Recently, there’s been a lot of talk about troll feeding. And by recently, I mean the last decade or so.

More recently, Jay Smooth posted a video about why you should feed the trolls. It’s pretty much in keeping with Rebecca’s policy here that “not feeding the trolls”= shhhh polite people don’t talk about being harassed.

 

Ill Doctrine: Why I Will Feed The Trolls If I Damn Well Want To from ANIMALNewYork.com on Vimeo.


 

On one hand: feeding the trolls gives them the attention that they want.

On the other hand: Ignoring the trolls results in giving them the power to continue trolling, and even escalating their behavior without consequence.

 
What are your thoughts on troll feeding? Ignore? Call out? Other?

 

Elyse

Elyse

Elyse MoFo Anders is the bad ass behind forming the Women Thinking, inc and the superhero who launched the Hug Me! I'm Vaccinated campaign as well as podcaster emeritus, writer, slacktivist extraordinaire, cancer survivor and sometimes runs marathons for charity. You probably think she's awesome so you follow her on twitter.

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203 Comments

  1. Profile photo of Rillion
    June 26, 2012 at 4:17 pm —

    For me it depends on why you’re doing it. If you just want to tell a troll that he/she is a moron of the highest caliber because it feels good to vent…fine, I guess, but don’t except it to have any effect besides more trolling. But if you want to say something of substance that you think is important to point out for others (the non-trolls), or that helps you develop your own thinking on the matter, go for it! Trolls can be excellent opportunities for a PSA or stimulators of self-reflection…and it probably burns them up to know that, so I say let fly.

  2. Profile photo of quietmarc
    June 26, 2012 at 4:27 pm —

    “Don’t feed the trolls” works in some circumstances and with some kinds of trolls, and I expect that most people who are on the internet eventually learn which is which based on context and what strategies seem more effective.

    I’m forever suspicious of the “ignore them and they’ll go away” strategy, though, because that’s what I tried to do through elementary and middle school to avoid being bullied, and that never worked.

    In fact, my experience with bullies is that they tend to do most of their bullying when they think they can get away with it. I was beat up when teachers were looking the other way and when the classmates who were present were unlikely to report.

    And when talking about important issues, like say harrassment, trolls can lay bare a lot of issues that would otherwise remain hidden. I’m STILL amazed at the virtiol I see everytime I look at the comment section of a post about harrassment, and I need to feel that way lest I forget how important these issues are and how toxic some environments can get.

    • Profile photo of pciszek
      June 27, 2012 at 2:20 pm —

      I’m forever suspicious of the “ignore them and they’ll go away” strategy, though, because that’s what I tried to do through elementary and middle school to avoid being bullied, and that never worked.

      Of course it doesn’t work in meatspace. But the great thing about online communities, at least those that allow killfiles, is that if everyone has a troll killfiled, it is as if they did not exist at all. In fact, a common complaint on one Usenet newsgroup (yes, they still exist!) that I frequent is “Why did you have to go and reply to that guy? I hadn’t seen a post of his for two years until today.”

      • Profile photo of quietmarc
        June 27, 2012 at 2:33 pm —

        That falls under my “works in some circumstances” doesn’t it?

    • Profile photo of Shaun Dudley
      June 27, 2012 at 10:20 pm —

      I’m a big fan of John Steakley’s axiom from his novel “Armor”: Bullies don’t want to fight you, they just want to beat you up.
      I say get up in their grill. Challenge them, dissect their bullshit, put ‘em on front street, as it were. Of course, I have anger management issues, so maybe that’s not the best advice.
      Finding some contact info on Google, and posting a really weird ad in the Personals section of Craigslist is fun, but probably unethical…

  3. Profile photo of Luna
    June 26, 2012 at 4:32 pm —

    Well, I think first we have to have a better defenition of trolls. If we mean those who say offensive things, fine. Someone who posts multiple times (that could be me) is considered a troll, okay, maybe. But someone who simply goes against the grain, calmly asserts an opinion that is different? Well, let’s be sparing in our label of trolls.

    And if twelve different commenters respond to them, 12 against one, well, that’s sorta shitty. Maybe ask them to clarify their position if they’re being vague.

    If someone is clearly a troll (posts many times, is offensive), I say educational responses and even fiery debates are fine. To a point. After the thread goes on for a page or so maybe it’s time to ignore.

    • Profile photo of marilove
      June 26, 2012 at 4:43 pm —

      But someone who simply goes against the grain, calmly asserts an opinion that is different? Well, let’s be sparing in our label of trolls.

      The thing is, being “calm” doesn’t mean you’re not a troll.

      Let’s use Brenda as an example.

      Calm as can be. Also clearly a troll, even if it’s not intentional (I don’t believe that, though).

      Generally, I think it’s pretty easy to spot trolls.

      • Profile photo of Luna
        June 26, 2012 at 4:51 pm —

        I think she posted multiple times and more importantly flat-out refused to clarify her position. It was a lot of doublespeak. Sort of subversive, but yeah, I suppose she was troll-ish. If someone eventually gives up and lets someone else have the last word (after a reasonable amount of time), I think they are not as much of a troll. But yeah, she seemed like she was not willing to communicate in a clear manner.

        • Profile photo of marilove
          June 26, 2012 at 4:54 pm —

          She didn’t give up her position and let the other person have the last word, though. Often she just carried on her exact same comment to another comment, or to another post entirely. Also, she kept ignoring nearly every point we made when she replied, often just plain made shit up to prove her point, and also sometimes just made a comment *completely unrelated* to what she was replying to, in an attempt to make her seem reasonable.

          Also … did you read her comments on Atheism?? She specifically said that atheists are nihilistic and therefore can’t expect to demand people to stop being sexist. She actually said that. That’s not even logical. That’s troll behavior.

          I don’t think a troll necessarily has to keep replying to be considered a troll.

          I’ve seen trolls come in, say something JUST to start shit, and then watch as everyone else bickers.

          • Profile photo of Luna
            June 26, 2012 at 5:26 pm

            I pretty much agree. I gave up on reading most of her comments so didn’t have much of an opinion on her. I agree fewer comments does not = not troll. Speaking NOT about Brenda, just generally, I think some people come off poorly and then later on clarify and redeem themselves, so we should simply not jump the gun if we’re vaguely annoyed. I know my communication is not great sometimes so I sound less enlightened than I really am if I don’t proofread my words.

          • Profile photo of marilove
            June 26, 2012 at 5:31 pm

            You and I don’t always agree Luna, and sometimes I know I get a bit aggressive (I think recently I’ve just become really annoyed at the idiots/trolls who keep coming and going, which sometimes comes out when replying to other people, and I’m trying to watch that).

            But in the end I know you’re being genuine and arguing from an honest place, even if we don’t agree.

            See, this is why I don’t think the whole “echo chamber” stuff that a few people have started with. There are plenty of dissenting voices here.

          • Profile photo of Luna
            June 26, 2012 at 5:36 pm

            Thanks, Marilove. I don’t mind aggressive. I grew up surrounded by strong people and I learned to be that way myself. I do think it’s difficult to communicate online. No body language, no tone of voice, commenters have to really be good at communicating to get across subtle points. I’m not perfect at it.

          • Profile photo of marilove
            June 26, 2012 at 5:39 pm

            Yeah. A lot of the time people think I’m angry and I’m like, “No! I’m just really passionate and excited and also kind of manic right now so there will be lots of fucks! If you saw me in real life you’d totally be able to tell by my body language that I’m not angry, just fired up. YEAH! *hops around on her feet*”

          • Profile photo of Luna
            June 27, 2012 at 1:31 pm

            I’m the same way. Typing it in a comment box makes me sound much more dour than I am in real life.

          • Profile photo of marilove
            June 27, 2012 at 1:34 pm

            Yeah, though I think I need to back off on the troll shit a bit, as it’s clearly not helping. I think I’ve just become annoyed at the influx of idiots recently and sometimes I have a hard time hiding my frustrating.

            It’s funny… *I’m* the ass, and yet … I can admit when I make a mistake and *gasp* apologize, instead of becoming more and more defensive and condescending.

        • Profile photo of marilove
          June 26, 2012 at 4:57 pm —

          Also, mrmisconseption explained her type of trolling exactly in another thread:

          I think it pretty clear that Brenda is a Christian troll who has repeatedly asserted bullshit statments like the one you just quoted in an attempt to get someone to bite, then she uses all manner of fallacies to infuriate who she is pretending to dabte while staying calm herself to prove just how mean those atheists are. I fell for it and I’m sorry I did. I believe everyone has become bored with her machination and have stopped play along. She will either slink away or escalate, I’m hoping for the former, though the later might be amusing.

          She’s one of the most frustrating types because she just seems so reasonable if you don’t look at the entire picture.

          • Profile photo of punchdrunk
            June 26, 2012 at 5:17 pm

            Are we voting? It’s such a troll. I mean ‘be more like punchdrunk’? Always good advice, to be sure, everyone should aspire to be like me – but that wasn’t the point. Vain, pompous, condescending, unresponsive, trying to stir shit at every opportunity –

            And worst of all, no respect for the art.

          • Profile photo of marilove
            June 26, 2012 at 5:22 pm

            Hahaha this is why I love you punchdrunk.

            And if only we were all a little more like you :)

        • Profile photo of brenda
          June 27, 2012 at 1:57 am —

          “more importantly flat-out refused to clarify her position”

          Which position was that? I am more than happy to clarify anything you’re confused about but I can’t force people to understand much less agree with me. It’s also difficult to go more than a few replies deep here. A forum would be much better. After a certain point I figure that I have been able to say what I wanted so I move on. Trolls don’t do that.

          Are you sure that you are not mistaking disagreement with trolling? Sometimes insecure people feel that any sign of disagreement threatens them and so they anxiously patrol members of their group to ensure compliance with group consensus. I am not someone who goes along the politically correct norms. That should be fairly obvious by now.

          But that hardly means I am a secret christian just because one cannot imagine how anyone could disagree with the group’s dogma. Do people really believe that anyone who disagrees about the definition of words or about tone must *necessarily* be a secret agent of the enemy sent here to disrupt your calm proceedings?

          I reject the definition of atheism as a lack of belief and instead agree with how it is defined in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. That fact alone earns me vicious and hysterical personal attacks, NEVER a substantive rebuttal. And you wonder why I might have a bit of an attitude? Goddamn right I have one.

          • Profile photo of marilove
            June 27, 2012 at 2:11 am

            I am so done with you and your ridiculousness it’s not even funny, so kindly fuck off. :)

          • Profile photo of punchdrunk
            June 27, 2012 at 2:51 am

            @brenda
            “Are you sure that you are not mistaking disagreement with trolling? Sometimes insecure people feel that any sign of disagreement threatens them and so they anxiously patrol members of their group to ensure compliance with group consensus. I am not someone who goes along the politically correct norms. That should be fairly obvious by now.”

            Great combo passive-aggressive insulting and patting yourself on the back. Good form.

            “But that hardly means I am a secret christian just because one cannot imagine how anyone could disagree with the group’s dogma. Do people really believe that anyone who disagrees about the definition of words or about tone must *necessarily* be a secret agent of the enemy sent here to disrupt your calm proceedings?”

            ‘You’re paranoid – because of all this stuff I just made up!’

            “I reject the definition of atheism as a lack of belief and instead agree with how it is defined in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. That fact alone earns me vicious and hysterical personal attacks, NEVER a substantive rebuttal.”

            You’re insufferable. Truly. ‘Fuck off’ is a substantive rebuttal. This is some ‘bad mommy’ gaslighting bullshit you’re trying to pull.

            Also, you’re completely dishonest. I’m not sure if you’re aware of it or not, though. You might be the kind of person who believes their own fabricated version of reality.

          • Profile photo of marilove
            June 27, 2012 at 3:02 am

            I am not someone who goes along the politically correct norms.

            That’s when I decided to tell her to fuck off. After her constant, “STOP BEING SO MEAN!” whining, she now claims she doesn’t go along with politically correct norms.

            There she goes again, being TOTALLY CONSISTENT! Just like a non-troll! /s

            Anyway, punchdrunk, thanks :)

          • Profile photo of punchdrunk
            June 27, 2012 at 3:09 am

            @marilove I’ve been ignoring it for days… fat lotta good that did. :D

          • Profile photo of brenda
            June 27, 2012 at 8:45 am

            @ punchdrunk – So basically when you complain that I have not clarified something you are unable to identify what that is. I think you’re the troll. YOU are the one uninterested in settling differences rationally. YOU are the one arguing in bad faith because the moment I reply you shift to some other complaint. You choose to keep it all going.

            You complain that I don’t explain something for you, I give you the chance to say what that is, you ignore that and launch into some other complaint. You’re not interested in a response only in arguing. That’s a troll.

          • Profile photo of marilove
            June 27, 2012 at 11:15 am

            you ignore that and launch into some other complaint.

            Uh, she responded directly to your “points” which weren’t really points but passive-aggressive bullshit. Yep, you get to tell us we’re being hysterical and insecure, but *we* are the mean ones!

            You’re such a liar and you are full of shit.

          • Profile photo of mikerattlesnake
            June 27, 2012 at 1:19 pm

            (reply to comments that are too nested to reply directly to as well)

            Brenda, don’t you think it’s a bit odd that the only person commending you for your rational stance is… you? Some of us don’t particularly care if you’re a troll or not, we (I assume I’m not the only one) just think you’re more-than-a-bit dumb and too self assured in your own “rationality”. For instance, rejecting the definition of atheism used by the actual atheists around you in favor of a philosophical hodge-podge that amounts to academic name-dropping. Yawn. You suck.

