Tom Coates has been discussing strategic methods in dealing with message board Trolls on his Everything in Moderation site. An anonymous poster, claiming to be a notorious Slashdot troll, made some intriguing comments about why moderating “trolls” in secret can sometimes be detrimental.
“in short i believe that the people who must be treated with the most public, forthright, and open methods of censure are those who offend us the most. i do not believe that trickery is ever as effective as open methods because trickery is, at its core, dishonest to both the person being tricked and the online community you have secretly enacted policy for.” -posted anonymously by 20721 (link)
It was a good article and some really thought provoking comments. Worthwhile read if you are remotely interested in web administration and / or censorship.
Now on a personal note: a comment or two that I made may have incited some anger. Specifically it may have angered my brother Gary but I want to make it clear that I have never consciously posted trying to be a troll. According to SlashNET.org, “A troll is someone who seeks to deliberately incite anger, arguments, and disorder. A simple example would be a person who goes into #linux and extols the superiority of Microsoft products.” Metaphorically speaking all I did was ask the #linux users what Linus Torvalds would have thought about the copied code inside the linux kernel. Something that could have made some people mad but a valid question and certainly not trolling.
That wasn’t how my brother saw it. Although I wasn’t banned from posting at our family’s blog altogether, it was made pretty clear that I wasn’t welcome there anymore – at least by one member.
It pretty much started with my posts about same-sex marriage. My opinion was that all people in society should be offered the same rights, ie. the right to marry the person you love (same-sex or not). Gary couldn’t debate his point gracefully and instead of conceding defeat or just backing down he instead began attacking me on a personal level calling me such things as a sophist, a homosexual, and even a heterophobe.
I’m trying to be politically correct, but I was really insulted that he would call me “g-a-y”. It’s probably my own homophobia that has caused me to be upset.
Recently I decided to stop posting completely after the response to an “offensive” post (which you can decide for yourself if it is offensive) that I made.
Specifically on Friday, October 17th, 2003 I posted the following:
Black Person + Ethnic DNA Test = ?
I picked this up from metafilter.com:
After watching a 60 Minutes segment on the subject last year, Wayne Joseph decided on a whim to take a new ethnic DNA test. Being of Creole stock, and therefore on the lighter end of the black colour spectrum, he had developed a casual curiosity about his exact percentage of black blood. What he discovered was astounding.
I wonder what early Mormons would have thought?
Not really that offensive – in my opinion. In fact I think it’s a logical question to ask if you have been a Mormon your whole life – hearing all about how Mormons used to keep blacks from having the “priesthood power” bestowed upon them.
About the next day I received an email from my brother asking me if I was taking a shot at the church. “What exactly do you mean by [what early Mormons would have thought]? I don’t think I understand.”
I proceeded to answer his email but in my anger (still kindling from the same-sex marriage argument) I wrote an email that was decidedly too harsh and instead of sending it thought better of myself and resolved to write a kinder gentler explanation the next day. That email was never written but here for your reading enjoyment is the email I had originally prepared to send (brace yourself):
“Gary, as Dr. Phil might say, “It’s time to get real”.
Let’s face it, in the past church has been racist toward blacks. Since you don’t seem to remember the situation with pre – 1978 manifesto Mormons and blacks let me give you a short refresher. (Isn’t this safe to assume given your apparent lack of comprehension as to what I’m talking about?)
Here’s a little background that Brother McConkie so plainly articulates for us in Mormon Doctrine, p. 527 – 528, of the 1966 edition. “The Negroes are not equal with other races where the receipt of certain spiritual blessings are concerned, …but this inequality is not of man’s origin. It is the Lord’s doing, is based on his eternal laws of justice, and grows out of the lack of spiritual valiance of those concerned in their First Estate [the pre-earth existence].”
The DNA article just made me wonder if the early Mormons ever made any mistakes excluding someone that didn’t happen to have Negro blood err I mean lack of spiritual valiance in the pre-earth existence. IMHO a reasonable question because as you know the early Mormons didn’t have DNA testing to verify if someone was less valiant. Does saying this mean I was being antagonistic? I suppose, with your ultra delicate sensibilities, assuming that mistakes could have been made by “The One True Church”(tm) must mean I was “taking a shot” at it. Sorry for any misunderstanding.
I realize this email seems a little aggressive. However, I have been irritated lately with the growing feeling, based on the fact that you didn’t want our conversation to go out on the blog, that you had something to hide in our conversation or that you are worried about censoring my beliefs from the blog. Frankly I find that disgusting. I feel the same way about the same-sex marriages debate. As I said before, “it’s time to get real”. If you can’t handle it then don’t bother emailing me “why I would write something”, instead if you can’t respond on the blog then just take those thoughts and file them in your “I can’t handle the truth” directory.
So I decided not to send the harsh email. The next day I found my admin rights gone. I was trying to add some links in the template as well use some of the code directly from the template in a project I was doing at school. When I couldn’t get in I decided (perhaps in the heat of the moment) not to post on the milnerblog anymore. My dad figures we both need to grow up, but then almost in the same breath he adds that I am not to discuss my thoughts about “the church” with my younger sister and her freshly baptized husband. I asked him what I was supposed to say to her when she brings it up? She always brings it up. He simply told me not to discuss it with her.
So I said to him, “Do you want me to tell her that you forbid me to talk about it with her?”
“Then what do you want me to say?”
“Just don’t talk about it with her, you can think of something to say.”
So basically he’s asking me to censor my beliefs from her. Basically he’s going against all that stuff they teach you in church about how if you believe something to be true it’s your responsibility to share it with others. Remember now – I wasn’t actively bringing religion up with her, just answering questions about why I no longer believe the Mormon church to be the “one true church”.
So it’s kind of like I’ve been politely censored. First from the blog and now from my own family. Of course I have the “right” to speak my mind – but not without the harassing comments of Gary or the guilt of disobeying my dad’s wishes.