CiF trolls: a taxonomy

Like many whey-faced liberals incapable of bench-pressing a budgie, I spend a lot of time with the paper version of the Guardian. I read it, I stroke it, I take it to bed. We all do, right? Right. But sometimes I read something on  Comment is Free – maybe about anthropogenic global warming, or sexual politics, or anything by Polly Toynbee. And there, below the line, is a roiling sea of rage, misanthropy, and the kind of emotional imbalance that can only be the result of steroid abuse, or living with your parents for a really, really long time.

Talkboards are self-perpetuating in tone; unfortunately for the Guardian (and for the relatively sane), the initial colonisation of CiF by rigid humanoids constructed entirely from anger has proved decisive. Thoughtful, discursive types who are happy to concede that on the one hand this, but on the other hand it might be worth considering the other, simply stare in horror and rarely go back. (I know there are decent folk who post on Cif, but even they would surely concede that they’re hard to find.) Instead, the sub-linear hell-circle comprises representatives from the following groups:

The misogynist who isn’t getting any, and hasn’t for some time Who are women anyway? I’ve never met one. When did they start having opinions and stuff? Why don’t they just fuck off?

The swivel-eyed fantasist It’s the CIA. Or Marxists. Or eco-fascists. Or feminists. Let’s face it, these groups all get together on a regular basis to totally decide the direction of world governance. (For reasons I don’t fully understand, the Fantasist is no more likely to correctly place a semi-colon than he is to self-combust.)

The critic Don’t like the latest government policy/opposition suggestion? Feel free to insert a painfully laboured insult about a politician here. It’s so much more interesting than any sort of informed analysis. If you can point out at the same time that the politician in question did PPE at Oxford, then you can rest confident in the knowledge that your powerful polemic will utterly destroy their career. OH WAIT.

The Tory Because the comments on Mail Online just aren’t right-wing enough.

The linker He’s got a theory. It’s based on this link. And this link. And this link. It’s going to rock your world, but he can’t explain it here. You’ve got to read the links. Have you read the links yet? Why aren’t you reading the links?

The japester Closely related to Mike Giggler (via email) from Private Eye. Pops up on every damned thread to post the same joke.

SHOUTY TROLL-CUNTS A miscellaneous category (h/t Anton Vowl).

I’m sure there are more, but I need a few puffs of Ventolin and a lie down before I go back.


Some crowd-sourced hating. We could start dividing these by genus soon, I reckon. Some are not exclusive to CiF by any means, but fall into a greater ‘trolls we have known and those that irritate the piss out of us’ family.

The libertarian All new laws are bad laws. We fear change! (via @EmilyMaryDavis)

The anecdotal arsehole Always knows a family/OAP/quango/GP whose story disproves all data provided (via @Langtry_Girl)

The single-issue obsessive He knows that vaccines are dangerous (nay, evil) and that this is being covered up as part of a shadowy conspiracy of silence (a conspiracy of silence that does not extend to censorship of his tedious conspiracy theory nonsense on CiF). It doesn’t really matter what the topic is, he will soon bring discussion round to his hobby horse one way or another (via @jdc325)

The supercilious sarcast Likes to imagine his dazzling wit will get him a slot on HIGNFY; just confirms he’s pretentious twat (via @splintersunrise)

The superiority jock  All of this is far beneath him, and you’re all stupid (via @katie_allen)

The guy who cannot BELIEVE that the Guardian publishes this NONSENSE (via @mePadraigReidy)

The rape apologist (via @stavvers) Nothing funny to be said about this one, but they’re out in force on the threads about the Assange case. Always refer to women as ‘young ladies’.

The all-purpose pervert (via @Mr603) Clusters damply on threads about prostitution or stripping.

16 responses to “CiF trolls: a taxonomy

  1. Hmm…

    You could say the same about the journalists……

  2. Nicely written, and an especially nice and self-deprecating first paragraph. That’s why I still (sort-of) identify as a Guardian reader: we mock ourselves and share jokes.


    There’s really not a lot of point in writing a comment to the effect of “I agree with all the above.” It’s a little slavish and creepy. It’s how you imagine such fora work in Iran (just to name the current “boo, hiss!” nation).

    I troll the Daily Mail quite a bit. Some DM readers troll the Guardian back.

