Online Characters: Trolls, Speculators, Snobs, Team Players

Forums: Trolls, Speculators, Snobs, Team Players

Sometimes, when I’m working on software issues, I’ll post a question on a forum. This I usually do only after a few hours of struggle. If you read my blog, you’ll find many tech struggles that I’ve had.

Occasionally, I’ll have to register with a website first, and then wait for approval. Login again. Document my long struggle concisely. Then ask the question on a complex subject that I’m only just becoming familiar with, to elicit a good answer.

And so often, I’ll have an awful experience with the online characters. I’ve categorized them in a quadrant, with the two axis: Helpful vs Knowledgeable/Competent






Too many times, I’ll get the trolls. They are NOT helpful, nor are they knowledgeable or competent.   Trolls respond to most every post on the forums. They will poke their nose in, ask stupid questions, speculate (“I think”), downgrade questions and responses, tell me that I should not be doing what I’m doing, contradict me, make value judgments, call me names, make false accusations, tell me what to do, self promote themselves or their blog with every post (even when it is completely irrelevant to the subject), do an infinite loop of getting the last word in, and so on.

The trolls will do everything -except- answer the question. Often their stupid or unrelated questions indicate that they don’t even understand the question. So they can’t possibly give a correct answer. Total incompetence.

Mostly they prove that they have a narcissistic personality disorder, or worse.

Trolls’ behavior I find really rude. If anyone points the rudeness out, instead of a sorry, they will respond that the other person is rude. This is called psychological projection. One of their double standards is to engage in various kinds of rude behavior, but then expect everyone else to be polite in response.

Unfortunately, because the trolls have “responded” on the forums so many times, the software on many websites actually rates them highly! To me, those are super faulty algorithms. The trolls should be downgraded, not upgraded. Duh. Was it a troll who designed the rating system?

Instead of “Like”, or a counter, for feedback, how about a query with the checkbox
This answers my question: Yes/No

And, the No response is given a negative value. The more NO answers a troll receives, (s)he will go into deeply negative territory.

Trolls, shut up and get out.

Others, don’t feed the trolls.



Speculators want to respond and “help”. But they are not knowledgeable. They are like meddling smother mothers, trying to “help” with things they know absolutely nothing about.

So often many forum speculators will immediately suggest that I upgrade. The software, Java version, operating system, patch, hardware, etc.

In the 1990s, the automatic knee jerk response to any problem was, “scandisk!”. Even for internet connectivity and website issues. For the record, as many times as I used scandisk over the decades, it never solved -any- software issue. Not one.

To me, immediately suggesting an upgrade is just speculation. From people who simply don’t know the answer. And have zero experience.

Sometimes, when the suggestion came from tech support, I’ve humored their speculations, and did it anyway. But it never helps at all.

One response suggested I upgrade Java (Talend). This was to be done on a server that requires a very specific Java version for the Oracle software running on it. You can’t do this lightly. So it took a few hours to research how to run a second Java version so that it could co-exist beside the existing java, but not affect Oracle. But, as expected, the errors and problems persisted. It was a complete waste of my time.

Speculators will often tell you obvious. Which, by the time I’m reaching out to a forum, I’ve already done.

Often, like trolls, speculators will just ask stupid and irrelevant questions, indicating that they didn’t even read or understand the question.

Speculators want to “help”. But they just don’t have any knowledge or experience to give a good answer.

Speculating, try this, that, the other thing, then something else, is just trial and error. Contrary to their delusions, their speculation does not “help”.

When I hear enough speculations, I get sarcastic and think, should I also check whether the gravitational pull of the moon is affecting the behavior of the software?

Speculators are mostly incompetent, with some narcissism.

If you don’t have something actually useful to say, based on real knowledge and experience, please don’t say it.

No noise pollution please.



Snobs, Socrates, Asshole

Snobs are sometimes very knowledgeable. Certainly they think of themselves as being very knowledgeable. But often they are not.

Sometimes snobs can also be helpful. That is, if they like you. But most often, they are not helpful at all.

Snobs can exhibit similar behavior as trolls: respond to most every post on the forums, downgrade questions and responses, change the subject at hand, make rude value judgements, tell you what to do, never stop talking, never listen, draw attention to themselves, always get the last word in. Consistent with narcissism.

Sometimes, snobs have years of experience in their skill set. They often like to use the most complex solutions, requiring expert level skills, rather than the simplest ones.

Snobs will sometimes say that if they haven’t seen something in all their experience, it couldn’t possibly exist. Sorry, it does. I just saw it, that’s why I’m posting.

Snobs, instead of answers, often give BS responses, similar to many politicians.

BS responses are lies of omission. Which are, yes, lies.

Snobs often expect newbies to have or develop huge amounts of knowledge like themselves, and suggest they read entire books (perhaps their own), etc. While that might be useful if I were looking to become an expert on a particular software, when I’m just trying to get a new software tool to install or work, all I really want is the correct answer to my question. No, right now, I don’t want to study to become a certified java developer. I just want to install java correctly so the other software I’m installing will work correctly.

After all the time I’ve spent struggling so far, no, I don’t want to waste even more time reading a book. Now, I’m finally reaching out, and I just want the answer. From someone experienced, who knows what they are doing.

Snobs often make many value judgements that the forum poster should not be doing what they are doing at all. It’s against their dogmatic religion. They will carry on as if they are the expert, completely disregarding my decades of knowledge and experience.

One comment I received was to completely wipe my server, and reinstall a different operating system! That is, an OS distribution not certified to work with Oracle software whatsoever. Idiot, that’s not an option, as I mentioned in the first lines of my post.

Snobs will often act like Socrates, asking all kinds of stupid questions.
“I’ve tried this, that, and the other command, but no luck. Any ideas?”
“What were the exact commands and syntax that you used?”

Sorry, questions in response to my question, are NOT the answer. Nor are they relevant to the answer. It’s only to play head games, and manifest the guy’s psychiatric issues.

Like Trolls and Speculators, Snobs will NEVER say that they don’t know the answer. Instead, they will do an infinite loop of their verbal diarrhea, attempting to baffle you with their bullshit.

Or, they will take the simple, and make it complex as possible. Even when they already have the answer.

Q: “Is anyone running Redhat and wifi/wireless on their laptop? If so, what is the brand, model of your laptop?”

Response: Asks questions about installation settings.

Snobs NEVER give a simple answer, no matter how simple it is.

Just the answer please.


Team Players:

Team players are both knowledgeable and helpful.

They are the ones that give you the correct answer that works. Sometimes in a single line response!

Unfortunately, online, Team Players are rare.

However, Team Players are ones that ultimately make forums worthwhile.

Yes! Thank you! I really appreciate it!


Other Characters:

Illiterates That Don’t Read:

Trolls, Snobs, and Speculators often give a knee jerk reaction, asking stupid and irrelevant questions.

So usually I document my issues pretty carefully and put lots of relevant information up front in the post. After years of experience, I often know what kind (stupid) questions I’ll be getting, so I just answer them in advance. Ie. Operating system and version, software version, configuration, etc.

The ideas is to save everyone’s time. Provided, that they actually read it. But so often, they don’t.

“what model/version/etc?”
“you can find it in the second line of the first post”

Another symptom of illiteracy is that they only read the title, but not the post, or the thread. ie. Telling me to do something that I already tried since the original post, and documented in the thread. Or, offering a “solution” when the problem is already solved, and documented in thread.

Hey guys, when I take so much time to document it, please take the time to read it.

Not reading, is what I call, illiteracy.

Don’t be an illiterate.

More eloquently,
The Man Who Does Not Read Has No Advantage Over the Man Who Cannot Read

A quote often attributed to Mark Twain.



Then there are those that work hard to avoid thought or work altogether. Often this applies to tech support.

When I studied accounting, it was referred to as shirking, another rude behavior that costs everyone time and money.

A recent example. Every time I emailed Motorola with a question, they responded by telling me to contact another department or country. Or even another company.

Shirkers often display the attitudes, that users should NOT expect:

Clear answers
Good or reliable software
Straightforward installations
Realistic error messages
Clear and concise documentation
Companies to protect user accounts and data

Their ideas are along the lines that corporations are responsible for nothing, and that users are responsible for anything and everything.

This I call:

Working very hard, to be very lazy, and very stupid.




If these unhelpful characters are not bad enough, the software at, won’t even allow me to post questions!

Or, if the question does get online, some nazi immediately terminates the discussion.

Supposedly because the questions don’t follow their approved format.

But at the same time, I have found similar discussions to my question on StackOverflow that were allowed.

While I’ve found some great answers on StackOverflow doing internet searches, so far, I have never been allowed to post my question there. This is from someone who has been posting questions and answers on forums since the 1990s. So I don’t even bother anymore.


Smart Asses:

These are the ones who must respond with a smart ass comment. But never an answer. Lately, there are a LOT of gifs being posted online.

Smart ass.



Correct Answers Please:

After I’ve struggled reading documents, and trying to get things to work, for hours, I’m finally reaching out for help from those hopefully more knowledgeable on the subject than myself. And can give me a correct answer. That works. But too often, all the “responses” that I get, don’t help me at all.

Yes, all the responses on the forums are “free”, in the sense that I’m not paying for the service. So, in a way, I’m getting what I pay for. But if we consider the idea that time is money, it’s not free at all. It’s a huge waste of my time.

Just the correct answer please.



Test Your Knowledge:

Here’s a simple third party example that I saw online, completely unrelated to myself.
Q: In Saving Private Ryan, what does the German soldier say when he stabs the American soldier?

Best Answer: He says: “Gib’ auf, du hast keine Chance! Lass’ es uns beenden! Es ist einfacher für dich, viel einfacher. Du wirst sehen, es ist gleich vorbei.”

“Give up, you don’t stand a chance! Let’s end this here! It will be easier for you, much easier. You’ll see it will be over quickly.”
Jimmy Fingers · 10 years ago
(Clearly, an answer from someone who speaks German well enough to transcribe it. There were no subtitles in the scene.)

Response from Catherine:

There were a lot of scene where German Soldiers killed American Soldiers, could you be a little more specific?
Catherine · 3 years ago


Huh? There was only one scene in the entire movie where a German soldier -stabs- an American soldier. Did she even watch the movie?

And, the question had already been answered 7 years previously! But Catherine takes the time to login, and ask a stupid question in response!
Which category or categories would you put Catherine into?



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