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 Dealing with trolls

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ichike
Immortal


Posts : 111
Join date : 2010-01-22

PostSubject: Dealing with trolls   Mon Mar 15, 2010 2:53 pm

In the time of the MUD thus far we have not had much to worry about as far as trolls are concerned. The amount of bans, the amount of severe punishments and the amount of disgruntled ex-players I can count on the fingers of one hand. The various trolling organisations (such as Encyclopaedia Dramatica, GNAA and the like) have visited but got bored quickly and left. Just the same, we have had enough activity from trolls of late to suggest that they might be increasing.

Before dealing it, let's define a troll.

What is a troll?

A troll, basically, is someone who comes to the MUD looking to disrupt it. They want infighting amongst the staff, to annoy the players, and, generally, to see big reactions and over-reactions against them that will disrupt the MUD. They will in turn then report on the infighting and disrupting that they have caused, trying to complain about what that says about the MUD as a whole, and so forth.

The larger and more popular something is, the more likely they are to be affected by trolls.

How do you deal with trolls?

The general rule is "don't feed the trolls" but that is often easier said than done. At best, we can say that to immortals but players are going to fall for it. They are going to get upset, take their side, fall for their lies and manipulations and end up quitting the MUD over it, or else turning on the MUD's administrators because of it. Whilst imms can deal with it well (because they have the power), the immortals who aren't so clear on how to deal with it can end up feeding them without meaning to. They may decide to under-react and then they get away with too much, or over-react and then the trolls come back in force.

It can be very difficult to know how to deal with trolls and we need to have a clear policy for it.

Rule 1: Deal with trolls the same as you would anyone else

It is against the rules to ruin the fun of others, and hence whether they are bad mouthing me, the MUD as a whole, an individual imm who is online at the time, or a player, it is all against the rules. There is no need to get personal about it. It is quite clearly against the rules. Inform them of this, ask them to stop, and then if they don't then take the normal action that you normally would. Nochannel them if appropriate, perhaps freeze them, or, if they keep on creating new accounts to do it, then site ban them. It is important when doing this not to get emotional about it. This is how you would deal with anyone who breaks the rules. Yes, it is offensive to you, but that isn't relevant. The troll wants you to break the rules for them. As soon as you break the rules, you are doing what they want.

Rule 2: Don't over-react

It might seem nice just to ban the troll, but in the end if they are a half decent troll they will have multiple sites that they can log in from. Banning that site will likely ban legitimate users. By the time that you have banned all of their sites, you might have banned a fair proportion of your players too. At worst, do a new player ban or a short-term site ban. Better yet, deal with individual players.

Rule 3: Don't under-react

While trolls love to be attacked, they also love to be allowed to do anything. If you allow them to do more than you would normal players, then they will just take advantage of that to trash the place. If you don't stop them from hurling abuse, then they will continue to do it like it is their right, convince others that they can do it too and basically trash the whole place. Again, just treat them the same as you would anyone else.

Rule 4: At the end of the day, we (immortals) have the power, not the trolls

There is no reason for any immortals at all to get upset by trolls. Oh sure players can get upset, by all means, as they might feel powerless to do anything, but immortals shouldn't get upset. At the end of the day, we can just ban all new players from coming on at all, have an immortal on at all times of the day and night to deal with them and just deal with them one at a time. As our ultimate solution, we can even get to the stage where people have to apply to have new characters. That is the extreme that is virtually 100% guaranteed to stop trolls, but it does work. Once a character is created, you include an e-mail address and then an immortal has to approve that before you can login. We don't want to have to do that, but if the trolling gets out of control, we can go down that path. We have the power, not them. Just remember that, and it is pretty easy.

Rule 5: Never ask why

Oh sure, some trolls are not really from a trolling organisation. Some are just disgruntled ex-players, or people from a rival MUD or just random people. It does not matter. If they are acting like trolls, then treat them as trolls. Never engage in conversation with them. What they are doing is clearly wrong, clearly against the rules, so deal with it as such. As soon as you engage them in conversation, their lying and manipulations start and that's when the real trouble starts. If they were not a professional troll and choose to return as a genuine player, then they can. Then we can talk to them.

This is a difficult issue but I think that we have dealt with it well so far and can deal with it in the future.
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