Beware of the Lulz

A troll posts nasty or random comments in a discussion thread with the intent on creating a reaction. Apparently they believe they’re doing something useful — puncturing your self-regard or educating you on how stupid you are.

“Lulz” is how trolls keep score. A corruption of “LOL” or “laugh out loud,” “lulz” means the joy of disrupting another’s emotional equilibrium. “Lulz is watching someone lose their mind at their computer 2,000 miles away while you chat with friends and laugh,” said one ex-troll..

I came across this remarkable story about trolling that raises some wild questions about the health and future of our culture and the Internet.

Some more choice quotes from the New York Times story:

Fortuny spent most of the weekend in his bedroom juggling several windows on his monitor. One displayed a chat room run by Encyclopedia Dramatica, an online compendium of troll humor and troll lore. It was buzzing with news of an attack against the Epilepsy Foundation’s Web site. Trolls had flooded the site’s forums with flashing images and links to animated color fields, leading at least one photosensitive user to claim that she had a seizure.

Fortuny disagreed. In his mind, subjecting epileptic users to flashing lights was justified. “Hacks like this tell you to watch out by hitting you with a baseball bat,” he told me. “Demonstrating these kinds of exploits is usually the only way to get them fixed.”

“So the message is ‘buy a helmet,’ and the medium is a bat to the head?” I asked.

“No, it’s like a pitcher telling a batter to put on his helmet by beaning him from the mound. If you have this disease and you’re on the Internet, you need to take precautions.” A few days later, he wrote and posted a guide to safe Web surfing for epileptics.

2 thoughts on “Beware of the Lulz”

  1. Great info Rik. Certainly once we get the nerve up to post and go public with thoughts, feelings and insights, a direct and calculated attack is quite startling and deeply disturbing. i’ll steel myself just in case and spread a little Kootenay love to counter.

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