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In defence of trolls. Because someone has to

By johnboy 12 September 2012 76

trolls

This is a fight I’d largely have preferred to stay out of, but having been dragged onto Mark Parton’s show to answer for my crimes this morning it seems I’m in it, so I may as well lay out my thinking.

The Daily Telegraph is rolling out a bandwagon, in their words to “Stop the trolls”, in my words to entrench privilege and ensure only the big end of town may be heard.

First, let’s understand our terms.

Urban Dictionary has this to say:

The art of deliberately, cleverly, and secretly pissing people off, usually via the internet, using dialogue. Trolling does not mean just making rude remarks: Shouting swear words at someone doesn’t count as trolling; it’s just flaming, and isn’t funny. Spam isn’t trolling either; it pisses people off, but it’s lame.

The most essential part of trolling is convincing your victim that either a) truly believe in what you are saying, no matter how outrageous, or b) give your victim malicious instructions, under the guise of help.

Trolling requires decieving; any trolling that doesn’t involve decieving someone isn’t trolling at all; it’s just stupid. As such, your victim must not know that you are trolling; if he does, you are an unsuccesful troll.

When Jeremy Clarkson says something outre on Top Gear and gets in all the world’s papers he is trolling.

When John Howard would say something innocuous to middle Australia and get dirty hippies to throw eggs at him he was trolling.

Both of them did very well out of it.

One could say that the ancient role of Devil’s advocate is a form of trolling.

On the other hand people are often simply stupid, ignorant, mean spirited, or just arseholes.

They’re arseholes in person, they’re arseholes online. Pseudo anonymity might let them show off their inner arsehole in ways they normally wouldn’t. But it doesn’t make them less arseholes, just more easily identified.

Not all arseholes are arseholes all the time. One of you out there might be so saintly that you’ve never upset anyone ever, but not many.

If we’re going to outlaw being an arsehole it’s going to be a bugger of a job finding anyone to staff the prisons.

On the subject of incivility. The correspondence of Sir Thomas More (a martyred saint of the Catholic Church) and Martin Luther (Founder of the Lutheran Church) is famous for their foul language.

Incivility in the written word has not been invented by thoughtless fools on Twitter.

But what we’re seeing from the Telegraph is people who are already rich, famous, and the friends of powerful people attempting to ensure only flattering things may be written about them.

The great and good already have extensive recourse to the courts when people say things about them they do not like, now they want pre-emption?

When they’re finished policing Twitter, Facebook, the rest of the internet, why stop there?

That strikes me as far more disgusting than any troll.

And so we come to what Voltaire didn’t say:

I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.

Also I’d like it if you could stop; trolling, being ignorant, mean spirited, stupid, or just an arsehole.

But I don’t think we should lock you up for any of those things.


UPDATE: 13/09/12 09:19: It occurs to me having raised Sir Thomas More his speech in “A Man For All Seasons” is highly relevant:

William Roper: So, now you give the Devil the benefit of law!
Sir Thomas More: Yes! What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?
William Roper: Yes, I’d cut down every law in England to do that!
Sir Thomas More: Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned ’round on you, where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country is planted thick with laws, from coast to coast, Man’s laws, not God’s! And if you cut them down, and you’re just the man to do it, do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I’d give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety’s sake!

What’s Your opinion?


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In defence of trolls. Because someone has to
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Pork Hunt 6:46 pm 14 Sep 12

LSWCHP said :

There’s another aspect of this widespread “tosser on the internet” thing that I’ve always wondered about.

When people repeatedly behave like complete tools in a public forum, how do they perceive their own actions? Are they cold bloodedly and with full awareness sitting down and typing some bile while thinking “I am being a tool, and I do it because I love pissing people off heh heh heh”, or are they thinking as they type their bile “I am the one true remaining bastion of civilisation!. Everything I write regarding blacks/whites/atheists/muslims/gays/straights/etc is THE TRUTH, and The Reality is That Everybody Else is A Tool But Meeeee!!!!!!!!”.

It seems to me that those in the first category must be deranged in one way, and those in the second category must also deranged, but just in a different way. Either way, they’re deranged, and such people aren’t worth contending with. To paraphrase Wolfgang Pauli, they’re not even wrong.

I totally agree with half of what you say. From now on the second deranged version of me (I can assure you there are only two), shall be known as Yorick Hunt for twice the fun…
Be alarmed if we agree with each other and/or are seen in the same room together.

Pork Hunt 6:37 pm 14 Sep 12

I can never be sure whether it’s Jackie ‘Oh’ or Jackie ‘Zero’…?

Gerry-Built 12:43 pm 13 Sep 12

Comic_and_Gamer_Nerd said :

You still do not seem to know what trolling means.

understood… you win the internet…

Conan of Cooma 9:35 am 13 Sep 12

Mr Evil said :

As an American comedian once said, “I’m as asshole; and I’m proud of it”.

American is a little general, isn’t it?

Pretty sure he’s from the US of A. Denis Leary, that is.

Mallion 9:30 am 13 Sep 12

I did like the ABC’s ‘The Drum’ take on this, Supertrollers!
http://www.abc.net.au/news/2012-09-13/green-staggering-hypocrisy-of-the-supertrollers/4257706

p1 9:28 am 13 Sep 12

LSWCHP said :

It seems to me that those in the first category must be deranged in one way, and those in the second category must also deranged, but just in a different way. Either way, they’re deranged, and such people aren’t worth contending with. To paraphrase Wolfgang Pauli, they’re not even wrong.

