NYT on trolls

Discuss

149 Responses to “NYT on trolls”

  1. Pipenta says:

    Strictly speaking, if you are using the ICZN format, the binomal should be italicized. Or, if hand written, you could use quotation marks.

  2. Rodney says:

    #36
    Agreed. Rules #1&2.

  3. RJ says:

    Nelson.C, that is a thing of beauty.

    Also, I came back to this thread just to say one more thing. We, as humans, are social animals. I don’t think anybody would deny that.

    Being social animals, we are hardwired with the ability to interpret body language, tone and even written words as emotional and logical input. Within this ability is a complex system of rules for interpreting the input. These rules are almost completely universal.

    That said, there really is no defense for the habitual troll. If you get your jollies by bothering other people, it’s probably because you’re defective in some way and cannot interact meaningfully with your peers. If you find yourself always feeling the urge to upset other people online, then it may well be worth your time to think about speaking with a professional counselor.

  4. holtt says:

    One useful anti-troll feature is having an ignore feature – which makes the ignored posters comments not show up (but you can click to read them if you wish).

    With ignore, each user can choose to ignore whom they wish to ignore, as sometimes one memes troll is another memes man.

    Of course one other trick is to let a moderator mark the troll as ignored by EVERYONE – so people have to explicitly un-ignore the troll if they want to see their work.

    Another simple trick is to just set the text color of the questionable post to the background color of the page. You can still read the comment by hilighting it if you wish to.

    The key here is that you aren’t removing (or making it nrdbl b rmvng vwls) the post. You’re just making it so the average user doesn’t have to see it – sort of like those little adult magazine shields in some magazine racks.
    Disemvoweling IMO is too harsh.

  5. Talia says:

    Encyclopedia dramatica is very deliberately offensive and inflammatory. It’s also very very funny, but there’s no doubt in my mind its trolling of a sort.

  6. TEKNA2007 says:

    It took me a while to figure out what was going on with the disemvoweling. At first I thought it was just a bunch of Crackberry addicts who couldn’t be arsed to typed in whole words.

    Personally, I’d rather see offending posts moved off to a quarantine thread for all such posts, with a link to the quarantine area from the point in the thread where they were originally posted. To me, this strikes a good balance between on the one hand enabling free speech and avoiding censoring, while on the other hand keeping their noise out of our faces unless we really want to go looking for it.

  7. OM says:

    “As with any kind of cyber-bullying, the best defense is to ignore the offense and ultimately it will go away”

    …The problem is that trick *never* works when you’re dealing with truly psychotic trolls. When you attempt to ignore them as if they’re the Village Idiot, they’ll keep pushing and pushing and pushing as many buttons as they can to provoke a response, and eventually those buttons will take the form of something -other- than a post telling you you’re a frackhead and that Venus is inhabited by your mother’s left testicle. At that point you’ve got no choice but to take actions that they’ll be able to get through their thick skulls and comprehend that their trollish behavior is seriously threatening to nobody but themselves.

    And I’m not talking legal action here, kids. Some of these blithering psychos – especially the ones I named earlier in this thread – need to actually, physically have some sense beaten into them. Especially the anti-semetic ones.

    “If so, this is the first time I’ve heard of it, and I’ve looked hard. Also, I have to assume that if anyone found old instances of disemvowelling used as a moderation technique, I’d be one of the first ones to hear about it.”

    …Xeni, it was practiced by some forum moderators on FiDOPEnet back in the 80′s, but because of the pitiful excuse that the Fido BBS software was, it was too much of a hassle and nobody wanted to write a util to automatically disemvowel a post. WWIVNet sysops looked at it for about ten seconds, realized it was going to piss off too many people – especially me and my First Amendment rights! – and it pretty much got dropped. Purge and/or hide, not modify, was the rule of thumb and middle finger to trolls.

    Still, I’ll give Teresa claim to the credit if she’d just quit using it on the wrong people…:-P

    “there is no such animule as the ‘willingly’ molested child. no matter what anyone has told you.”

    …Nope. Sorry, I stand by my statement 110%, and every single one of the trolls I listed exist as evidence of fact. It’s the only sociopathological foundation for their actions that make any sense. The Times reporter hit the nail on the head, he just left a few different types of nails unhit, hence my original posting on this thread.

    “Yeah- calling someone foul names from the safety of a troll’s lair is safer than doing so in a meatspace bar.”

    …And this has a precedent as well: CB Radio. Back after 1976, when the “CB Craze” was in full-swing and it was more affordable to buy a rig *and* fashionable, you’d get at least one dickwad a night running a linear and stirring up trouble. The bozo usually targeted channels O&O’d by kids, old folks, and/or minorities who would be considered either too stupid, infirm, feeble or without transportation and couldn’t track them down when they decided to kick on the footwarmer and flood a chanel with all sorts of rhetoric. The problem, alas for them, was that CB was intended to a mobile service from Day One, and triangulation methods are discussed in dozens of publications from the FCC and the ARRL. Once Mr. jackjaws fired up his 1KW, you triangulated his location, realized that it could be only this one 56′ beam antenna that’s emitting the signal, and with a couple of snips of the guy wires just before a storm put an end to the antenna, mast and all.

    This, kids, is what needs to be done to trolls. Hunt them down and then put them out of our misery if they won’t save us the work and do it themselves.

    “Antinous, I am the only one around here who wears the Stalin ‘stache, bub.”

    …I’ve been meaning to tell you that it’s slightly off-centered this morning, Xeni. Then again, I don’t think anyone else noticed.

    “Unless a sock puppet is used.”

    …Yeah, a sock puppet can be very effective at trolling, and this method actually preceeds the Internet:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8gsuAHWAITI

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VNtztst9aCQ&feature=related

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iQJEc7Pa71M&feature=related

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZOZe-Ep3u3w&feature=related

  8. BoingBoing_ZAP says:

    What this thread needs is its anti-thread, which is, “What is the mirror-opposite of a troll, and what are its (moral) characteristics?”
    Church Lady.
    The mis-use of virtue, skillfully done, is fiendishly clever, because the literal text is unobjectionable (see Samuel Richardson, “Clarissa,” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clarissa). Absent demonstrable offense, rhetoric is impotent.
    For all the eulogizing of Heath Ledger as the patron saint of Trolls, he is the lesser, not the greater, challenge to moral philosophy, because he was so…candid. It’s an easy role.
    The greater question is Batman (~Church Lady), and all such moral crusaders, one of which, undeniably, is Boing Boing’s moderator.
    I’m not knocking Teresa’s daily decisions or the practical necessity for her, but rather querying the terms of reference for her tribe, or genus (anyone: please propose generic names for the opposite of “Trollius”).
    Maybe it is just an infinite regress: inquisitioning the morals of those who inquisition the morals of those…
    Still, what was dull about Dark Knight is that the most subtle opportunity for evil– Batman–(War on Terror, Tipper Gore, Anita Bryant, Inquisition, etc.) went unexplored.

  9. Takuan says:

    the pug-nosed troll?

  10. Snapple says:

    I’d like to target the last part of this just to clear a few things up.

    I would like to point out that the use of the Faux News story is an amusing related story, but also not entirely appropriate. Reason being? Logic.
    Some, if not many anonymous are trolls (some are also rather unpleasant, as seen above).
    Some trolls are anonymous.
    These things do NOT equate to trolls==anonymous.

    I would then like to point out, that anonymous is an extremely loose collective, if it could be even called that, and as such not all anonymous, are THOSE anonymous. Anyone who hasn’t published their name on something is anonymous. In fact, a lot of Fox’s sources choose to remain Anonymous.

    My two cents.

  11. Bill Simmon says:

    I have a couple of quick thoughts…

    it occurred to me as I was thinking about this article, but there’s a really positive aspect to the piece: three out of the five worst internet troll things I’ve ever heard of — the Craigslist experiment, the Kathy Sierra debacle and the Megan Had It Coming blog — were all perpetrated primarily by this one guy. That doesn’t necessarily speak to a pervasive culture of evil — it’s mostly just this one dude and a few of his high-profile colleagues.

    Regarding the more garden-variety troll and its relationship to Colbert or Sascha Baron Cohen (Andy Kaufman, Brother Theodore, etc.) — yes the analogy is apt, but like most amateur imitators of greatness, the vast majority of trolls are irritating and totally unfunny. I get the joke, I just think it’s blisteringly stupid and a waste of my time. Also, some venues are more appropriate for that sort of discourse than others. Boing Boing, for example, has made it very clear that this is an inappropriate place for trolling.

  12. mdhatter says:

    BBZ – I see a difference between fight-picking trolls and bridge-keeping trolls. Though I don’t wholly agree with you, I think that’s the difference you’re looking to elucidate.

  13. Oren Beck says:

    I have to comment on something overlooked. It goes partly to the character of “Trolls and Griefers and destructive malware writers. The fact is-no sane apologia exists. ALL such willful bad acts do is confirm the perp as a sociopath.

    In the “Real” world we risk consequences for “overtly sociopathic acts”. Surely our collective wisdom will evolve a counter force to net baddies.
    Call this one a wishful thinking Karma of sorts.

    Trolls have a chance of eventual enlightenment.
    Not so for Griefers and destructive malware creators. Those genes going away will hardly be missed. It’s a debate for the future on the HOW.

    As while sadly we cannot advocate Genital Mutilation to sterilize their kind- Rule#34 will make it’s application a popular new porn. and yes- it’s a Karma multiplier with Schadenfreude bonus that rule34 allegedly derives from troll forums:>

  14. hagbard says:

    Looks like Fortuny’s in the new again today.

  15. Sister Y says:

    The moral fanatic (dangerously sure, unwilling to even reflect on moral intuition when faced with a challenge) has always posed more of a threat to humanity than the moral nihilist.

    Mao was a moral fanatic. Donald Rumsfeld is a moral fanatic. Osama bin Laden is a moral fanatic, for that matter.

    Teresa? Come on.

    It’s not believing that ethics exists that’s the dangerous opposite of a troll. It’s being absolutely certain that you’ve hit upon the exactly correct conception of ethics, even in light of obvious evidence that others’ intuitions conflict.

