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I'm your host, Jester. I've been an EVE Online player for about six years. One of my four mains is Ripard Teg, pictured at left. Sadly, I've succumbed to "bittervet" disease, but I'm wandering the New Eden landscape (and from time to time, the MMO landscape) in search of a cure.
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Thursday, February 20, 2014

Comment of the Week: Troll

So, here's kind of an unusual COTW. But it's kinda fun and potentially interesting, so here goes.

But I'm going to have to start with a definition or two. On the Internet, a "troll" is a noun, recognized as someone on a website forum who brings up deliberately contentious or provocative opinions trying to disrupt conversation for his own amusement. In traditional English uninfluenced by Scandanavian folklore, the word is a verb and means to trail a large piece of bait on a line behind a moving boat hoping to catch a big fish. In EVE Online culture, these two definitions have merged. To "troll someone" means to concoct a lie and attempt to plant it on your victim, hoping he'll take it as the truth. If the lie is believed, the more outlandish it is, the more successful the troll is.

These days, trolling only works in one direction. The perpetrator is always Goonswarm and the target is nearly always EVE News 24. The purpose is to hopefully disrupt and discredit EN24 to the presumed benefit of the Goonswarm-sponsored competing news site, themittani.com.(1)

Prior to the CFC announcement of 0-W hell-camp on the 15th, EN24 published a couple of text items that they claimed were leaks coming out of CFC forum threads. Anyone who thinks of GSF or the CFC as a monolithic organization with no leaks is wrong. Things do slip out from time to time. Of the two, the second was a fairly bland position post written as if intending to address long-standing complaints about the CFC, most importantly that they intended to "take over the galaxy" or "ruin EVE Online." I found it an interesting piece of writing and wrote my own piece commenting on it.

At the top of that piece, I made it clear that I didn't know who wrote the position post, implied I didn't much care who wrote it, but that I found it interesting and I wanted to address the talking points. In the process, I made a few unrelated predictions about where I think the rest of winter and spring 2014 are going in terms of large bloc null-sec politics. It was a fun piece but not really intended to be contentious.

But the comments thread turned into a river of flame anyway, and so did Twitter and so did Reddit. Both The Mittani and Powers contacted me, said that bit of text had been a troll aimed at EN24, I had fallen for it, and I should do... something about it. What I should do, they weren't quite clear about. I have to admit that this confused me. Remember, a troll is a lie that you want someone to believe is the truth. But I had looked through the bit of text and it was made up of talking points -- more or less true ones! -- that Goons have been using for a while:
  • Goons don't intend to "ruin the game." They've been saying this all the way back to Darius JOHNSON.
  • Goons "don't control half the galaxy." This has been a Goon talking point for ages.
  • The eastern half of the galaxy is bigger than the west. Also a long-standing Goon talking point, as I said in my piece, this is a bit misleading but it's essentially true.
  • PL/N3 control a lot of these systems. While I am not so sure "PL/N3" exists just now, the sentiment itself is more or less true, at least for a couple more weeks.
  • A disparity of renter income is bad for Goons. This is indisputably true.
  • Goons are wrecking N3 renter space so that the southern Russians can move in. Whether this is the intent or not, it's likely to be true enough... nature, vacuums, and all that.
  • And then that statement about three power blocs in the game making the game more interesting and more fun. OK, maybe this part could be a lie.
Anyway, when I was informed of supposedly successful troll, I (quite reasonably, I thought) asked Mittens and Powers straight out: "OK, which part is a lie?" I got no answer. Instead, they both responded -- well, insisted is a better word -- that it was a troll and I should admit to being trolled. I said again, "Which part is a lie?" They got exasperated. Figuring I was on the right track, I asked a third time. This went on back and forth for a goodly long time on Twitter. There's something about Goons I've noticed over the last three years writing this blog: when someone does something stupid, Goons point, they laugh, and then they move on to the next stupid thing. They don't stick to any given stupidity for long.

I seemed to have inadvertently stumbled onto something The Mittani hated just as much as having his real name bandied about the Internet without his permission: someone not accepting his narrative once he's declared what it is.

So I went back to the original text looking for the lie. Instead, I found this:
PL/N3 currently own MORE systems than the CFC and our Russian temporary allies in the south COMBINED. Obviously that disparity in income is bad for us (most of the sov is renter space, unlike CFC sov).
And I realized I'd skipped over a word that seemed unimportant at the time: that word "temporary"... "our Russian temporary allies."