    • Profile photo of donboc
      June 26, 2012 at 11:08 pm —

      Hi All,

      Having recently been called a sexist troll on another thread, I feel I have some perspective here.

      First, just a little introduction.
      • I totally acknowledge that I come from a position of privilege — straight, white, cis-gendered (a term I only just learned) male — so it will be difficult or impossible for me to be fully empathize with folks here who have felt certain kinds of harassment or oppression that I have not, and in some cases cannot, experience.
      • I also have in the past considered myself a feminist, though I’m starting to wonder whether there might be a more appropriate term (feminist supporter? though this seems to be used almost as an epithet sometimes … pro-feminist person of privilege? … open to suggestions, since I feel like my own ideas seem like self-parodies). Anyway, point is that I spend a decent amount of time thinking about gender issues, trying to learn more about what I don’t know enough about, trying to uncover and squash my latent biases.

      I’ve spent enough time on the internet to know that some people enjoy riling others up and post things to get attention and to derail conversations, while other people just like to be mean and post really nasty things. These people seem, to me, to merit the moniker “troll.”

      Other people have sincere opinions that they bring to the conversation in good faith that might differ from the majority opinion present. Or, they might still be in the process of forming an opinion and have questions for those who have more strongly held views. I was in this last category. I asked questions, and learned the lovely term “just JAQing off.”

      I do, in retrospect, regret having asked questions that could have been construed as attacking Elyse right after she had a very unpleasant experience. I recognize that, even though I tried to make clear that I wasn’t criticizing her feelings or her right to have them or anything like that, the style of my questions could have made it seem as though that’s exactly what I was doing.

      Nevertheless, I think that the term “troll” was applied to me inappropriately. I was not trying to get a rise out of anyone, I was not trying to derail anyone’s conversation, and I was certainly not calling anyone names or being mean. I realize that people here probably deal with folks who aren’t discussing in good faith pretty often and are primed to see similar behavior, but, though I’m sure people here aren’t looking to me for advice, my own opinion is that it’s a good idea to assume the best in someone (i.e., that he or she is engaging in a good-faith conversation and is, at worst, confused and maybe a bit socially unaware) unless and until the person makes it abundantly clear that this assumption is not tenable. Just my two cents.

      Anyway, I’ve enjoyed reading the posts and the comments on this blog for a while, I’ve learned a lot, and I generally appreciate the company.
      All the best,
      Don

      • Profile photo of marilove
        June 26, 2012 at 11:47 pm —

        First: I appreciate this.

        (Also, I saw this after my last reply to you, below).

        BUT.

        How long are we supposed to wait ’til we’re sure they are arguing in good faith? Forever?

        Also, honestly? A lot of this is coming back to people asking the same kinds of questions over and over, and it’s all really, really basic stuff.

        And you never really made it clear you were still forming an opinion.

        Also, I admit I need to not call people trolls so much. I shall keep that in mind. Sorry, because now I think you really are being sincere (so I retract my last statement, cool?).

        But it gets so frustrating sometimes. Also, I don’t retract my statement about Brenda. Something about her is not right.

        • Profile photo of donboc
          June 27, 2012 at 12:06 am —

          Hi marilove,

          Thanks for the reply. I don’t want to turn this into a huge defense of my post on that other thread. I think if you go back and look at my first post (the one beginning, “Hi Elyse, Longtime reader; love your writing….”), you’ll see that I really did try to make clear that I wasn’t trying to win an argument but was instead looking for clarification because I was hoping to see the situation the way that Elyse did, since my experience with her is that I think she’s right on just about everything she writes. Anyway, that’s all I’ll say about that here.

          I don’t have an opinion on Brenda. It’s not clear to me if she is trying to push people’s buttons or if she is just misinformed. Some of what she says is quite reasonable (e.g., “[Creationists] don’t believe in their myths because they think they are rational. They believe in them because they offer people a narrative that is appealing to them. It is what they were raised to believe and they’re highly resistant to change.”). Anyway, she might be conversing in good faith, and she might not be, I’m not sure.
          It’s not like all of us trolls support each other, see? ;-)

          In any event, again, I really appreciate your reply to me here. I think that in real life, over a beer or a cup of water or something, we’d get along well.

          Best,
          Don

          • Profile photo of marilove
            June 27, 2012 at 12:13 am

            I don’t know. I’m honestly too tired to go through all of that again and I’m sure I won’t really care tomorrow. So I’ll just take your word for it. Though I do think sometimes what may be obvious to you may not be obvious to us. But it’s cool. That was like, forever ago. I am terrible at grudges, especially if you start being all NICE, jeez. :)

            Of course she seems reasonable sometimes. That’s how her kind of trolling works. I quoted someone here who agrees.

            Plus, what she said isn’t even particularly controversial in the Christian world. I mean, that’s kind of the definition of faith, isn’t it? To know without really knowing? Most religious people I know are pretty proud of that part, actually.

          • Profile photo of brenda
            June 27, 2012 at 9:56 am

            @ Marilove – “Of course she seems reasonable sometimes. That’s how her kind of trolling works.”

            Why yes. That just shows you how devious I am. I am such a devious troll that when I give you a rational reply that just shows how irrational I am! All the non trolling things I do are proof of how much of a troll I am. Damn I’m smart!

            “that’s kind of the definition of faith, isn’t it?”

            No it isn’t. Creationists do not believe that their beliefs are merely narratives they find comfortable. Faith is when you take the reason for why something cannot be as proof that it must be so. You know, like how you take my non trolling as proof that I am a troll. That is faith.

            Just as for a creationist there is no argument that could ever change their mind there is no response I or Don or anyone could make that would change yours. You are emotionally invested in your constructed narrative and you’re not about to let it go. In fact, emoting is all you can do. You have shown no ability to engage in calm rational discussion.

            But you’re hardly alone. It is a very human thing. You are no different than the majority of other atheists and skeptics or even the people you criticize. You believe what you believe because you believe it. Not because you have rational or principled reasons for your beliefs, but because having those beliefs keep you as a member of your group in good standing.

            That is what the research shows and why it took humanity thousands of years to stumble on the process of science. It’s called motivated reasoning. You do it and Christians, Jews and Wiccans do it. Our ability to reason is used to defend our tribe. It is only very recent in our history that we’ve used it to discover facts.

            Evolution is of course a fact but you’re not upset about that. You’re upset that the tribe in the other valley wears the feathers in their headdress the WRONG way. Anyone who enters your tent, this blog, and says things that question your tribal beliefs is attacked until they submit and comply as donboc does above.

            That is my main critique of todays atheist/skeptic movement. You are tribalists. You do not believe in diversity. You believe in conformity and are intolerant of difference. You do not ratiocinate, you rationalize. You do not engage in principled reasoned debate. You go to war. You are not liberal, tolerant and novelty seeking, but conservative, reactionary and resistant to change.

            I go to a blog that is truly liberal. This is NOT one.

          • Profile photo of mrmisconception
            June 27, 2012 at 10:32 am

            @brenda – Since you seem to be using a different set of words than the rest of us let’s start from the begining.

            If you truely wish to have a rational discussion answer the two questions that they ask callers on The Atheist Experience.

            What do you believe?

            And why do you believe it?

            In your own words give us an idea of why you call yourself an agnostic.

          • Profile photo of donboc
            June 27, 2012 at 10:51 am

            In what sense did I submit and comply?

            I wrote that I recognize how someone might have misunderstood my post and, given that Elyse had just had an upsetting experience (whether or not I understood why it was so upsetting), she and others who might have had similar experiences might have been primed to interpret my questions as attacks. And so I regret having asked those questions at that time. I don’t see this as submitting and complying, why do you?

          • Profile photo of marilove
            June 27, 2012 at 11:19 am

            @donboc

            Wow. Yeah, Brenda is a piece of work, isn’t she?

            “Submitted and complied.”

            In the greater context of this blog, that’s fucking creepy and wrong.

            Also, if maybe she paid attention to my other comments below, she’d realize that I still don’t think your initial approach was cool, and your continuing tone trolling before also not cool. I think you’re trying even if you are still having problems, and that’s fine.

          • Profile photo of brenda
            June 27, 2012 at 12:18 pm

            @ mrmisconception – “What do you believe?

            And why do you believe it?

            In your own words give us an idea of why you call yourself an agnostic.”

            I have already answered that question several times by now but people, including you, preferred to fight… so I gave them the fight they wanted.

            I agree with John Searle that the New Atheists, which includes Daniel Dennet, have a religious view of science that is reflected in their hostility to religion and in their scientific positivism.

            I agree with J.J.C. Smart that:

            “‘Atheism’ means the negation of theism, the denial of the existence of God.”

            and with his understanding that Huxly invented “agnostic” to distinguish himself from the Vienna Circle’s Logical Positivism.

            I agree with Johnathan Haidt that religion is adaptive and disagree with the New Atheism that claims it is necessarily evil.

            I agree with Robert Sapolsky that faith is humanity’s greatest advance over other animals because it enables us to struggle and succeed in the face of all rational evidence that such struggle is utterly in vain.

            I believe that the atheism of today will fail not because it is wrong but because it literally has nothing to offer to anyone. Social movements must have a central organizing principle to gather adherents and succeed. Atheism quite pointedly denies it has one and so must necessarily fail. Let’s get it over with and move on to whatever comes next.

            I believe that Ayn Rand’s still-born atheistic philosophy of Objectivism infects far too many who call themselves atheists today and is a clear and present danger to freedom and democracy itself. It must be opposed at every opportunity.

            I believe that skepticism is the default position.

            I notice that most active prominent atheists are former fundamentalists. They think like fundamentalists because they see the world in black and white, believe the Bible should be read literally, believe in moral absolutes that prove religion is immoral, are socially rigid and dogmatic and appeal to authority, science, as the final arbiter of Truth. And finally see themselves as engaged in a grand battle between the forces of good and evil.

            And finally, I EXPECT AN APOLOGY for your verbal sexual assault on me. I did not attack your person so if you want me to treat you with anything other than utter contempt you will do so.

            I also would like to note how much everyone else here LIES when they call themselves feminists. You don’t give a FUCK about that. You only care if it affects YOU and you’re more than happy to shit on someone and engage in sexual attacks when it suits you.

            What a sad pathetic piece of SHIT you all are.

          • Profile photo of mrmisconception
            June 27, 2012 at 12:35 pm

            @brenda – That was quite the mouthful wasn’t it?

            When asked what you believe in your own words you spouted back the opinion of others, telling really.

            As for the “sexual assault” on you, that’s not going to fly. I used a common expression that indicates a fervency toward something, that it contained an anatomical part is immaterial. It is no more sexual at this point than fuck off is, but if you took it in that way I’m sorry. Yeah, a notpology.

            So, you want and real apology? Here’s the only one you will see from me.

            I am sorry that you have had too many philosophy courses before you grew up enough to handle them, I am sorry that you seem to believe the shit you are shoveling, and I am sorry but I believe it about time for you to go now.

            Goodbye, Dear.

          • Profile photo of marilove
            June 27, 2012 at 1:17 pm

            I EXPECT AN APOLOGY for your verbal sexual assault on me. I did not attack your person so if you want me to treat you with anything other than utter contempt you will do so.

            Nope. Not gonna happen. You can continue to fuck off.

            Oh, and: LIAR LAIR, pants on fire!

            You’ve called me insecure TWICE now. So you know. You’re a big-fat hypocrite. But we already knew that, didn’t we?

            You treat EVERYONE with utter contempt. That’s how you roll. Every comment.

            Wait. I thought you disliked people who “Submit and consent”? Huh. I guess you only dislike it when you perceive others doing it.

        • Profile photo of brenda
          June 27, 2012 at 2:10 am —

          Marilove. I would like it if you stopped talking about me as if I am not around. It is childishly immature and just plain rude. Please stop. If you have a problem please politely bring it to my attention and I’ll do my best. Personal attacks however will be met with the same in return.

          So far I have yet to see anything that I can respond to. Your complaints consist mostly of expressions of intense emotion and little else of any substance. Take deep breaths and gather your thoughts. But, for the time being, I’d just like it if you knocked it off. Surely you have better things to do.

          • Profile photo of marilove
            June 27, 2012 at 2:12 am

            It’s a public forum.

          • Profile photo of marilove
            June 27, 2012 at 2:14 am

            ” Surely you have better things to do.”

            Also *really*?

            You know, I have this amazing ability to multi-task. It’s great. You should learn it.

            Also, pot, kettle, yada-yada, I get it, you are implying I don’t have a life because I am responding to you on the internet while you are also responding to me on the internet, you are very clever.

          • Profile photo of brenda
            June 27, 2012 at 2:50 am

            Yes marilove, it is a public forum. You may do as you please. Funny how you only apply that standard to yourself but not to others.

            Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law.

            Sweet.

      • Profile photo of punchdrunk
        June 27, 2012 at 12:13 am —

        People who aren’t feminists but support the goals of feminism are allies.

        You should understand that it’s really grating to have to grind through the same questions and opinions and arguments over and over and over again. It gets real old real fast. Especially taking into account the numbers of people who aren’t really interested in the facts or research around the issues, they just want a chance to scream or obfuscate or opine right out of their ass. And our hand gets bitten as often as not if we extend it.
        Like I said elsewhere, I can see that sometimes we pop off too quick, but, damn – when the fact that you care is used against you, you move away from the carrot and towards the stick. If you don’t get tired and give up altogether.