    Which actually describes some trolls, come to think of it. Just not the flavor under discussion in the NYT article.

  16. Takuan says:

    Teresa? Church lady? Heh. I’d really,really like to introduce you to her so I could watch “church-lady” physically beat the living shit out of you with her own hands. “Church-lady”. Better watch those insults, some have consequences.

  17. flamingphonebook says:

    I said you and your. How often do you throw parties like that?

    Rarely, but not never.

    You want to advance civilization, but you want to be rid of all the civilization we’ve accumulated to date? You have not thought this through.

    Yes I have. I do not want to get rid of all civilization yet. I do want to get rid of the vestigial parts. There was a time when civility commanded the carriage of arms at formal occasions. That makes no sense today, and anyone who wanted to keep it would be hopelessly anachronistic. When physical circumstances change, social ones should change as well.

    Wrong on both models. Civilization is learning to live and work together well.

    So say you. I disagree. Barbarians can work together to achieve conquest, but they cannot stand to have one barbarian stand idle to pursue his own ends.

    Real iconoclasts, the kind that are worth having, don’t love iconoclasm; they love the work they’re doing.

    Worthy to you, but not to me. Destroying the weed of conformity and collectives is as much good work as actually planting.

    Quite untrue, and not just because ideas are real things, and we here on the internet are part of the real world. This is no empyrean realm of pure ideas. We’re still hominids talking to each other.

    Perhaps not here, but there ought to be such somewhere. There are hominids such as myself who rail everyday against impurity. I’d rather be perfect than good. To hold that such a preference ought never be granted, that no one, no matter their skills or passions, may escape the perils of being human, is perversely puritanical. (I am not accusing anyone of holding such, but if we assume that an Internet troll must amend his ways, and that we cannot instead build around those ways, then that is tantamount to it.)

    See my previous remarks. You have not escaped nature or society. If anyone thinks they have, I’m here to remind them.

    I may have to follow Mint’s advice and cut out my own hunk of cyberspace for the specific purpose of such escape.

    Learning to deal well with other people is not that hard, and doesn’t take that long. Going through life without learning it gets more tedious and counterproductive every year.

    It’s your choice.

    I make the choice everyday. The sacrifice required is too much.

  18. BoingBoing_ZAP says:

    Agreed,
    Teresa>(Rumsfeld=Osama=Mao), so let’s not argue that.
    Problem is that Batman (=FBI, =DHS, =Google, etc.) owns the levers of power. The Joker proposes, but the Batman (by proxy) inflicts.

  19. J Random Scribbler says:

    It seems clear to me that different standards apply to different communities (both on and offline.) Yet some people claim that they always have the right to go into any online community and say whatever they want, especially if it is disruptive, in the name of some sort of “court jester” or “iconoclastic” ideal.

    By doing so, they seem to be claiming a universal standard for the whole Internet, higher than any community standards. A common argument I’ve seen from such people is that the disruption of complacent or repressive online communities is always a good thing, in and of itself. According to this standard, the less the members of the community want to be disrupted, the more important it is that disruption be inflicted on them. Maximum diversity of expression at every single community is apparently the most holy goal of all, regardless of the wishes of community members.

    Taken to the extreme, this standard pretty much says that dumping in the punch bowl is always a good thing, and the fancier the party, the more the punch needs a dump in it. Complacency and homogeneity are apparently the worst evils in the online world, and must be attacked by any means necessary wherever they appear. People who hang around in a knitting forum talking about nothing but wooly sweaters are actually an evil force poisoning the Internet by their very existence; they are a seed of complacency that must be invaded and stamped out before they assimilate the whole Internet into the knitting borg. Or something like that.

    I find it hilariously ironic that people who complain about complacency and homogeneity are running around trying to impose their own one-size-fits-all standard on everyone else by trolling. It’s even funnier if they get all holier-than-thou when someone calls them on their rudeness. Yes, complacency and homogeneity are not good things, and lead to a lot of evil in the offline world. Online, their consequences aren’t nearly as bad, though.

    The thing about online communities is that members are always free to leave if they don’t like the local standards. It’s not necessary that overly repressive online communities be disrupted; they’ll lose members on their own anyway. It’s not necessary for people to come in and inject diversity from outside; to anyone online, every idea on the Net is just a Google away. Anyone who stays in an online community does so by choice, and I believe that is their right. Even if that community is just a repressive echo chamber (and it’s arrogance for someone outside to decide that) it doesn’t inherently deserve disruption for violating this notional iconoclastic standard of the whole Internet.

    If someone trolls because they actually believe that they are doing good, they should wake up and realize they’re defeating their own goals. They are making people more afraid of different opinions, not less. They make people want to stay in the most sheltered communities, or not come online at all.

    I’d bet that for most trolls, though, these arguments are just an elaborate rationalization, half-believed at best. If they really believed what they were saying, they’d go somewhere offline and do something about the overly complacent and homogeneous culture we all seem to live in, because the consequences out there are clearly more serious than anything online. I guess that would involve actual work, though, and maybe actually standing up to someone who can throw a punch.

  20. Takuan says:

    all you can do is establish a community that has a clear understanding and solid ethical grounding. If more than 99% of your people automatically recoil from evil, refuse to feed it and will not let it stand unchallenged – it cannot take root and flourish. That is why community moderation is the way. The very first to see a weed plucks it. The burden is distributed and our garden grows. It comes down to having faith in people.

  21. Antinous says:

    I’d rather be perfect than good.

    Which utterly precludes you being happy. Perfection is unattainable. Its pursuit is the definition of hell.

  22. BoingBoing_ZAP says:

    Well, there you have it. Skepticism of “moral superiority” leads to physical threats…maybe I’ll get whacked by paranoid omnipotents!

  23. tx_ROOK says:

    The news clip seems like just another slanted FOX News report.

    Anonymous are … HACKERS! *Cue exploding van*

    The funny thing about Anonymous is that they only threaten. I don’t think they have ever done anything directly to any of their victims. As someone pointed out – if someone was as emotionally unstable as to let an internet troll convince them to kill tehmselves, they probably should have been supervised while online in the first place.

    *Dons conspiracy theory hat*
    Honestly, I’m not surprised to see FOX News reporting on how dangerous Anonymous are, it seems like just the type of story that would have been fueled/funded by a hidden Scientologist scheme to improve their own image (something the group has done secretly before).

  24. RJ says:

    Trolls all have the same problems. They feel insignificant and hopeless in their real lives. They almost always are unsuccessful in love, or at least are deeply unhappy with their relationships.

    But instead of working towards solutions for these problems, they project all their pain and depression onto the world in the form of sociopathic pranks. It’s all about as deep and complex as a pubescent boy’s poetry.

    Of all the methods I’ve seen of dealing with those idiots, disemvowelling is definitely my favorite. It takes the piss right out of a comment and makes it into instant comedy. It’s like turning the volume down to a mumble, but the image of the arm-waving, furious commenter remains.

    • Antinous says:

      It’s like turning the volume down to a mumble, but the image of the arm-waving, furious commenter remains.

      Heh.

  25. Takuan says:

    I’ve have a cunning plan…… let’s do something they don’t expect; invasion and empire! Bit by bit, board by board, systematically take over the entire web! We’ll show up with a few at first and then start demanding they do things the right way and then, pow! go for the throat and change all their rules to mirror ours! Who’s with me?!

  26. mdhatter says:

    BBZ – Batman does not own the levers of power. The Riddler* does.

    *(and his wife, the Joker (look at her smile sometime))
    *(and his VP, the Penguin)
    *(and his SecState, Catwoman)
    *(and the current R-Candidate, Two-face)

    That might make Obama the Batman, but I think he’s more like the Green Lantern, (or the Brown Hornet, if you must)

    I’m not choosing sides, just making some funny visual observations.

  27. BoingBoing_ZAP says:

    Help me Lord,
    I only saw one movie…who are these people?

  28. Takuan says:

    you just talk to her yourself.

  29. BoingBoing_ZAP says:

    #138
    Oooooh! Scarlet Pimpernel v. Wonderwoman!

  30. minTphresh says:

    ta the tooobes, mates! aargh.

  31. Spinobobot says:

    That’s all fine and good, but judgment of an idea is itself an idea, and can themselves be judged, and so ad infinitum. The only question is to sentence. We talk about banning, vowel-removal, killfiling, etc., but whatever is done, it’s a value judgment based on the site owner or their agent.

    OK, now I think I see where you’re coming from. The way you phrase this, though, begs the question. A judgment may be an idea, in terms of its form, but to think of it merely as an idea like any other is to ignore its content entirely. Some judgments are better than others–and, sure, while this too is a judgment, I think it’s one that virtually everyone agrees on. Except perhaps for those who are merely being contentious (in other words, trolls).

    Let me be clear, in case that last sentence is suggesting something I don’t want it to: I don’t think that you’re being a troll here because, it seems to me, you’re honestly trying to make a case for what you’re saying, providing arguments for your opinions. If all judgments were equal–if reasons didn’t matter–it would be pointless to try to be persuasive at all.

    But let me reinforce this point that some judgments are better than others by way of an internet example. Let’s say that I write a blog post on the virtues of vegetarianism, and then a troll posts a comment saying that I’m morally equivalent to Hitler (because he too was a vegetarian). This is a poor judgment–and almost everyone would agree about that. The reason that we view Hitler as a moral monster has just about nothing to do with his stance on eating meat.

    Sure, you can dispute that (perhaps you’ll say, e.g., “well, the fact that he seems to regard animal life as more important than human life is part of what makes him so terrible”), but to dispute it effectively you need to make arguments and draw on premises that are largely shared.

    Isn’t widespread agreement (at least some of the time) sufficient for evaluating ideas? Sure, it’s possible that everyone could agree about something and still be wrong about it, but the way we would go about showing a majority of people that they are wrong about something is by appealing to other things that we do agree on. Unless we agree on some things–actually, quite a few things, like what words refer to–we can’t even communicate with one another. (This claim is nothing new: Wittgenstein, among others, has made this point well.) But we do indeed communicate! Even if not always perfectly.

