Troll Inventionz

Today, I stood troll duty on a 500+ comment thread [update: Current Count 1225] Yes, it was exhausting (but also kind of fun, seeing how it was my day off and all). Yes, it was disgusting (because . . . .well, it's disgusting at times).

I leave this thread feeling only inspiration for a project I've been considering for a while now:

The Absolutely Fool-Proof Troll Antidote.

It's a far-fetched dream, I admit -- but in some way, just considering it has me feeling like Madame Curie. It's like the Holy Grail, Shangra-La, and Coronado, all wrapped up into one.

Downside: It's going to take me a day or two to invent it. Bummer.

Upside: It's a great topic for a QOD!

So, please readers, discuss (I will be listening and incorporating) -- what is the first sign that tips you off to a troll?

Some that I already have are:

  1. Asks lots of questions, never really answers any.
  2. Spouts unequivocal statements that are wildly speculative, but includes no facts to back up the statements.
  3. Acts like an ASSHAT
I really really really really promise that I will be back tomorrow with an actual mechanism to deal with trolls. And I invite any of you to bookmark this post, and enter a comment onto it any time that you need help dealing with trolls. If I'm online, I'll respond.

*putting on my "inventing" hat, drawing the blinds*

(update: Read On About the Inventionz)

Portly Dyke

Posted byPortlyDyke at 8:39 AM  


NameChanged said... August 10, 2007 at 7:22 AM  

I was "monitoring" that entire debacle, and OMG was it scary. Trolls often find non-funny things funny. They will joke about rape, abuse, torture, homophobia, and the like. Trolls also use "keywords" like feminazi, rootnut, and islamofascist. Trolls are devoid of critical thinking skills, so when presented with a complex argument they respond with sound bites. Trolls sound like BlogWarBot.

One way to get rid of trolls is starvation. If no one engages with them, they seem to retreat. This is not permanent, but it works for a while.

You can also try nonsensical chatter, like konagod.

If a troll is particularly rabid, you might be able to distract them with a link to something they find more distasteful, like a HRC fan page, but that just spreads the hate, it does not eliminate it.

I can't wait for your remedy Portly Dyke. I felt physically sick reading some of that shit last night.

Phydeaux Speaks said... August 10, 2007 at 7:57 AM  

My first choice would be to ignore them.

Second, in my book, would be to engage them in a reasonable manner. This is a lot harder to do than it may seem, but in 'real world' situations I have found it to be effective. When you answer invective with invective, it's like throwing dry pine wood onto a fire. It is, to me, as annoying as the initial infestation when 'regulars' start (virtually) screaming at the trolls. You're giving them what they want by doing that.

To appropriate what someone once said, "I'm a uniter, not a divider" - except, in my case, I actually mean it.

I have only engaged one time on Teh Internets, and the troll ceased its' rantings. It may or may not have been because of what I said. Said troll may have been distracted by a shiny somewhere else....

ADDENDUM: I fucking hate the word verification thingy! (although I understand the desire and/or need to have it)

Emily said... August 10, 2007 at 8:07 AM  

I think a sure sign that we had trolls last night was the long string of announcements that "I love cake."

That and the oh-so-clever play on Bradley's name - someone decided to call him "fagley." (I think that was after someone figured out that he wasn't a woman, and that they probably shouldn't call him a whore).

I'm not so good at going into the trenches, but I'm glad that others are. I'm probably more like you Phydeaux in my frustration with both the trolls and the regulars screaming at the trolls. At the same time, Incertus has a general policy of making fun of the comments that lend nothing to a discussion. My co-bloggers can handle that. I'll probably just return to the non-virtual world and read a book. From the 16th century.

As a small blog, we only get the really absurdly obnoxious trolls, not the dangerous ones that sites like feministe and pandagon and shakesville get. We're not getting any threats. Just rude posts.

The discussion at feministe on this issue is fairly enlightening - quite possibly, many of the trolls are teens looking for something to do. I realize that won't be the case for all of them, but I'm pretty sure it was the case for many of our trolls.

