COURTESY WARNING to REGULAR CONTRIBUTORS

The following article on the subject of trolls is intended as a primer for newcomers to these newsgroups. Few long term habitués are likely to find anything informative, amusing or interesting here.

We now return to our regular scheduled programming: the world premier of "Nobody Here But Us Chickens".



Disclaimer

Any resemblance between the stereotypes described here and any individual, living or dead, fictional or real, is entirely coincidental. No animal should feel hurt in the making of this article. We release this treatise into the public domain with no rights deserved.



The Book of Trolls

______ Newcomers to these newsgroups will encounter the word "troll" used as a noun or a verb. As a noun, the word has a technical meaning which falls well short of encompassing the creature's true magnificence: an individual with little or no interest in the subject at hand who makes provocative statements and then departs. Therein lies the rub. In reality, for better or worse, the genus found here is non-migratory.

______ To fully understand the difference between the classical definition and the Realpolitik of "trolling" (i.e. a verb/gerund describing the unbearable lightness of being a troll) we need to understand the difference between the vulgar English expression "shit disturber" and the French word "emerdeur". The very nature of the phrase "shit disturber" connotes someone who stirs up a pre-existing cauldron. An emerdeur, on the other hand, creates the (ahem) milieu and then immerses everyone into it. This more closely describes the vital role that these proud beasts (known affectionately as "trolls") perform. Their other crucial function is to act as fodder or "liquidity" for our newsreaders. Without trolls, we might have to wait for days between posts. Seeing no messages on our readers, we might wonder if our news service is failing to make regular updates. At the slight cost of scrolling through numerous bleatings, we will never again be worried by an absence of contributions. Yes, we may still have to wait long days between rational posts. But the troll serves much the same evolutionary purpose as the second hand on a wrist watch. For this alone, we should all be grateful.

______ Any view of trolls should spark another form of gratitute as well. Indeed, it is difficult to avoid regarding one of these beasts and saying to ourselves:

______ "There but for the wrath of God go I."

______ The "official" definition of "troll" misses the mark in suggesting that the troll is strictly an "agent provocateur". In truth, a troll can be more megalomaniac than instigator. Long into the night they will proclaim their own genius and integrity in sharp contrast to the stupidity and depravity of others. Trolls are unique among mammalia in that males are not the only ones headbutting and buttheading in this manner. Trolls come in both genders, which may or may not explain their proliferation. (Little is known about their mating rituals and, oddly enough, no scientific studies on this subject are scheduled. Suspicions that they may interbreed with humans are as yet unsubstantiated.)

______ All trolls share the implacable belief that the hours, days, months and years devoted to insulting others are wisely invested. Surely any reader seeing such brilliant time management will be forced to recognize the posting troll's individual intellectual superiority. Note: Humans are warned not to challenge this precious article of faith. Approaching the Shroud of Turin with a blow torch would be far safer.

______To recap, then, the troll must exhibit the following identifiable charms:
  1. Provocation;
  2. Disregard for the underlying subject; and, more recently,
  3. Megalomania.

Categories

______ Trolls have genera and phylum but no class, per se. None whatsoever, in fact. Trolls come in three varieties:

IntellecTroll:

______ This is the most literate version, identified by their ability to write in full sentences and, at the very least, use a spell checker. The IntellecTroll has read "everything worth reading" without, of course, understanding or benefitting from any of it.

______ Their patron saint is Ezra Pound. They consider Alan Price a heretic for saying:

______ "If knowledge hangs around your neck like pearls instead of chains you are a lucky [one]."

SOCIALIZATION: IntellecTrolls are in continual conflict with Parole Trolls, but are usually clever enough to avoid provoking the Patrol Troll.

Parole Troll:

______ This, your garden variety troll, is incapable of coherent thought, speech or writing. The etymology of their name remains in dispute. Some argue that it is a reference to this group's difficulty with expression ("parole" being French for "word"). Others argue that the often sexist, racist and/or intimidating behaviour of these brutes suggests recent and regular incarceration.

______ Their patron saint is Don Cherry. They consider Alan Price a heretic for knowing that "knowledge" has a "d" in it.

SOCIALIZATION: None.

Patrol Troll:

______ Each newsgroup has its own resident "watchdog" troll. Sometimes known as "PaTrolls" (but never "PeTrolls"), their rare good moods are marked by condescension rather than outright savagery. The job of this Cerberus is to bark and expose the presence of incoming trolls. This requires keen senses, since invading trolls often attempt to disguise themselves as humans. Inbred egomania usually betrays the intruder. Otherwise, just as Dracula's failure to cast a reflection in a mirror exposes him, the newcomer troll's inability to employ self-effacing humour will alert the vigilant Patrol Troll.

______ Their patron saint is Johnny Cash. These watchdogs consider Alan Price a heretic for bringing up the subject of chains around necks.

SOCIALIZATION: Patrol Trolls are "lone wolves" but are domesticated to the extent that they co-exist well with humans. The last known attack by a Patrol Troll on a human being came when the latter opened an offering of a notorious Parole Troll and then complained at great length about how (gasp!) offensive it was. Sympathy for the victim was underwhelming. Indeed, when concerned citizens demanded that "it be put to sleep" many assumed that the suggestion referred to the human involved. This option became moot when it was discovered that the person was already technically brain dead.

______ Patrol Trolls maintain a cold war peace with most IntellecTrolls. Parole Trolls form their diet.

The Care and Handling of Trolls

______ There is really only one rule regarding the proper care and handling of these special creatures:

  • 1. Ignore them.

______ Unfortunately, just as some of us have trouble "seeing the forest for the trees", many find this commandment too unsophisticated to accept as a panacea. Hence, we have added four more commandments, listed here in the fervant hope that no astute reader will notice that they are simple restatements of the first:

  • 2. Do not "feed" (i.e. insult) the trolls.

  • 3. Do not mention the name of a troll.

  • 4. Do not comment on the works of a troll.

  • 5. Do not read the posts of a known troll.

______ Know this: If you respond to a troll, you lose. That's right. It doesn't matter how original, witty or devastating your retort, the troll wins merely because you have responded. "Dem's da rulz!"
In Conclusion

We hereby submit for your perusal our humble zoological treatise on this fascinating species. It expresses our desire that we will be able to experience this brilliant fauna in all of its natural glory for years to come and to pass on this appreciation to our children.

Signed,

The Committee



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