    I can’t read CiF comments either, but I can’t read most of CiF.

    Look on the bright side: this is good for democracy. We should be aware that many people disagree with us very strongly. Our views are not universally accepted, nor should we act as though we could uniquely articulate the thoughts of the disenfranchised.

    Politics doesn’t have to be pretty. If we prevail, we should do so by argument, not silencing those whose views we don’t like.

    • And with that thoughtful and pluralist comment, Dave, you’ve amply demonstrated why you are not a regular on CiF.

      I don’t think it should be silenced or anything. I just find it frustrating. (Mostly I just don’t read it at all.)

  3. Don’t forget the Paradoxical Whinger; Pops up in the comments under every article about a popular TV show (Strictly/X Factor/Big Brother/etc) to moan “Oh I’m sorry, I must’ve stumbled onto the Smash Hits website by mistake. I don’t come here to read articles about populist Z-list celeb rubbish. Whyohwhy is the Guardian wasting time writing articles about Strictly/X Factor/Big Brother/etc?”, conveniently omitting to mention why they felt the urge to waste their own time clicking on the clearly-marked Strictly/X Factor/Big Brother/etc headline and reading through the article in the first place.

  4. Great post! Made me laugh a lot. Which is often the only thing we can do when reading the trolls. I would hazard a guess that most of them spend the rest of their time, when they’re not trolling, on internet dating sites while never actually meeting anyone in real life.

  5. Excellent post. How about the “Well of course dearie, you would think that, I thought that once, but I am a lot brighter and more cleverer than you now” kind of arsehole? They love patrolling CiF. “Oh, I used to be a socialist, then I grew up”, that kind of toerag.

  6. To give it a Pilgrim’s Progress twist, how about Mr Pride-in-ignorance, eg:
    “I’m happy to say I’ve never even heard of this ‘television’ thing, far less watched it. Consequently my views on it are supremely valuable.”

  7. ‘The Marxist’ – I don’t care how tenuous it is, class warfare *is* the cause of cot death in budgies

  8. The Bruised Flower? “In the past, I was PERSONALLY hurt by something related to Thing X (maybe only tangentially related), so if I get even the vaguest impression that you approve of Thing X, I will produce screeds of text denouncing you as a terrible, selfish human being. And not actually read anything you write. You approve of Thing X. Or I think you do. That’s all I need to know.”

  9. I can’t believe you missed out the Astro-turfers. These cyber-warriors predictably sprout any PR bull no matter how irrelevant, untrue and/or stupid.

    Your contempt FOR THE brave CiF contributors IS A pathetic attempt to detract FROM THE condem governments fascist plot TO PAINT the Labour party as responsible for the financial problems of Greece and IRELAND!!!!!!!!!11111!

  10. There is quite a bit of overlap between single-issue obsessives (like the anti-vaccine nuts) and your swivel-eyed fantasists. For instance, once you have drunk the anti-vaccine Kool-Aid, you tend to buy into the related:

    “All of mainstream science and medicine is a Big Pharma conspiracy”

    …and from there it is but a small step to HIV denial, Man-made Global Warming denial etc etc.

    For a look at one well-known CiF conspiracy-nut in action, you could read this cautionary tale.

    • Word of advice, Austin: Never. Go. Onto. MMR. Threads. On. Mumsnet.

      The AGW stuff drives me nuts. Wasn’t there a crack squad of proper physicists who were supposed to get stuck in to comments threads every time AGW skeptics start parsing Doug Keenan? What happened to those guys? Are they all too busy doing actual science?

  11. My Guardian-Online-reading pleasure was entirely restored when I started using Opera. More particularly, when I actually figured out that with this line of CSS, applied specifically to * (as Opera allows out of the box):

    div.pluck-comments-container, div.content-comment-list, div#post-area, div.pluck-comment-post, a.comment-count-info, div.pluck-all-comments, div#comment-info-related { display: none !important; }

    ALL the comments, trolls and – well, trolls, alike, simply vanished. I hadn’t been able to read CiF at all before that; now I can be the happy smug leftie I always wanted to be, without risking a compulsion to stab at least 90% of humanity in the face.

    (This has been a public service announcement on behalf of the “Life’s too short for that crap” campaign.)

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