Before social networking sites and chat rooms came along, there were forums, message boards and mailing lists on the internet, which allowed people to interact with each other in relative anonymity. At that time, text strings were about the only thing that really went around, because even images had to be downloaded before they could be viewed. Some people discovered that it is possible to string sentences together that outrages, frustrates or angers completely unknown people on the web. This was a source of amusement, but it soon became more than that. The activity was known as trolling, but getting the right reactions from people, and at the right time, required considerable psychological insight. Some trolls would simply start a Star Wars Vs Star Trek thread; sit back, as furious fights broke out between respectable forum members as they strove to prove their side the stronger. Five words and every single self-respecting geek on the forum would fight it out till their keyboards broke. Trolling became an art form, and at the turn of the century, became a lost art form. This was not before a handful of trolls left their indelible mark on the online community, and the world at large. Here is a listing of the ten most infamous trolls to be every let loose on the internet.
Willy on Wheels is probably the most famous "editors" of Wikipedia after Jimbo Wales himself. Willy on Wheels was hanging out in one of his favorite script kiddies/troll hangouts on an IRC channel. Now someone on that IRC channel just picked up a bunch of pages from Wikipedia - the English language encyclopedia that ANYONE can edit - and mass moved it. This gave Willy on Wheels and his buddies an idea, and they mass moved pages on Wikipedia, putting strange re-directs, and cross-linking to irrelevant pages. They also began adding "on Wheels" as a mainstay to every article they came across. So entries on Wikipedia read like "Braille Music on Wheels", "Paul Robert Bing on Wheels" and so on. As the moving and redirects were visible only to SysOps on Wikipedia, the "on Wheels" bit was something that everyone could see. Willy on Wheels and his friends wrote a script in PERL, the same language used by the mediawiki engine, to mass move and rename many pages at once, as well as add the "on Wheels" tag. Sorting through the mess took a long time. Unfortunately by then, hoards of impersonators had jumped in, and had started to vandalize Wikipedia along the same lines.
One fine day, readers who logged on to Wikipedia saw the logo replaced by this:
The entire enterprise was put on wheels! IP ranges were banned, but Willy and his wily friends kept using proxies, and continued at their work, defacing the front page many times. On April 1 2005, Wikipedia users nominated Willy on Wheels for adminship. However, soon after that, the Troll developed a conscience, and regretted what he had done. In a heartfelt letter, he explained his actions, and apologized for all the trouble he had caused. Willy on Wheels is a legitimate contributor to Uncyclopedia.
Jai Maharaj is one of those people who go around Internet groups imparting knowledge and wisdom. Jai Maharaj is someone who has taken his own interpretation of Hinduism to heart, and intent on propagating the tenets to everyone on the internet. Every Usenet group that ever existed has witnessed some sort of Jai Maharaj-related activity, but he haunted the groups relating to culture, astrology and vegetarianism the most. Jai Maharaj had a large repository of vegetarianism, the Hindu caste system, and astrology related articles, and copy pasted sections of them repeatedly, contriving them to fit any discussion that was going on. All the effort was mostly an early variant of spamming, to advertise for an online astrology related store by the name of mantra.com. Jai Maharaj is often cited as the number 1 reason why people stopped using the discussion boards on Usenet.
A lot of confused people with emotions already close to the surface open up on Yahoo! answers hoping that some kind hearted internet surfer will give them the answers to life's questions. In other words, perfect troll fodder asking for it. Naturally, what happens is, they bump into RBX, who gives them a politically incorrect, rude answer, which may actually work. Here is an example:
Head over to http://answers.yahoo.com/my/qa/index;_ylt=An2_XIu8UyaeuD6b2kFZbsDsy6IX;_ylv=3?link=answer&more=y&show=nUcfTefDaa for more.
Trolls on online multiplayer games are called "griefers". Team Roomba is the most notorious clan when it comes to griefing. These are not the kind of griefers that have fun just causing meaningless trouble, or doing things against a strategy. Instead, they set up a room in a game in a certain way, and then turn it into something entirely different. For example, in this video (not safe for work, has loads of curses), the Team Roomba Griefers have set up a Team Fortress 2 room in such a way, that as soon as you enter, you have to answer a trivia question, and if you answer wrong, you are killed right away. They effectively transformed a massive online multiplayer first person shooter into a massive online multiplayer first person trivia quiz shooter, and the best thing was that players actually enjoyed it and were spawning into the room to be griefed!