    In short, it’s impossible to escape making judgments, and in practice (even online) we usually can agree on many of them. In the very least, it’s not hard to recognize atrocious judgments. There can be facts of the matter online as well as IRL. For example, you can totally distort what someone else has said–but people can go take a look at the original quotation, and so long as it hasn’t been tampered with, it’s going to be one specific set of words and not another. If I say “2+2=4″ and you claim that I said “2+2=5″, you are simply wrong. QED.

    Again, it need not be all or nothing. Standards can be only partially agreed upon, and yet still have force to them. If you want absolute, unambiguous, immutable standards, I’m afraid that as a human being you are out of luck (unless, say, you stick to mathematics). But most of us seem to get by fine without such certainties.

    Lastly, there are in fact places online–such as, I think, the /b/ forum mentioned in the NYT piece–where anything goes. You’re perfectly free to post pretty much whatever you want there, as I understand it (with a few not unreasonable exceptions that violate the law: plans for building WMDs, kiddie porn, etc.).

  32. buddy66 says:

    I’ve always been confused by ”troll” and ”trolling.” Of course I remember Billy Goat Gruff and the bridge troll, but I also remember ”trolling” with my grandfather in a rowboat, drifting with the current and floating a bait. I admit to trolling in that sense of the word (although Antinous, for one calls it ”scattering catnip”), and I see no harm in it if the discussion is dying down or out. The other sort of troll who throws shit just to see the shit fly, is usually just a kid trying on a monster mask. Real sociopaths usually have more hands-on work to do. And psychopaths?

    They go to Washington D.C.

  33. Teresa Nielsen Hayden / Moderator says:

    Sure, there’s a defense against the standard troll: don’t give him a podium, a microphone, and an audience.

    Is there anyone here who feels obliged to let absolutely anyone join their conversations, attend their parties, or walk in on their meetings? I hope we’re all open-minded and generous enough to give the benefit of the doubt to strangers and newbies; but if someone walks into your party and takes a dump in the punchbowl, then starts drop-kicking the still-wrapped birthday presents across the room, do you quietly tell all the other guests to just ignore him until he decides to go away?

    If you’ve announced that you’re going to be holding a community meeting on a topic of considerable interest at such-and-such time and place, and ten minutes into it someone interrupts with a long rant on an unrelated personal subject, and refuses to stop or go elsewhere, do you do you smile and nod, and say he’s free to express his own opinions? Do you listen attentively to every word?

    If you’ve got a verbally abusive co-worker who never opens his mouth without making rude, uncalled-for, casually brutal remarks, yet describes his own conversational style as “completely civil” and “honest criticism,” do you take him at his word, and go your way with a blithe heart?

    Say there’s a gathering you really want to attend, but you can only stay there for an hour. Shortly after you arrive, someone you’re slightly acquainted with overhears an offhand remark of yours. It turns out he’s an enthusiastic opponent of whatever it was you said, and he wants to argue it out with you in great detail. It’s an argument you’ve heard a hundred times before, and you don’t care about either side of it. Do you say “Sure, fine,” and let the guy monopolize your time?

    If you and some friends and acquaintances are hanging out in a quiet corner of a bar, swapping funny stories about weird auto accidents you’ve seen, and another patron comes over to say your conversation is boring and you’re all losers, do you invite him to pull up a chair?

    Since I’m fairly sure that no one here is honestly going to say yes, that’s exactly what they’d do, why don’t we try to figure why some people find the concept of social penalties and conversational self-defense so much more upsetting on the internet than they do in face-to-face interactions?

  34. BoingBoing_ZAP says:

    Hmmm. If DC harbors psychopaths, they are very high-functioning. Even Ivins still has a shot at being merely sociopathic, depending on whether he did it or not.

  35. buddy66 says:

    People with great power often go mad under great stress. I will veer away from Godwin’s Law, but you know what I mean.

    I have argued in the past that no psychopath could make it through boot camp, but a man can come home from war a psychopath.

  36. Takuan says:

    yup. It ain’t complicated.

  37. Takuan says:

    the Good Ship Boing Boing? Under the Not So Jolly Roger?

  38. minTphresh says:

    aye, me cap’n. na kwit snappin yer piehole n hand me that b’layin pin! whilst yer at it, roust me up a new cabin boy, this’uns fouled.

  39. Teresa Nielsen Hayden / Moderator says:

    xxxxxx (bravely named!) @12:

    Xeni,
    Teresa Nielsen Hayden DID NOT invent disemvowelling, this was already common practice on the boards back in 1995. If shes going around the net claiming she invented it, then shes just as bad as a troll.

    If so, this is the first time I’ve heard of it, and I’ve looked hard. Also, I have to assume that if anyone found old instances of disemvowelling used as a moderation technique, I’d be one of the first ones to hear about it.

    I’ve managed to find a few minor instances on usenet of text that had its vowels removed, but (obviously) it wasn’t being used as a moderation technique. As far as I know, I’m the first person to use disemvowelling for moderation, and the first one to observe some of its odder properties when so used.

    Takuan @13: Yes. Clean up afterwards.

    Meek @17:

    I would wager that most BoingBoing readers are NOT equipped to handle the internet at large.

    If you did, you’d wind up having to pay off on a lot of them. There are plenty of people who can handle the ruder neighborhoods of the internet just fine. Thing is, they don’t want to.

    MHLaxp @22: If it’s sufficiently amusing and doesn’t otherwise break the conversation, I”ll let it live.

    Belisle @24, I have two definitions of troll: 1. A person who wants more attention and respect than their more praiseworthy abilities and tactics can earn them, and so resorts to using less praiseworthy ones. 2. A person who is literally incapable of understanding that it’s their manners, not their opinions, that are getting them into trouble.

    Mithrandir @29: But not for being humorous or honest. They must have had some other characteristics.

    Elbiggus @30: It’s a very clever mechanism, but I don’t like maneuvers that falsify someone’s experience of the forum. Someday I’ll figure out why it seems so important to me that everyone see the same thing.

    BoingBoing Zap @33, I know I’ve seen three or more names if it’s a varietal, viz. Rosa floribunda v. Bad Fussing or Ocimum basilicum v. genova profumatissimum — or is that just a nursery catalogue thing? I like it because it looks like a really weird wrestling match.

    SimpleWonder @37: Anonymity’s fine for 4chan, but Boing Boing has editors who can’t be anonymous.

    Bill Simmon @43: Kathryn Cramer’s been saying for years that the number of malfeasants on the internet is much smaller than you’d think on first acquaintance. She’s proposed a project to track trolls from site to site. I think she may be on to something.

    Takuan @45: it’s a long hard slog, but you can get there. I won’t say I’ve done it; I taught and helped my community to do it. The important point is that we did it. It’s possible.

    TXRook @46:

    if someone was as emotionally unstable as to let an internet troll convince them to kill tehmselves, they probably should have been supervised while online in the first place.

    If the things we say online to each other matter, then they have the power to do harm, and it’s incumbent on us to try to do right by each other.

    Takuan @50, the Something Awful forum has a convention like that. Members can pay $5 to have someone’s avatar image and epithet changed to something else. If the wearer wants them changed back, he or she has to cough up an additional $5.

    As I understand it, the controlling principle at Something Awful is that you can do almost anything as long as it’s funny.

    Noen @51:

    Internet users adopted the word “troll” to denote someone who intentionally disrupts online communities.

    Using this definition many so-called trolls are not trolls at all. Just people who have different beliefs than whatever community they happen to be in.

    No. Real trolls exist. They enjoy chaos, upsetting people, and being the center of attention. That can only happen if they’re in a forum that doesn’t share their values, and wasn’t in a state of chaos before. They’re breaking things others have built.

    “You look for someone who is full of it, a real blowhard. Then you exploit their insecurities to get an insane amount of drama, laughs and lulz.”Sounds like a useful service, arrogant blowhards should have their bubbles popped.

    The description is more attractive than the reality.

    I’ve seen you argue for things you strongly believed in. By some reckonings, that makes you a blowhard who deserves to have their bubble burst. Satire takes the right kind of target, but simple mockery can be applied to anything, good or bad.

    The fact is – no sane apologia exists.

    I’m sure that deer feel the same about wolves.

    Wolves have no choice about being wolves, and they’re preying on a different species. Humans have moral agency, and they’re tormenting members of their own species. It’s not the same.

    MGFarrelly @53, I believe that you are right.

    Noen @57:

    Whose ethical ground?

    Mine, if you don’t have one. If you do, we can talk about it.

    Whose community?

    Boing Boing’s, and all who sail in her, subject to the desires and preferences of the Boingers.

    Spinobobot @59:

    Trolling will never disappear entirely–it’s a sort of natural outgrowth of mass societies and their opportunities for anonymity–but I do think it is something we can keep in check if we’re sensible about it.

    You have my complete agreement on both points. The bars will always need bartenders, and the streets will always need police officers. That said, there’s no reason why we can’t keep malfeasants in check.

    Antinous @60: I think we’re seeing a spate of articles about trolls is that newspapers and magazines have heard about Web 2.0 and opened their online sites to comments, but don’t yet know how to deal with the natural consequences.

    Takuan @62, that’s very like Kathryn Cramer’s notion, except I think she envisions warning site owners about them rather than outing them to the public.

    D3 @65, no one ever “just expresses their opinion.” There’s also the way they express it, the context in which they do it, and the opinion they express. Telling yourself that you were “just expressing your opinion” means you’re telling yourself you weren’t responsible for the other decisions you made and things you did.

  40. Ugly Canuck says:

    #33: I think “Trollius dickwad” sounds best, in relation to the reality of the so-named .
    “Interneti” and “maximus” sound too good for this bunch…too “classy”. Or do I mean classic? Classical? Eh whatever. Nuff said.

  41. BoingBoing_ZAP says:

    #142
    Yep.
    In DC you tend to find more psychopaths under bridges than named after them. Poor souls.
    Sociopaths, arguably, the reverse.

