lame.
They even had their own newsgroup where they could discuss the finer points of trolling a discussion board. Then out they would spread like a disease, infecting reasonable conversations worldwide – even reasonable discussions about drinking dead whore pus!
Well, the trolls may think they’re clever, but they’re not. On fark.com, they can sniff a troll a mile away and even offer ratings for troll quality. A lousy troll (“Why don’t you go marry your Fartbama savior, libtard?”) will earn a 0/10 points while a good troll (“Just because I think Obama may not be a citizen doesn’t mean I’m wrong about global warming”) may earn a 8/10 points if it’s really, really subtle.
Sometimes, on very rare occasions, someone with true grit and a lexicon of steel can commit an act of trolling that resounds through the ages. This is so difficult that only true masters of this arcane art can pull it off.
Today, I would like to honor one of those über-trolls. If you have some time, I encourage you to read the saga of the Mall Ninja.
His name is gecko45, and to this day he maintains his cover as a bumbling, brash and hysterically funny fabulist. He infected a forum dedicated to guns and proceeded to introduce himself as a heavily armed martial artist who needed some assistance selecting assault rifles for his life-and-death vocation in mall security.
His shtick was so good, so outrageous and so cloyingly sincere that the forum admins let him go for far too long, ending it only when the Mall Ninja (and his sock puppet supporters) started to interfere with the orderly conduct of the forum.
I really hate trolls. But sometimes from the mists comes a man so compelling, so wonderfully bizarre, that I must remove my hat and bow to his greatness. The Mall Ninja is that man.
Job well done, sir. You may return to your leaky bridge in the knowledge that you succeeded where thousands have failed.
I salute you.