Trollus internauticus

Internet trolls (aka Trollus internauticus) have been around since people first allowed comments sections on their websites.

Trolls originally were beings in Scandinavian mythology: strong, nasty and relatively slow-witted. Not much has changed in the ensuing millenia.  In fact, you would probably still recognize many of the original Norse ancestors in today’s more wired progeny.

I’d like to start the day by listing and describe some of the more common species of trolls found in the digital age.

Internet troll via Shutterstock

Internet troll via Shutterstock

Trollus indignatio

Hyper-enraged troll. This troll may be enraged over just one thing, or a number of things that are often somewhat related (e.g., economy, jobs, immigration, Social Security), or at least are related in his mind.


His mission is to keep posting, IN CAPS, to make sure that he is not ignored, which ironically causes everyone to ignore him.

There are numerous subspecies of Trollus indignatio. These can often be identified by the topics or groups of topics over which they spew their anger.

Trollus indignato var conservatus

Angry posts directed at Democrats regarding Benghazi, ACORN, the Clintons, the IRS, liberals, Benghazi, Obamacare, contraceptive rights, Benghazi, George Soros, Jesse Jackson (seriously, they still bring up Jesse Jackson), the Second Amendment, climate change, immigrants, Benghazi, socialism, and other issues that aren’t linked to Benghazi, but could be if we just search hard enough.

Trollus indignatio var christianistus

Hate-filled posts directed against gays, the poor, immigrants (who, like many troll villains, are multi-category offenders), maintaining “churches” as tax-free entities, shielding pederast priests, and writing only about specific carefully hand-picked Biblical verses while ignoring other more inconvenient ones.

Often Trollus indignatio var christianistus takes the position that the rest of us are doomed, buy if we embrace God (Christ, not Buddha, Allah, Freya, or the Flying Spaghetti Monster — well, okay, some versions of Christ, such aren’t recognized either, be it Catholics or Mormons) we might be saved. But only if we give the evil practices that initially annoyed this troll in the first place.

Trollus indignatio var tehgayus

This troll is often a sub-variant of one of the above. This one is primarily enraged over homosexual acts, and displays an obsessive interest in, and knownledge of. Rick “Man-dog” Santorum and Antonin “No sodomy for you, but no word about me” Scalia come to mind.

There are many other Trollus indignatio variants and sub-variants. Those concerned with women/women’s rights (that is, suppressing them), immigrants (deporting them), global warming (denying it) and dozens more. The common thread seems to be intense anger, pugnaciousness, being poorly informed and a strong sense of self-righteousness and moral superiority.

Other troll-types include:

Trollus affirmatus and Trollus negatus

These two are considered together. These trolls take opposite viewpoints — one affirms the topic and all of the replies, the other negates all of them. They add little or nothing to the discussion itself. They are known to post things like: Agree. Nope. Thanks, Obama. Yeah. Benghazi. [Note: There are crossover trolls that do not neatly fit into one classification. That is a Trollus indignatio var conservatus may have elements of a Trollus negatus, and vice versa.

Trollus scrutator

Also known as the stalker troll. This one takes a dislike to one or many of those on the blog. He makes it his mission to dig up ancient posts and follows his victim to other blogs where he ports strings of previous comments made by the poster elsewhere. He then reposts the same content over and over again. In the more vicious species of this troll (Trollus scrutator var malignus), he will uncover the victim’s name, address, phone number and other personal data and post that online, as well.

Trollus pseudomensa

A particularly obnoxious troll who feels he is the world’s foremost authority on everything: science (ALL of science), the arts, languages, economics, politics, defense and other fields. From astrophysics to zoology, he’s got it covered. And he’s always right.

Trollus acneiformus (aka Trollus pubertus)

The juvenile of the species is often in the 10-15 year age-range. He frequently posts scatalogical comments. Other comments show that he has no true grasp of anything other than Bieber’s newest release. Often posts things like “That’s soooo gay!” “Ewwww!” Frequently, these posts are scrubbed the next day by one of this troll’s parental units. Unless the parental unit is also a troll (there is recent science to suggest some genetic causation). In that case, often the parental unit posts an equally vapid comment.

