What to do about Internet trolls?

By on February 25, 2013 10:12:05 PM from JoeUser Forums JoeUser Forums

Draginol

Join Date 03/2001
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As we get more connected online, the haters of the world become more empowered. I am often astonished at some of the brazen behavior I see in comments and on forums by people who, one assumes, are functioning people in real life. 

I think a key ingredient is narcisism. i cant think of any other explanation for someone who puts effort into trying to upset other people while their own identities are just a bit of Google-Fu away. If you’ve ever read an article on someone before, there’s inevitably anonymous trolls who say unbelievably nasty things about them.  Of course, they do so because they think they're anonymous.

Imagine if their ugly behavior was quoted and attached to their “real name” when you Googled them? I suspect we’d see a change in behavior pretty quickly.

I have mixed feelings on anonymity on the Internet. On the one hand, I’ve seen people make threats against me, my wife and occasionally even against my kids. So I am very conscious of how vulnerable we are to the worst humanity has to offer.  On the other hand, I can’t help but notice that the worst behavior is usually done by people who think that they’re safe from retaliation because they think they’re anonymous.

So I’m not sure what should be done.  Almost everyone reading this has dealt (or at least observed) a persistent Internet troll. You can ban them but they’ll be back. As trolling becomes more common and increasingly nastier, it’s an issue that’s going to have to be addressed somehow.  Having seen the slow evolution of the Internet troll over the past 20 years, I can tell you, the ability to inflict harm on people is growing.  Sooner or later, it’s going to have to be dealt with.

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February 25, 2013 10:21:43 PM from WinCustomize Forums WinCustomize Forums

Trolling is essentially online 'bullying'.

It's being 'criminalized' as it has led to victim suicides.  The 'success' of a person remaining anonymous is inversely proportional to the severity of their actions.

The worse they do the more effort is exerted to locate them and prosecute.

 

Being the power-crazed despot that I am, I enjoy being able to 'snuff them out' [here] - even if only temporarily.....perhaps...

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February 25, 2013 11:12:03 PM from Little Tiny Frogs Forums Little Tiny Frogs Forums

Big thanks to Kevin VanOrd for this link on the guide to dealing with commenters:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7IJyRAUxtAQ

 

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February 25, 2013 11:42:23 PM from WinCustomize Forums WinCustomize Forums

I’ve seen people make threats against me, my wife and occasionally even against my kids.

When this type of threat occurs, law enforcement should handle it. You simply aren't equipped to.

Jafo is 100% correct.

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February 25, 2013 11:55:28 PM from WinCustomize Forums WinCustomize Forums

Brad...in the linked vid it sounds all so good "you have no power over me that I do not give you" but unfortunately that simply charges the victim with being guilty of allowing themselves to be victimized.

Unfortunately [or fortunately] it is not a crime to be both on the net AND 'thin-skinned'.

The world's not populated with people of equal 'insensitivity' to attack or insult'.  IF everyone COULD just 'move on' as she says in the vid....yes, things would be fine....but the world ain't a perfect place...and it's populated by both victims AND victimizers...

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February 25, 2013 11:56:42 PM from Stardock Forums Stardock Forums

Quoting DrJBHL,


I’ve seen people make threats against me, my wife and occasionally even against my kids.

When this type of threat occurs, law enforcement should handle it. You simply aren't equipped to.

Jafo is 100% correct.

I've talked to the police in the past. There's not much they can/will do unless the threat seems credible.

And what I get is nothing compared to what political bloggers get.

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February 26, 2013 12:36:06 AM from Little Tiny Frogs Forums Little Tiny Frogs Forums

Quoting Jafo,

Brad...in the linked vid it sounds all so good "you have no power over me that I do not give you" but unfortunately that simply charges the victim with being guilty of allowing themselves to be victimized.

Unfortunately [or fortunately] it is not a crime to be both on the net AND 'thin-skinned'.

The world's not populated with people of equal 'insensitivity' to attack or insult'.  IF everyone COULD just 'move on' as she says in the vid....yes, things would be fine....but the world ain't a perfect place...and it's populated by both victims AND victimizers...

True.  

I think one of the ugliest things I've ever personally had done to me was Angie Gallant writing a faux "review" of my fantasy book on her Unamommer site (of course, not using her real name ) in retaliation for her husband Matt Gallant, getting banned off a forum for stalking me.  I had nothing to do with his banning a nor had I ever done anything to the guy. They dislike my politics (I'm a conservative) and rationalized that I deserved their hate on that basis.  But they've expended a lot of energy hating on me over the years. She has some fans due to her artistry in ridiculing bad art but her admirers have no idea which parts are satire and which parts are her and her husband just hating on people they have a personal grudge against and using satire as a cover for their petty, vindictive nature.  

