Obvious troll is obvious? Maybe not…

Last year, I got turned on to Jonathan Bishop – a polymath of sorts in law, psychology, etc. His biggest contribution to the world had been a genre theory of internet trolls. This theory, however, has become the source of much, well, trolling on his site.  I think the guy below, posing as a smart bystander, is actually a troll. Jonathan may have forgotten one major type of troll that I would introduce here, based on the claims of a particular troll himself:


The ALPHA_OMEGA troll (Omega for short) takes on a God like stance, in which he commands an entire cosmology. It is difficult, if not impossible, to tell if they do actually command the cosmos, but they sure do believe they do. And, as a commander of the web cosmos, this individual can take on multiple forms of the body troll-otic– Flame, e-venger, self deprecating, etc. Finally, the ALPHA_OMEGA troll attempts to have both the first and last word in a communication, as evinced by the comment thread on Bishop’s web page. The conversation, so the ALPHA_OMEGA troll states, starts and ends with him. He brings the cosmos into being by ‘flaming’, and then brings it to an end by attempting the semblance of a logical argument.

I think that this troll genre would be a welcomed addition to Mr. Bishop’s genre theory of trolling (and maybe he’ll check out my blog while he’s here?!).

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  • Jonathan Bishop

    A very interesting discussion. Yes I was aware that they were trolling, but like I said in a Pillar Summit interview it so fun to ‘feed the trolls’ and beat them at their ‘own’ game!

    I am currently compiling a list of sub-types for the 12 characters you mention above – using mainly the more popular types on Urban Dictionary.

    I would say your ALPHA_OMEGA troller is a sub-type of the Big Man. What do you think? I can add this to the list.

    Would you say I’m an ALPHA_OMEGA troller, for whom it is impossible for others to tell whether I actually do command the cosmology of Internet trolling scholarship or not! :o)

    • bryce Post author

      Wow! That’s a really interesting assertion re: you being the ALPHA_OMEGA troll! Could you elaborate on how/why you would be the ALPHA_OMEGA type?

  • Jonathan Bishop

    Well, I recall someone writing a “call out” blog about me, which I responded to. My expertise in online communities and e-learning, goes unchallenged by those in the field. But many users think everyone is a nobody like them. So when they look me up and see I’m in journals and conference proceedings, have books published and my website has been registered for over a decade they say, “Jonathan Bishop is real”. In other words, the evidence is there I’m not a pretender.

    Even so, in the case of the post I made, based on your definition of ‘ALPHA_OMEGA’ then those article I posted on the Trolling Academy was the first post, to which the troller I redirected to it from when he visited my website that he was trolling on, then responded. And then I had the final word. Also, because the troller was asking me questions that were challenging my ‘God-like’ authority in Internet trolling, then I meet that part.

    The good thing about genres and character types, as explored by Sherry Turkle in Life on the Screen and The Second Self, is that people can actually take on the different roles intentionally, rather than just doing what they would do anyway. So it is possible for people to act out any character type, even if it is just to be a Poe Troller!

    • bryce Post author

      Poe Troller?

      It’s really interesting what you’re suggesting here, because I feel like you’re trying to fill a gap in troll scholarship. Has anyone responded/used your work — as I said earlier, I’m an amateur so I haven’t read much, I’m just curious who has engaged with you in these ideas (I’m not sure I’m smart enough to be the person to do that…)

  • Jonathan Bishop

    There won’t be much of a gap left by the time I’m finished! I’ve got an edited book coming out on Internet trolling in January, I’ve got a special issue coming out on Internet trolling, and am doing a conference workshop as well. One has to provide what the market wants, and I studied Internet trolling years before your co-student at Oregan, Whitney Phillips, knew the term existed, so was perfectly placed when the market opened.

    In fact, I set up the Trolling Academy to set the record straight – that Trolls were not the same as Snerts. But as you can see from my new meaning for Snert, I have adapted it to keep up with the changing meaning of trolling so that the ‘t’ in Snert means Troll, but it is qualified by the ‘Sner’ part so it is clear they are different from regular Trolls.

    A Poe Troller is a type of ‘Iconoclast’ troller who tries to upset people by giving them facts they don’t want to know. So they will act like a Christian in order to give truths to them they don’t want to hear. My article on it is here:

    But you, my friend, are a ‘Soft Troller’! That is, you are someone who posts kudosbait (i.e. enticing friendly comments) in order to keep people on your website! Soft Trollers are often self-deprecating like yourself, even if, like you are, they are as clever as the person they are attracting to their site with kudosbait!