A visible person (as in shepherd) or group of persons (as in the herd itself) who are known trolls and move around the net. Declarations made in the name of we, trolls usually emanate from someone who has made it clear that they only speak for the herd, rather than control them. See note on command and controll below.
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Rush Limbaugh is one noteworthy example. In a column on his website on 3 May 2005, he said he would put the words "afristocracy" and "ghettocracy" on Wikipedia, to "spread them around". The articles were duly created by anonymous trolls - see "Wikipedia Signpost" article and "votes for deletion" page.
Truthout has some of the most active dialogue about trolls and their nature especially focused on funded trolls who are "employed as a troll" in the words of one participant. The existence of trollherds is a given, and there is even an attempt to name the "Trollus Brainius Sociopathus" behind them all. This is certainly a form of conspiracy theory but the prevalance of pseudonyms makes it much more likely that conspiracy will be assumed.
By far the most active trollherding is that of the GFDL corpus especially at the Wikipedia portal, which some descrabie as the battlefield of ideas.
It is certainly the testing ground for new trolling techniques. It hosts many herds of trolls of all factions, e.g. Zionist, anti-Zionist, pro-Bush, anti-Bush, Marxist, American Exceptionalist, promoters of scientism, Islamism, and etc.. There are also Wikipedia cultists who believe everything Jim Wales, Wikipedia GodKing says.
Those who consider Wales simply another trollherd have come to be called the Wikipedia red faction. For more on this see the en: meta-wikipedia: factionalism debate, especially descriptions of the cabal and Young Jacobins.
Both Truthout and Wikipedia are reputedly subject to organized incursions.
Because of venue or article intent and the rapid response involved, many suspect that one or more troll organizations may have been involved: The world trolling anarchization supports Limbaugh, SOLLOG and the Wikipedia red faction in their deliberate attempts to reflect religious and political disputes in Wikipedia. And many consider the Republican Party itself to be a troll organization.
However, there is a longstanding tradition of trolls volunteering to promote any cranks whatsoever. Trolls themselves justify this as a way to achieve Internet governance and net neutrality through skepticism and critical inquiry.
While there is much speculation about what trollherds are trying to do, a few consistent themes have tended to emerge:
- reducing trust in arbitrary unvalidated online information
- increasing the confidence and public profile of cranks, e.g. SOLLOG, who may be at least hilarious if not insightful
- reducing confidence in cargo cults of all kinds which typically have nothing to offer except more PowerPoint, by offering reasonable-seeming competing explanations that do not have authority behind them but might be true anyway - thus perhaps increasing critical thought also
Such goals typically appear vague and vain and whimsical by comparison to "real world" political goals, however. It is most credible that trollherds simply seek to promote their own causes, as in any politics as usual, and manipulate language to their own purposes, creating a sort of newspeak friendly to their faction and not others.
Craig Rosebraugh and Craig Hubley are other notable examples of trollherds, both vaguely associated with fringe elements of the green movement. Unlike Limbaugh, neither has openly advocated manipulation of the GFDL corpus namespace, though the latter has been accused of it. But then, the latter has been accused of a rather ridiculous range of things that are mostly not credible.
One way to view the troll herding function is as an online equivalent to a union flying squad. A union or a guild established for the purpose of fair barter in international markets probably must include at least one trollherd, else, it will have little or no power to enforce its edicts and expose its enemies. As with the mob, one is friendly with the mob boss, in order not to face his friends.
As one union-friendly blog puts it "They Call Us Troublemakers - and we wear it as a badge of honor".
Trolls in general (if there is such a thing) will always explicitly reject the idea that anyone can control them. Indeed, "troll" and "con-trol" seem to be directly opposing concepts!
Typical command and control with a single command hierarchy is not usually appealing to those who become, or herd, trolls. To emphasize their more anarchist mindset:
The terms command and controll and controll itself have been coined to describe the more chaordic forms of coordination that "we, trolls employ to defeat you, sysops" - that in the words of one of the more notorious Wikipedia red faction trollherds.