Many new to trolling will have an idea of trolls as vile and offensive characters. That is what the media want you to believe – yet there is little point in trying to change this perception, other than to accept that not all trolling is done to harm others.
A useful metaphor for thinking about trolls is crocodiles. We use the Croc metaphor at The Crocels Trolling Academy, for obvious reasons, to teach the art of trolling. It was conceived by one of Crocels CMG‘s workers, Tim Mazur.
Crocs hide in the water where nobody can see them, eyeing up their prey, and then when they are read snap and devour them like they are steaks of meat. The most daring among is will offer steaks as bait, which the Crocs find enticing, and then we can get one over on them by capturing them when they take the bait.
It is useful therefore to think about your trolling style in terms of steak. The more well done you are and the less rare you are, the more able you are to take some of the most harmful Crocs at their own game.
|TM||Official Name||Steak Name||Description|
|1||Playtime(Cyber-bantering)||Rare||Light humour or banter, nothing personal or hurtful. Works on good friends as well as bad ones.|
|2||Tactical(Cyber-trickery)||Medium Rare||More calculated, like a game of chess – planning ahead. Works with good or developing friendships.|
|3||Strategic(Cyber-bullying)||Medium Well done||Using personal information about some to gain an advantage – to push their buttons. Works with good friends who know the real you.|
|4||Domination(Cyber-hickery)||Well done||Using highly personal and offensive attacks on the person, even if they would normally be called discriminatory. Works only on best friends and family to avoid coming to blows.|
Looking at the table above you can see the Trolling Magnitudes (TMs) of 1 to 4. 1 reflects the most harmless forms of trolling and 4 the most vile. Whilst trolling at a TM of 1 might be offensive to most people but taken with a pinch of salt, a TM of 4 could be seen as grossly offensive to nearly all people.
The type of steak you should use to lure and trap other Crocs depend on your experience, where you are, and who you are trolling. One should never do trolling with a magnitude of 3 or 4 in a public space, such as Twitter, as one could end up in prison, as they are illegal under the Protection from Harassment Act 1997 and the Communications Act 2003 in the UK.
Even when these are done in a private place they are still illegal, but it is unlikely to cause harassment or apprehension if it is done with family or close friends.
1. Rare / Playtime trolling / Cyber-bantering
Rare trolling with a TM in the range of 1 (officially known as Playtime trolling), is harmless fun. It can include ribbing someone because they are Labour or Tory, making friendly reference to the stereotypes among these people. But one still needs to be careful. Some people new to public life may still find the ribbing grossly offensive if they are not used to that level of public attention. To catch the Croc in this type, the steak needs to be as friendly as possible, and to catch your steak without being caught you need to quickly make clear you are trolling and it is not meant to harm.
2. Medium rare / Tactical trolling / Cyber-trickery
Medium rare trolling is in the TM range of 2 (officially known as Tactical trolling). This type of trolling is a more calculated approach where one Croc tried to outwit another. It can often involve stereotypes, but they must be ones the person targeted with can identify with in order that one can win at this game without causing harassment, alarm or distress. To catch the Croc in this type, the steak needs to be served cold, so it is possible to get one over on someone without the any negative consequences.
3. Medium well done / Strategic trolling / Cyber-bullying
Medium well done trolling falls within the TM range of 3 (officially known as Strategic trolling). This type of trolling should only be done on people you know well, who are unlikely to hold a grudge against you afterwards. You need to target things about your friends which could not be considered discriminatory by people in the same group as them. This can at the moment include hair colour (e.g. dumb blondes), weight (e.g. skinny as a rake), height (e.g. shorty). You may know about embarrassing moments for your friends, which are timeless and one can keep one mentioning and no one will ever get fed up. The sort of things said that you offer as a steak for your friend Croc to try and bite should not be said to people you don’t know, unless maybe if they are an experienced public figure, and it is a well known fact they find endearing.
4. Well done / Domination trolling / Cyber-hickery
Well done trolling falls within the TM range of 4 (officially known as Domination trolling). This type of trolling should only be done among your best friends and close family and never in a public place. Email and instant messaging is fine, but Facebook and Twitter are not – many people have gone to jail for this, even though they only intended their friends to see what they wrote. This type of trolling can include the most personal of comments, which if said to a complete stranger would be so grossly offensive it would be unforgivable by them – and the courts. Your steaks you offer to the Croc for them to bite might be considered racist, disablist, sexist or any other form of illegal discrimination. The are the things you could only ever say to your best friends and family, which although they may grossly offensive in the moment, everyone will still be friends afterwards.
If you would like to develop techniques in the above types of trolling. Why not take our personalised ‘Becoming a Better Troll‘ course?