Trolls

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.

11 thoughts on “Trolls”

  1. I have a troll over on Opinionated Bastard.

    My solution was to slowly engage him in dialog, to challenge him to document his posts. (often I would email him after posting a reply to his comment)

    He’s still a nut, but he keeps me honest.

  2. “crime-celebrating posts will simply be deleted in moderation.” (-Dan)

    I’ve been posting here for awhile but I haven’t seen this kind of stuff? Are you saying that criminals are using your blog as a public place to “tag” their criminal organization’s slogans? Perhaps we invented a new concept here, the idea of “virtual graffiti?” Maybe gangs will start trying to out blog each other the same way that gangs paint over the other gang’s symbols?

  3. Delete without pity anyone who comments in a way that does not advance the discussion and the enhance the value of the blog.

    That’s what I do. It’s the only way.

    It’s your property, and it will be ground down in a tragedy of the commons if you treat it as anything less than your property to be policed and secured as such.

  4. In other words, if Saddam Hussein can do it, anyone can!

    Oops, did I not advance this discussion?

    But heck, this is filed under “Vanity”, so I suppose the answer to that last question depends on whose vanity we are stroking. Hmmmm. Gotcha. I’ll take my hand elsewhere, thank-you-very-much!

  5. “Are you saying that criminals are using your blog as a public place to “tag” their criminal organization’s slogans?”
    Heh. Apparently you haven’t seen the Disciples when they get on a posting jag. Yeah. NUmerology. Slogans. All of it. All stems from Dan’s post on the organizational features of the Disciples.
    Then there’s the stuff that comes in off of the Moslem and Israeli girl photo spreads(wouldn’t mind something like that again, but a married Dan seems less likely to do one of those, harumph). Some of it is just whacky as all get out.

    But, on the political stuff. Dude, Dan, you ‘ve gone great guns at times to tear down Obama(poor Eddie). His flying monkeys are bound to come after you for it. Deleting their stuff is the cost of your speech. Sucks but true. We get the same type of stuff at Argghhh! when someone decides to take a rhetorical axe to Obama or pregressivism or democrats. The folks from One Utah(name Cliff) do that from time to time. Jay Sigger comes in guns blaring, and I don’t blame him since sometimes Kat gets gratuitous in her tear downs. So, yeah, it’s because it’s ‘silly season’ your seeing more trolls on your political posts. Look thru Barnetts archives. You’ll likely see a peak of once off comments during the 2006 elections there.

    Sorry about the shoes. Maybe you need an indoor stowage ‘box’ like they have in Japanese HS……… and a can of Lysol. 😉

  6. http://www.villainouscompany.com/vcblog/archives/2008/06/no_mas_senator_1.html#comments

    See. Read the comments. It’s silly season. Things are way weird, Dan. It isn’t just you. The more you do, the less purely analytic you do it, the worse the people in the tank for one candidate or another are going to come after you.

    Oh, come on, Curtis. So, saying that something is disruptive and unwelcome is now akin to Bathist policy of shoving of people into woodchippers and despotic single party rule? (throws yellow fallacy card: reductio ad absurdum. sure I played it too. ) *Dude*.

    What value are snide one linners at this juncture, homey? Yeah, Dan’s had a groove of criticizing Obama, I haven’t always agreed with all of it, but he’s not gone the ‘he’s a dem, ergo idiot and evil’ route. So, let’s not play it as if he has, ‘kay? I don’t see this as nearly as bad as the hissy fit FabMax is having that I told him he was wrong on a single specific point(Ag in CA being done in deserts(the high and low deserts are well to the east of the state, well away from where most ag is done, but how dare I challenge the Great FabMax on that, who the hell is ry of Argghhh!?). THis isn’t saying, ‘If you contradict me you’re an idiot.’ This is saying, ‘Have a point. Make a case. Keep it above the belt. Insults to the minimum.’ That’s it.