  42. BoingBoing_ZAP says:

    No, no, no. Those are lobbyists. “Going” to DC means elected.
    Query: What do you get if you breed a sociopathic official to a psychopathic lobbyist?
    ….

  43. mdhatter says:

    Query: What do you get if you breed a sociopathic official to a psychopathic lobbyist?

    You get an Au Pair, so the official can get a little on the side, of course.

  44. Takuan says:

    how about attaching an embarrassing image to an offending post? The tag would vary with the offense.
    (hitler, steaming pile, gaping mouth etc.) No words, just a picture.

  45. Antinous says:

    why don’t we try to figure why some people find the concept of social penalties and conversational self-defense so much more upsetting on the internet than they do in face-to-face interactions?

    Because the unconfident and powerless are attracted to bullies, in the hopes that something will rub off on them. And something usually does rub off. But it’s not power or confidence.

  46. Xeni Jardin says:

    I went to see DARK KNIGHT over the weekend, and was stunned by Heath Ledger’s performance (and loved the movie in general).

    I kept thinking, when the Joker was on-screen — that he was like the ultimate archetypal patron saint troll of all trolls.

    The Joker: [speaking to Two-Face]
    Do I really look like a man with a plan, Harvey? I don’t have a plan. The mob has plans, the cops have plans. You know what I am, Harvey? I’m a dog chasing cars. I wouldn’t know what to do if I caught one. I just *do* things. I’m a wrench in the gears. I *hate* plans. Yours, theirs, everyone’s. (…)

    (…)You had plans. Look where it got you. I just did what I do best-I took your plan and turned it on itself. Look what I have done to this city with a few drums of gas and a couple bullets.

    (…) Introduce a little anarchy, you upset the established order, and everything becomes chaos. I am an agent of chaos. And you know the thing about chaos, Harvey? It’s fair.

  47. Mindpowered says:

    I think there needs to be a distinction.

    At one level is purely anonymous trolling of the Jason Fortuny type, posting bait and other juvenalia (Oh Juvenal, what has your legacy wrought?).

    Then there is the second more serious Weev type where personal privacy is compromised and basic personal rights are violated.

    This second type will flourish as long as huge leaky government/corporate databases of personal information exist.

  48. noen says:

    Internet users adopted the word “troll” to denote someone who intentionally disrupts online communities.

    Using this definition many so-called trolls are not trolls at all. Just people who have different beliefs than whatever community they happen to be in. It’s just inter-tribal conflict.

    “You look for someone who is full of it, a real blowhard. Then you exploit their insecurities to get an insane amount of drama, laughs and lulz.”

    Sounds like a useful service, arrogant blowhards should have their bubbles popped.

    The fact is-no sane apologia exists.

    I’m sure that deer feel the same about wolves. The worst that could happen would be for them to get their wish. See? easy.

  49. Takuan says:

    Perhaps an Index Trollicus. A no-fly list based on reason?

  50. BoingBoing_ZAP says:

    I always wondered how one italizes in one of these boxes…
    How many Trollius species are there? Early on in this thread (#22 posted by mhlaxp) proposed a sort of useful, or at least entertaining, Trollius species, perhaps Trollius sardonicus?
    Then, clearly there is T. puerilis, which isn’t quite the same as T. trivialis, and T. dickwad, of course. Closely related to puerilis, but older, and lacking a certain charm.
    Some of the folks profiled in the article are larger and darker beings, T. luciferi? Or maybe we should honor Heath Ledger, Trollius ledgeri?

  51. flamingphonebook says:

    Is there anyone here who feels obliged to let absolutely anyone join their conversations, attend their parties, or walk in on their meetings? I hope we’re all open-minded and generous enough to give the benefit of the doubt to strangers and newbies; but if someone walks into your party and takes a dump in the punchbowl, then starts drop-kicking the still-wrapped birthday presents across the room, do you quietly tell all the other guests to just ignore him until he decides to go away?

    At a formal or even casual gathering, no. At the sort of shindig where the goal is to get as hammered as possible without dying, you bet I would. Indeed, I’d be inclined to treat an objector with the same disdain that I would a rabble-rouser at a formal party. If you were at Woodstock, would you really want to hear a reasoned argument about the dangers of narcotics?

    why don’t we try to figure why some people find the concept of social penalties and conversational self-defense so much more upsetting on the internet than they do in face-to-face interactions?

    Because the internet is supposed to be a step forward in civilization. And despite its etymology, civilization is not a greater acceptance of the rules, but a greater acceptance of iconoclasm. There is always more diversity of ideas in progressive societies than repressive ones.

    On the internet, any data not part of a virus transmission or a DDOS attack or such carries equal weight. It is thankfully impossible to stab someone through the Net. If we all lived on the Net with no IRL, all ideas would be equal. In the real world, I can talk till I’m blue about how the law of gravity is wrong, how Newton was a charlatan, and how anyone who says that what goes up must come down is part of the conspiracy, but the moment I step out of a high window, reality is going to get a word in edgewise. But here on the Internet, there are no such natural consequences. Any consequences that we will have are man-made. I see no reason to make any that we don’t absolutely need.

    Otherwise, we may as well go ahead and partition the whole system by idea. Because it would be trolling here to say that we need to reinstitute slavery, but it would be just as bad trolling to not agree with that on the KKK’s web site (if they have one; I honestly don’t feel like googling for it.)

  52. mgfarrelly says:

    In Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell’s “From Hell” there’s this really eerie scene, which like much of the book is based facts as they occured, where the “ripper letters” are being written.

    All across London men of every station, from a Vicar to a hospital patient to a guy in a pub, are writing vile and horrid letters to the police in the persona of “Jack the Ripper”.

    That disturbing sequence kept coming to mind reading that article.

    The anonymity of the mails allowed those men to act with such callowness.

    We bring the depths of our vileness and the highest of our ideals to any new venture.

    For every artist sharing their images of their work online or musician reaching new audiences you have people harassing the parents of dead children.

    My hope, my faith, tells me that that good far outweighs the bad.

  53. Xeni Jardin says:

    @#52 and others…

    Then, clearly there is T. puerilis, which isn’t quite the same as T. trivialis, and T. dickwad, of course. Closely related to puerilis, but older, and lacking a certain charm.
    Some of the folks profiled in the article are larger and darker beings, T. luciferi? Or maybe we should honor Heath Ledger, Trollius ledgeri?

    Hah, I’ll have to ask Ape Lad if he’d consider drawing some diagrams of the different troll species you guys. Let me know what the correct presentation of the species and genus should be, and I’ll correct my presentation there in the body of the post.

    • Antinous says:

      Don’t be so limited in genera! What about Verbithrax loqacius: the timewaster troll? Or Verbithrax verbultimus: the ‘last word’ troll?

  54. ROSSINDETROIT says:

    Hah, I’ll have to ask Ape Lad if he’d consider drawing some diagrams of the different troll species you guys.

    GENIUS!!

  55. Antinous says:

    The people that he interviews are somewhat beyond trolls. They’re sociopaths – people so addicted to causing suffering in those whom they perceive as inferior that they have to live in safe houses and carry weapons because their lives are in danger from their victims. The article is not for the faint of stomach lining.

  56. BC2 says:

    Personally, I don’t care much for “disemvowelling”, and would prefer that the internet would stop using it. Occasionally, I’ll try to read some “trolls” comment just to see what they say, but disemvowelling makes it a headache to read. In other words, it’s a headache for all your other readers. I’m not a big fan of removing comments, so my suggestion is to collapse the comment (by default) or turn the text the same color as the background (although, you end up with an apparent big blank space in the comments section). If people want to see it, they can uncollapse the comment or select the text (which will reveal the comment even when the text and background are the same color). Of course, I realize that my disapproval of disemvowelling might just get me disemvowelled.

  57. flamingphonebook says:

    So, saying that no human can escape being human is perversely puritanical? What on earth does that mean?

    Just this: if the physical structure of an environment alters enough to that the rules that were needed in the old environment no longer apply, keeping those rules out of inertia or conservatism makes no sense, and is sheer schadenfreude.

  58. Xeni Jardin says:

    @#1 Antinous:

    Agreed. I think there’s a pretty huge gap between the sorts of folks who might pop up on a BB thread to say “Steampunk is gay” or ” U R DUM” and the sort of person who terrorizes the parents of a teenager who shot himself. “Troll” really does encompass a wide range of antisocial behavior, from that which is rude to that which is (or should be) criminal.

  59. Xeni Jardin says:

    @#2 BC2, those are not bad ideas, either. Disemvowelling works pretty well for us for now, at least better than other tools we have available. But I don’t think any of us believe that this is the only conceivable technical/tactical solution. We might shift to another approach down the road.

  60. Antinous says:

    iconoclasm

    You made a funny. We let people say dreadfully inappropriate and rude things on BB — if they’re really clever or funny. It’s the tediousness that makes the troll. There aren’t any icons being clasmed by that demographic.

  61. Takuan says:

    so does Beater and Biter

  62. Glenn Fleishman says:

    Agree with @1 that the article seems to target folks who, in a pre-online society, would have been largely prevented from carrying out their attacks through notable social opprobrium, or, failing that, restraining orders, jail time, and physical violence.

    By posting this comment, I am now likely to be set upon.

  63. Anonymous says:

    As with any kind of cyber-bullying, the best defense is to ignore the offense and ultimately it will go away [or at least, because you skimmed the inflammatory posts, you're blood pressure wont rise]
    The major factor that causes this type of user is an environment filled with potential human powder-kegs that only amplify the disruption caused by these users. Most internet users are more than willing to waste their time and energy defending a silly point or yelling in all caps instead of just moving on with their lives. And since it only takes half a mind and two seconds to post a potential lit-match of a comment, the torrent of trolling will never stop. If you want to stop the griefers and trolls, cut off their supply of satisfaction.

