Anonymity and Trolling

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Re: Anonymity and Trolling

Postby KeithBC » Wed Sep 04, 2013 6:50 pm

As a current moderator on one forum and past moderator on several others, I can say that it is possible to identify trolling without speculating on the motivation of the poster. I can presume that the motivation is to provide jollies to the poster, but that isn't necessary to identify it, and therefore isn't a necessary part of the definition.

If a person't first post on a forum is a provocative declaration (or question) on a controversial topic, and they then play no further part in the discussion, the behaviour itself is enough to identify it as trolling. I don't need to know, not do I care why they do it. It is insta-ban time.

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Re: Anonymity and Trolling

Postby shel » Wed Sep 04, 2013 7:05 pm

Seishin wrote:I'm not sure about trolling as the definition can be debated (see above). But I think having anonymity means we can be someone or something we're not. Sometimes this can be a good thing, such as a shy person being more open and talkative. But it also tends to make people less afraid to be confrontational.

Gassho,
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Interesting, Seishin. I don't quite agree, mostly because I don't think it's an 'apples to apples' comparison. The dynamics of communication differ significantly, imo.

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An amusing sidenote, on the other forum that inspired this topic about anonymity and trolling, the topic starter posted this today:
Having looked at the reference to this thread on another site [DW and this topic], here is making clear the straightforward reason for stating that anonymity facilitates trolling behaviour.

When your identity is known, you are less likely to act in an uncivil way. You are more accountable, and more credible.


He writes "here is making clear the straightforward reason for stating that anonymity facilitates trolling behavior." A couple of posts after this a moderator states that some posts were removed. I read one of the removed posts (before it was removed of course) and it struck me as a trolling post, that's basically why it was removed, and it was from an un-anonymous poster. You can't make this stuff up. :tongue:
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Re: Anonymity and Trolling

Postby shel » Wed Sep 04, 2013 7:13 pm

Sherab Dorje wrote:
shel wrote:Please tell me you're kidding.
Not in the slightest.

gay adjective \ˈgā\
Definition of GAY

1
a : happily excited : merry <in a gay mood>
b : keenly alive and exuberant : having or inducing high spirits <a bird's gay spring song>
2
a : bright, lively <gay sunny meadows>
b : brilliant in color
3
: given to social pleasures; also : licentious
4
a : homosexual <gay men>
b : of, relating to, or used by homosexuals <the gay rights movement> <a gay bar>
So we see that defintions play an important role in the intrepretation of statements and we quite clearly see that the context of the statement (in a Datsun or a Ford forum in the example furnished) also plays an incredibly important role. The exact same statement and the exact same intention for making the statement can lead to a very differnent interpretation of the persons behaviour. Obviously, defining a persons behaviour as "trollish" is context driven.


The exact same intention? If you're serious, can you explain how in your example the intention is exactly the same.
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Re: Anonymity and Trolling

Postby shel » Wed Sep 04, 2013 7:17 pm

KeithBC wrote:As a current moderator on one forum and past moderator on several others, I can say that it is possible to identify trolling without speculating on the motivation of the poster. I can presume that the motivation is to provide jollies to the poster, but that isn't necessary to identify it, and therefore isn't a necessary part of the definition.

If a person't first post on a forum is a provocative declaration (or question) on a controversial topic, and they then play no further part in the discussion, the behaviour itself is enough to identify it as trolling. I don't need to know, not do I care why they do it. It is insta-ban time.

Om mani padme hum
Keith


You mean posting something like "Ford owners are gay. Discuss!"* on a Ford forum? If so, that's a pretty safe call.



* Ford owners are not gay. It's just an example.
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Re: Anonymity and Trolling

Postby Thrasymachus » Wed Sep 04, 2013 8:17 pm

This is a nonsense discourse for analyzing forums: anonymous people and their trolling.

Every forum has an alleged and stated purpose, which is of course always nonsense. Only by participating do you learn its unwritten purpose which the staff will never admit to.

Every forum has written rules, which of course always nonsense and never held to. Eventually you learn certain unwritten rules only through participation.

