Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Troll Meter

Since SecondLife isn't a game, there aren't really any power levels or energy points to keep track of, unless you wear some sort of gimmicked hud for something kinda lame like vampires or Gor.

There is, however, a level everyone uses in SecondLife that's actually too complelx and too subtle to represent with a computer graphic.  It's the Troll-Meter.

The Troll-Meter measures how much people on SecondLife can and will make fun of you.  The best score is 100 and the lowest score is 0.

A person, new to SecondLife, starts off with a score of 50.  It's 50 because there are lots of people who will make fun of them just for being new.  As they learn to use the interface and understand the complex currents of social insanity, their score gradually increases.

There are some things that lower the sore, like:
  • being stupid
  • having a speech impediment
  • habitual drug or alcohol abuse
  • unattractiveness
  • variance from English standard western culture
  • pride, vanity, hubris
  • bad singing
  • bad joke telling
  • inappropriate or lame sexual activity
  • boasting or lying about things other people know a lot more about
  • joining the bandwagon
  • not joining the bandwagon
  • and many more

People pick up on these things and troll you about them to lower your self-esteem.  Allowing your self-esteem to be lowered also lowers your Troll-Meter score.

The Troll-Meter doesn't actually enhance the SecondLife experience in any way, but because it exists, some people slavishly tend to it, comparing their score to others and trolling everyone they can in an attempt to raise their own.  Trolling others doesn't actually raise one's own Troll-Meter score though, it just makes you feel better about it.

As your score lowers, other people begin to troll you almost compulsively.  I guess they don't want to be the last person on the grid to join the fun of trolling person X.

Some people, like Harrison Digfoot or Jonny Rumsford,  have a Troll-Meter score so low they can hardly go anywhere on SecondLife without being trolled.  Their only possible refuge at this point is a place like Heather's Welcome Area, which actually probably wouldn't be a bad idea for either of them.  It is possible to love somebody back to a healthy troll-meter score, but that kind of love is pretty scarce in most places for most people.

The other day, Harrison TP'ed into a place, and a woman who'd never seen him before began to troll him, simply because others were and, being a social creature, she figured joining in the troll might raise her own Troll-Meter score.

A friend of mine tried to point out the obvious to this woman, that having never seen or heard of Harrison before, she had no reason to troll him, but it went completely over her head.  She even tried to get Harrison to sing, thinking (since he's a fairly good musician) it would stem the flow of troll-hate toward him, but, to no avail, all they did was troll his singing ability.

There is one thing that pretty much always raises your Troll-Meter score.  That is: not giving a shit. 

Not, saying you "give no shits", but then responding by trolling back as hard as you can or trying to befriend griefers to attack your trolls for you, Jonny.  No, you have to genuinely not care what the trolls does or says.  You have to take your ego out of the game entirely.  You don't even have to say you don't care, saying you don't care is usually a signal you do, all you have to do is simply not care and the balance of power shifts immediately. 

The Troll-Meter exists because, as human beings, we evolved from ape-like creatures who lived in social troupes where maintaining a place in the pecking order often meant life and death and certainly impacted the odds of reproducing your genes.

We actually have evolved to a point where this pecking order isn't entirely necessary, but it's incredibly difficult to get people to leave it behind.  I suppose in a new environment, like virtual reality, people are insecure because it's new, so they fall back on their oldest behavior patterns to help develop a sense of themselves in the new environment.  If that's true, then the Troll-Meter will probably dissipate over time.  One can only hope so.


  1. Where does having your own bandwagon land?

  2. None of what you've listed actually applies to trolling.,2542,t=trolling&i=53181,00.asp#

  3. I have said it before Boyd: you dont seem to know what the word 'Troll' means.

    You should look it up Boyd.

    I guess it is possible that you are trolling the likes of me and Mouski with an intentionally ignorant use of the word, but I doubt it.

  4. The first time I encountered the term troll it was on BBS forums which weren't real time.

    Say you were on a BBS dedicated to Star Trek and the message forums were devoted to different aspects of the show.

    A troll was somebody who would post a message to the thread about Klingons saying Klingons were gay and Star Trek was gay, just for the fun of all the upset responses he'd get.

    It referenced older users of the word "troll" in two ways. First it was like fishermen who dragged baited lines or nets trolling for fish. The poster's message was the baited line or net and the upset responses were the fish.

    The other reference was to the trolls under the bridge in fairy tales which harassed people as they were trying to conduct their normal business.

    In terms of SecondLife, a person who says or does offensive or crazy things just to get a response out of people would reasonably be called a troll because they are doing the same thing as those early BBS trolls.


Vendors and Creators