My personal definition of “trolling” is “providing unsolicited negative feedback,” applicable primarily to livejournal, and it annoys the shit out of me.
Obviously if somebody posts “What do y’all think of XYZ?” that is a request for feedback of any type, and those who comment may dispense as much bile as they see fit. But if somebody posts, “Which XYZ album do you XYZ fans like best?” or “OMFG I have just discovered XYZ and I really freaking love them!” or even in passing “I’m going to an XYZ concert next week,” this is not an appropriate moment to comment, “I absolutely hate XYZ.”
I could spend my entire life trolling like this. Hell, I could spend large percentages of my life trolling like this on my friends list alone. There are several things I dislike, and one or two things I passionately abhor (three or four if you count each Lord of the Rings movie), and if I made a point of spewing my hatred every time someone on my flist expressed a positive opinion about these things, I would have no life left.
And before you argue freedom of expression, just shut the hell up. A journal is not a message board or a chat room. Yes, the poster is choosing to post their thoughts publicly; yes, there is a comment function; no, this does not excuse rude behavior. I have hands; I have access to green jell-o; this would not excuse my throwing it at people. There are times to debate and places to air your negative opinions; in response to someone’s relatively personal positive statements is neither.
To a certain extent, even an unsolicited disagreement may be considered trolling — though it’s far less annoying to have someone reply “I love XYZ!” to your post of “I hate every single XYZ song I’ve ever heard” than the inverse.
I do need to differentiate between “negative feedback” and “constructive criticism,” since trolling definitely applies to reviews as well. I personally appreciate constructive criticism about as much as I appreciate trolling, but I don’t condemn it. If your criticism is expressed politely, and in a manner calculated to assist in the improvement of the work on which you’re commenting, suggesting remedy to any flaw you point out (and pointing out flaws solely for the purpose of suggesting remedy), that is… OK, well, I still hate it. But at least there’s a point to it.
Because, really, what do you achieve by posting negative feedback to someone’s personal opinion? If I say, “I am really pleased by such-and-such,” and you say, “It’s not that special,” what is the result? I’m annoyed at you, maybe you feel some transient sense of triumph, and nothing changes. Honestly, I don’t want people hanging around my journal who feel they’ve accomplished something when their comment causes me to feel a negative emotion while they feel a positive.
And while we’re on the subject of trolling, bad reviews. There are a few things trollish things that people do when reviewing that also bug the shit out of me. I’ll list the ones I can think of off the top of my head:
Deriding the fandom/genre/pairing/what-have-you while still praising the work. “I don’t really like this show, but this was a good fic.” “Normally I hate yaoi art, but you draw really well.” “You made this music video really well, but what’s with the pairing?” The artist is not likely much to appreciate the review, no matter how much praise you heap on their work, if you simultaneously abuse the subset into which it fits. You may think you’re giving them even greater praise by implying that, despite your normal disliking of that subset, you still enjoyed their work, that their work transcends the usual limitations of the subset, but in fact you’re really just undervaluing their intelligence and/or taste.
Praise via reverse insult. “OMG, a romance fic that isn’t sappy and trite!” “Wow, you’ve done better than most people do writing this pairing.” Not only is it not flattering to have it implied that your work is only good in comparison, it is not flattering to receive a supposed compliment in a tone that suggests it’s the absolute kindest comment the reviewer could dredge up and still not terribly complimentary. It’s condescending and counterproductive. Aside from this, there’s also some of the previously-mentioned deriding going on, in that the reviewer is once again insulting the artist’s subset in order to give this weak praise to the artist.
Expressing a squick. At all. And we’re getting back specifically into troll territory again. Obviously you review to express an opinion. But if you got all the way through a story (yes, I’m mostly applying this to fiction, since that’s primarily what I generate) about a character you dislike, a pairing that disgusts you, an activity you find immoral presented in a non-condemnatory light, etc., obviously you liked it enough to keep going until the end — in which case you have something else to say about it other than that you don’t like some of the subject matter. No, it is not OK to mention it briefly and move on to something else. It is not constructive criticism to say, “Eeeeeeeew, Sokka x Katara??? I think you’ve scarred me for life!!” and then proceed explain why you loved the story. There is no constructive criticism on subject matter. Get over it, or don’t review.
In conclusion, let me quote some reviews I’ve gotten that fit some of these categories.
Aw, sorry to say I couldn’t get into this story. Even though I love your style of writing. ::sigh:: I’m anti-gay-Kenshin, and anti-fan Japanese.. and anti-pairing of Megumi and Sanosuke because honestly, there is no proof to those two whatsoever, and I can just see them being friends, anything farther then that would probably last two seconds. And Kenshin, wow, the day he chose Aoshi over Kaoru would be the day Shishio decided to redecorate with snow…
I’m not a really big yaoi fan, but I thought “Hey, time to try new things” and I was not disappointed. YOU HAD A PLOT! A lot of yaois are just about sex, sex, and more sex, but you were modest in certain areas and placed the details in when necessary.
The plot is VERY interesting. Totally different from other AU saisa fics. Really, really RARE
OK, I was going to do more, but I’m too tired. Bedtime (and time to stop pointlessly bitching) on me.