INTRO

A troll is someone who joins the community with the sole intent to cause emotional rise in our members, or to cause other harm to our community. Having a sharp eye for trolls can be a very useful tool as staff when it comes to ensuring the integrity of your community, and as members when it comes to reporting them to staff.
 
Most trolls are easy to spot. However, there are some classes of trolls which cannot easily be spotted, and often are much more dangerous than your typical troll.
 
Be aware that just because someone might experience signs described in this guide does not automatically make them a troll. A troll has no intention of bettering themselves and being a valuable asset to your community. Some members might experience some of these signs sparingly. But a troll will often show multiple signs frequently, and get very upset or in denial when you call them out on it.

Common Trolls

Common trolls are the trolls you see most often, and are usually the easiest to spot, and cause the least amount of damage as long as you take action. A quick form of discipline that isolates the troll from the rest of the community may be all that is necessary. But be on the look-out; if you get multiple trolls in a short period, it may be a raid.

Here are some of the signs of a common troll:

  • An avatar that is poorly designed and stands out compared to the avatars of the rest of the members
  • A username that also stands out compared to the usernames chosen by most of the legitimate members
  • Someone who asks a lot of questions about whether or not something is against the rules. Bonus points if they violate those same rules after, or even during the process of, asking. More bonus points if they seem to be trying to find loopholes in the rules.
  • Someone who will always try to defend that they never violated any rules, even when pointed out that they did.
  • Someone who seems to send messages at a much higher frequency than typical of other members. Bonus points if they send similar messages often.
  • Someone who says things in a way that is not typical of the rest of the members (such as unusual bluntness)
  • Someone who often says things that have no relevance to the current topic
  • Someone who shares memes frequently, often at inappropriate times or memes containing inappropriate content
  • Someone who uses blunt personal attacks often (such as "f*** you, c***"), especially when they feel threatened by legitimate members or feel they have been spotted as a troll.
  • Someone who insists you or other members try something that is illegal, such as drugs or crime, or brags about trying such.
  • Someone who does not obey the orders given by staff or excessively complains about the staff or the rules.
  • Someone who seems like an immature 13 year old when it comes to their behavior and/or grammar.
  • Someone who frequently and carelessly makes jokes about things they should not joke about, such as non-binary genders (eg. "Attack Helicopter"), school shootings, rape, homosexuality, terrorist attacks, suicide, etc.
  • Someone who uses copypastas (pieces of text that spread online which people copy and paste into communities, for example "I'll have you know I graduated top of my class in the Navy Seals, and I've been involved in numerous secret raids on Al-Quaeda...")
  • Someone who talks about, or to, women in a very disrespectful way (such as seeming very "rape-y", creepy, sexually objectifying, or like a sex offender or "f***boi")
  • Someone who asks about the women in your community or seems to not want to talk with / care about anyone who is not a woman.
  • Someone who makes radical and careless declarations against people they dislike, such as killing people of a certain race/religion/identity, telling people to kill or harm themselves, or supporting movements that involved mass genocide (such as Nazis).
  • Someone who tries to turn any topic into a topic they want, or something that is about them, often the same topic every time.
  • Someone who excessively talks negatively or depressingly, especially when someone else talks about something positive that happened to them or someone they care about, as an attempt to "yuck" other people's "yum". For example, self loathing over being single every time someone talks about their significant other.
  • Someone who tries to start an unnecessary debate, argument, or drama with just about anything discussed in the community.
  • Someone who tries to play the victim in every instance, especially when being called out for violating the rules.
  • Someone who plays very loud / obnoxious things in voice or video chat.

Raid Trolls

Raid trolls will often show the same, or similar, signs as a common troll. They may show signs of other kinds of trolls as well. However, the difference is that multiple people will join the community exhibiting the signs of a common troll within a short time. This should be a red flag that the community may be under a raid. It is time to implement a raid policy and get the situation under control!

