How do you deal with Rhetorical Fallacies, where "Trollism" may be suspected, (i.e., the flagrant use of rhetorical fallacies, ignoring feedback/suggestions to correct the issue)?

Instead of "Guessing" if Trollism is occurring, (as Tau correctly pointed out, that is a subjective process), is there any way to point out the The Rhetorical Fallacy employed, and have a moderator edit, or delegate, the question to another user, or is there another mechanism to discourage this kind of trolling?

  • This is a good question, but could you be a little more specific as to what(in your view) constitues 'Trollism'? It would be helpful if you could give an example. Thank you!
    – Tau
    May 30, 2015 at 3:58
  • If you have the incentive, it would be great if you could ellucidate what constitutes "Trollism" to you...you may put a finger on something that needs to be singled out. Thanks.
    – Tau
    May 30, 2015 at 4:14
  • Sure: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internet_troll May 30, 2015 at 5:15
  • I recognize from the reference what can be perceived as trolling, but I'm more interested in hearing what you consider trolling-the site did say that the term is subjective...;>)
    – Tau
    May 30, 2015 at 7:18
  • I still believe you should give the individual the opportunity to "correct their mistake" and thus retain their credibility. In the particular instance; the individual had gone quite 'far out on a limb', there was small chance they would admit their errors. Yet opportunity should be given(IMO) before the Mod's hammer comes down. Yes, the OP was "bamboozled' by their effort, yet the community came to the rescue and clarified the issue-as it should. Not all answers lend themselves to such a conclusion, and legitimate differences debated by eminent scholars fuel some conjectures.
    – Tau
    May 31, 2015 at 7:59

2 Answers 2


As explained in discussions with Moderators:

Issues Where:

  1. Incorrect Answers have been accepted because they appeal to the personal convictions of the Original Poster, (regardless if they are just wrong);
  2. Answers that exhibit blatant Rhetorical Deception or Stubbornness;
  3. Questions or Answers that serve to advertise, or promote a doctrine;

Having been brought to the attention of Moderators, (through Chat, or by Flagging),

Remedies Include:

  1. Attempt to explain the issue to the user in a comment, and again.
  2. Moderators can "Lower" the inappropriate answer, (even if accepted), "Down" below correct, or more valid answers.
  3. Users can Down Vote to Extinction
  4. In the case of improper questions, there can be a Vote to Close.
  • Pls explain "Questions or Answers that serve to advertise, or promote a doctrine;" as you have challenged me of that. I do not know how to answer biblical questions but with the bible, as I have learned it. So when someone calls me out on it, but doesn't explain why they think it is a fallacy then I cannot correct. Note: I shut down when people start throwing buzz words such as straw man fallacy and non-sequitor without explaining their reason for that view.
    – Brian Webb
    Jun 12, 2015 at 2:27
  • Actually, I decided to try to give you an edge on my question by reading en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_fallacies. It really didn't help me when it came to our discussion, I am still trying to figure out how I can NOT have NS answers for you when I don't see the breaks in my logic. Except that I may be involved in Existential fallacy, because I make assumptions of the people who write the questions.
    – Brian Webb
    Jun 12, 2015 at 2:48

In the interest of the Biblical Hermeneutics community, I believe this question deserves a "fair" hearing.

Trollism and the Art of Trolling

"Troll"as the source quoted in the comment by the OP, is a subjective term, but it generally means 'A person with some sort of grievance or agenda who is merely looking for an audience to vent his/her particular rant/thesis upon.'The 'cultural image' of a Troll is an ogre who lives under a bridge that one must walk across, only they mistakenly perceive it as 'their' bridge and you will go by 'their rules' or listen to 'their invective' without regard for any sentiments of your own. They as a rule don't accept correction, or even engage in a dialogue, you are held captive by them until they are finished and crawl back in their hole(or wherever they came from).

Another image of a "troll" is one who goes from place to place "unloading" their particular spiel, seeing who will 'take the bait' and run at their idea. This image is conjured from fishing, where one 'trolls' with bait until a fish 'jumps on' and the fight ensues. It may be a particular doctrine, or insight but the one who 'takes the bait' is now obliged to battle the "troll", usually until some external entity tells them to "Break it off!"

