How to Troll on Reddit

Reddit is a wonderful website, with a diverse and intelligent community. The users submit interesting links from around the Web, as well as thoughtful and informative essays on a variety of topics. Registered users of the site are then able to vote on that content, comment on the content, and vote on the comments. This allows the best content to rise to the top, while keeping noise to a minimum.

As is often the case with a large group of intelligent users, there is a great diversity of opinion among the userbase. While the demographics are not rigorously recorded by the site itself, many informal polls show that the majority of the users skew young; most fall within the 16-30 year old age group. Beyond that, the majority seem to lean to the left; liberal, atheist, generally mistrustful of authority. This puts the opposite side – conservative, Christians, fans of law and order – on the defensive. We will put this defensive stance to use in our trolling efforts.

Note that griefing these groups is by far the least subtle type of trolling. Truly masterful trolls, like LouF, are able to convince the reader that they sincerely believe the antagonistic positions they take. Sadly, I do not possess that level of skill.

The first step is to select your target demographic. There are many groups that are under constant scrutiny merely because they are members of that group. They have become overly sensitive to criticism of whatever criteria define their group, and are therefore prone to over-react when confronted about those criteria. Groups that I have trolled with success on Reddit include:
Christians / the faithful Jews / supporters of Israel Military supporters Police supporters Urban cyclists American gun advocates
Once you have selected a demographic, you need to find a conversation where passions are already inflamed. For example, an article describing how a driver was charged for menacing cyclists is sure to bring out a group of cyclists.

After selecting a suitable conversation, it’s important to espouse a position which is

(a) contrary to the general sentiment of the target group,

(b) expresses disdain or derision for that group, and

(c) has some basis in logic, law or common sense. In our cyclist example, you might point out how sad it is that grownups feel the need to impede vehicular traffic while riding children’s toys.

Similarly, Christians do not respond to being referred to as “superstitious”, despite the fact that the dictionary definition of the word is technically correct when describing the faithful. Jews, in particular, are sensitive about the situation in Israel; the ones that support the state of Israel feel they need to justify the actions of fundamentalists, while those who eschew the actions of the extremists still feel they must defend their Jewish heritage at all costs.

Another successful trolling tactic involves identifying a “big fish” within a sensitive group and finding that user’s weakness, then attacking mercilessly. Your efforts may meet with little success at first, but with time you can arouse the ire of “ordinary” posters and will be able to lead a charge against your (formerly) popular target.

If you find that someone smarter than you is getting the better of you, it’s best to disengage quickly, rather than let them beat you down. Ignoring someone who has made a valid or superior argument will often infuriate them into making a mistake later.

Finally, remember that building an audience is key; you want to attract eyeballs to the conversation, so that people will remember your name, and look forward to future confrontations. By engaging in authentic participation, you can garner a following that will serve you well when promoting content at a later time.

Good luck, and happy trolling!