    ~KI

  64. Contrasoma says:

    #77 Noen: Good call on the Lacan/Zizek. You might be interested in Jodi Dean, a political theorist who analyzes conspiracy theory discourse using Lacan and Zizek:

    http://jdeanicite.typepad.com/i_cite/2007/02/trent.html#more

  65. Orchestra Spy says:

    @#4 Xeni
    I think the most appropriate & conceivable method to be wary of trolls, is self censorship. You have no access to this feature, ie. censorship option on/off, without an account. Guest are hit in the eye will a bucket load of disemvowelling bukaki.

  66. noen says:

    all you can do is establish a community that has a clear understanding and solid ethical grounding. If more than 99% of your people automatically recoil from evil, refuse to feed it and will not let it stand unchallenged – it cannot take root and flourish.

    Whose ethical ground? Whose community? Let me help you out a bit. Lets diagram the common utopian/dystopian fantasies of many people.

    1.
    actor/observer
    ———————->

    2.
    actor/observer
    ———————->
    ———————->
    ———————->

    Fascism(1) admits of only one narrative. History has a vector, come join us. Liberalism(2) admits multiple narratives but only as long as they conform to a preconceived arc of history. Far too many subscribe to one other the other of these.

    3.
    actor/observer
    ———————->
    ^
    |
    |
    |
    |
    |
    |

    This is how the world works (forgive the limited typography. The diagram should have arrows pointing in all directions). There is no master narrative, history has no arc, it isn’t going anywhere. It simply is. This is the model for life as theater, for how to pick up girls, for comments in blogs. It is also a diagram of the arts, of craft, as a mode of reflexive activity and social engagement. It’s the model of artists’ relation to one another and of artist to critic, if the critic sees himself in a reciprocal relation rather than that of a voyeur vampire. Everything you are and represent is constantly being recontextuaized, reformed. It is the model for intellectual “progress”.

    All that exists is the world and one’s response to it. There is nothing else. Our society is a society built upon isolation and simultaneously upon a fixation on a desire/fear of simple absolute unity. Raves and The Borg are products of the same fear, desire, sadness. A geek is someone who is so wed to his own fixations that he is unable to imagine the world through the mind of another. Americans are the prototypical geeks, unable to imagine non-Americans.

    When one is confronted with any man made thing what is our response? Text or subtext? The thing itself or the intention of it’s maker? We can’t know beforehand but we can learn. “Is this person someone I can learn from, a thinker, someone who constructs dynamic structures or can I only learn from him/her as symptom, as affect pointing to a larger problem.”

    I would place trolls in the latter category. They bring their own gifts, a lesson to be learned, though not the most obvious one.

  67. minTphresh says:

    oh phlamer, gawd luv ya kuz i know i dont. i do enjoy how you take one paragraph from the nine that she wrote, and manage to take that out of context. what teresa was basically trying to say ( as i see it, please t., correct me if i am wrong) is, this(BB) is their blog/linksite, you (and i and takuan etal.) are guests here. you don’t like the rules they set up for discourse here, get the fuck out( i’m paraphrasing here). go start your own k.k.k. blog/linksite. leave the strawmen and the sockpuppetry at home. happy trolling(elsewhere)!

  68. Oren Beck says:

    Re:#6

    Yeah- calling someone foul names from the safety of a troll’s lair is safer than doing so in a meatspace bar. As IRL insults can and do get one hurt or worse. I am somewhere between bored to slightly amused by most trolling. Disemvowelling them still is a “stroking” of sorts. As sadly is collapse or any other intervention.
    I propose a tactic of “Fnording”

    The first authorized person/admin can and should tag a commenter as Fnord! Which renders them invisible. By consensus rather than alteration of anything else.

  69. Teresa Nielsen Hayden / Moderator says:

    Anonymous @7:

    As with any kind of cyber-bullying, the best defense is to ignore the offense and ultimately it will go away

    As with any kind of bullying, I’d prefer to identify bullies and either get them to change their behavior, or remove them so they can’t hurt anyone else. I don’t recognize the existence of a right to bully others. I do believe in a social contract under which people who don’t abuse others ought to be able to expect that they won’t be abused.

    [or at least, because you skimmed the inflammatory posts, you're blood pressure wont rise]

    And there you have a perfect illustration of why “just ignore it” is an inadequate strategy: by the time you’ve read enough to know how bad something is, you’ve already gotten a hit of nastiness off it. That’s one of the biggest reasons I disemvowel: you can read the thing if you want to, but you won’t read it automatically just because it’s there.

    The major factor that causes this type of user is an environment filled with potential human powder-kegs that only amplify the disruption caused by these users.

    Being around jerks and headbutting arguments puts everyone on edge. If it goes on long enough, you’ll be left with only those participants who like or can at least tolerate such an environment.

    Most internet users are more than willing to waste their time and energy defending a silly point or yelling in all caps instead of just moving on with their lives.

    Only if you define the internet as consisting solely of usenet, the comment threads at Consumerist, some MetaFilter forums, and certain other select hangouts. News bulletin: there are plenty of other places that don’t work like that.

    And since it only takes half a mind and two seconds to post a potential lit-match of a comment, the torrent of trolling will never stop.

    By Grabthar’s hammer, by the suns of Warvan, they shall not have it all their own way.

    If you want to stop the griefers and trolls, cut off their supply of satisfaction.

    That’s all? What about your own satisfaction? Isn’t that worth something? Why should we bend ourselves out of shape to give griefers and trolls an infinite supply of rights and privileges, and keep none for ourselves?

    Do we want to live in a world where no one can afford to give anything we write a close and sympathetic reading, because they’re skimming to see whether we’ve written troll-flamage?

    There are commenters who can be brilliant, entertaining, insightful, brave, knowledgeable, well-timed, or patient and kind. Are we serving the cause of human freedom, or making a better world, when we pretend their participation is worth less to us than the random remarks of some passing blowhard?

    Surely you want more than that out of the time you spend online.

  70. Takuan says:

    if someone attacks you, you have a moral and ethical right to defend yourself. It can even be argued you have a duty to the attacker to stop their behaviour since it damages them as well. If they cannot be reasoned with, it is proper to restrain or isolate them. Maximum forbearance should always apply, but that also is subject to the available time and resources. The tribe must survive. If this means the odd individual must be subordinated to this, it is a function of nature and the physical universe rather than human choice. Ideally, all will be saved. Practically, the most extreme cases will not.

  71. malinecker says:

    f w cn’t prsct th trllng t f nln nnymty, mght thr b sm wy t mtgt t wth tchnlgy?
    < hrf="http://www.sthrn-lght.d" rl="nfllw">Gäsths kpstdt

  72. Xeni Jardin says:

    @#10 Takuan, I think you’re right, and the tribe really must survive. We should just start killing trolls instead of removing vowels. Cool, thanks!

  73. Antinous says:

    Also, this isn’t the internet. It’s BoingBoing. Complaining that the rules here are different than the rules on another website is like demanding ludefisk in Barcelona while yelling, “This is Europe, dammit!”

  74. xxxxxx says:

    Xeni,
    Teresa Nielsen Hayden DID NOT invent disemvowelling, this was already common practice on the boards back in 1995. If shes going around the net claiming she invented it, then shes just as bad as a troll.

    • Antinous says:

      shes just as bad as a troll.

      Why don’t we just fast forward to Godwin’s Law and get it over with before bedtime. Personally, I like to be compared to Stalin because he had that great moustache.

  75. Thalia says:

    There is a big difference between saying obnoxious things and posting someone’s name and home address along with a death threat. The first is stupid trolling, the second is dangerous stalking. I’m all for going after the real world trolls who post home addresses with threats, or crank call people. Knock on someone’s door or calling someone at home crosses a line from obnoxious to dangerous.

  76. Takuan says:

    can I have their organs?

  77. mister_mental says:

    N ffns, bt f y r th typ f prsn wh gts thr pnts n sch tght knt vr trlls tht y kll yrslf, y prbbly wrn’t mtnlly ft ngh t gt n th ntrnt n th frst plc.

  78. Spinobobot says:

    Perhaps saying this will simply make me a target for trolls, but I have to say that I was very upset by the NYT piece. The earlier commenter who made reference to “watching the world burn”, a line recently used in the excellent new Batman film, is drawing an apt comparison. TDK’s Joker is a troll par excellence.

    What gets me about trolls, besides their sociopathy, is that their existence reinforces a lot of destructive beliefs on the part of otherwise good people. I teach ethics, among other things, and something I frequently like to communicate to my students is this: Nobody actually thinks of themselves as evil, with the exception of the insane and the exceptionally silly like Satan worshipers. In other words, pronouncements of good intention are almost guaranteed accompaniments of atrocious actions.

    Why this is important: First, because it gives us pause about things that we–as individuals or as groups like nation states–do to others in the name of good. For instance, it’s a given that political leaders offer noble-sounding justifications for questionable foreign policy. These should never be taken at face value, and never are–when we are dealing with foreign governments. For some reason, though, far too many people don’t treat their own government with the same due skepticism. (Incidentally, in the US case, this criticism applies to Democratic and Republican administrations alike, although not always to the same extent.)

    Second, recognizing that no sane person thinks of themselves as evil prevents us from dehumanizing our adversaries. Generally speaking, people are unwilling to negotiate with what they consider to be evil. If, however, we try to understand the grievances of our enemies, at least some of which will usually turn out to be legitimate, we can find nonviolent resolutions to conflict more easily. Moreover, understanding their motives will give us a better sense of what our adversaries might actually do, which has strategic advantages as well. If, on the contrary, we think of our enemies as absolutely evil, then we can justify the most horrendous of actions against both them and those who (willingly or not) associate with them (e.g., the relatively innocent citizens of nations run by tyrannical rulers).

    Now, the worst trolls (like those profiled in the NYT piece) undermine this recognition, by providing examples of people who truly seem bent on destruction for its own sake. Their frequent anonymity makes it even worse, by causing people to believe that just about anyone could be a psychopath, at least some of the time. Their very existence breeds misanthropy and undermines the social order.

