Dealing with right-wing trolls


9:53 am - December 4th 2008

by Sunny Hundal    


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There’s an interesting blog post here about online trolling, which basically affirms my theory that if a blog’s debate level is allowed to deteriorate by allowing loads of trolling, then it gets worse.

The ‘broken windows’ theory, online:

Much of the tone of discourse online is governed by the level of moderation and to what extent people are encouraged to “own” their words. When forums, message boards, and blog comment threads with more than a handful of participants are unmoderated, bad behavior follows. The appearance of one troll encourages others. Undeleted hateful or ad hominem comments are an indication that that sort of thing is allowable behavior and encourages more of the same. Those commenters who are normally respectable participants are emboldened by the uptick in bad behavior and misbehave themselves.

This is why we have a tight comments policy, and I stick by my view that drive-by commenters who come here only to say ‘oh you call yourself liberals then‘, or ‘lefties are just stalinist evil scum‘ etc, will have their vowels removed. This is a debate and discussion site aimed at the liberal-left, though it is an open site and I encourage constructive debate, broken windows will not be tolerated for obvious reasons. If you want to hurl insults, use Guido Fawkes – that’s all they do there.

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About the author
Sunny Hundal is editor of LC. Also: on Twitter, at Pickled Politics and Guardian CIF.
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Reader comments


In Pompous Defence of Trolls

It is a fundamental error of the Liberal to imagine that slabs or rational debate are necessarily of more validity that outrage and emotion as variously expressed. I am not talking about activities akin to vandalism but the right to express you feelings as well as your facts . In a subject such as abortion for example feelings and moral intuition are all we have to guide us
The Liberal Party and that part of New Labour which pretends to be’ Liberal’ values of 18th century Enlightenment thought above all others . International, sceptical of tradition, the spiritual and the emotional Liberals optimistically apply ‘reason’. They think that man is rational and therefore is entire alone. They are not concerned with the entire emotional spiritual culturally defined man except as a problematical loyalties to be tricked ignored and sneered at .
Suppose the three Parties are faced with path across a field .Let us say it meanders attractively but perhaps inefficiently to its destination.
The Conservative will like it and seek to defend and maintain it placing great store upon the fact that it has provably worked .He will be affectionate about every imperfection even to the point of allowing traditional rights of access to moderate use .
The Liberal will immediately see that it would be a far better Path were it straightened and sent directly to its destination .He will work out that by this rationale access can also be improved even if the danger of erosion is factored into the reasonable solution.He will hope for reasonableness in usage and probably win the debate
The Labourite will detest the restricted access of the many and build numerous paths so all can have the same access he may also win the debate .
The Liberal straight path will disappear into a swamp which unbeknownst to anyone was the original reason for the meander. The Labour paths will mostly disappear into swamp but in any case such is the ugliness of the stroll with the churning of the fields that no—one bothers with it.
The Conservative was not only right but a better more moral and complete human being . Nonetheless he is likely to be out rationalised by the rationalists .
This is why Conservatives rarely look good on question time and this is why excluding the expression of emotion humour and irrational affection is inherently biase, wrong and a Faustian act of intellectual arrogance .The troll seeks to puncture this rational arrogance and is a moral force for good humanity the spiritual well being odf us all.

Thats where I plant my troll flag ! Whose with me ?

I think if trolls are inventive and challenge the actual issues (rather than just screaming “ZaNuLab” or “Call yourself a Liberal????”, at every opportunity) I think they have value.

I just get bored with them if they revert to type.

Both sides of this debate are too ready to slide into stereotypical attacks.

Liberals are this. Tories are that… yada-yada.

I’ve been guilty in the past, I know. And I’ll probably be guilty of it again sometime soon.

The thing is, we’re all much more complicated than that. I consider myself a liberal, but I don’t believe in big government and I respect and treasure tradition. I actually grew up in rural surroundings – rather than being the stereotypical urbanite of Liberal lore.

Many of my political heroes are liberal Conservatives – I very much respect Ken Clarke for instance and I like John Bercow. I also quite like David Davis, Sir Malcolm Rifkind and William Hague (for his writing, see also: John Major and Boris Johnson).