A "Rhetorical Fallacy" could be caused by many things, and is not the exclusive domain of trolls: one could have incorrectly interpreted, miscommunicated, relied on tainted data, or innocently confused a source or interpretation. What makes them different from a "troll" is they respond to correction and indicate a willingness to learn; a "troll" merely reinforces their own skewed references and 'lashes back' at those who are patiently trying to inform them. "You Listen to ME" is the signature statement of a "troll", they have no inclination other than to unload whatever their invective is. They hold their audience "hostage", proving "they are right, and everyone else is wrong." They are generally "injured" or done injustice to, and misrepresented; and they are quick to inflict their exaggerated sense of grievence upon you.

The Remedy

It's not always apparent when you have a "troll"; there may be a legitmate difference of opinion, or one who is misinformed, but desirously seeking the truth.

"A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger." (Prov. 15:1)

If you "open your door for business", be prepared to meet all types of customers-in whatever frame of mind they happen to be in. A few of them are violent, obscene, or confrontational-these are why the "Flag" button exists. A Moderator has the tools to revoke their privileges and ban them from the site.

However, most merely have an "agenda"; a "troll" is usually identified when after a correction is suggested, they continue on unmindful or unwilling to any sort of reconsideration of their viewpoint. "DV to extinction" is the weapon of choice. You are basically saying, "Since you won't accept any adjustment, and are continuing on in your convoluted rationale, a consensus of opinion will make your answer disappear." If it is a question, a "VtC" may be in order.


Trolls usually are "Lone Wolves" and don't travel in packs. However, frequently they may represent a mainline doctrine, creed or practice and as such, a legitimate difference of opinion may exist. You may identify a particular individual as a "Troll", only to find that a considerable subsection of the viewing public agrees with them. If we are a "Learning Community", we can learn from one another and support the rightful conclusions, regardless of who makes them. We can also "respectfully disagree" and maintain a courteous dialog, not allowing our differences to define our relationship. Accepting a difference of opinion, but agreeing to continue to communicate, is a sign of maturity; if it doesn't involve a moral compromise, then it is part of the interaction this site encourages.


Trolls and trollism exists in the hearts of those individuals who demand an audience for their particular spiel. Since we are an "open" website, we are obliged and will frequently give an airing to those who's sole purpose is to vent their issue. However, after listening and objectively critiquing their responses, if they take no course of correction, and continue in their rants, then we do the community and the broader public a disservice by not DVing them. One must be mindful of the admonition of Gal. 6:1, and not fall in the trap of being harsh or critical-thus imitating the behavior of the one we're correcting. And let us all understand that amonst our participants a legitimate difference of opinions exist, in which we strongly believe, yet does not become the basis of our interaction. That distinquishes us from those who "Troll".

  • I should have posted the answer I received sooner, and will do so now. This answer goes on about trolls, but the question was intended to be about those that engage in rhetorical fallacies, willfully, not because of ignorance. May 31, 2015 at 7:19
  • @e.s.kohen I think I know what the particular inference was-if I'm correct, did ScottS supply the answer? But your question dealt with "trolls", and I did discuss rhetorical fallacies, and how they relate to "trollism", which was the deeper issue(IMO) than one who may have mistakenly given false information. You're certainly welcome to edit/refute/objectivize/state for the record/downvote-that is your prerogative. I was answering the question in general, not giving a site specific direction(you said you already had that).
    – Tau
    May 31, 2015 at 7:30
  • 1
    Its okay. Often times "Trolling" is characterized by the intentional use of Rhetorical Fallacies. This is a "Concrete", "Objective" metric, and a lot of the "Guess work" you refer to is too subjective to be practically used to moderate a discussion. Identification of intentional use of "Rhetorical Fallacies" is a lot more objective, and the need to generally identify a "Troll" is unnecessary. May 31, 2015 at 7:36

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