"Don't feed the trolls" they keep saying. and it keeps not working

If you are using a service like Twitter or Facebook then you’re in an inherently unsafe, unpoliced environment.

As I said here.

These services need to reform how they handle this stuff (and Twitter has made some strides) otherwise when you use Twitter and Facebook you are making the virtual equivalent of travelling to Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, or the Ukraine.

You should have no expectation of safety on Twitter or Facebook, because there is none. Free speech, to these guys, means unlimited hate speech and bile. They are unmoderated spaces, libertarian paradises on earth.

The answer to “don’t feed the trolls”, is to stay in strongly moderated spaces where this kind of bullshit is not tolerated under the banner of free speech.


This isn’t entirely true, there have been many instances of people being charged and sentenced in the UK for posts on Twitter (and I know there are also laws in France and Germany and possibly other European countries that could result in the same, and maybe have), which is something I think is pretty ridiculous to be honest. I assume this could never happen in the US.

Internet sites are international, even if that was the case a bunch of US trolls could descend on someone and make unlimited rape and death threats with zero consequences for them. And how do you determine someone’s location with any accuracy anyway…

(Except in the case of the POTUS, I guess, I suppose death threats on the Internet are followed up on there by the secret service?)

This is totally correct. I have never thought of that, but that is on point.


Twitter is doing some stuff, at least:


With the new filtering, tweets sent directly to an individual which are from a recently registered account and use language similar to previously flagged messages will not automatically show up in a user’s mentions column. The filtered tweets will still exist on the service, and won’t be deleted, but the user being targeted will not see the harassment.

Fucking finally. Jesus.

Continuing the discussion from New Hugo Award categories for puppies:

Jeff, I’m not sure that data generalizes. I’m certainly not familiar with the entire Stack universe, but it’s my impression that it’s predominantly recognized for distilling discrete answers to technical questions.

I’d submit that it’s possible that a community such as bb, centered around art, expression, freedom, and creativity, may often defer to prioritize unique or novel voices over one “right” answer. Translated to my individual participation, I don’t want to be too quick to judge whether someone is being an utter asshole being unworthy of hanging around. Also, I recognize that there’re many other members of this community who are far more knowledgeable and articulate about calling out bullshit in their particular domains or on certain topics than I.

So when someone like @chenille takes the time to compose such thoughtful and well-said posts such as this and this, it’s not only for the benefit of the newbie/troll. I learn a lot about whenever some wise person take trolls to task, and I think that makes us all better troll-hunters.


I don’t think we’re quite talking about the same thing. There’s a big difference between a thoughtful and well-said post, versus, say:

  1. An attack in kind. Eye for an eye, everyone’s blind.

  2. An “ironic” GIF response.

  3. Adding even more vitriol and anger to the discussion.

  4. Going out of your way to point out how dumb other people are (even if they really are horrible racists, sexists, *phobes – all that’s needed is pointing to their horrid actions)

Thoughtful and well said is great. I am sure I speak for everyone when I say those kinds of posts are outstanding.

I just wish there were more of them.


Agreed. And I think this has some bearing on the flagging issue.

It’s one thing to pick up litter, which is what flagging is to me. It’s another to confront someone who’s in the act of littering and explain to them why it’s a bad thing.

All of my favourite friends here don’t just point out what’s wrong, they take the time to articulate a more ethical, or more loving, or more moral view of the world. And it’s those types of values-made-clear that converted me from a multi-year lurker into a regular yapping fool.


I try to be thoughtful in my responses (I doubt anyone would disagree with that)… But honestly, sometimes trolls are just so obvious, the only logical thing to do is to post a dismissive gif or call them out. Sometimes dismissive is the only way to go.


I would hope flagging would be high on your list in that obvious troll scenario.

Every reply is truly an encouragement. Do you want this person to continue to be in the room?

That said, to @funruly’s point, I can support someone posting a “thoughtful and well said” takedown, and us liking the shit out of it, quoting it, and otherwise amplifying the solid reply rather than individually posting Yet Another Dismissive GIF.

But if it’s super trolly, it’s probably gonna be deleted by @falcor, rightfully so, and dangling replies… are likely to get deleted too.


Sure, it is. But there is also the problem of subjectivity, one person’s trolling is another mans perfectly reasonable engagement,yeah? So, sometimes gifs can help signpost that the person feels a particular way, a nice shorthand. I don’t think it needs to be either/or…


Not really – some people like fighting so much, they forget what they’re fighting for. Or that fighting isn’t really the goal.

Or they just plain get off on fighting / lawyering topics. Much more common in dudes… of course.

Oh, wow: ZeroTrollerance bot army:

[The Peng! Collective] in collaboration with loads of awesome allies like you are launching a humorous feminist toned re-education program for sexist trolls on Twitter. Named Zero Trollerance, the campaign consists of a video-based mock self-help program designed to help Twitter trolls reflect on their behavior, tackle their fears and reintegrate into social media spaces again.

We’ve worked with the hacker named Jenny Mainframe to create a task force of 160 bots who will troll the trolls with advice. [emphasis added]

Every day for 6 days, the trolls will get tweets from a rotating team of bots who provide them with links to the day’s videoas well as motivational and inspirational tweets.

I remember being the subject of something similar to that in Usenet days… I once posted a story about how my friend and I had these cool U.S. Robotics full-length internal expansion card modems for our PCs… that allowed us to talk on the phone as we played multiplayer games together, mostly Duke Nukem 3D. It was glorious!

(It was 1996, man, that’s how it was)

Anyway I thought my story was awesome so I posted it to 4-5 different Usenet gaming / hardware groups that seemed appropriate because I wasn’t sure which one was best.

I then got targetted by an “anti-spam” bot which emailed me giant MP3 files of the Monty Python spam song for a couple days.

I guess my point is, bots may not be the best way to handle this.

edit: here’s the link to my original post on Usenet.


<img src="//discourse-cloud-file-uploads.s3.dualstack.us-west-2.amazonaws.com/boingboing/original/3X/4/0/401035e50bf6dce6d1563bec495404a2b403b10d.jpg" width="550" height="400">


I see what you did there. :wink:

Depending upon the troll, a thoughtful and well said takedown might be more trouble than it’s worth.

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Another counter-argument example:

When a new account shows up, makes one post that isn’t about the topic but rather is tone-policing how a regular has commented on the topic, when his twitter timeline is a testament to all of the abuse and harassment that :video_game: :crocodile: stands for, when he promises this, then why shouldn’t he just be nuked from orbit?


I think you’re right, and I’d like to say more but I think my “Discussing New Users” card got pulled today.

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