Thar Be Trolls

As long as the interwebs have existed, there have been trolls. Shielded by anonymity, they wreak havoc on a community and you can often find the trainwreck on forums.

Reddit has a very interesting way of dealing with trolls. It’s a democratic system that downvotes into oblivion. The truly bad cases are PM-ed to the nth degree. It’s hard to find a post that’s been on reddit’s top list that doesn’t have at least one deleted account posting. So, social tools ftw I guess.

Game forums are, by and large, based on the old phbb forum. You get a post count, stickies and the ability to ban. Even the largest game on the planet has notoriously horribad forums. 

Enter some contenders. LOL has a tribunal system where the really bad people go, based on warnings/votes. XBONE has a 3 tier system based on reputation scores, with more or less a hell layer for the worst offenders. These systems work well enough as the games typically cater to small set of players, 5-50 and the games are relatively short.

MMOs are long and contain thousands of players at once. Other than building a dedicated server for bungholes, the penalties are all related to time-outs or outright bans. To further complicate things, the in-game activities are not usually linked to the forum posts, where the trolls have the largest audience.

Trion is trying something new in that the actions on the forums carry the same weight as in-game. You can potentially be banned for forums activity. Time will tell if it works. Reaction is mixed and I think that has more to do with a culture saturated in trolling.

Respawn has a post touting the right of free speech and takes to a logical extreme the courts have outright rejected (at least outside the US). Freedom of speech gets you just far enough to where the other person’s rights begin. You’re certainly allowed to say what you want but you have to be ready to live with the consequences.

To be quite blunt, games are miniature societies who have their own rules. You don’t have to play them, there are hundreds to choose. If you want to be an asshat, I’m sure EvE is looking for more players. If you want to be a part of a society, then you play by those rules. If that society judges (and that’s the most appropriate word) that you are more a hindrance to them then a boon, get ready to be cast out.

The concept of individual rights superseding those of society is a separate topic and way too political. Depending on your location on our planet, the answer changes drastically. For games though, they are on the internet. And the internet is getting mighty good at fighting trolls.

4 thoughts on “Thar Be Trolls

  1. I think delving into the political in this case is necessary. After all, when we’re talking about trolls and community politics is the heart of the matter.

    I do find it interesting how games are now actively and frantically searching for ways to help the community police itself. It shows that devs at least acknowledge that this is a problem and they want to fix it as best they can. I can’t say I’ve been too impressed with some systems thus far, though. The Tribunal is probably, I think, one of the better ideas out there. I’m not convinced Microsoft cares that much, but I guess we’re finding out how their service works out this year.


    • They are certainly two different systems. It will be interesting to see what works better, giving tools to the community or a more heavy handed approach. At least long term.


  2. Pingback: Gaming Toxicity – What’s Next? | Leo's Life

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