Just like in real life, Internet forums and chatrooms are populated by people that fall into a range of personality types. These are the reasons online chatting and forum posting are so much fun—they let you share ideas, get the latest news, and generally express yourself to an open minded crowd. Sadly, not all online personality types are cool or fun to be around. Some online denizens are so annoying and drain a lot of your emotional energy. This quick guide to the 6 types of Hated Forum Users, helps you save a lot of time and a little bit of your online sanity by helping you quickly identify these douchebags and suggests some methods to dealing with them (since they are everywhere and almost unavoidable).
- This malicious poster gets his rocks off from getting attention from fellow forum or chat room members. Trolls post messages aimed at getting you pissed off or otherwise bringing out an emotional response. Many trolls like to pit differing groups of forum/chatroom members based on identifiable shared traits like race, culture, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, or even brand loyalty.
How to spot a troll
#1 Tends to post extreme statements. There’s usually no wiggle room or room for interpretation. Nuance is often missing in troll posts. Troll posts focus on the lowest common denominator emotions—anger, revulsion, and ridicule are very common.
#2 Posts loaded questions. While the post may be in the form of a question, the answer is already present and it is very emotional and caustic in nature.
How to deal with trolls
Trolls measure their success and their online self-esteem through only one metric—ATTENTION. The more they get people to vent their anger at them or at each other or voice out offensive opinions the troll is egging on the more the troll gets excited. Shut off trolls’ oxygen by not responding to their forum thread or chatroom post. The silent scream of ZERO responses to a troll message sets them off. The more their efforts fail at getting attention, the more trolls get discouraged and are forced to engage in real non-trolling communications with fellow forum and chatroom members.
Latest news about trolls and trollology: Internet Trolls Really Are Horrible People
– The spammer share many traits with the troll. For one, they both love attention. They also both don’t really care about the response of the rest of the forum or chatroom. It’s all about attention. Unlike the troll, the spammer’s whole reason for posting on forums or chatrooms is MONEY. Spammers make money promoting products and services. Their messages can be obvious—posts with affiliate links or links to websites with affiliate links. Alternatively, in relatively rarer situations, they can also be branding a service—repeating a brand name or product name in many posts.
How to spot a Spammer
#1 Flooding the forum/chatroom with commercial messages – Most posts made by a spammer either has commercial content in the actual body of the message or carries a “signature” link that goes to a commercial site. This fact alone doesn’t make a person a spammer. It is the volume of such messages that makes the difference. Responding to a product request or review is one thing, repeating the same commercial message regardless of whether it was requested is another.
#2 Irrelevant messages of a commercial nature – Regardless of what people are discussing, the spammer contiues to spew essentially the same message. The messages don’t contribute to the conversation. It actually takes away from it because it distracts readers and wastes their time.
How to deal with spammers
Fortunately, unlike the troll who is given more leeway because of the noncommercial nature of his posts and his ability to get tons of views for a forum thread or chatroom, spammers are given much shorter leashes by forum and chatroom administrators. In fact, many forums have a REPORT button next to a post. Spam reports have a higher chance of getting the offender banned than troll reports.
Coordinate with your forum moderators closely. Report all spam posts and messages as soon as you find them. Work with other users to police the discussions to weed out spammers.
One more good thing about spammers is that they are essentially creatures of economics. If their efforts aren’t rewarded and the costs of posting and banning increases, they eventually stop. However, you shouldn’t let your guard down. Just like vandals in the real world who see a broken window as an invitation to vandalize the rest of your house, clean up spam as soon as you spot it because it will multiply quickly if spammers think your forum is a safe place to spam.
The Know It All
– The Internet is quickly becoming a place full of misinformation, hoaxes, half-baked ideas, and conspiracy theories. It got to this sorry state of affairs thanks to Know It Alls (KIA). KIAs spread all sorts of inaccurate, incomplete, or absurd information all in the hopes that people will think they are experts or intelligent.
How to spot a KIA
#1 KIAs always give absolute answers. Similar to trolls, KIAs give answers that preclude all nuances and scream out “I am right”. There’s no vagueness or uncertainty or even possibility of alternative answers or viewpoints in their questions.