Now anyone who knows anything about null-sec politics knows that this particular group of Russians has never had a lot of love for Goons, and somewhat vice versa. As I said in the original post, I fully expect there to be wars and border clashes and such once the Halloween War wraps up. The thing the CFC has on its side is Russians dislike each other way more than they dislike Goons. They're pretty likely to go after each other with Goons cheering 'em on from the sidelines. But I found this flat declaration that the Russian allies are "temporary" kinda charming.

So! Trolls are lies you foist on enemies hoping they'll take them as truth. All that said, what's more likely:
  1. That this statement is a successful troll perpetrated on EN24, despite being essentially true (if occasionally misleading) from start to finish?
  2. Or that a well-meaning mid-level type in the CFC wrote something very slightly embarrassing to the CFC diplomatic corps that he was in no way authorized to write, someone leaked it, and the higher-ups decided it should be discredited?
I know which way Occam's Razor is leaning for me.

Anyway, just a bit of fun. Back to more serious matters.

(1) If you want to debate journalistic integrity and such topics, this ain't the blog post for that. ;-)


  1. Put all the Russians on their own server a la the Chinese on Serenity. Many problems solved. Also, Alex Gianturco, aka "The Mittani", doesn't like his real name mentioned on the internet? I'll have to remember that in the future.

  2. LOL I didn't know that about Trolling to be honest ( Lie's). I had alwasy assumed a "troll" to be about creating a reaction in the other person. I guess I am not a good troller as I try not to infuse stuff with "lies" rather I try to point out obvious "you can't say 'that' because you said 'this' just a moment ago". Perhaps similar to your way of asking "which part is not true". So thanks for clearing it up, while I suppose I could change I won't so I will have to find a new name for what pointing out that people are being stupid on purpose.

  3. Never not double-down on biting, huh?

    The twitter conversation was idiotic. When you kept asking "So do you want to ruin the game or not?" someone saying "When did you stop beating your wife?" was the clue you were being illogical, and dug-in to your position and trying to save face.

    "What was I supposed to do?" is self evident.

  4. Shrug....goons will continue to consume as much of null sec as they can. I don't think anyone believes otherwise. As Mr Smith so aptly put it, they are a virus.

    The only thing that will stop their advance is if they have figured out, or CCP has directly told them, that if they take over all of null, or even if appears to the layman that they now control all of null sec, CCP will put a stop to them.

    Clearly, there is no group ingame that can stop them. I have to laugh. People think that the loss of 57 Titans in BE broke the back of goons and N3. Please....That was just a small percentage of their fleet. What it did demonstrate to PL was that there was no way that they could beat goons' numbers in the long run. Also, if they persisted fighting goons, the goons would take away PL's RMT machine.

    So what will likely happen soon enough is N3 is driven from sov null sec, then goons and Russians split N3's old turf. Russians will start being Russians again and hammer away at each other. goons will sit and watch that brawl. Meantime, goons will continue their campaign to impoverish high sec through the CSM and the devs that they have in their pocket, while at the same time launching a griefing campaign against high sec, because goons have a lot of empty renter space to fill.

    Now, that high sec griefing campaign is the real balancing act. One hand you have CCP's desire to keep the new subs (fat chance that will happen), and CCP will be most pissed with goons if they hammer high sec so hard they drive many players from the game. Plus, they want this campaign to "convince" many high sec players become happy little serfs feeding the RMT mills for the goon elite. So hammering high sec too hard will just make them hate goons more, as opposed to submitting to the goon yoke. And on the other hand, it is difficult to unleash 30,000 bored, rich sociopaths onto high sec and expect them to be "moderate" in their griefing. Especially when the lead goon, Alex the failed lawyer, is a pure psychopath.

    As usual, the next release will show how successful the meta-game campaign to ruin high sec was. That out of game campaign to wreck high sec is far more devastating and far less obvious, and therefore much more desirable, for both CCP and goons.