I just don’t like the moral lecturing of *some* Tories – as expressed in some of newmania’s comments above. I don’t *like* abortion. I think it’s a terrible thing, but my morality is my own – and I don’t seek to force it upon others. I like the fact that politics can flourish in compromise.

Also, many liberals and conservatives have ideas on foreign policy that cross-over. Some Liberals believe passionately in interventionism, some in a Cookish ethical policy, and others in isolationism. It’s complex.

Also, newmania, conservatives are not alone in indulging in less cerebral argument. Liberals are not only concerned with intellectual rigour and reason, we also believe in family, love, and helping each other along the way.

Newmania. I agree with you. Modern-day Liberal world views are all intelligence without the levenings of wisdom and life experience. To them, the world is a mathematical construct, with no room for contemplation, no sense of wonder , no time to stand and stare. Although invariably well-qualified, they lack the ability of a truly educated person to maintain a self editing loop, and to laugh at their own follies. Having no sense of humour, (or at least a sense of proportion) Liberals cannot stand being laughed at, or criticised even in moderation, as their superior learning and intellect automatically makes them right.
The liberals of the enlightenment formulated the rights of the common man, and largely wrote the Declaration of Independence, which is probably the finest example of traditional Liberal political thinking extant. They believed in small government, and that a free man was responsible for his own actions. The likes of Benjamin Franklin and other enlightenment philosophers would have found Political Correctness ( the enforced imposition of a social behavior) and the Statist inclinations of contemporary Liberals disturbing.
I would like to know, Sunny, how modern Liberals connect their values to those of the 17th and 18th Centuries, because I can see little in modern Liberalism of the thinking of the Philosophers of that time.
Newmania, please accept my hand on your Standard

My god, Atropos reinforced everything I rued in my earlier comment.

*sighs*

Why bother?

In all honesty Sunny, if I were you I’d be pleased with all the comments I could get.

The average comments per post here must be below 10. It hardly gives the impression of momentum.

Like Fawkes says, the reason left wing blogs lag so far behind is because they are ‘boring and crap’ (his words).

There is nothing that liberal or progressive about this blog. It is a tribal lefty whinge site, which is not surprising because beneath all this ‘liberal’ chat you are a tribal lefty.

All of the causes that get airtime on LC are cold socialist leftovers from the last century. What does this blog stand for that is new and engaging? Or is it just a platform to get you on the BBC wittering about Indian politics?

Keep moderating the ‘Tory trolls’ if it makes you feel like you are achieving something with LC.

Deep down though you need them, as a reminder that the ideas you offer on LC do not have anything like a wide enough appeal.

Jack 6,

Going by your comments, you’re not a regular reader.

Also, I don’t think any serious blogger loses any sleep over the number of comments. Comments do not mean anything with regard to readership levels (that said, your estimate is way off). Paul Staines may get plenty, but as – and I’m being generous – 80% are just illiterate soundbites, I hardly think that’s any indication of the quality of his blog.

Yeah Staines does get a lot of readers, but his rabid rightwing Brown-hating mob are not exactly our target audience (not that many of us have much time for Brown or Labour).

All of the causes that get airtime on LC are cold socialist leftovers from the last century

Yawn…. Have you read many Tory blogs recently? Exchange “LC” with the name of many RW blogs, and “socialist” for “Thatcherite”, and you’d be spot on.

Any grown ups care to comment?

Actually… I wonder if all this new attention from Tory sock-puppets (and more honourable trolls) has anything to do with LC’s rapidly rising readership and profile?

It’s almost as if someone has despatched his flying monkeys to attack… I suppose we should be honoured.

Aaron Heath,

“All of the causes that get airtime on LC are cold socialist leftovers from the last century

Yawn…. Have you read many Tory blogs recently?”

So it’s OK for you just to re-hash old ideas is it?

As long as the other side are doing it (better) too?

It illustrates nicely the lack of inspiration I’m talking about.

9. Mike Killingworth

I assume, in the absence of any evidence to the contrary, that all right-wing trolls etc are either software engineers, expats or both.

