08 November 2009

On patroll -- coming soon to a blog near you!

There seems to have been quite a surge in right-wing troll activity recently. There's always been some of it on Helloooo Mr. President and Our Rants and Raves, to take a couple of examples almost at random. There's another infestation at Who Hijacked Our Country, though I only recently started reading that blog and I'm not sure how new the trolling is. Recently the same erupted at The Middle of Nowhere, including this post, which was particularly annoying since I was especially interested in the topic. I can't prove it, but it seems like I'm seeing more and more of this around the net.

The goal is to distract and overwhelm, to disrupt conversation rather than participating in it. Personal attacks and change-the-subject comments are common, as are long cut-and-paste screeds and mindless recital of talking points.

I'm not sure what the point is, or why now specifically -- trying to disrupt grassroots organizing in support of health-care reform, maybe? Nor why some bloggers choose to tolerate it -- perhaps a misunderstanding of freedom of speech? (They have a right to express their views, but they don't have a right to do it on your blog. Free expression means I can put a lawn sign on my lawn, not on yours.)

Not every different view constitutes trolling, of course. See for example here -- "Lonni" didn't insult anyone, try to change the subject, cut-and-paste a bunch of generic talking points, or start an interminable back-and-forth argument, but just defended a contrary opinion. What's going on in the threads linked above is something very different.

I know a lot of people don't like comment moderation, but this is why I use it.

10 Comments:

Blogger Holte Ender said...

I had to go to moderation on my blog, some of the comments were just plain foul and anonymous to boot. Yet I think my blog is pretty mellow compared to some.

Who Hijacked Our Country, I follow it too, has been invaded for a couple of months maybe, but they handle it pretty well, but there is no doubt it is a disruptive tactic.

08 November, 2009 06:55  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

The tendency toward foul or violent language is rather striking sometimes. Oh, well, by their fruits ye shall know them.

08 November, 2009 07:15  
Blogger Elizabeth said...

Infidel, I've noticed that too, even on non-political blogs. Even started to write a post about it, but got distracted. Seems rightwingers have a lot free time on their hands.

Plus winter is around the corner, and trolls, like squirrels, try to collect as many potshots as they can manage before the cold darkness falls upon us. :)

08 November, 2009 12:23  
Blogger Elizabeth said...

They have a right to express their views, but they don't have a right to do it on your blog. Free expression means I can put a lawn sign on my lawn, not on yours.

LOL! I love this. My thought (esp. recently) exactly.

I may finish my post on trolls after all -- you're an inspiration, my friend. :)

08 November, 2009 12:34  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Or hopefully -- even better -- finish the trolls themselves.....?

08 November, 2009 15:27  
Blogger (O)CT(O)PUS said...

Infidel753: "Nor why some bloggers choose to tolerate it ..."

At the Swash Zone (a group blog), we have earned for ourselves a reputation of zero tolerance towards trolls. Although we do get trolls on occasion, their visits are infrequent and short-lived. Our comment policy is clearly posted:

"We welcome civil discourse from people of all persuasions but express no obligation to allow ourselves to be trolled. Any comment that fails to rise above ranting, taunting, profanity, and name-calling will be deleted without further comment at the discretion of any contributor. This is our community."

It also helps to have many pairs of eyes on the lookout. Most of our writers have full administrative rights to delete troll comments, and since there is at least one writer online at any moment during the day, troll comments tend to be short-lived.

When I visit the blogs of friends who have less stringent standards, I have the choice to stay, ignore, or argue, or just go away. I usually choose the latter.

08 November, 2009 18:02  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Teh cephalopod gets it.

And the Swash Zone is a good blog, by the way.

08 November, 2009 20:28  
Blogger Elizabeth said...

It's an uneasy issue for me, Infidel. I don't want to censor anyone's comments, no matter how inane they may be (if someone wants to make an idiot of himself/herself, who I am to stand in their way, even if it happens on my blog?)

But, believe it or not, I have deleted a small number of comments that were "beyond the pale."

In theory, I know exactly what I wouldn't want to see on my blog; in practice, however, the line becomes somewhat blurry.

The challenges of running a blog in these difficult times are greater than I anticipated.

09 November, 2009 17:17  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

now i`ll read your rss

13 December, 2009 12:26  
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02 February, 2010 02:00  

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