I see this on other blogs. Here, not so much. Someone writes a post. Someone else posts a rather caustic comment.
Doesn’t sign his name. If someone criticizes the commenter, he heaps on the personal attacks and often the indefensible arguments because, hey, you know nothing about him. He’s unassailable.
There’s a word for that. Troll.
Trolls, particularly when politics are discussed, like to get abusive. Since they don’t sign their name, the only place you can attack them is on the very blog where they commented. To which the troll’s response is “Well, it’s clear everyone here is kissing your ass/is a liberal pinko commie/fascist Bushista conservative/molests little bunnies while worshiping the Devil/etc.”
Of course, it’s in our nature to engage these idiots when attacked. After all, we must defend ourselves. Which is what they want. They’ve just tossed a cyber-Molatov cocktail onto your blog, and now they want to watch the fireworks. They also want the attention they can safely bask in behind that most pathetic of online ID’s, “Anonymous.”
Delete. Ban. Blacklist.
So far, only three people are banned on this blog. One is a guy with a history of libel and online abuse. (I know. I Googled him after he tried to pick a fight. He’s been kicked out of more Internet sites than I’ve ever read.) When I migrated over to WordPress, I decided to save myself the headache and typed his name into the blacklist. Problem solved.
The other two? These two geniuses (whom I suspect are actually the same person) worked for a check cashing place that “would be driven out of business, costing Ohio JOBS!” if people voted yes on cracking down on such places. Their posts amounted to shouting down anyone who attacked their position.
At least he signed his names. As for his/their employer? I pass two of their branches within two blocks of each other during my daily commute. I’m mad. I voted to put them out of business.
I’ve learned, after getting burned several times, the rule for trolls is “Do not engage.” I haven’t been perfect in following that rule, but I do follow it.
My only personal trolling experience worth mentioning is a guy who decided to take a private spat public. He posted some borderline slanderous comments while hiding behind an anonymous moniker, leaving enough clues to let me know who he was. I chose not to engage. The kicker was a guest blog post he wrote under his own name. To his credit, he didn’t name me directly, but made it very clear that he wanted very much to apply for the job of my mortal nemesis. (That position has not been created and its functions have been outsourced to the customer service department at Time Warner Cable.) What got on my nerves was his comment “Now he won’t even speak to me.” Never mind that he’s never made an effort to, oh, I dunno. Send an email? I’ve had the same public email address for six years now.
Wow. Trolling on other people’s blogs. And of course, never here. Because I might do something like filter him out. Which incidentally I never have. Zapped his comments on the old blog, maybe, but I’ve even zapped my wife’s here. Not so much anymore. You really have to be trying hard to get kicked off these days or pimping nude pics of Vic Tayback for that to happen. That falls under either the category of spammer or troll. Spammers and trolls can get the hell of my lawn.
The thing is I know this guy. All he had to do was man up and email me. Better still, he could sign his real name or at least identify himself publicly. All it would take is a backbone.
He didn’t, so I don’t engage. The above is probably more attention than I should be giving him, but I wrote it to make a point. I didn’t engage when I knew who it was, and I don’t normally engage when I don’t.
What brought on this little rant is actually another blogger, a friend, who, instead of using the ban button, decided to shut down and not deal with it anymore. Ironically, the guy causing the trouble for him (also a friend) signed his name. Even posted his home address. The resident troll on the blog loved this. Encouraged my friend to stay off teh intrawebs for a nice long time while sucking up to my other friend. Never mind my other friend finds the troll annoying, too.
Still didn’t sign his name. And forget that my two friends patched things up in short order. This schmuck couldn’t keep his mouth shut and couldn’t sign his name. Or maybe he did. Some of the anti posts under “anonymous” had initials. Somehow, I don’t think so. Many of the anonymous posts still appeared unsigned. And of course, curiosity got the better of me. I got the itch.
Occasionally, that itch is too much, and I have to ask a troll why he even bothers harassing someone whose blog they don’t like? I don’t like the TV show, I change the channel. Don’t like the music? Change the station or delete it off the player. Don’t like the web site? It’s a big Internet. Point elsewhere. Have to chime in and argue? Sign my name.
Of course, signing your name, be it the one on your driver’s license, the Elton John to your Reggie Dwight, or just the cute little handle that pretty much is a beacon aimed at you for the rest of cyberspace to follow, takes balls. Perfect strangers will know who you are.
And trolls never have a pair worth mentioning, if they have a pair at all.