It is a sad but apparently irremediable fact that a high proportion of comments on all internet sites/forums are posted by people who haven’t got a life.

my morality is my own – and I don’t seek to force it upon others.

Ha bitter ha !

So it’s OK for you just to re-hash old ideas is it?

Just because I didn’t take issue with that aspect of your point, doesn’t mean I accept it.

As I said, you’re clearly not a reader.

Yeah, some of the writers are very leftwing and write about long-running issues in relation to current events. Others are liberals who write about less socialist politics (libertarians or just classical liberals, if you like). We’re a coalition.

You’re entitled to your opinion, I just don’t think it has much to with the reality of the content of this site. You have made the mistake many a troll makes when they visit, you’re making value judgements about the writers here without actually knowing who they are.

I’m getting tired of defending this site to people who just drop by to convey their complete lack of understanding of what goes on here. Which is why I’m in favour of good housekeeping. You’re boring. So very boring.

Ha bitter ha !

Please point out where I betray my liberal credentials in this way?

“You’re boring. So very boring.”

But not as boring as this blog.

http://www.losethegame.com/faq.htm

Now stop thinking about The Game and do some work.

But not as boring as this blog.

Then please, go find something more interesting to do.

Now stop thinking about The Game and do some work.

Right back at you.

I repeat. Any grown ups?

Well morality may be too large a word but the Liberal /Progressive agenda has been ruthlessly imposed on an unwilling population. What support of call was there to bann smacking your own children ( watch this space ),to discriminate on behalf of women and ethnic minorities in jobs .Who ever said they wanted immigration to swell to its torrential levels dissipating the nation into a formless mess ? Why can the public never get anything but fudge in their consistent demand for justice to be done and if that means a death sentence then so be it . On internationalism , as Roy Hattesley remarked about the EU when sceptics stand on purely democratic grounds they have a point. Those loyal to the country were lied to about the Common Market soi disant . We have recently been dismayed at the spectacle of the Labour government actively manoeuvring to frustrate the demand for a clearly promised referendum because they know they would lose it ! There is no defence for this whatsoever except pointless sophist wittering .
Why do we have considerable financial disincentives against marriage and the traditional family . Why are gay men eagerly propounded as adopters when almost anyone else from Christians to smokers is ruled out even though the outcomes in care are so bad that tragedies like Baby P are bound to happen even if the social services worked .

Why is it only when Labour are terrified of losing an election are they cynically scapegoating welfare users this system of idlesness and has been a disgrace for ten years ? Why is this myth of the single mother who accidentally fell on an erect penis at a Party consistently trotted out as if she had nothing to do with it which we all know is sheer balls . How is “ fair “ that she lives off the rest of us . Why have Liberals actively encouraged all of this and why is it despite being a disappearinglyly small minority their objectives have largely been attained .

It is precisely because there is an elite of “progressives “ convinced of their cultural superiority and largely a privileged class . They use votes won with other people`s money to impose its own agenda through the states institutions much of which is not supported by the Labour voter and Conservative alike .

That is the Liberal Conspiracy

A tight moderation policy is extremely important as failing to institute one can lead to real life problems for people using their names online, particularly problems with stalking. It was discovered pretty early on by moderators in areas like mIRC that if you want to maintain actual discussion on-topic than you need to monitor the discussion and ensure that insults are removed. Nowadays there are legal reasons to back this kind of moderation up.

In a subject such as abortion for example feelings and moral intuition are all we have to guide us

This is a prime example of why moderation is a good idea. Newmania has attempted to derail the conversation by bringing up a subject that almost always inspires comment and insults all kinds of people by suggesting they have no logical basis for having an opinion on abortion. The example doesn’t even illustrate the point!

Newmania,

You see I can go some way with your view then you spoil it. Ideological multiculturalism has, for example, been a disaster and sees some progressives championing counter-intuitive causes (like faith schooling, for example) and also positive discrimination which I am a bit iffy about then you spoil it by trailing off into bigoted, un-reasoned rubbish, about gays and adoption and immigration. Traditional familes often dont work and traditional familes are often basket-cases to be honest and the state should show no preference for how individuals want to run their romantic relationships. In saying it should you are actually no different to the people you criticise; all you want the state to do is discriminate on behalf of the option you prefer.