  4. Profile photo of Luna
    June 26, 2012 at 4:34 pm —

    (Clarification: posts COMMENTS many times. I hate when people confuse posting with commenting. Sorry).

  5. Profile photo of Grand Lunar
    June 26, 2012 at 4:47 pm —

    I think the trolls are either having fun, bored, seeking attention, or really are the way they come across from their posts.

    I say ignore the trolls.
    Let them have their fun and (supposed) fame.
    Because in the end, we know what happens to trolls.

    • Profile photo of Rillion
      June 26, 2012 at 4:54 pm —

      “Because in the end, we know what happens to trolls.”

      A hobbit tricks them into staying outside too long, and the sun turns them to stone?

      That’s a nice thought, but unfortunately real world trolls just tend to keep on trolling unless they grow out of it, are embarrassed out of it, or banned from doing it. Ultimately I think it’s a blog/community host’s job to give a troll the boot. It’s really not fun to comment in threads where commenters and trolls are respectively using each other as chew toys.

      • Profile photo of Grand Lunar
        June 26, 2012 at 9:31 pm —

        Your guess was correct!
        And I was thinking that metaphorically, that’s what would happen with real world trolls; they just become ornimants for the lawn that is the forum/blog/ect.

        I figure that if the trolls take to acting in a manner that isn’t civil, then it’s time to take action by banning them. In which case, break out Sting!
        Er, not the singer…

  6. Profile photo of Mark Hall
    June 26, 2012 at 4:56 pm —

    I’m on the moderation team for a fairly tightly-regulated RPG community. One of the keys for us is the only attention trolls are supposed to get is a moderator deleting their text and sending a warning that it is inappropriate. If anyone has responded to the trolls by trolling, they get the same treatment.

    It is a royal PITA, but it also means we’re well-regulated, and we can point to rules when people break them, rather than “A moderator felt like whacking you.”

    • Profile photo of marilove
      June 26, 2012 at 5:06 pm —

      This works for some places. Jezebel uses this, too.

      I’m not sure it’d work well here, though. We’re all too feisty.

    • Profile photo of davew
      June 26, 2012 at 5:26 pm —

      I’m on the moderation team for a fairly tightly-regulated RPG community. One of the keys for us is the only attention trolls are supposed to get is a moderator deleting their text and sending a warning that it is inappropriate. If anyone has responded to the trolls by trolling, they get the same treatment.

      This is similar we do on our forum as well. The only thing that will get you banned is violating the posted terms of service. The first two strikes will get your post deleted and a written warning. The third will cause your account to be blocked for a month. Trolling is not a violation of the TOS. Members are free to engage with suspected trolls or not as is their wont. Swearing and foul/abusive language is against the TOS. So while being an idiot won’t get you banned swearing at idiots will.

      I think actual trolls are much rarer than accusations of trolling. I don’t agree that Brenda or even the last several people that have gotten banned here are/were trolls. They might be obstinate, obtuse, argumentative, and in the case of Sixto really, really annoying, but not trolls. I agree that this is a judgement call, however. Back in the days of Usenet the trolls were the people who posted Cat Souffle recipes to rec.pets. There was much less debate about these asshats.

      • Profile photo of marilove
        June 26, 2012 at 5:29 pm —

        Well, she called herself an agnostic, but then started railing against atheists.

        If you go back and read many of her comments, taking in mind her later comments abut atheism, it all starts to seem really, really shady. I’m not the only one who thinks she’s a Christian troll. I mean, how can someone who claims to be an agnostic be so off-base on atheism?

        I don’t know. She just doesn’t seem genuine. Either that or she’s really, really stupid. I’m still not 100% sure. But she’s displaying a LOT of troll-like behavior.

        • Profile photo of quietmarc
          June 26, 2012 at 6:50 pm —

          When I was an agnostic, I did my share of atheist bashing. My currently agnostic friends take a dim view of my “conversion” to atheism. That’s not a troll, it’s just a particular breed of agnostic….

          Not saying Brenda is one or the other (I reserve the right to be agnostic about that), but bashing atheists does not automatically make one a theist.

          • Profile photo of marilove
            June 26, 2012 at 7:09 pm

            It wasn’t so much that she was bashing atheists (though there was that), it was that her VERY OWN DEFINITION Of atheism changed a couple of times. Someone else pointed this out once or twice, and she conveniently did not reply to them.

            It’s a combination of things with her that lead me to believe that she’s not being completely forthright.

          • Profile photo of mrmisconception
            June 26, 2012 at 7:22 pm

            I call people like that militant agnostics and their motto would be, “I don’t know if there is a God, AND NEITHER DO YOU!” Some people insist that the ONLY real position can be agnosticism and anything on either side of that is fanaticism.

            I needn’t say I believe these people are wrong.

            If Brenda had simply been wrong about atheists I would agree with you, but she made some rather questionable remarks about who constitutes Christians (Okpabio is not, WBC is not) so I feel she was invested in making Christians look reasonable. She was invested in the idea, perhaps not a troll but pretty dense.

        • Profile photo of scribe999
          June 26, 2012 at 7:28 pm —
          • Profile photo of brenda
            June 27, 2012 at 2:25 am

            You might want to read the alt text for that comic and then sit and ponder.

          • Profile photo of scribe999
            June 27, 2012 at 3:38 am

            “Sit and ponder”

            You mean that comic I read (and moused-over) two years ago? About how it’s all a funny game of who feels superior to whom? (hint: everyone) Honestly, in the end, isn’t it Randall Munroe who’s feeling amusingly superior to everyone? I enjoy that you are enjoying feeling superior to someone else…especially with that oh so condescending instruction in your comment. Imagine my lack of chagrin! You have the same taint as the rest of us, so just grin and bear it.

          • Profile photo of brenda
            June 27, 2012 at 10:36 am

            Yes, you’re right. It’s all a game of king of the hill in which everyone gets mud thrown on them and throws some of their own. Because as we all know life is just a struggle for social status and the only consideration is who is on top and who is not.

            In a world where everything is relative and subjectivity is what is important there can be no objective means of determining where you stand because nothing exists outside or above the group.

            After all, if objectivity were actually possible that would be destructive to the social order of one’s tribe because where one stood could be determined independent of the subjective needs and desires of others. People’s feelings might get hurt. Egos bruised. The social order disturbed.

            But rational, dispassionate debate… man, that’s just crazy talk.

          • Profile photo of marilove
            June 27, 2012 at 11:22 am

            Wow. Just wow. Scribe was pretty cool when responding to your bullshit, and yet here you are! Being completely condesending instead of just saying, “Yeah, I totally misinterpeted your intent. Cool!”

            You know, sometimes it’s actually okay to admit you made a mistake. You don’t have to be a condescending ass IN EVERY FUCKING COMMENT.

        • Profile photo of brenda
          June 27, 2012 at 11:00 am —

          “she called herself an agnostic, but then started railing against atheists.”

          That is because I resent being told I if I am not a theist I must be an atheist because we all know those are the only two possibilities. It’s just inconceivable how anyone could disagree with you because you alone know the truth. Therefore I *must* be a troll because the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy is written by a bunch of tweedy elitist Een-tee-lect-uals and what do they know?

          “I mean, how can someone who claims to be an agnostic be so off-base on atheism?”

          Exactly! How can anyone disagree with me? Unpossible! After all, when I look around all I see are people who agree with me so what we believe *must* be true. It is true that the moment anyone steps out of line and even hints they might question our received beliefs I land on them like a ton of bricks. But that just shows how much I care for them and don’t wish them to wander astray.

          “But she’s displaying a LOT of troll-like behavior.”

          Trolls disagree with me. Therefore whomever disagrees with me is a troll. That’s logic!

          • Profile photo of marilove
            June 27, 2012 at 11:23 am

            There are like, 300 strawmen in this post.

            “Trolls disagree with me. Therefore whomever disagrees with me is a troll. That’s logic!”

            LOL. When did I say that? I never said that. Like, not even once. You just fucking LOVE straw men, don’t you?

            Can you just give it up?

  7. Profile photo of cthandhs
    June 26, 2012 at 5:15 pm —

    I prefer to ignore trolling comments if they’re inane, contextually, i.e. sandwich jokes. However when a troll provides an opening to bring up something interesting in the conversation, i go for it. Make no mistake, I’m not writing for the benefit of the troll, I’m writing for everyone else.

    I very much agree that trolls serve a purpose of exposing the background vitriol that might otherwise be politely ignored. I also fully agree that trolls who are intent on harassment or cyber-stalking need to be called out and/or banned.

  8. Profile photo of scribe999
    June 26, 2012 at 5:30 pm —

    Sometimes you’re the littlest billy goat gruff who tricks or avoids the troll. Sometimes you’re the biggest billy goat gruff who knocks his ass off the bridge.

  9. Profile photo of marilove
    June 26, 2012 at 5:42 pm —

    I need to be better and not responding to people who have proven to have an inability to get a clue. Who shared with me that xkcd comic? “SOMEONE IS WRONG ON THE INTERNET!”

    I’m no better in real life, either.

    I’ve had to stop posting controversial things on my Facebook because then people I grew up with will reply and then I get into this huge argument with my dad’s friends and then my dad is like WHY DO YOU DO THAT? You know they are all idiots!

    haha

    • Profile photo of scribe999
      June 26, 2012 at 5:47 pm —

      Yup…we’ve all been there

      http://xkcd.com/386/

      • Profile photo of marilove
        June 26, 2012 at 5:50 pm —

        There it is! I feel like I need to print that out and carry it in my bra. And then whip it out whenever I feel inclined to argue with a troll. Or idiots on my Facebook.

        • Profile photo of Otoki
          June 27, 2012 at 4:04 am —

          Fun fact: you can purchase a signed print of that. I have mine hanging by my computer:P

    • Profile photo of quietmarc
      June 26, 2012 at 6:52 pm —

      I quit Facebook for this very reason: average people say about twenty stupid things daily and that’s like waving a porkchop in front of a hungry dog’s face to me. I got into a vicious fight about privilege last year with a member of my partner’s family, and that was not fun for anybody.

      • Profile photo of davew
        June 26, 2012 at 7:37 pm —

        I got into a vicious fight about privilege last year with a member of my partner’s family, and that was not fun for anybody.

        I think is it important to remember that most people outside the feminist movement will not understand what you mean when you use this word. When you carefully explain what you mean they are unlikely to agree with you. When you explain that they don’t understand/agree because they have privilege you will annoy them.

        To outsiders the argument sounds like this:

        “You are defective.”

        “I don’t think I’m defective.”

        “That is because you are defective.”

        “If I agree with you am I no longer defective?”

        “No but you might learn how to compensate.”

        “How do I compensate?”

        “By agreeing with me every time I point out your defectiveness.”

        Believe me I am not trying to start a debate on privilege. As someone who only recently became aware of what feminists mean when they use that word I can assure you that this how the argument sounds.

        If you feel like debating on FB again and if you feel like using this word see how your argument sounds if you substitute “brainwashed” for “privilege”. If it still makes sense then I guarantee the debate will go nowhere. I think it works better if you skip general terms like privilege and stick to specifics such as sexual harassment, gender discrimination, and so forth. Should you ever find yourself saying “You can’t understand my argument because…” stop. Even if you are right this will not change anyone’s mind.

        • Profile photo of marilove
          June 26, 2012 at 8:21 pm —

          I think it works better if you skip general terms like privilege and stick to specifics such as sexual harassment, gender discrimination, and so forth.

          Yeah, this. Most people just aren’t willing to learn. And of course, if you point them to any website with “feminism” in the subject or title … they will freak out and call you an evil feminaze (this happened once, many years ago).

          • Profile photo of scribe999
            June 26, 2012 at 8:39 pm

            Doesn’t mean you give up on them. And the word “privilege” is useful because it defines the actual problems, not just the symptoms. I don’t think the reticence for SOME people to get new terms is reason enough to stop using them.

          • Profile photo of marilove
            June 26, 2012 at 9:20 pm

            Well, I think audience is key. Some people just aren’t going to want you to be throwing around fancy feminist words at them. Even otherwise intelligent people.

            Know your audience.

            I actually rarely use the word “privileged” when speaking outside in the “real” world. I try and explain things by waltzing around that word.

            Part of it is laziness because I don’t feel like having to go through the whole “this is privileged and this is why you are privileged” debate/argument over and over and over and over again.

            Sometimes, if you want to get through to people, you have to talk at their level, otherwise they just won’t listen.

            For example: I could explain privilege to my dad and he’d probably totally understand it, because he’s a pretty progressive fellow to begin with and also not the type of person to take such things personally.

            A mutual family friend of ours (who is his age), however? I wouldn’t even begin to. It’s not worth it. They’d take it totally personally, and we’d never accomplish anything. I’d be arguing about what privilege is for hours.

            But I’ve had successful discussions with them by waltzing around the word.

            And who knows, maybe eventually they’ll graduate and I can speak more advanced on the subject. Until then, I keep it at their level.

            But not here or in other similar blogs. This is a different sort of place with a different sort of context.

          • Profile photo of Elyse
            June 26, 2012 at 9:27 pm

            I personally hate the word privilege.

            First, I always spell it wrong and have to rely on spell check to fix it for me.

            Second, I think the word itself is only rarely used outside of groups that are privileged enough to have been exposed to things like women’s studies majors. So the word privilege is, in and of itself, privileged. I think it tends to sound elitist and condescending.

