The Internet Troll Handbook

This handy set of rules covers most of the games which disinformation artists play on the Internet (and offline). When you know the tricks, you’ll be able to spot their games.

1. Hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil. Regardless of what you know, don’t discuss it.

2. Become incredulous and indignant. This is also known as the “How dare you!” gambit.

3. Create rumor mongers. Avoid discussing issues by describing all charges as mere rumors and wild accusations.

4. Use a straw man. Find or create a seeming element of your opponent’s argument which you can easily knock down.

5. Sidetrack opponents with name calling and ridicule. This makes others shrink from support out of fear of gaining the same label, and you avoid dealing with issues.

6. Hit and Run. In any public forum, make a brief attack and then scamper off before an answer can be fielded, or simply ignore any answer.

7. Question motives. This avoids discussing issues and forces the accuser on the defensive.

8. Invoke authority. Claim you are an authority without discussing issues or demonstrating concretely why or citing sources.

9. Play Dumb. No matter what evidence or logical argument is offered, avoid discussing issues with denial they have any credibility, make any sense, provide any proof, contain or make a point, have logic, or support a conclusion. Mix well for maximum effect.

10. Associate opponent charges with old news.

11. Establish and rely upon fall-back positions. Using a minor matter or element of the facts, take the “high road” and “confess” with candor that some innocent mistake, in hindsight, was made — but that opponents have seized on the opportunity to blow it all out of proportion.

12. Enigmas have no solution. Paint the entire affair as too complex to solve.

13. Alice in Wonderland Logic. Avoid discussion of the issues by reasoning backwards with an apparent deductive logic in a way that forbears any actual material fact.

14. Demand complete solutions. Avoid the issues by requiring opponents to solve the crime at hand completely, a ploy which works best for items qualifying for rule 10.

15. Fit the facts to alternate conclusions. This requires creative thinking unless the crime was planned with contingency conclusions in place.

16. Vanishing evidence and witnesses. If it does not exist, it is not fact, and you won’t have to address the issue.

17. Change the subject.

18. Emotionalize, Antagonize, and Goad Opponents. If you can’t do anything else, chide and taunt your opponents.

19. Ignore proof presented, demand impossible proofs.

20. False evidence. Introduce new facts or clues to neutralize sensitive issues or impede resolution.

21. Call a Grand Jury, Special Prosecutor, or other empowered investigative body.

22. Manufacture a new truth. Create your own expert(s), group(s), author(s), leader(s) or influence existing ones willing to forge new ground via scientific, investigative, or social research or testimony which concludes favorably.

23. Create bigger distractions.

24. Silence critics.

25. Vanish.
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This was originally apparently written by H. Michael Sweeney.

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