Anyway, it's easy to say that one should just ignore it or "feel sorry for how miserable" they are. But unless you've actually experienced unbridled, senseless hatred directed at you it's hard to relate to what it's like. I can't say I hate anyone but I wish there was a system to discourage people like that. 

And I get off easy compared to say political bloggers. They get serious and sometimes dangerous crap thrown at them. 

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February 26, 2013 12:58:44 AM from WinCustomize Forums WinCustomize Forums

Then of course there's that old 'if you can't stand the heat....' adage.  Social, and in particular - political prominance means you're a target for what-ever is to be hurled at you in the name of critical opinion/abuse/trolling.

A lot of it can be simply a hatred of 'authority', no matter what the source/type.... which is why simple site Admins/Moderators can become a target.

As with any assault, it can either drive people away or perhaps enable them to manage to handle worse.

Often it is all about that definition of 'stress'....

"The confusion created when one's mind overrides the body's desire to beat the living shit out of some asshole who desperately needs it."

The ability to just shrug-and-move-on should be a prerequisite for Intercourse with the Internet...

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February 26, 2013 1:22:35 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Good point.

Personally moderating our forums was a big mistake for me in hindsight. Those banned people never forget and are the first to light fires at the slightest opportunity when they find a encourages that encourages or at least supports those kinds of people.  

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February 26, 2013 2:10:47 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Nothing. There is nothing to do about trolls except stay in well moderated communities.

You mentioned the Gallants...They are an example of the system working. Haven't they been banned from the mainstream gaming sites? Last time I lurked theyre only on broken forum which is just a site where banned people go to die...

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February 26, 2013 2:31:20 AM from WinCustomize Forums WinCustomize Forums

"Angie Gallant",never heard of her. But I do have time to hear what you have to say ...

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February 26, 2013 5:09:31 AM from WinCustomize Forums WinCustomize Forums

Brad....yes, possibly moderating your own just placed you firmly in more people's headlights.

When you're seen to have a 'physical' advantage over other 'users' [or trolls] such as the ability to alter reality by modifying what is said...it's hard to take 'the high ground' in a discussion [or response to a troll].

Maybe I'm [in particular] just far-enough-away [10,000 miles] to have distance between what is said against [Stardock] and whom-ever comes to its defense...

 

Of course, in reality Stardock's forum/s are relatively troll-free.  In the rest of the Internet, however they roam free....

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February 26, 2013 5:51:01 AM from WinCustomize Forums WinCustomize Forums

One ignores a troll obviously. Why bother? Who cares what some idiot says? Never understood people who take it seriously. During my stints as moderator i usually locked the thread as soon as it became troll infested. Admonished troll responders not to feed trolls. But never ever engaged them in conversation.

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February 26, 2013 6:44:15 AM from WinCustomize Forums WinCustomize Forums

Quoting Jafo,
Brad....yes, possibly moderating your own just placed you firmly in more people's headlights.

I wonder if this isn't really part of it. I wonder if it's part of the romanticized "rebel" stance some delight in taking, and when that (and its requisite lack of civility) is frustrated by an authority figure venom is unleashed without consequence since they are largely anonymous and consequences are nil.

Quoting Frogboy,
I've talked to the police in the past. There's not much they can/will do unless the threat seems credible.

Truly unfortunate and saddening. I wonder what it takes to make it 'credible', short of an actual/physical attack.

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February 26, 2013 8:00:30 AM from Sins of a Solar Empire Forums Sins of a Solar Empire Forums

It may be just me, but isn't this whole thread feeding the trolls? I think they would relish threads like this giving there activities verification that their childish antics actually do have the desired affect.

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February 26, 2013 8:10:10 AM from WinCustomize Forums WinCustomize Forums

All you can do is ignore them, they are not worth getting upset over. You health and well being are far more important than them. I shut down comments, the forums, and user signup on my site... no more trolls!

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February 26, 2013 8:14:43 AM from WinCustomize Forums WinCustomize Forums

Trolls ruined the Wincustomize.com Personal Pages.

Everyone suffers the loss.

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February 26, 2013 9:24:38 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

The worst trolls I've seen are the ones who get into politics. It's easy to say "just ignore them" when you've never experienced it.  Some of the stuff I've seen political bloggers go through is downright scary.  

