Lee Thomas Sep. 28 2001 Message Boards and their Abuse: Trolls Nowadays, anybody with and internet connection can go online and chat with a variety of peers. One of the most common places to chat is bulletin pages known as message boards. Messages written on these boards stay on the boards for everyone to view. Overtime, as people on the boards get to know each other, message boards usually end up being a part of a community.

Yet, with all the activity and chatter a message board supplies, there are nuisances as well. Adolescents who go on the computer usually want to start trouble or irritate others. These people are called trolls. Trolls are a very troublesome problem in the message board community. Trolls usually post beliefs that are not well respected within the message board community.

Take a sports message board for example. A troll on a sports message board would usually say that the team that specific board supports "sucks" and the troll would go on to brag how his or her team is superior. Trolls usually do this on consistent bases to annoy the other members on the board. Trolls also can abuse a message board by spamming or flooding the board. Some message boards have website problems where one can click the submit button a thousand times and then his or her message would be posted the amount of times the spammer clicked "submit." Trolls can also find ways to exploit message boards into using censored words. If a message board censors out bad language, one can put message board code like [i][/i] between the censored word and it will bypass the censor system.

Smart trolls can also program scripts to post a specific message during a specific time frame (every 30 seconds, for example). Egotistical trolls usually try to imitate other members on the board by making screen names that look similar to the members being impersonated. This can be done by such methods as putting an underscore before after the person's name or exchanging syllables with letters (for example, exchange the letter L with the number 1). When impersonating, a troll will usually try to act like the normal person at first to fool the community and then try to wreck that person's image by posting obscene remarks. Trolls are just trying to cause trouble on the message boards. Trolls are the main cause of message board abuse.

They do not try to work with the community, but rather try to destroy it. A troll's activity can lead some members of a message board community to leave the message board for good. If enough people leave, the message board could end up having a lonely death. Some message boards are trying to stop trolling by banning insecure members and blocking IP addresses, but anonymous web surfing tools can wither this obstacle for trolls. Other message boards attempt to go private, but without new members, the community would fade and eventually die. Overall, the abuse of trolling is wrecking the experience of using message boards for many members and there is little to do to stop it.

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