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kesmarn On October - 26 - 2009

trollWhere do trolls fit in the Lib blogosphere? Do trolls help us to sharpen our wits and clarify our thoughts? Or are they an annoying interruption of the flow of a great conversation? Do you ever find yourself paradoxically missing the “bad guys” who loved inciting mayhem on Enoughington Post (or whatever other liberal blogging site you’ve been involved with)? Or is it a relief to take a break from perpetually defending our views, our President and–at times–rationality itself.

I’d be interested in hearing what your thoughts are…

Categories: News & Politics

Written by kesmarn

History major "back when," who recently retired from having been an RN for a bazillion years. Political junkie. Warren, Sanders and Reich fan. Happy to have been a Planeteer for more than five years now!

25 Responses so far.

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  1. Questinia says:

    Trolls like mayhem, they like negative attention, they like being in command. It has very little to do with sharpening wits, unfortunately. They never bothered me, because I felt I really knew their reasons for posting:

    Dysfunctional early family experiences and not enough quality mommy time.

  2. Grabamop says:

    What amazes most about trolls is their confidence in their ignorance. I don’t mind the opposing view, but the lack of openmindness is stunning. I would wish that people would ignore their inane comments and not rise to their bait. The bottom line is that they want to call Obama the one word they can’t say in public so they call him everything else they can.

    • kesmarn says:

      A coworker cracked up the other day when I described a Beck-type as “the perfect meld of arrogance and ignorance.” That’s the combo that drives most racists--closet or overt.

  3. VegasBabe says:

    My suggestion is folks need to perhaps chill the hell out a bit here. If there is a poster who you do not wish to engage because you consider them a “troll”, then DON’T ENGAGE with them. The name calling and mass attacks that I have personally witnessed and experienced needs to end. sometimes I wonder who the friggin adults are.

    • KQuark says:

      I know I have had a hard time not being defensive especially with so call “trolls” when they constantly go over the line and ridicule every Democrat or anything progressives it takes a huge amount of restraint to hold back. The name calling especially gets to me. I know I have not always had that restraint. But there are just people that engage in troll like behavior 100% of the time and I don’t see a problem calling those type of people trolls.

  4. VegasBabe says:

    My biggest problem is our inability to effectively agree on who is a troll. During the election, Ramirez and CC2 were most definitely trolls. they are not to be in any way, shape or form. though I do not like the poster AC (who some suggest is Neo), I don’t think “it” is a troll either. For me, trolls aren’t the troublemakers who try to get us going, they are mere pimples. Trolls are the ones who are permitted to post for hours with monikers like “Ididn’tvoteforthenigger”….you know what I am talking about. AND, another concern I have with liberals, and I am not one for this reason, is that if someone disagrees with their opinion, immediately it seems they are either attacked in mass, or defined and referred to as a troll. K7 CUT ME A FRIGGIN BREAK. Isn’t this the very thing that led to our ostracization from FRT, my defending YOUR RIGHT TO YOUR OPINION? I may not agree with you, but we all need to agree to disagree amiably. No one as far as I know died and made any of us Gawd. I hope this isn’t going to lead to the same environment that led to a disappointing and hurtful experience at FRT here at PlanetPOV. I mean that from the bottom of my heart.

    • AdLib says:

      VegasBabe, your concerns are very valid though I hope you’ll take my assurance that The Planet is not a place where groupthink or ganging up on those with unpopular opinions will ever be permitted to take root.

      This is a public site and has been from the beginning, all people and all opinions are sought and respected.

      As you point out, opposing opinions on issues and political beliefs do not make someone a troll (or I would be one!). The very reason for starting up PlanetPOV was to have a place that truly respects Freedom of Expression no matter how unpopular or individualistic an opinion is and it will always continue to be such a place.

      When I talk about trolls, I talk about people who only post comments to spew hatred. IMO, trolls are those who launch vicious personal attacks at other members and spout lies and extremist propaganda with the sole intent of creating havoc at a “liberal” site. When that is allowed, you end up with a situation as is evidenced at Huffington Post…lots of hate-filled posts and lots of censorship.

      Like most sites that try to have civil discourse, there are rules here to keep conversations productive and respectful but there is also a kind of ACLU philosophy here that means we will also protect the right of people to have opinions that may upset others or even a majority.

      I think we will all enjoy a healthy and diverse debate of ideas and opinions here far more than the claustrophobia of a monolithic membership or a repressive, censorship dominated blog.

      • KQuark says:

        I would really like to have conservative and more moderate voices here. AliMB is a poster on HP that is conservative but makes good arguments. I’m progressive but I’m know I’m not as liberal as some posters on some issues here so a few more moderates would be welcome.

      • kesmarn says:

        In just the short time I’ve been here, I notice a huge difference (for the better) in the tone of the discussion. VegasBabe’s point about using the term “troll” is well taken. I think one of the problems with HP was/is that things get sort of simplistic--that old “you’re either with us or ‘agin’ us” mentality. If you fell somewhere in the middle--even on a rare issue here or there--you tended to be labelled as “not liberal” (or for the righties, “not conservative”) or worse. There was a lot of pigeon-holing. This site seems to be tolerant of a lot more diversity of opinion.

    • VegasBabe says:

      And another thing. This entire business of labeling posters as “trolls” is very dangerous. I have engaged with several who have been label thus, and it was extraordinarily hurtful to them. These slights and hurts LAST A FRIGGIN LONG TIME, they don’t disappear JUST because anyone starts talking to them again. If you call me a nigger on Wednesday, and in a fortnight, we’re talkin again, don’t for a minute think I would have forgotten that insult.

