A Beginner’s Guide to “Troll Hunting”

Welcome, first-year students, to Happy Valley. Despite the negative press that Penn State has received in the past months, you wisely chose to spend the next four years here. And as you come to value a multitude of aspects the school has to offer, you’ll certainly find many detractors on comment boards and Twitter — “trolls” if you will. These trolls will do nothing but speak contorted ills of Dear Old State and her students. You may feel compelled to defend your University. But remember:

Don’t feed the trolls. These commenters survive by instigating arguments. They spout whatever they desire in the unregulated terrain of the Internet. If you ignore them, they go away.

Then again, troll hunting can be a fun experience. Observing Americans at their worst rhetoric is like visiting animals at the zoo: you’re amazed at how different they are living in civilization.

The first step when you’re hunting for trolls is to admit you’ve already lost. There is absolutely nothing you can do to change a troll’s mind. If you think that you can script a speech like William Shakespeare or Thomas Paine, forget it.

Troll hunting takes place in no short time. Give yourself at least thirty minutes to argue with a troll. Logging out of an argument early gives the troll confidence s/he won.

Don’t challenge anonymous accounts. It’s easy to say whatever you want when you shield your identity. Why do you think Brooks Melchior gets away with all that he tweets? Anonymous trolls have an advantage against you. They can tweet whatever they want with impunity.Something that you tweet can be used against you, such as a job application.

Maintain the moral high ground. Don’t sink to the level of trolls, such as using four letter words. One of the most amazing flamewars I have witnessed was fought between Onward State writers and Tucker Max. Max cannot hold the high ground when his YOLO lifestyle supports unwanted sexual misconduct.

Not everyone who is not at Penn State is against Penn State. Trolls are not an existential threat. Most people know that students had nothing to do with the Sandusky Scandal. Trolls live on views and hits. They would rather believe a salacious lie than the truth.

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About the Author

Doug Dooling, Jr.

I am a staff writer for Onward State. I graduated as a Nittany Lion with Honors in 2013. Now, I am back in Happy Valley to earn a degree at the Penn State Law. Outside of politics and government, my interests include college football, soccer, Irish history, and astronomy.

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