The Difference Between a Troll and a Goblin

I have admitted it before, and I will state it again. I am a social. Yup, that's right. I'm one of those people who values courtesy and kindness and community to a somewhat irrational extent. I'm okay with that.

But I am also a very logical person. Most of the time, I find that logically speaking, courtesy and kindness provide more personal and group benefit than the alternative.

Now I do have some friends that can’t stand reading Gevlon’s blog. I, however, enjoy it immensely – even though Gevlon would probably consider me an M&S. But I don’t get offended. I know folks who hate reading his material because they feel it is nothing more than incendiary nonsense, just written to piss people off and get a reaction.

I disagree entirely.

Of course, the value of Gevlon’s blog may inherently lie in the fact that his somewhat Aspergian theories and perspectives are far against the typical Wow blogger norm. For me, however, that’s not why I subscribe, and it’s not why I read it.

I enjoy reading Gevlon’s material because he can piss people off just by using basic logic. He is not a troll. He is a goblin.

In my very first Geography class in college, my professor gave us all a handout that listed 42 different logical fallacies. No, I don’t have them all memorized, but I haz a bookmark. I don’t mind if you disagree with me. In fact, if you agree with me all the time, why are we even discussing the topic? How boring. I might even argue that the attraction between my fiancĂ© and I is based on the fact that we disagree on just about everything.

But one thing I don’t tolerate is a logical fallacy-based attack.

And that is the difference between a troll and a goblin. Gevlon will disagree with you; Gevlon will piss you off. But the vast majority of the time, he has very good evidence and rationale for the things he says that piss you off. If you want to argue with Gevlon, you better be prepared with some solid logic, because he is not even going to waste his time responding to you if you are using an argument based solely on a logical fallacy. Telling him that he is just a big ol’ meanie mcmeanikins isn’t going to have any effect on him, and won’t get you any real satisfaction.

I doubt that Gevlon would agree with my brand of logic. In America, the most powerful vote you can give is arguably with your dollar. So, if I disagree with a company’s policies, or I think they pursue completely unethical objectives, I won’t buy things from them. I will even go so far as to make sure my investments (such as mutual funds) do not put any money into their coffers. It means I make less money, but it also means I’m not contributing to what I perceive as a problem in my country, and therefore in my life. I don’t stand on the corner holding a sign that says the company is evil. I just don’t financially support them.

That’s not rational from an economic perspective. But if I complained about a company, and then continued to provide investment funds for them, wouldn’t that make me something of a hypocrite? That’s my kind of logic. I would argue that the inherent difference between my rationale and Gevlon’s rationale is a different definition of value. He considers economic benefit to be the most important value, whereas I do not. Look at that, I just used rational logic to explain why I would disagree with Gevlon on things, as opposed to an ad hominem attack.

Tobold and Gevlon are both bloggers that provide a forum for especially intriguing thought and insight into the MMO universe. They also make a solid attempt to weed out the trolls, while keeping the goblins around.

If you comment on a forum or blog, and provide nothing more than attacks based on logical fallacies just to get a rise out of people and piss them off, you, sir (or madam!), are a TROLL.

If you comment on a forum or blog, and provide meaningful evidence, logic, or rationale in an effort to disagree with the writer, you might just be a GOBLIN.

Goblins are welcome. I can respect a Goblin, because I can actually learn something from a Goblin. Trolls? Well, you do amuse me.

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10 Responses
  1. Kaelynn Says:

    Fantastic post! The logical fallacies in many comments on blogs are astounding. Trolls refuse to understand that in order to be taken seriously they need to use solid logic. It may not always be with the intent to get a rise out of others though. Sometimes they feel strong emotion about a topic and simply lack the ability to formulate a reasonable argument. In that case they should probably just keep quiet.

  2. @Kaelynn

    How true! There are certain topics that I know I just get way too emotional about. I can't be logical, and I recognize that... so if the topic comes up, I just keep my mouth shut!

