Monday, November 1, 2010

Human value of trolls and sock puppets

Trolls and sock puppets are two classes of dehumanized people on-line. Classifying people as either, and treating them accordingly is not good for your soul.

There has been a list of "different breeds of trolls" published on-line, and some even in forums that call themselves "spiritual".
It's worth to note that in these forums there very rarely, if ever, are real trolls, but as one of the commentators mentioned, "some people who we would not see as a troll, but a problematic person" get "dealt with and removed" from the forum... that is, frozen from the community. Ostracized. Bullied with "justification", for being "disruptive", asking uncomfortable questions, pointing out the pink elephant in the middle of the room and the naked emperor, demanding their rights, or even worse, others' rights...
You know these people - usually called "revolutionists", "dissidents" and "civil rights activists"... :->.
They just don't fit well with "normal people", they make noise, rock the boat, shake the tree... you can't ignore them, so you have to get them kicked out. Otherwise they might just change something, and change is no good... no good at all.

People who post things to get attention are not trolls.
One is a troll ONLY when one posts "inflammatory, provocative, extraneous, or off-topic messages" "with the primary intent of... ...disrupting normal on-topic discussion."

So - How to treat "trolls" and "sock puppets"?

People who post "inflammatory, provocative, extraneous, or off-topic messages" are to be ignored. Don't feed the trolls.

BUT... be very careful when trying to recognize trolls. I have seen too many innocent people accused of being trolls, bullied, harassed and ostracized, harmed for no good reason, that I'd rather see one troll get away unpunished than one non-troll being starved to death for the fear of trolls.

People who have created themselves other identities - so what?
I really don't understand what's the problem with people who want to live in a make-believe world. It doesn't matter if they say they are a lawyer when they are not, or a monk, or a witch, or Jesus or the President of USA. Go ahead, have a make-believe day, and play pretend. It doesn't harm anyone, and no-one should listen to one person more than another anyway.
Besides, this is internet. I could just as well be a middle-aged fat lady from Finland as a thin teenager from Guatemala or an old Japanese man, or the President of USA, Jesus or Dalai Lama. How could you really know?

And if someone wants to run a one man's show with ten different identities, go ahead. It's not that majority rules, is it? You are not more right just because you have a lot of fans. Now, if you have problems standing against the majority push... then it's really YOUR problem, isn't it?

Usually people who do this have no life, or they believe their real life isn't worth living, and it might well be so. Isn't it good that they find some reason to live? That they find the life they want to live somewhere? That they can create a wonderful world they want to live in, have a mask from behind they dare to say what they want to say, to express their opinion at least some way?

Who wants a world where everyone agrees? I don't. I don't care if the person who disagrees is a professor or journalist or a politician or a lawyer or tv personality or anything, or pretending to be one. But perhaps I'm just unusually strong with my convictions and faith.

Ok, you're a "liar". So what? As dr. House says, everyone lies. That you have invented yourself a background story shouldn't matter at all, because your background shouldn't matter. Frankly, I think people spent too much time in hunting trolls than discussing what matters. If someone wants to discuss using several different personas, what's it to me? Nothing.

It really is best for you peace of mind, soul, spirituality, quality as a human being, to treat trolls, sock puppets, wolves in sheep's clothing and all the other varieties of internet forum life forms with respect and kindness. That's really the best way of dealing with trolls.

About the "Classic Troll Tactics":

First, I repeat. People who lie, invent stories and friends, and get "temper tantrums" and are "drama queens" are attention seekers, not trolls. Trolls might do what they do to get attention, but their primary intention is to create havoc, sabotage discussions and cause upset feelings, irritation and fights.
If a person invents a background story to make them experts in the topic of discussion,  he/she is not a troll.
If a person talks about the issue at hands, he/she is not a troll.
If a person creates second, third and nth persona, and all of them discuss about the topic, he/she is not a troll.

#1: How does it harm you to let the person think he managed to cheat everyone? The cheater might think you're stupid? So what? You're not the smartest person on the planet anyway, otherwise you wouldn't be on-line...
"Ok, so you made up this elaborate story as a joke? Doesn't seem very funny nor smart to me... don't you think it would be better that you were just yourself and said what you think, in a normal manner? But, sure, you're a joker. Haha. Next issue."

