A layman’s field guide to tech trolls


The world of technology can be an amazing, awe-inspiring place, where a torrent of innovation constantly makes gadgets faster, slimmer, cheaper, and more useful to mankind. But lurking in caves and under shadows, travelers will find a savage varmint unlike all other creatures who call this world home: trolls. So strap on your mud boots, and travel with us into a stank, hideous underbelly of the tech world, where skepticism reigns and causing misery is the order of the day. Here are some of the creatures you’ll spot along the way.

Common Internet troll


Description: First discovered in Usenet groups from the early 1990s, the common Internet troll finds intense pleasure in the frustration of others. This pleasure most often presents itself in the form of “lulz,” a kind of high-pitched cackle that has been known to drive weaker breeds of Web users to the brink of suicide. As a species, Internet trolls are highly allergic to genuine sincerity, and react violently when confronted with any human emotion other than outrage. Internet trolls survive best in environments with high levels of gullibility.

Habitat: Forums, Facebook Pages, Yahoo News

YouTube troll


Description: While not a separate species from the common Internet troll, the YouTube breed is distinct in its vicious streak and unique inability to spell. The YouTube troll can often be spotted building crude piles of racism, sexism, and homophobia around the video-sharing site where it resides.

Despite its highly confrontational demeanor online, the YouTube troll shows intensely timid behavior when disconnected from the Web, a characteristic that some have likened to the manure of the common chicken. Around age 13, the YouTube troll begins to build a fragile cocoon, which it enters for a period of one to three years. When it emerges, it has miraculously transformed into a human being. Some YouTube trolls fail to go through this metamorphosis.

Habitat: YouTube

Patent trolls

a tech watchers field guide to trolls patent troll

Description: Leech-like in nature, the patent troll feeds off of the hard work of others. It does so by harvesting patent claims off the corpses of bankrupt companies, then using a fist-full of its bounty to bludgeon healthy companies until they cough up cash, which is subsequently gobbled up at a staggering rate. The seed of a patent troll is so potent that the very presence of one can cause other beings to grow new patent trolls on their backs. A refusal to pay out-of-court settlements is the only known defense against a patent troll.

Habitat: Back-room offices of most major technology corporations

Copyright trolls


Description: A direct descendant of the patent troll, copyright trolls are known for their miserly nature and ability to hoard endless amounts of intellectual property, which they use for the sole purpose of causing others irritation and a loss of cash flow. The copyright troll needs out-of-court settlements to grow, and can only be killed by judges with a keen nose for anything that smells like extortion.

Habitat: Pornography studios, and low-rent publishing houses

Xbox trolls


Description: A close cousin of the YouTube troll, the Xbox troll most often has a bulbous, oozing body that is 40 percent sphincter, 60 percent mouth. The Xbox troll has a generally limited vocabulary, but is uniquely adept at spouting vulgarities at a near-constant rate, in a nasally high-pitched tone. While Xbox trolls are known for their tenacity, the species has a short life span, and can generally not survive past age 9.

Habitat: Grungy basement dens