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.
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:
- That this statement is a successful troll perpetrated on EN24, despite being essentially true (if occasionally misleading) from start to finish?
- 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?
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. ;-)