jimhines: (Default)
([personal profile] jimhines Mar. 7th, 2011 09:30 am)

At what point do you label someone a troll?

Some of the discussions on my blog get pretty intense and heated. I have no problem with people disagreeing with me. I appreciate it, actually. I learn a lot from people challenging my ideas or offering different perspectives.

I do have a problem with people who consistently violate Wheaton’s Law. But I’ve also watched people swoop into a conversation at Dick Factor Nine, only to eventually turn around and say, “Huh … okay, I guess maybe you have a point there. Sorry for being a dick.”

Yeah, it doesn’t happen often. But it has happened.

To me, a troll is someone who shows up solely to stir things up and piss people off. There’s zero interest in the conversation, zero interest in listening. It’s a game for the troll’s amusement, to poke buttons and see who s/he can piss off.

To me, clueless =/= troll. Angry =/= troll. Even blatant violation of Wheaton’s Law doesn’t necessarily equate to trolling. We all act like jerks sometimes. (I might still ban you for repeated offenses, but I wouldn’t automatically assume you were a troll.)

I think we tend to label people trolls too quickly. And from what I’ve seen, I think we sometimes do it as a way to dismiss people we disagree with. (I’m including myself in the “we” here, by the way.)

What do you think? We can’t read minds, so when do you decide someone is just trolling and no longer worth responding to?

  • Is the “Men’s Rights” advocate who shows up in one of my rape posts to argue that “Rape is a weapon used by feminists to attack men!” a troll?
  • What about the anonymous commenter who says, “I know it’s off-topic, but I wanted to tell you I read your latest book, and it was utter trash.” Does it make a difference if they aren’t anonymous?
  • Does the guy who shows up using offensive language (i.e., “That’s so gay/retarded!”) count as a troll? What if he continues to use that language after being told it’s offensive?

It’s possible I’m overanalyzing this. But I’m curious what others think.

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

branchandroot: oak against sky (Default)

From: [personal profile] branchandroot

Hmm. I do think there's some congruency between "clueless asshole" and "troll", actually, in that neither has any interest in conversation. Their comment, and any response to it, is there purely to serve as their personal arena. In the case of trolls, the arena is for their amusement; in the case of the clueless asshole it usually seems to be for their self-justification. In both cases, though, I'd say the point of setting that arena up is to make them feel all comfy with themselves at the clear expense of others. So I think I can see why the two would be used interchangeably in all three of the examples above, and especially the first. The clueless asshole may, as you say, in very rare cases be brought to a state of lesser cluelessness with sufficient hammering--there's a bit less deliberate intent to cause pain and upset there. Usually. Hopefully. But the effect overlap is pretty big, between CA and T, and given that part of most privilege-asshole conversations involve debunking the "I didn't /mean/ to insult anyone egregiously" thing I can also see why some people are starting to use "troll" on the basis of effect rather than intent.
brownbetty: (Default)

From: [personal profile] brownbetty


And there's also Clueless Stupid, which is someone who is genuinely interested in learning, but you really do have to hold their hand every step of the way. They can be nearly as much trouble as a troll, and if you're trying to host a discussion for, say, rape survivors, they are just almost as likely to say something hurtful.
Edited (s/just/almost/) Date: 2011-03-07 05:53 pm (UTC)
tiferet: cute girl in pink dress captioned "not all bad girls wear black" (Default)

From: [personal profile] tiferet

I have been clueless stupid on other issues, but not that one, and omg do I regret it.

I would not disagree with the use of the word 'just'.
georgmi: Camping on Shi Shi Beach, WA (Default)

From: [personal profile] georgmi

Add my vote for evaluating based on observed effect rather than deniable intent. Not only does this save you the impossible task of seeing within the hearts of others, it also gives you the ability to separate the action from the actor, just in case they're not deliberately being an asshole.

Contrast, "Are you sure that's what you meant when you said X?" with, "Dawn take you all, and be stone with you!"
georgmi: Camping on Shi Shi Beach, WA (Default)

From: [personal profile] georgmi

Should read, "and be stone to you!" I hate when I blow a quote. :/
tiferet: cute girl in pink dress captioned "not all bad girls wear black" (Default)

From: [personal profile] tiferet

I used to think concern trolls, MRAs and rape apologists were trolls, but now I actually think that makes light of them. Their intent is not just to poke the hive and see who gets stung; their intent is to shut down conversations that threaten the rape culture (or structural racism, or heteronormativity--'trolls' of this nature affect every social justice movement), which imnsho is far more serious and destructive. Calling them rape apologists rather than trolls is more accurate.

I also think that calling the person who was harassing Seanan McGuire, and the one who harassed me (not the same people, just the same tactics) 'trolls' is minimising their destructive and threatening actions. People who harass female creators are doing it to get them to shut up and go away, and often cross the line into truly threatening, stalking and libellous behaviour in so doing; we need to take them and their creepy obsessions seriously because they are dangerous. If someone cares enough to make a website where they deface your photograph, use your real name if you're not putting it online, post identifying information and make libellous or defamatory statements about you in between making nasty jokes about your weight, sexual orientation and religion, just because they don't like your writing, they're hazardous to your mental health and may be physically dangerous. Online harassment and cyberbullying is also not the same thing as poking a hive to see who gets stung. (I also have a group of friends who are dealing with this right now but redacted the name of their project so as not to call attention to the bully. It's the same damn tactics, every time--slagging on your sexuality and appearance, religious beliefs or lack thereof, and attacking your project, combined with ugly and untrue accusations...)