The personal section of Craiglist is a favorite hangout for those with voyeuristic tendencies. It is also a great place for a troll to work. However, Jason Fortuny was the one who amped up the game. He pretended to be a "submissive" woman wanting some "rough" attention from other men. His ad got responses, and how. Men sent over photos, some of which were graphic in nature. Jason Fortuny could have laughed in his evil little head and done nothing more, but he chose to upload all the responses on the wiki HQ of trolling, Encyclopedia Dramatica. This put the married lives and the jobs of some of the respondents in danger, and he was sued as none of the respondents had actually done anything illegal.
This was a dirty trick to pull, and Jason Fortuny got trolled himself. Details of his personal life were exposed and laughed about, and posts from his personal LiveJournal blog were quoted often, and out of context. This was a classic case of self-pwnage, but taught the law enforcers and internet users a lot about trolling and internet privacy.
David Thorne drew more cash than he had from his bank account. $233.95 worth of cash more, if you want the details. A representative of the bank wrote to him, asking him to make the payment as soon as possible. David Thorne replied that he did not have the cash. He did, however, have a drawing of a spider that was worth $233.95 and he e-mailed the drawing to them hoping to settle the matter. This was the drawing, if you want the details.
Now the representative wrote back, informing Thorne very politely that the bank does not accept drawings as payment. A few mails went back and forth, and then Thorne gave it another go, sending over this drawing:
If you have an eye for details, you would have noticed the extra leg. A few typos in the reply were the only deviation that betrayed the true emotions of the ever so polite bank representative. Eventually, Thorne relented, and agreed to make the payment. The e-mails can be found at http://www.27bslash6.com/overdue.html.
This one is pretty recent, and the whole incident happened as an elaborate internet drama. We imagine situations and incidents like this one coming to a television screen in the near future. Adam Goldstein had an online store, which sold computer parts. Now a certain customer known on the internet as decaf.tihs was dissatisfied with the service, as Adam Goldstein went on vacation after an order had been placed. After trying to call and mail Goldstein about his service, he got irritated, and asked for his money back. He sent a stinker off to Goldstein, and Goldstein replied that he would not return the money unless decaf.tihs apologized to him. Now decaf.tihs wanted his money back so he apologized, and his money was returned.
The matter could have ended there, but decaf.tihs went on to somethingaweful.com and began posted a thread on Goldstein and his unfair practices. The forum went a little crazy, and decided something had to be done. They called up Goldstein with death threats, taunts and insults. They got into his personal accounts on social networking sites, and insulted him there as well. Goldstein paid up for a Something Aweful membership, and joined in the discussion. Amazingly enough, Goldstein was called a troll, and no one really took him seriously. He defended himself and voiced his outrage, which just made everyone’s day on somethingaweful.com.
Someone from Something Aweful called up Goldstein at this point, and told him to calm down and not post on the internet, as he was over reacting to Trolls. Basically, the caller was trying to help him, and tell him not to feed the trolls. But Goldstein would not listen. The soundclip is here (some explicit content):
Then Goldstein threatened to sue somethingaweful.com, and boasted about the large number of lawyers in his family, and the large number of guns in his house (more than what the local police department had). Something Aweful moderators thought things had gone too far, banned a few people on the forums, and closed a few threads.
The matter could have ended there, but some people from somethingaweful.com ran over to big brother /b/ on 4chan (more on that later), with an appeal for help. Someone discovered that Goldstein charged $199 to rid a computer of all viruses, and deemed it too costly. Then all hell broke loose. Someone poked around, got his hacker tools together, and focused on Goldstein. Goldstein’s website was taken down, and the website of his service provider was also taken down. His MySpace account was broken into, personal information stolen, and defaced.
Then things broke out into the real world. Sex workers of various genders were called to Goldstein’s house. Free magazine subscriptions were delivered. Boxes and packages of every kind of free sample was sent by the kinder people. Posters warning of Swine Flu and AIDS were pasted around his home and workplace. Pizza joints around his house were ordered to send boxes of pizzas over. Various kinds of religious literature were also sent over. Sex toys, condoms and tubes of lubrication were shipped over at no cost.
Goldstein didn’t know whom to sue, or whom to fire at. He just learnt not to cross the wrong side of the internet the hard way.