For example, I recently got banned by bikeforums.net for allegedly being "high maintenance, trolling", forever. I thought as a former car-free person, currently car-lite, with its sub-forums for "car-free living", "commuting" and "advocacy and safety" it would be geared toward me. However I have learned from participating that the owner makes money by selling membership perks. Now in the USA most cyclists use their car to transport their bicycles more than they tend to actually pedal them. They are Sunday cyclists at best, or more precisely, motorists who use the car to get everywhere. Even on the sub-forums you would think would be full of the car-free or bicycle commuters, almost no one really used their bicycle for day to day life related transportation. So certain sub-forums pretended that something was the case, when it wasn't. And why would the owner care? There are much more recreational and racer wannabe cyclists to make money from with useless paid subscription perks for people with too much money(which would be mostly recreational types likely owning several $5,000+ bikes). I got banned because I called out the state of transportation apartheid in the forums you would actually think would be sympathetic, but weren't because the owner and his moderators cannot make money by catering to a market that largely doesn't exist, utilitarian cyclists. This offended the majority of motorists and they caused problems. The needs of the moderators and site staff were to ban me instead of the motorists actually trolling by posting to say they didn't like me or that I offended them because I don't engage their high level of escapism and instead expose actually existing social realities they don't want to be presented with.
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Re: Anonymity and Trolling

Postby Sherab Dorje » Wed Sep 04, 2013 8:38 pm

shel wrote:
You mean posting something like "Ford owners are gay. Discuss!"* on a Ford forum? If so, that's a pretty safe call.



* Ford owners are not gay. It's just an example.
Of course some Ford owners are happily excited, merry, keenly alive and exuberant, having high spirits, bright and lively and proud of it! :tongue:
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Meditation and conduct become delusion,
One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
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Re: Anonymity and Trolling

Postby Sherab Dorje » Wed Sep 04, 2013 8:41 pm

shel wrote:The exact same intention? If you're serious, can you explain how in your example the intention is exactly the same.
Exact same intention: to prove that Datsuns are (objectively) better than Fords and thus prove that Ford owners are happily excited, merry, keenly alive and exuberant, having high spirits, bright and lively. But again you are getting stuck on irrelevant details.
"When one is not in accord with the true view
Meditation and conduct become delusion,
One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
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Re: Anonymity and Trolling

Postby KeithBC » Wed Sep 04, 2013 10:54 pm

shel wrote:You mean posting something like "Ford owners are gay. Discuss!"* on a Ford forum? If so, that's a pretty safe call.

That's a trivially obvious example. But the same principle applies in less obvious cases. And yes it's a judgement call. That's why forums have moderators and do not rely on automatic scripts for moderation.

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Re: Anonymity and Trolling

Postby shel » Wed Sep 04, 2013 11:07 pm

Sherab Dorje wrote:
shel wrote:The exact same intention? If you're serious, can you explain how in your example the intention is exactly the same.
Exact same intention: to prove that Datsuns are (objectively) better than Fords and thus prove that Ford owners are happily excited, merry, keenly alive and exuberant, having high spirits, bright and lively. But again you are getting stuck on irrelevant details.

Not sure I follow, are you saying that the intention is an irrelevant detail?
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Re: Anonymity and Trolling

Postby shel » Wed Sep 04, 2013 11:21 pm

Thrasymachus wrote:This is a nonsense discourse for analyzing forums: anonymous people and their trolling.

Every forum has an alleged and stated purpose, which is of course always nonsense. Only by participating do you learn its unwritten purpose which the staff will never admit to.

Every forum has written rules, which of course always nonsense and never held to. Eventually you learn certain unwritten rules only through participation.

For example, I recently got banned by bikeforums.net for allegedly being "high maintenance, trolling", forever. I thought as a former car-free person, currently car-lite, with its sub-forums for "car-free living", "commuting" and "advocacy and safety" it would be geared toward me. However I have learned from participating that the owner makes money by selling membership perks. Now in the USA most cyclists use their car to transport their bicycles more than they tend to actually pedal them. They are Sunday cyclists at best, or more precisely, motorists who use the car to get everywhere. Even on the sub-forums you would think would be full of the car-free or bicycle commuters, almost no one really used their bicycle for day to day life related transportation. So certain sub-forums pretended that something was the case, when it wasn't. And why would the owner care? There are much more recreational and racer wannabe cyclists to make money from with useless paid subscription perks for people with too much money(which would be mostly recreational types likely owning several $5,000+ bikes). I got banned because I called out the state of transportation apartheid in the forums you would actually think would be sympathetic, but weren't because the owner and his moderators cannot make money by catering to a market that largely doesn't exist, utilitarian cyclists. This offended the majority of motorists and they caused problems. The needs of the moderators and site staff were to ban me instead of the motorists actually trolling by posting to say they didn't like me or that I offended them because I don't engage their high level of escapism and instead expose actually existing social realities they don't want to be presented with.

