Should you feed the trolls?

The ‘win’ you speak of isn’t a badge, a trophy you can place in the mantel, money, or credit. It’s watching with a smile of perverse satisfaction as they lose their cool, their dignity, their peace of mind, their sense of community. It’s not just a game, the players are flesh and blood, exacting real tolls.

The trolls attitude is ‘well, if I can take it from you, it’s because you’re weak and you’re argument is weak, and you deserve my contempt, dished out to you in whatever manner I deem fit’. (In the Drama Triangle, you will often see one person flip from role to role in the course of the conflict – victim (most powerful), persecutor, and/or rescuer. Which ever one promises the greatest emo payoff). It’s bullying… but when confronted sometimes the bully dons sheep clothing and bleets their despair loudly, hoping a good p.c. shepherd will step in and offer protection from her alleged persecutors… and that would be anyone caught by the shepherd with their fangs bared at the ‘sheep’.

Bared with good reason, but I suppose the abused could just suck it up. Watch mutely as the troll exits her cave, descends on the village, picks a fight with the locals (most of them sweet nerdy males), robs the tourists and eats their children, shits in the community well, burns down the library (and dismisses the English language), and quickly retreats back to her cave, as the now angry mob starts to gather their pitchforks and torches. This is usually when the troll cries, ‘I’m just a woman! You don’t know how hard it is to be me; you need to be more empathetic! Why are you harassing me?! Leave me alone! What do you mean I shit in your well? I have no idea what you’re talking about. You’re just trying to silence me! You don’t like my tone!’ Oh, it’s piteous. Then the villagers start to mill around in confusion and go home, because who wants to bully ‘the innocent’. They’re all adults volunteers and no one can actually recall seeing the troll eat little Cindy Lou Who.

Personally, as woman, I find those tactics offensive and watching the troll get by with it – for years! – just adds insult to injury.

Why is this serial abuse allowed to continue? I talked to a retired constable, who said it’s because the village council doesn’t give a shit what happens to the villagers in the bbs-burbs. I hope that’s not true. What usually happens though is good commenters pull up stakes and leave. So, once again, the troll wins.


You’re using a different definition of troll to how I’ve usually seen it used.

This is way off-topic for this thread, but I think you’re incorrectly attributing malice to Marilove by accusing her of being a troll, when I think she has a very short temper, no patience for lazy arguments, and is legitimately sick of dudes patronising her. I don’t think she’s a troll. I think her fury is righteous and genuine. I also think it can derail discussions, especially when she clashes with someone who has a big ego.

Frankly a lot of these “sweet nerdy males” need a kick up the arse and sometimes she’s the right person to do it.

But I think this is all a discussion for another thread.


“Frankly a lot of these “sweet nerdy males” need a kick up the arse and sometimes she’s the right person to do it.”

Tell me more. Which of the commenters needs a kick up the arse, and why do you think marilove is the right person to do it? I thought that was the moderator’s job; we have a moderator. The moderator enforces the rules for how the commenters will conduct themselves, this includes speaking to one another with respect. But for most of us this is a given, we speak to each other as we would wish to spoken to. Find me an instance where marilove responded to any one with respect, or for that matter in any tone other than contempt. ‘A very short temper’, ‘no patience’, ‘legitimately sick’ - I think you might be on to something, and I’ve argued that the commenters of BB are not qualified to address her ever present rage, nor should they be forced to be the butt of it.


A. Lots of them/us.

B. The right person is the willing one.

Sometimes respect includes being told to go to hell with whatever asinine opinion just accidentally slipped past your keyboard filter. I’m pretty sure the mods here recognize that too.

I’m just answering your points above, but since you went there, @marilove has made many comments that qualify as respectful etc what-have-you by most any measure. Use the badge system hey? If for your tastes she too often personifies the ever present rage those are your tastes. Personally as a cis white male middle aged sheltered rural Canadian muthafucka I find it beneficial. Guess who doesn’t call out my mainsplainin? Guys like me.

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Well, to roughly repeat what I said in the deleted thread, I can’t help but feel that her outbursts have a strong subtext of I AM ANGRY AND THAT MAKES ME RIGHT!!! I have already had quite enough exposure to that sort of thing accompanied with abusive behavior in my life and I find it to be rather a turn off.

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That marilove is still an active member, despite occasional temporary bans, speaks volumes about what the moderators think.