18. Mike Killingworth

Newmania – produce a single shred of evidence of considerable financial disincentives against marriage and the traditional family or of discrimination against Christians in adoption. (Smokers I grant you – but that probably commands public support, for better or worse.) As Darrell says you are actually no different to the people you criticise; all you want the state to do is discriminate on behalf of the option you prefer – although of whom isn’t that true!

Two things:

“Why is it only when Labour are terrified of losing an election are they cynically scapegoating welfare users this system of idlesness and has been a disgrace for ten years?”

I’m sorry I can’t think of a more polite way of phrasing this, Newmania, but If you think the welfare system has been in a mess for *just* 10 years then you’re absolutely out of your mind. Social problems did exist under Major & Thatcher, you know. Some might even say they helped contribute to them…

“Why is this myth of the single mother who accidentally fell on an erect penis at a Party consistently trotted out as if she had nothing to do with it which we all know is sheer balls”

This is the first I’ve heard of it. I certainly hope that said penis wasn’t one of the hors d’oeuvres…

May I suggest an an alteration to the title; Dealing with Newmania. That is all.

I have absolutely nothing against gay men or women . My point is rather that the politically correct insanity of the adoption agencies ( for example ) us such that adoption for a variety of our groups (like Christians and smokers) is a nightmare . In that context to say that Gay men whose child rearing abilities are at this point a mystery should be singled out for legally backed fast tracking is bizarre . Its not a large issue but a telling one .Most actually get surrogate mothers in the States and my experience , as it happens , is that gay men , at least , can be excellent parents .

On immigration it is now at five times the levels of 97. Those who approve do not send their children to schools struggling to cope with eight languages . The association of a concern about the imposition of huge numbers of strangers and “racism” is part of the conspiracy . It is not bigoted , it is a view of the country as a ‘home’ to some extent . This vision is common to the vast majority and we expect to be consulted as to who comes into our home . Fair ? We have been lied to and ignored . I am only calling for moderation and control and an end of silencing voices of dissent by reference to eugenic horrors of the past that our Nation stood against.
On the traditional family all the evidence irrefutably shows it to be far more successful for children. I do not say discriminate in its favour , I just say remove the brute financial disincentives erected by New Labour

Newmaina,

Ok, taking what you say at face value do you accept that gay couples should have the same chances at adoption as everybody else? I’m not saying a ‘fast-track’ should necessarily apply any more than it should for any other grouping but will you accept the principle of equality of opportunity?? Incidentally, although Mike says the restrictions on smokers maybe popular I dont feel that this makes them right…..I think you do highlight an issue which I read Nick Cohen raising that the left has adopted ‘identity politics’ too willingly but that’s as far as I would go with what you are saying…..

On immigration my position is fairly radical that I would tack against all immigration controls but while you are articulating a sense of disenfranchisement that sections of communities do feel I don’t feel that is based on fact as much as a preception created by sensationalist right-wing media stories….you see I dont view a nation as being a ‘home’; I view it as being a community which shares certain common traits and is governed under by one entity so this is where me and you would disagree. Communities are much more accomodating and have the capacity for intergration.

On the family I am unconvinced. For every success story there are failures and there are success stories for ‘non-traditional’ familes to balance out what you say. I am afraid you clearly do want the state to discriminate in it’s favour…you are smuggling in the ‘positive’ discrimination under cover of ending the negative… and we can say with 100% confidence the Conservative Party does want too do….

One of the reasons I stopped reading BoingBoing (the main one being Cory Doctorow’s bizarre belief that someone having their passport inspected at customs or a college banning filesharing was yet another example of DMCA CoPYRighT NAzIs TRyIng tO KiLl Us AlL), was this stupid infantile “disemvowelling”. If there’s something you don’t want attached to your blog, dump it, but don’t partially obfuscate it and then engage in bouts of mutual masturbation congratulating yourselves on your total opposition to censorship in all its hideously evil forms.