  5. PepeLepew says:

    To me there is a *huge* difference between someone with a dissenting opinion and a “troll.”
    I’m perfectly fine with people with dissenting opinions, and people who feel compelled to express their dissenting opinion.
    A “troll” is someone who says purely provocative and inflammatory things just to see what kind of reaction he/she can elicit. More often than not, they don’t even buy their own B.S.; they’re just trying to make people mad and they sit back at their computer and laugh when they do. On HuffPost, I think it’s become a game to them to see if they can provoke such a virulent reaction that they can get people banned.
    So, no, a classic “troll” more often than — in fact, almost always, really adds nothing legitimately valid to any discussion.

    • Suzanne525 says:

      Your definition of troll is exactly the way I understand it -- someone making provocative comments simply to stir things up and cause trouble.

      I work with conservatives (I’m the only liberal/progressive or whatever I am) and all my 4 brothers (and their wives) are conservative. Some of my co-workers are thoughtful and present cogent arguments. Others are so brain-dead I don’t bother to engage in any political conversation with them. I love my family and accept them for who they are, and we don’t fight about any of the issues.

      So, trolls -- no.
      Other viewpoints -- yes.

    • kesmarn says:

      Thanks for a clarifying comment, Pepe. I’ve sometimes wondered if trolls were like the irritating grain of sand that eventually produces a pearl. I’ve seen some great responses produced by obnoxious comments. But, over all, the genuine trolls added so little to the debate that they ended up being an ongoing series of hurdles to reasoned discussion.
      Getting into debates with sincere conservatives…much more interesting. Also very rare in the current Coulter-driven state of things.

  6. AdLib says:

    Excellent question!

    I agree with everyone else here, my answer is absolutely not. As some have mentioned, trolls don’t challenge us intellectually, they are just garbage spewing, emotionally damaged people who, like arsonists, thrive on the power they feel when they light a fire and see so many people affected.

    Critical thinking and reason isn’t strengthened by yelling at racists and haters and liars or by ridiculing them. Instead, it is a major distraction from using our energies to convince the undecided on genuine issues. And I say this as someone who wasted a lot of time slapping down trolls at HuffPo.

    It simply denigrates debate, HuffPo is proof of that. Look at the level of “debate” there and the heavy handed censorship that accompanies such an environemnt.

    That’s why we started up PlanetPOV, to have a place for people who sincerely care about the world they’re living in to openly express themselves and have honest and open conversations and debates.

    Which leaves out trolls. They’ll have to find another Planet because there’s no home for them on this one.

  7. KevenSeven says:

    If a “conservative” is capable of a rational, adult debate, by definition, it is not a troll.

    A troll is an asshole whose purpose is to piss you off.

  8. KQuark says:

    Trolls are like a simple “progressive meter” to me. When they are loudest and most obnoxious like tonight it means we are making the most progress.

  9. nicole473 says:

    I agree with everyone else for the most part.

    I grew up consorting with right wingers, so I don’t dislike all of them, but the wingers on HP are just not the same thing as those conservatives I grew up with. The HP trolls are primarily low iq Fox Nation types who tend to bore me with their ridiculous posts, and consequently I find myself flinging one-liners rather than trying to engage in intelligent discourse. It makes me dislike them even more.
    Do we need trolls? No, not really, unless it is just a matter of striving for clicks as HP does.

    Conflicting viewpoints are a different matter however. Those can create a good kind of tension.

  10. escribacat says:

    I agree that almost none of the trolls are worth talking to. I don’t even answer the little creepy Amelie person and the crazy person always freaking out about the baby picture — and that ilk. They are only there to exercise their mental illnesses — and there are some seriously mentally ill people on HP in my opinion. However, depending on my mood, it is sometimes fun to insult some of them and correct their bad spelling (a service I provide free of charge to right wingers only).

    Once in awhile, a conservative makes an actual good point and that’s refreshing. Or, they might make a logical point that can be argued in an interesting way. Those are stimulating.

    I prefer not to demonize the right (I’m surrounded by conservatives in my life). They’re not evil. Many of them are just suspicious of government the way I’m suspicious of mega corporations. It’s a legitimate viewpoint. Those people I do not consider “trolls.” There are about half a dozen or so of those regulars on HP. It’s always more interesting when they are around.

    To me, a troll is someone who is only there to make snippy little insults that require no knowledge. There’s nothing to debate. They don’t know anything and can’t back up their “opinions.” Then there are the “in-betweeners” who seem like they’re intelligent people but they don’t express their political beliefs very well and therefore come off as quite loathsome.

  11. GreatGrannie says:

    I cannot think of one good thing to say about trolls…oh, wait…they can be fun to kick around…but for the most part, trolls are nothing but a pain in the ass. The trolls on HP have been allowed to descend into the depths of hell and shoot fire from their delusional, angry, and hate-filled gray head matter they call a brain and remain unchecked. I love debate but trying to make a point with a zoombie is just plain wasted effort….and HP is infected with zoombies…

  12. Kalima says:

    After almost 2 years on Huff from June 07 until about April this year when I stopped posting, I would say that the quality of trolls on HP descended into the bowels of hell or the scum of the earth. No we certainly didn’t need that and by this time all of the worthy opposition had either left or moved on.

    Having a debate is fine and dandy, having to put up with some of the vilest comments I had ever heard, was not. Leaving was a relief and also cured my stiff shoulders and headaches.

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