So, who trolled your startup? A media troll, financial troll or patent troll?
“Shady,” the pseudonym that the author wished to be published under, is an active member of the Asian tech community. This is Shady’s personal account of what happened in an episode of patent trolling.
The Internet is a wonderful place – most of the time. Unfortunately and inevitably, every so often comes along a troll — someone who throws flames onto an Internet topic fire, just for the fun of it.
Trolls have many mutations, but for this post, we shall focus on the ones who lurk and prowl in the dark underbelly of the startup ecosystem.
The media troll
Starting with the first subset of the troll species, we have the media troll. A media troll covers current affairs, and can be very useful allies, being a hoarder of news and information.
Remember your disbelief when a certain startup claims to have millions of monthly active users and sales revenue? Remember the lurker who calls their bluff in the comments, reproducing irrefutable supporting evidence? Well, there you have a classic example of a media troll.
The financial troll
Then we meet the financial trolls. Their mother tongue is a myriad of financial jargon, and they specialise in dissecting deals, scrutinising the details with a burning passion. Without financial trolls meting out justice, how is the average simpleton to know a buyout from a share swap?
The patent troll
We also have patent trolls. As professional plaintiffs, patent trolls profit off an inefficient litigation system, and an environment saturated with bad or redundant patents. Their trump card is threats of legal action.
We have had our fair share of run-ins with them, take Denny (name changed) as a case study. Denny had emailed us repeatedly stating that we had infringed on the rights of another app created by him, and demanded us to stop using our brand name with immediate effect. When we attempted to write to Denny to provide documentation, he responded aggressively – and still fails to provide any evidence that he had owned a similar app first.
At the end of the day, trolls essentially either spin tales a la Rumpelstiltskin spinning gold from straws, or they find out truths and twist them to their advantage. Whether storytellers or truth seekers, trolling may well become someone’s full-time day job.
What happens now, when a troll latches onto you?
Here is some warfare you can deploy:
1. Starve the trolls: Attention is the trolls’ equivalent of fertiliser. Shower attention and rise to the provocation if you look forward to relentless obnoxious harassment on an hourly basis.
2. Troll the trolls: It is almost cannibalism. The Internet (often) has a sense of justice — you get vigilantes who retaliate with countermeasures equally irritating as the trolls themselves.
We are not naming names, but at the mention of dedicated trolling websites, certain names instantly come to mind. There, the professionals lie in wait, pretending to misinterpret the remarks of other trolls to derail and confound them.
3. Bad press: Hi, Mr Denny! Ask and your wishes shall be granted – all publicity is good publicity, right? With the right connections and skills, you can also leverage on the power of social media to clarify matters.
4. Engage in legal battles: Determine first if you have this arsenal of weapons: deep pockets, strong legal team, free time. Your resolution to crush the pest may be weakened by the complexity of lawsuits, and their tendency to be long-drawn and prolonged. We say, reserve this action plan for checkmate moves.
5. Burn them at the stake: Disclaimer: we claim no responsibility for the strategy of your choice, and we are not advocating illegal means. Please exercise rational thinking.
6. Discuss your experiences with fellow victims: Reach out to your online communities for support. The power of majority! We invite you, right now, to share with us in the comments below your experiences with Internet trolls.
Whatever their true intentions and nature, trolls delight in faithfully distributing chaos, confusion and distress, which could be a cause for celebration or dismay depending on your identity.
The views expressed here are of the author’s, and e27 may not necessarily subscribe to them. e27 invites members from Asia’s tech industry and startup community to share their honest opinions and expert knowledge with our readers. If you are interested in sharing your point of view, please send us an email at writers[at]e27[dot]co
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