That’s aimed at BB rather than LC, which has always been quite open about its “no shite in the comments” policy, but I really object to this half-way house of disemvowelling. If someone needs banning as an obvious worthless troll, ban them. If someone who is usually constructive steps over the mark, scrub their comment and tell them why. Have the courage of your convictions.

Like Fawkes says, the reason left wing blogs lag so far behind is because they are ‘boring and crap’ (his words).

Yeah, what we really need is more gossip, homophobia and irrelevant sniping.

Sure, it’ll achieve nothing and won’t be in the slightest bit interesting, but at least we’ll be able to swing our comment threads around with the big boys.

Ben

Personally I do not accept the principle of equality of opportunity to children. I believe the provably successful traditional family should be given preference over current social experiments on a caution first basis . Yes I would like to see the traditional family actively supported but there seems no possibility of that with the current regime or any I can envisage . On immigration your views are not supported by anyone and yet that is precisely what New Labour have delivered . Go figure .

UNICEF say that Britain’s position as having the least happy children in the developed world is due to the high level of family breakdown…..ONS showed that children of single parent families are about twice as likely to have mental health problems .Children from Lone Parent Families are 2,.4 times as likely to smoke ,1.6 times as likely to drink alcohol .In the US 63% of teenage suicides , 90 % of homeless and 85% of juvenile prisoners are form Fatherless homes ( 70 % of UK young offenders coke from fatherless homes and again in the UK about the same proportion of young drug abusers . You might also look at also Patricia Morgan Civitas , Jill Kirby of the Centre for Policy Studies
Only one in twelve married couples par within five years of the child’s birth for unmarried couples that number is ONE IN TWO.Think about it you are sacrificing children on the altar of progressiveness.

Is that what you really want ?

26. Mike Killingworth

[26] Correlation is not causation. The question to be asked is why young women want to have kids on their own, and why young men and women can’t make relationships work. I suggest that all the factors you notice are consequences of an underlying cause.

I am currently reading Austin Woolrych’s truly wonderful account of mid-17th century Britain, “Britain in Revolution”. One thing that united all political persuasions of that era was the myth of “Good Queen Bess’s golden time” – forgetting that in her reign Spain had the capacity to threaten the physical integrity of Britain, which it didn’t by Cromwell’s day. We always see the past through rose-tinted spectacles… still, if it gets you through the day who am I to knock it?

And don’t trouble yourself to answer my previous questions, either.

These comments display the need for a big ‘DO NOT FEED THE TROLLS’ sign.

The post was about trolls and trolling and the spiral don’t to Staines-esq level of comments if you don’t keep an eye on it.

What we’ve had is the usual shite back and forth with the “your rubbish! No, your rubbish” exchanges, debates on abortion, adoption and immigration.
The exchanges might not have descended to Staines-esq levels of depravity but it hasn’t moved the debate on very far, thanks to the primary goals of the trolls: misdirection; distraction; timewasting; confusion.

Why else is someone from the ‘opposition’ here on a thread about trolling directing the conversation to policies on homosexual adoption? It’s to piss people off and waste others time.
You want to talk about a different subject, either wait for someone here to post or do it on your own blog [and see how many comments you get].

DO NOT FEED THE TROLLS: they breed like fucking rabbits.

I take it left wing trolls are welcome then?

@Newmania
“Well morality may be too large a word but the Liberal /Progressive agenda has been ruthlessly imposed on an unwilling population. What support of call was there to bann smacking your own children ( watch this space ),to discriminate on behalf of women and ethnic minorities in jobs”

I think this just underlines the point that the policies and attitudes you describe aren’t liberal. Lefties have co-opted the word “liberal” is all, to describe a lot of things that a proper liberal blenches at. There is, on this site, a distressing tendency for folk to use “liberal” as a synonym for “things I like”.

I like your paths analogy, but I think it’s interesting that you produce an outright “winner” from the three approaches, something a liberal (in my definition of the term) would be less inclined to do. Part and parcel of the post-Enlightenment rationalism which you so scorn is, of course, the recognition that sometimes things work perfectly well when left alone, or even reversed. Certainly all the thoughtful liberals i know are perfectly well aware of this.