Trollus grammarius nazius var English

This troll only posts to correct the use of English by other posters, even if the mistakes are obvious typographical errors common to people writing quickly online. NOTE: These trolls seem to exist for all languages, not just English. Sometimes these trolls are so extreme they’ll even question as to how the poster PRONOUNCES a term he’s used (“Did you say that as PO-TAY-TO or PO-TAH-TO?”)

Trollus repeto velox

This troll has a component of Obsessive-Compulsive disorder. He gets onto a site and immediately, and quickly, floods it with replies to multiple posts, all within the same few minutes.

Trollus throwbackus

Throwbacks is found on many sites. His posts often call for a return to the “good old days,” which, to him, are all about ice cream, picnics and sports. When throwbackus hears words like: McCarthysim, Nixon, Vietnam, Watergate, segregation and other triggers, he either vanishes or goes into a rage blaming others for these bad memories.

Trollus obfuscatus

This variety can be quite annoying. He posts frequently trying to derail or hijack the thread by posting unrelated information, introducing new topics, or posting incorrect information. He want’s to bring the thread to a screeching halt because He does not care for the topic, those posting or the site itself.

Trollus aggressus

He is somewhat like Mikey in the “Life cereal” commercial — he hates everyone. Those on the site, the thread, the posters and possibly other, unnamed parties (such as the government). He simply attacks everything: he attacks poster’s views, the poster’s avatars, the poster’s parents, intelligence, patriotism, the topic, the site, the owner of the site, etc. Sometimes he is a var. of the acnieformus/pubertus or may be one of those who has matured in physical stature, but not in emotional or cerebral stature.

Trollus perplexa

This is the confused troll. He doesn’t seem to be able to read or comprehend the thread topic or the posts. He often posts rambling sentences that do not focus on any one thing, and is expert at accusing the author of the post, or a fellow commenter, of writing something they never wrote.

Trollus catapultus

The fanatic-troll believes that the Second Amendment guarantees him and any of his kin to own ANY numbers of ANY weapons, and as much ammunition as money can buy. Catapultus insists that he be allowed to carry loaded automatic weapons into churches, while drunk, to honor God, because the Constitution, or something.

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Mark Thoma, MD, is a physician who did his residency in internal medicine. Mark has a long history of social activism, and was an early technogeek, and science junkie, after evolving through his nerd phase. Favorite quote: “The most exciting phrase to hear in science... is not 'Eureka!' (I found it!) but 'That's funny.'” - Isaac Asimov

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68 Responses to “Trollus internauticus”

  1. Silver_Witch says:

    Totally the Job does not sound worth the name change!

  2. What a coincidence says:

    You know Bill Perdue too?

  3. Bob Munck says:

    hacking into phone lines

    Phone phreaking. I once met a couple of guys who did that. They offered me a job managing s/w development for their new little company, but I didn’t want to change my name to “Steve.”

  4. Silver_Witch says:

    Shoot testing how to do this….next test Bob7

  5. Silver_Witch says:

    Oh Doc, if only I could type in foreign language easily – that is all I would do!!! It would rock – cause well I don’t speak any foreign languages (except computer or math if you count those as foreign languages)….but it would rock nonetheless.

  6. Silver_Witch says:

    and if you see a mote of dust vanish from your vision in a little flash or something I’m sorry. I must have misplaced a rock

    I love that – how often back in the day did I jar awake dreaming I had forgotten a line of code, the one line that would surely solve all the problems in the universe. I am saving this… are a find my friend.

    It has been so long since my first BBSing days and trying so hard to find cheap ways of what we called hacking into phone lines so we would not have such huge phone bills….I think I have forgotten more than I know at this moment about everything.

  7. Bob Munck says:

    I use Bob for everything

    So do cryptologists, a group I’m somewhat a member of. Here’s a short rant I wrote a decade ago:

    I can’t speak for Alice, but I’m sick and tired of just encrypting and decrypting the whole day long. Half the time it’s just another string from lorem ipsum.
    I have to do this by moving rocks around in a desert, you know. It’s not fun.

