Searching for Safety Online: Managing “Trolling” in a Feminist Forum

Interesting article dissecting the phenomenon of trolling, and its repercussions. The case study involves a feminist online forum.

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Although my most favorite feature ever was in a...PHBB? board, a while back, but the feature? You could hide anyone you wanted to hide. Even facebook has this feature. I would like to see it implemented on every forum, so yeah, someone has the right to free speech, but ignoring someone you hate is as easy as clicking "hide this user from me".

I really, really hate trolling, and the few times I've been accused of it, it's usually because I'm talking about privilege or equal rights and someone thinks that their right to call me a "fat ugly bitch" is being impinged upon.

But yeah, I both hate and love the internet.

And speaking of trolls and 4chan and whatnot--did you see, that Anonymous has declared War on the WBC? I'm already discussing how this might play out with friends. I hope we see some actual action happen.

Every technology, no matter how much potential for positive outcomes, eventually gets taken over by the power structures of society. In the 70s, 80s, 90s, we experienced the golden years of flight, the ability to fly all over the world with minimal border hindrances, but that has ended. I think the 90s and 00s will be known as the golden years of the internet, where communications were uncontrolled and a haven for honest people wanting to have honest and growth inducing conversations. Trolls on the internet are like the terrorists who changed the face of international flying. They not only create harm directly through their actions and attempt to control communications, they have long term consequences on the medium by causing peoples to instigate defensive mechanisms in the long run and ruining the medium altogether. It is almost inevitable, no matter how much good will a barrel of good apples show, the bad apple will always successfully ruin the barrel if allowed to stay. It is true in our society at large. Good will is completely ineffective at creating a fair and just society. The only revolutions on this plant that had any long term success were the ones that understood the necessity of removing the corrupt element.


PS. I stopped trusting the internet for information when people started quoting blogs. There are so many self appointed luminaries out there writing blogs. Bloggers are no better than Facebook, and people who rely on bloggers to filter their internet/news experience are fitting into the propaganda machine as opposed to pure news. One can find a blogger with references on absolutely any topic, anything goes. Forums such as these are a remnant from the usenet groups way of thinking, when people still had conversations. There is less and less of this on the internet and the ipad is a part of this transformation. The ipad transforms the internet visitor from a participant to a spectator.

"PS. I stopped trusting the internet for information when people started quoting blogs."

I think one of the worst offenders is tumblr.  It seems 90% of the blogs on there are "reblogs", where the owner simply copied and pasted text and images directly from another blog.  Usually without even verifying its origination or veracity.

And we all know how aggravating it is to have unverified, unsubstantiated, and ultimately false information propagated over the web, don't we?  That is why I always look for original sources, and react with suspicion when outrageous claims or statistics are made.  Why, recently I encountered one person on a forum who's sole source of information was cable TV pundits!

I help moderate an international IT forum using vbulletin, and one of our favorite features is called "tachy goes to coventry".  The offending user is place in a status where only he or she can view their own posts.  Nobody else can view them, nor can they be picked up by web spiders.  The effect is that the person can bloviate to their heart's content but, unknowingly, the only person's time they are wasting is their own.

"I really, really hate trolling, and the few times I've been accused of it, it's usually because I'm talking about privilege or equal rights and someone thinks that their right to call me a "fat ugly bitch" is being impinged upon."
I understand EXACTLY how you feel.  I was recently the recipient of such an attack, on a forum where I originally posted to correct some false facts that were posted.  The result was that I was called numerous names, and accused of being a troll simply for wanting to have an honest discussion.  The person involved even opened up a negative discussion thread about me, then closed it when I tried to respond to his attacks, and then cowardly opened it again so as to allow only himself to post to it, unchallenged.
Wow, I'm glad things like that don't happen around here.
Well, this being first and foremost an Atheist forum, a higher degree of critical thinking and skepticism is to be expected, isn't it?

What an appropriate article, thanks.

This article has been an eye opener for me.  I don't experience trolls too much because the feminist sites I go to are effectively moderated.  Feminist Atheist has been my quick and unpleasant education in trolling.  Now that the creator of this site is gone and it is no longer moderated, I guess nothing can be done.

The phenomenon of a troll not recognizing himself is a new one on me.  Usually you can tell by their posts that trolls pretty much know what they are doing.  The troll here seems to be better than most at seeming to be in earnest or is incredibly obtuse, I'm not sure which.

A "Troll" is someone who posts on a forum for the sole purpose of inflaming anger.  A "Troll" is NOT simply anyone who disagrees with you or points out (backed up by research and facts) that your statements are false.

Your use of the word "Troll" is one more attempt to avoid having to face the fact that you can't support your opinions.

Seems to me that the following posts were a bit of a mind-fuck, Bruce. I don't know if you were intending to be inflammatory, but that's certainly how it looks. There was NO reference to Kamin (or sources provided for any other research for that matter) in your earlier posts. You could have apologised when Oryx pointed it out, but instead you go into a whole melodrama about having to hold people's hands, sighing and basically making it look like it's somehow his fault that you screwed up.

I don't know if you're trolling or not. I welcome healthy debate and disagreements that inspire critical thinking, so I'm still ready to respond to your posts. But not when you're obsessing boringly about statistics and so on. There's more to discussion than endlessly comparing stats and research.

Had you bothered to actually review the research I cited (Kamin's), you would have seen that he only counted cases where the accuser actually recanted her story, and admitted she had lied.  He did NOT count those where there was no evidence, but the accuser stuck to her story.  He did NOT count those that were cases of mistaken identity.

In general, it is better to know, than to guess.  So check your facts before posting next time.

I can't see you citing anything in this thread, I must be missing it. I was responding to your hearsay of "I frequently see cases in the news..." line. I have no idea how I can check that "fact".

Honestly, is this really that difficult for you?  Are you completely incapable of performing a simple google search?

Sigh.  Another 60 seconds of my time wasted.  I should start billing you.

Meanwhile, still waiting for any evidence from you on the issues  I have challenged you to support....



Please be aware that the attacks on my motives have been nearly continuous since I first posted on here to refute the ridiculous statement by one member that "only 2% of convicted rapists ever serve jail time".  Though everyone involved eventually admitted that I was right, and this factoid was pure fiction, that did not prevent them from labeling me a troll.
Thus, many posts cross-reference to other threads.  The one you re-posted, and of which you were unaware of the history of the discussion, was a reference to this thread:
If people are going to attack me in one thread for things that I have said in another, I cannot be held responsible for not cluttering up the threads with cross-links.  Be aware that I have presented research and references whenever challenged, and am prepared to do so in the future as well.  As an aside, Oryx never did supply the references I requested, even after I satisfied his request.
And sorry if I am obsessing "boringly" over statistics.  I still prefer this to obsessively lying about statistics, which is what seems to be the general currency on this forum.  And while I do not disagree that there is more to discussion than endlessly comparing stats and research, facts must be the basis for any discussion.  At least, on an Atheist forum.  And when people post so-called "facts" that are either baseless internet memes or gross misinterpretations of the actual data, I feel I have a moral responsibility to point this out.


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