But I think the Conservative mindset (which you characterise very aptly) suffers from exactly that inflexibility you attribute to “liberals”. Many Conservatives seem to seek to maintain the same crumbling path without good reason. The swamp (for example) may dry up over time. Or technological advance may make it easy to build a sound road across it. This means that the original meandering path is archaic, and if straightening it will provide a superior outcome in some way (a faster journey) without any of the disadvantages which formerly attended the straighter road, then why not straighten it?

I know this is all slightly facetious, but you started it and I like it! 😀

For what it is worth, I largely enjoy Liberal Conspiracy despite agreeing with only a few contributors and commenters here, because – even though I might disagree – they generally challenge my own thinking and I often learn something new from them.

It’s a shame there are people here who insist on maintaining a low signal-to-noise ratio in their comments (that applies to lefties and righties), but I learned to tune them out a long time ago.

So, well done LC, in the main.

I suggest that all the factors you notice are consequences of an underlying cause.

Gosh no-one thought of that ! Wouldn’t that be convenient , but no–one is able to show this to be the case . Its nice to see you learning from the past , do it more, and you are right that the presumption of a golden future is relatively recent . In fact prior to the modern age the position of man was roughly conceived as half way down the stairs from a heroic ancient past but declining so slowly it did not matter much . The appearance of the first Utopia in England Thomas Moore`s marks a the beginning of the discovery of progress , more or less, and so your keen insight into previous nostalgias is less exciting than you might imagine .

Now we have the reverse , we have a child like belief in golden future and the reason this appeals to the self obsessed Liberal is because he sees itself as its creator. It makes him god-like and this is why Liberals are so antagonistic to other religions .

“Why else is someone from the ‘opposition’ here on a thread about trolling directing the conversation to policies on homosexual adoption? It’s to piss people off and waste others time.”

No, it’s because it’s germane and interesting. Discussions of comment policies necessarily involve discussion of liberalism. People who are interested in liberalism will hence move on to discussing wider issues and essentially the discussion will always come back to “What is liberalism really, when you get right down to it?”. People who aren’t interested in liberalism will see it as time-wasting, I suppose.

Like everyone here, I am a consumer. When I went shopping for Christmas gifts this morning, I went to a relatively expensive department store rather than PoundStretcher. I made that choice because I was more likely to find the items that I sought. If my favoured department store littered itself with junk, I’d probably go somewhere else.

PoundStretcher has its plus points — I bought cheap picture frames from there for my office. Not everything that they sell is junk, but you have to be patient to mine the gems.

I apply the same principles to blogs and discussion fora. Given limited time, I have to go to places where I will discover ideas based on similar political fundamentals to my own. A department store buyer (or forum moderator) has to keep the junk that does not interest potential consumers off the shelves. That still means there is an awful lot of space to raise contrary ideas and for rational debate.

I agree that the web is full of places where group think predominates (BoingBoing is one for me) but I don’t think that LC comes anywhere near that. The abortion threads, for example, were interminably long and rambling, but the liberal antis had lots of space and (post moderation?) personal insults were absent.

IMHO, disemvowelling is childish. If a moderator believes that a posting is a troll, then it should be labeled as such. That way, we can judge alleged trolls and moderators equally.

A second question has been raised in this thread: Is LC boring and unimaginative? Some of the threads (abortion rights, again) have rehashed old arguments but Unity and Chris Dillow (amongst others) are members of the awkward squad. Dave Osler is a middle aged, middle class Trot (I expect him to accept this description in good humour), a stereotype that most of us avoid, but who wouldn’t buy him a pint?

Dunno what newmania is saying because I don’t pay any attention to him but someone said

Like Fawkes says, the reason left wing blogs lag so far behind is because they are ‘boring and crap’ (his words).

Glad someone said that, because I intend to be the exact opposite of Fawkes. Does this look like the kind of place where I want bigots spouting about how who should be shot or how ZANU LABOUR IZ WORSE THAN MUGABE etc? As I said, they’re welcome to bugger off to Guido’s. Newmania included.

