What are Trolls, Zombies and Demons in The Online World? | survivethewalkingdead.com


I'm surrounded by strange jargon and I feel like an extra in a B-grade horror
movie. One mailing list I'm on has "trolls", and the latest virus can turn my computer
into a "zombie", and my ISP keeps talking about "demons"! Egads! Do I need some
sort of exorcist to use my computer now ??

On the assumption that you are not John Carpenter and that you are not trolling my
weblog, let me tell the scoop here! First off, do not panic, do not call in an exorcist,
and for goodness sake, do not spill a bowl of pea soup on your keyboard!

Like any community, the online community has evolved its own specialized
language to more accurately communicate concepts. There are some famous
examples of professional languages, but my favorite is that Australian butchers
created a language where they literally spoke backwards so that they could talk
without customers having a clue what they were saying.

But back to our own particular form of communication!

Participate on a mailing list or discussion board long enough and you'll find that
there are certain people who pop in and add messages that are either diametrically
opposed to the shared values ​​of the group or subtly insulting or demeaning. If the
author is just offensive, well, there are people like that everywhere, unfortunately.
They're just, well, offensive.

But there are other people who post offensive material for effect, to produce a
reaction and rile up the members of the community. They're trolls. If you go to an
Apple Macintosh discussion group and post "Macs are garbage and all cool people
use PCs ", or go to a United Nations weblog and post" The UN is the tool of Satan "or
add a comment on the Holocaust Museum Web site that "the Holocaust is a fiction
invented by Zionists ", odds are pretty darn good you're a troll.

Most communities ignore trolls or, sometimes, one person responds with "troll:
ignore "or similar to ensure that even new community members avoid wasting their
time trying to engage the author in a debate. Sometimes, though, groups can spin
out of control completely where the troll engages in an increasing incoherent debt
with community members, who, predictably, start foaming at the mouth because of
this person assailing their core, fundamental beliefs.

Referring to the original definition of trolls, I think they're all do best to just climb
back under their bridges and wait for the next person to come across, personally.

Zombie computers are, like the staggering mindless hulks that star in all those B-
grade movies, doing things without you being able to control them. Typically
nefarious things, like sending out thousands upon thousands of Web page or
network ping requests (that's called more basically a distributed denial of service
attack), helping spread a virus (which is so common that people forget that most
virii actually take over a computer), or, the latest twist, serve as spam relay points,
blindly sending out thousands of unwanted junk email messages.

My understanding of how this works is that a computer – typically a PC running
Windows – is infected by a virus which then launches a program running secretly on
the computer. Think "brain eating fungus" here. That program then communicates
with a central control program that sends it a master email message and a list of
thousands of email addresses. The connection is separated, and your Dell, Gateway,
HP, Toshiba, or other PC suddenly starts opening up and firing off email after email.
All with your return address, your return IP on the tracking data, and without any
telltale "Mailer: Zombie Mail 1.35 (installed by B.xx virus on 2 Feb 05)" header to let
people know you're not the bad guy.

To revive a zombie computer you need to sacrifice a chicken, pour the blood into
the … oh, no. Sorry, wrong article. What you need to do is run an antivirus program
from its boot CDROM (which, by definition, is clean and virus-free), which should be
able to at least quarantine if not kill the zombie infection.

Finally, when your ISP talks about demons, she's really talking about Unix programs
that run "in background" 24×7, and they're properly spelled "daemons". If you're off
reading this message, you've sent a web page query to the web server daemon
running on my own server, and if you then follow-up by sending me an email
message that explains why we never have angelic or positive metaphors in the
online world (which I'd love to discuss!) then your email program would connect to
my email daemon, running a protocol known as the simple mail transfer protocol
(SMTP).

A long answer for a simple question, but in a medium built around writing and
broadcast communication, and initially designed by nerdy misfits who preferred
Dungeons & Dragons to cocktail parties with the sorority across the street, it should
be no surprise that the jargon is so colorful and evocative.



Source by Dave Taylor

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