Sunday, January 8, 2012

"I came here for an argument"

Like comment spammers, trolls are a natural part of the blog landscape. Sometimes they're actually quite funny. Unfortunately, more often than not, they are just wannabe bullies.

I say "wannabe" because they rarely have the effect they want. Unlike the schoolyard, social media channels do not allow the privacy that most bullies operate under. They expose their own intellectual and psychological shortcomings for everyone to see. But because they can do so with anonymity, they aren't too worried about being personally exposed.

I have one of these. At least one. Regular readers will recognize a signature style in a certain "Anonymous" poster's comments. I have no idea why he/she bothers to come here so regularly to read posts that he/she thinks are "stupid" or "crazy" just so he/she can call me a "prick" or a "dbag".

My first instinct has been to leave these comments up. They don't do any more harm to me than slight annoyance, and my Facebook friends seem to get some entertainment value out of seeing what the troll will come up with next. Lately, though, things have begun to escalate from random abuse to a weird kind of obsessiveness. It's creepy.

I don't really want to pre-moderate comments, and I won't for now. I also want to leave the anonymous option there for people who aren't comfortable putting a public identity to their comments. I will continue to delete hate speech against others as a matter of policy, as well as spam when I feel like it. And once in a while, I will disappear a troll.

I blog under my own name because I've never been shy about having an opinion. I know my opinions can attract scorn as well as debate, and I can take quite a bit of both. But what I really get tired of is repetitive trolling that isn't funny, creative, or even laughably pathetic. I wouldn't sit silently and take some stranger screaming shit at me on the bus. Why do I need to play host to it here?

I came here for an argument.


  1. This is your blog, Tom. I see no reason to put up with abusive comments that add nothing to the discussions and debates that you initiate. They just spread bad energy, man! Delete and ignore! Kind of like that part in one of those Malcolm Gladwell books where he mentions how the anti-graffiti strategy adopted by the New York transport system was to paint over it every night. The graffiti artists eventually got tired of expending their efforts with nothing to show for it. Maybe your troll will lumber off to some other bridge.

  2. But that Jake Volt. Now there's a handsome, pleasantly odoured fellow.

  3. Jake does smell good. His modest height invites everyone to give his head a sniff. Highly recommended. Reminiscent of fresh bagels.

  4. > And once in a while, I will disappear a troll.

    :-) missed me! :-)


  5. I think it can be completely valid to delete comments. There's a big difference between criticism and abuse.

    It's your blog though. Do what feels in keeping with your aims.