No space on the internet is safe from trolling. Even back in the ’90s, when the web was first introduced to the world, trolls already existed, seeming to crawl up out of the swamp right as internet forums were becoming a thing to spread lite misinformation and cause other users aggravation for no real reason but entertainment.

Warlording is one of the earliest forms of trolling documented today. This act sees users change their message signature to an unnecessarily large ASCII graphic, which makes it hard for other users to scroll past. Kind of like this:

Warlording took off on a number of Usenet forums for simply being entertaining. Reading through each individual long-form signature, often hiding tons of references and jokes within them, became a great time-waster, and striving to make the next great signature was a challenge. This shows how trolling spreads from one person to the next like a virus, often evolving and changing as it does, similar to how Rickrolling lead us to Stickbugging and then to Hey Stinky-ing.

It becomes a game to most, even if it causes some moderators a bit of grief. It’s no wonder that in today’s internet landscape trolling is inescapable. You’ll see people making entire careers out of it, the best of them blurring the lines between what’s real and fake, like Coppercab, Dax Flame and even Ava Louise, who started a rumor earlier this week about Kanye West and Jeffree Star hooking up. Trolling is often a great avenue towards clout, arguably the most important currency on the web, and users like this have perfected the act of transforming trolling from something you do just for fun into a legitimate growth tactic.

It goes without saying though, that there’s a lot less tact in telling a lie about two big celebrities to hundreds of thousands of young followers on TikTok than there is to warlording or talking about Edward Scissorhands on live TV when asked about Edward Snowden.

Nevertheless, there are still trolls out there who are in…

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