            That said, talking amongst ourselves, it’s a lot easier to say “privilege” than to talk around it.

          • Profile photo of marilove
            June 26, 2012 at 9:36 pm

            “So the word privilege is, in and of itself, privileged.”

            Yes! Thank you! I was thinking something like this but not really able to articulate it.

          • Profile photo of scribe999
            June 26, 2012 at 11:00 pm

            I agree with varying strategies in terms of conversations, but I’m a little frustrated with the idea of abandoning the word as a part of said strategies. In fact, commenter Veronica used it to describe the commenter Brenda in that Women in Warcraft post, and it pretty much summed up that thread pretty well.

            A great many of those people who just won’t “get” the privilege thing? Some of them probably think we’ve already beaten sexism, racism, and whatever-ism as a society. Or taking no sides is the superior side. They wouldn’t get davew’s method either, so that’s moot.

            @Elyse: Personally, I learned the word living in a working class town of pro-labor folks in a mostly immigrant and blue-collar Elizabeth, NJ. St. Mary’s Catholic School, 6th grade, if I recall correctly…it was about wealth inequality during Reagan’s term…many a Catholic in my neighborhood tended to be fiscally liberal. Also, I have to say, if “privileged” sounds elitist, where does that leave “misogyny” to the unlettered? Elitist is also elitist perhaps? Where does this spiral end? Again, “privilege” is not just a women’s studies word…it’s been used in the Civil Rights movement and among progressives for a very long time. How did we get to this point where a word used to deride the 1% on Wall Street is somehow, itself, privileged?

            Personally, I think it’s more condescending to say I have to explain things in easier words to some people, but I honestly don’t think the problem is that they don’t understand the meaning of the word…they don’t think the word applies to them. A different topic.

            And, I suppose if “privileged” is too polemical or obtuse, would “entitled” be better? Something Jon Stewart called out on the Christian Right? I mean, we can dance around it all we want, but at some point we are telling these people that they aren’t helping with a problem because they are unable to see that there is one.

            What I’m getting from this pushback on using the word is that some people want to “seduce”, as it were, with topics that won’t necessarily hit “opponents” too hard. That’s fine, I don’t disagree…in the beginning of a conversation. But one way or another, the seduction should lead to an understanding of how entitled, privileged behavior is the last stumbling block to a more just society. Unlike davew, I don’t think we are unable to make people understand privilege…it’s a matter of invoking empathy. I don’t think that discussion is about telling people “you don’t get it because you are privileged”. That’s horseshit. You can get people to understand privilege because that’s how society has made nonviolent progress in this country in the first place…the privileged had to be intensely lobbied to let go of a little something of their standing.

          • Profile photo of marilove
            June 26, 2012 at 11:49 pm

            I honestly see your point and don’t disagree but at the same time, navigating this stuff in the real world is far, far different. For one, these people know my parents and I’ll see them when I visit family, ya know? This isn’t just a semi-anon online discussion.

            Sometimes it’s just not appropriate to get all term-ey on people. Dave was right — people just don’t like it. Then they get all pissed and you’re talking about the same thing for 100 comments and you haven’t made any kind of dent. It’s maddening.

            I mean, if you wanna do it, fuck. Go ahead. Have a blast. I haven’t the patience.:O

          • Profile photo of scribe999
            June 27, 2012 at 12:53 am

            “Sometimes it’s just not appropriate to get all term-ey on people.”
            “Dave was right — people just don’t like it.”

            My point, really, is that these are somewhat exclusive statements. Sometimes, yes, you don’t want to get bogged down in semantics, definitions, etc. But it doesn’t mean that Dave is right that “people”, as a blanket audience, won’t get it. As you said, know your audience. I think dave’s feeling about this particular term is that he thinks it should be retired entirely…at least that’s what I gather from not just these remarks alone.

            “For one, these people know my parents and I’ll see them when I visit family, ya know? This isn’t just a semi-anon online discussion.”

            I don’t think I’m pushing anything about how to talk to family or friends (knowing my own family, I avoid religion as a topic). Heck, in that case, I would stick to safe topics entirely. But those aren’t the only types of interactions.

            “I mean, if you wanna do it, fuck. Go ahead. Have a blast. I haven’t the patience.:O”

            Heh, I know what you mean. And I don’t always have that patience either. But I see what Rebecca and the other Skepchicks put up with here on a regular basis explaining the same things over-and-over, having to go over the same ground constantly…and every now and then, someone will comment how they learned something new. They changed their mind because of something one of the writers here wrote in engaging in this dialog about privilege, misogyny, and activism. It’s not always for the benefit of the opponent, but there is the collateral reward of an audience as well sometimes. If I learned anything from visiting this site, it’s the necessity of perseverance. I’ll pick my spots…but sometimes we enjoy the heated, mile long posts of Internet shouting :)

        • Profile photo of scribe999
          June 26, 2012 at 8:50 pm —

          Sorry, you did just debate “privilege”.

          The point of using the word “privilege” is that it best defines what the problem is among people who ostensibly consider themselves to NOT be part of the problem. Most people aren’t outright misogynists or racists…but they don’t feel the sting of the problem themselves due to their privilege as a majority, and thus the problems that misogyny and racism can create (like, I don’t know, sexual harassment controversies among the mostly white, male attendees of skeptical conferences) largely continue to thrive due to this veil of ignorance.

          Furthermore, it isn’t just a “feminist” term, nor is it a new concept. W.E.B. Dubois wrote of white privilege in the early part of the 20th Century, as did Theodore Allen in the 60s. Even if this term rankles and confuses some folks, it doesn’t mean others don’t get it. Homophobia wasn’t a term bandied about much until the 70s. Now it’s a useful description, ubiquitous description.

          Understandably, the privileged are resistant to being shown that they are. This is unavoidable, and the whole damn point. Your suggested methodology of “stick to specifics such as sexual harassment, gender discrimination, and so forth” basically reads as treating symptoms as opposed to root conditions…the very thing that retards social progress is PRIVILEGE. If you haven’t noticed, there are plenty of guys, even visitors to this blog, who unequivocally would agree that sexual harassment is wrong…but don’t think it’s ok to curtail, with some kind of coherent policy, their perceived ability to hit on female conference attendees …because that would kill the “fun”.

          “Even if you are right this will not change anyone’s mind.”

          Even if you are right, and you don’t change the minds of one individual or a group, just keeping the argument alive for the next generation is something in and of itself. I’m not thinking short term…this one word isn’t all that’s keeping people from understanding the issues … the problem is that they NEED to understand this word to overcome these issues. As Dr. Martin Luther King once wrote:

          “Lamentably, it is an historical fact that privileged groups seldom give up their privileges voluntarily.”

          If they don’t like it, well, time will tell what side of history they fall on.

          • Profile photo of marilove
            June 26, 2012 at 9:26 pm

            You have some good points and I think I ultimately agree with you.

            That said, know your audience.

            Also, honestly? I have a lot of old friends on my facebook. People I knew growing up in my tiny little desert town. They are what you’d call your “average” person. Religious, some more than others but all of them religious. They consider themselves conservative.

            Honestly? These people, while not stupid, aren’t particularly intellectual. They kind of live in the NOW. They don’t really consider.

            These type of people are nearly always impossible to teach, when it comes to things like this, at least directly.

            Sometimes you gotta strategies and get them from the corner, instead of going at it head-on.

          • Profile photo of marilove
            June 26, 2012 at 9:36 pm

            Elyse said it better than I could, above.:)

        • Profile photo of quietmarc
          June 27, 2012 at 12:18 pm —

          I used privilege -here- to describe the situation, but I know how to write for an audience, and the concepts I was trying to explain (that poverty exists more because of factors outside of the poor’s control rather than “bad attitude” as my family member seemed to be arguing) should not have been beyond his reach: he’s an intelligent, compassionate, educated man.

          My point was that I, personally, do not always have the tools to make a reasoned argument and/or to persuade a reasonable person, and that I had to choose my battles. It wasn’t that I was over-reaching: his privilege and my short temper conspired to make the whole conversation a wash.

  10. Profile photo of Jake Briggs
    June 26, 2012 at 5:44 pm —

    Its only a troll if the poster is insincere. You should ignore those, since they really are only trying to get a rise out of you.

    I get the feeling that most posters who are labled as trolls are actually not trolls – they are sincerly posting abhorent things.

  11. Profile photo of Infophile
    June 26, 2012 at 7:59 pm —

    How to deal with trolls really depends on what you mean by “troll.” The word has drifted a lot, so different peoples’ standards for what counts a troll can differ a lot. As far as I see, here’s how it breaks down:

    “Troll Classic” AKA “Remember when they turned to stone in the sun? Yeah, those ones”

    Behavior: Says things they don’t believe in order to invoke an outraged reaction, so they can laugh at people getting angry at them.

    Treatment: This troll is effective treated by starvation, as their goal is to get a reaction. Aside from this, calling them out, mocking their efforts, or thanking them may work.

    “New Troll” AKA “Talkative Orc”

    Behavior: Posts to forums that tend to be filled with people they disagree with, in order to challenge their beliefs. Generally believes what they say, but will likely be seen as resistant to argument.

    Treatment: Calm debate should be the first step. If troll persists, ask them “What would change your mind?” If reasonable, work with it. If unreasonable, call them out on the fact that it’s unreasonable. Quarantine may be necessary to prevent inadvertent derailing of discussion.

    “Hater” AKA “Bellowing Imp”

    Behavior: Verbally attacks people they disagree with, threatening physical assault or other questions. Rarely follows through with threats, but sometimes escalates.

    Treatment: Expose to sunlight. Haters thrive in the dark, but when their face, name, and details are exposed to the world, they tend to cower away. If this isn’t possible, “Thank you, Hater!” tends to confuse them and cause them to deflate. If a Hater begins to escalate, intervention by law enforcement may be necessary. Starvation is ineffective against Haters, as they will continue their attacks in the face of no defense, or otherwise attack different targets in the future.

    “Derailer” AKA “Bugbear sleeping on train tracks”

    Behavior: Like New Troll, interjects self into conversations with people they disagree with. However, instead of arguing in good faith, attempts to shift focus of argument to stymie opponents efforts.

    Treatment: Quarantine is preferable, enforced by moderation. If necessary, create a new thread for discussion of the Derailer’s topic of choice, or point the Derailer to an existing thread on the subject. If they refuse to debate it in the proper place, enact bans. If moderation privileges are not available, starvation is the best alternative.

    “Poe” AKA “Masked Hobgoblin”

    Behavior: With no overt indication of sarcasm, advocates facially-insane positions.

    Treatment: Treat like New Troll initially. Most Poes will be revealed to either be inept at sarcasm or true morons by their second post. At this point, determine which other type of troll this troll should be classified as, and treat as such.

    (If I’ve missed any breeds of trolls, please help me fill them in.)

  12. Profile photo of Laika
    June 26, 2012 at 8:00 pm —

    A troll on one blog is a hero/heroine on another blog.

    The rush to judgement about who is or is not a troll is really unfair. Yes, repeat offenders make their agenda clear, but there are some newbies and sincere people with differing opinions that get labeled as trolls. They are vilified and ridiculed and made to feel so defensive that there is no hope of communication or education.

    I have felt attacked when I have posted here. I try to be sincere, but in the back of my mind, I always edit and wonder if what I really want to express will be criticized and attacked. Weirdly, in meatspace, I never feel the need to censor myself in that way.

    • Profile photo of punchdrunk
      June 26, 2012 at 8:09 pm —

      I can appreciate the point, it’s easy to be too quick to anger, especially on a site that’s been under siege. A lot of these conversations aren’t easy, and when you have lots of people like brenda, constantly speaking in bad faith, it can wear you down. And benefit of the doubt is usually the first casualty.

    • Profile photo of That Moz Guy
      June 26, 2012 at 8:35 pm —

      I always edit and wonder if what I really want to express will be criticized and attacked. Weirdly, in meatspace, I never feel the need to censor myself in that way.

      That seems unusual to me, because I thought one of the key things children learn as they grow up is how to censor their speech and behaviour so as not to be attacked by others. I’m definitely aware that a lot of what I think isn’t appropriate to say.

      Admittedly I move through a diverse range of social spaces, so I’m perhaps more aware than usual that the social conventions vary between them. There’s layers, from the simple speaking quietly in the library to the self-moderation of not speaking too often in an anarchist meeting. Not blatantly contradicting the assumptions of the group is probably in there as a pre-precondition. Not denying sexism in a feminist group is much the same as not questioning ritual cannibalism in a catholic one or the ethics of air travel in a tourism one.

    • Profile photo of marilove
      June 26, 2012 at 9:40 pm —

      It’s important to remember that when someone disagrees with you, even passionately, it does not mean they are attacking you.

      • Profile photo of donboc
        June 26, 2012 at 10:41 pm —

        Yes, but when someone calls another person “sexist” or “a troll,” it’s hard to view that as anything but an attack.

        • Profile photo of marilove
          June 26, 2012 at 10:55 pm —

          First of all sometimes something is going to be sexist. I mean, we can all agree that sexism exists, right? That means sometimes, shit is sexist. And sometimes, YOU are the one that has said, or done, or implied something sexist.

          That doesn’t necessarily mean you’re a misogynistic. It just means whatever you said or did is sexist. Sometimes it’s something you believe that’s sexist. Do you think that someone can’t believe in something sexist? Do you think we shouldn’t point it out?

          That said, I honestly can’t remember the last time we actually called someone sexist. Care to share an example with me?