  5. en24 V mittans.com i know witch id rather read, that said, if u ever listened to riverini when he was running for CSM, u know fore sure that he HATES! goons and he beleaves everything that he says, and beleaves most of the stuff that is handed to him, so long as it discredits goon's. its why if he is ever handed stuff as a troll u could almost garentee that he will run with it. and its dam funny to watch

    PS: sorry for spelling, its 4am and im off to bed now

  6. How dare you discredit the good name of Alex Gianturdco on the internet. You will now receive a mound of unsolicited magazine subscriptions in your mailbox thanks to the Goonswarm real life harassment campaign. PS, if you get any copies of Hustler magazine, I want them.

  7. The interesting part is, why would Mittens even bother to contact you in the first place, If it was a troll and one entity took the bait, hooking two entities for the price of one would be even better (one would think). Which would serve to reinforce the case about there being some or a lot of truth in those statements.

    Unless of course, Mittens has some form of respect for you and your blog and wanted to give you the "heads up" on the troll. Not sure how you guys get along.

    Guess we will never know for sure.

    1. One thing Goons should hate is intel that could be used against them slipping out. While most of the purported leak was stuff that seemed true--making it a lousy troll if troll it was--I don't see how it could be used against them. Perhaps it just echoed some current high-level discussion among CFC leadership, and the leak--if leak it was--simply made them look undisciplined. Perhaps only to one another.

      The lesson is that CFC leaks--intentional or not--are likely to contain about as much truth as CFC press releases. By trying to troll 24/7, they may have lost the art of trolling altogether. Any Goon who claims to be trolling can as safely be ignored as one who says he is not.

  8. You know...they may not have trolled you, but they've certainly trolled your readers because I'm rather tired of the topic.

  9. Hm; I've never heard your second definition of "troll" used with that spelling; rather it's always been "trawl" in my experience (http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/trawl?s=t). Judging by the origins of the two words (troll - stroll, walk, or run, and trawl - to drag), I have to wonder if it's another one of those situations where the similar sounding word came into common use through error, and then became accepted as having the same meaning. You've got to love the English language, where we invent new words and meanings through ignorance!

    I picked up the "temporary" in the original article and wondered if there was any significance to it. Based on the reaction, it sounds like we have an answer.

    1. Trawl is something that commercial fishing boats do: Dragging a net to the bottom of the ocean.

      Trolling is done by sport fishing boats, which is dragging a lure from a hod at slow speed, can be in the bottom or even surface if you have a Marlin on sight.

      Source: I live in New Zealand.

  10. Maybe it's a double troll, Mittencups and Flowers just trolled you into a whole post about trolling.

    It's a metatroll.

  11. I'm not getting where you're going with this. Your previous post explained how certain claims were 'true, but misleading,' and in this post you said that "a troll is a lie that you want someone to believe is the truth." That definition of trolling (as it pertains to EVE) is pretty obviously insufficient. You should have stuck with your first one.

  12. Exactly what I would have done and thought about the situation. Well done for sticking to your guns and trying to get to the bottom of it cause *gasp horror* people lie about things.

  13. Doesn't make you any less of a dumb fuck.
    "These days, trolling only works in one direction. The perpetrator is always Goonswarm and the target is nearly always EVE News 24."

    TEST has been attempting to troll BL/GSF/en24 a lot over the past 4 weeks, ever since montolio and rob3r started playing again.

    1. You published some of them didn't you? Seem to remember the Test deploys to Venal with BL story going up for a couple of hours on TMC.

  14. N3/PL don't own more systems than CFC+RUS. The ratio is something like +1200 systems to CFC+RUS and +800 for N3/PL (though there are probably still many systems that just wait for russians to take over, so numbers are actually more skewed than this).

  15. I have an insight into the future of Mittani. It all ends with Rosebud and a crystal paperweight.

    But seriously, how come Rote hasn't been wardec'd into the stone age? That was the usual fate of the outspoken to the great man. Well, the last time turned onto a joke (Jade's) which the Goons didn't find funny.

    1. How would a wardec harm Rote? By giving them fights?

      Also who the hell picks a fight with an alliance that has proven (AT) that the pilots have indiviudal skill?

  16. This used to be known as "just kidding". Say something cruel? "Just kidding!". Let slip a comment that was too honest? "Just kidding!"

    "Goons - classic example of arrested development"

    1. Arrested development is an essential feature of military discipline. Leadership values initiative, but not *too* much initiative, Obedience is the goal, and required diplomacy is carried out only at the highest levels. Getting the right mix, but above all keeping the troops in line, is what has made Gooning successful.


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