A lot of new folks have appeared in comments recently, more than usual. Some of them have been arguing (or perhaps just pasting text) in favor of the conspiracy and legal theories that I debunk on the site. Some write with an arrogant tone that’s hard not to respond to, and the result is a flurry of conversation that can be disruptive to the discussion of the articles. When someone disrupts intentionally, they are called a “troll” in Internet jargon. I identified this problem here back in 2009 in my article: Do not Feed the Trolls (DNFTT).
Some visitors have become so unruly or offensive that I have had to moderate or ban them. I hate doing that, but I also hate that people’s time is being wasted responding to arrogant and stupid comments.
So I will just mention that if you don’t feed the trolls, maybe they will go somewhere else eventually. I put up a sign.
I don’t think I ever put this in an article, but it was in a comment. I have sort of a “troll test” that I use when deciding whether to label someone a “troll” or not.
- Flurry of short comments
- Comments focusing attention on the troll like “I’m leaving” or “I’m back”
- Failing to acknowledge substantive opposing argument
- Frequent and unjustified claims of having “won”
- Focusing on winning rather than conversation
- Talking about the debate rather than participating in the debate
- Insulting other commenters (particularly borderline insulting language)
- Claiming to be clever, or more clever than anyone else
- Negative generalizations about other commenters
- Failure to state a clear position, but leading others to jump to a conclusion which the troll then denies
- Ignoring the topic of conversation, and blurting in unrelated material
- Appeal to 1st amendment when they are criticized for saying something and focusing the discussion on censorship
- Attempting to needle individual commenters
- Comments designed to strike others as “unfair”
- Intentionally misstating the position of others
- If you remove instant gratification by putting a troll in moderation, they immediately stop commenting.