          Is this when I can call strawman? I feel like this is when I can call strawman. I’m not great with logical fallacies so I think I will avoid them. :)

          However, if you could provide me an example of when we called someone sexist, that’d be great.

          Anyway. We have spoken out against sexist beliefs a lot lately. And some people here have maybe stated their own sexist beliefs or behavior and we have tried to explain to them why they were wrong or why what they believe is problematic. Is that what you’re talking about? Because I don’t see that as a problem.

          • Profile photo of donboc
            June 26, 2012 at 11:18 pm

            marilove,

            The term “strawman” would be perfectly appropriate if what you think is going on actually were what’s going on, but it’s not. On the “Sex and the Keynote” thread, you wrote to me:

            “You are feeling unsafe because people are calling you out on your sexist, trollish bullshit”

            Okay, in that comment you didn’t call ME sexist or a troll. You called my bullshit sexist and trollish. Still, it felt (I think accurately) like an attack.

            Kammy called me obtuse and suggested I’m a troll:

            “@ Don, How is it you can be this obtuse and still punctuate? I’m starting to smell troll around here.”

            And you in another comment called me a sexist ass:

            “This is not complicated stuff, and it is not our responsibility to educate you and every other sexist ass on the internet.”

          • Profile photo of marilove
            June 26, 2012 at 11:40 pm

            Actually, Luna and I have talked a bit about this… At the time, she came around after we dealt with some fucked up trolls. She was also pretty wrong at the time (though that’s not the point here). I honestly thought she was a troll. She’s kind of come around (and we still tend to disagree). So yes, I totally overreacted there but man was it getting frustrating around here.

            So.

            Anything else?

          • Profile photo of marilove
            June 26, 2012 at 11:41 pm

            Also, I can honestly say that I don’t know if you really care much about this subject. Maybe you believe half the crap you’ve said, but I don’t know how invested you are in it beyond “I just want to play devil’s advocate in a feminist blog”. So that still stands.

          • Profile photo of marilove
            June 26, 2012 at 11:53 pm

            Totally retracting last statement, see above a ways.

        • Profile photo of marilove
          June 26, 2012 at 10:56 pm —

          Also, I don’t normally call everyone a troll. Like I’ve said, Luna and I disagree plenty.

          Something is off about Brenda and I was using her as an example. I’m not the only one who has noticed.

          We’ve also had a lot of genuine trolls lately, and it’s all a bit weird. They come in weird waves and then they leave.

          So, talking about trolls does not mean we call everyone a troll. Unless you have some more examples of that?

          • Profile photo of punchdrunk
            June 26, 2012 at 11:34 pm

            @donboc

            Well, that raises the question: was what you were saying sexist, obtuse, and trollish? Some ideas and opinions have to be attacked, if we’re really trying to make any progress.

          • Profile photo of marilove
            June 27, 2012 at 12:00 am

            I think maybe it was just not an appropriate time for him to be asking all those questions and for some reason he didn’t know that.

            To be honest I’m too lazy to go back and read the whole thing, but I’ll just take his word for it because his response above is pretty sincere.

            That still wasn’t very cool, though, when you think about it. There are plenty of places where those questions will be answered, you know?

            Even outright asking for more information, “Hey, I don’t understand this subject much … is there a place where I can find more info?” And there’s really no excuse — I know everyone here googles and wikipedias the shit out of every little thing. So acting like, “Well I didn’t even think about asking!” is kind of silly.

            And how are we supposed to know you “haven’t formed an opinion” yet? A lot of time, people who pull this talk and ask questions like they are totally aware of the subject matter.

            Often it comes off as playing “Devil’s Advocate” because nearly every point is responded to in a way that seems to suggest they think you’re wrong, and that hey, that’s not REALLY sexist! Even though to someone who understands the basics of sexism should understand it is, or they would disagree with us.

            It doesn’t come out until much later that we learn they don’t really understand the subject and we’ve just spent an hour dealing with someone who has to respond to everything with a nit-picking question and who still hasn’t bothered to utilize google. Or, when we leave them links they either ignore them or they come back with yet more nit-picking questions.

            It’s kind of endless and frustrating…

          • Profile photo of donboc
            June 27, 2012 at 10:45 am

            @punchdrunk

            Let’s grant for the moment that what I was saying was sexist, obtuse, and trollish. I don’t agree that it was, but let’s just say for the sake of argument that it was. I still don’t see where name-calling advances any agenda besides the temporary satisfaction of expressing anger in an attacking manner. I can’t speak for anyone else, but in my view expressing collective anger can be constructive, but doing so in an attacking manner rarely is.

            People here don’t need to be on a quest to change the world and make it a better place. Maybe just expressing anger by attacking people who are perceived as obtuse sexist trolls makes people feel good momentarily, and that good feeling is a legitimate goal to aim for. But if the goal is to truly communicate with another person, to show him or her why his/her ideas are misguided, the name-calling is completely antithetical to that goal. Many studies have shown that when people are attacked (even with excellent, fact-based arguments), they tend to respond by hardening their (perhaps incorrect) beliefs. Yelling “sexist troll” at someone does nothing to show what is wrong with what he/she is asserting and generally will tend only to increase his/her degree of certainty in what he/she is saying while at the same time making him/her think “[atheists / feminists / skeptics / liberals / whatever] are unpleasant people.”

            Now, what I actually did was ask questions (while stating multiple times that I wasn’t trying to suggest that other people were wrong, I was simply trying to understand why they believed what they did), and no matter how much people might like the phrase “just JAQing off,” it doesn’t actually mean that someone who asks questions whose answers seem obvious to you is truly just trying to see how high he/she can make you jump. Sometimes, what seems obvious to one person does not seem obvious to another.

          • Profile photo of marilove
            June 27, 2012 at 11:13 am

            Hey, dude? Stop tone trolling us. Yes, this is what this is. We’re trying to be cool here, but here you are! Doing it again. Drop it.

          • Profile photo of marilove
            June 27, 2012 at 11:13 am

            Also, really? “Studies have shown?” We have been through this 89375893579387598375893758935 times already, which we have told you. DROP IT.

          • Profile photo of victoriadashtwenty
            June 27, 2012 at 12:25 pm

            Hey, guys, I think he’s got a point! Has anyone tried being nice?

            Oh, you did? How’d that work out for you?

            To shreds you say. Well never mind then.

          • Profile photo of Siveambrai
            June 27, 2012 at 12:42 pm

            @donboc So the threading here has gotten me confused as to your current stance but at one point you said, “Let’s grant for the moment that what I was saying was sexist, obtuse, and trollish. I don’t agree that it was […] I still don’t see where name-calling advances any agenda besides the temporary satisfaction […]”

            At the same time you are arguing that you are interested in learning about feminism and looking at your own shortcomings and beliefs when it comes to gender relations. Being called out is really, really important to that. It may sting when someone does that but overall the goal is to help those who are open minded about self change to become aware of when they are using culturally embedded words/phrases/arguments/acts. Its one of those things where its great if you want to actually change because looking at how you do things without thinking makes it so that you can begins restructuring your actions to be in line with your belief system. But yea… it hurts like hell when it happens. I know I do it to myself all the time when it comes to race/gender/whatever but I also see that minor ego pain to be worth it. I think you even see the important distinction here. No one was calling you sexist/whatever but they were pointing out that your language was. If you want a nice cover of this I highly recommend this video by JSmooth regarding the same thing in race terms:http://www.illdoctrine.com/2008/07/how_to_tell_people_they_sound.html

            I also wanted to mention that asking questions, even if they’re sincere is a popular form of derailment (http://www.derailingfordummies.com/education.html). Individuals of the marginalized group aren’t responsible for your education as a member of the privileged class and to ask or demand that we educate you highlights your own relative power within culture. Many of us that care about these issues spend time researching and reading about them. There are many Feminism 101 FAQs out there that will help with basic concepts and the expectation is that if you want to get into a discussion with people who have bothered to understand this stuff you will also put in the time. I would highly recommend the http://www.derailingfordummies.com and http://finallyfeminism101.wordpress.com/ if you are interested

          • Profile photo of Luna
            June 27, 2012 at 1:51 pm

            @Marilove I learned some important lessons on this blog; while I don’t think my worldview is wrong, I do think I expressed my point poorly and I saw that yes a few of my ideas needed to be adjusted. It IS very hard to communicate this way compared to a debate where people sit at a table and the issues can be ironed out 10X faster and more efficiently.

            During grad school I actually had a Ph.D. guy call me out on one of my comments, he basically said I was a raging idiot. After an ugly fight and actual heart palpitations, I realized that for one, he read my comment wrong but two, he was right on in some of his criticisms of what I said because I had been sloppy with my language. I learned gobs from this guy even though he was a raging jerk.

            Obviously no one here is like that, just pointing out that everyone, especially trolls, may want to sit back and see if they can be reflective and learn something. Easier in person, though.

            However I enjoy debating and I don’t take offense at all if someone is strong or tells it like it is. It’s all good as far as I’m concerned.

  13. Profile photo of That Moz Guy
    June 26, 2012 at 8:22 pm —

    I don’t really care to get into the minutiae of trolling vs things that look like trolling but aren’t. IMO that’s not the point. What matters is what you’re trying to achieve and whether a given post/comment helps or hinders.

    I’m quite comfortable with moderation that amounts to “we don’t like your tone” escalating to “we don’t like what you said, so you’re banned. We will no longer give you an audience”. Yes, if the government did that there would be a free speech argument. I’m not a government. Feel free to write whatever you like on your own site.

    • Profile photo of Laika
      June 26, 2012 at 8:31 pm —

      Ouch! I am NOT comfortable with that. So you are saying the end justifies the means? Do what you have to do to put forth your agenda and censor the dissenters? I don’t think that is what Elyse is proposing.

      • Profile photo of That Moz Guy
        June 26, 2012 at 8:45 pm —

        I agree with that formulation, yes. You’re interpreting it in what seems to be an unnecessarily hostile way, but it is accurate. I don’t think skepchick (or any site) has an obligation to publish anything, or to explain why it publishes what it does (or doesn’t). The owners may choose to do so, and may build a community based on certain policies, but they don’t have to. It’s been IMO well demonstrated that any fixed set of rules can be used against the community supposedly served by those rules.

        For a fuller explanation I suggest reading the Scalzi policy: http://whatever.scalzi.com/about/site-disclaimer-and-comment-policy/

        And yes, it very definitely comes back to the ends. If we’re trying to have a reasonable discussion explicitly excluding unreasonable material seems like a necessary but not sufficient step. The only justification I can imagine for doing so is that we desire to have a reasonable discussion (viz, the end justifies the means).

      • Profile photo of That Moz Guy
        June 26, 2012 at 8:51 pm —

        (sorry, one more thing). I’m not suggesting that “we don’t like what you said” would be applied here to “we disagree with the substance of your argument”, but more likely to “you write like a troll, and we don’t want to get into a prolonged discussion of the fine details of what constitutes trolling and how that applies to you, so we are using the banhammer”. As I said, I think that’s a perfect response to some people. At the very least I think everyone needs a “discussions of moderation takes place here” place (or “in email”).

      • Profile photo of marilove
        June 26, 2012 at 9:33 pm —

        They’ve banned assholes before who just never got a clue.

        Anyone remember Mike from Canada?

        Every time any post about feminism came up, he’d reply (never commenting on anything else). He ALWAYS had something to say. And it was *always* something about how sexism doesn’t exist any longer (he really believed this). How feminism is awful. How we are being sexist to men all the time (he was big on this one, too).

        Eventually his ass got banned.

        Not everyone who disagrees is going to get banned. I don’t like that idea, either, and I don’t think that’s what Moz was suggesting.

        But sometimes “I only have a different opinion!” stops being helpful, and starts hindering the conversation.

        And if you’re banned, you’re more than welcome to make your own blog, or comment elsewhere, so no whining allowed. This isn’t a democracy.

  14. Profile photo of Science Bulldog
    June 27, 2012 at 12:41 am —

    Kinda late to the discussion, but I did like the video. It did make the point that such problems as trolls are more complicated and nuanced than some people think. In some cases they are minor and should be ignored, but in many cases I think highlighting the issue is very important. In that instance you are typically addressing the issue rather than one individual. Though there are also times, as discussed above, when an individual must also be called out. I look forward to any future video about the ”backpacking” trolls.

    • Profile photo of marilove
      June 27, 2012 at 12:52 am —

      I just need a moment to gush about Ill Doctrine right now.

      He’s fantastic, and everyone should watch more of his videos:

      http://www.illdoctrine.com/

      • Profile photo of Otoki
        June 27, 2012 at 4:14 am —

        His “How to Tell People They Sound Racist” vid is pure gold. And totally got applied in the “We didn’t call you a sexist, we said you did/said something sexist” posts earlier in the thread.

        • Profile photo of Science Bulldog
          June 27, 2012 at 9:28 pm —

          Thanks for the link. I just started watching some more of his videos and am impressed so far. I love the use of critical thinking and inescapable logic to completely counter bad arguments. I also like how well he puts together his video cuts.