#2 KIAs often appeal to authority. KIAs often “substantiate” their answers with posts that end with references to friends or relations who are scientists, references, authority figures, or anyone with direct experience about the question being asked. Despite the fact that anecdotal evidence doesn’t have as much weight as actual authority references, KIAs insist on being “right” all the time.
#3 KIAs almost never admit they are wrong and if they do, the error is almost always the fault of a third party. KIAs crave “credibility” so much that they view admission of errors as personal humiliation, which much be avoided at all costs. Indeed, the cost often involves LYING just to get out of saying “I was wrong.”
How to deal with KIAs
KIAs’ oxygen is the self-satisfaction that they are right. They are slaves to the approval of their perceived “audience”–other forum posters or chat room participants. The best way to deal with KIAs is to educate OTHERS about the KIA’s wrong positions and claims. Remember, KIAs will often not admit they are wrong so by decreasing their legitimacy in the eyes of other posters KIAs are perceived less as a subject matter “authority” and more of the “village crank” or “Cliff Clavin” (a KIA character from the classic show “Cheers”). They will soon get the message that people aren’t taking them seriously or view them as a joke and they will soon stop trying to gain people’s “respect” by trying to be right all the time. If this doesn’t happen and they persist, at least no one else takes them seriously and people have mentally ignored them.
Instead of stooping to the KIA’s level and saying “You are wrong because I say so”, make sure to back up your claims with links to sources and quote the relevant portion that negates the KIA’s claims. Ideally, your sources should have the following domain extensions since they usually have the highest trust ratings–.edu, .gov, and .mil Once everyone realizes that objective and trustworthy sources prove that the KIA is spouting BS, he loses credibility quickly and is soon ignored. Since he can’t get as much of a “rush” by feeling like a subject authority, he might soon slink off to another forum to inflict his particularly annoying brand of “information sharing”.
The Bitch aka The Hater
- Forums and chatrooms can often devolve into crab pits where anyone sharing any shred of personal good news or good fortune is often targeted and dragged down by others. The Hater is the most common online persona afflicted with crab mentality. They hate good news. Their lives are filled with bitterness, disappointments, and envy. Since they can’t seem to manage to get “enough” in their lives, they have made it their personal mission to make everyone else’s lives as miserable as theirs.
How to spot a hater
Haters come in all shapes. Some are more obvious than others. Some even try to come off as positive and “helpful” people just out to give people “free lessons in reality” or “free diplomas from the School of Hard Knocks.” However, they all share the same common features:
Negativity – All their comments and posts are negative. Sure, there might be some positive nuggets sprinkled in but, at the core, their messages are negative in nature. The negativity ranges from flat out negative—you’re wrong / you are an idiot / you don’t know what you’re talking about to “hybrid” responses that might look positive but are actually extremely negative.
They always manage to snatch DEFEAT from the jaws of victory – Whenever other forum members post positive things, Haters always conclude that the good news will end soon, won’t last forever, or is not really good news. Far from being just negative, Haters transform positivity into negativity. They pervert victory into defeat. A classic example is of a forum post where the original poster announced that he bought a new luxury car. The Hater chimes in with the expected date when the body style of that particular make will change and the expected drop in value. Another example is when a forum member announces his anniversary, the Hater then focuses on insinuations of relationship strife or past problems.
How to deal with Haters
Haters operate from a profound sense of inadequacy and low self-worth. Hell, if they aren’t happy, why should the rest of the world be?
The best way to deal with haters is COMPASSION and HAPPINESS. Deep down, many seek companionship and commiseration. By playing along with their negativity and having the conversation lead to their own particular issue, you are exercising compassion. Instead of feeling anger or feeling insulted, you actually feel sorry for the Hater.
NOTE: Keep in mind that the Hater is different from a critic. A critic sees flaws and can be helpful in making positive changes. A Hater is a profoundly unhappy person who isn’t concerned with fixing the things she is “hating on.” Big difference. This advice is on how to deal with Haters—habitually negative people. By exercising Compassion and always reading a Hater’s post as a plea for help and a cry from the deep pit of meaninglessness and sad impotent anger at the center of their souls, your own personal soul/capacity to care grows. In essence, by understanding the Hater and not letting his bile get to you, your own capacity as a fully mature spiritual and mentally balanced person grows.