#2: So someone creates a sock puppet account so that there's at least someone on your side. There shouldn't be a need for a sock puppet. A third party, neutral bystander, a friend SHOULD get into the discussion, imaginary, if no real ones are present. Frankly, attacking one person in a group, even if this one person had done something that deserves punishment (which impersonating someone or several someones or lying about one's background - in a debate forum - is IMHO nothing that deserves punishment.
If someone's family and friends create a sock puppet account to defend the "troll"... the atmosphere of the group must be really scary, if people don't dare to defend their family/friends without masks. Really sad, folks. Again, not the troll's problem, actually, but the group's problem.

#3: People do have little brothers. I don't, and my family would not log in as me anyway. But, when me and my husband shared a computer, every now and then we forgot to log out and posted something under the other one's identity. It was rare, but it did happen.
So, again, how is it going to harm you to actually believe the person? In no way what so ever.

#4: A liar can't stop lying. Again, sad, but doesn't make the liar less a human nor less valuable.

#5: I have left groups "for ever". I returned a couple of times, because I was repeatedly asked by my friends. My husband has done this. Several groups I have left "for ever". I am not a member of any group I have left "for ever".
BTW, some people who couldn't separate me from my husband, claimed that I was my husband's sock puppet and accused me of being a troll, because "I" had said I'm going to leave for good this time". It was my husband who left and he did leave for good. I never said anything of the kind, and I didn't leave either. (Except that now I have left the group in practice. I still have an account, but I haven't been there, like for ever ;-))
So - if a person threatens to leave, perhaps they are being serious. Perhaps they have friends who persuade them to reconsider their decision and come back. It really isn't nice to mock them and call them drama queens.

#6: It's not unusual for people to get angry when poked all the time, accused for things they haven't done, mocked, harassed or ignored. It's pretty usual that people who get angry shout and get violent. Call it a "temper tantrum" if you like, but - as no-one can really shout anything at the internet - USING ALL CAPITALS DOESN'T REALLY MAKE MORE NOISE THAN all lower case letters. No-one can really throw anything at you, break your leg or neck, beat you or kill you over the internet. Perhaps you have deserved every expletive thrown at your direction. Frankly, if you write crap like list of trolls and troll techniques and how to bully people you call trolls, you have deserved everything coming your way.

#7: And who are you to decide whether an apology is sincere or insincere?
If someone apologizes, you will accept it. Otherwise you are a rotten egg.
Also, just because someone apologizes, and it was sincere, doesn't mean that the person never again does the thing he/she apologized for. We are all only human, we all make mistakes. There is a lot of psychology behind every troll, sock puppet and every other label people are labeled with. We all have out luggage, shadows, triggers and fears, and sometimes we fall back into the dysfunctional behavior. 99 times out of 100 it can be explained with something else than "he's a troll"; are due to misunderstanding and all in all, petty incidents.

"Virtual Experts" are not trolls. How to deal with those people? Ignore them. Or give them what they want - attention - so that you can continue with the important stuff. These people are usually self-going, so it's enough to post every other day "how interesting", "I'm speechless", "unbelievable", "amazing", or another such thing... expressing exactly what you are thinking, but allowing the attention whore to get what he wants. Attention doesn't cost you much. You don't even need to read what they are writing.
"The emotionally immature person, however, has low levels of self-esteem and self-confidence and consequently feels insecure; to counter these feelings of insecurity they will spend a large proportion of their lives creating situations in which they become the center of attention. It may be that the need for attention is inversely proportional to emotional maturity, therefore anyone indulging in attention-seeking behaviors is telling you how emotionally immature they are."
- Bully on-line
I know I'm not suppose to be anyone's therapist, but I still think everyone deserves to be heard. Even attention seekers. Just remember that anyone can be an attention seeker, even your best internet friend. Don't believe everything people tell you, and never get into fights. Not even to "defend" your friend. Defend him/her by telling her/him to leave the discussion too. If she/he doesn't there might be some attention seeking going on.

"It is important to distinguish between dissenters and actual Contrarian Trolls".
Seeking out forums just to disagree with the people is not a sign of a troll.

Being for socialism, disarmament, believing USonians to be generally ignorant and arrogant people and believing all people "without distinction of any kind, such as race, color, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status" are equal and worth respect and tolerance, are not signs of trolls.

People who "can be worthwhile forum participants" "when the spirit moves" are not trolls either.

"Philotrolls" are not trolls at all, just people who use Schopenhaueric Techniques, because they don't care about the issues being discussed, all they care about is being right.