  15. Profile photo of Beleth
    June 27, 2012 at 10:27 am —
  16. Profile photo of ritchiew
    June 27, 2012 at 10:43 am —

    Hope this helps:

    Some online communities, like open-source software developers, have been dealing with trolls since before Godwin’s Law. So some of them have been dealing with this problem for decades, and have written about it. This short section of a book on software development has been really helpful to my (admittedly limited) role as moderator for all kinds of mailing lists and forums — not just software development:
    http://producingoss.com/en/setting-tone.html#prevent-rudeness

    To really quickly summarize:
    1) Don’t let rudeness slide by unaddressed. You need to ensure that people can speak freely in a safe environment and people have their back when they’re being attacked. This doesn’t mean blocking rude people, or yelling back. Just that anytime someone is rude, there needs to be some response.

    2) Address the rudeness first and as a separate issue. Don’t get it mixed up with the discussion. It should be a succinct thought unto itself. “There is unnecessary agression in this conversation that needs to get toned down….”

    3) This is huge: After addressing the rudeness, address the actual arguments the person brought up. If you just post that someone is being rude, then that becomes the conversation. By going on to address the actual issues, you can steer the conversation back to the original topic.

    I’ve seen this work well in other online communities, but the biggest drawback is that it is really time consuming at first. Responding is a pain in the ass, and finding a troll’s actual arguments in the middle of ad hominem attacks can be difficult (only occasionally impossible). But as that zero tolerance becomes the tone of the discussion, the community will chip in and the trolls start going away. At least, in my experience.

    Cheers
    Ritchie

    • Profile photo of mrmisconception
      June 27, 2012 at 11:03 am —

      Thanks Richie, good suggestions all.

    • Profile photo of Siveambrai
      June 27, 2012 at 12:52 pm —

      Something else I’ve seen in a lot of tech forums is the purgatory/hell ban. It’s not a permanent ban but it simply makes the person’s posts either: 1) take extra long to post, 2) Be visible to them and other hell banned but invisible to unbanned users, 3) “accidentally” time out every so often. Often there may be many different mixes of methods that are randomly queued when a person on the list loads that website.

      The nice thing is that people who don’t feel like they were trolling may learn to act better. People who were deliberately being annoying eventually flame out and become bored. And finally, people who are trying to harass the site/authors can be easily identified and permabanned.

      Not a perfect solution, I’ve seen arguments against it, but one that requires slightly less effort on the moderators/site participants than the two extremes do.

  17. Profile photo of regenr8
    June 27, 2012 at 1:03 pm —

    I very seldom see “trolls” on this site. Maybe never…yeah, I’ve never seen a true, foul mouthed, degenerate all out nasty troll on this site. I see a lot of “dittos”, “champions”, and “targets of the champions” but, not nasty “trolls”. I miss my TARDIS:(

  18. Profile photo of mikerattlesnake
    June 27, 2012 at 1:23 pm —

    It struck me in this thread that Brenda sure sounds a LOT like Dale Husband (less lately, but back when he used to make more of a habit of making thoughtless, intellect-free anti-atheist comments). Anybody checking IPs on people who are suspicious?

    Dale certainly isn’t the only agnoxious obnostic on the internet, as evidenced by that XKCD comic, but the wording of some phrases in particular dinged my sock puppet detector.

    • Profile photo of Elyse
      June 27, 2012 at 1:26 pm —

      Brenda is the only person who has ever posted from Brenda’s IP.

      • Profile photo of marilove
        June 27, 2012 at 1:30 pm —

        That doesn’t necessarily prove anything, though. If someone is smart enough, there are plenty of ways to post from different IP’s.

        Although I actually don’t think they are the same person.

        Dale is a real person and we’re FB friends and stuff, and while he says stupid shit sometimes, he’s never really been one to go on and on and on like this (at least recently). Although as mentioned, he HAS started dropping stupid comments and then running, without coming back to reply to the responses. Which is annoying.

      • Profile photo of mrmisconception
        June 27, 2012 at 1:34 pm —

        Huh huh, you said I P.

        Sorry, had to lighten the mood a bit.

        • Profile photo of marilove
          June 27, 2012 at 1:44 pm —

          And this would be why you’re one of my favorite regulars. :P

          • Profile photo of mrmisconception
            June 27, 2012 at 1:53 pm

            Yep, toilet humor. I’ve found my niche.

          • Profile photo of Elyse
            June 27, 2012 at 1:54 pm

            GET THE FUCK OUT OF MY NICHE!

          • Profile photo of mrmisconception
            June 27, 2012 at 2:29 pm

            Would you rather I go get drunk?

          • Profile photo of Elyse
            June 27, 2012 at 2:33 pm

            ALSO MY NICHE!

          • Profile photo of mrmisconception
            June 27, 2012 at 3:10 pm

            Selfish!

            Well, I’m off to vaccinate someone.

          • Profile photo of Siveambrai
            June 27, 2012 at 3:49 pm

            @Elyse @mrmisconception It sounds like the niche may be big enough to share… maybe over a bottle or two. :)

          • Profile photo of mrmisconception
            June 27, 2012 at 4:03 pm

            @Siveambrai – Scandelous!

            Imagine, sharing a niche. I believe I might just get the vapors.

      • Profile photo of Luna
        June 27, 2012 at 1:38 pm —

        @Elyse (sorry, there was no reply box above) I also get annoyed with privillege although I do understand it in context of the conversations here but only after it’s explained.

        The one that gets me is “First World Problems”. I mean, we live in the First World so no most of us aren’t going to be posting about dysentry. Second, it seems like smarmy people use this term to randomly put others down (and as you said, as if they themselves aren’t first world complainers as well).

        One blogger said this to a woman posting about a car accident she was in. Someone ran a red light, injured her leg and totalled her car. So this smarmy blogger chided her for complaining about First World problems. WTF.

        • Profile photo of marilove
          June 27, 2012 at 1:49 pm —

          The only time someone should use that term is if they are making fun of themselves. Otherwise, they are being a big-fat hypocrite. Christ, what an asshole.

          • Profile photo of Luna
            June 27, 2012 at 1:54 pm

            @Marilove good point. I should have said that to him.

      • Profile photo of mikerattlesnake
        June 27, 2012 at 2:10 pm —

        Cool, just sort of curious. Like I said, the uniform style of those sorts is not particularly surprising. Her being a sock puppet would have just been the icing on top of a skyscrapingly-tiered shit-cake.

        • Profile photo of Elyse
          June 27, 2012 at 2:14 pm —

          I don’t even know where to put this… it’s going to get buried.

          But I’ve been trying to crack the “Is Brenda a troll” puzzle for like… I don’t know, 15 minutes now.

          And I came up with this from Greta, 2 years ago to the date:

          http://profile.typepad.com/vonahsen

          Brenda is just Brenda. And Brenda is annoying. In fact, Brenda is a lot of things, but based on what I’e found, Brenda is not a sockpuppet.

          • Profile photo of mikerattlesnake
            June 27, 2012 at 2:16 pm

            Thanks for putting the time in to find out, it was only a half-assed hunch.

          • Profile photo of marilove
            June 27, 2012 at 2:21 pm

            I … get the feeling she’s just as obnoxious in real life. I mean, wow. Just wow.

    • Profile photo of marilove
      June 27, 2012 at 1:29 pm —

      You know what’s funny? I like Dale.

      Even if sometimes he makes stupid comments and then doesn’t come back and reply, like he did when it came to the “truly beautiful scientist” … who wasn’t even a actually a scientist. That’s fucking annoying, Dale. Stop doing that.

      So yeah, Brenda: Dale can be frustrating as hell sometimes, but look! I don’t really have a problem with him! It’s just you! Imagine that!

      • Profile photo of Elyse
        June 27, 2012 at 1:32 pm —

        Yeah… I don’t know Dale well, but my interactions with him on Facebook have always been pleasant. I think he’s just a case of sometimes not getting it, but meaning well.

        • Profile photo of marilove
          June 27, 2012 at 1:37 pm —

          Yeah, I get the same feeling. I think he’s learned some, too, which is always a good thing.

          I do wish he’d stop dropping ridiculous comments — most of which are ASKING US QUESTIONS — and then running, after we answer them. It’s like, dude, if you ask a question, can you acknowledge our replies? That would be oh so helpful.

          So Dale, if you see this: WORK ON THIS! :)

      • Profile photo of mikerattlesnake
        June 27, 2012 at 2:14 pm —

        I’ve found him annoyingly dense and a few of his screeds about the inevitable fall of atheism and the true path of agnosticism near-permanently rubbed me the wrong way. I am certainly capable of forgiving someone who shows intellectual growth, but Dale has only made himself more tolerable by being less present (and hey, knowing when NOT to post IS a good thing).

        I’m not friends with him on facebook, though, so maybe he represents himself better there.

        • Profile photo of Elyse
          June 27, 2012 at 2:17 pm —

          I will tell you that if I see you being a decent person on shared social media sites, I am FAR more likely to tolerate any perceived douchiness.

          And I am more likely to defend you when others come at you.

          However, if I don’t know you, and you seem troll-y, I’m stuck going with the evidence on hand.

        • Profile photo of marilove
          June 27, 2012 at 2:18 pm —

          I have a terrible memory and I suck at holding grudges, so it’s possible you are totally correct and I just don’t remember. I think he stopped commenting here as regularly, as well, so maybe I’m giving him the benefit of doubt he doesn’t deserve. IDK.

          LIke I said a few times, though, I am tired of him dropping questions and then not replying to the responses. The “truly beautiful scientist” thing is a good example. We all gave him a chance to respond to his error and we got NOTHING. Even though he actually asked us questions. WTF is up with that?

          I think now I’ll probably keep a better eye out for that kind of stuff. So thanks for the helpful heads up/reminder :)

  19. Profile photo of Luna
    June 27, 2012 at 1:30 pm —

    I find blog policies interesting. Skepchick seems based on mostly free speech (which is excellent) but my blog being a small community, I moderate all comments. It didn’t used to be that way, until a neighbor (I think she was drunken posting) began changing the subject and asking everyone if they were nudists. That would have been fine if it had anything to do with what I was posting, but it wasn’t.

    Anyway, I find comment moderation to be a huge relief. People are subsequently much more tempered in their comments when they see their comments have to be approved first.

    Now, I love vivid debates but that’s not what annoys me. What annoys me is narccisists screaming for attention which derails the conversation (usually a science post about botany that I spent an hour researching and writing about).

    • Profile photo of mrmisconception
      June 27, 2012 at 1:47 pm —

      When I first came here I know that I was called a few names (don’t think troll was one, but I might be wrong) but the truth is I was uninformed and mistaken a lot and I lacked tact. Some would say I still don’t have tact but that’s beside the point.

      The thing is, Skepchick is much bigger now and the hand holding that helped me see that, in some ways, I was a pig isn’t going to happen now because we have no patience for it and there is a loooot of water under the bridge (and a few too many trolls under it) since two years ago.

      Being harsh with the banhammer is one of the few ways that this place stays civil, I don’t even want to think of the mess it would have been when we were overrun by MRAs and friends-of-ERV following “the incident” if not for it.

      Truthfully, I can’t tell you if I would stick around to be able to exorcise my demons if I came here now with my then head. I hope I would, but I’m not sure but bringing back the fun stuff like COTW and such will help, they’re part of the reason I stayed back then. That and the drunken exploits of Elyse, but we can’t have everything; where would we put it?

      That got a bit OT dinnit?

      • Profile photo of Elyse
        June 27, 2012 at 1:49 pm —

        Note to Rebecca:
        Need funding for more drunken exploits. For feminism.

  20. Profile photo of donboc
    June 27, 2012 at 4:32 pm —

    @ Siveambrai

    I agree that it’s good to call people out when they say things that seem to betray a mindset besotted with latent sexist tendencies. I disagree that it’s good to tell people that they’re obtuse trollish sexist asses. My own personal aesthetic is the following:
    Good: “You might be unaware of how what you just said sounds to someone who has experienced XYZ, but it comes off as though you’re insensitive to the experiences of others.”
    Less good: “You’re an obtuse, trollish, sexist ass.”

    You say, “No one was calling you sexist/whatever but they were pointing out that your language was.” But when marilove told me that I was a sexist ass that’s exactly what she was calling me.

    You call this “tone trolling.” Just because there exists a derisive name for what I’m saying doesn’t mean that it’s a good idea to call me names. I obviously can’t make this decision for anyone else; I just know that I personally don’t like calling names, and I personally don’t feel that it forwards a worthwhile agenda. I think it’s possible to educate people without yelling at them (indeed, more possible than to educate them by yelling at them), and it’s a good idea to do so. Just my own opinion.

    You wrote,

    I also wanted to mention that asking questions, even if they’re sincere is a popular form of derailment (http://www.derailingfordummies.com/education.html). Individuals of the marginalized group aren’t responsible for your education as a member of the privileged class and to ask or demand that we educate you highlights your own relative power within culture.

    I agree that asking questions can have a side effect of derailing a conversation. That wasn’t my intention though. If that’s what were happening, a simple, “Taking the time to answer these questions would derail the conversation from more important issues — you should look into this more on your own.” would have sufficed. I again don’t see what good the name calling does.

    As far as highlighting my power? I’m certainly willing to try to understand what you’re saying here. I’ll do some reading and see if I can follow it better elsewhere. I’ll just mention that, at first blush, it’s not clear to me that asking a question implies that I think anyone else is responsible for my education. To me, it seems that asking a question means that I would appreciate an answer. If I ask someone on the street for directions, I’m not demanding an answer, and I don’t think that that person is responsible for teaching me geography. It just means that I would be grateful for an answer. Still, like I said, I’ll be happy to do some more reading on this topic.

    • Profile photo of punchdrunk
      June 27, 2012 at 4:50 pm —

      Don’t tell people how to do feminism. It’s rude, unless you’ve proven that you’re committed to the cause and are understood to be providing relevant constructive criticism. You’re not.