    What to do about it? I wish I knew. One place to start, I think, is by not lumping all trolls into the same group, something which the NYT might have done a better job of. Who among us has not occasionally had a bad day and done something troll-like, either online or IRL? Most occasions of trolling are probably something like this. Going lower under the bridge, we find the people who regularly act this way, some of whom even embrace the “troll” label, but who do no significant harm. Perhaps these people are just responding to bad life circumstances, in which case their trolling may just be symptomatic of larger problems within a society.

    At the very bottom are those who are effectively criminals, whether they break formal laws or not. I doubt that all of them are mentally imbalanced, but many of them probably are. If they are beyond help, these individuals need to be removed from society, whether they be put in prisons or mental institutions. Fortunately, these are probably a very small number.

    Trolling will never disappear entirely–it’s a sort of natural outgrowth of mass societies and their opportunities for anonymity–but I do think it is something we can keep in check if we’re sensible about it.

    • Antinous says:

      I think that, for the media, trolls are the new pedophiles: a tiny group of people whose impact is magnified a thousandfold in order to sell newspapers. Many people, given anonymity and an audience are tempted to abuse them, but soon realize that they’re not cut out to be mean and it doesn’t make them happy.

  79. Cowicide says:

    The van blew up from all that heat and pressure building up from an influx of gay sex pictures being sent to a laptop inside. Don’t worry, the “fed up hacker” in the video will shut down all the chans and vans will be safe once again.

    Jokes & Fox News aside, I do agree with #1 Antinous…. I havne’t read the article yet, but I do know that some of the invasion channers truly are some less than human sociopaths.

    Of course, sometimes hosting invasion chans like that WILL come back to bite you in the ass (and hard). For example, the guy who runs 420chan.org got SWATed by someone (some Australian?) spoofing his phone.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WoHrsm-Jq0Y

    Heh, heh.. heh… lawl…

  80. meek says:

    It’s long, but a very good bit of writing from the birthplace of many a troll- 4chan! about how an anonymous forum prevents much trolling actually.

    http://www.4chan.org/blog/2005/11/09/in-response-to-anonymity/

    PS
    I would wager that most BoingBoing readers are NOT equipped to handle the internet at large.

  81. flamingphonebook says:

    Antinous/MinT

    I didn’t think Teresa’s post was limited to BB. I thought her metaphors were about the entire internet. BB has the right to set whatever rules it wants for its own sites. No one should have the right to set content rules for the Internet at large.

  82. Takuan says:

    consider the source. Then stomp it.

  83. alowishus says:

    Wait, is reciting sociology or ethics textbooks considered trolling?

    Oh crap, now I’m trolling!

    Where’d I put that home vasectomy kit . . .

    I kid!

  84. minTphresh says:

    oh, i forgot. teresa is the moderator for the entire internets. gotcha, whatev.

  85. Takuan says:

    wonder what would happen if an anonymous,public minded group put the effort into outing the most egregious trolls? Think Fortuny could be a good example if his picture and address were posted worldwide? We could do spammers next.

    • Antinous says:

      Think Fortuny could be a good example if his picture and address were posted worldwide?

      He moves constantly and he’s not so distinctive looking that most people would recognize him from a photo. It would be like challenging a professional hit man to a duel. Not sensible, preciousss.

  86. giusbox says:

    eyes so sore from reading all that…

    so everyone who connected trolls and the Joker… bravo. If the Joker’s a troll, then Teresa’s BATMAN!

    On that thought… The Joker got more attention than Batman in the new flick, on screen and off and not just because Ledger passed on, but because the Joker attracts and fascinates as much as Batman but in contrast. For a lot of people who can’t relate to the ideals/morals of Batman (either because it’s too difficult or it’s just not a part of their world), Joker becomes their “freedom-fighter.”

    In the sense that Teresa’s Batman and trolls are the Joker (which is crediting most trolls), a lot of newbies may fall under the category of a troll because no one’s had the patience with them to tell them not to crap in the punch bowl and why. And really, only mothers have that kind of patience. Which is what it all really comes down to… trolls need mommies who love them.

  87. Takuan says:

    g’nite. And remember the vampire must be invited before it can pass the threshold.

  88. Xeni Jardin says:

    Antinous, I am the only one around here who wears the Stalin ‘stache, bub. You can be Trotsky or Idi Amin or Papa Smurf.

  89. giusbox says:

    Maggie to Hook: You need a mother very badly.

  90. Contrasoma says:

    I have to admit that Weev’s characterization of Zeno, Socrates and the like as trolls blew my mind. Not that I’d put Weev in that category, but situating trolling within the broader history of critical inquiry almost renders noble Fortuny’s (misguided) idea of using trolling as a means of educating his parents.

    Even amongst people with such lofty goals, or the cajones to compare themselves to mythological tricksters, how often does any of this actually accomplish anything apart from the cheap thrill of mega-lulz, which Fox knows we’ll stop at nothing to get. We’ve all seen more than enough trolls back-pedalling to know that “it was a social experiment” usually just means “I got caught”. #22′s citation of Colbert as a successful and provocative troll who actually engenders thought (although Colbert is also benefited by the protection that being a court jester’s always provided) seems appropriate; maybe the distinction lies in Colbert’s selection of targets vs. Fortuny’s…or maybe the distinction is that which lies between relentless critical inquiry and pure sophism (in the modern sense).

    PS: I loved the article, but “Malwebowence”? It’s 2008, Gray Lady. Cheap web-pun headlines died around the same time as Mosaic.

  91. D3 says:

    “Disemvoweling” is an odious practice. I hate seeing it, and I hated having it done to me.
    (Once. Look it up if you are curious. Was I trolling or just expressing my opinion?)

  92. mhlaxp says:

    I’d consider myself a semi-professional troll, but not one of those ranting idiots that these people seem to be referencing. I prefer more the style that was common in many Usenet boards where the goal is to evoke a response, be it anger or excitement or what have you, in a way such that is humorous to the troll and anyone who recognizes their antics. Of course it’s a little fun at the expense of a patsy, but it’s worth it for the others involved. Master trolls like Steven Colbert and Sasha Baron Cohen do it on TV or even in movies and you can find the same thing in many message boards like 4chan if you know what’s what.

    Personally I see nothing wrong with that at all, but such high quality trolls are usually missed by the sort of people who might complain about them (those being trolled). Idiots who post things like “SHUT UP JACKASS” as responses don’t even count, and any experienced internet user just rolls their eyes at such a thing, but a clever devil’s advocate who makes such a stupid case that it destroys the position he or she is endorsing or someone who gives a very technical, very wrong answer about how induced electromagnetic fields cause headphone cables to twist are what internet trolling is all about.

  93. Pam Rosengren says:

    @22 – that’s the finest trollbait I have ever seen!

  94. belisle says:

    I hope the trolls enjoy their 15 minutes of coverage that considers them to be human and allows them to elaborate on their tortured justification for doing what they do. It won’t be long before they have to go back to hanging out with spammers, pedophiles, malware authors and other internet vermin.

    @3 Xeni Jardin: @1 Antinous: “Troll” really does encompass a wide range of antisocial behavior, from that which is rude to that which is (or should be) criminal.

    Remember of course that “troll” is a double-entendre:

    A) [from a fisherman pulling a line with bait] This type of trolling is merely “rude” and, for the most part, is nothing personal. Example: “Slapping some brass and leather on an everyday object doesn’t make it steampunk. Steam engines do.”

    B) [from the typically ugly creature of Scandinavian lore that hides underneath bridges and eats children] For this type of troll, it’s not fun unless it’s personal. Includes sociopaths and behavior that “is (or should be) criminal”. They enjoy causing mental anguish and “just want to watch the world burn”.

  95. Takuan says:

    @D3, if it was only once, maybe it’s not worth worrying about.

  96. mdhatter says:

    Antinous mid-thread: Because the unconfident and powerless are attracted to bullies, in the hopes that something will rub off on them. And something usually does rub off. But it’s not power or confidence.

    As the bear once asked the rabbit, “do you have any problems with shit sticking to your fur? No? Good.”
    {wipe}

  97. mesrop says:

    Its interesting that a person may be perceived in completely different lights in different mediums. @22′s comment is understandable that in the real world a persons actions can be perceived as comedic and entertaining and in another form as something completely negative and frowned upon. It maybe argued that a person may say things in one medium such as the interent because a certain level of anonymity is given to them that they would not other wise say in the real world to some one face to face. However who makes those calls, who judges people on there moral compass, in some ways playing god. I love the phrase that “One mans terrorist is another mans freedom fighter.” People and society draw these perceived lines of morality and political correctness, but thats exactly where the system begins to break down because it is people who are doing the drawing. One of my favorite figures in the 20th century is Malcolm X. The man was seen as a threat and a liability not only from the outside but also from within. Yet he spoke his mind, he went against the establishment, he was villafied during his life, and honored in death. How is some one that may be outspoken that may “make waves” disemvoweled from posts. That may be the character of a leader or an outspoken critic speaking there mind. It’s understandable that there is a line between right and wrong but that line is very wide and gray. To say that we should all be nice and kind to each other online is a Utopian ideal, it sounds great and exciting but it doesn’t exist in the real world how can it be expected in the virtual world. The Matrix movie made an excellent point regarding that when it said that humanity could not handle or grasp the Utopian state, we need external pressures to evolve to learn to become better at what we are.
    I guess this is a long rant of ideas on looking at things from both sides of the picture. One mans terrorist is another mans freedom fighter.
    I loved the NPR piece with Mark in it by the way very interesting and very thought provoking from all the people that were involved in that conversation.

  98. Xeni Jardin says:

    FIRST!!!!

  99. Anonymous says:

    What does this have to do with hitler?

  100. buddy66 says:

    #15 mister_mental:
    No offense, but if you are the type of person who gets their [sic] panties in such a tight knot over trolls that you kill yourself, you probably weren’t emotionally fit enough to get on the internet in the first place.

    No offense, but you may not be living up to your moniker. We’re talking about an adolescent, right? Can’t you remember what it was like? As I recall, it’s a very sensitive time, fraught with grave doubts and feelings of unworthiness, moments of self-loathing and emotional distress. A dangerous time. Please don’t insult a dead child with that deplorable panties-in-a-knot metaphor. A dead child deserves better.