For Spill the T, we have a bot that automatically activates raid policies depending on the number of disciplines and antispam mutes issued within a period of time. Depending on the severity, the bot will increase new member verification to requiring a verified phone number on their Discord account, isolate all new members from the rest of the guild, or erase all invite links, until the raid has stopped. The bot will also make the discipline for triggering the antispam system more severe during raids.

In addition to common trolls, trolls who join as part of a raid may also show these signs:

  • Acting like best friends, or worst enemies, with each other... there's no in-between. They may often flip between extremes quickly with each other as well, or make comments about how each other are trolls, but not self, and ask staff to ban the others but not them.
  • They try to de-rail conversations, voice/video chats, and so on, by joining them as a group and mass-trolling.
  • They don't shut up! They will talk, and talk, and talk, about things often irrelevant to the current discussion. They try not to let the legitimate members get a productive discussion going.
  • They often will say similar things as the other trolls who joined as part of the group.
  • They might flood the community with many messages, sometimes saying the same thing, or may spam mentions or say very radical and offensive things over and over again.

Silent / Lurking Trolls

Silent trolls are harder to spot because they will have no intention of saying anything in the community (at least not at first). Silent trolls might join with the intent to collect information from the community to use against us, either within the community or outside of the community. They might also join in a group as part of a directed raid in which they lurk until given the green light by the person in charge to carry out the raid. Silent trolls might also join, and perhaps later or immediately leave, with the sole intent to create invite links to be used as a raid.

In Spill the T, we have some policies that help fight against this. First, new members are expected to send at least 1 message within 7 days of joining. Existing members are expected to send at least 1 message every 30 days. Otherwise they will be kicked. Secondly, when a member leaves the guild, our bot will delete all invite links they generated.

DM Trolls

DM trolls may carry out their trolling, either partly or exclusively, in private / direct messages with members in the community. The idea is that if they target members directly and individually, not only will they be less likely to report it, but it will be harder for staff to take action as it is out of sight of the public areas of the community.

DM Trolls can be very harmful, or very trivial, depending on what they do. Some DM trolls will simply spam advertisements to members in private. Others will try and target members with personal attacks or solicit them for sexual favors. Still others may try to earn the trust of your members and manipulate them, causing serious emotional damage to members of the community.

If you suspect a troll is DMing you, please report it to the staff. Take screenshots of the messages sent by the troll, and then use the !staff command in the Spill the T guild to create a private text channel between you and staff. DO NOT delete DMs nor messages when reporting a troll. Discord may need them in order to ban trolls from the platform.

Spill the T has a couple policies in place to help limit the potential for DM trolling. During a significant raid attack, new members are isolated from the guild until the raid stops. This means the only few channels they can see are channels established members cannot see. This effectively means new members cannot yet see who is in the guild, and therefore cannot DM them. Secondly, when a user gets muted, such as for triggering the antispam, they also lose access to all channels which other members have access, and therefore cannot see the full member list.

 

Manipulative Trolls

Manipulative trolls are arguably the most dangerous kind of trolls. Not only can they be hard to spot, but they can do serious damage, including emotionally, to members and the community. There are also not really any good preventive measures we can take to keep manipulative trolls out, other than keeping our community informed on how to spot them (this guide) and report matters to staff (use the !staff bot command in any channel in the guild), as they will often seem like legitimate members at first. Further adding to the mix, manipulative trolls are often very good about following the rules (or at least treading the rules on the edge so that they’re not technically violating them, but are still causing harm), which means staff cannot ethically do anything about them without risking backlash until the damage has already been done.