Goatse is one of the most famous shock images to circulate the internet. Goatse was the original Rickroll, a shocking image that sprang up on unsuspecting surfers. There seem to be "waves" of Goatse activity, as every new generation of internet junkies are introduced to the image. First posted on message boards, the image became well known somewhere around the turn of the century. The image was named hello.jpg, on Goatse.cx, a shock website. There have been many spoofs going around, including this famous picture, called "God's hands".
Bloodninja trolled individuals, on IM and on private chats in IRC channels. The approach was this: entice people into cybersex, and then chat something so ludicrous that they just turn tail and log off. Sometimes, they would play along for some time, imagining that things would get better. The results were posted on forums, and screen captures were circulated as forwards. Other people started using the same handle, and some indulged in the same activity using different names. Bloodninja has faded away, despite the large number of impersonators, the genius of the original cybersex trolling stands out by a mile. This troll is immortalized in songs and t-shirts with his quotes are sold online, his most famous line is "I put on my robe and wizard hat". This one is one of our favorites:
j_gurli13: i start unbuttoning ur shirt.
Bloodninja: Rhinoceruses don't wear shirts.
j_gurli13: No, ur not really a Rhinocerus silly, it's just part of the game.
Bloodninja: Rhinoceruses don't play games. They f**king charge your a**.
j_gurli13: stop, cmon be serious.
Bloodninja: It doesn't get any more serious than a Rhinocerus about to charge your a**.
Bloodninja: I stomp my feet, the dust stirs around my tough skinned feet.
j_gurli13: thats it.
Bloodninja: Nostrils flaring, I lower my head. My horn, like some phallic symbol of my potent virility, is the last thing you see as skulls collide and mine remains the victor. You are now a bloody red ragdoll suspended in the air on my mighty horn.
Bloodninja: F**k am I hard now.
If you like it, head out to http://people.ambrosiasw.com/~andrew/funny/bloodcyber.html for more.
Anonymous is a bunch of random people on the web working together, with a whole bunch of extremely successful attacks that they can claim credit for. Thousands of users gather together under the banner, and they have a code, one of the central tenets of which is "Anon is Legion." Anonymous is the most active trolling community there is. There are a few Anonymous who make the tools, plan out the raids, and lay down the procedure. Everyone else simply follows them, and Anon's strength is in the numbers. The trolls gather together in a handful of online forums and image boards. These are ebaumsworld, something awful, and the chans (4chan, 7chan, 888chan among others). The tools are hosted at websites such as insurgen.cc, where raids are mentioned along with the tools. What have these people done? They fixed the TIME magazine poll, for the personality of the year. Not only did they fix who won, but they also fixed the first 10 winners, spelling out the words MARBLECAKE, ALSO THE GAME. The list is official, for everyone to see, and TIME could not do anything about it.
At first, Anonymous just wanted to put moot (the owner of 4chan) at the top of the list. This was easily achieved, without even scripts or any kind of coding involved. This was achieved by giving Moot high ratings, while rating everyone else as low as possible. TIME caught up, and shaved off the top 5% and bottom 5% of the votes from their counting system. This was a small challenge to the might of Anon, and they responded. Scripts were written that gave random values to everyone on the list, but with a certain target window in mind. Each person on the list was given a particular position on the list. Deployed from different IP addresses from around the world, there was nothing that TIME could do, but publish their obviously fixed poll.
Recently, Anonymous made #gorillapenis a trending topic on twitter in a span of a few hours. It started off as an idea; the whole operation was blamed on ebaumsworld, when it was actually 4chan that came up with the gameplan. While a bunch of people used #gorillapenis from their own twitter accounts, insurgen.cc hosted scripts that allowed people to quickly create multiple twitter accounts, then spam with random text including the word "#gorillapenis". Twitter was (relatively) fast to act, and the trending topic was removed.
Another famous raid was a whole bunch of Anons posting porn clips on YouTube. Anon focused on spamming YouTube with a large quantity of small clips. As YouTube users began flagging offending clips, Anon started flagging perfectly normal clips as porn, which confused those managing YouTube even further. Then Anon pulled tricks like having a regular video play for the first few seconds before porn suddenly showed up.
These are however, just a few of the more recent trolling activity by anonymous. Rest assured that there is much more to come from at least this group.