How far to go with trolls?

by Hawke Robinson published 2016/03/10 17:00:00 GMT-7, last modified 2022-11-12T09:26:33-07:00
Recently in a Facebook conversation regarding the Wheelchair Friendly RPG Trailer, I had some interaction with what turned out to be a troll. At first I thought it might be a legitimate interaction, but only too late was it clear they were otherwise... I thought it would be fun to post the interaction here for future reference.

Sometimes difficult to tell from text that someone is just trolling you, at least at first... Here is a recent example, where in my enthusiasm to explain things to someone I thought had legitimate questions, I overlooked the possibility they were just trolling for their entertainment.... :-)

My original posting:

Would appreciate some feedback about what is lacking, and what might help. Lots of verbal and some video support from many people, but any ideas what is lacking or wrong that explains why this hasn't had much traction? What goes through your mind?
Please take a look. - - more details here: - Thanks!

Many various helpful responses from most, but one fellow...

"You're solving the problem of getting to a table? Aren't there plenty of other solutions to this problem?"

I have seen this question a number of times, and thus it is in my FAQs for the trailer. That usually addresses concerns, and there is usually at least verbal support at that point. So I responded with the standard:

"Thank you for sharing your reaction Will Nesbitt. The feedback helps me try to prioritize which information is the greatest detractor from people donating. I do have that question addressed at length in the FAQs, but it seems as though from your, and some others, responses, that I may need to find some means of emphasizing that information more effectively.

Here is an excerpt from the FAQs page - -

The section titled:

What experiences led you to decide that this trailer is the best option to bring RPGing to the populations with special needs? In rural areas? Why is this trailer the best option and not other options?

  • Most public gaming facilities are sub-par environments (dirty, noisy, too hot/cold, uncomfortable seating, threatening to some populations, etc.).
  • Many locations are either outright inaccessible for wheelchairs, or minimally accessible despite the various laws for accessibility, such as the ADA in the United States.
  • While many gamers live in urban areas and may have access, there are also many populations that would benefit from participation in RPG but have significant transportation issues in getting to urban areas for participation.
  • While there are many in urban areas, there are also many of those that would benefit from RPGs that live in rural and/or un-served or under-served areas.
  • Some public environments are not very friendly or supportive toward people with disabilities and can feel like an unsafe environment to some. The trailer provides a safe, supportive environment.
  • Many individuals, especially those with special needs, have financial issues that limit their ability to join/participate in RPGs (expense of books, miniatures, computers, consoles, subscriptions, LARP equipment, etc.).
  • Most facilities do not have the equipment I do for providing the various forms of RPG (tabletop, live-action, and computer-based).
  • Most facilities lack the training for effective delivery of RPG sessions.
  • Many facilities have noise restrictions in their rooms that limit the RPG experience.
  • Many facilities lack the space for tabletop or LARP sessions, and/or do not have any of the equipment for tabletop, live-action, or computer-based RPGs.
  • Hotel costs and other costs are also addressed with this trailer so that it remains affordable to deliver the services much more broadly than without the trailer.
  • The process of moving gaming supplies to each location is quite burdensome when running many groups. My gaming materials are either at my house or office. I then load multiple boxes with the necessary gaming supplies (tabletop rule books, battle mats, miniatures, character sheets, GM screen, notebooks, pencils, post its, dice, markers, etc.) (video games: computers or consoles, video screens, controllers, speakers, cables, etc.) (live-action (LARP), props, armor, shields, garb, hats, weapons, etc.), load the boxes into my SUV, drive to the location, unload the SUV, unpack the equipment and set it up for the session, run the session, then pack back into the boxes, load back into the SUV, return home (or office), unload the SUV, unpack the boxes and put all the equipment back on the shelves. The trailer would have all the equipment right there. I would only need to drive to the location, setup, and away we go. I would save many hours per day, and be able to provide even more sessions per week.
  • Geographic bottleneck. Currently I am mostly only able to provide regular services in the greater Spokane area, though I have done some work in the Seattle & Tacoma areas. Also there has been repeated demand for my services on the East coast, mid-west, Texas, and Canada.The trailer would make it possible for me to regularly provide services across the whole state easily, and after clearing some regulation issues, expand to providing services throughout North America. This just isn't economically viable, or logistically reasonable, without the trailer, but with the trailer becomes very do-able.
  • While the modality of using role-playing gaming is new to the Therapeutic Recreation (TR) / Recreation Therapy (RT) profession, the approach of a mobile service with a trailer is well established in this and other health care professions."


