The Advice Troll

If you make content and put it on the internet, you will get criticism. I divide critics into three categories:

  1. Good faith critics: They are polite, and constructive dialog is possible.
  2. Ideological critics: They are rude and aggressive. Constructive dialog is not possible. They typically insult and run away.
  3. Advice trolls: They are explicitly polite but implicitly insulting, or, in other words, passive aggressive. Constructive dialog is not possible. They attach like parasites and drain your time and energy.

This essay is about the advice troll.

The advice troll poses as someone offering constructive criticism, but really he is just larping as an authority figure. He thinks of himself as an intellectual, but he is too lazy, stupid, and/or cowardly to create content of his own. Instead, he criticizes the work of others. This is a way for him to assert authority. The act of criticizing presupposes that the critic has superior knowledge or intelligence, so by criticizing your work he is implicitly claiming superiority over you.

Publishing your own content is risky. Criticizing other people’s content is safe. If you reject the advice troll’s criticism, he can portray you as arrogant or close-minded. On the other hand, if you accept his criticism, then you validate his superiority over you. Either way, he wins.

The advice troll usually affiliates himself with a recognized authority, such as the academy in general, a popular thinker, or a popular ideology. That way, even if he is wrong, he can’t be blamed for the error. The authority was wrong, not him. He is not bothered by his failures, because he accepts no responsibility for being right. If one criticism fails, he will simply try another.

The advice troll is an ego parasite who tries to derive status from the work of others. If you seem like a suitable host for this parasite, he will start hanging out in your space and commenting on your work. This might seem flattering at first, but he isn’t really interested in your work. He is only using your content as a platform for his ego. His initial comments are often very friendly, but over time he becomes more and more critical, as a way of asserting his superiority. If you rebut his criticisms he will get snarky, but still maintain a veneer of politeness (which is part of his air of superiority).

The advice troll is polite, but disrespectful. His disrespect manifests as ignoring what you say, presuming to educate you, presuming that his opinions/tastes/intuitions are de facto correct, perpetual babbling or quibbling over terms (to avoid being rebutted and losing face), making petty criticisms, delivering “educational” non sequiturs, and the complete inability to fathom that he could be wrong. He will often begin a comment by praising you for almost attaining his level of understanding. Then he will deliver a little turd of fake wisdom.

I find advice trolls very annoying, especially when they:

  • Presume to educate me about something, when I know much more about it than they do.
  • Presume to be interesting deep thinkers, even though they produce no original content and have no original ideas.
  • Pretend to be interested in my work, even though they have made no effort to understand it (and often haven’t even listened to it or read it).
  • Derail discussions with non-sequiturs and shit-tier takes that are supposed to be profound.
  • Use a space that I created as their litter-box.

Advice trolls must be tolerated up to a point, because they can be confused with good faith critics. I don’t want to appear hostile to critics, so even when I recognize an advice troll for what he is, I have to put up with him to some extent. However, if he gets too annoying, I eventually tell him to fuck off.


  1. Although this isn't explicitly directed at me I did arguably spam your comments section on the NEETbux post a couple of weeks ago so I'll make a few points.

    Ironically I think my first comment which accused you of not fully abandoning the bogus pseudo-morality of libertarianism or its arbeit macht frei slave morality was my least polite.

    You almost certainly haven't noticed me comment before but I have been watching your videos for at least 5 years, many of which I have liked (both figuratively and literally). To say I'm familiar with your work would be an understatement.

    Several years ago I had one of the top 500 largest "alt right" twitter accounts in the world and ran a couple of tumblr blogs with considerable followings. These were all deleted due to censorship but I have plenty of evidence. I've published literally hundreds of essays and have no problem with giving or receiving criticism. I love hearing a point I hadn't thought of before, the more obscure the better. However, even if I had never published anything this would have no bearing on the strength of my arguments, demonstrate character flaws or malign intent. I may not have ever had an original idea but then again I'm not Nietzsche, Descartes or Hume.

