Viral Trolls

April 21, 2008

Before I go on to my next topic of discussion –which is a topic of great interest to me, just because I’ve heard it offhandedly dropped in forums — I will show you a picture that is meant to incite fear and disgust. I present to you, his royal lowness — the troll.


It is neither pretty nor pleasant to look at. We often hear this term on the net — “You are trolling.” “Beware of the troll.” The funny thing is, the troll was popular probably only at one point in history — when the troll doll was popular. I remember seriously coveting this doll when I was about 8 or 9. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, here’s the “adorable” troll doll. (Kids must’ve been masochistic then to like a doll this ugly).

troll doll

In wikipedia, the internet troll is described as

“An Internet troll, or simply troll in Internet slang, is someone who posts controversial and usually irrelevant or off-topic messages in an online community, such as an online discussion forum, with the intention of baiting other users into an emotional response or to generally disrupt normal on-topic discussion.”

I encountered this term recently when I was cruising around in Yahoo! Answers. A guy asked this question:
Im a catholic but I hate the Pope and I hate Catholocism. Is that bad?

Somebody said “Troll Alert!” in one of the replies. It seems that trolls are whoever disrupts the pleasant and normal flow of conversation in forums or comment forms. This question doesn’t really deserve a straight answer — it is more of rhetorical. “Is that bad?” seemed to be added just to officially make it into a question. I’ve seen this in youtube comments — commenting just to insult other commentors, without any real purpose of saying something relevant, or vilifying or critiquing the video/post/article in question.

The important point is that nobody should be a viral troll — although I imagine that some people out of extreme emotion probably morph into internet trolls without actually realizing it. Respect other people’s space while you give your 2 cents about the topic at hand. Stick to the topic and be objective. and don’t incite negative buzz just to get attention — it will eventually backfire. Don’t troll through the net, stroll through the net!

Out of curiosity (remember: curiosity killed the troll!) I google the keyword “Viral Troll.” And I ended up finding pretty interesting results:

This is the Top 1 result.

In summary — the angry troll victim shot back, “you are nothing but a viral TROLL… hows that coming from a “parolee scumbag”?

Troll here is used with so much disgust, it is almost like a modern cuss word. And this is understandable. A TROLL search at youtube yielded this video — a guy calling out to the web public in agony, having been victimized by a heartless, ugly, ruthless viral troll.

My heart goes out to this guy. Let’s help make the world wide web troll-free and truly free.

It is interesting to note that “Troll” more than being a unpopular way to be in Web 2.0, is also not a very popular keyword. SEO’ers wouldn’t have a hard time ranking high on this. Google had no data on the keywords “Viral Troll” because there wasn’t enough data to support it.

Check out this article about the increasing popularity of trolling:

Twice as Many Americans Troll Video-Sharing Sites Daily

Just to remind you how ugly trolls are:

(excerpts from the Danish Ballad of Eline of Villenskov) source: Wikipedia

There were seven and a hundred Trolls,
They were both ugly and grim,
A visit they would the farmer make,
Both eat and drink with him.

Out then spake the tinyest Troll,
No bigger than an emmet was he,
Hither is come a Christian man,
And manage him will I surelie

Comments welcome, just don’t be a troll :).

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I found an interesting post on viral marketing in .

” I like the idea behind, but what I’m baffled about is the financial angle. I can’t really see this kind of approach actually wooing over any fence-sitters. Don’t get me wrong, viral marketing is neat in theory, if not in financial practice. It seems to be an intention on the part of studios to reward – in a high creative way – those who invest heavily in an upcoming release, catering to that investment by creating additional ways to immerse oneself in one’s own anticipation and the universe of the film. That’s exactly what makes no sense to me though. Let’s face it. I imagine most of the people who are getting involved with these campaigns are obsessive film geeks like myself. In other words, an audience that is pretty much a guaranteed ticket from the earliest stages of development of a film (like THE DARK KNIGHT). From a business point of view, what’s the point of investing money in catering to an audience that already wants to see your film?”

My comment:

Perhaps the problem is that viral marketing becomes an end in itself. We market to be talked about, but really at the end of the day, it’s all about whether the target individiual actually buys the service, product or idea. Buzz for the sake of buzz is just that, publicity and not really marketing. It’s hard to measure the effectiveness of a viral campaign, although I am led to believe that it can at the least increase traffic. If you increase traffic and have people talk about you, but you still don’t sell, then there must be something wrong in the marketing message in itself. All actors have a stage presence, but not everybody gets the Award. Just like on the net, you may have a presence, but it doesn’t always mean anything. For certain products or services too, they don’t start with the audience, consumer already liking the product — so viral marketing may be necessary. Also, it is quite important to tailor the campaign specifically to the product’s objectives and needs.

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