It may have felt to them like you were questioning their morality, generally speaking.

Generally speaking, people are likely to react strongly when their intelligence, morality, or social status is questioned. It can feel like an attack on their image. For people who's image is important to them, they can't help but try to uphold it, even though it may be a futile effort or even counterproductive to that cause.
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Re: Anonymity and Trolling

Postby Qing Tian » Thu Sep 05, 2013 2:13 am

Apologies for having the temerity to poke my head in here and offer an opinion...

My OpinionTM: Trolling is an act of provocation with the express intention of inciting a response. The troll is not generally interested in the content of the repsonse itself, but rather in the fact that a response was made. There are gradations of troll though: ranging from the irritating to the maddening.
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Re: Anonymity and Trolling

Postby greentara » Thu Sep 05, 2013 3:11 am

Thrasymachus, It doesn't sound like you were trolling but perhaps they thought you were preaching and showing up their hypocritical 'road' habits. They rather thought you were from the lumpenproletariat....while it appears they have middle class pretensions.
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Re: Anonymity and Trolling

Postby Sherab Dorje » Thu Sep 05, 2013 6:37 am

shel wrote:
Sherab Dorje wrote:
shel wrote:The exact same intention? If you're serious, can you explain how in your example the intention is exactly the same.
Exact same intention: to prove that Datsuns are (objectively) better than Fords and thus prove that Ford owners are happily excited, merry, keenly alive and exuberant, having high spirits, bright and lively. But again you are getting stuck on irrelevant details.
Not sure I follow, are you saying that the intention is an irrelevant detail?
Ultimately it comes down to the receptivity (and capacity for objectivity) of the audience and the moderator, as to whether a statement will be considered trolling or not. I think I spelt that out quite clearly in the example where the poster makes the same statement, with the same intention, but has two different audiences: one which is sympathetic to their view and one which is contrary to their view.

I said you are getting stuck on irrelevant details, because you are taking my metaphorical example literally and not metaphorically.
"When one is not in accord with the true view
Meditation and conduct become delusion,
One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
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Re: Anonymity and Trolling

Postby shel » Thu Sep 05, 2013 8:31 am

Silly me. :tongue:
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Re: Anonymity and Trolling

Postby shel » Thu Sep 05, 2013 6:14 pm

Sherab Dorje wrote:Ultimately it comes down to the receptivity (and capacity for objectivity) of the audience and the moderator, as to whether a statement will be considered trolling or not.


Your point has never been unclear, Sherab Dorje, it's just rather meaningless. You're basically only saying that people have the capacity to perceive or understand whatever they can perceive or understand. No one would deny that, it's true. As far as I can see the only way this significantly applies to the subject is that people may abuse the term 'trolling' in ignorance, rather than deliberately.

I think that's why you used racists in your first example, the most obviously ignorant subject possible for the example. As I wrote before, had you used wise and compassionate monks in the example your point would have been lost. I don't believe it's generally expected that wise and compassionate monks would cry "troll!" in ignorance or on purpose, even in the case of a trivially obvious troll.
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Re: Anonymity and Trolling

Postby Sherab Dorje » Thu Sep 05, 2013 6:28 pm

:D

What's the chance of finding a bunch of wise and compassionate monks hanging out on an internet forum?

So, I guess we'll just have to go with the racists and car owners as examples of what to expect then? I guess so.
"When one is not in accord with the true view
Meditation and conduct become delusion,
One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
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Re: Anonymity and Trolling

Postby Malcolm » Thu Sep 05, 2013 7:11 pm

Thrasymachus wrote:This is a nonsense discourse for analyzing forums: anonymous people and their trolling.



A perfect example of trolling.
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Re: Anonymity and Trolling

Postby shel » Thu Sep 05, 2013 7:18 pm

Sherab Dorje wrote:So, I guess we'll just have to go with the racists and car owners as examples of what to expect then? I guess so.


Generally it's best to not hold tightly to expectations, or other sorts of prejudgements.

What's the chance of finding a bunch of wise and compassionate monks hanging out on an internet forum?


Good point. Hopefully however, we can try to better understand what trolling means and how the term may be abused, in ignorance or deliberately. Wouldn't that be a good thing?

I often see the term abused in the form of an ad hominem logical fallacy. That means attacking the person rather than what they are saying, in order to invalidate whatever they are saying. Tagging someone as a troll works particularly well, in some circles at least, because it can be difficult to say with any certainty what anyones real motivation may be. Characterizing someone as a troll pretty much invalidates whatever they say because it means they are being deceitful, and will pretty much say anything, for no better reason than to get a rise out of others for the sake of their own amusement.