People who want to tell you your book is trash, anonymous or not, are just being dicks. It may be harassment if they do it every time you write anything, but if they're just leaving a drive-by comment, they're just being dicks. If they were trolls they'd go to a public place where there are lots of people who like you and say it to THEM.

People who use slurs are just showing that they are homophobic/racist/ableist. I tend not to think it is trolling if they actually seem to believe what they say.
Edited (clarity and completion) Date: 2011-03-10 07:27 pm (UTC)
tiferet: cute girl in pink dress captioned "not all bad girls wear black" (Default)

From: [personal profile] tiferet

I didn't think you'd know about it. I'm hardly a SMOF, and the thing with Seanan happened years before she was a published author. These were two separate incidents, but this is actually not uncommon.

They're always small sites that harassers set up themselves, usually on blog sites. Seanan's 'troll' was working out of a wiki site, most of what I saw, as well as posting abusive material on LJ. I don't know how they put an end to that but I believe Seanan and her other friends managed to get that stopped.

The one who went after me (mostly) and to a lesser degree several other of the people who were doing Lightning War (which is a fanworks mashup of about 20 fandoms) was making fake live journal accounts (and blogs, on blog sites) which were presenting themselves as mine, while posting abusive trash on any account we owned that wasn't locked to friends. This person is one of the reasons LJ developed a ban evasion policy because at one point everyone in Lightning War had a bunch of accounts banned. I lost track at 30 or so. They were eventually banned from LJ forever. That one stole photos I and friends had taken of me and defaced them and posted them on a Blogger site that they lost because we DMCA'd them for stealing our pictures.

This is actually very common behaviour in junior high and high schools; it's called 'cyberbullying'. Kids will make fake accounts, post doctored pictures and slurs and accusations about people they don't like, and put them up on the web for the whole school to see. Unfortunately kids and their parents don't usually know how to stop it and once it's been seen by everyone the damage is done, so there have been suicides.

Unfortunately, in fandom there are people who are not above this sort of behaviour even though they are adults; fortunately, most adults in fandom are conversant enough with website rules and applicable laws that we can usually eventually get these sites taken down.
Edited Date: 2011-03-11 10:22 pm (UTC)
bodlon: It's a coyote astronaut! (Default)

From: [personal profile] bodlon

Just realized that my reply to this has been sitting in a tab for days. ARGH.

Oddly, I had to explain my own internal self-test for these things to someone just this past week, so it's fresh in my mind. It goes a little something like this:

Here's my internal self-test for excluding annoying people:

- What's the quality of their discussion like? Even if I disagree with it, is it well-supported or factual?

- When I'm frustrated or angry with this person, am I also learning? If so, am I learning NEW and USEFUL things, or am I revisiting the same 101 level "wrong on the Internet" kind of crap?

- Is this person obstructing progress? If so, are those obstructions the kinds of things I'd be willing to consider if this person didn't annoy me so much? When I stop and examine this person's argument, is there merit and skill in it?

- Is this person damaging the group dynamic? Driving people off? Making it hard to do things? Why and how? Does the group need a challenge? Is the group becoming a finer thing for it, or coming apart?

In response to your specific examples, I know that I'd be hard pressed not to label the "Men's Rights" person a troll out of the gate, or at least someone who's maybe not going to be easily swayed by nuance. It's also possible that I'm sick to death of people who think that's a novel or useful thing to say. The other two are lesser sins, perhaps -- both are more rude than anything else, but those actions are less overtly about ideology.

It's tactlessness and immature, but it's not quite on the same level as the first, if that makes sense. I can roll my eyes at it more easily.
bodlon: It's a coyote astronaut! (Default)

From: [personal profile] bodlon

...the fact that regardless of the person's intent, if they're derailing/destroying the discussion or driving away others, then that's something that needs to be addressed.


And yeah, it's way harder to deal with some random person who shows up specifically to argue, and who doesn't know the lay of things. At least the regulars have a sense of what you mean when you talk about certain things. Context is incredibly helpful stuff.
tiferet: cute girl in pink dress captioned "not all bad girls wear black" (Default)

From: [personal profile] tiferet

You probably have less patience with that because you know the person is not really interested in what you have to say or in having a conversation with you; they're just there to tell you that you're a wrong wrong wrongyface because they find these ideas so threatening that they feel the need to jump on them wherever they are posted. I guess even the most hardcore MRA has to take time away from practising speed seduction, perusing mail-order bride catalogues, and feeling sorry for himself because he's such a nice guy and nobody wants him to make sure MRA surveillance on the interwebs is not allowed to suffer for a minute.

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