On Feeding the Trolls
There’s a pun in that title…
I’ll try to keep this at a level that you can follow without playing the game, here goes! So, end of last week, the Chain Attack Warmachine and Hordes podcast I listen to got to talking about the toxic negativity in the community at large, in particular the online community. What, negativity in an online community??? you say. Yes.
There’s always been negativity, I mean, it’s the Internet and a game and these things happen. However, with the new edition coming out and changes to near everything in the game (small or large), there’s a whole new level of negativity. Memes were spawned, like #threeyearsofplaytesting (from their statements that they spent three years on the edition, generally used to talk about something that isn’t perceived as balanced), #designspace (a common phrase they used to explain why some things were changed), and a whole group dedicated to memes about how bad a whole faction was… a faction that’s now getting a heavy set of errata coming up in January.
Anyway, the podcast was basically… hey guys, if you really think it’s that bad, try a different faction. Try a different game. Take a break. Walk away from the online communities. Whatever you need – but if it’s all just negative for you, there’s no need to just feed into that further. With something like a Forum, you have to choose to go there (and it’s all sub-forums, too, so you can easily go to one section and avoid another, if there’s one thing you’re happy about and one you’re upset about). You choose to listen to a podcast. Even some of the more passive things, like Facebook groups, you can actively leave.
So with all of that floating around my head, I maybe, sort of, went and started a thread on the Trollbloods Forums asking the question, “Do you really feel like it’s that bad?” I had been noticing that there was plenty of negativity and constructive criticism, but only a few who were more directly “trolling” the threads and spreading toxic negativity. Three main ones I’ve learned to just ignore the comments from. And then there’s one other, whose whole gaming group has basically moved on from the game and he’s upset and still posting, but it’s tough – he has a blog, he’s a volunteer for the company, all these things. He’s one of the people who got me into the faction, with his blog and guides, and it makes me sad.
But by starting a thread asking basically “why are you here spewing negativity when you could just walk away?” I was kind of literally just asking the trolls to come out of the woodwork (see? pun!). I was feeding the trolls.
One of the three main Forum trolls bit, and he was all over the place. I noticed something I hadn’t seen before – his Forum signature, which reads
Someone PM me after the game gets fixed.
Like, doesn’t that read like someone who’s stepping away? Saying PM (private message) me when things are better? And instead, he keeps jumping in and derailing threads by saying things are bad and we’re deluding ourselves to think otherwise. And also saying that the company is doing things bad/wrong/stupidly and there’s no hope for improvement. A perfect candidate for stepping away.
Well, after engagement by the rest of the community, things got well out of hand… and the thread got closed (but at least not until after I had gotten one final say!). Which is, I suppose, what happens when you feed the trolls. When you confront them and say, “troll, why for art thou trolling?” it turns out what you’re likely to get is a trolling response.
The hope, though, is some introspection – if not of the main trolls, then, well, for others. For those who are just dissatisfied and have nothing constructive to say. I know that Chain Attack got me thinking about how I don’t feel positive about my Convergence of Cyriss army right now – I’ve boxed it up, and I’m waiting to see how the future shakes up before I get back to it at all. And so I removed Convergence from my Forum signature, I’m staying away from that sub-forum, and following my own advice. It’s all Trollbloods from here – and I’m having a blast with them!