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Monday, March 30, 2009

Trolls Really Do Exist

Andrew Breitbart's post, Online activists on the right, unite!, has called attention to a problem almost every conservative blogger experiences: Trolls who plant inflammatory comments to make the blog appear racist or sexist or some other "ist" or who post such long comments that they try to take over the blog and make it their own. Robert Stacy McCain has a good post on this as well, with plenty of links documenting how these trolls tried to set up Sarah Palin's blog and others. Ann Althouse experienced this phenomenon when popular liberal blogger Ezra Klein smeared her based on a handful of supposedly anti-semitic comments on her blog

This is not surprising, since stifling open debate was the hallmark of the Obama campaign and is the hallmark of the Obama administration.

After several of my posts critical of Obama gained widespread attention on the blogosphere, a commenter appeared who posted lengthy Media Matters and MoveOn-style talking points within minutes of every one of my new posts. This commenter also would post hostile comments directed at other commenters. The commenter began to refer to his or her prior comments as "posts" indicating a clear attempt to usurp this blog. When I switched to a moderated comment policy, the comments stopped, although I never rejected any of the comments.

The internet trolling phenomenon is not entirely surprising, since liberals in general view freedom of speech as meaning the freedom to agree with liberals. I still do not reject comments based on political viewpoint, and use hostile comments as an opportunity to confront issues.

But I am very cognizant that even small conservative blogs are targeted, and there are people out there just waiting to jump at the first mistake I make.


  1. I'm not sure why it would matter that lefties post contentious comments disagreeing with a conservative blogger -- even with a nasty tone. It matters a great deal, of course, if they pretend to be conservatives and make racist or other obnoxious comments to create a negative impression of conservatives.

    Aren't these two quite different issues?


  2. I agree that it makes a difference. Faux comments are much worse, but comments which are not genuine expressions of an individual's view are not much better. I welcome true disagreement, but not disagreement which merely is a plant to disrupt someone else's blog.

  3. That's one reason why I don't allow comments on my the bolg the other reason is that I have so few readers that any other comment policy would be all but moot.

  4. William,

    I am a blogger from Australia. I have several blogs but most of them are unrelated to politics. Some of my blogs are controversial and I would not show them to people I do not wish to offend because of the content.

    I was one of many bloggers who blogged about the Schindler-Schiavo situation. What I find so very frustrating is that even now there are people (right or left) who still do not get it, that in this case a woman's human rights were being trampled in the name of euthanasia.

    I do not allow people to freely comment on my blogs. I want my blogs to remain clean from what I consider to be totally stupid remarks - most lefties do leave extremely stupid remarks. On the other hand I have allowed others that at least do contain some semblance of intelligence.

    One thing that happened during the Schindler-Schiavo controversy happened to be that there were people both left and right, liberal, lesbians, libertarian etc. who all felt the same way over the issue. We managed to come together for a purpose. I discovered a bunch of very intelligent people regardless of political leanings - but then there were the rest who were mindless idiots attempting to leave stupid inane comments that made very little sense and showed that they followed the thoughts of their masters at the university and school levels.

    I read a lot of blogs and the trolls are always the same. They have very little to say and when they do say something they do not sound very intelligent at all.

    There is also the problem that these people attempt to stifle the voice of those who dissent from the present adulation of a man who does not deserve to be POTUS. One risks comments about being racist when in fact what a lot of people have to say refers to the actions of the man, and not the colour of his skin. Yet they turn it into colour. It is enough for this blogger to want to say the "N" word which would in fact be somewhat racist because of the way that it would be meant.

    Sadly, there is one blog author I would like to contact because I love her material but I cannot comment on her blog and she has the "contact" via email blocked. The blogger is Dr. Sanity and I would like to bring to her attention the work of Alice Miller who did an analysis of Adolf Hitler. I do need to read the parts again, but I am in fact wondering if the incumbent in the White House has many of the same psychological issues as Adolf Hitler. (It is not to excuse the megalomaniac but to understand why he did certain things - ditto for Obama who is also behaving like a megalomaniac and as though he is ashamed of being part white. Hitler was part Jew).