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Troll-hammering the point home

The recent discussion about how to handle the topic-hijacking trolls who occasionally (albiet more frequently) infest discussions around these parts brought out a lot of good opinions and information. But one topic that came up was just how to define the problem.

I cited some commenters who will post long excerpts (or occasionally, full pieces) from other sources into a completely unrelated discussion to make whatever point they wish to on another topic. It occurred to me that if a picture is worth a thousand words, a good example is worth far more than any descriptions.

Recently around these parts, Lorie Byrd briefly touched upon the controversy around Markos "Kos" "Screw them" Zuniga and his writing partner, Jerome Armstrong. (I'll have a little more on this myself later.) Lorie was discussing Kos' letter to a rather select group of prominent bloggers, asking them to maintain a Cone Of Silence on the story for a while, hoping it would die away.

The very first comment came from Lee, who took a great deal of interest in my discussion about trolls. (That tickled me no end, as he is one of the primary offenders I was discussing.) In a stunning display of doing Kos' bidding, he immediately tried to change the subject away from Kos and Armstrong, and towards defending John Murtha and touting the alleged misdeeds of US servicemembers in Iraq. And, sadly, the tactic largely succeeded.

So, here is your concrete example, demonstrating exactly what the issue is that had me so annoyed. Lee might not be the most flagrant offender, or even the most recent, but it was his efforts that struck me most recently. Had it been one of my threads, I would have acted immediately, but it was Lorie's, and therefore her place first to act -- or not.

(Lee also deserves credit for inspiring my idea of using "Blood For Odin!" as a response to such a troll. And while I'm giving credit where it is due, I'd like to thank Buffy The Vampire Slayer for giving us Olaf The Troll and his mighty hammer. It's no Mjollnir, but if it's good enough for Buffy to use in defeating a god, it'll do for me.)

Comments (46)

Hey, don't you troll at Oli... (Below threshold)

Hey, don't you troll at Oliver Willis's hangout? Oh. Yeah. You do.

For instance, you brought up Dan Rather's "fake but accurate" line when discussing Steele and the phantom oreos.


Or maybe you bringing up George Soros when Willis is discussing Ward Churchhill?


Or how about when you asked someone this question:

"Factcheck, when did you stop raping your mother?"


Or maybe this post Oliver had about Wal-Mart/Redstate which you took over by bringing up racism?


I suppose I could go on...

I know you would like to ke... (Below threshold)

I know you would like to keep things as open and free as possible, but the sheer obnoxiousness of the trolls is starting to wear thin. I used to try and read all the comments of a thread, but with Lee and his ilk providing little but noise (the few and far between good point is hardly worth the wading through mounds of steaming prose, thread after thread) I have recently been reading my blogs for the initial posting, and pretty much avoiding the comments.

I fear that this is what the leftards are trying to accomplish.

I'll be interested to see what you can do with "Mja-hole-nir, the troll hammer" to make it not worth the time of these dopes.

Better watch out Lee, Olaf ... (Below threshold)

Better watch out Lee, Olaf is looking mighty pissed and has not chomped a troll in a whole week.

I didn't intend to hijack t... (Below threshold)

I didn't intend to hijack the thread, so you're suggestion that it was a "tactic" isn't true.

"Ignore" is always an option also, which is what I expected after posting that comment, that it would be ignored. I was suprised it took off the way it did, and I wouldn't have objected in the least to having that comment deleted, because it was, in retrospect, too far off-topic.

I don't think it was a case where what I said was more interesting than what Lorie wrote, it just seems that many around here would rather attack my opinions rather than state their own. A good example of that is this thread. I even went so far as to suggest that the trolls following me around were creating a nuisance:

Silly me, thinking that I could actually have a discussion with you.

Posted by: Doug L. at June 26, 2006 05:00 PM

If all you're going to do is quote someone else, you aren't having a discussion with me, wingnut.

Look guys, I stated my opinion on this post, why don't you state yours and we'll all go on with our lives. You barking dogs following me around this blog, commenting about me instead of about the posts, isn't fair to this site and to its readers.

