Russia's troll factory


#1

[Read the post]


#2

I don’t see why they would work long hours. If they’re doing the government’s dirty work, there should be plenty of money to go around, and it’s not as if they have some rare aptitude that cannot be taught. Maybe their bosses are just trying to prove they’re not Communist? If I ran the show I would want my trolls to be well-rested at peak creativity.


#3

Is troll really the right word? These guys seem more like government sockpuppets.


#4

“Troll” is one of the few netspeak words to really make the jump to mainstream usage. so it’s just lost any of the specificity that it once had. Griefing, flaming, sockpuppeting, astroturfing and the like all get lumped under one heading that means “Undesirable online behaviour”. It’s like the difference between hacking and cracking- the specific terms just didn’t get through to the general population.

Getting back to the article, it’s fairly obvious that this has been going on for years by all sides. And it isn’t really difficult to see why. During the cold war any political group was liable to get monitored and infiltrated, the net just gives the same people a wider reach. I wonder how often we’ve actually had a flock of wolves situation without knowing it.


#5

Exactly. Lambchop a la KBG. Muppets of Moscow.


#6

I guess they’re supposed to be sockpuppets, but they’re so transparent that if they function at all, it’s as trolls (that is, the Kremlin’s only win is in poisoning forums and driving people away).


#7

I think that’s the whole point; to discredit the practice of objective journalism.


#8

Internet Research Agency. Internet Research Agency. Internet Research Agency.

How many times do we need to repeat their name to have them appear in the comments? Or do I have to say something derogatory about Vlad?

PUTIN IS A POOPOOHEAD!

There. That ought to do it!


#9

They’ve been here before. I think for a post about Pussy Riot at least, but I’m too lazy to type words in a search box and read. They seemed pretty obvious, but here on BB we’re like f-ing bloodhounds for that shit.


#10

Sometimes I worry about the BBS’s ingroup bias. There’s a discussion over here about what we can do to prevent single-topic drivebys and it feels awfully… I don’t know… Governmental.

Anyway, I try to remember that I got my start here as a person posting a very unpopular (and frankly thoughtless) opinion. I got the snot kicked out of me by several regulars, but I wasn’t harped on continuously.

I was able to come back, make counter points, and eventually I’ve made a complete 180 on my views regarding that topic. I was forced to think and spend time and effort doing research and talking with people IRL if I wanted to lock horns here and be respected. And eventually, it came down to a choice of adhering to previously held beliefs and dogma, or maintaining my intellectual honesty and integrity, so I changed my mind, since that was the evidence and logic dictated.

TL;DR, I’ll tear into any single-issue troll, especially for my pet-topics. But I do try to keep in mind they’re people, and that I had humble beginnings, so I don’t try to write them off.


#11

I was more or less referring to sockpuppet / astroturfing, of the subtle and not-so-subtle kind that sends a lot of other forums for quite a ride. However I worry about the groupthink as well. There are a few peeps here who I vehemently disagree with on most topics, but am always frustrated (in a good way) by valid points that they (usually) raise in their favor.


#12

I can’t remember who said it, or if it’s a real quote, or if it’s something I made up long ago, but this always seems to be comforting to me when I end up out-matched in discussion:

“Frustration is the feeling of your brain being forced to think.”


#13

There is a better word for these folks than “troll.” The Chinese beat them to the punch on this one, so they’ll have to accept a loan word and call them wumao (五毛).


#14

Heh. I guess the Russians are overspending for this service.


#15

Here’s what most worries me:

Then there were the pictures from the Ukrainian revolution, which focused almost exclusively on the Right Sector, a small group of violent, right-wing, anti-Russian protesters with a fondness for black balaclavas. Russian authorities have seized upon Right Sector to paint the entire revolution, backed by a huge swath of Ukrainian society, as orchestrated by neo-fascist thugs.

I’ve seen a fair number of complaints that the role of fascists in the Ukrainian revolution is being enormously understated in the US media. So on reading this in the article, I’m left wondering whether I’ve fallen for the propaganda, or whether Chen himself is pushing propaganda.


#16

Yup. Russia’s info warriors, if indeed there is anything to this story, are but fleas on the back of the elephant of the New York Times. And if you believe the Times about the Ukraine, please recall the tales of yellowcake, and Baathist atrocites, and the breathless drumbeating back in 2003 prior to the invasion of Iraq.


#17

So, this is where I’m probably going to get poor Samwise Tarly banned for 20 years.

This isn’t my first account. But then, I’m hardly the first person to have more than one account here because the last one got banned. Hell, if I don’t know why I got banned, is it really ban evasion if it could have happened by accident? If I don’t get told why, or if the reason was super-shitty, am I a bad person for making my case?

The moderation on BoingBoing is stringent, and at times capricious. One of my last alts got banned in Justine Sacco style. I had meant one thing, one drinky too many had led me to word something awkwardly, a bunch of regulars piled on to tell me what a horrible person I was for espousing what they believed my opinion to be…and I read through the responses, thought, “Wait, that’s not what I meant at all,” went to reply, and because it was a hot-button topic, boom, that account was banned until sometime in my golden years.

Well. Honestly, at times, satisfying the Boing Boing crowd could give Robin Li a headache. I thought that would come to an end when they ditched having an all-powerful god over comments, and switched to a next-gen BBS. Nope.

TL;DR, I’ll tear into any single-issue troll, especially for my pet-topics. But I do try to keep in mind they’re people, and that I had humble beginnings, so I don’t try to write them off.

If only everyone thought the same as you.

People, really, just because you’ve seen an argument 1000 times and it’s coming from an account you don’t recognize, doesn’t mean it’s some eeeeeevil dudebro hellbent on giving you a stress headache over imaginary Internet points. It could be some kid who just doesn’t know, and might be swayed by some mild words of correction. But we don’t do mild words of correction here, we do overblown anger and bans. Because that wins people over.


#18

Or maybe people are just sick and tired of the same old bullshit “arguments” from the same bad-faith, fly-by accounts? Maybe, just maybe, if people stopped and thought, “what I am about to say is imflammatory, and likely to piss off 90% of the people in this comment thread” or thought “you know, I don’t actually need to inject my 2 cents in this conversation because I don’t really know much about it”, perhaps you wouldn’t need to receive “mild words of correction”. #justsayin


#19

Somehow I picture George Wallace saying the same thing in 1963. Though maybe less snarky.


#20

In other words: “I didn’t put enough thought into what I typed, and it got me banned”. It happens. Lesson learned, I hope?