Being in love with one and one's brilliant intelligence doesn't make one a troll either. It makes one an egomaniac.

Not being able to express one well in writing doesn't make one a troll either. Some people just talk too much, and even when it's really boring, it's not done with malicious intend to disrupt the flow of the forum.

That you vehemently drive your point in a discussion, even though you could know more - a lot more - about the subject, doesn't make you a troll.

Being very passionate and monomaniac about an issue, even aggressive, doesn't make you a troll.

Being an annoying know-it-all and eager to proof it to every one and all, doesn't make you a troll.

Being delusional, or mythomaniac doesn't make you a troll either. Annoying, sure, but not a troll.

A venue of vultures, a kennel of mutts, a bully and his groupies (so often the bully is male and the groupies females), are not trolls either. Just people behaving badly in groups.
Being a nuisance because you want to be with your idol doesn't make you a troll either.
Being a holier-than-thou "Christian",  judging and condemning everyone around you, doesn't make you a troll either.

Being paranoid and/or envious and criticizing and questioning everything and everyone around you doesn't make you a troll either.

I have witnessed witch hunts - or should I say troll hunts - where innocent people get lynched, because someone decided to make something petty into a Big Thing.
I have myself been the victim of a lying, cheating bitch with vengeance for imaginary crimes.
I have had my membership in forum deleted because I was thought to be a sock puppet's sock puppet.
People have claimed I'm my husband, and he is me, and several other people have been mixed into the soup too. In the end some paranoid individuals didn't believe anyone was who they said they were. That became the whole raison d'etre for these people, trying to figure out who was whose sock puppet and who was a real person and this became the only thing this people ever talked about.

Would the fact that I'm not doing anything trolls do for the reasons trolls do things prove to the people who accuse me of being a troll, that I'm not a troll? Of course not! They have decided that I am a troll, and nothing I say or do will change their minds.

If you don't defend yourself, you are admitting they are right.
If you do defend yourself, you are a sore looser and lying and trying to use the "classic troll tactics" to cover your ass.

Nothing will ever make anyone believe anything they don't want to believe.

P.S. According to this genius, I'm a "YerA Troll": "One of the most ill-tempered of troll species, YerATrolls are characterized by a childish need for attention disguised as cynical nobility and pretensions of being "above it all.""
"whining" and "complaining about the time and energy expended by Troll Bashers on troll-hunting", "pointing fingers at everyone but trolls", "demanding that their opinions be granted the significance the YerA Troll believes they deserve" :-D
"the fact that they're engaging in trolling by picking fights with everyone else"
- that is, trying to get the forum back to what people are supposed to be discussing about and stop discussing about off topic issues, like troll hunts, arbitrary accusations of trolling, speculations on who might be a troll and "exposing" trolls, that is, anyone who disagrees with the troll hunters :-D
Heaven forbid that this Experienced, Venomous, Hateful and Abusive Troll Basher would miss some troll bashing time and well deserved honor, praise and gratitude for his relentless obsession with keeping the forums free from trolls (that is, dissidents, socialists and Europeans. They are all gay and hoplophobic anyway. And they hate USA.)

Just accuse US of "childish need for attention" and being "self-righteous" and "hypocritical" trolls :-D That will surely divert the attention from YOUR trolling and attention seeking, mr Trollhunter Besserwisser Extraordinaire. :-D

P.P.S. It's not "the logical fallacy of appeals to authority", if you ARE an authority in the subject...

P.P.P.S. "Troll Bashers appear to possess an almost pathological hatred for trolls"
I don't remember the quote right now, but it goes something like this: If your enemy makes you angry, you have lost the fight. Emotions make you blind, mr Troll-finder General.

"Troll Bashers expose trolls whenever they see them", that is  they "expose" people they believe to be trolls, usually people who disagree with them, but are not trolls, because according to this long and faulty list of trolls, ANYONE can be classified as troll, even if they are just annoying.

"Troll Bashers believe any amount of retaliatory abuse is justified"

Yeah... "torture is ok, because the object is not a good person. I would never torture a good person, because I am a good person." Abuse is NEVER justified.


Henric C. Jensen said...

Wow, darling!
I think you out-did yourself - fantastic post!

PS: your English is getting better by the sentence :)


Daphne Yvonne Bradshaw said...

I love your thinking & your reasoning here. I also agree that hour English continues to improve & be astounding.

Ketutar said...

Oh *blush of delight*
You two... just too sweet :-)