    Vehemently criticising someone's views may well seem insulting to them because it suggests that you know more or have thought more deeply about the issue in question than they have. To suggest however that no one could know more about something or have thought about it more deeply than I have would be the height of arrogance. On the issue of UBI there are certainly people who have thought about it more than I have. The people I find most interesting are those who've written books on the subject and advocate it, yet also advocate open borders.

    Why did I comment on the UBI post? Because for a little while now I have been fascinated by the concept and have read a considerable amount on the subject. It's something I'm passionate about. I've also been a long time follower of yours who usually agrees with your arguments but found myself disagreeing with your main takes here. I thought a debate on this issue would be a productive exchange. Maybe you regarded my style as being intellectually arrogant but that could be the pot calling the kettle black. Anyone who's thought a lot about something and who's reasonably smart is liable to come across as arrogant to some degree.

    It could be however that I've got the wrong end of the stick and you are referring to someone else who's bothered you. I don't want to come across as insecure or thin-skinned.

    1. It wasn't directed at you :)

      I would classify you as mostly a good faith critic. Maybe a bit ideological.

      The fact that you were willing to go in voice and thrash out the ideas is something I respect. Most critics snipe from cover and won't take that risk.

    2. Also, if you ever want to chat (off or on the record) drop by discord.

  2. I watch all your vids, for years, and find them interesting. I'm here, because I couldn't find your "free will from determinism" to watch again. You booted me from your server, before I could watch the link you provided. I guess I made my "jupiter" comment from frustration, not able to reconcile your concept of free will emerging from a deterministic system because of greater complexity. It seems absurd, but I'd like to study it more, to eliminate the possibility that I'm wrong. Free will seems very controversial, even with "experts". Probably better for me to avoid it altogether, since it's all just opinions, and not science. It's ok, if you don't want to be bothered, but, I don't see why you won't let me discuss it with the others. I'm not an expert in anything. Just a person with a passion for understanding many of the things you speak of. My intention is not to dominate you. I don't work well with authorities, and, I guess, you come across as somewhat authoritarian. Your personal attacks leave me perplexed, as though my challenges to your ideas are perceived as personal attacks, or an attempt to demean you.
    Like I said, I don't do voice, because I can't keep up. It takes me time to formulate responses. Also concerned about security. A bit paranoid.
    Booting me off like that, with little warning, seems a bit extreme. But, it's your server. Honestly, it seems run a bit tight, and stifling. Just my opinion.
    Hey, if you don't like me, that's cool. Not everyone can get along.
    If you let me back in, we can try again. If not, it was interesting, and learned some new things. Either way, keep doing the YouTube vids. It's refreshing original content.

    1. I didn't say that free will emerges from determinism because of greater complexity.

      The links I posted on free will were to "Efilism Comments" (from about 7:00), "Lucifer's Question", and "To EyesWideOpen".

      Yes, philosophy is opinions, but so is science, math, and every other intellectual field.

      I didn't kick you off the server. I just removed your member role, so you can still post in the lobby. I removed it because you were being disrespectful and I got tired of it. I'll restore your member role so you can come back if you want.

      If you are too paranoid to have a voice discussion then I don't know why you are posting on the internet at all, tbh. I might make voice a requirement in the future. Text suffers from the tragedy of the commons to a greater extent. It becomes a memetic dumping ground.

    2. Vehemently agree with you about this:
      "If you are too paranoid to have a voice discussion then I don't know why you are posting on the internet at all, tbh... Text suffers from the tragedy of the commons to a greater extent. It becomes a memetic dumping ground."

      I just *LOVE* to critique and comment. I wouldn't presume to do it if I did not have blogs of my own though. A measure of bravery is required to post original content online. One makes oneself vulnerable. I hope a good-faith show of trust will be responded to in kind. If not, well, you know how to handle it! (I read your post, and all the comments.)

      Yours truly,
      Ellie (your recent Twitter friend)


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