Category Archives: Trolls

Absolute Zero

Returning from holidays (which turned out to be shockingly snow-less) never fails to leave me slightly wistful – oh ye blessed free time, such a sweet life it could be without work! People keep saying that we need to work in order to appreciate our time off properly, you know all that ying-yang rubbish. Sometimes I wonder if these people have ever actually been off for longer than a few weeks? I could do with more spare time. Lots! I never get bored.

Anyways, back to work and the blog, I noticed that trolls without a Rent-a-Troll© approved certificate of authenticity have been busy in my absence – I guess I should’ve known the competition strikes when I’m not around! Over 10 people (shockingly anonymorons) felt the need to post the exact same thing in an older post of mine about the silly item names in Cataclysm, pointing out how utterly stupid I am for not getting the actual meaning of “belt of absolute zero”. Squirrel did of course make quick work of them and while I’m way more inclined to get amused about comments such as these and make fun of their authors rather than getting upset, the occurrence inspired me to take up a topic I’ve been wanting to blog on for a while now. What a nice opportunity.

Bridges, Walls and Language

The WoW blogosphere can seem daunting to freshly starting bloggers: such a huge playfield of well-connected blogging veterans and regulars, so many blogs to explore, so many bloggers and commenters to get to know. Over time however, you realize that it’s actually quite a cosy place to be in, a village much rather than a mega-city. Oh, every now and then a wave of wild guests from WoW Insider and Co. will find their way into this part of Azeroth and its inhabitants too, like to tease each other and even brawl sometime; life gets boring and stagnant without the odd argument. It’s really up to you though how much you’d like to engage in the more active and maybe heated part of things – there’s room for pretty much any type of blogger, just like there is an audience for every writer.

If you’re a fairly regular blogreader in this village (and a nosy person like me) you will gather more demographic information about the blogs you like to frequent over time: maybe what age the author is, what he or she is doing for a living, what their geographic location is. Some bloggers are more forthcoming in this respect than others, either by leaving an about-section or writing more personal posts sometime where the reader can glimpse a little of the person behind the screen.

Personally I enjoy getting to know authors more personally; it’s not that I actually care if they’re male or female, 20 or 50 years old, but I’m naturally curious about people and the background they’re coming from. I’m also not ashamed to admit a slight tendency to groupie-ism, or rather enthusiasm in following news and background history of authors I enjoy reading (I love you, Neil!). Writing and reading are about connecting for me.

A particular thing I’ve always enjoyed about the blogosphere is that unlike to when we’re playing on our servers, there’s no separation between EU and US players. A large group of the blogs linked on my blogroll are authors from across Europe, probably as many as there are American writers (I don’t think I noticed anyone blogging out of Asia yet but maybe they’re just good at hiding?). We get to communicate and share our experiences – and we realize just how little it really matters where somebody is from. That is not the determining factor about people, no matter what those who like to build walls instead of bridges would have us believe.

What I’ve always loved most about online gaming and MMOs is this “global village”; talking to somebody halfway across the globe whom you’d otherwise have never ever met and realizing just how much you can have in common. And a shared language is of course the central means for this; it is the meeting stone, it sets the stage for more interaction. In this case English which serves as a lingua franca worldwide.

I’m sure we’ve all met WoW gamers that actually struggled with speaking the accepted, official server language, be it that they weren’t native speakers or were suffering from some other cause that would impede their ability to communicate. While many guilds use voice comms, the main communication in MMOs still happens via written chat. That can be a big disadvantage depending on the environment of the player and the requirements set before him, for example by a raidguild that expects its members to actively and vocally participate in ongoing discussions. I remember many occasions when the guilds I was in would turn players down or at least heavily debate their application on grounds of not being able to communicate properly. And I think that is a legitimate concern – even if it felt a little lousy to me each time.

In the WoW blogosphere too, your language skill can be to your advantage or disadvantage. I would argue that it’s directly connected to a blogger’s success, but if written language is the central medium and in the spotlight like it is on a blog for example, then your background and level of literacy adds to the impact of your posts and the appreciation you might receive from your readers – especially, if you manage to impress with both content depth and writing style. I’m not talking about things like typos here, I doubt a lot of people care for them nearly as much as I care about mine. What I mean is the actual “high end” of literary skill: stylistics, rhetoric, semantic finesse.

Now I’d never claim that these accomplished skills actually go hand in hand with native speakers; I’ve studied language learning and linguistics and I’ve taught languages for several years at different schools and on different levels, to all kinds of students. Quite often a non-native speaker would match or surpass his class mates: talent and passion aren’t things you can teach. Also, if I am to believe my English WoW mates, the “worst English” can be found on the island and of course everyone likes to refer to the horribly incorrect, clichéd American English we get to watch on youtube and co. (which of course is totally representative for all Americans..). Just because I’m not a native speaker doesn’t mean all native speakers speak or write better English than me – no argument there. Still, there are natural “gaps” that will come up sometime from not actually living or having grown up in anglo-cultural background or an English-speaking society.

A big part of language knowledge is based on pragmatics: that affects how we understand each other in relation to all sorts of non-linguistic knowledge and psycho-linguistic factors. Another important role play sociolinguistics: factors like cultural background, but also age, sex, level of education etc. all shape our perception and ultimately how we understand, judge and value not only the world around us, but all ongoing communication.

Blogging in a second language

I think sometimes WoW players on English-speaking servers (no matter UK or US) forget that not all the people they’re playing with are actually of native English background. That makes for some funny puns at best and unhappy misunderstandings at worst. I’ve seen a player take serious offense at a well-meant joke, either because his level of English was beginner or because what was said simply wasn’t very funny where he came from. That can be a tricky situation to deal with and it’s usually not made better by defending the maybe harmless intention with a smug and arrogant air of “lingual leadership” (“my language, my server, punk”).

The same can be said for blogging. A while ago I wrote an article on how we tend to forget that the other bloggers and readers we’re talking to aren’t necessarily playing the same WoW that we are playing. This extends to language as well: sometimes people forget that speaking English doesn’t mean somebody’s English (or alternatively, they don’t realize the world reaches farther than the end of their nose). I guess to some extent this can be seen as a compliment, a testimony to a writer’s skills if you will. Yet, I’ve cringed many times when reading through a fellow European blogger’s article, seeing readers pick them apart for literally misreading a patchnote or leaving petty, formal attacks rather than commenting on anything substantial to the article.

Than can of course happen to any author: nobody’s safe from stupid, not even the most glorious writers. To me, it’s usually overly apparent though when a reference, idiom or jargon term is being misunderstood because the person lacks either cultural or colloquial knowledge or special lingo, rather than linguistic knowledge. Especially if you know little about someone, it’s an option to consider. Then again, if you already fail to tell these things apart, you probably cannot be expected to know what you’re dealing with anyway..

Just to clarify: I don’t mind a commenter who rectifies me on an error or educates me on something in the process of an exchange – in fact I find this helpful and enriching. What I find rather pitiful however, are people who nitpick for nitpicking’s sake, or make a comment section sound like a broken record. A close friend of mine is an outstanding writer himself but shies away from giving English blogging a go exactly for this reason. And I know bloggers in this blogosphere too who are very self-conscious about their articles because they aren’t native speakers. And they really shouldn’t have to be: not only are they producing brilliant texts, but they’re doing it in a second language. 

And yeah, I know: if you can’t take the heat, you probably shouldn’t be out there blogging. I still think it’s a little bit sad though – way of the world or not. As a sidenote, I also find such uninspired comments almost offensive in their lack of finesse and commenters who lack any sort of imagination or creativity so entirely in their trolling, are an incredibly boring lot. Maybe I can help once more?

Dear fellows

To the boring, uncertified trolls, a few kind words:

• I’m not native to English so it can happen that I miss an existing reference from within the field of physics – shocking, I know. (I speak 5 languages fluently by the way. You?)

• Repeating the exact same thing like the 9 people above you, doesn’t make you look very clever. I know some people actually don’t comment on blogs for the sake of exchange, ignoring everything else; find my special Email link for you at the bottom of that page.

