Is it a sin to accuse people of trolling?

Of course, if this is so, many of the Catholics on CAF would need to go to confession ASAP. :wink:

But seriously, it seems to me that even if one has proof from I.P. numbers, or amateur knowledge of linguistic forensics, etc., accusing a poster of trolling might be considered a sin of detraction at the least.

Most trolls out themselves. The ridiculous scenarios are pretty obvious.
And those people who “feel sorry” for everyone are not being charitable. They are feeding trolls. Many “innocent folks” read these forums. You’d be amazed at the misinformation that is spawned from such troll threads.

If the person IS a troll, you will only succeed in feeding them. If the person is not a troll, you will be bearing false witness. Don’t feed the trolls.

As to whether or not it’s a sin, probably depends solely on the intent.


Define “trolling.”

To publicly do so on CAF I would say is a venial sin, in that it is violating the rules of the forum one agreed to follow.

On other message boards it will often exacerbate whatever conflict or bad behavior a suspected troll may be engaged in. Causing a meltdown of a thread in this way is a disservice to those who have invested time and emotion in that thread, so knowingly producing this result could also be a sin. On the other hand, in some cases shining a light on a perpetrator is the best way to get them to stop. So obviously prudential judgment may vary from situation to situation.

I’m not an expert on what is sin and what isn’t. But I do think accusing someone of trolling is unkind. Sometimes it’s probably true, but other times I have seen people be accused of trolling who seemed genuinely curious and then they get dismissed with an “obviously you’re just trolling.” I think that a Catholic forum should hold itself to very high standards- there are people here out of curiosity that might well come into the Church if approached right. Unkindness is unlikely to be the right approach.

Edit to add: If I think someone is trolling, I simply don’t engage them. That way I’m not, to quote someone here “feeding the trolls” but neither am I being intentionally unkind.

I don’t know. I can’t see how it would be detraction. Detraction is telling a truth about a person in order to destroy their reputation or credibility. Usually it involves revealing information that is irrelevant. (Like saying Mr. Jones had an affair 15 years ago.) That’s not what is happening when someone is accused of being a troll. (usually) The information is relevant, and most of the time it’s done to warn others so that they know this poster isn’t actually interested in having a real conversation. He or she is just looking to provoke.

That said, I do think a lot of people are too quick to assume someone’s a troll when they are not. This could be the sin of rash judgment, since they are assuming the worst of someone. But it really does depend on the situation. Sometimes if a poster is causing a lot of turmoil, it IS a good thing to tell others he is just trolling, so that they don’t keep feeding the fire.

That’s my two cents anyways.

Well, per, the definition of “troll” as a verb in relation to the Internet, is as follows (

**7. **Digital Technology, Informal.
a. to post inflammatory or inappropriate messages or comments on (the Internet, especially a message board) for the purpose of upsetting other users and provoking a response.
b. to upset or provoke (other users) by posting such messages or comments.

Essentially, the idea is that a troll is NOT interested in actual productive discussion, he or she just wants to start drama by his or her comments.

However, where CAF is concerned, I have noticed that many times, people who post about some personal or moral dilemma are accused of “trolling” NOT to stir up drama and get posters fighting, but merely to get attention and sympathy, which is somewhat a variation of the standard “troll” definition. I’ve even seen posters stating, as a fact, that the vast majority of such dilemmas are fake.

Though some people do post about “dilemmas” such as “I am having an affair” where they are the ones in the wrong by the standards of most Catholics, then proceed to wail, bemoan, and accuse posters of being uncharitable, harsh, cruel, mean, etc. when they try to actually go by Catholic teaching when giving advice. Such posters seem to be closer to the traditional definition of “troll”.

I don’t claim any special certainty into who is or isn’t a troll, but there is a lot of trolling on CAF. In fact, people on other sites (Dalrock, for instance) have been known to maintain multiple accounts at CAF for mischievous purposes. I’m afraid that the following is quite common:

  1. post outlandish trolling fake thread at CAF
  2. wait for answers to roll in
  3. go back to your internet home base and clutch pearls about CAF as either being so feminist and heretical! or so ultra-conservative, unrealistic and uncharitable!

I don’t know if it’s a sin to accuse people of trolling, but people that consider themselves “good Catholics” or “good Christians” and yet lie on the internet for the greater good need to find a better hobby and a good confessor.

Oh, I can think of many posts and posters on CAF where I myself have suspected trolling is on the agenda, I just do not feel comfortable proclaiming my suspicions in public. However, usually when that is the case, someone else will take it upon themselves to be the accuser.

I can think of a sports forum I participated on in the 1990s where there was an epic trolling and flaming war going between different factions, unfortunately the moderator of the forum himself was deeply involved in this and seemed to think the drama was good for the forum in some way. It got very weird. That forum no longer exists, which is unfortunate as some of the people there were very knowledgeable sports fans.

Excuse my Italian ignorance - what is trolling?

I work under the idea that everybody the postes very much will come across sometimes to somebody as a troll. I know I have. :blush: Also, some edge away from being a ‘troll’ towards being a bit of a ‘Bartha Better Then Everyone Else’. :slight_smile:

Intentionally posting messages that forum members find disagreeable, argumentative, offensive. The idea is to post something ridiculous for the enjoyment of making people angry.

I agree.

Generally, there is nothing to be gained from accusing someone of trolling, and much to be potentially lost.

If you think someone is trolling, just ignore. If you have doubts - why not just answer the question as though it were genuine (which it may well be)? There may be other people that can benefit from your post, even if the OP is a troll. The issues raised in such threads will be real for some people out there, even if not the OP themself.

If you accuse someone falsely, you may become a stumbling block for that person in their faith journey, and that is not something any of us should do. I’d rather feed 99 trolls than drive 1 honest person further from the faith by falsely accusing them.

And if those 99 trolls have sucked me in - well, good on them - I’m not losing sleep over it. :rolleyes:

Example of trolling: “Is it a sin for a married (Catholic) man to have an affair with a woman who isn’t Catholic? That’s o.k., isn’t it? Since non-Catholics are already separated from Christ, I don’t think it’s a sin for me to have an affair with my next door neighbor, who is Evangelical.”

Or, “My secretary’s daughter came out as a lesbian. Since she is still living with her mother, am I sinning by keeping her mother on the payroll? Technically, I’m supporting the lesbian lifestyle by providing money for her mother to buy her food and clothes, right?”

But there was no trolling today in the Bernabeu, Forza Juve!

I can’t recall seeing any threads of this sort around here.

But yes, the old “That’s o.k., isn’t it?” line is often a sign of some posting shenanigans.

This is not clearly trolling. There are plenty of people who struggle to determine how to appropriately apply certain teachings to complex situations, , or even simple situations, especially if they are scrupulous.

The trolling posts tend to illustrate huge misconceptions of the Catholic faith.
“I have 25 children and my husband wants me to be more submissive, but I already gave up my career and walk ten steps behind him, and I love him more than ANYTHING,
Is it ok for me to use birth control?”

As I said…trolls are VERY obvious. They out themselves.

Charity does not equate condoning the random nonsense that comes along.
If it’s an obvious troll…I walk away from the thread. But they do a lot of harm.
It’s the old “I read it on the internet so it must be true! And on a Catholic site!!!”

I don’t know how people determine “who” is trolling, when they come here.

I don’t know what meets trolling criteria when posting here. I mean, I know and understand what trolling is, but somehow, I must not know it in some ways, when it comes to posting here, in particular. That is what I mean.

Sometimes I recognize patterns in threads that have a high probability of being trolled.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit