This blog was not around during the last presidential election, so I do not know if the current (and rising) volume of troll comments is typical or not. Whichever it is, it harms this blog and it has to stop.
I started tdaxp in December ’04 in order to catch errors in my thinking. As part of this, comments have always been prominently featured on the blog’s right-hand column. I first hosted my blog on blogspirit because they had this feature. Ultimately, other blog service providers improved, blogspirit no longer became comment-friendly, and I moved over to a wordpress set-up.
Troll comments work against this philosophy. They lower the standard of communication by setting a bad example for others. They normalize behavior that is already too common at sites like Daily Kos and Michelle Malkin. They don’t help me catch contradictions in my thinking. They waste my time.
Two particularly annoying classes of troll comments are those that celebrate crime and those that engage in monologues. By far, the most common of the criminal trolls are members of the Black Gangster Disciple Network, whose comments are normally some variation of “Hoover is my King!!!” The monologues were rarer because the presidential election started, but seem to be taking the form of raising points and then refusing to answer questions on those points. So, to take a recent example, a troll commentator may assert that a particular form of polling is the best, and then when asked why, refuses to answer.
Obviously, a post explaining why one belongs to a criminal organization would be fascinating. And likewise, it would be rude of me to expect someone to answer a question or listen to a new point if they still have a question outstanding. But someone who wishes to gain credibility with his friends by flaunting his membership in a fraternal organization or belief in a candidate in a way that doesn’t advance dialog is useless to me and harmful to this blog.
So from now on, the following policy: crime-celebrating posts will simply be deleted in moderation. Comment trolls in which someone is engaging in monologue by refusing to support or withdraw some assertion will be notified of this, and if after 24 hours trolling behavior does not stop, and comments from the troll in that thread starting from the trolling behavior will be permanently removed.
As someone who enjoys receiving comments, I have long been puzzled why some bloggers don’t allow comments. Now I see why. Trolls so harm the community that if they are not removed swiftly, they can pervert the purpose of the blog away from intellectual discussion to something much less worthwhile.