Recently, I’ve become a bit more involved in a couple online communities. They are Facebook groups centered around a couple IGN podcasts, Podcast Beyond and Nintendo Voice Chat. Beyond is a Playstation focused podcast. They both have been wonderful forums to get ideas on new games to try, and a place to discuss not only games, but really anything that catches your interest. The vast majority of the people participating in these forums are nice, civil people. But like any online community, there are the trolls. But, I don’t think the most of these people know that they are trolls.
I had always made the assumption that trolls knew they were trolling, and did it because they were having fun. But, I now don’t think that’s the case. Or at least, not in as large of numbers as I had originally thought. The most popular form of this is the phrase, “does anyone else think that [insert generally loved game] isn’t that good.” And this isn’t malicious, but it’s still trolling. I generally think that the poster isn’t usually trying to start any online arguments, and in their minds, are asking a simple question. However, the answer to the question is always “of course,” because not everyone is going to like the same games. But it’s trolling because nothing is really added to the conversation with this question. You’re essentially saying, “this thing sucks. Who’s with me?”
It does nothing to add to the conversation about the game, or other subject matter. The poster isn’t looking for a discussion on the merits of something. Rather, they want confirmation that their opinion is shared by others, as if they’re too fragile to hold an opinion on their own. And it’s a question that they should already know the answer to. Of course there are people that will share their opinions. There always are. Hell, there are multiple critics that didn’t like Toy Story 3, so of course there is at least 1 among the thousands of members that are going to share your opinion.
So keep in mind that if you want to criticize something, think about it first. If you don’t like it, discuss what it is about the thing you don’t like. “It sucks,” is never a valid critique. Why does it suck? Also, “because it’s stupid” is not a valid response. Think about why you have your opinion. Just because people may have any opinion they want, it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t use reason to get to it. Keeping this in mind will make you look better and people will be more receptive to your ideas in a discussion if they know that they can have reasonable discussions with you.