Thursday, April 7, 2011

When Trolls Mark Your Territory

By Octopus

When unwelcome trolls visit your weblogs and treat you like a dog, it reminds me of that most basic of animal instincts: Marking the territory.  They think their scent trail confers a right to stake a claim.

As stray dogs spray shrubbery, stray trolls drop unwelcome messages.  Their purpose is to relieve themselves - its not your lap or leg they want - and responding to them only encourages them.  Never cave to temptation by starting a conversation.  To rid yourself of nettlesome pests, does it make sense to reward them with a bone?

Cayenne pepper or Dog-B-Gone may work outdoors, but repellants have no effect on the Internet.  I recommend a liberal use of the ‘delete button.’  Even the most persistent critter responds to Pavlov conditioning, gets the hint, and eventually goes away.

Which is more important to you: The quality of your online interactions, or counting the number of snarls and yelps in the Community Dog Bark of your comment box?  Once you rid yourself of annoying pests, think of the free time you will have to read a book, write the Great American Post, and keep in touch with exalted loved ones.

Update (Sun Apr 10, 2011): For more commentary on this bane of bloggers, please go to Bloggingdino's classic post, You Might Be a Troll If ... (A Long Essay on Trolls and Trollery).


  1. Absolutely. I use that lovely button as second nature. My tolerance and discourse with trolls is nil, zilch, nada and has been for a long while. And oh how they hate it when ignored.

  2. Me too jadedj - particularly how they hate to be ignored. Poor little babies.

  3. It would be interesting to listen in on your phone call with tech support in India to resolve this one!

  4. Tnlib,
    I wrote this short post in response to a certain assailant who shall remain unnamed here but is known to both of us. If this online harassment continues, the next post will be more direct and pointed.

  5. Ohhhhh, I clearly missed the more subtle message here and focused instead on the cute little doggy and his naughty deed. [slaps himself upside the head] Doh!

  6. What's the difference between a troll and someone looking to discuss issues with people who have a different point of view? Personally, I don't like spending all of my time on conservative blogs because it just becomes an echo chamber.

    (BTW, I fully expect to be deleted or ignored as a troll, but I thought I'd ask anyway.)

  7. I will normally tolerate right trolls here and there, since their constant stupidity is something I enjoy swatting down. However, if you attack one of my commenters, you're done. And that rule applies to left and right; I've shown a few of them the door.

  8. Heathen Republican: “What's the difference between a troll and someone looking to discuss issues with people who have a different point of view?

    First, I should call attention to our comment policy:

    We welcome civil discourse from people of all persuasions but express no obligation to allow ourselves to be trolled. Any comment that fails to rise above ranting, taunting, profanity, and name-calling will be deleted without further comment at the discretion of any contributor.

    Next, I ask you to be honest in your motives. If your motive is to proselytize, engage in polemics, or convert us to your way of thinking, you will not get a friendly reception. Mutual respect is a two-way street.

    In the past, we have been burned by dishonest partisans who charmed their way into this forum with expressions of good will; then broke our trust by hijacking our posts and comments and turning them into objects of ridicule (example). In other words, we do not appreciate duplicity or plagiarism.

    We expect ethical conduct from everyone. In the past, dishonest partisans have violated the confidentiality of private email from members of this forum by publishing privileged communications on their weblogs (example). Anyone who violates this understanding gets banned.

    We prefer a higher academic standard and appreciate well-reasoned comments with substantiation where applicable. Empty assertions, clich├ęs, and Gish Gallops have no place here.

    This weblog has conservative friends, and we do not regard political orientation as a precondition for friendly exchange. We defend our conservative friends from unfair treatment, and I suggest you read this article before you prejudge us.

    In this forum, life comes before blogging. Please respect personal boundaries by understanding that comments may not always be answered due to outside obligations.

  9. Your advice is good. I once got into it a bit with a troll (not on my site, which is only visited by the Good and Clever), and within a day of back-and-forth, I felt awful and the exchange was taking over my head. There's precious little territory in there and now I defend it with my life, my delete button, and frequently, alcohol.

  10. Trolls, hhmmmm..... they are not so bad on the net as they are in person; and they have existed well before the net.

    Back in the mid-70's there was a fellow around campus that used to show up at parties to say out outrageous things just to get a rise out of folks.
    Well, the guy had my number.... at one party he wouldn't leave me alone, followed me from room to room (back then he was trashing Viet Vets and asking stupid questions like "what do napalm burned babies smell like?") Now, I was a liberal then, and Anti-war then, too, but finally I just had enough and grabbed the little sucker up by his belt and collar and threw him through the door and into some bushes. As he lay there, laughing, I realized I had let him win. He had a pathological need to push buttons and get a 'rise' out of folks. Two weeks later the shit was back at another big house party and he started again. this time I just took my glasses off and stood about three inches in front of him ..... and took all the shit he dished out. Finally three others threw him out. Being a troll is really an empty thing. And it really has no reward.

  11. To ilustrate to some people that someone is intolerant I need to show them what they're writing. If it gets troublesome then I will delete. I hate to delete a comment, unless someone is being a ass. some of these people whan they are on like minded blogs they say things that are even worst. Remember when Gretawire had a lot of bigots on it. Greta was ready to shut the blog down because she couldn't control her racist, bigoted fans.

  12. I've got one right now. One I've seen destroy commentary on other blogs, whom I've deleted in the past.

    They obviously think progressives are slow or stupid as they keep coming back.

    With their charming selves and ultimately telling facile comments.

    I've always been a fan of the delete button when it's necessary.

    Thanks for discussing this. It's a positive response.

  13. I hate trolls too especially the ones who race bait.

  14. Octo: I swear, trolls are like old 45 records that skip! Never-ending and annonying as all heck.

    I now write for yet another blog, Alexandria,
    and they have this link regarding flame wars . I think you might find a few “warriors” familiar as you and I have had our share and you've had my back quite a few times!

  15. I posted a piece on trollery a while back that might be of some interest:

    Bottom line is, you're always wasting your time when you talk to trolls. How much time do you think you have on this earth? Do you feel lucky? Well, DO ya?

  16. Heathen Republican (@ 5/14/11 12:20 PM): “ And while Octo replied, she's [sic] not interested in what I think, so there's no need for a rebuttal.


    ”I have not read Octo’s comment.”
    “I am not interested in what Octo or anyone has to say.”
    “I reserve the right to reply in non sequiturs.”
    “I reserve the right to be as arbitrary as I want.”
    “And as oppositional-defiant as I want.”
    “I will hijack any blog and make myself the focus of attention … and if you refuse to pay attention to me, I will stamp my feet and accuse you of hindering my free speech.

    Here is another translation, courtesy of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Association:

    Has a grandiose sense of self-importance;
    Requires excessive admiration and will interrupt the conversation of others;
    Demonstrates arrogant and haughty behaviors or attitudes;
    Regardless of topic, will make oneself the focus of conversation;
    Will cheat whenever he thinks he can get away with it;
    Thinks rules do not apply to him.

    In other words, a troll by any name.


We welcome civil discourse from all people but express no obligation to allow contributors and readers to be trolled. Any comment that sinks to the level of bigotry, defamation, personal insults, off-topic rants, and profanity will be deleted without notice.