    #17:
    I would wager that most BoingBoing readers are NOT equipped to handle the internet at large.

    Well, then, let’s capture it if it’s at large! Okay … then how do I get in shape? It isn’t as hard as boot camp is it? What to do, psychic push-ups?

    #30 ElBiggus:
    Another cunning method … is to make deleted comments invisible to everyone but the troll … as far as they’re concerned they’ve been left unmolested….

    I think bb’s already doing that. That’s why a lot of my stuff sails on alone through perilous cyber seas.

    #44 Oren Beck:
    As while sadly we cannot advocate Genital Mutilation to sterilize their kind….

    No need. You don’t think women are actually going to shag those wankers, do you?

    #56 Antinous:
    Don’t be so limited … What about Verbithrax loqacius: the timewaster troll? Or Verbithrax verbultimus: the ‘last word’ troll?
    NOW you’re meddling!

    • Antinous says:

      Buddy,

      “Panties in a knot” isn’t an insult – just the closest that he’s ever come to mating. The words always betray the mind.

  101. Avram says:

    Mister Mental #15, slapping the words “no offense” at the beginning of an offensive comment doesn’t actually make the comment inoffensive.

  102. Takuan says:

    we can delete it

  103. flamingphonebook says:

    Not once in post 88 did Teresa mention BoingBoing. Please explain why I should have realized her analogies were limited to this site. If we’re only going to evaluate statements based on position, then why dissent from mine, since I hold no position?

  104. Pipenta says:

    Why in hell would I want a troll as a friend?

  105. Tweeker says:

    In order to keep traffic on your bridge down.

  106. noen says:

    I guess this is still going

    TNH
    Real trolls exist. They enjoy chaos, upsetting people, and being the center of attention.

    In the quotation before this I’m trying to suggest that perhaps there are not as many as people think. That perhaps one’s reactions to those “not of our tribe” also contributes to bad behavior and can create the very phenomena that is not wanted. I’m objecting to the one dimensional characterization that I see a lot.

    I’ve seen you argue for things you strongly believed in. By some reckonings, that makes you a blowhard who deserves to have their bubble burst.

    That’s fine. That’s how one learns. I mind the other crap though.

    Wolves have no choice about being wolves, and they’re preying on a different species. Humans have moral agency, and they’re tormenting members of their own species. It’s not the same.

    It’s a metaphor. My intention was that one might use the metaphor and then stop, think, about what similarities might exist. How might one compare human social relationships to predator/prey relationships? Might not sociopathic personalities perform a similar role? With the further suggestion that being part of the natural order perhaps that function is needed by the prey. I don’t know, maybe, maybe not. I just thought it was interesting.

    “Whose ethical ground?”
    Mine, if you don’t have one. If you do, we can talk about it.

    Again not the point. The point was to challenge the commenter to whom I was replying to examine their own assumptions that there is one and only one way to frame the issue. A question is an invitation to further discussion. It is not an attack though it can feel like that I suppose.

    Xeni
    I kept thinking, when the Joker was on-screen — that he was like the ultimate archetypal patron saint troll of all trolls.

    The Joker is pure Id but for someone without any plans the he sure had a lot of plans. That doesn’t describe the trolls profiled in the article though. They struck me as sociopaths dissecting live frogs. Which would feel chaotic for the frog, but these guys, they are conducting experiments. Being true sociopaths they are curious about how these strange humans they live among work. Which is, in a way, more frightening than simple agents of chaos.

    a lot of newbies may fall under the category of a troll because no one’s had the patience with them to tell them not to crap in the punch bowl and why.

    Pointing out that the punch bowl has several turds floating in it can get you labeled a troll also. In fact, they may prefer the taste and become enraged that that anyone dared to point it out. “Have you no manners? Here, have a nice big glass.” Simplistic, reactionary labeling of people based on a rigid world view, whether from the left or the right, is a turd that seems to be in everyone’s punch bowl these days.

  107. OM says:

    …What this Times article fails to address are the “CT Nutter” trolls who have flooded Usenet with conspiracy theories and/or bogus “scientific” claims, not because they want to cause trouble, but because they’re truly, certifiably, incarcerateably nuts. Trolls – some of whom have plagued Usenet since the late 1980′s – along the lines of:

    * Daniel Joseph Min
    * Tony “Big Bertha” Lance
    * John Thomas Maxson
    * Brad Guth
    * “~CT” AKA “Stuff4″
    * Tommy Lee “ElfNazi” Elfritz

    …Da Google on any of these worthless whackjobs, and you’ll realize there was a subspecies of trolling that the NYT writer failed to acknowledge.

    …Also, one other ommission: the word “willingly” before “abused” when the trolls discussed how they were molested by their families. Still, the comments made by the trolls interviewed pretty much proved my theory that most, if not all trolls were willingly molested as children, and are taking their frustrations out on us normal people because they have come to realize that they could have been charging far more than a couple of candy bars for their services.

  108. Sister Y says:

    I wonder if Fortuny’s response to Joseph Fritzl’s decades-long basement imprisonment and sex abuse of his daughter would be to say that Fritzl helped his daughter recognize a security risk.

  109. Mithrandir says:

    First point: I have been, and have seen other people, been disenvowled here for humorous but honest criticisms.

    Second point: The people interviewed here are pretty blatantly trolling the interviewer. “The Organization”? Moot’s initials are CP and his last name is “Poole”? Come on people.

  110. OM says:

    “slapping the words “no offense” at the beginning of an offensive comment doesn’t actually make the comment inoffensive.”

    …Agreed. That ranks right up there with someone posting a long, snot-filled flame, and then signing his post with “Cheers!” as if that makes it all better.

  111. OM says:

    “is to make deleted comments invisible to everyone but the troll”

    …Back when I ran the infamous Klingon Empire BBS from 1986 to 1996, that was one of the tricks I implemented on the message bases I hosted. If someone got branded a troll, if I didn’t punt them outright their posts simply became invisible to everyone but themselves. After a while, they gave up and disappeared. Later, when the WWIVnet-Usenet gateway went up, the code for this was modded to help WWIVNet Sysops filter out troll traffic from the Usenet newsgroups that were being gated. By default Portal, CUNY/CCNY, and one particular egotripping net.god on rec.arts.comics were on the “eternal purge” list, and it helped keep our side of the gateway pretty useful as Usenet moved from academia to pay-per-troll.

  112. buddy66 says:

    AUGUST,

    You said incarcerateably!

    FIRST! New one on me and I LOVE IT. My vocabulary grows . . . And that, son, is how I came to love bb.

  113. flamingphonebook says:

    How can I not comment on this one?

    I was happier when the word was used to mean an intentional disrupter of a community, and not just one with opinions radically divorced from those of the community.

    The problem is that there’s no room anywhere for radicalism. If you’re a Green who thinks the solution is not education and treaties, but to shut off every bit of machinery NOW and don’t turn them back on until we can prove beyond all doubt that they won’t harm the Earth, you’re going to be called a troll. Where can such a person go where their posts count as much as anyone else’s?

    I think the best method for dealing with trolls already exists, and has for years. It’s the kill-file. Let anyone say anything, but let each reader decide who they don’t want to listen to.

    I think the other thing to do would be to create a well-known, troll-friendly place on the Internet. A Coventry, if you will. A site with no rules. A site where posting is a right, not a privilege. If someone trolls you, tell him to post it there, and maybe he’ll be happy enough to do so.

    But if we can’t bring that onto Web-based fora, then what should be done? Assume, hypothetically, that I wish to troll some community. They don’t want me to do so. What can they offer me to go away? There are bans, but there are also fake IP addresses. If such sites are so dedicated to community, authoritarian bannings probably aren’t the best way to go.

    In short, why not try respecting the troll as a human being, not try eliminating him?

  114. ElBiggus says:

    Another cunning method of dealing with trolls (pioneered on JoelOnSoftware’s discussion board, and carried over to CrazyOnTap) is to make deleted comments invisible to everyone but the troll — when a post is removed, the original poster can still see it so as far as they’re concerned they’ve been left unmolested but no-one else has to deal with their drivel.

  115. noen says:

    There is a big difference between saying obnoxious things and posting someone’s name and home address along with a death threat.

    Unless of course we do it. Then it’s justified.

    pronouncements of good intention are almost guaranteed accompaniments of atrocious actions.

    And nobody has better intentions than we do. Our motives are pure, our hearts unclouded. Only we are the enlightened ones, the children of God/the disciples of Science/the reality based community/the invisible hand of the market. Come with us and march into our preordained and Glorious Future!

    Why this is important: First, because it gives us pause about things that we–as individuals or as groups like nation states–do to others in the name of good.

    But we are unconscious of the evil that we do to others in the name of good. The clothes you wear were assembled by slaves (more or less). If all a so-called “troll” does is to make you aware of the damage your narcissism does to the rest of the world then that is an honorable thing indeed.

    situating trolling within the broader history of critical inquiry almost renders noble Fortuny’s (misguided) idea of using trolling as a means of educating his parents.

    Weev believes in David Icke’s reptilian BS and Fortuny was molested by his family of origin. They are broken individuals and represent the Discourse of Hysteria. What they represent is more important than what they have to say (or do).

    One should listen, they are trying to tell you something important.

  116. Tweeker says:

    Unless a sock puppet is used.

  117. Faustus says:

    Oh no. Anonymous blew up all my yellow vans! will this madness never stop?!??!?

    I love fox news.

  118. Takuan says:

    s’ok, not everyone can get it. I’d like everyone to understand,but for those that genuinely can’t, all I require is their obedience to the same rules we all follow. So what if someone really can’t get why they can’t drive blind drunk. After the third time, I’m taking their keys.

