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Trolls

[ 35 ] January 12, 2013 |

Scientific research on a topic we here at LGM know a whole lot about.

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  • Uncle Ebeneezer

    I’d be interested to see a rundown of which particular topics attract the most trolls here at LGM. Is there any data? Perhaps topics that have generated the most commenter bans.

    • Given that our trolls are the same 3 people for the most part, you’d have to ask them.

      • Manju

        Yeah, I was thinking that there were only 3 too: Me, Otto, and someone named JenBob who appears to change his handle a lot. IMO, that leaves 1. But either way that’s not much.

        Of course, you can’t see what you don’t see. If you fascist bloggers go all Stalin on these threads while I’m looking the other way…then there’s no way for me to know if Leon Trollsky was actually in the picture.

        • Malaclypse

          Neiporent is way more of a troll than you or J Otto.

          • First there needs to be a proper troll census. Dr. Loomis and Manju count three, but reading all of the comments here it appears that there are at least five. Although I am only familiar with the originally named three. After an accurate population figure is fixed then you can analyze the topics that attract their comments. Although in my own case contrary to the Mother Jones article there is no interest in the debate over climate change. I just wish it was not so hot here now.

          • The Dark Avenger

            But thanks for trying to outdo them, Manju.

        • You and Otto are not trolls. You have your, how shall we say, idiosyncrasies, but trolls no. Nieporent isn’t a troll either. He’s an idiot, but that’s different.

          • The word is cranks

            See http://www.crank.net for examples

            • Don’t I get some sort of hearing before being demoted from troll to crank?

              • John Protevi

                J Otto, if you want the world to know that you are not a crank, all you need to do is append the usual

                PS, I AM NOT A CRANK

                It will work every time.

            • Uncle Kvetch

              The word is cranks

              Well, now that Dagney’s here, Otto & Manju had better up their game. They pale in comparison.

              • I fear you are right. I am definitely an amateur troll in comparison.

          • Barry Freed

            Otto just saves his best trolling for Crooked Timber.

            • Not anymore, Quiggin and Farrell banned me when I pointed out that a post attacking an Israeli doctor for organ trafficking violated their ban on any discussion of Israeil-Palestinian issues.

        • You started out as a troll, Manju, but you’ve evolved.

          • c u n d gulag

            I’ll also chime in on Manju – he occasionally comes up with some really great lines.

            For all of the nitwit things he sometimes say, there’s at least, occasionally, some wit.

            And, much as I hate to admit it, some of his wit makes me say, “Damn, Manju! I wish I’d said that!”

            From a wannabe “wit” like me, that them thar’s some purty complimentary words.

            Don’t let them go to your head, Manju!

            • Manju

              ntwit with wit. Wish I thought of that.

          • Manju

            You started out as a troll, Manju, but you’ve evolved.

            Crueler words have never been spoken…because you know who also evolved.

      • Informant

        I get accused of being a troll any time I disagree with the OP, even though I generally agree with more of what’s posted here than not, so I’m not sure if I’m being counted in the troll figures or not.

        • Since apparently the total troll figure has been reduced down to JenBob, no. This isn’t a hard word problem like on the SAT. If there are three trolls and two of them are reclassified as cranks how many trolls remain?

    • Malaclypse

      I’d be interested to see a rundown of which particular topics attract the most trolls here at LGM.

      Well, Jennie thinks all topics are, fundamentally, gay sex.

      • cpinva

        which kind of makes you wonder what it is he’s doing, down in mom’s basement, though you really don’t actually want to know.

        “Well, Jennie thinks all topics are, fundamentally, gay sex.”

  • Jewish Steel

    Your trolls ain’t so bad. From what I’ve seen they’re somewhat knowledgeable and not nearly as monotonous as other trolls I have seen.

    But I’ve only been poking around here for a month or so.

    • Walt

      There’s one inecredibly awful troll who was much more visible pre-Obama re-election. This month has been unusually troll-free.

      • c u n d gulag

        An all-crow diet tends to leave one with little energy to troll.

        I’m sure that pretty soon, his Mommy will give him his laptop and basement privileges back, he’ll add Cheeto’s and Mountain back into his diet, and that will give him the boost in carbs he lacks on an all-crow diet, to come back and comment here more often.