    The name I use for testing is an old college friend, Paul Constantine Anagnostopoulos (Hi, Aggie!). If he fits in the text field, it’s big enough.

  8. Silver_Witch says:

    Man people and their control issues over names eh? I use Bob for everything (like temp file naming or macros I am testing). So I think Bob should be a free name…but that is just me.

    I have never cause an entire anyone to storm out – that must’ve been cool.

  9. Bob Munck says:

    I think I like you Bob

    Careful! That’s my real name.

    I was forced to start using it when ARPANet got too big for us to keep using our initials. Some jerk in S. California insisted that HE was rgm. In the ensuing 35 years I’ve never had a problem with something I’ve said online — and I got in trouble a lot for what I said in meetings, so it wasn’t that I’m overly reticent. (I once caused the entire French delegation to storm out of a NATO committee meeting.)

  10. 4th Turning says:

    You funny mon! After a bit of fine tuning, don’t hesitate any longer in affixing numbers to the above-it will save greatly on gnashing of teeth (among other numerous advantages) allowing us more time to go after those other blogs so obviously
    in need of urgent chastisements.

  11. ComradeRutherford says:

    There is only one response to your post:


  12. docsterx says:

    Yes. The Yankee should have said, “NINETY FECKING EIGHT!”

  13. BeccaM says:

    That would be appropriate indeed. ;-)

  14. BeccaM says:

    Post my troll identification bookmarks? What, and give up my reputation as a debate team savant? Never!

  15. 4th Turning says:

    An Amerrican walks into an ancient, filthy and decrepit pub somewhere in Belfast. The pub is full of ancient filthy and decrepit drinkers who sit about and say f**k all for long periods of time.
    The newcomer sits down, gets a pint, and is wondering where the legendary Irish craic and wit is, when suddenly one of the sodden up and says “TWENTY FECKING SEVEN!”
    With this, the entire bar bursts into raucous laughter, which then dies back down to utter silence.
    Near the end of the American’s pint, another geezer grabs his cane, stands up, sways, and bellows “FORTY FECKING TWO!” which provokes another pub-wide roar of laughter.
    The Yankee asks the bartender what’s up, and the bartender says “well now these old blodgers, they’ve been coming here so long they’ve heard and told all the jokes a thousand times. They’ve given each joke a number, see, and so instead of having to work through the entire joke, they just say the number.”
    The Yankee finishes his pint, stands up, and yells “NINETY-EIGHT!” at the top of his lungs. There is dead silence in the pub. None of the wizened Irish drinkers even looks up.
    “Wha?” asks the Yankee to nobody in particular.
    Then an old coot pipes up. “There’s them that can tell a joke…and them that can’t.”

    Doc, see where I headed with this?

  16. 4th Turning says:

    I’m finding this one blatantly sensual-freudian even. Could I be drifting over into
    referral territory? All that latin business gave a migraine for sure.

  17. 4th Turning says:

    All I’m sayin’ is keep your head down and politely decline all bris invites
    for the time being until stuff blows over-just a word to the wise.

  18. BeccaM says:

    All true, but we humans tend to treat language rather fungibly, to the point where a given word with an agreed upon definition can sometimes come to mean the exact opposite.

    The words ‘egregious’ and ‘notorious’ come to mind as examples. The first used to mean “remarkably good”, while the second simply meant one with great notoriety.

    I think that with the old meme about these jerks being basement-dwelling troglodytes, reeking of old sweat and Cheeto dust as they derive pleasure from upsetting other people — anonymously — on the Internet, it’s only natural that the verb of trolling would absorb the linguistic connotation of the mythical noun form.

    Hence I’m happy to continue supporting the meme. Here’s a little treat, which I’m hoping you enjoy as much as I did:

  19. BeccaM says:

    I once wanted to refer to the Huffington Post as “The Sideboob Gazette” in one of my blog posts here, but John said it wasn’t nice and made me remove it. ;-)

  20. BeccaM says:

    Really? Not on HuffPo.

    They actually were somewhat civil in the comments, several years ago, and leaned progressive. Now they’re infested with racists, misogynists, homophobes, fundies, xenophobes, and mouth-breathing Fox News-watching yahoos.