  3. Anonymous Says:

    Thanks a lot for that logical fallacies link. Now I finally have a label for one of the most annoying fallacies I come across: the Straw Man. Whenever someone does this to me I tend to just blow and turn into a troll myself. This is because of it's subtlety: it bends or misinterprets what is said (probably on purpose) and therefor derails the discussion, making it hard or sometimes even impossible to get it on track again, because now you have to explain why what this person says has nothing to do with what you're saying, and that usually is just going to be the discussion from then on, losing complete track of the original point.

    The worst kind of those is the "suggesting question", which the 3rd example shows best. It makes me mad just by reading it. I think this is the most used "trick" by politicians btw.

  4. Tam Says:


    (Hehe, we seem to be trapped in some sort of cycle whereby we do nothing be agree with each other on blog posts - I'll try to write something contentious and awful, although actually I think it's just because we have a very similar persepective on the game).

    I'm somewhere between a social and an M&S but I have no problem with Gevlon himself - his blogging persona doesn't necesssarily *appeal* to me, but it's certainly interesting.

    It's the Wannabe-Gevlons that irritate me.

  5. Eversor Says:

    I certainly agree that your philosophy and Gevlon's are different. I would be labeled a social as well due to the fact that I believe we should go out of our way to help others. Courtesy should be the norm. I feel this way not because of instinctual "sub-routines" or fear of being ostracized by society as some would have us think. I'm not entirely in agreement about the supposition that Gevlon's arguments are fact or evidence based. If your core understanding of an issue is flawed, then your argument is fundamentlly flawed as well. No matter how factual you try to make it sound or how insistent you's still flawed. This is not to say all of his arguments are flawed. Regardless, I still read his blog with a mix of interest, dread and humor.
    That being said, I am new to your blog and have enjoyed it very much. Probably because I am a social following my ape sub-routines though :).

  6. Poneria Says:

    Ooooo...excellent bookmark, I think I will take that one.

    Goblins is your word, goats was mine. Y'know, they butt heads at the most and will chew (think) on pretty much anything? But I guess the more appropriate WoW analogy is, indeed, goblins.

  7. Ophelie Says:

    I often find flaws in Gevlon's arguments, just like I do on just about every blog that makes bold statements. But I don't care. I don't read blogs for their world-class debating value. I read blogs because they're entertaining and sometimes they get me thinking on topics I wouldn't consider otherwise.

    The difference I see between the "troll" and the "goblin" is that the goblin attacks your topic, your way of thinking. The troll attacks you. The goblin advances the discussion, the troll takes it backwards.

    I don't expect either to have perfect discussion skills, but there's a world of difference between a constructive comment and a hurtful one.

    I kind of view internet trolls as the more male version of the teenage girl who posts picture of her boobs everywhere. (Yes, I know some trolls are female and some teenage guys post suggestive photos of themselves everywhere too.) It's the easiest way to attract attention.

  8. Eversor Says:

    @Ophelie- agreed. I don't read blogs, particularly WOW blogs for their factualt and well thought out discourse that I will use to shape my way of! And Gevlon's blog does provide me with much that's all that matters really! Maybe it's bleeding hollow, but our trolls are awful. Just spam stupid or offensive things to get a reaction. But then again, I suppose that is what the troll is...right?

  9. Y'know, I've never thought about it this way myself but I think you're totally right :) I also like your definitely of "goblin"... it sits nicely along with troll :)

    I think people need a thick skin when dealing wiht the internet, especially blogs and forums. I have no doubt people like Gevlon say a lot of the stuff they say in order to elicit a response. It just goes to show how darn clever he is :)

  10. G-Rebel Says:

    I agree that various rationale are based on different values that each reader/writer brings to the discussion. The values of people differ nearly as much as their fingerprints, and as such many arguments are endless debates, not because one's logic proves greater or lesser but that to change someone's values is far more difficult than to change their mind.

    For my part I'm not a fan of Gevlon's logic because my values are completely different. He tries, as I do, but it's difficult to have perfectly logical arguments. But at least he, you and least we try. Trolls just vomit whatever words come into their mouth, slowing the progression of reason.

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