While most then are fairly satisfied with those details, he however instead responded:

"Perhaps one of your problems is that you're not verbose enough. Why make a 15 minute video when you can easily do 45 minutes?"

And while it seems like a snarky comment, without prior interaction with the fellow, and assuming a more positive intent from the poster, and furthermore lacking any emoticons in his response, I had just enough doubt, since I have not previously encountered the person (I have since been enlightened by others), I assumed a more positive intent in the interrogative statement, so further dug myself in with:   :)

"hmmm, I am trying to figure out from the text if that was a humorous comment about not being verbose enough? :)

The feedback in general has been that I am frequently far too verbose and that no one has the attention span these days for all the information I provide. The problem has been getting quick 15 second elevator pitch to connect instead. I already have several 90 minute presentations at conferences on my overall research related to why RPG's are helpful for education and therapy, and how the trailer would better facilitate those services. Some of which are on the Youtube Channel: The website was a lot of text previously, but everyone requested I try to slim it down to just a few paragraphs, with clicking to go deeper, rather than such long pages. Appreciate feedback and thoughts. Happy Gaming! Here are videos going into more depth about the research and trailer: --- --- -- here is playlist of 47 videos so far: Cheers!"

Yep, I fell for it hook, line & sinker...

His response:

"Yes. That was a humorous comment. If you cannot convince them in 1 minute you will never convince them. I'm not convinced."

I disagree with his pessimistic viewpoint of people's maliability (or lack thereof) in the face of persuasive arguments, but I later just deleted that response and just responded with:

"Oki doke. Happy Gaming!"

However, what I had previously posted before I was informed about the character of this person by others:

"...Though I disagree about the "never". 

One example, just a couple of years ago, a self-proclaimed strongly devout Christian woman in her 60s, was originally horrified I was running 12 RPG groups, including D&D, at the offices, and wanted to have them banned from the property.

She had banned her children in the 80s. And she was convinced her nephew committed a double homicide in Idaho that year because of D&D. Over a 3 week period, with about three 15-20 minute conversations before each of my sessions with the groups, she and I discussed her concerns, and I pointed her to the research.

By the third week, she stated she wished she had known that previously, she had just been going with what her pastors, peers, and press told her, and that in hindsight she now wished she had not banned her children. She also no longer believed D&D caused her nephew to commit homicide. She is now very supportive.

However, it does definitely require people being open to new information, and taking the time to investigate further in such circumstances, and willing to have a dialog to address specific questions, rather than just going with their first impressions. I have also had similar challenges in the Recreation Therapy community. They are almost entirely from sports/jock or outdoors programs, 90% female, and generally not open to RPGs as a concept.

By the end of the 90 minute presentations, many are excited, and some have been starting to learn how to implement programs in the USA and Canada, though they have a challenge with the GM learning curve.

I am always happy to address specific questions for those willing to ask, that is usually the most effective means to address any concerns/doubts. For others that aren't willing to go beyond their first impressions, such things happen though it is a shame.

I definitely need to work on modifying my engineering/research/science approach to have a little more sales/slick/schtick, but I can only stomach so much hype without validation, so that often falls by the wayside in the interests of accuracy."

While it became clear he was trolling, I do agree overall with his general point that I need to develop a more effective 13 to 30 second elevator pitch on the value of the trailer. Hopefully with continued feedback from the majority of more helpful people, I can further refine my responses to fit such scope.

I should try something like:

"Yes it is possible to provide these services by other means at a much higher cost, as I have been doing for years, but the trailer will make it much more efficient, affordable, safer, and more effective, for a broader range of people than can be accomplished without the trailer.

If you wish to know those details, see that aforementioned FAQs detailing all those reasons regarding environment, safety, accessibility, availability, transportation, etc."

Happy Gaming!

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