Certainly all the thoughtful liberals I know are perfectly well aware of this.

True and true in real life it is all more complicated .In real life Conservatives are often keen to modernise as the best way of preserving what they value in the light of new realities .Members of the Liberal Party on the ground are often to the fore in conserving local art customs and so on and somewhat different in outlook to the “Liberal Conspirator ” .
I watch to see what I think of as deep divergences in the supposed Lib Con alliance emerge

( and that is more than enough of me for while )

New,

Have to ask…wasnt aware there was a formal alliance between the Lib Dems and the Conservatives if that is what you mean??

“Lefties have co-opted the word “liberal” is all, to describe a lot of things that a proper liberal blenches at. There is, on this site, a distressing tendency for folk to use “liberal” as a synonym for “things I like”.”

Y’know, I’ve read some variant of this argument a number of times now and I’m still not convinced how true it is or how frequently it occurs. Sure, there are going to be posts on here which would make a liberal purist blush (I should know – I’ve written some of ’em), but that’s going to happen when you’ve got a website which is (a) non-affiliated and (b) generally skewed to the left. But at the same time, I don’t recall any recent posts where someone has argued “As a liberal, I support” something which is patently, demonstrably illiberal. It also happens to be true that there are any number of important issues which don’t fit snugly in one box or another, and those are probably the occasions where the site comes into its own.

[in reference to newmania’s bizarre path/swamp analogy]

Look, I have to say, newmania – you’ve got this all wrong. The Labourite response to such a problem wouldn’t be to build many paths. (Although you missed a trick – I thought you were going to insist that Labour would force everyone to walk along the path at a uniform pace.)

First we’d reclaim the swampland. Then we’d build socially affordable housing all over the field. Finally we’d introduce an inexpensive/free bus system taking people to the new hi-tech schools and hospitals we’d built in the next field along.

Tim @39, you forgot to mention that Labour would also introduce a ridiculously intrusive and expensive database.

“Like Fawkes says, the reason left wing blogs lag so far behind is because they are ‘boring and crap’ (his words). ”

The right make that argument about all media. The Tory tabloids, The Tory broadsheets, Fox News in the US. “Liberals don’t sell in the market place of ideas” YAWN, YAWN.

One of the main reasons the Right wing media is more successful is that they rely on huge corporate sponsorship. And most corporate‘s, tend to back ‘right of centre bias.’ The Daily Mirror management was under constant attack by American corporate shareholders for its anti Gulf war, anti Bush presidency.

Also, particularly in the US, there is a huge Right wing welfare circuit that promotes and employs Conservative attack dogs like Ann Coulter. Most of the books these people write are bought up in bulk by Right wing foundations like the Heritage and Hudson institute. Then given away as presents and gifts to members and friends. This insures that, said authors, are constantly featuring in the best seller lists which in turn gets the authors on to cable news to plug their wares. It is a giant propaganda exercise, and is used to great effect. Left wing or Liberal writers have no such bulk buying sugar daddy’s to help them. In fact, the Right wing goes out of it’s way to try to intimidate the media from giving any publicity to liberal authors.

You could argue that it is amazing the Conservatives are not permanently in power seeing the amount of control they have of the media.

Fair enough, and no doubt we’d also insist that people show their id cards at designated points along whatever path existed.

I’d have thought that the OP was pretty much right, though I’d delete “right-wing” from the title – it’s applicable across the political board.

In general, in comments boxes and bulletin boards, the bad will drive out the good. If you let it. So if people cannot express themselves with a modicum of thought, then they should be invited to try their luck elsewhere. It’s not all that oppressive, since there is no shortage of places catering for that sort of thing.

A note though – in general, the wider the range of political commentors, the more likely the debate is to become simply abusive. There’s not so much you can do about this, but I think it’s true.

“UNICEF say that Britain’s position as having the least happy children in the developed world is due to the high level of family breakdown”

Unicef also say that Sweden has the happiest children in the developed world, and there are a similar percentage of lone parent families in Sweden as in Britain.

