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Slashdot trolling phenomena

As anonymous posting is allowed on Slashdot (see Anonymous Coward), trolling and spamming on Slashdot is a highly evolved phenomenon. It is a bizarre and complex subculture involving attempts at the "first post"...and other unusual juvenalia.

This is a list of various trolls which one may come across when browsing Slashdot. Some of these behaviours are usually considered to be more offensive or insightful than others.

Table of contents

First post Every time a new story is posted on Slashdot, comments may be posted discussing it. Because of this, there is often competition between Slashdot posters to post the first comment on a story. Some first posters try to make a short insightful comment to avoid being moderated down. The more immature first posts often consist of a subject saying "first post!" or "FP" and have no body, and sometimes people deliberately post "first post" messages a ridiculously long time after the original story has been submitted (Example (http://science.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=50848&cid=5091232)) as a parody of the first post. There are many other variants of the first post. Example 1 (http://developers.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=42130&cid=4436961), Example 2 (http://developers.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=42130&cid=4437024)

Natalie Portman, naked and petrified with hot grits Natalie Portman is a popular target for the affections of many Slashdot trolls. When referring to her, they frequently profess their love for a statue of the petrified actress, preferably covered in hot grits. Naked and Petrified is now such an infamous troll that it virtually epitomises Slashdot trolling, and is often referred to and parodied in Slashdot comments. Other incarnations of the troll suggest that Natalie Portman pours hot grits into their underwear. Example (lengthy) (http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=6106&cid=991736)

Comment explaining the origin of N&P (http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=4977&cid=1131667)

*BSD is dying Quite frequently (especially for BSD-related Slashdot stories) a comment will be posted detailing the manner in which BSD operating systems are dying. These comments are generally all identical, following to the letter the form of this comment (http://bsd.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=33311&cid=3598117). Parodies of this troll have also been posted, such as this comment (http://bsd.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=33311&cid=3598434) stating that Slashdot is dying.

Beowulf clusters When a story mentioning a new gadget is posted on Slashdot, it will invariably be proposed that the power of a Beowulf cluster of the new gadgets would be incredible. Such comments are generally prefaced with "Imagine a Beowulf cluster of these things!" This type of troll actually began as a parody of sincere posts frequently made in stories about new computers back when the concept of Beowulf clusters first entered the technological mainstream. Example 1 (http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=41591&cid=4394367), Example 2 (http://developers.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=42130&cid=4437214)

Stephen King is dead This needs little explanation. This troll merely posts a comment stating that the author has just heard on the radio that Stephen King has been found dead in his Maine home. A good example of this can be found here (http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=38107&cid=4082768).

Business plans This troll is based upon a fictitious business plan concocted on the television show South Park, in which some gnomes have a three step business plan, consisting of:

  1. Steal underpants
  2. ???
  3. Profit!

Where none of the gnomes actually knows what the second step is, and all of them assume that someone else within the organization does.

For Slashdot stories where an individual or organisation is alleged to have performed some controversial action, an anonymous wag will invariably post a false business plan based on this template, with the controversial action as the first step. Example (http://developers.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=42130&cid=4437227)

Shock sites A popular technique amongst Slashdot trolls is to post links to "shock sites" in order to annoy and offend other readers by tricking them into following the links. This is often accomplished by posting the link under the guise of being another link to the article or a rebuttal to the article.

A variation on this theme is for a troll to accuse a legitimate link or comment as being a link or reference to a shock site. In some cases this can have the desired effect of a genuinely insightful comment being moderated downward.

One particular "shock site" which is overwhelmingly preferred to others is Goatse.cx. This has spawned a large number of other references such as ASCII art of its signature image (hello.jpg) within a square border, and with a derogatory word written inside the anus of the man in the picture.

As a result of this trolling technique, the Slashdot team introduced a feature that adds the domain name a link points to immediately behind that link in every comment to make disguising links more difficult. (E. G. Wikipedia [wikipedia.org]") When that happened, people used mirrors and CGI Redirect Scripts run by Yahoo! or Slashdot to circumvent that measure.

Penis bird These troll comments consist of a nonsensical or provocative subject line and a body consisting of a crude ASCII representation of a bird perched on a penis by its claws.

A Penis bird ASCII art and a picture of a parrot perched on an erect penis are hosted at Rotten.com and can be found here (http://smoke.rotten.com/bird/). (Warning: this link is potentially offensive.)

IN SOVIET RUSSIA... In these posts, trolls usually begin their comments with the subject "IN SOVIET RUSSIA..." (all capitals) and typically proceed to reverse the order of words in that story's headline, usually changing the verb slightly to maintain subject/verb agreement and changing the object of the sentence to the second-person "YOU!". So, [subject][verb][object] usually becomes IN SOVIET RUSSIA... [object][verb] YOU! Example 1 (http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=49686&cid=5010610) Example 2 (http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?cid=5106331&sid=51096)

The phrase "In Soviet Russia..." is a signature of the jokes of Russian comedian Yakov Smirnoff.

Page widening/Lengthing These are attempts to widen pages beyond readabillity by posting a continuous line of characters. Most likely due to its character-width, the uppercase letter 'W' is very popular for these. However, a good number of browsers are no longer susceptible to this. Example (http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=46444&cid=4783631)

Reigniting flamewars Very popular on KDE, GNOME, BSD or Linux articles, a troll tries to explain why a particular desktop environment, operating system, programming language or other concept is inferior to others in a way intended to annoy. This type of troll will either make an outlandish and obvious claim or subtly use a valid criticism of something in an aggravating fashion.

For example:

  • "The K stands for Krap."
  • "Why would I want a desktop with a smelly foot on it?"
  • "Linux has immensely poor SMP support."
  • "My BSD machines have much better uptimes[?] and stability than my Linux machines."
  • "Object-oriented programming is difficult to use and doesn't increase productivity."

This type of post is usually moderated down as flamebait, but sometimes causes a flamewar to begin amongst those who reply and the troll gets his 'bite'.

Movie spoilers This is generally a significantly subtler trolls than most. The spoiler type of troll is usually, for the most part, a genuinely insightful comment split into several paragraphs, with the middle or penultimate paragraph containing a movie spoiler in the middle of a sentence. Example (contains spoiler for The Matrix: Reloaded) (http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=63025&threshold=1&commentsort=0&tid=160&mode=thread&cid=5873738)

Homosexuality Homosexuality is one of the most versatile and so common trolling devices utilised. In its simplest form it may be used on its own in the form of a homophobic insult or as a feature of a pornographic troll featuring common Slashdot topics and celebrities.

Crapflooding This can be done manually or via an automated script; multiple copies of the same message are posted many times over with slight variations in order to avoid being filtered. Scripted crapflooding attacks can be very effective: a troll known as "Sexual Asspussy" has created a Perl script to crapflood Slash sites (http://shitstorm.sourceforge.net) and utilised it with some success in stories such as this (http://apple.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=49515&cid=0&pid=0&startat=&threshold=-1&mode=thread&commentsort=0&op=Change).

Combinations of trolling techniques

Various aspects of the above pheonmena may be combined: http://pepper.idge.net/slashdot/i-do-it-wrong

Troll Organisations[?] Now and again, individual trolls will come together and form organised groups. They will usually post common variations of popular Slashdot trolls with their organisation's name attached in some way. While somewhat uncommon, these organisations can become quite famous among Slashdot regulars; the most prominent of these being the Cabal of Logged in Trolls or ‘CLIT’ and ‘Trollkore’. The various groups often fight it out in a battle of slander (http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=63276&cid=5893374) and competition to achieve first posts. (http://games.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=03/05/10/1656257&mode=thread&tid=206&tid=127&tid=186)

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