      LMGTFY:
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Feminism
      http://finallyfeminism101.wordpress.com/
      http://www.shakesville.com/2010/01/feminism-101.html
      http://geekfeminism.wikia.com/wiki/Feminism_101 (this is full of links that are required reading)

      • Profile photo of punchdrunk
        June 27, 2012 at 4:58 pm —

        By ‘rude’, I really meant ‘insulting’. It’s insulting for you to tell us that you know better than people who have been working and talking and advocating for years.

      • Profile photo of donboc
        June 27, 2012 at 8:27 pm —

        Did I tell anyone how to do anything?

        Answer: No.
        I said what my personal aesthetic was. I also stated that I think it’s not terribly effective at changing hearts and minds. I could be wrong about this, but this is what I believe from the psychology studies I’ve read (admittedly, not a huge number). I’d be happy to learn that name-calling is actually an effective way to change people’s views. If anyone feels like pointing me to such a reference, I’d be happy to read it. (I’m not asking anyone to do my homework for me, just, again, stating that if anyone feels like pointing me to a reference, I’d appreciate it.)

        • Profile photo of punchdrunk
          June 27, 2012 at 8:41 pm —

          “Good: “You might be unaware of how what you just said sounds to someone who has experienced XYZ, but it comes off as though you’re insensitive to the experiences of others.”
          Less good: “You’re an obtuse, trollish, sexist ass.””
          “I personally don’t feel that it forwards a worthwhile agenda. I think it’s possible to educate people without yelling at them (indeed, more possible than to educate them by yelling at them), and it’s a good idea to do so. Just my own opinion.”

          What the fuck is all that then?

          You do know that these revisionist lies don’t work online, where they’re still right there for reference, right? Jackass.

          • Profile photo of donboc
            June 27, 2012 at 9:48 pm

            @punchdrunk,

            Selective quoting can make things look different. Allow me to quote myself fully:


            My own personal aesthetic is the following:
            Good: “You might be unaware of how what you just said sounds to someone who has experienced XYZ, but it comes off as though you’re insensitive to the experiences of others.”
            Less good: “You’re an obtuse, trollish, sexist ass.”

            I obviously can’t make this decision for anyone else; I just know that I personally don’t like calling names, and I personally don’t feel that it forwards a worthwhile agenda. I think it’s possible to educate people without yelling at them (indeed, more possible than to educate them by yelling at them), and it’s a good idea to do so. Just my own opinion.

            I was stating my person view. I don’t like calling names. I don’t see what good it does. If this came off as me telling someone else what to do — and I can certainly understand how it might have — I’m sorry. That wasn’t my intent. Other people should do what they want to do.

          • Profile photo of marilove
            June 27, 2012 at 10:00 pm

            Just because you try to slip a “I personally* think” in there every now and again does not change things, right? We all know it’s your opinion. We’re well aware of it.

            I mean, duh?

            Stop questioning us on our motives and tactics.

            Can you do that?

        • Profile photo of marilove
          June 27, 2012 at 9:07 pm —

          Dude. You’re LECTURING US. Why? How is this helpful at all? For you or for us? Like, seriously, why the fuck do you keep lecturing us?

          Then claim you’re not ~telling us what to do~. While then pulling out all those ~psychology papers~ you read (lol are you fucking serious), and how very sure you are that we are Doing It Wrong. And you need us to explain to you why we think we’re NOT Doing It Wrong. Oh, and btw? Just remember. I’ve read some papers. So I know some shit and am clearly smarter than you on this subject.

          Do you know what “mansplaining” is? I encourage you to google it.

          Also, lol. You’ve read some papers. Awesome. That’s fantastic. Are you going to tell us you’re a lawyer now, too? I just love internet psychologists and lawyers!

          • Profile photo of donboc
            June 27, 2012 at 9:56 pm

            @marilove

            No. I’m not a psychologist, and I’m not a lawyer. And, while I have some passing interest in both fields, I don’t know an awful lot about either.

            I do talk to people a lot though. I sometimes even try to convince people of things. So, I’m interested in what research on rhetoric and argumentation has to say about what are effective ways to persuade people. I’m not suggesting I’m smarter than anyone else. I’d be somewhat sad to learn that calling names is an effective mode of persuasion, but if that’s the case I’d like to know it.


            and how very sure you are that we are Doing It Wrong

            No, I’m not very sure. If I said I was, I shouldn’t have. I don’t know any awful lot about persuasion. I try to read about it when I have a little spare time, but I’m not an expert by any stretch, and I am certainly not sure that you are doing it wrong.

          • Profile photo of marilove
            June 27, 2012 at 10:01 pm

            ” I sometimes even try to convince people of thingsc”

            Oh, well. Stop doing that here. It’s not at all appropriate, but most importantly: we’ve already asked a thousand times. Like, seriously. We went through this already! We get it! You personally think we are Doing It Wrong. Yes, yes, we know.

            PLEASE STOP QUESTIONING US ON OUR TACTIC AND MOTIVES.

          • Profile photo of donboc
            June 27, 2012 at 10:09 pm


            Oh, well. Stop doing that here. It’s not at all appropriate, but most importantly: we’ve already asked a thousand times. Like, seriously. We went through this already! We get it! You personally think we are Doing It Wrong. Yes, yes, we know.

            PLEASE STOP QUESTIONING US ON OUR TACTIC AND MOTIVES.

            Goodness, please stop putting words in my mouth.

            I’m not telling you that you’re doing it wrong.

          • Profile photo of marilove
            June 27, 2012 at 10:16 pm

            Yes, you are.

    • Profile photo of mikerattlesnake
      June 27, 2012 at 4:54 pm —

      No one is obligated to make you feel good about yourself. Approach and confront people the way you want to, but don’t tell other people how to do it. I’ve seen minds changed by blunt confrontation at least as often as by hand-holding friendliness, and I’ve seen both tactics fail miserably too. You’re starting to get monotonous and annoying.

    • Profile photo of marilove
      June 27, 2012 at 5:06 pm —

      Jesus fucking chist. This is what happens when I give people the benefit of the doubt, I guess.

      You’ve clearly learned NOTHING.

      Stop tone trolling.

      Stop mansplaining.

      Stop telling us how to respond to sexism.

      Just
      Stop
      It.

    • Profile photo of marilove
      June 27, 2012 at 5:08 pm —

      ” But when marilove told me that I was a sexist ass that’s exactly what she was calling me.”

      And what’s great is that I even apologized! And yet here you are! Going on and on and on about how awful we are and how mean we are and if we just listened to you, people would totally just listen to us! LIKE MAGIC!

      I’m now wondering if my apology was far too quick on my part. Ugh.

      • Profile photo of donboc
        June 27, 2012 at 8:35 pm —

        @marilove,

        I don’t understand what benefit of doubt you feel you shouldn’t have granted me.

        I appreciated your apology. I appreciated our conversation earlier. When I quoted you, I was just pointing out that it wasn’t the case that, as Siveambrai said, “No one was calling you sexist/whatever but they were pointing out that your language was.” Someone did call me sexist (a sexist ass, to be precise). I wasn’t trying to berate you again after you had apologized. I was just pointing out that, yes, someone DID call me sexist.

        Okay.
        I will not say how I like to interact with people. I recognize that I come from a position of privilege and the way that I interact with people is not necessarily a model for how anyone else should.
        I will certainly not say how anyone else should interact with people (I don’t think I’ve done this so far, but if I have I apologize).
        I won’t ask anyone to explain why it might be a good idea to yell “sexist ass” at someone.
        I will simply sit here and wonder why it might be a good idea to do that, and if anyone feels like explaining the benefit to that type of interaction I would be most grateful.

        • Profile photo of punchdrunk
          June 27, 2012 at 8:46 pm —

          You have no skin in this game. Stop telling those who do to stop being angry. Stop wondering if it’s effective, stop correcting our manner and demeanor. It’s nasty and belittling and telling people how to feel. It’s not a goddamn cost-benefit analysis, and you SHOULD sit the fuck down and shut the fuck up until you’re able to respect the valid anger and rage of the people who are actually suffering.

          • Profile photo of marilove
            June 27, 2012 at 8:58 pm

            Well, I am starting to remember why I called him what I did. Maybe it had some truth to it. JFC.

          • Profile photo of donboc
            June 27, 2012 at 8:58 pm


            Stop telling those who do to stop being angry. Stop wondering if it’s effective, stop correcting our manner and demeanor. It’s nasty and belittling and telling people how to feel. It’s not a goddamn cost-benefit analysis, and you SHOULD sit the fuck down and shut the fuck up until you’re able to respect the valid anger and rage of the people who are actually suffering.

            1. Did I tell anyone to stop being angry?
            2. Much as you might want me to stop wondering something, I won’t stop wondering. Stop trying to control my thoughts.
            3. I’m not correcting anyone’s demeanor. If I have done so, I apologize. I agree with you that it’s unbecoming to tell someone else that he/she is out of line (note that you’re doing exactly that right now). So, I’m sorry if I did correct anyone’s manner or demeanor, but I don’t think I did that.
            4. I absolutely respect the anger and rage of people who are suffering. I’m sorry if I have contributed to anyone’s suffering. I’m not looking to tell anyone what to do. I tried to make that clear above and, if in an intemperate moment earlier I did tell someone how to act, I shouldn’t have and I’m sorry.

          • Profile photo of marilove
            June 27, 2012 at 9:01 pm

            I will simply sit here and wonder why it might be a good idea to do that, and if anyone feels like explaining the benefit to that type of interaction I would be most grateful.

        • Profile photo of marilove
          June 27, 2012 at 8:57 pm —

          You’re doing it…again.

        • Profile photo of marilove
          June 27, 2012 at 9:00 pm —

          I will simply sit here and wonder why it might be a good idea to do that, and if anyone feels like explaining the benefit to that type of interaction I would be most grateful.

          Also, really? Are you serious here? What a bunch of passive aggressive whining.

          You know. You don’t have to comment here or participate. If you think we’re Doing It Wrong, the internet is a very, very vast place. I am sure there are plenty of places where you will fit in.

          This is not your blog nor your space. <——please read that last sentence a few times.

          • Profile photo of donboc
            June 27, 2012 at 9:40 pm

            @marilove,

            Look, I see how it could seem like passive aggressive whining, but honestly i’m not sure what I’m supposed to say. I don’t understand the benefit of yelling at people, but if I ask what the benefit is then I’m apparently implying that I think that members of a marginalized group are responsible for my education, and I’m highlighting my own relative power within the culture (as Siveambrai put it). So, I avoid asking. But I did want to highlight what I don’t understand so that if anyone feels like explaining it to me or pointing me to a relevant link I could benefit. Again, of course, no one owes me an explanation.


            This is not your blog nor your space. <——please read that last sentence a few times.

            Done. I don’t think that it’s my blog or my space. I thought that I might be welcome in the discussion here. If not, I’ll leave. I’ve appreciated learning some things while here.

            Again, for the record, I don’t presume to tell other people how to interact. If I did so previously, I shouldn’t have and I apologize.

          • Profile photo of marilove
            June 27, 2012 at 9:45 pm

            IDK, you could tell us how to stop communicating and start saying something productive for a change.

            That’d be nice.

            And it’s rather easy, really.

            Just, you know, stop telling us that we’re Doing It Wrong and that you have read all these psychology papers so you know for sure that we’re Doing It Wrong and please can you tell me why you think you’re not Doing It Wrong?

            That’d be swell.

          • Profile photo of marilove
            June 27, 2012 at 9:47 pm

            Also, “If”? What a great apology. If.

  21. Profile photo of zylla
    June 27, 2012 at 5:22 pm —

    Wow, lots of comments today. (I haven’t gone through all of them, but there was a lot of continuing flack from Brenda. Yeesh.)

    Trolls, particularly anonymous ones (and almost everyone uses aliases anyway, so they’re still anonymous), are the bullies of the internet. While quietmarc’s experience with real world bullies is that ignoring them doesn’t make them go away, my experiences in school was pretty much the opposite. However, not all bullies are the same, not all targets are the same, and every circumstance has different features.

    Trolls that do get bored and go away from lack of attention undoubtedly find somewhere else to go. Others, particularly those that actually get banned, try other aliases and even personas. In a skeptical community, even a troll that is ignored sometimes can leave a comment that a newbie to skepticism may take at face value. Its a hard line to balance.

    If nothing else, feeding trolls may help to hone our own skills at skeptical debate. Unless we’re playing Whack-a-Troll, which is just fun. =}

    • Profile photo of marilove
      June 27, 2012 at 6:59 pm —

      I was bullied heavily while in K thru 8th grade. It was a tiny school (200 or so students total). I was very shy and quiet and hardly ever responded to the bullying. But the 9 years I as there, it never lessened. So yeah, ignoring doesn’t always work. I think in my case there just weren’t many targets and there weren’t a lot of new students or students moving away. I was targeted from day one of kindergarten. So.

      • Profile photo of mikerattlesnake
        June 28, 2012 at 8:16 am —

        The only thing that ever stopped the bullying for me was punching a dude in the face. Maybe I learned the wrong lesson from that, but I’ve seen precious little to convince me that’s the case.

        • Profile photo of marilove
          June 28, 2012 at 11:52 am —

          Yep, once you’re made out to be THE OTHER in such a place, you’re pretty much fucked.

          I was never physically abused, but man was I tortured. Sometimes I’d have half the bus yelling insults at me.