How to feed a hater – Confronting haters, just like feeding trolls make the problem worse. They are hurting and any additional confrontations and drama just feeds their addiction to feeling crappy all the time. They want to act out and lash out. Confronting haters at their level gives them a target on which to vent all their shame, anger, pain, frustration, humiliation, and cries for help. Don’t become part of their downward spiral—you might soon find yourself suffering from the same emotional/spiritual affliction. Negativity is very contagious.
The Lurker aka The Leech
- The Internet’s main value is CONTENT. Content doesn’t just take the form of MP3s, DVD files, or other content files. Forums and chatrooms offer post and experience content. Just like leeches who suck down terabytes of free content from torrents and Tube sites without paying for it, Lurkers/leeches suck down the information posted on forums and provide almost nothing in return. In chatrooms, lurkers don’t post anything in the main chatroom to provide public content and conversation. Instead, they just privately message other chatters. Unless, they click on ads or do other things on the forum or chatroom that benefits the operators of these places, lurkers and leeches are parasites.
How to spot a lurker/leech
Just like looking for evidence of black holes, evidence of leeching/lurking can only be arrived at using circumstantial or inferential evidence. When a thread has THOUSANDS of views but only 5 active posts, it is evidence of heaving lurking/leeching activity. When a forum or chatroom has thousands of members but only a few post, that’s heavy evidence of hardcore lurking/leeching.
How to deal with lurkers/leechers
Force participating by making them post something in order to view content. Many picture sharing forums use this method. Another way of forcing lurkers/leechers to participate is that they have to post an introduction in a specially designed subforum or they get deleted from the user database. Automatically delete people from the member rolls if they are inactive.
- Life can be rough sometimes. It is also often unfair. Sadly, these facts are NEWS to an increasingly common type of Internet user—the Crybaby. The Crybaby takes every disagreement as a personal insult. The person responding to a Crybaby post doesn’t even have to be offensive or harsh, the CryBaby takes every comment that is short of PRAISE as somehow negative, and they whine and cry about it.
How to spot a Crybaby
These people are very reactive. If you challenge any part of what they post in a forum or say in a chatroom, whether it be substance, style, even grammar, they automatically react by labeling you a Hater or as somehow out to get them. Even neutral but oblique or vague comments get a “What do you mean by that?” response from them. These people are obviously very insecure. They aren’t looking for a fight (unlike trolls and haters) but are always looking for validation and a pat on the back. While the Hater would be obliged to give them a kick in the ass and the Troll would delight in goading them to cry themselves to sleep, the Crybaby is often an otherwise reasonable person around which you have to walk on eggshells.
How to deal with Crybabies
Use emoticons. Since forum posts and chatroom messages can be ambiguous and can easily be interpreted the wrong way, make the emotional nature of your post abundantly clear with emoticons. They are the stand ins for facial expressions in online spaces. They make the emotional nature of your posts abundantly clear so Crybabies won’t misinterpret your post.
Another way to deal with Crybabies is to answer clearly. Don’t be vague or ambiguous since Crybabies often glom on to these. Be clear. Don’t leave any room for interpretation.
Don’t fall for their shtick. If crybabies go out of their way to make you say sorry for THEIR misinterpretation, spell out how they misinterpreted what you posted and leave it at that. After enough times getting “schooled” by other forum members, Crybabies often “man up” and grow thicker skins. Remember—schooling someone doesn’t mean humiliating them. Being clear doesn’t require being insulting. When dealing with Crybabies, maintain your composure and always STAY CLASSY!
Awareness is the best way to prevent problems
The Internet can easily become yet another source of stress in our high cholesterol, heavy gridlock, fully deindividuated, virtual reality, augmented real experience, aspertame soaked Modern World. By fully understanding the differing types of Internet personalities out there, we can take fuller control of how we respond to stimuli online and maintain our cool while reaping the full benefits of forums and chatrooms.