    Perhaps it might raise the civility for a short time, but absent decent moderators — which HuffPo appears to lack utterly — in the long run, the trolls settle in, build their little Troll Dens, and begin flinging toxic troll poo in all directions. The decent people leave, and eventually there’s nobody commenting but the trolls.

  21. Bob Munck says:

    then what? Fonts in color? Larger fonts?

    A Frayed Knot. DISQUS rejects STYLE attributes and anything else you could use to change those things. I’ve tried. Best we can do is

    ˙uʍop-ǝpısdn ƃuıɥʇʎɹǝʌǝ dılɟ

    But that makes it a declination, not an escalation.

  22. docsterx says:

    After caps, bolding, italics and underlining, then what? Fonts in color? Larger fonts? Letters from foreign languages á ß ð þ ü í ó æ? Frequent escalations will turn this into a grammatical arms race.

  23. docsterx says:

    Head of the transplant list or transplant of head list?

  24. docsterx says:

    Interesting point. Pseudotrollicus accidentalis var. occasionalis

  25. Tone says:

    There is no good answer to trolling. I’ve learned that I can either live with it much as I live with hay fever, or I just disconnect altogether. There are times when the latter seems quite attractive.

  26. ComradeRutherford says:

    Not quite, as that would indicate someone who’s majority of posts are mistaken for a troll.

    Which is a valid identification on it’s own…

  27. ComradeRutherford says:


    ON A PLANE!!!

  28. docsterx says:

    Thanks. But I MIGHT bring Zombie Doc back at Halloween.

  29. docsterx says:

    I’ll have to double down.

  30. docsterx says:

    Pseudotrollicus accidentalis.

  31. ComradeRutherford says:

    Would that be Postus Trollicae?

    It wouldn’t be in the Trollus family because they aren’t actually trolls…

  32. ComradeRutherford says:

    Oh, and:


  33. ComradeRutherford says:

    I’ve never, ever seen that be true. The civility level either stays the same, or goes down (since the civilized people don’t have Facebook accounts). In the Puffington Ho’ it has gone WAY down as they kicked off the Liberals and left it to the rabid Conservatives.

  34. SkippyFlipjack says:

    Kudos on the not-scary avatar :)

  35. SkippyFlipjack says:

    Historically, switching to Facebook or other real-name authentication does actually raise the civility of a discussion.

  36. SkippyFlipjack says:

    You forgot the Accidental Troll — s/he’s the person who simply states his or her viewpoint in a discussion and gets called a TROLL by people who disagree with that opinion. Happens a fair amount here.

  37. ComradeRutherford says:

    OMG! SNAKES!!!!!!!

  38. ComradeRutherford says:

    Oh, yeah:


    I had forgotten about their obsession with front-paging all the sideboob they could get.

    And their excuse was so pathetic: “If we force everyone to use their real names, then everyone will be nice.” BS, some of the nastiest people on there were already using their real names.

  39. docsterx says:

    You should post your troll bookmarks.

    Thanks, though some people have an aversion to snakes .

  40. Silver_Witch says:

    Sadly – many think it is great and that it keeps the discourse polite and congenial. Since their transition it seems they are more full of anger and hate then I remember it being. Plus, if you have a FB page – it should not be the only way you can view the world….

  41. BeccaM says:

    I used to comment over there, too. Then one day, I wasn’t able to anymore, and they wanted to require a link to a FB account.

    I said to hell with it and removed HuffPo from my bookmark list. I do still look at the site occasionally, but:
    (1) It’s sad how the few actually interesting articles and op-eds are surrounded by side-boob BS and “So-and-so doesn’t look like this anymore!” and “(female) rocks a bikini body!”
    (2) There is almost no moderation whatsoever in the comments, and they’re filled with racism, misogyny, and homophobia. It’s a wingnut’s paradise.

    (3) Their site coding is horrendous such that simply having their page up in Firefox adds 10-20% to my CPU load, and leaving any HuffPo page or article in a browser tab eventually causes memory leaks and a crash. Not to mention having no control over their stupid page refreshes.