• Semantically speaking, “absolute zero” is funney. But of course, if very smart people in history named it that changes everything. Mea culpa! That means “my bad” in latin, by the way.

• It looks to me like you could use some training. Find a selection of properly educated, sophisticated trollery on my page here. I am accepting beginners, although your clear lack of trollish language skills might prove too great a handicap to overcome!

To all of you out there who blog in a second language or are overly self-conscious about writing errors:

Don’t worry. It’s not about the odd mistake but what the person on the receiving end likes to focus on the most. You know, pragmatics and sociolinguistics. Or maybe just dickery.

Don’t waste your time on such things, they matter not, nothing – absolute zero.
Happy blogging everybody and a good weekend to all the creative and the inspired.

P.S. I have deliberately placed 3 errors in this article, of either grammatical, semantic or textual nature. If you can spot them all and send me an Email with the correct answers, you shall be awarded an exclusive Raging Monkey’s “Blogger-Sherlock of the Month”-Award©!

Rent-a-Troll© services coming to you!

We’re living in beautiful times. There is a service for almost every of our needs, a gigantic industry revolving around providing and catering to our comforts. If you don’t manage to cook or clean up anymore because of your excessive time spent on World of Warcraft, just call up a number and get that pizza delivered straight home while the laundry service takes care of the washing and dry-cleaning. Too lazy to go shopping? PC homeshopping! Can’t be arsed to answer the phone? Here’s a catalog to the latest generation of answering machines! Can’t reach the light switch? Clap your hands twice!

We’ve seen a lot of trolling in the WoW blogosphere lately. These are busy times, Larísa and Tobold can both tell you about it and so can numerous other bloggers. Dealing with trolls is interesting at best, but unfortunately it doesn’t end there. Yet some bloggers think that getting a troll is like an “award” of sorts, some bizarre recognition of your blog’s publicity or the relevance of your opinions – rather than someone really bored, being really stupid and boring on your everyday blog.

So after reading this post over at Pugnacious Priest, I was thinking that surely there can be something done about that! It is definitely not right that some bloggers should be excluded from trolling, I believe in equal opportunities for everybody! And as I have just recently (accidentally! /blush) managed to “export” a troll from Raging Monkeys over to Tam and Chas at Righteous Orbs, I figured I have a knack for this kinda thing – I can help the Pugnacious Priest and all other bloggers out that would love a troll of their own!

Are you tired to be left out on the trolling? Yearning for the genuine experience?  Welcome to the exclusive Raging Monkeys troll market! See our selection of troll rentals exclusively designed to your personal comfort below!

Take your pick – we got them all!

(A- Level) The LOL-Troll©

The LOL-Troll is a first level troll: he is generally cheap and doesn’t put a lot of effort into his trolling. His comments rarely make sense and aren’t on topic – this troll is not looking to argue, he is here to mock you and make fun of a single word or argument in your post. Leetspeak will frequently occur.

At some point during the exchange with the LOL-Troll, you will start wondering which of your not-so-friendly ex-guildmates might have stumbled upon your blog.

Specials: Personal attacks, sarcasm, excessive mockery. Status: on stock.

(B- Level) The Extremist©

The Extremist is looking for specific parts in your argument for him to twist or take out of context. He is fond of hyperbole and passive-aggressive by default, convinced that you are out to impose your personal views on the entire world. He will therefore seek to undermine your reasoning by taking all your thoughts to extremes, trying to brand you as the self-righteous hypocrite you really aren’t. You will frequently find this troll making statements like “and where do you draw the line?!” or “stop playing God!”. Living in a world of stark black and white, the subtleties of differentiation or common sense elude the Extremist.

Specials: Hyperbole, presumption, selective hearing. Status: on stock.

(C- Level) The Preacher©

The Preacher is a bigot in disguise. Trying to present himself as a considerate and committed commenter, this troll is actually not looking for serious debate. Self-righteous in nature, the Preacher is the ultimate authority and keeper of truths: because he is right, you can only be wrong. He is looking to “win” arguments and will aim to undermine your integrity by condescension, biased attacks and stereotyping.

