Thoughts about web trolls - Spring 2013
(I made this post at ToledoTalk.com in March 2013, and it appears that I my writing contained some old-fashioned spunkiness.)
Another user wrote:
"At least a “troll” will usually state their true feelings and not give you some text book politically correct vanilla answer ..."
Wrong. That's not the definition of a troll. That's the definition of anonymity or using pseudonyms on the Internet. A big difference exists. Equating a troll with someone using a pseudonym is ignorant.
A troll has no opinions. A troll creates fiction. A troll targets and attacks specific users. A troll only wants to incite anger, to inflame. A troll tries to destroy communities or threads that are used by people who are sharing opinions with either their real names or pseudonyms.
A troll performs these actions for personal fun because a troll has little else of consequence in his or her life. Trolling on a site that allows user contributed content is the troll's reason to wake up and exist. It's not much of a life, but it's the troll's life, so it needs to be taught in diversity classes so that we can be empathetic toward trolls.
Anonymity and Pseudonyms in Social Software by one of the co-founders of Flickr :
The point I think is this: Pseudonyms are not in themselves harmful. Yes, they can be used for harm, as when people use them for anonymous, slanderous attacks, trolling, etc., but in the vast majority of cases there is no harm done. Importantly, they can serve to protect vulnerable groups. There’s even a comprehensive list of people harmed by Real Names policies. In the cases where pseudonyms are being abused, it is the that should be stopped, not the pseudonyms.
How To Keep Hostile Jerks From Taking Over Your Online Community by a co-editor of Boing Boing
The Internet Tough Guy is a feature in all Internet social forums. These are people who poison discussions with anger, hatred, and threats. Some are malicious. Some are crazy. Some are just afflicted with a rotten sense of humor. Whatever their motives, they're a scourge. It takes precious little trolling to sour a message-board. A "troll" -- someone who comes onto an online community looking to pick fights -- has two victory conditions: Either everyone ends up talking about him, or no one talks at all.
Defining the troll by a journalism professor
I believe, that [the troll] (1) has a target; (2) seeks to get a response—a rise—out of that target; and (3) believes he is acting out of some ordained moral purpose to destroy, to bring down his target.
Trolls don’t argue ideas. They attack people.
Let us also note that trolls, like assholes, need not be anonymous. Yes, anonymity is not only a vital tool for the speech of the vulnerable and oppressed as well as whistleblowers, it is also the cloak of cowards. But identity is no cure for the common asshole or troll.
As I said, the worst thing a troll’s victim can do is to respond in defense, explanation, attempted discussion, or counterattack. That only feeds the beast.
So are we to concede the net to the trolls, to accept their rule over this new domain? No. We cannot. I will argue that it is the responsibility—the moral duty—of bystanders to call trolls on their trolling.
The next time you see a troll rubbing claws and cackling at his attack on someone you know and respect and you do not call him on it, then you must ask yourself what kind of net you are fostering.
If your website is full of assholes, it's your fault
If you run a website, you need to follow these steps. if you don't, you're making the web, and the world, a worse place. And it's your fault. Put another way, take some goddamn responsibility for what you unleash on the world. And people who make communities on the web have to moderate them.
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