[Air-l] Lachlan Brown

jeremy hunsinger jhuns at vt.edu
Wed Mar 20 19:06:33 PST 2002

troll from the jargon file:

1. v.,n. [From the Usenet group alt.folklore.urban] To utter a posting 
on Usenet designed to attract predictable responses or flames; or, the 
post itself. Derives from the phrase "trolling for newbies" which in 
turn comes from mainstream "trolling", a style of fishing in which one 
trails bait through a likely spot hoping for a bite. The 
well-constructed troll is a post that induces lots of newbies and 
flamers to make themselves look even more clueless than they already do, 
while subtly conveying to the more savvy and experienced that it is in 
fact a deliberate troll. If you don't fall for the joke, you get to be 
in on it. See also YHBT. 2. n. An individual who chronically trolls in 
sense 1; regularly posts specious arguments, flames or personal attacks 
to a newsgroup, discussion list, or in email for no other purpose than 
to annoy someone or disrupt a discussion. Trolls are recognizable by the 
fact that they have no real interest in learning about the topic at 
hand - they simply want to utter flame bait. Like the ugly creatures 
they are named after, they exhibit no redeeming characteristics, and as 
such, they are recognized as a lower form of life on the net, as in, 
"Oh, ignore him, he's just a troll." Compare kook. 3. n. [Berkeley] 
Computer lab monitor. A popular campus job for CS students. Duties 
include helping newbies and ensuring that lab policies are followed. 
Probably so-called because it involves lurking in dark cavelike corners.

Some people claim that the troll (sense 1) is properly a narrower 
category than flame bait, that a troll is categorized by containing some 
assertion that is wrong but not overtly controversial. See also 

The use of `troll' in either sense is a live metaphor that readily 
produces elaborations and combining forms. For example, one not 
infrequently sees the warning "Do not feed the troll" as part of a 
followup to troll postings.
On Wednesday, March 20, 2002, at 08:30 PM, Blanchard, Anita L wrote:

for me, to troll is in one significant sense, one trolls for opinions, 
one trolls for the uninformed, one trolls to get people to voice things 
that are inappropriate in a venue.  in some respects lachlan was 
trolling, he was trying to generate responses, but in another perhaps he 
was not.  to troll, in the stricktest usenet sense, is to 'troll for 
newbies', one posts a comment that would raise the ire of anyone, but 
most people know to ignore it, except those people who have not been 
around.  There are several classic trolls relating to a wide variety of 
topics, usually all are constrained along boundaries of power of some 
sort, and are constructed along societal lines, stereotypes are 
excellent troll fodder.


jeremy hunsinger
jhuns at vt.edu
on the ibook

More information about the Air-l mailing list