In my opinion, you can't go wrong if you simply focus on what others say. If someone says that Ford owners are gay, for instance, it might be best to ignore the comment but otherwise you could point out facts which indicate a health hetero Ford ownership base. Simple.
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Re: Anonymity and Trolling

Postby shel » Thu Sep 05, 2013 7:26 pm

Malcolm wrote:
Thrasymachus wrote:This is a nonsense discourse for analyzing forums: anonymous people and their trolling.


A perfect example of trolling.


It seems to be true doesn't it? Analyzing online forums with only taking into account the two dimensions anonymity and trolling would be nonsensical, imo.
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Re: Anonymity and Trolling

Postby Thrasymachus » Thu Sep 05, 2013 9:56 pm

Instead of dealing Greg/Dorje's hypothetical example, here is my real example, which actually was ontopic to the forum in general and particular "Advocacy and Safety" subforum. The context was that someone who is at the very least very car-lite was venting that a pickup(probably pretty large, this is the USA) raced ahead of him while he was on his bicycle to make an unsafe left turn and he created a thread to vent. Now he had alot of so called cyclists who posted wanting to transform the thread into canards of "good cyclcists and good motorists versus bad cyclists and bad motorists," and allege that was just a bad motorist(when it is innate to driving instead). Eventually I wrote this reply to defend the person trying to air his gripes against the Sunday cyclists after he in a response to mine stated that society worships the car and that roads are their temples:
Thrasymachus wrote:It is not worship, it is apartheid. Let us see how worshiped the automobile will be if you can opt out of the highway portion of taxes, the funding for foreign wars of aggression, the estimated cost to medicare and medicaid for all the unhealthy sedentary people, etc. That is let us see if to register and operate a motor vehicle you would have to pay the actual cost to society of your driving instead of being treated as a pampered welfare queen who never has to leave the dole(as American conservatives and Republicans would complain if they were not morally bankrupt hypocrites). Let us see how they feel if we actually legally and through infrastructure planning empower pedestrians, cyclists and users of public transit over and against the most wasteful, deadly private automobile.

It is not good cyclist and good motorists, versus bad cyclists and bad motorists. That is a fantasy of members of a society who want to engage in so much escapism most upper end motor vehicles tend to have several LCDs or LEDs installed so they can watch television or other media!


Now one of the corrupt mods wrote a reply that, that post belonged in the Politics and Religion subforum, and not Advocacy and Safety. But I was not talking about off-topic politics, but the politics behind why cycling is onerous in the USA, thus actually advocating real cycling interests(interests that they are not interested in because they cannot market their forum to people who cycle to get to places needed to in their lives, because statistically, almost no-one in the English speaking world cycles for those reasons). Now I complained about that in the thread in a post which was eventually deleted and warned for talking back or replying to a mod dictate, which according to the forum rules they wrote themselves cannot be contested. Later shortly after complaining about the structure of the forum and the greedy owner to another user, I was banned. It would not surprise me if they read PMs of users there, they have lots of custom code.

Now in that case, I was on-topic, yes very unpopular and confrontational to the many selfish types who will say decry welfare for the actual poor but not the massive funding of automobile infrastructure for those privileged enough financially to drive. However that forum sells lots of adspace and lots of paid memberships. Catering to idiot chit-chatters with lots of money who want to ignore reality is in their self-interest. I doubt any forum that accepts public donations or sells memberships with perks, like there, will actually side in favor of who is right even according to their stated rules(which of course are broken by staff always at will on every forum) over anyone who pays them well but acts atrociously according even to their stated rules.

@Malcolm:
That is not a perfect example of trolling. Trolling is more pretending that the crux in regards to forums and thus their analysis is a battle between anonymous trolls and heroic, white-knight moderators and staff. Almost every forum I have been on, I have felt I have been trolled by the staff and moderators. It is like saying you know why the world is bad, because of the average person who exists as a hapless consumer and producer of goods and services and their lack of responsibility, but they are those who have no power. Of course they don't even use the power they have and don't care and that is a large part of why the world is bad. However it is more because of people of the people that have the power to structure to society, decided to make it bad for everyone else so they can accumulate as much as possible from imperialism, exploitation, and primitive accumulation. It is the same with forums, you have to analyze who has the most power, the most, and not those who have the least: users who are alleged trolls.
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