        And then, he can go back to doing what he always did here:
        -(J)anus-like, he can argue every side of every issue – often in the same comment thread – just to p*ss everyone off.
        -He can put a kilo of cocaine to sleep.
        -McArdle like, he can tell everyone that 2+2=3, or 5, or 1,234,567, or whatever he feels like, as he trolls his way through a comment thread – all, without Megan’s lame kitchen gadget stories.

        In other words – give Sybil a run for her money, as far as presonality disorders are concerned.

        He is…
        *Cue sound of child whining.*
        “THE LEAST INTERESTING MAN-BOY IN THE WORLD!”

        I try to ignore him whenever possible.
        Not always successfully, might I add.

    • The past month has been rather tame. There were days when JenBob ruined any thread that wasn’t about sports.

  • patrick II

    The worst troll infestation I have seen was at Kevin Drum’s before he put in captcha/identification requirements on his comment thread. The comment threads were unreadable. It surprised me that a blogger as moderate as Drum drew such venom, but maybe it is that calm, fact base analysis that drives trolls the most crazy.
    Maybe that reserved demeanor is part of what drives them so nuts about Obama. Besides the whole being black thing.

    • Bas-O-Matic

      Atrios’ comments in the Golden age of blogging (2004-2006 or so) were the worst I’ve seen. It seems like there were always at least a half dozen regulars.

  • Icarus Wright

    Obama is a conservative! Therefore, liberals should have voted for McCarthy/Pinochet Ryan and that other dude.

  • cpinva

    one comment in that article, that i would take issue with, that newspaper readers only read articles, in the context of other articles. he left out the letters to the editor, which might get heated. however, it might be a month, before a responding letter got printed, more than enough time to have forgotten what it was the argument was about to begin with.

  • bob mcmanus

    Thoughts on trollery:

    Not as preening or ego-enhancement, but toward a point, I do get around, and as far as I can tell, I was the only person in the entire freaking world that thought the Fed would not accept the platinum coin. Yesterday the Fed said it would not accept the platinum coin.

    Now this says something small but exemplary about me, and something exemplary about everyone else, and something generalizable about tribal discourse, cognitive capture, independent thought, other social phenomena, and sheep.

    • bob mcmanus

      Well, for example, a common argument was “The Law says the Fed must accept the coin, therefore the Fed will accept the coin.”
      Leaving aside the accuracy of the first half statement, the form of the argument reveals a certain presumption of obedient behavior, conformism, submission and worship of “legitimate authority” and an ontological frame that cannot understand that the Other might act differently. An authoritarianism, of the kind that befuddles and paralyzes some kinds of people, when for example, the Bush/Obama administrations torture or when encountering trolls. Law “naturalizes” obedience.

      The article discusses the emotional motivations of trolls, but inadequately discusses the emotional context of the larger community that is being “trolled.” “Rules of civil discourse” do not exist primarily to make people happy, but first and foremost to make people obedient, content, conformist, and define any discourse that is not majoritarian and conservative as pretty much unspeakable.

  • bradP

    This article doesn’t deal specifically with trolls, but with insulting commenters. It is possible to troll without insulting, and it is possible to be a rude commenter without trolling.

  • Aaron Baker

    Here’s what I hope is regarded as the opposite of a troll-comment: I routinely encounter 4-6 postings here a day that are worth reading and actually force me to think about something. I believe that, as a result of some of what I’ve read here, I’ve gone from wishy-washily pro-choice to firmly pro-choice, so thank you for that, Lemieux–if you ever want someone to check your spelling, give me a call.

    I hate most spectator sports with a hatred that abides and is pure–but I can appreciate that others will be interested in those postings.

    As for trolls: I think the term does refer to an actually existing creature; but it also has a tendency to change into an epithet (a piece of trollishness, in other words) for “person who disagrees with me”; it is always, I would urge, to be used very carefully.

  • tomsk

    Until recently I only read LGM on occasion, and I’m still trying to understand your internet traditions. I am curious about this JenBob character. Generally I see some piece of generic conservative drivel and people lay intimmediately o it as an obvious JenBob production. Except sometimes they don’t. How does one spot JenBob? Are all right-wing buffoons on here really JenBob posting under a variety of aliases, or are there others? Does he have particular tells?

    How about that guy with the ‘sasquatch Israel’ thing; did he disappear? Is he JenBob now? It’s all so complex.