This node will undoubtedly be incomplete
, skip large expanses of time, and be outdated
shortly after it is updated.
Certainly there are many roots of trolldom; however, the site on which I first saw a widespread troll meme was segfault.org, so I'll begin there.
It seems that the original Segfault troll meme was answering "Natalie Portman's Clit" to every Segfault poll. Someone decided to turn that into something different and started posting "Mae Ling Mak naked and petrified" in the comments. Craig McPherson takes credit for this.
A while afterward, Segfault disabled comments and write-in poll answers to stop the wave of trolling, and all the trolls flocked over to Slashdot. Around this time, the two troll factions merged and started posting "Natalie Portman Naked and Petrified". Incidentally, Craig says this was his original idea before Mae Ling Mak came to mind.
For a long time, the Slashdot trolls produced absolutely nothing original except new ways to spell "FIRST POST" (the First Post lamers had been there long before the segfault trolls arrived). And then - I think it was sometime in early 2000 - someone started posting a new message in various places in the comments, hilarious in its absurdity.
"Hi people. I've just poured a bowl of hot grits down my pants!"
The first time, this was funny as hell. Unfortunately, it started a new wave of copycat trolls just as Natalie Portman did.
Enter OOG THE CAVEMAN, known in full as "OOG THE OPEN SOURCE CAVEMAN". This poster would rant about various topics in Linux advocacy, in all capital letters and with grammar like, well, a caveman. He got moderated alternately up and down. And, of course, a bunch of trolls soon showed up claiming to be OOG.
OOG disappeared when Slashdot implemented a Lameness Filter that rejects comments that are mostly capital letters. Unfortunately, this also kills innocent comments containing, say, Fortran code. Okay, maybe that's not so innocent after all.
After that a bunch of trolls attempted to start the next meme. "Penis bird" was one short-lived attempt, but soon they found a much more disturbing picture to link to, goatse.cx. Trolls put this in a seemingly innocuous-looking link such as "Hey, I put up a mirror of the article". Slashdot countered by putting the site name in brackets after the link; trolls responded with various ways of disguising the URL.
Sometime in there, of course, the catchphrase All Your Base Are Belong To Us appeared. This has its own convoluted history, which I won't attempt to cover. This firmly established Something Awful as a source of troll memes.
A new meme has now spread across various sites (apparently originating from Something Awful) and eventually to Slashdot: IN SOVIET RUSSIA. This is apparently based on a running gag used by a Russian comedian from the 80's, Yakov Smirnoff. The typical post goes like this: assume that the action of (verb)ing (object) is under discussion. A reply will be posted saying "IN SOVIET RUSSIA, (object) (verb)s YOU!" Another analysis is at the IN SOVIET RUSSIA node.
Though this meme has achieved troll status by being repeated so often to the detriment of discussions, it is occasionally used by legitimate posters. Its potential for variation means that even after being seen several hundred times it could be humorous, putting it above simply repetitious phrases like hot grits. An example: on a Slashdot article about Dmitry Sklyarov, one comment was "IN CAPITALIST AMERICA, the law violates YOU!"