Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Rule #1: DO NOT FEED THE TROLLS

Some of you know that I frequent Usenet newsgroups - those wonderful forums that preceded blogs in internet evolution. Now, those who frequent newsgroups are familiar with TROLLS, now known as Internet Trolls as they have spread from newsgroups to blogs (please read the description at the link, it explains the situation well).

One of the hallmark tactics of Internet Trolls is to place comments into a comment-thread that is designed with the sole intent of provoking an angry response from one or more legitimate commenters. Their comment may seem relatively on-topic, but it is not intended to contribute to the discussion in any meaningful way. The troll may or may not hold the opinion which they submit, they simply write things designed specifically to provoke and antagonize, and to distract from the subject of the discussion. In this way, they imagine that they have "taken control" of the thread, which gives them a sense of power. They also get a vicarious thrill from provoking other commenters until they make them angry, and when that anger is presented in writing, the troll gleefully taunts them. At that point, the troll has won, and they know it... and revel in it.

Why am I writing about this now? Because, unfortunately, my blog was recently infested by a troll. This individual has admitted that he deliberately makes antagonistic comments to me, for the sole purpose of aggravating and provoking me, while falsely portraying his attacks as legitimate comments. In other words, his sole intention has been to deliberately manipulate me for his own amusement, all the while pretending to be a commenter. His whole presentation was a lie, a cheap facade, and because I have always maintained a policy of never deleting anyone's comments, I was an easy mark. I fell for the ruse. I was the patsy. I received his comments in good faith, and in return, he got his jollies by manipulating me.

Now, in contrast, there exists another blogger for whom I have the utmost respect and admiration, that captain of common sense, Grandpa Eddie. He has a disclaimer on his fine blog that I admire enough to copy and use on mine. It reads as follows:
"Comments from all readers are welcome and appreciated. Open discussion is allowed, trolls are not. As I am the editor of this blog, I am the one who makes the decision on what may be posted in the comments section. Free speech is a wonderful thing, but comments from trolls will be removed...and I decide who a troll is here."
That is what is necessary, thanks to trolls like the one that infested my blog. To paraphrase Spiderman, with free speech comes great responsibility. From now on, when I see comments from that particular individual, they will be removed forthwith. I will not tolerate trolling, and I will not have my blog polluted by such repugnant vandalism. I will do what I can to rid the internet of trolls.

To my blogger friends, my stalwart companion Mike of the North, Sar (officially #47), Windspike, WhyNot & Dianne, Grandpa Eddie, Watch 'N Wait, Tina, Ken G, Via, Romablog, and whoever I've forgotten, you're always welcome here. I think you'll find it a little bit more pleasant environment.

Peace.

15 comments:

windspike said...

Shea - I like GP Eddie's take on it too. Moxie Grrrl put it once to me when I was getting hit by a particular troll whom shall be nameless..."every so often, just delete her/his comments just to piss him/her off and fun." Some of these nut jobs spend so much time composing vitriol it's fun to just delete their efforts with the stroke of a button on the keyboard.

Blog on my friend, blog on.

SheaNC said...

Thanks for the support, Windspike. You're right, the troll in question has written some long diatribes about me, including taking the time to go back and forth hunting for passages in my blog to cut and paste into another! It's a really creepy obsession he has.

Watch 'n Wait said...

Sorry to hear you're being harassed by such a low-class idiot, Shea. You're definitely doing the right thing by eliminating that nasty critter from view. Gawd!

SheaNC said...

Thank you, watch 'n wait. I abhore censorship, but in this case it is like this: is spray-painted graffiti on a historic building free speech, or vandalism? I had to make a hard choice, and I am sick about it. But better to delete their attacks than suffer fools, ay?

windspike said...

Hey Shea,

Btw, how do you know your troll's a he and not a she? Just wondering. The anonymity factor of the internet places any one's gender up for speculation, no?

Simon said...

Hey Shea!

Been a long time, hope you remember me! Sorry to return to a story such as this. There certainly are people here to test us, no? That is really annoying. Well, at least it is testament to your good character that you assumed good nature, and not that they were being a pain in the butt.

Alrighty, I have to catch up on your posts, and maybe to to some posting of my own!

And don't worry, I'll post plenty of anti-troll positive comments for ya. ;)

Peace

Mike V. said...

he was a sage, that spiderman.

thanks for not remembering me, BTW.. :)

SheaNC said...

Windspike: Actually, I know who they are, although troll-smashing protocol dictates that I don't give 'em any free publicity here ;)

Simon: Hey! Welcome back! Good to hear from you again. Wow, it's been almost exactly one year since we last spoke. And look how much has changed - you haven't missed a thing!

Mike V: OMG! I am deeply and profoundly ashamed for not including you on that list. I didn't mean to forget you, really! Listen, here is the deal: You have been given a special status that is enjoyed by very few. You remember in the theme song from Gilligan's Island, at the end, "...and the rest"? You're in good company, with a Professor and Mary Ann (the prettier one). Okay, I owe you.

Simon said...

Yeah, it has been a year! I'm like a special, secret weapon/agent that they froze, and put on ice until the world needs me. I'm here, and I have all my gizmos too.

SheaNC said...

Well, Simon, if there was ever a time the world needed a secret agent hero, it's now!

Grandpa Eddie said...

Great post, Shea. I dislike censorship as much as you or anyone else does....but sometimes it becomes a reality that it has to be done, for the sanctity of one's own blog. Besides, editors of newsprint do it on a regular basis. And like you said, they do it to rile up our regular readers.

Btw...thanks for the comment you put in about me....ya made me blush. Just trying to do the best I can to help bring our country back to where it should be.

Peace my brother.

Sar said...

Woohoo, officially #47! I'm honored to have made your shortlist, Shea, and I agree with you on censorship, but still say do what you must with the trolls.

Sending warm tropical vibes your way my friend. :)

Mike V. said...

I feel better now.

I always wanted a piece of Mary Ann.

SheaNC said...

Sar: thanks!

Mike V: Three words: banana cream pie.

Mike of the North said...

I thought it was coconut cream pie.

btw... When I was a kid it was definitely Maryann, but now that my tastes have become a bit more twisted Ginger looks like the one that could keep my interests up longer... so to speak.