So this is the level of discourse you’d prefer? Snidely twisting my words to insinuate that someone you personally dislike might have mental health issues?

Fuck that. At least I know where I stand with marilove.


I didn’t say I like it, I find it beneficial. That same sub-text can be re-described as “I am angry and that means something is wrong” without changing a thing.

Let’s face it, the mods do moderate her, same as any, she gets deletions etc. Anger is welcome on this board despite it only being pleasant for any when angry people agree. I’d no more try to ask her to be less angry than I would any other person angry over comparable issues. Anyone can walk away & mods exist, so why?

There’s no rational reason to get the last word, so if you think someone is being irrational, do you join them in trying to have it? I do sometimes, but I know better all the while, bet not many are any different.

@marilove is simply not a troll. It’s pretty easy to make the case that she isn’t.

As for real trolls, shiiiiiit. whatcha gonna do? Communities self-moderate as best they may, I’d bet mods find more trolls via observing the whole than by reading posts. If they don’t, then tools that would let them do it, or do it easier are in order. Find a few real trolls in past convos, take all the numbers available, see what pops up. All it can do in the end is direct mods, no one wants a non-human modded board fulla captcha n such.

I mean, are you looking for “real” trolls? Like trolls that are only trolls? Because most trolls are us. Coming & going, baiting & being baited, flaming up & cooling out.


One may be correct in feeling that something is wrong, but completely offbase as to what and where the problem is.

I didn’t say she was a troll. Nor am I arguing she should be banned.

Edit: Since the subject’s not dying off, might as well bring these few words back.

To be clear, this topic is about what I initially thought was a new user, but turns out to be a very sporadic poster. And whether it made sense to reply to someone who you have good (and obvious) reason to believe is trolling.

I don’t think any long term members of the BBS, at least not any who post frequently, are in any way a troll.

To be a troll you have to be disengaged from the community; that’s one of the key ways you recognize trolling in my opinion, and it was true in this case. Did that user ever come back to defend or explain the single crazy post he dropped in the topic? Nope.

Some people are more difficult to talk to than others…

This is the other reason not to reply to trolls – they’ll be deleted here, and all the replies too. Which I think is a fine policy, actually, it’s a lot simpler than the alternatives.

But know that when you reply to a troll (in the classic definition, typically new or highly disengaged users, see earlier posts in this topic) you risk all your typing going up in smoke as it is deleted. That’s also a very good incentive not to reply to trolls!

Yeah the user page should have more of a “best of” type aspect to it where it shows the most liked posts. This is on our list for 2015…


I find it most clarifying to go back to the origin of the word: fishing. Trolling is when you drop bait in the water and cruise around waiting for something to bite. It’s as simple as that and the word itself doesn’t even begin to analyse motives. Maybe the person is hungry. Maybe they want to make art with it or perhaps they want to slap a person around the face with it in a chatroom. You’ll never really know.

Should you feed the trolls? IMO only if you want to be caught OR if you want to actually terrify the troll when you jump out of the water and into their boat to cause internal bleeding.

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You should probably be a bit more careful about who you tag and drag unwillingly into your conversations, then. Especially when they’ve made their feelings very clear on the matter.

re trolls, anyway: The first drive-by troll on a thread is a useful sacrificial lamb to get the idiotic arguments out of the way with and point people who are genuinely clueless toward more useful introductory material. Beyond that though, moderate the crap out of them.

I’ve personally viciously responresponded to marilove in the past because I occasionally find her writing style to be grating. That being said, it’s interesting that this very critical and personal discussion is being had about her and not about me or any number of the male repeat offenders here who could be accused of the same.

Why is that? I’d say it’s because she’s a woman who writes frequently on topics that affect women (talk about being a lightning rod) and additionally she takes the time to respond at length (and, probably adding to her suffering at the keyboards of bored trolls, wears her heart on her sleeve) on topics she cares about, meaning that the discussion doesnt end as mine often do when I’ve decided it’s no longer a discussion that’s getting anywhere: a showdown of epic childishness with serious pangs of being an asshole.

You don’t have to respond to people - in fact your finger can flick or your mouse can scroll right past the comments of people whom you presume will be unconstructive or annoying. I don’t do that for what marilove has to say, but there are some people it’s just more efficient to ignore.


As Donald pointed out, dude knows what’s up with online communities. When you get your car fixed do you take it to a web designer? When you get your site designed do you go to a mechanic? It’s usually worth listening to people who have deep experience with a thing.