Moira said... August 10, 2007 at 8:21 AM  

Anyone who says "I just like being contrary for its own sake" almost certainly lives under a bridge and eats goats. If the poster's name is Phoenician in a Time of Romans and the subject of the thread is rape, it's a troll.

Emily said... August 10, 2007 at 9:19 AM  

I want to add to what Moira says ... anyone who claims that they're not a anti-woman, but rather anti-studpity might well be a troll.

I'm not a fan of stupidity either, but I don't tout it as a way to defend my outrageous claims.

PortlyDyke said... August 10, 2007 at 11:35 AM  

Thanks all for your comments so far.

BTW -- that thread is still raging -- it's become a sort of mythic absurdity at this point, and may well have to go into some archive for misogyny bingo.

I'm still cogitating on this one. I suspect that if we could get a consistent behavior in a specific community of regulars (which is what the trolls seem to do), we may well find the antidote.

Bradley said... August 10, 2007 at 12:12 PM  

A single troll can be ignored pretty easily, but when you have what we had last night-- about a dozen people just descend and start posting random shit in order to overwhelm and distract from the real conversation going on-- it becomes something that has to be dealt with. Brian wound up banning a bunch of IP addresses, some of us tried to reason with the ones who had least read the post they were ostensibly replying to, and basically, now, there's one troll grumbling from beneath his bridge, asking questions like, "Why do you think it's okay for a woman to say she wishes her son were dead just for looking at porn?" To which I've been replying with my own asinine, irrelevant questions: "You know what condiment I never used to have much use for? Mustard."

So that's fun.

Emily said... August 10, 2007 at 12:44 PM  

This just occured to me - rereading namechanged's response. The message boards at the Chronicle of Higher Education occassionally get trolls and someone invariably will remind everyone "DNFTT" - do not feed the trolls. Something of that sort of reminder might be a good thing in what you're talking about PD in terms of consistent response (can I call you PD?).

Anonymous said... August 10, 2007 at 6:35 PM  

Portly have you got that Caska screen shot? I'd like the whole image not just the text

Much admiration

Malestyr said... August 10, 2007 at 10:46 PM  

Gee, I can't wait to see your troll antidote, considering you obviously have no idea of the motivations or goals behind the trolls.

Do you seriously think that you can put a stop to them when you have absolutely no knowledge about them?

JackGoff said... August 11, 2007 at 6:14 PM  

Do you seriously think that you can put a stop to them when you have absolutely no knowledge about them?

Putting a stop to them isn't exactly the point. I like to think of what my Spanish teacher said once. Not sure where it came from, but she was fluent in a large amount of languages, and she told us in French, once, "Votre raison d'ĂȘtre est rire, pour ne pas pleurer toujours." Your purpose in life is to laugh, not to always cry.

Kim Yates said... August 12, 2007 at 1:36 PM  

The only really revelatory bit in that whole thread is the troll who boasted about all the irrelevant junk he and his cohort were posting --

"we're fucking internet superheroes."

In other words, they are actually proud of being wankers with no life and nothing important to do.

Chet Scoville said... August 12, 2007 at 1:37 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Chet Scoville said... August 12, 2007 at 1:39 PM  

Sorry, that was me just now, not Kim.

Burning Prairie said... August 13, 2007 at 11:12 AM  

Bad spelling and non sequitors.

Phoenician in a Time of Romans said... August 13, 2007 at 8:10 PM  

Anyone who says "I just like being contrary for its own sake" almost certainly lives under a bridge and eats goats. If the poster's name is Phoenician in a Time of Romans and the subject of the thread is rape, it's a troll.

Nope, *that* was a defense of a position. Just because you didn't like the position or didn't understand what I was saying didn't make it trolling. If you wanna see me trolling, you should see some of the wingnut blogs.

Actually, the fun in that is to do just the opposite of PortlyDyke's troll-on-left-wing-blog characteristics - quote a particularly stupid piece of idiocy from the post or comments and include a link showing just how wrong it is. The epitome of trolling wingnuts is to reduce them to blathering frothing ranting with the shortest reply possible because they can't deal with it on a factual level.

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