On his crusade to make everybody see the error of their ways, the Preacher will use a large toolbox of rhetoric twists while cunningly ignoring all counter-arguments pointed at the innumerable holes in his logic. You will find yourself running in circles or whack-a-moling while trying to discuss with this specimen. The Preacher loves the sound of his own voice.

Specials: Circular argument, rhetoric tautology, excessive use of WoT. Status: on stock.


All Rent-a-Trolls© are made of genuine, 24-carat bullshit and come with their own special cardboard box and factory seal.

This is NOT a Rent-a-Troll©! Beware of scammers!

Unfortunately the troll market has not escaped the ever-growing industry of piracy. We are currently taking legal action against the distribution of unlicensed troll look-a-likes and illegal replica, distributed by an aggressive Asian manufacturer who has started to copy and sell sub-standard specimens under the label “troll”. Please beware of related phishing emails and fake Rent-a-Troll© advertisement! We would also like to point out briefly how to look out for fakes:

This is no troll. This is merely an intense commenter. He sets himself apart from genuine trolls in several essential ways. The intense commenter is very opinionated and passionate, looking to test his strong views against yours. He might even provoke you a little to engage in conversation with him. He will write longer comments than others and can get heated when feeling misunderstood. However, this commenter is genuinely interested in debate and grasps the concept of respecting different viewpoints. He will always criticize or attack arguments, never the person. He lacks any sense of self-entitlement, is capable to switch perspectives and can agree to disagree. This commenter is worth your time, he is for real and comes for free.

Do not mistake this commenter for a troll, he does not meet the required quality standards! Raging Monkeys will not reimburse any costs related to fake troll services!

Additional details and shipping information

Please note that Rent-a-Troll© services are currently exclusive to World of Warcraft blogs. The standard Rent-A-Troll© package consists of a troll of your choice, bringing jolly good trolling to your WoW blog for the duration of 2 weekdays, starting on the following Monday of receiving email confirmation. On expiration of this period, the troll will vanish and head back to the mothership.

Rent-a-Troll© services are currently free of charge (non-refundable). Customers looking to rent a professional troll are kindly requested to place their order to Raging Monkeys through the Mail Monkey system (see our side-panel). Information on the troll specimen of your choice and your blog’s URL are required. As we are expecting a massive demand, you may only order one troll service per blog at this time. Overseas deliveries (USA, Asia, Australia, Africa) might take up to 3-5 days of additional wait time.

Raging Monkeys deny responsibility for any potential harm done to your blog by a Rent-a-Troll©. Any damages action or claims for compensation are refuted. There is no right of appeal.

Happy shopping!

P.S. All troll comments in response to this thread will be deleted, unless submitted with a genuine Raging Monkeys certificate of trollish authenticity. Good luck with that!

Rent-a-Troll© is a Raging Monkeys trademark. All rights reserved.

So when’s the last time you /played the game?

All MMO players and WoW players especially, know about the significance of the /played command in the game. In World of Warcraft it is often subject of running gags, guild mates teasing one another or daring each other to do a /played. Not rarely does it happen that a player will outright refuse to tell you his number and even those that do, usually cringe at least for one moment before going over to long justifications about the result, explaining how “this isn’t the net time played after all, a lot of it is also AFK” or “but I have no alts beside this” and so forth. Really, /played is a bit of a taboo in the game and it makes me a little sad because that shows us one thing: that most MMO players still feel a certain amount of shame or guilt regarding their hobby.

I’ve been reluctant to check my /played time in WoW myself in the past and really need to ask myself why – I’m most certainly not ashmed of being a gamer. I’ve been involved in video games all my life, briefly even professionally. I’m a self-proclaimed proud-to be gamer and geek. I run around wearing Leeroy Jenkins and “Green is the New Purple” T-Shirts (yes, outside my home) and there’s nobody in my family or wider circle of friends that doesn’t know about my hobbies. At my workplace I am happy to inform whomever likes to know too. There’s a shiny figureprint of Syl sat next to the monitor I’m writing this article on.