Here are some signs of manipulative trolls:

  • Unlike common trolls, they don't stand out. They often blend in with the community well, perhaps too well.
  • They might be quick to make friends with the members and staff of the community. And their very warm and friendly persona further attracts trust from others.
  • They might use stories of deep emotional trauma, abuse, etc, as a means to earn empathy from the community. They might share quite a bit about their past, more than what one may normally share, especially when it comes to details (such as the name of their abuser, what they did, when, etc). As staff, you may find it in your best interest to immediately report this to authorities or to an abuse hotline for further investigation. Not only can authorities get victims the help they need if they end up not being a troll, but they can detect manipulative people and logical inconsistencies in stories. Plus, it takes the responsibility off your hands when you report it to authorities. Members should report people who share this info to staff using the !staff bot command.
  • They might share selfies or other information about themselves freely to seem like they are legitimate. Sometimes, but not always, if you reverse image their selfies or their information, you will find they are impersonating someone else. And if so, that is another big red flag. You might also find that if you make a very specific request for their selfie (eg. show their entire face holding up a piece of paper with something very specific hand-written on the paper and their other hand in a specific pose), they are unable to fully fulfill the request, or will try to make seemingly valid excuses not to do it (eg. they can't show their real identity because of their abuser).
  • Staff: if other members state they get a weird feeling about this person, but have a hard time justifying it because of their friendliness and trust, investigate it because they are often right. It is also another red flag sign that someone may be a manipulative troll.
  • When a manipulative troll establishes trust with a member, and a member has fallen for their story and offers the troll lots of help and support, the troll may start suddenly getting romantically forward with the member, claiming they're the right person for them, and so on. They might also start saying things in another language, often romantic things, especially if they claim to be from another country. They might offer nudes or sexual favors to further establish trust. Manipulative trolls may also start talking bad about other people for not offering the same support as the member, and try to get the member to be on their side, and turn against the community.
  • Manipulative trolls are very clever when it comes to making additional stories, excuses, etc, when they are being called out or asked to do something that could potentially expose them. Do not fall for their excuses, no matter how believable they may be.
  • Manipulative trolls may be very good at arguing their points or pointing out fallacies in other people's arguments. As such, they might be able to "faction" out the community and pit members against each other or even against the staff. They will often pose conspiracy questions or believable gossip with what seems to be legitimate evidence (but is often not, if you look very closely). They're good at arguing their way out of trouble in such a way that it makes staff look bad if they take any action against them. They have a way with using people's emotions and vulnerabilities to their advantage. And they might be good at gathering just the right information at the right time to threaten a dox (release of info to make the community look bad) if they were to be disciplined or their agenda not met.

Catfish Trolls

Catfish trolls can come in a variety of different ways, from sex cam workers to bots to people looking to “get some action”. Catfish trolls pose as a fake identity, often of an attractive celebrity or model. Their goal may range from soliciting relationships, to getting you to subscribe to and provide credit card info for a sketchy porn website, to engaging in pedophile / predatory behavior, and even to solicit sex trafficking.

Catfish trolls are moderately difficult to spot, and depending on the troll, the ease of spotting them can vary. The amount of damage they can cause also varies depending on their end goal and how they execute it. Catfish trolls will also often exhibit the signs of other types of trolls, such as common trolls or manipulative trolls.

There are several things you can do for catfish trolls. Reverse image search people’s avatars on Google to ensure they’re not impersonating someone.

In Spill the T, when a catfish is spotted, we will isolate them from the guild or community until they do an identity verification (such as a full-face selfie where they hold up a handwitten paper with their username and the name of your community).

Here are some signs of a catfish troll:

  • They have an avatar that looks like a supermodel or a stereotypical "f***boi" (overly-masculine). Bonus points if a reverse image search of the avatar comes up as a celebrity or supermodel.
  • They act very flirty around several other members
  • They over-emphasize the fact they are single, looking to mingle, are lonely/horny, and/or have hearts of gold
  • They emphasize that they have nudes / a webcam / etc that you can view, and may post a website or link and try to get you to sign up.
  • They quickly begin telling people how fond they are of them and are sexually or romantically interested in them
  • They seem pressuring to get people to give/tell them personal information, or may try to do things to make people feel at ease enough to spill such personal information
  • When it comes to them being romantically interested in a member, the member gets the "too good to be true" feeling
  • They act like a stereotypical Skype sex cam bot