  7. ry,

    “Oh, come on, Curtis. So, saying that something is disruptive and unwelcome is now akin to Bathist policy of shoving of people into woodchippers and despotic single party rule?”

    To answer your question (! brownie points): I was responding to Lex’s comment, particularly the last sentence.

    First it was a comment that was “too short” according to Dan, 5 letters I think beginning with “LOL” that was deleted. Then it was two long comments, on-topic, which actually roundabout answered part of Dan’s question, that got put in perpetual moderation status. — and now it’s what he’s calling monologues.

    But he’s defining monologue as “anything that doesn’t answer any question I put forth whatsoever.” On-topic? P-shaw. Doesn’t matter if it’s on-topic, nor if it addresses points he or others have made in other comments. If you don’t answer his question, you are a troll. He will police his state, control the conversation, etc.

    Now of course it’s his blog; he can do whatever he wants. What doesn’t agree with his standard issue and unsupported assertions, he can erase if some odd question isn’t answered. But I object to his overtures for “dialogue”.

  8. Curtis, the plain fact is that masses of disturbed, disruptive, monomaniacal or otherwise unwelcome people with interntet access and time on their hands are out there. Sometimes one or more of them fixates on a particular blog. You can either treat them as a problem and deal with it, or get hung up on some overly abstract notion of free speech. My attitude is that anyone can start a blog, so go do it. If someone wants a soap box, they can have one. But anyone who accepts comments on their blog is making a cost/risk/benefit decision. Allowing unhelpful comments simply degrades the quality of the blog and in a Gresham’s Law-like process, drives out good and useful comments. Pushing back works, in my experience.

    So I basically agree with Dan’s assessment and want to encourage him in his stated purpose of policing his comments. It’s the right thing to do.

    If you have found otherwise, you are fortunate. So far.

    If any of that makes me like Saddam, so be it. I will have to grow a better moustache, however, to be in his league.

  9. “To answer your question (! brownie points): I was responding to Lex’s comment, particularly the last sentence.” So, a ‘tragedy of the commons'(late 1970’s econ paper) reference now equates one with dictators then? I’m not trying to be an @55. I’m confused as to what it is you’re put off by: the lack of 100% freedom to say what one likes or the elimination of things that don’t conform to Dan’s chosen ‘lesson’ in a post? (I don’t see them as the same thing, but I’m sure some will. And Dan may object to the ‘lesson’ metaphor.)

    Here’s how I read it: Dan runs his blog much the way Barnett does his. He’s got a message he wants to get across much of the time and he doesn’t like uppity students disrupting class with no movement toward his goal. Barnett’s come out and said he thinks of his blog as an informal seminar in his living room, which means there are certain limits to what he’s going to put up with regardless of accepted blogging conventions. So, yeah, sometimes he’s going to step on us just as sometimes Barnett simply ignores or deletes stuff. Don’t take it personal, and it isn’t ‘crushing dialogue’. This isn’t the open air ‘universities’ of the middle ages, ‘yo. There’s some structure at times for the intended message, and yes, sometimes something is going to be off topic enough to merit being crushed. That isn’t totalitarian—unless you’re going to say the college profs who shut down tangents are totalitarians too.

    I got the ‘hairy eyeball’ a couple weeks ago for being snarky. It’s going to happen. I didn’t like it. I thought the guy I was needling deserved it, for pushing a rather white supremacist line. So?

    I do agree though that some of what’s going on isn’t actual dialogue. That’s why I use the ‘lesson’ thing. But, hey, everyone gets preachy at times, and it isn’t ‘peaceable assembly’, even on the ‘net, if you bum rush someone elses stage. Dan’s actually been pretty good to answering crit on other sites from what I’ve seen. This isn’t a ‘go start your own blog’ thing(as I know you do blog elsewhere) so much as saying maybe your crit of Dan’s points might be better served in another venue then his comments sections—cribbing from one of fab’s commentors.

    But whadda I know. You guys are all smarter than me, sincerely.

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