Friday, November 14, 2008

Trolls and Axes: A World of Bancraft

Let's start with a definition: "An Internet troll, or simply troll in internet slang is someone who posts controversial, inflammatory, irrelevant or off-topic messages in an online community, such as an online discussion forum or chat room with the intention of provoking other users into an emotional response to generally disrupt normal on-topic discussion." (Wikipedia)

And now a second one:
"The axe, or ax, is an implement that has been used for millenia to shape, split and cut wood, harvest timber, as a weapon and a ceremonial or heraldic symbol. Antique axes and their modern reproductions, like the tomahawk, often had a simple, straight haft with a circular cross-section that wedged onto the axe-head without the aid of wedges or pins. Modern hafts are curved for better grip and to aid in the swinging motion, and are mounted securely to the head." (Wikipedia as well)

To be more specific, the link between the troll and the axe is that the axe can be used to smash the troll's head and get rid of his threatening presence. But that's an image of course. In modern times, the troll is not really a troll and the axe is not really an axe. We already know what the modern troll is. It's well-explained in the definition above. But what is the axe?

The axe is protean (meaning it can take several forms).

The administator's axe is the bankick, the administrator being the druid of the village. It's a powerful weapon that makes the troll disappear in one click. But before you can use it, you need to upgrade your character. You basically need 150 points of magic to get it, but once you have it, you're the master of the map. You can even resurrect the dead troll and throw it against your ennemies.

The standard player's axe is the report. You don't need experience to use it, but it's more efficient when you're a senior player. All you need here is a simple right click with the mouse and then you have to fill a form: "This person broke the rules of the forum by posting a sexist thread plus he made fun about my own thread dealing with vegetarian food." You won't destroy the troll at once with that weapon, but if many players use it at the same time and combine their energy, that could raise the attention of the druid who'll decide to use his magic.

Another axe is the nasty reply. This is the most common defense against the troll. Verbal abuse is not very powerful against an upgraded troll, but it's a fast and simple answer to the threat. Irony, combined with smileys (like in: "I supposed what you wrote was meant to be funny, sorry if I didn't laugh"), is a bit more effective, but not quite enough. Ignoring is by far the best defense. But like in the report situation, it has to be built as a team. If one breaks the rule and attacks uncovered, the battle is lost and the troll wins.

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