  42. ComradeRutherford says:

    It was the mandatory Facebook profile that kicked me off of PuffingHo. I do not now, nor ever will I, have a Facebook account, therefor I am banished for life from the Ho.

    I wrote about 50% of my comments on that one site alone. And then one day, poof! Everyone that hasn’t eagerly given their deepest secrets to Zuckerborg to sell to the highest bidder was just disappeared. With no notice and no recourse. PuffHo’s FAQ was very carefully written to scrub any indication that not having a Facebook account was even a possibility. There was no frequently asked question, “What if I don’t have a FB account?” on their Frequently Asked Questions page. You had to infer from how they had written the page that an FB account was mandatory.

  43. BeccaM says:

    Trollus indignatio var ronpaulus: This variety of troll sees any discussion as a ripe opportunity to flog the dead horse of a Ron Paul presidential candidacy. Related to and often interbreeds with Trollus indignatio var libertarius, with the hybrid form known as Trollus indignatio var aynrandus, whose intellectual capacity is stunted at an age of about 14 or 15 years old when they adopt an absurd fictional dystopia as their reality.

    All three of these forms of troll speak with great authority on matters of economics, fiscal policy, and even human nature without having the slightest idea how things actually work in the real world.

    The var ronpaulus is often differentiated from the others by the size of its visual blindspots and selective memory, particularly with respect to ample evidence of racism and homophobia on the part of its object of adoration. Var libertarius is focused to the point of obsession on the perceived immorality of taxation in any form, yet gladly avails himself of public services and facilities, including parks, roads, and police and fire services; these can be definitively identified if they have large stockpiles of firearms and survival supplies in their secret ‘prepper’ bunkers. And var anynrandus can sometimes function reasonably well in society, but most are secretly ashamed to admit publicly that their ‘religion’ comes from an avowed atheist (see ref Paul Ryan).

  44. FLL says:

    …take their comment and figure out exactly which dishonest debating tactics and fallacies they’re attempting to use. Red herring, diversion, Gish Gallop, ad hominem, straw man…The Nirvana fallacy. Reification. Moving the goalposts. False attribution. Appeal to false authority. Tu quoque.

    Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding! Winning comment!

  45. BeccaM says:

    The troll-related activity I find the most amusing is to take their comment and figure out exactly which dishonest debating tactics and fallacies they’re attempting to use. Red herring, diversion, Gish Gallop, ad hominem, straw man — these are the easy ones, and the go-to rhetorical strategies of the common variety Internet troll.

    What I like are the ones that make me go digging up my old debating textbooks and to scour the internet to recall the disingenuous tactics of old. The Nirvana fallacy. Reification. Moving the goalposts. False attribution. Appeal to false authority. Tu quoque. The list goes on and on.

    I even have a collection of bookmarks I use for analyzing trolls in their natural environment.

    I don’t know; it’s weird, the satisfaction it give me to identify exactly which way the troll is going, perhaps like the way a bird watcher or butterfly collector isn’t happy unless he or she is able to find exactly which type of bird or butterfly they’ve found.

    p.s. I like the new avatar, Mark. Rather less disturbing than the last one. ;-)

  46. BeccaM says:

    I’ve seen it. It’s actually quite good.


  47. Silver_Witch says:

    Agreed….a troll is a troll is a troll, whether trolling or strolling.

  48. perljammer says:

    Well, there’s no reason a troll (as in the mythological creature) can’t troll (as in fishing). But, the troll will have to do his trolling at night to avoid being turned to stone by sunlight (as in “The Hobbit”).

  49. 4th Turning says:

    And always the last syllables on my lips in the p.m. as I drift off to sleep.

  50. 4th Turning says:

    Anything with abercrombie in it is okay by me.

  51. 4th Turning says:

    I wouldn’t object to maybe the small revision to “golden”?

  52. Silver_Witch says:

    Somehow a real “fake” name seems so dishonest, but it will be the tactic I use if forced to by blogs/news and other sites in order to post. Mrs. Abercrombie Snide (abby for short).