  119. BoingBoing_ZAP says:

    The rules of taxonomic nomenclature would insist on capitalizing the genus name, and you only get species and variety (or subspecies) after that. LIMITING taxonomic names to just two, or, in a pinch, three, was one of Linnaeus’ main contributions. Thus
    Trollius maximus (I like that…the dickwad is sort of redundant, and internet is implied), or
    Trollius interneti (this assumes internet is a 2nd declension masculine noun, and we want to name him “of the internet”), or, if you think the internet is a place name,
    Trollius internetensis.
    Dickwad, I think, is best regarded as a noun in apposition, thus simply:
    Trollius dickwad.
    Whichever, if this is a formal description of a new species, the proper citation would be, e.g.
    Trollius dickwad Jardin 2008.
    If we must have subspecies (viewed by professionals as rather indecisive), of the three epithets you propose, maximus seems most likely. Or did you mean that dickwads are different from maximi? No, you meant the BIG dickwad, so
    Trollius dickwad maximus or Trollius interneti maximus.
    The good news is that, even though all generic names have to be unique, you needn’t worry that Trollius (globeflower) is preoccupied–the rule applies to either plants or animals, but not both!

  120. Chevan says:

    Ah, Fox News. At times, the biggest trolls of all.

  121. BoingBoing_ZAP says:

    The one thing you didn’t mean was
    Trollius internetius
    because in a bygone and more classical world, we would have capitalized Internetius because it’s an honorific–a species named in honor of the Internet, which we have to latinize to Internetius, like Marcus Aurelius.
    But since nobody wants to honor these people, Trollius internetius would be an ironic mistake.

  122. minTphresh says:

    phlameer, how could she possibly speak for the entire interwebs? who the fuck could speak for the entire www? the fact that you would think that just boggles my brainpan. not the first time that’s happened in our discourse but, neither here nor here. i assume anytime teresa is discussing moderation (even thru analogy) that she is discussing BB moderation, unless otherwise specified. what else could anyone assume? and, may i also add: duh!

  123. Nora says:

    The article’s dismissal of everything involving “the lulz”, Encyclopedia Dramatica, /b/ and what is rapidly becoming a 4chan-generated “internet culture” as trolling really bothers me. If Encyclopedia Dramatica is just about trolling than lolcats becomes a method of trolling, etc.

  124. Spinobobot says:

    On the internet, any data not part of a virus transmission or a DDOS attack or such carries equal weight. It is thankfully impossible to stab someone through the Net. If we all lived on the Net with no IRL, all ideas would be equal.

    Flam, I’m curious about what you mean by this. Do you mean this to be a factual claim, that all ideas online are of equal value? If so, in what sense? Or are you saying that they should be? If the latter, why?

    I think ideas should be judged by their merits–I’m being deliberately vague here, because in different contexts, different standards apply. And the net is certainly a heterogeneous collection of (virtual) places. However, just because values differ from one situation to the next, from one website to the next, does not mean that there are no “real” values.

    There may even be standards regarding social interaction that are close to universal (the examples that Teresa gave include potential candidates–it’ll be a while before I can get that taking a dump in the punch bowl image out of my head :-) ). But even if they have exceptions, that doesn’t mean they never apply. It need not be all-or-nothing.

    Social interaction online is not so radically different from RL interaction that it must have entirely different (or no) rules. Just because the internet is a human-made environment does not mean that anything goes. Ideas can be put to the test in multiple ways.

    I’m not sure if any of this is what you were suggesting, so I’m just asking you to clarify.

  125. mdhatter says:

    Hillarious.

    Rule one for me is not to call anyone’s B.S. on the internet that I wouldn’t call in person. I’m not much afraid of real bullies either.

  126. simplewonder says:

    #17 POSTED BY MEEK

    Rules 1 & 2 !!!

  127. Rob, Denmark says:

    #27 posted by Pipenta , August 3, 2008 4:35 AM

    Why in hell would I want a troll as a friend

    #28 posted by Tweeker , August 3, 2008 4:45 AM

    In order to keep traffic on your bridge down.

    Pure gold!

  128. mdhatter says:

    “is to make deleted comments invisible to everyone but the troll”

    that smells like win.

  129. minTphresh says:

    #72, OM, there is no such animule as the ‘willingly’ molested child. no matter what anyone has told you. any child offering sex for a snickers bar has been set on that path due to earlier abuse which has rewired the poor kid’s brain. this is usually done by an older, male member of the family, regardless as to the sex of the child. secret sex with stepdaddy= trip to baskin robbins! you do the math.

  130. flamingphonebook says:

    phlameer, how could she possibly speak for the entire interwebs? who the fuck could speak for the entire www? the fact that you would think that just boggles my brainpan. not the first time that’s happened in our discourse but, neither here nor here. i assume anytime teresa is discussing moderation (even thru analogy) that she is discussing BB moderation, unless otherwise specified. what else could anyone assume? and, may i also add: duh!

    I assume that in a discussion such as this that people are trying to make points as broad as possible. When the NYT article mentioned 4chan board /b/, I didn’t think it was specifically discussing /b/, I thought it was saying that no internet forum should allow trolls to mock someone’s suicide. And I know that in my posts, even though I posted it on BB, I was referring to general trollery.

    Flam, I’m curious about what you mean by this. Do you mean this to be a factual claim, that all ideas online are of equal value? If so, in what sense? Or are you saying that they should be? If the latter, why?

    A factual claim, in the sense that until and unless a real-world activity occurs, internet activity has no consequences (again, not DDOSes and such). There are no deaths, pain, or property loss in cyberspace, therefore nothing can do damage. (I don’t hold with mental anguish.) So if someone utters a nominally unconscionable idea online, such as advocating genocide, there’s still no effect IRL until someone does something.

    I think ideas should be judged by their merits–I’m being deliberately vague here, because in different contexts, different standards apply. And the net is certainly a heterogeneous collection of (virtual) places. However, just because values differ from one situation to the next, from one website to the next, does not mean that there are no “real” values.

    That’s all fine and good, but judgment of an idea is itself an idea, and can themselves be judged, and so ad infinitum. The only question is to sentence. We talk about banning, vowel-removal, killfiling, etc., but whatever is done, it’s a value judgment based on the site owner or their agent.

    Social interaction online is not so radically different from RL interaction that it must have entirely different (or no) rules. Just because the internet is a human-made environment does not mean that anything goes. Ideas can be put to the test in multiple ways.

    True, but what I don’t care for is the idea that it should never be anything goes. There ought to be some sanctuary where the sole determinant of outcomes and characteristics is the petulant and unfettered whim of individuals.

  131. Takuan says:

    well, the last sentence makes sense

  132. Lexica says:

    flamingphonebook @ 106: I’m still trying to figure out your statement that “to hold that no one, no matter their skills or passions, may escape the perils of being human, is perversely puritanical.”

    So, saying that no human can escape being human is perversely puritanical? What on earth does that mean?

  133. Nelson.C says:

    You think disemvoweling is bad? Check out this rare case of deconsonanting.

  134. minTphresh says:

    then p.,why dont you make one.

  135. Teresa Nielsen Hayden / Moderator says:

    FlamingPhoneBook @91:

    At a formal or even casual gathering, no. At the sort of shindig where the goal is to get as hammered as possible without dying, you bet I would.

    I said you and your. How often do you throw parties like that?

    I also described some very specific social circumstances. Which one of my scenarios do you think matches your answer?

    why don’t we try to figure why some people find the concept of social penalties and conversational self-defense so much more upsetting on the internet than they do in face-to-face interactions?

    Because the internet is supposed to be a step forward in civilization.

    You want to advance civilization, but you want to be rid of all the civilization we’ve accumulated to date? You have not thought this through.

    And despite its etymology, civilization is not a greater acceptance of the rules, but a greater acceptance of iconoclasm.

    Wrong on both models. Civilization is learning to live and work together well.

    Don’t accept unexamined the claims iconoclasm makes for itself. Iconoclasm for its own sake is as vapid and empty-headed as the most rigid conformism. The world is full of stupid iconoclasm, boring iconoclasm, conventional iconoclasm, imitative iconoclasm, and repetitious iconoclasm.

    Avoid self-proclaimed iconoclasts who are past their mid-twenties. Most of them are dull clots who’ve seized on the idea of iconoclasm because they can’t think of anything else to do with the world around them.

    Real iconoclasts, the kind that are worth having, don’t love iconoclasm; they love the work they’re doing.

    There is always more diversity of ideas in progressive societies than repressive ones.

    There is greater diversity of ideas in societies where people have learned to live well together. That’s what cities are about. It’s why we call it civilization.

    On the internet, any data not part of a virus transmission or a DDOS attack or such carries equal weight. …

    That’s the form of the technology that carries the message. Don’t mistake it for the information’s meaning or purpose.

    If we all lived on the Net with no IRL, all ideas would be equal.

    Quite untrue, and not just because ideas are real things, and we here on the internet are part of the real world. This is no empyrean realm of pure ideas. We’re still hominids talking to each other.

    If over time I pay little or no attention to what you’re trying to tell me, I’ll understand individual instances less well, and you’ll think less of my opinions of them. If you randomly explode at people, or rudely dismiss them, they’ll be willing to tell you less, and what they’ll tell you will be coarser, less valuable, and less specific to the moment. The interest people take in your ideas will still be strongly influenced by how pleasant or unpleasant you are to deal with. And so forth.

    In the real world, I can talk till I’m blue about how the law of gravity is wrong, how Newton was a charlatan, and how anyone who says that what goes up must come down is part of the conspiracy, but the moment I step out of a high window, reality is going to get a word in edgewise. But here on the Internet, there are no such natural consequences.

    See my previous remarks. You have not escaped nature or society. If anyone thinks they have, I’m here to remind them.

    Any consequences that we will have are man-made.

    Yes, and man is the species you’re dealing with. There’s really no evading this.

    I see no reason to make any that we don’t absolutely need.

    I make no rules for the sake of making them. I’m interested in what works and what doesn’t.

    Learning to deal well with other people is not that hard, and doesn’t take that long. Going through life without learning it gets more tedious and counterproductive every year.

    It’s your choice.

  136. pugdaddy says:

    Huh.. it’s almost like Xeni posted this totally absurd Fox News video just to elicit a response from the trolls out there how might react strongly to it… hmm, there should be a word for that.

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