        • Profile photo of Buzz Parsec
          June 28, 2012 at 2:44 pm —

          What stopped it for me was accidentally slugging one of the bullies in the shoulder while dodging a (probably fake) punch by another one. (Real punches were rare, but there were many daily fake punches, lots of plausibly deniable tripping, elbowing, grabbing of clothes, knocking books out of my hands, etc. You know, general intimidation.)

          I thought for sure they were going to kill me, but their reaction was more like whining. “What did you hit Musky (one of the bullies, short for Muskrat, no idea why), he hardly ever hits you?” Somewhat true, but he was always a member of the group. They apparently didn’t realize it was an accident.

          They completely left me alone after that. I guess either they were total cowards, or I hit Musky a lot harder than I thought.

          But I don’t recommend this strategy, if one of the bullies had taken a swing at me, they probably would have all joined in and beaten the crap out of me. As it was, they just went off and found another victim, which was fine for me but not for them.

  22. Profile photo of James Fox
    June 27, 2012 at 6:03 pm —

    Just don’t waste any IPA on a Troll. They don’t appreciate or understand the depth of flavor or the efforts necessary to refine ones palate so as to appreciate the hoppy wonderfulness that is a well made I-P-A. And any notions or fleeting indiscriminate thoughts to the contrary are just plain wrong.

    • Profile photo of marilove
      June 27, 2012 at 6:57 pm —

      Yes.

      This.

      Also thanks for reminding me about the IPA six pack in my fridge. :D It’s from Bridgeport and it’s called “Hop Czar” and it’s actually an IMPERIAL IPA. Oooooooo.

  23. Profile photo of Kristin Milton
    June 27, 2012 at 7:12 pm —

    I’m at work, so I can’t provide a direct link, but there’s a beautiful example of how to out-troll the trolls at sex and the 405.
    (you’ll find it if you google it)
    I’ve never laughed so hard in my life – and can’t wait to try that myself…

  24. Profile photo of donboc
    June 27, 2012 at 10:05 pm —

    @marilove,

    Wait, the IF is totally sincere.

    I don’t think I’ve told anyone how to do anything. Maybe I’m remembering wrong and I actually did. If so, I’m really sorry. I shouldn’t have done so.

    The “Good … Bad” bit was indicating my own personal aesthetic. I can see how it might have seemed that I was telling other people how to behave. I probably should have made that more clear. But I wasn’t telling others how to behave, at least not in that comment (and nowhere else that I can remember, either).

    Again: I’m not telling anyone they’re doing things wrong. If I did do this earlier in the conversation, I shouldn’t have.

    • Profile photo of donboc
      June 27, 2012 at 10:06 pm —

      Ugh, threading fail.

      • Profile photo of mrmisconception
        June 28, 2012 at 12:17 am —

        Don,
        As someone who has been where you are now I want to offer some friendly advice.

        When you make a mistake and then realize it say that you’re sorry. Full stop.

        If you do not know exactly what went wrong ask in a straight forward manner what you might have done better and listen to any offered answers.

        What you are doing now, the need to explain yourself, only makes the conversation about you and that is called derailing. It does not matter if that is your intention because it is the effect. The people here are smart, they can tell if you were being a jerk on purpose or if you just misspoke, if you show yourself to be willing to listen it goes a long way. Really.

        A simple “I’m sorry. That didn’t come out the way I intended, how could I have phrased it better?” not only expresses regret, it asks for input to better yourself without the need to justify yourself. I know the temptation is strong to explain but it is not important for anyone but you. The apology, if you feel it is warranted, is the only thing anyone wants to hear unless they ask.

        Put yourself on the other end of the situation; if someone says something that offends you, even if unintentionally, you want to hear I’m sorry and really don’t care about why it happened, and if you do want to know you would ask.

        I don’t want to make this into a lecture because I really do mean this as friendly. Listen without talking, and if you need a question asked ask it in the most direct way possible; it really is the best way to learn.

        • Profile photo of donboc
          June 28, 2012 at 12:48 am —

          @mrmisconception

          Thanks for the note.

          Fair enough. There was no need for me to mention how I like to handle things. Not trying to derail anyone’s conversation, yet I see your point that clearly this conversation has become all about whether I am or am not telling people how to be proper feminists. I certainly wish that hadn’t happened.

    • Profile photo of marilove
      June 27, 2012 at 10:17 pm —

      Man, I am having some MAJOR de ja vu.

      Oh stuff it.

  25. Profile photo of marilove
    June 27, 2012 at 11:07 pm —

    Brenda, one last thing, because something has been bothering me about you, and I think I nailed it. You watched the video, right? You seem to act like you did.

    It’s interesting that you haven’t called out Jay Smooth for demanding (and he demanded) that men speak out against sexist bullshit (If that’s not a “collect your people” statement, I don’t know what is).

    When a woman said it, you derailed an entire thread just to make sure we knew how awful we were treating the poor men. Yet, here it is, a man saying the exact same thing … and silence. Did it even register on your radar?

    “And for now I’m just going to say to everyone else, and especially to my fellow dudes, when you see somethign like that going on you, and by you I mean we, have an obligation to speak out against it more often. It’s really not cool to just shrug our shoulders and say that’s just 4chan bein’ 4 chan.

    ….

    “This kind of abuse and harassment matters and when it happens in our corner of the internet, we need to treat it like it matters. We need to speak up and let them know that we’re not impressed by how edgy and fearless they are.

    ….

    No matter what scene on the internet is your scene, if you’re a dude and see other dudes in your scene harrassing women or transgendered people or anyone else who’s otuside of our little corner of the gender spectrum, we need to speak up. We need to treat this like it matters. we need to add some extra humanity to our scene to counteract their detachement from their humanity.”

    • Profile photo of quietmarc
      June 29, 2012 at 9:52 am —

      Wait, is Brenda the same person as “Bridgette” from the “collect your people” thing? Or am I just confused?

      • Profile photo of mrmisconception
        June 29, 2012 at 11:37 am —

        No, I think it was shown that Bridgette and brenda are not the same people.

        I think @marilove just got them confused, perfectly understandable as far as I’m concerned, but her point is still a good one.

        • Profile photo of marilove
          June 29, 2012 at 11:53 am —

          I am cracking the fuck up.

          That’s hysterical.

          I guess in my brain, they have melded into the same person. Because they were arguing EXACTLY THE SAME ARGUMENT, exactly the same way.

          They may not be the same person, but I am starting to suspect that some of these people are coming from the same place on the internet. Because it’s fucking eerie, isn’t it?

          So, I apologize Brenda. You are not Bridgette. But you’re close enough, I guess.

          • Profile photo of mrmisconception
            June 29, 2012 at 12:30 pm

            Really, how dare you call Tweedledee Tweedledum? Do you not believe in the sanctity of the individual?

            Now if you’ll excuse me I’m very late, very late indeed. Oh dear!

  26. Profile photo of nokidsdammit
    June 28, 2012 at 1:31 am —

    On an ancient newsgroup I was part of for many years the response to trolls and demi-trolls became recipe posting. Actual recipes, anything from a marinade to a casserole to vegetables to whatever. By tagging the end of the troll message it showed them that the message had gone through but it deprived them of any actual attention. It was fairly effective though it took herd immunity participation levels to work well. There were no moderators though killfiles were in heavy use.

  27. Profile photo of jwray
    June 28, 2012 at 12:52 pm —

    Is the argument just “since ignoring the trolls sometimes doesn’t work, engaging the trolls wins by default”? That’s a false dichotomy. There many other strategies besides ignoring the trolls and engaging the trolls. Such as:

    1. Focusing on the actual issues instead of going off on a tangent by engaging individual trolls.
    2. Training gmail’s spam filter
    3. Liberal use of the banhammer
    4. Crowdsourcing moderation
    5. Carefully wording posts so as not to provoke less intelligent persons or deal splash damage.
    6. All of the above

    • Profile photo of marilove
      June 28, 2012 at 2:08 pm —

      Nope, that’s not the argument. Even Jay admits there are other ways and suggestions. :)

    • Profile photo of Buzz Parsec
      June 28, 2012 at 7:17 pm —

      How are 1-4 not just various ways of ignoring trolls?

      • Profile photo of marilove
        June 28, 2012 at 11:33 pm —

        1. I think they are eluding to the fact that trolls are notorious for derailing an entire conversation. Brenda (troll or not) focusing on “collect your people!!!” in one post is a really good example of that. It’s not that easy to avoid, though.

        2. Jumped out at me as a little weird too, yeah. Gmail? Huh?

      • Profile photo of marilove
        June 28, 2012 at 11:34 pm —

        lol i misread your comment wtf, ignore me

  28. Profile photo of absinthia
    June 28, 2012 at 1:38 pm —

    @ Brenda,
    For what it’s worth, I don’t think you’re a troll. After reading several of your comments I think I see why people think so.

    It isn’t because you disagree – I’ve been lurking here long enough to know that disagreement is not auto-declaration of trolldom – but because you don’t seem to be listening to what’s coming back at you, at least not all of it.

    For example, you told us how you define atheism and what you believe is wrong with atheism *as defined by you*. Problem is, unless you self-identify as an atheist, you don’t get a say in the definition, no matter what the books say. Not everyone who self-identifies as an atheist – me, for example – fits your definition. Surely you can’t be suggesting that I’m *not a real atheist* because you yourself have noted how annoying it is to be told you’re not *really* agnostic.

    As a non-atheist, telling atheists what they are and what they believe is condescending and arrogant. That’s sorta troll-like.

    I believe you truly hold those convictions and are trying to help others see what seems so clear to you – that’s fine, but the problem comes when people tell you that that’s not how it is, that just because a book says atheism is this, that, and the other thing, that doesn’t mean it *is*, you ignore them (or tell them they’re wrong…) Also troll-like.

    You seem to be accusing everyone else of having dangerous ideologies without realizing that you are so wedded to your own ideas, you sound *just like* the people you are railing against.

    This is how you are coming across, this is what you are communicating. If this is not you, then maybe you should reconsider the words you choose and the way you use them.

  29. Profile photo of gregladen
    June 28, 2012 at 2:22 pm —

    I say we all leave the internet for 10 days and leave the trolls in charge. They *will* eat each other. Then we come back.

  30. Profile photo of emio
    June 29, 2012 at 6:20 am —

    Looking throughout this thread I can’t say whether Brenda was wrong in calling herself an agnostic (as most are), because I don’t know how she defines agnosticism.

    But the statement she made that she can’t be called an atheist just because she is not or rejects theism, is simply wrong. She can be defined as an atheist depending on what a person means when calling someone theist or atheist. If atheism and theism is a dichotomy to them (i.e “x and ~X” or “belief in god and no belief in god”), and brenda is not a theist then it necessarily follows that she’s an atheist.

    This is also not a matter of “black and white thinking” rather it relies on the nature of language and logic. Obviously there’s no such thing as “objective definitions” for “words” (which is just a symbol), the word atheism can mean anything. But we want to associate it with some abstract concept, a concept we all know we just use atheism to represent/refer to it. This all seems incredibly obvious, but I’ve been in countless arguments with people, who feel if they admit that atheism can mean anything, then they lose because they can’t corner atheism itself into any necessary position. (e.g. Theists typically want to corner atheism into “belief there is no god” in order to make it into an extreme belief like theism.) Furthermore, making atheism and theism into a true dichotomy is not “black and white thinking” all it’s saying is that given a specific position, you either believe in it or do not believe in it. This DOESN’T mean there’s no variety in the reasons WHY people believe or don’t believe, just that these varieties for believing or not believe can be simplified into two categories (theism and atheism).

    Furthermore if she really does rejects theism then by her own admission she’s STILL an atheist. She defines atheism as a “denial of theism” from the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (which I love and respect, and indeed by this definition atheism and theism no longer constitute a true dichotomy. Which I as an atheist prefer simply because I don’t want to label babies or indigenous people who have no concept of god as atheists, I think it’s more respectful.), but that still means a rejection of theism, in fact that’s exactly what it means. In philosophical terms all it means to “deny” some position is to simply reject (to not accept) that position. So if she does reject theism, she’s still an atheist regardless of whether we make atheism and theism into a true dichotomy or not.

    So I don’t know what she means by agnosticism but it is clear she is, judging from what I’ve read so far,(ALSO?) an atheist.

    I genuinely believe people like her are simply afraid to call themselves atheist because of their beliefs about the nature of the “new atheist movement” and it’s characteristics, they simply do not want to be associated with what they perceive as a disreputable movement, and that’s all.

    • Profile photo of nikoel
      June 29, 2012 at 12:52 pm —

      So I don’t know what she means by agnosticism but it is clear she is, judging from what I’ve read so far,(ALSO?) an atheist.

      I genuinely believe people like her are simply afraid to call themselves atheist because of their beliefs about the nature of the “new atheist movement” and it’s characteristics, they simply do not want to be associated with what they perceive as a disreputable movement, and that’s all.

      These are both really good points and I think part of the problem with Brenda in regards to this post at least is that she’s trying to convince us of all these shades of grey between theists and atheists, but not giving any examples or reasoning behind the claim.

      I’ve found in my life, that the vast majority of people who call themselves agnostic are just reticent to associate with atheists for the same reason many women are reticent to call themselves feminists, despite holding many of the same values.

      I still think Penn Jillette (as much as I dislike him) stated it best:

      Q1: Is there a god? A1: I don’t know.
      Q2: Do you believe in a god? A2: No.

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