Codinghorror thinks that was self-indulgent/accidental troll feeding. Marilove thinks codinghorror should not tell people how to respond to something while telling people how not to respond to things and Acer face-palmed when he read codinghorror’s suggestion that they were being trolled. Knowing what people think is awesome. How good is language!?

To be perfectly frank, for someone who’s an expert on online communities, he could have better people skills. He comes across a lot more patronising than I’m sure he intends. We’re all bloody experts on online communities, we’ve spent hours on them and seen how these things unfold a million times. Having some dude come along and act all academic at you, while simultaneously holding the keys to the room, is condescending as hell. Nobody likes to be talked down to, or treated like a case study in someone’s little social experiment.



Since when were engineers known for their people skills? I’d recommend you read his blog for more insight into how much actual thoughtful knowledge he has on the subject.

As to holding the keys: he’s not an editor of any sort here. He wrote the BBS on which were commenting and BoingBoing has decided to host as their comment management system. He holds a magic wand, but only insofar as he works on the comment system.

He’s not just some random dude. Very few people would be as qualified as he is to act all academic on this topic.

@EcholocateChoco you seem very angry, and unaware that anyone can add edits to their posts in closed topics. <---- See?

@AcerPlatanoides may I maintain concern for my armchair? It’s friday and I’m about to eat chicken schnitzel with gravy and chips.

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I know who he is. He’s very smart and I totally admire the hard work he’s put in. I know he means well. But the decisions he makes with the UI, with notification systems, with tagging, flagging, all that, affect the day-to-day experience of people using his software. Like you say. he’s not some random dude.

Online communities are not software problems, they’re people problems. I totally respect that he’s trying to address the solvable people problems with technology, to free up human moderators to solve human problems. That’s great.

But if you’re gonna talk about human problems and involve actual humans, you should learn how to talk to them. I’m saying by now he ought to know better.

Edit: Sorry I’m talking about you in the 3rd person when you’re the OP, codinghorror. Just think you couldda handled this one better.

@codinghorror Using sneaky features of your own fucking software to make snide comments at me after the thread has been closed is condescending as fuck. You come across like a smug asshole. Stop it.

The last time I read the community guidelines all races and sexual orientations were protected subjects of discussion. No hate speech, no exception… unless you call yourself an angry feminist, then it seems to be open season here on ‘white’, ‘male’ and ‘straight’. Why are these equally choice-less states of being a human, not afforded the same protection in this community? Weren’t they too just the recipients of the luck of the parental draw, the same ‘lucky’ sperm? Should anyone have to apologize, repeatedly, for the accidents of their birth, whatever the circumstances might have been?

If we allow one form of hate speech (and the targets of ‘white’, ‘male’, and ‘straight’ seem to be very popular here), then why not a free-for-all? ‘You, commenter, I’m guessing you’re over 30. Well, you can just shut the fuck up! No. No. No. You aren’t talking to me, you’re not talking to me, lalalalalalala. You have nothing to say I want to hear. Ever. I’ve decided you are 33 and feel qualified to say I understand and condemn the entirety of your experience on this planet so far… and you suck, so shut… up. Now read along while I treat you to several paragraphs of why you suck, and should never have been born. No, I’m not being mean, I feel sorry for you.’

If you think marilove waits for another commenter to cross her in a reply to her personally, think again. She’s after an emotional payoff, and she’s willing to troll the thread if she has to, to find it. You don’t have to be talking to her, just stand still and don’t put up too effective a defense (what does that sound like to you?)… she’ll do the rest of the work, in a series of escalating comments until she’s incoherent and screaming in type. From what I’ve read on anger management websites, this is a common pattern for those afflicted with extreme rage. Escalation, explosion, sometimes amnesia, and then they begin again.

I wasn’t twisting your words; I’m sorry if you felt it was so. I took them literally, as the symptoms of someone I think is mentally ill and in need of professional help. That kind of help will not be found here. This is where I have been standing in regard marilove’s behavior here for three years now. It has never been a “hidden” agenda. It’s coming up again now because she seems to getting worse.


Oh, and because I seem to have been found guilty of feeding a troll earlier today, I just want to add that this policy of inconsistently and arbitrarily deleting posts is fucking annoying.

I agree, I don’t think marilove is a troll, at least by the classical definition. (I grant Grace’s words on this do seem worth considering.)