It's been noted by religiopoliticosatirical Slashdot trolls (it's even in the HOWTO) that if a troll post is immediately moderated down, then everybody who sees it knows it's a troll -- but if the first moderator who sees it bumps it up as "interesting" or "insightful", then all the Slashbots will take it seriously and respond with a straight face. The whole perception of the thing will vary drastically depending on that little number next to the subject line.

I'm not sure precisely what this tells us about human nature (or else it's too trite to repeat), but I've noticed that my trolls here on E2 will often get voted down until somebody cools them, at which point they'll start drifting methodically back up to zero, and often above.

On E2, it doesn't mater worth a damn, because they're equally visible regardless of reputation. (Nukings are another matter, but I've been spared so far.) Moderation on Slashdot is different, because they have a system of "thresholds", whereby a user will, by default, see only those posts with a score of at least +1. To see lower-ranked posts at all requires an expenditure of will, effort, and hand-eye coordination which strains the competence of the average Slashbot. For that reason, the trolling HOWTO recommends a relatively benign initial troll, followed by much more inflammatory secondary trolls. There's a fine line there: If you're too benign, nobody will get pissed off. Trolling may be a moronic and useless art form, but an art form it surely is.

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