Yet and despite all of that, apparently something’s wrong with /played. I don’t know if it’s the ingame mocking à la “you addict!” that usually goes with it, even the friendly one, but somehow there’s a semi-conscious part of me deep down inside, that still believes the time I spend in WoW is outrageously too high “for a useless hobby like that” – huh? OH JUST SHUT UP!!!

The thing is, I don’t actually believe that’s true. For one, I probably have a very average playtime in WoW and the game has never created any form of issues or impacted negatively on things in real life for me – in fact quite the opposite. There’s times when I haven’t played WoW and times when I’ve played it lots. I don’t see how it’s different from enjoying any other hobbies or pastimes that aren’t directly “useful” but entertaining. I believe WoW is a great deal more social than some other activities the way I play it. You can also actually learn a lot in this game, if you chose to.

Many other WoW players will share these views with me. So why is there still this controversial, guilty feeling about the /played command among gamers? Have we simply heard the negative stereotypes for too long? After all the media are ever-eager to convince the world that online gaming equals drug addiction and causes babies to starve in Korea.

What’s the point of /played anyway?

Have you ever asked yourself what the use of the /played command in the game might be? I am wondering about this a bit. I know the feature can be found in other MMOs too and I can’t help but marvel at the idea behind this – why did Blizzard install it in the game? Why this focus on “time spent” in the online gaming branch especially?
You will struggle to find many other hobbies where measuring quantity is actually a concern; the guy that spends several nights a week in his football club, avidly plays the piano, is regularly hanging out with buddies in bars or watching TV in the evenings, wouldn’t do a /played or /drank or /TV every few months to double-check and question his favored activities. Even for most other games on PC or console there is no such data – at most you’ll find a time indication on your saves that counts net time. Nobody would ever bother to ask about it.

It almost feels as if the game you love to play is agreeing with those trying to tell you that you spend “sooooooo much time!” by storing this ever-increasing number as if it was important. I fail to see a dev’s reasoning here; in any case if they thought it would serve as player-epeen or decoration in WoW they have utterly missed their point.

Laughing in the face of /played

Anyhow, I do hereby protest against the tyranny and taboo of  /played in WoW and all other forms thereof in other MMOs! I refuse to feel guilty over a number that can never express the myriads of emotions and experiences I’ve had and made through this game, the countless adventures, moments of epic win, the endless fun and joy shared in the great company of friends over the past few years. If my time spent on the game is all that interests you about it, then GFY. ^^ I happen to enjoy this game. I’m having good times with it.

As for the number, writing about it actually got me intrigued and since we’re kinda at the doorstep of Cata, it feels like the perfect time to have a look –

*quickly logging into WoW*

–  253 days.
That’s since the EU launch in February 2005, counting my main character and also the sole lowbie alt I am rumored to have. Assuming that I’ve played the game for 68 months, that breaks down to 12% of that time or 20 hours a week. If a player’s active time in the game (=actually being ingame at the keyboard) is roughly 80% of the total number, that means I’ve spent an average of 16 hours of gaming and socializing in WoW per week.
I enjoyed every minute of it (ok, not so much that one exalted grind in Silithus) and I would never wanna miss that time in my life. Yeah, I could’ve learned a sixth language instead or restore world peace – I could also have done a lot of silly or stupid things instead, so make of that what you will. I’ll say 253 days of good fun – wohoo, YAY, /cheer!

If you ever want to know my playtime in WoW again at some point in the future, I’m happy to answer your question without cringing. I also dare you all to check your /played next time you log into the game and tell all your friends (feel free to add it in a comment too!), not because it matters but exactly because it does not!

P.S. It is highly probable, if not to say very likely, that I made a calculation error somewhere in that last bit, in which case I’m happy to be rectified. It is rather late here and I’ve never been much for maths – there be dragons.

Update: I need to thank all the trolls that have repeatedly tried to derail the comment thread to this topic, spamming me with wild accusations or threatening me (on my own blog) that I have “crossed the line” – you have all proven my point better than I ever could have. It is no wonder so few WoW gamers publicly admit to their hobby or time spent in the game. Further spam or trolling will be deleted – my blog, my rules, ya know.

He who judges does not define that which is judged, but only defines himself as someone who needs to judge.”