The first category are psychopaths, the second category usually find religion sooner or later.

p1 9:24 am 13 Sep 12

p1 said :

Gerry-Built said :

…Just saying that neither *contributes* anything to a conversation and/or the exchange of views lol cats… which, afterall, is what social media should be about, right?

Fixed that for you.

p1 9:23 am 13 Sep 12

Gerry-Built said :

…Just saying that neither *contributes* anything to a conversation and/or the exchange of views lol cats… which, afterall, is what social media should be about, right?

johnboy 9:23 am 13 Sep 12

I thought this was worth looking at again with the traditional gatekeepers still pushing the anti-troll line to silence us all:

http://youtu.be/PDBiLT3LASk

Comic_and_Gamer_Nerd 6:46 am 13 Sep 12

Gerry-Built said :

kea said :

He didn’t dismiss what JB said.. he’s just saying example A and example B are both crappy and do not contribute to a robust discussion..

yes – precisely… sorry if my verbose wordage scrambled my message… basically being a shit-stirrer pretty much just makes you shit and wouldn’t it be nice if everyone could just be civil toward each other.

Is that clear to the “what-trolling-really-*is*”-crowd?

You still do not seem to know what trolling means.

LSWCHP 11:34 pm 12 Sep 12

There’s another aspect of this widespread “tosser on the internet” thing that I’ve always wondered about.

When people repeatedly behave like complete tools in a public forum, how do they perceive their own actions? Are they cold bloodedly and with full awareness sitting down and typing some bile while thinking “I am being a tool, and I do it because I love pissing people off heh heh heh”, or are they thinking as they type their bile “I am the one true remaining bastion of civilisation!. Everything I write regarding blacks/whites/atheists/muslims/gays/straights/etc is THE TRUTH, and The Reality is That Everybody Else is A Tool But Meeeee!!!!!!!!”.

It seems to me that those in the first category must be deranged in one way, and those in the second category must also deranged, but just in a different way. Either way, they’re deranged, and such people aren’t worth contending with. To paraphrase Wolfgang Pauli, they’re not even wrong.

Tetranitrate 11:18 pm 12 Sep 12

Thumper said :

Trolls?

True story, when I was a kid I went around Norway. Let’s say I was not exactly confident that trolls didn’t exist.

I saw a movie about that actually…
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TLEo7H9tqSM

LSWCHP 10:53 pm 12 Sep 12

Jethro said :

frank2112 said :

I think I’ve worked it out now. The telegraph is trying to stop the trolls because it doesn’t like the competition.

Did anyone else find the header story about Kyle and Jackie-O being ‘O So Naughty’ a bit ‘O So Ironic’, given the anti-troll campaign being promoted on the bulk of the page?

Oh yeah, I’m glad I’m not the only one. 🙂

I was reading a website devoted to strategic analysis a while ago and came upon a very good piece of advice. In short it was ‘Whenever someone communicates with you, ask yourself what they seek to gain by the communication”.

It seems that JB has asked himself the question in this case, and come up with an eminently sensible strategic analysis of the motivation behind the headline.

These clowns deserve a flogging.

Thumper 9:17 pm 12 Sep 12

Trolls?

True story, when I was a kid I went around Norway. Let’s say I was not exactly confident that trolls didn’t exist.

Having said that, all we need to do is blow up the pokies, err, I mean, bridges.

Mr Evil 8:46 pm 12 Sep 12

Good to see the Telegraph getting behind a ‘real’ issue for a change……

They see me trollin’, they hatin’…..

As an American comedian once said, “I’m as asshole; and I’m proud of it”.

poetix 8:28 pm 12 Sep 12

I suppose, to me, there’s a significant difference between teasing others quite gently, and commenting on an issue on-line just to upset others, or to draw out a strong emotional response. Trolling is incredibly tedious when it replaces genuine discourse. It has the effect of making people less likely to comment openly on issues important to them, just in case they’re being trolled and end up looking like the site’s idiot cousin. And aggressive trolling is just like the unpleasant individual who tells appalling jokes, but prefaces them with ‘I’m not racist but’ or ‘Women are great, but’. People take stupid positions under the guise of trolling, which means that they are just taking stupid positions. The motivation is almost irrelevant. It’s the words that count.

Personally, I am generally more polite on-line than in person, because what I write here or elsewhere is permanent, whereas comments in pubs, for example, to people’s faces, are necessarily made in a situation where there is a certain openness and reciprocity and ability to read emotion (unless you’re socially incompetent like the joker described above).

It is a very fine line, I think, between certain types of bullying and trolling. But ideally, this would be self-regulated, due to people’s own desire not to be hideous. (Yeah, right…) One of the main reasons I won’t use Twitter or give myself visage book is that it is totally open to any abuse.

Where’s HenryBG by the way? I’d love to hear his opinions on this, but I’m afraid his goats have abandoned him and are seeking a new love.

As to the Telegraph taking this position: Pot. Kettle. Black. Or as they might put it: STOP THE BLACK KETTLES TAKING JOBS FROM AUSSIE PENSIONER POTS!

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