Once upon a time I prided myself on my ability to pick out trolls relatively early. In an otherwise social group, it was pretty easy to identify the overtly antisocial and provocative antics. But the reality of the changing demographics of the Internet are quickly making this skill useless.

There was a time when the demographics of the Internet were fairly homogeneous. White (maybe Asian). Male. 20-something. In college or college-educated.

Because of this you could be fairly certain that anyone on the Internet acting like a goddamn drooling retard and being so obstinately stupid in the face of logic and reason was usually a troll. People that stupid just didn’t get on the Internet.

But these days, they do, as Penny Arcade once so eloquently observed. And it’s not just the drooling retards causing problems.

There are a lot of in-betweens. People that are otherwise average joes are increasingly exhibiting behaviour that once would have been a surefire sign of trolling. And my instincts lead me to call them on it, and I’m increasingly realizing I am wrong! Examples here, here, and here.

So, the lesson is: these days someone being stupid isn’t necessarily a troll. They are probably just being stupid.