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The role of trolls in Consumerium is unclear. There is not even an agreement on what is a troll and what they generally do. What is clear is that some think it is insulting to call someone a troll, and others take pride in being trolls, or called trolls. If you read "Trolls believe..." or "Trolls request..." or other use of "trolls" as a pronoun, that is a sure sign you are dealing with someone who self-identifies with trolls. Such people can be assumed to share IP numbers to get around blocks, to freely offer passwords to each other, quote each others texts without any attribution, and to foment ambiguity in ways that make it simply impossible to tell "who wrote what", at least beyond a reasonable doubt.
Because they discount identity but usually claim to represent or protect some body, trolls will usually cluster around something they wish to protect. Often this is something of symbolic importance such as ape mothers or the root of their culture, the world tree. Those who disrespect such basic elements of troll culture can expect to be driven off by trolls. It is sometimes the case that the roots of empathy, which trolls confuse with the roots of the world tree perhaps, can be reached by some process of mutual gnawing. Rather than patronize a "village pump", since they reject "community" metaphors, one is more likely to find trolls doing a Consumerium:trollgnaw.
Regarding the impact of such collective anonymous trolling, there is just no agreement at all. What one thinks tends to depend on what one feels about:
- free circulation of fiction
- identifying people - a sysop usually tries to identify a troll, by outing, but trolls usually insists on staying anonymous or ambiguous, and may foment ambiguity
- free speech - which trolls usually support
- reputation - trolls usually think reputation leads to stupidity, or that reputation is evidence of stupidity, or that reputation *is* stupidity or the universal excuse for it
- authority - which trolls don't like
- libel - which some trolls do, and others try to avoid being done to them, by staying trolls and not letting libellers know their names or where they are.
The article on Internet troll (Wikipedia) seems to say "a troll is a pest" and assumes psychiatry applies (that the sysop can tell what the motivation of the troll is, amazingly). However, the troll (Meta-Wikipedia) article seems to say that trolls serve an important audit role, by driving bad contributors out of a project, or harassing stupid ideas to death, or just generally knowing how a project can evolve to work better. There is more on this in Talk:urban ecology.
What should trolls do and not do on Consumerium? How does one recognize but not be too trusting of a friendly troll? Enter your beliefs here: