It’s been a strange time on Quora lately. In the past few weeks I have been noticing people making mentions of some sort of a ‘war’ going on between the ‘narcs of Quora’ and the ‘narc victims of Quora’.
I didn’t pay much attention to it until last week. And I honestly believe that something much more interesting is going on. It’s either some sort of a social experiment or a mega troll super attack. There are multiple fake accounts that have been nurtured for many many months plus some supportive fake accounts that randomly spring up. These fake accounts are in both camps – the narc camp and the narc victim camp – and they have managed to play about everybody.
So this is how I found out.
I have been writing on Quora about my experience recovering from a relationship with a narcissist for about a year. It’s been a great platform that enabled me to gain a lot of clarity, connect with people that experienced the same and perhaps help a little to those that are on that journey right now.
There have been a few notable characters that I noticed in this ‘narc survivor’ group. One of them was a person, a female, whom for the purpose of this article I will call Ellen Crow. Ellen always liked my answers, she started following my blog, always liking my articles. She would frequently comment on my answers on Quora and I would comment on hers. She was making sense and I didn’t have a reason to question her account.
Another prominent figure is one that I would call Carol Hamster. Carol, the embodiment of the recovering battered woman, always seemed very supportive. She came across a bit like a narc hater, but then, what would you expect from someone who’s been through such a torment, right? She was even very supportive of me when I was complaining about paranoid attacks that my narc ex would send someone to throw acid into my face. She reassured me that he would be the first suspect. I had no reason to question her.
I have never been engaging too much with the narcs on Quora but a couple of times I allowed myself to be baited by provocation questions into cyclic arguments.
These baiting questions would usually be sent directly to me by someone, I wouldn’t check who that person was. Sometimes, I would respond. The asker would immediately attack me in a comment, invalidating everything that I had to say.
At some point I realised that these askers are just looking to pick a fight and I would block them.
But a strange think would happen. I block one and immediately, two different ones send me a baiting question. I would ignore that too.
So I existed on Quora for quite a while, oblivious to what was going on, thinking that there are some small disorganised trolls doing this baiting.
But then something happened. Quite accidentally, in my feed, I saw a blog post by this self proclaimed narcissist, whom I will call Lilly Lobster. I used to consider Lilly just a troubled girl that is getting therapy for her NPD while trying to gain sympathy from Quora users. I never paid much attention to her.
But something made me read that blog post. I was shocked. In that blog post, Lilly Lobster was viciously slamming my ‘friend’ Ellen Crow, she appeared offended that Ellen had blocked her and was slandering her, calling her all sorts of things.
Underneath this blog post was a comment thread full of similarly vile comments from various users.
I was shocked. Does my ‘friend’ Ellen know about this? I sure have to tell her, I thought. Also, since I have worked in media for quite a while I for sure know that you can’t just post slanderous and harassing articles like this.
When I first started writing about the experience with my narcissistic ex, I was specifically told by a lawyer that I can write whatever i want, as long as I don’t put any names there.
I reported the post and Lilly for harassment to Quora and messaged Ellen. She seemed shocked. She told me they (the clique around Lilly Lobster) have been ganging up on her. She seemed quite stressed by the whole thing. She said she was even thinking to leave Quora. I told her to just block whomever and not engage with them. What I saw on that blog by Lilly really did seem like rantings of a total lunatic. Word salad at its best. Accusing people of things she was clearly doing, saying one thing one minute and a total opposite the next.
There was no doubt in my mind that Ellen fell victim to this deranged psycho and let her victimise her. That would be typical for a recovering victim of narc abuse, I thought.
Over the next days, I was in close contact with Ellen. Since Quora didn’t seem to be too eager to take that slanderous post down, I encouraged Ellen to reach to others and ask them to report that post as well. I took screenshots of the blog post and the whole comment thread to keep as evidence. Ellen said she was very grateful as she was not too digitally savvy and didn’t know how to take screenshots.
Ellen told me that Carol Hamster had started a secret facebook group and whether I want to join it. I thought – great idea – Quora doesn’t enable group messages. It’s much better to communicate with people directly. So I befriended Carol Hamster on facebook and joined the group.
Ellen told me she is not that much into Facebook. In fact, she had a profile she barely used, under a fake name, with nothing much on it (she said she is afraid her narcissistic ex might stalk her).
I posted about the situation with Lilly Lobster’s attack on Ellen and asked people to report Lilly as well to force Quora to take the issue seriously.
A few people joined the conversation. Most prominently Carol Hamster. She always seemed quite involved in Quora, so it was making sense.
I kept checking what was happening around Lilly. I also went back into my old answers and checked the profiles of people who had been asking me the trolling questions. I started realising their profiles looked totally fishy. Like ten weird answers designed to provoke. I realised that these question can be reported as ‘not seeking genuine answers’ and that Quora has a policy that requires people to register under their real names. I realised that these baiting questions were most likely being sent by a single person using multiple fake profiles so I started diligently reporting every single of these profiles as using a fake name.
In the meantime, I kept checking on Lilly Lobster and her abusive post about Ellen. When I first found that post, I commented, telling Lilly that I don’t think that what she was doing was OK and that in fact, it’s slander and harassment. Lilly deleted my comment and blocked me, while at the same time complaining that people like Ellen just block her and delete comments and refuse to have a dialogue because they can’t deal with other people’s opinions.
I thought well, this chick is a self proclaimed narcissist with anti-social traits that brags on her blog about being a compulsive liar and loving manipulation. What can you expect right?
I was just confused, whether she is so delusional that she has no clue about what she is doing or whether she is doing it deliberately.
I was really curious to know whether she really believes all the insanities that she says.
Well, let’s ask Quora, I thought.
So I posted an anonymous question: Are self-proclaimed self-aware narcissists of Quora delusional?
I was hoping some psychologist would clarify that to me.
But an interesting thing happened. The person that answered was Lilly herself. Calling the asker immature and saying that that person should just block her and everyone they don’t like.
Wow, I was thinking. She really doesn’t have a clue. In another post she has been slamming people for blocking and not allowing discussion because they are unable to handle different opinions and now this. Wow.
I couldn’t comment because she had previously blocked me after I commented on her rant about Ellen (I myself did block Lilly just to be sure she can’t troll me).
So I posted a separated answer worded as a letter to Lilly – a breach of policy – I know. Where I pointed to all the inconsistencies in her words and described the hateful post about Ellen.
Funny things started happening. I was in touch with Ellen throughout this process. Since Lilly couldn’t comment because I had blocked her, another character called Joanne jumped up telling me that she had reported my post since it’s a harassment. I said I was fine with it.
A very interesting exchange followed. At some point one of the narc characters said that he has done much worse than online harassing someone, such as stalking people to their homes and harassing their families and that he always got away with it because the police don’t care.
‘Wow, said Ellen’. That’s scary.
The next second the comment was deleted.
‘shame that I didn’t take a screenshot,’ i said.
“I did,’ said Ellen.
Strange, I thought. Two days ago, she told me she didn’t know how to take a screenshot.
In the meantime, I noticed that Lilly amended her answer.
She accused me of being a person ‘who believes every word that comes out of HG Tudor and Sam Vaknin’s mouths, both antisocial narcissists who are self admitted pathological liars.’
Strange, I thought. I am sure I never interacted with Lilly on Quora. But I know being attacked for mentioning Tudor and Vaknin by a character called Joey, whom I earlier established to be fake profile.
The alarm went off. LILLY IS NOT REAL! SHE IS FAKE.
In fact, that’s the only thing that makes sense. This person is just too crazy to be real. On one hand confessing to loving manipulation and being a compulsive liar, on the other hand playing the poor me the victim of abusive parents game, on yet another calling people who tried to make her understand their story complete idiots for thinking she might care… This character was just too crazy to be real.
I reported her as a false account.
Another interesting thing happened. One of the Lilly followers complained that he too had been harrassed by the so called ‘narc victims’. ‘Sorry to hear that,’ I said. ‘You should have reported them.’ ‘We can have a discussion, we don’t need to be reporting each other’, he said. I said ‘fine, I have a different opinion. Now i want to end this discussion.
He essentially attacked me for not allowing discussion and told me that I wouldn’t change my mind about narc victims even if a qualified professional told me I was wrong.
I didn’t respond.
Next time I see is a new response – a ‘qualified mental health professional with 30 years of experience’ whom I will call Crazy Coco posts a very long rant, in which she says that she would never trust a so-call narc victim with the assessment of someone’s character.
Strange I thought. I bet this is all the same person. And I reported her.
I went back to the Facebook group managed by Carol Hamster and shared my experience.
I told people that I believed it was all run by one super-troll and encouraged them to totally disengage and just block and report away.
At the same time, I was in touch with Ellen via email. She confessed she had been using a fake name out of fear of her ex stalking her. That would make sense, I thought. Even though it’s against Quora regulations.
I went to bed. It was already late. It was a challenging day but I felt like a Sherlock for cracking the Quora trolling mystery.
In the morning, on the Facebook group, another member was sharing screenshots of fake profiles that were sending her baiting questions. I recognised many. She said one of them was slamming her book and calling her a crazy deranged narcissist. I told her to go and take screenshots, since what the guy is doing is libel and told her to take legal action.
Then, something really strange happened.
Carol Hamster commented, asking me why I reported Ellen to Quora for using a fake name after she confided in me. She told me that Ellen has been kicked out of Quora and is very upset.
Wow, I though – I reported Lilly and all those trolls ages ago and all those profiles are still there. How come Ellen’s disappeared virtually overnight and how on Earth does Carol know. Ellen only told me that a few hours ago and now, she is not only out of Quora but Carol is already making public insinuations that it was me who reported Ellen (which I clearly had not done. Why would I? I used to think Ellen was ‘in my camp’)
I have to admit though that I had my suspicions about both, Ellen and Carol at this stage. A lot of stuff was not adding up. Carol saying that someone stole her book, claiming to be a passionate writer but not having time to start her blog.
I ended the communication with Carol and left the group, telling the person whose book has been slandered that I think both Carol and Ellen are part of this trolling game.
So I went and googled Carol. I found a very fishy twitter account with her name and picture with only 11 followers. Carol, who sells herself on Quora as an explorer of inner space, herself followed about 120 people on twitter, none of which would have anything to do with the exploring of inner space.
Wow, I thought. She is the Lilly Lobster of the narc victim camp. And so is Ellen.
So a fictional Lilly Lobster attacks a fictionally Ellen Crow waiting for someone to pick on that. Well, it was me.
Anyway, congratulation to the super narc for pulling off all this. I believe that if you invested your energies into something more worthwhile, you would make a real contribution to the society.
I am kind of curious who you really are and in a way, I have respect for you. You did play this well and you did manage to fool me.
Anyway. I wish Quora was taking this issue more seriously though. No response from Quora admin for days.
I want this tale to serve as a warning to everyone – be careful whom are you engaging with online. Don’t trust too easily and if someone attacks you, don’t get lured into arguments. It’s most likely a troll that is having a lot of fun deliberately pushing your buttons. Just block and leave. These types are clever but we can learn our lessons, can’t we.
Update 1: So I didn’t really crack it. It’s not one person. There must be a group taking turns running these characters. At 5:58 pm, I received an email from Ellen telling me that she read my blog and that I got it all wrong (remember? She has been following my blog for a while and was always among the first to give me a like.) We ended our communication after a short weird exchange.
To my surprise, I received another email from Ellen at 2:47AM (the next day), telling me THAT SHE HAS JUST READ MY BLOG and that I got it all wrong. Did Ellen have an amnesia between the afternoon and the tonight or is it another troll taking up duty.
So I am leaving Quora for good. I put up a request do delete my entire account. After some more research and interaction with certain ‘prominent Quora characters’ in the narcissism recovery debate, I realised that the entire conversation has been hijacked by internet trolls. It’ hard for me now to say who was ever real from those that I interacted with and I believe that in addition to my ‘friend Ellen’, there had been other characters over the past year that interacted with me, some even on Facebook, who pretended to be people in distress recovering from relationships with narcissists. Analysing the ‘secret Facebook page’ conversation and some subsequent interaction, I realised that this trolling group may even have hacked some people’s Facebook accounts.
Being quite paranoid, I started changing all my passwords. On Facebook, I found a very strange thing. Despite me being in continental Europe since last week, Facebook is telling me that a device iPhone6s logged into my Skype account two days ago in London. I am not sure whether this could be a Facebook glitch or wether that means that someone has access to my Facebook account. It is certainly adding to my digital paranoia now.
On Quora, I have seen traffic to my answers dropping over the past month, despite my quite consistent posting. In the past, my answers would get views in the number of hundreds or thousands. Now it’s mostly in the tens. When I looked at the Quora accounts of the characters impersonated by the trolls, they are very prominent now, with massive amounts of views.
Anyway, I really used to like Quora but what’s happening now, I don’t understand.