What is a troll by the way? [offtopic]

Michael P. Reilly arcege at shore.net
Sat Aug 21 14:35:05 CEST 1999

Chad Netzer <chad at vision.arc.nasa.gov> wrote:
: Robert Kern wrote:

:> _Troll_ is a USENET term for someone that deliberately posts an
:> inflammatory message simply to stir up argument.

: I've found it funny to watch this term evolve over the past few years.
: It started (I believe) as a reference to the fishing term, and used to
: mean "trolling for flames" (ie. hoping to bring flames to the
: discussion), perhaps employing "flame bait" for this purpose.

Anyone remember BIFF?

: It is now used by many (I believe), as a derogatory reference to someone
: being like an ugly, flesh-eating beast that lives under a bridge. :-)
: And that calling someone a "troll" is simply meant to imply they are
: contemptible for trying to incite flame wars (much like a Troll is
: contemptible for, well, being a Troll).

It is the same with me; I was around during the Spam Wars, when the
term "spam" was first created (yes, it was after the Monty Python
sketch).  My mother never served up spam when I was a kid, so I
couldn't really participate that much, but it was fun to watch (I
wasn't an usenet admin until 2-3 years later).  Originally, from the
history that I remember, some UC-Berkeley students were up late
drinking and watching Monty Python.  They were drunk and decided to
post some "silly spam recipes", crossposting to a bunch of (unrelated)
newsgroups.  Sending silly spam recipes became popular, then turned to
real recipes, but always crossposted to more and more newsgroups.  This
was circa 1986-87, usenet was largely 1200 baud modem based (except the
backbones) and available disk space was hardly what it is now.  Usenet
admins were throwing fits and even started closing down their servers
(if they weren't closed already from the flood of duplicate postings).
It wasn't until a privateer sent out a commercial posting (which was
"illegal" on usenet at the time) to a large number of newsgroups did
the term "spam" really get a negative connotation.

: Anyway, I personally like the first usage, and sometimes lament that
: it is evolving toward the second.  I used the term "troller", rather than
: "troll", but it is probably a lost cause. :-)

Like the difference between "hacker" and "cracker" sometimes. :(


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