  53. zerosumgame0005 says:

    or a “real name”, but still false

  54. Silver_Witch says:

    I think I like you Bob… made me blow coffee through my nose onto my keyboard ….always a great way to start the day! USA USA

  55. 4th Turning says:

    But of course you didn’t. No one could find fault with our brilliant commentary!
    (Not to worry. I’m sure you’ll get bumped to the head of the transplant line as a
    professional courtesy.)

  56. Bob Munck says:

    Whispering is for wimps and frenchmen. RIGHT-THINKING, PATRIOTIC AMERICANS SHOUT! USA! USA!

  57. Silver_Witch says:

    Absolutely agree on the genesis of the word, however I do like envisioning those who troll as noxious little creatures locked under the stairs.

  58. Silver_Witch says:

    I prefer italics…it is sort of like whispering and I heard once that people listen harder when you whisper ::giggling::.

  59. Silver_Witch says:

    Oh gosh I hope I am not a troll….now I am going to worry.

    Seriously, there is a new troll…it is the type that points out to the other trolls that they are using their Real Names versus those of us who use “Alias” (I prefer avatars). As if using one’s real name is somehow proof that their ideas are the very bestest, rather than realizing their are safe in using their real name because they follow the herd and profess loudly and often rudely how very right they are…also are usually – but not always male and so don’t have to worry about being stalked and abused by rape threats.

    I would love to use my real name – however, I also like working and feel quite certain that would not be the case if I voiced what I believe as often as I do. So my Avatar and I shall continue…until everyone becomes like Huffington Post by insisting we all use our real name.

  60. docsterx says:

    I’m not sure I could explain it. Some are Latin, some bad Latin, some pig Latin and some are a combination.

  61. docsterx says:

    I didn’t intend for it to reflect on the usual posters on AMERICAblog. Just those who troll here or elsewhere and fill one (or more) of the above binomial nomenclatures. I may get my liver pecked for posting the above, though.

  62. Monophylos Fortikos says:


    Meanings do change, and arguably “troll” is more useful as a general word than in its original, more specific usage. On the other hand…as a verb, “troll” is I think more useful in the older sense, which doesn’t necessary involve Internet behavior.

  63. 4th Turning says:

    Dear Mark,
    Is this not more rolling the boulder uphill? Excellent tutorial. Of course, none of us see ourselves
    as offenders. Other than releasing yet more barrels of stinking bile, what positive result is possible?

  64. Bob Munck says:


    The more tech-savvy trolls, such as myself, are beginning to use bold rather than caps. Eventually, of course, WE’LL DO BOTH.

  65. FLL says:

    Trollus indignatio var candidatus

    This variety of troll is outraged at the notion of anyone voting for any candidate at all whose name appears on any ballot in any election at all. They respond by hurling insults and invective at anyone they suspect of casting a vote for any candidate actually listed on a ballot. I believe this type of troll originated in absolute monarchies, such as those few remaining Middle Eastern emirates and sheikdoms that have no elections. This troll also gets an official thumbs up in those few remaining countries (e.g., North Korea and Cuba) where only one candidate appears on the ballot.

  66. perljammer says:

    You’re absolutely correct. Careful, though — you’re in danger of being misidentified as an example of Trollus pseudomensa ;-)

  67. Monophylos Fortikos says:

    “Troll” in Internet terminology has nothing to do with the mythical monster; it’s derived from a method of fishing in which a line is baited and then moved slowly through the water in the hopes that a fish will grab onto it. The classic Internet troll works in the same fashion, only his bait is a deliberately inflammatory and–here’s the key bit–deliberately insincere post designed to provoke angry responses. Then when someone does respond the troll can laugh and feel clever about himself because someone took his bait and wasn’t smart enough to perceive that his post was a joke.

    At some point the meaning of the term got watered down and blurred into referring to anyone who’s trying to pick a fight on the Internet, even if the fellow is in earnest rather than a trickster.

  68. HeartlandLiberal says:

    This reminds me, if you want to watch a really amusing Norwegian film, try “Trollhunter” (Trolljegeren). ”
    Three students enter the Norwegian woods to film a documentary on a bear
    poacher who claims that he really tracks trolls for the Norwegian
    government.” We found it on NetFlix. It was a hoot of a fantasy film. Lots of good comments on the link.

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