Posted by: Lee at June 26, 2006 05:23 PM

Usually there are 3 out of 4 comments which are directed at me that I just totally ignore, choosing to respond to those that seem sincere, and aren't just name-calling.

I have suggested in the past that people who object to my views ignore my comments in the same manner. "Ignore" is the tried and true method of dealing with these kinds of internet issues, it's just that many around here can't manage the self-restraint it takes to just ignore someone and go on.

I have developed ahabit of ... (Below threshold)

I have developed ahabit of scrolling down to the author. The above was bypassed...

The problem is it's hard to... (Below threshold)

The problem is it's hard to ignore in many cases. When you have 7 of 10 posings being crap that you would like to ignore, it gets tiresome to have to always be looking for the real stuff...you basically have to skim read all of the messages anyways. And in heated topics, undesireable messages (from either side's point of view) build up.

The best overall answer is probably infrastructure and possibly a pain to implement. Sort of like how MacObserver's site works (http://www.macobserver.com/article/2006/06/22.9.shtml). In there they have "anonymous" start with the message closed, but you can always open the message up to see whet they are saying. In the case here, each registered user would have their ignore list. postings from people in their ignore list start automatically closed.

Like I said, probably a hairy bit of code, but that would provide personal control over the flood of undesireable posters without the fiat of censoring by the administrators.

what i said... on many leve... (Below threshold)

what i said... on many levels.

and (as others have suggest... (Below threshold)

and (as others have suggested) putting the author's name at the top of the comment instead of the bottom woud make ignoring easier, and probably not require code monkeys working overtime to impliment.

Hope this is sort of OT: Cu... (Below threshold)
Old Coot:

Hope this is sort of OT: Curious about whether trolls are assigned by Moonbat Central to infest specific blogs. Examples are Lee and Mak44 here and Monkeyboy at Big Lizards and CQ's. Are they forbidden to randomly comment anywhere they want or is it just that they don't have enough hours in the day to fling their poo in more than a few places? Another possibility is that they are just Kos sock-puppets, an explantion that I favor.

I suppose, and perhaps bold... (Below threshold)

I suppose, and perhaps bolded or otherwise set apart from the test font. Even with the space it does not otherwise stick out.

But I'm a code junky, so I'd take the high-tech version if I could. :3

Putting the author name at ... (Below threshold)

Putting the author name at the top of the comment might help.

Denying overtime to code mo... (Below threshold)

Denying overtime to code monkeys? You people make me sick!

BChoinski - Don't get me wr... (Below threshold)

BChoinski - Don't get me wrong, I would love a high-tech solution like being able to have an ignore list that blocked the comments I wished to ignore. We would have to "log in" at that point, but you have to do enter your name and email address to comment anyway.

The way to defeat the sock ... (Below threshold)

The way to defeat the sock puppets--Pee and Ak (Lee and Mak) is to ignore them. Just don't respond to the rubish they post and let them bark a the moon all they want.

Consider yourselves ignored.

Did someone say Murtha?... (Below threshold)
Seattle Slough:

Did someone say Murtha?

JayHe said ... (Below threshold)


He said "rubish." Is that some kind of Michael Jackson game w/ little boys or did he misspell?

Sometimes a troll doesn't a... (Below threshold)

Sometimes a troll doesn't any post that he can get upo on his hobby horse so he picks a thread and gives an OT. Maybe this blog needs more open threads.

Some of the windier trolls should ask themselves if they write interesting stuff. I will be honest if Lee post something longer than 50 words I just don't read him. He is deadly dull. I choose blogs on their readability. I like Laurie and when she migrated from polipundit to here, I followed. I can do the same with commenters.

So let me get ths straight.... (Below threshold)

So let me get ths straight. Lee is advocating ignoring him if you don't like him. So far, so good.

Lee is found to be annoying, at best, and outright snide and accusatory, at worst, by most here. Check.

How many people here seem to agree with maybe not Lee's opinions, but at least Lee's disgust for the author's opinions? Two? Four? Check.

So why does he continue to return, hijacking threads and posting opinions that are largely based on, well, more opinions?

I'll tell ya. If I got spanked as often as Lee does here I'd have to reevaluate my entire world view or go somewhere else.

I find mantis to be tiring, but Lee ... whew! And why doesn't he start his own blog? They're free.

Because he wouldnt have the... (Below threshold)

Because he wouldnt have the traffic that Wizbang has. Here he can spew his invective and be seen.

You have to hand it to Lee,... (Below threshold)

You have to hand it to Lee, Oyster, he's got perseverence. I'd prefer him to be here, actually being challenged on his points than at Daily Kos or DU where it's mostly like-minded people patting each other on the back (though that does go on here too) and never hearing a dissenting point of view.

Oyster...because Lee gets p... (Below threshold)

Oyster...because Lee gets plenty of attention here like a teenager craves.

As for what to do about trolls, the definition often will become a subjective one. There are plenty of times when my libertarian brand of classic conservatism will differ sharply from a social conservative's perspective. I don't think my views on gay partnerships makes me a troll on a philosophically conservative site.

I think it comes down to what you are really trying to accomplish. If this were about bandwidth and storage, I would think Kevin would be bringing up this topic (as he has in the past). So it seems to me this is either an attempt to protect the readers or protect Jay's own time. I understand the latter, but one is not obligated to respond to each snark because others will challenge instead. As for protecting the readers, I feel equipped to protect myself instead. I can ignore, challenge, etc. "Trolls", however they are really defined, give themselves away as idiots if they truly are idiots, and can therefore be easily ignored without detriment to the site.

"and never hearing a dissen... (Below threshold)
Big Mo:

"and never hearing a dissenting point of view"

Heralder - well, that assumes it even cares to hear or read a dissenting point of view. When you automatically proceed from the Bush=bad/liar/dumb template, you're not here to read a dissenting point of view.

I vote we ban Lee and be do... (Below threshold)

I vote we ban Lee and be done with it...

A lot of commenters have su... (Below threshold)

A lot of commenters have suggested simply ignoring the trolls and maybe they'll go away. Good advice, but I'm afraid it isn't likely to work. It's very hard to keep fingers away from keyboard when you read some of the more impressively stupid and/or inflammatory comments that get left here.

paul saidI vote... (Below threshold)

paul said

I vote we ban Lee and be done with it...

But then who would we have to laugh at?

oyster,Some people p... (Below threshold)

Some people pay to get spanked long and hard.
trolls have a maschocism thing, I think.

We'll still be logging in, ... (Below threshold)

We'll still be logging in, darn it. You can use any damn login name you want and as long as the email address has an @ symbol in it, it works.

It would be a lot easier on everybody if Lee and Mak44 grew up a little and didn't hurl up partially digested opinions on every thread. Neither of them is half as brilliant as they think.

Personally, I can't think of a rational reason why some folks feel so compelled to knowingly annoy 90% of the visitors here, and do it so persistently. This is less about their incisive logic than it is a pathetic need to poop in every punchbowl in town.
I'm sick of it.

Perhaps we could have a war... (Below threshold)
Proud Kaffir:

Perhaps we could have a warning system. Five warnings for thread-hijacks or obnoxious trolling and you get the boot.

Merry (<a href="http://word... (Below threshold)

Merry (early) Christmas Lee.

And Mantis
And Mak44.

You right-wingers would lea... (Below threshold)

You right-wingers would lead even more pathetic lives if Lee and Mak and the rest didn't come by to grace your empty lives.

It would be interesting to be a fly on the wall seeing how the wingnuts get along.

Cubanbob: "Damn straight, Fat man. You hungry?"
Fatman: "yeah. I'm called Fat man, aren't I?"

Bobdog: "Can I touch your privates Scuziwuzzy?"
Scuzzi: "Um, OK. I guess."

Kaffir: "anyone got a password to bangbus.com?"
Cate: "you misogynistic pig. I'm going to shoot you, right after I blow downtown Honolulu into the Pacific!"

Jay Tea: "I miss Mak"... (Below threshold)

Jay Tea: "I miss Mak"

Jay,I am extremely l... (Below threshold)
Lorie Byrd:

I am extremely liberal when it comes to allowing comments to stand, but it does wear on me at times. Those above saying the best thing to do to avoid hijacked threads is to ignore those attempting to hijack are right, but sometimes it is hard to do.

Comments from an occasional... (Below threshold)
seattle slough:

Comments from an occasional "troll."

It isn't masochism.

It is the absolute boredom of the echo chamber. Posting at places where everyone agrees (kos or free republic) is 9 times out of 10 totally useless for everyone. Look at the level of discourse in those places where no dissent is allowed. Take a peek at what passes for dialogue among Freepers.

All bloggers need to be called on their bulls___. Thus the troll. Hijacking threads is one thing, but telling a blogger or commenter that he/she is full of s___ (when he/she is) is worthwhile. It is good for the blogger and his/her readers. Either, the blogger withstands the commentary and his/her point is better taken, or he/she does not and learns not to overreach in their analysis. I don't post at Kos because it is flat boring. If we 100% agree on things, we have absolutely nothing to discuss.

As an aside, people seem to be bandying about terms like ban and banishment. This is not a site that even requires registration. Is banning even possible?

Lorie: sorry, but this site... (Below threshold)

Lorie: sorry, but this site especially needs trolls.

For example, when you and your boy Santorum say the US found WMDs in Iraq, someone needs to correct you.

When Kim says Jews have to wear badges in Iran, someone has to correct her.

When Paul attributes quotes to Murtha that Murtha didn't say, someone has to correct him. (Waiting for a Wizbang retraction on that one)

Anyways, your welcome.

ss,I agree that blog... (Below threshold)

I agree that bloggers need to be kept honest, like the slave whispering in the conqueror's ear.

Real trolls can be counted on their knee-jerk opposition and disruptive behaivor regardless of subject or details.
Mantis currently represents the former.
Lee, Mak and their sockpuppets represent the latter.

To the trolls arguing that ... (Below threshold)
Proud Kaffir:

To the trolls arguing that they add to the conversation, or offer a variety from the repetitive conservative echo chamber, I will respond that I only wish this were the case.

I sometimes comment on liberal blogs, but you would probably have a hard time identifying me there(I don't use the same name.) My arguments are similar to the arguments I will make here but I will use different language. If you go to a site of a different political ideology than your own, with intention to debate not troll, you should go out of your way to not be insulting. You should at times concede points, and never stoop to personal attacks on anyone. You should also make an attempt to see things from their point of view, to better frame your own arguments. Remember that this is their space and you are really just a visitor. Mind your manners.

If you can abide by that, you shouldn't have any problems. I have even gone on Islamic Forums, until I tired of the paranoid conspiracy theories, but I have never been called a troll. (Alright, one time, but Armando of Daily Kos really infuriated me once and I couldn't hold back).

As to troll-control on this site, I still prefer a formal warning system.

jp2:I recall each ... (Below threshold)
Jay Tea:


I recall each of those incidents.

1) It was a perfect parallel. In both cases, people reacted to a story of questionable veracity, presuming something was true when the facts were in question. In fact, it got to the point where the actuality of the claim was irrelevant.

2) A fair comparison. Oliver was discussing the big money behind someone on the right; I brought up the big money who employs him at his "day job" (which apparently also involves, or is at the least very tolerant of, his blogging from work.)

3) An adaption of the old loaded question, "when did you stop beating your wife?" I was unaware of fact's marital status, but everyone has a mother.

4) A pre-emptive strike against one of Oliver's favorite tactics, calling racism. That was done after pointing out that Oliver had no business complaining about Wal-Mart hiring a blogger to represent their interests, considering (again) that he works for the George Soros-funded Media Matters. And "took over?" Please. Mine was #2 of 2 comments -- there was no discussion to take over; everyone else apparently saw Oliver's double standard and skipped it.

Hmm, jp2... in each case, I will confess to a certain trollish, mischieveous intent (reminding Oliver and his legion of bum-kissers of uncomfortable realities is slightly amusing), but in each case I was on point, germane, and relevant to the topic at hand.