Comment trollers are pretty minor. But people increasingly work themselves up to do nastier things, all of which is legal.  In the politics blogs there's a term called Swating. It's where a troll cals 911 and tells them their target is holding hostages. The police bust in at the victim's home.  The point being the sickos who do this start out as "just trolls".  

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February 26, 2013 10:08:00 AM from JoeUser Forums JoeUser Forums

Quoting tazgecko,

"Angie Gallant",never heard of her.

That's a good point.  By mentioning her, you are feeding her ego.  I doubt she has 10% of the name recognition you do.  But if you mention her, she will close the gap.

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February 26, 2013 10:34:26 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Dr Guy,


Quoting tazgecko, reply 10
"Angie Gallant",never heard of her.

That's a good point.  By mentioning her, you are feeding her ego.  I doubt she has 10% of the name recognition you do.  But if you mention her, she will close the gap.

If she was trying to get that kind of attention as Angie gallant she wouldn't do her dirty work under pseudonyms. Shine some light on a troll and they shrivel up. I'm firmly in the camp the anonymakes gives temptation to trolling...I say with my pseudonym.  

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February 26, 2013 10:40:51 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Dr Guy,


Quoting tazgecko, reply 10
"Angie Gallant",never heard of her.

That's a good point.  By mentioning her, you are feeding her ego.  I doubt she has 10% of the name recognition you do.  But if you mention her, she will close the gap.

Disagree. I think you would see trolling dry up in a hurry if the person's unsavory activities came up when ever you google searched their real name. Being an Internet asshole is all fun and games until it comes up on a job interview.

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February 26, 2013 11:17:52 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Frogboy,

Good point.

Personally moderating our forums was a big mistake for me in hindsight. Those banned people never forget and are the first to light fires at the slightest opportunity when they find a encourages that encourages or at least supports those kinds of people.  

 

If someone else had banned those same posters instead of yourself, there would have been the same reaction.  Getting banned from a place (if you view it as unfair) will turn you against a place hard. 

 

An old MUD I used to play had this policy: if you have a problem with an IMM, find an IMP.  If you have a problem with an IMP, find another place.

It worked until enough folks had problems with the IMPs.

 

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February 26, 2013 12:25:53 PM from GalCiv II Forums GalCiv II Forums

Quoting Xan,


Disagree. I think you would see trolling dry up in a hurry if the person's unsavory activities came up when ever you google searched their real name. Being an Internet asshole is all fun and games until it comes up on a job interview.

The downside is that a lot of people share the same name.  But yeah, I do think that employers should be able to find out if you've been engaging in such behaviour.  Who wants to employ someone like that when they can have a relatively normal person who has manners and apologises if they cause offence?

Hell, you could even let their local benefits office know about this, so they can get challenged about it when they go to sign on.  The look on their face would be priceless.

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February 26, 2013 3:21:03 PM from JoeUser Forums JoeUser Forums

Quoting Xan,
Disagree.

Quoting Mmrnmhrm,
If she was trying to get that kind of attention as Angie gallant she wouldn't do her dirty work under pseudonyms.

Xan and Mmrnmhrm - my response was poorly worded.  She (Jane doe) does not want to be known.  She wants her blog to get more exposure.  So by mentioning her troll name, people go (the rubber neck syndrome) see what it is all about.

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February 26, 2013 3:38:21 PM from WinCustomize Forums WinCustomize Forums

Quoting Alstein,
If someone else had banned those same posters instead of yourself, there would have been the same reaction. Getting banned from a place (if you view it as unfair) will turn you against a place hard.

Not necessarily.

When a person is banned by a person   they tend to believe since they [think they] did nothing wrong their banning MUST have been due to a personality clash/prejudice of the PERSON doing the ban.

I know this is true as I have been having these 'personality clashes' with people here for over a decade.  When Wiki was altered by one disgruntled [and recently removed] troll his wrath tended to be aimed squarely at 'that fascist bastard admin', not Stardock per se.

There are probably dozens/maybe hundreds of people on Stardock's sites who think I am [or some other admin is] prejudiced against them and just dying for them to make another faux pas.  The reality is - couldn't care less - as long as the site/s remain friendly places to be enjoyed by all.

Troll removal is simply cause-and-effect.  Do the crime = do the time...

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February 26, 2013 6:22:23 PM from Stardock Forums Stardock Forums

Being an Internet asshole

IMO, there's no such thing as an internet asshole. There are only assholes, and non-assholes. Anonymity doesn't create them--it merely reveals them.

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