Sunday, 26 October 2014

Trolls, Internet Tough Guys, and Digital Citizenship

During last week's online session I was surprised at how many people in the class had never heard the term troll with regards to on-line behavior. But with a little further reflection I guess I really have only come across the term when I'm doing something probably not many in this class do, and that's online gaming. So I thought I'd take a different approach to my blog this week and write about my experience with internet trolls.

Having played online games for years such as World of Warcraft and now Dota 2, you really get a good idea of a lot of internet slang. And the trolls, oh my the trolls. It is unfortunate that when I do actually have 30 minutes to unwind these great games are usually taken over by trolls and you basically have to ignore chat altogether. To show examples of this I literally only had to go to my last game played and take some screen shots.

If you can't make it out, "tunker" asks if a player doing poorly is from poor country (he knows he is because you can check in the profile even in game) and harasses him about being from Peru and that he hates having "banana farmers" in his games.

As you can see in the chat in the middle of the screen our troll "tunker" is unhappy that he is losing.
Often times when a player is doing poorly or hurting the team he is harassed in the worst way possible. In Dota 2, which takes place on the Steam gaming network, people can see what country you are from. In this case "tunker" decides to make fun of the country the player he is trolling is from. The harassment can often be done with swearing, with extreme racism, and basically anything one could type to get someone else angry.

There isn't a lot someone can do to fight back this harassing in game. You can ignore all chat, but sometimes that leaves you in a tactical disadvantage. Thankfully they implemented an ignoring a specific player feature which blocks all communication from them. You can report the offenders in game, but the worst penalty I've seen handed out was a 24 hour ban from the game.

With the anonymity of the internet you almost daily see people act totally differently than how they would act in real life. It's unfortunate but it's a reality.

We all know the extreme pains that bullying in any form can cause, and online bullying is no exception. In our school division we are required to teach "Digital Citizenship" lessons each year to our students to show them how to properly behave when online.
This poster basically sums up the main ideas of the lessons. It's a great resource and the lessons we have are fantastic. If you would like to take a look at the lessons they are available at

When looking at what people were adding to the last slide Tuesday about what they would like to imprint on their students, someone shared they would like to create respectful and caring digital citizens. This is an area that is truly important with our children spending more and more time online and making sure they know what's appropriate in their "digital lives".


  1. Great post Clayton. I have to admit that I had never heard of the word troll in regards to online identities. I have come across a few in my days and now they have a title! Thanks for explaining it a little bit more for me!

  2. It's a shame that people feel the need to be so verbally aggressive in the online gaming world. Like you said, it is a way for you to unwind and often messages such as "tunker's" can have the opposite effect. As adults we know how to respond (or not) to attempted harassment such as that, but I worry about how our students can become engaged in the online trolling.

  3. I had never heard the phrase of a troll on the internet before this past week and it shocked me that we actually need a name for these types of people on the internet. What I find crazy is how it seems some of these people just never did grow up or grow out of being that hurtful. I agree with Barbara that I worry about my students and them not knowing how to respond. Last week we had a guest presenter talking about internet safety to a few classes and some of my students had knowledge and experience with this while others didn't. I think things like trolls on the internet are the reason why I am nervous introducing more technology to my students. That being said what I have found out more now is that no matter what it can happen to our students so ignoring the issue as teachers won't make it go away.