Thanks for the little trip down memory lane, however.


seattle: it is very possibl... (Below threshold)
Jay Tea:

seattle: it is very possible to ban someone. All commenters' IPs are logged, and the software permits banning by IP. There are ways to evade that, but for the most part it works pretty well. Usually they take the hint.


Lint (or is that Lee) @ 9:1... (Below threshold)

Lint (or is that Lee) @ 9:13 PM, 6-27-2006:

May I take time from my pathetic, empty life to point out that it's "fatman", with a lower case "f"?

Thank you. Y'all come back now, ya hear?

I see jp2 got the Markos le... (Below threshold)

I see jp2 got the Markos letter about Murtha.

The Sun-Sentinel's orginal story didn't have a direct quote and now the Left has been attacking the reporter Elizabeth Baier and sending minions to blogs that linked to the article. Now Murtha has a press release that says he was "taken out of context."

I've been getting the same missives on my site...with the usual LIAR screech directed at me. "Murtha would never say such a thing." Yet, why not? Since so many of his direct quotes, including audio clips, do indeed show he has gone beyond mere senility?

I want to hear the audio before I retract anything I posted.

I second the earlier post t... (Below threshold)

I second the earlier post that tolls are good so we can have someone to laugh at.

Also, the presence of trolls on this blog and the other conservative blogs I frequent gives me a warm fuzzy feeling because if ever I went to any of the moonbat left blogs such as Kos or DU or MyDD and acted like a right-wing version of Lee or mak44, I'd be banned in a second.

I agree - at the very least... (Below threshold)

I agree - at the very least, the commenter's name should be at the top of the comment.

There is a huge difference between disagreeing with a post or comment (dissention, if you will) and hijacking a thread or taking it off-topic.

But in response to the suggestion of "ignore", I ask "Why should I have to?"
Can't I come to this blog and have some expectancy of a decent - on topic - conversation. Or *gasp* 'debate'? Why should I have to scroll past lines of garbage that have nothing to do with the topic?

I shouldn't.

I appreciate that J is trying to be diplomatic and get our input, but the fact is people come here to read opinions.
The software used allows for three things: "Title", "blog post", and "comments". The first (Title) defines the next two. If the author is going to allow comments that don't apply to the title, then why have a title?


How 'bout this; Consider what "down" side there is to deleting off-topic rants. Are there any? Are people who hijack a topic that will be so offended they never comment here again? Is that a bad thing?

What is the "up" side to deleting off-topic rants? Clearly, the comments will be related to the topic. Isn't that a good thing? And - and, isn't there the possibility that commenters will be more focused and clear in their posts in order to avoid going off-topic? I think so.
And if that happens, then perhaps we'll all be spared pouring through a meandering Opus opinion like this one....

When Paul attributes quo... (Below threshold)

When Paul attributes quotes to Murtha that Murtha didn't say, someone has to correct him. (Waiting for a Wizbang retraction on that one)

And Wizbang is still waiting for you to get your fact right on that one.

See THAT is what I delete people for. You simply lie and think it is the truth. It's sad really.

BTW- The Sen-Sent ran that ... (Below threshold)

BTW- The Sen-Sent ran that story on Sunday. For 3 days now I've heard there is going to be this major retraction coming "tomorrow." So far "tomorrow" hasn't gotten here.

I also heard from you guys that Rove was going to be Indicted any day now. That day never came either.

Just because you want something to be true doesn't make it true.

PaulEven Murtha is... (Below threshold)


Even Murtha is not contesting he didn't say it...just that he wasn't quoted in context...just like his Okinawa quote is misquoted


Don't get ahead of me Darle... (Below threshold)

Don't get ahead of me Darleen...

If JP2 keeps pestering for a retraction, I'm going to ask him for a transcript to see how he knows he's right.

Of course none will be forthcoming and we all know that.

He'll jump and and down claiming Murtha never said that, when it is painfully obvious he has no idea wat was said that that meeting. He's just foaming at the mouth.






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