One idea we could consider, possibly for January, is to maintain a list of topics about which we feel there is no further need for discussion (unless new evidence is produced) because everyone has had their say and no one is going to change anyone else’s mind. That could offer some objective criteria for deletion of people who are trolling?

44. Mike Killingworth

Is it just me, or is it impossible to actually have a discussion with Newmania? Perhaps there’s a clue in his name…

The question is why can’t you have a conversation with Newmania. As long as he isn’t using offensive language and making ad hominum attacks – what’s the problem.

I’ve said it before and I will say it again – what’s the point in having a debate when everyone agrees?

Unicef also say that Sweden has the happiest children in the developed world, and there are a similar percentage of lone parent families in Sweden as in Britain.

Correlation is not causation ! Sweden is fabulously wealthy per capita compared to the UK it has population about the size of London endless space , huge resources it did not suffer that unpleasantness with the Germans and this left its industry ( created by aggressive capitalism) uniquely able to establish prosperity . This and the negligible property costs mean a tax rate higher than any in the free world ,70% , has been sustained also because the Swedes are so dull that they do not like being free ( They changed the side of the road the drive on in one day ,..imagine that here ..or in Italy ?). You are not comparing like with like whereas UNICEF attributes our troubles to family breakdown specifically

People are always changing their minds and many of the dog eared presumptions of the baby boomer generation are coming under justifiable scrutiny as their failure becomes increasingly evident .

Newmania, you are ridiculously off-topic. Do you want people to read and respond to your comments? Or are you content to merely be the madman on this street corner, ranting at the world as it carries on without you.

The question is why can’t you have a conversation with Newmania. As long as he isn’t using offensive language and making ad hominum attacks – what’s the problem.

I’ve said it before and I will say it again – what’s the point in having a debate when everyone agrees?

His lengthy, off-topic rambles make it wearisome.

There is lots of disagreement on LC, but most people keep it concise and relevant.

“One idea we could consider, possibly for January, is to maintain a list of topics about which we feel there is no further need for discussion (unless new evidence is produced) because everyone has had their say and no one is going to change anyone else’s mind. That could offer some objective criteria for deletion of people who are trolling?”

This sounds like an excellent idea.

I think a provisional central committee should be established to draw up such a list of topics, and institute a 5-year plan of acceptable topics, with production targets for numbers of comments.

“One idea we could consider, possibly for January, is to maintain a list of topics about which we feel there is no further need for discussion (unless new evidence is produced) because everyone has had their say and no one is going to change anyone else’s mind.”

:-O

No. No. NO. That is ridiculous. Who would decide that there was “no further need” for discussion? What would count as “new evidence”? What about brand new readers who come along and want to discuss something on the prescribed list? Are they allowed to speak? Are old readers allowed to reply to them?

Proper Jacqui Smith-crackers, oi’m afraid.

51. Alisdair Cameron

“maintain a list of topics about which we feel there is no further need for discussion”
What, like in a failing relationship…
BAD idea, I’m afraid, stifling debate and ossifying people’s opinions, thereby also suppressing progress/innovation, laterl thinking breakthroughs etc.Everybody needs to have their assumptions challenged from time to time:sometimes those assumptions survive, sometimes you tweak ’em, and (provided you have the humility to admit to being fallible) there may be the odd time when you ‘fess up and recognise that you were wrong….
Hard cases like Newmania (who does very occasionally make a valid point, only to blow it big time in the next clause or sentence) make bad law, don’cha know…his stuff is tedious, but tune it out, don’t ban it.

Don Paskini – I’m afraid I’d have to agree with Alix. Saying that, I do sometimes exercise editorial control when coverage of one issue gets silly or out of control or whatever. Every publication needs editorial strategy and direction. But I’m not in favour of that generalised an approach.

Lilliput: The question is why can’t you have a conversation with Newmania.

Have you actually read the crap he writes? He’s talking about Sweden while we’re talking about internet discussions! If its not a direct attack on anyone, it still is a waste of internet space and has the capacity to take conversations into stupid tangents because people feel the need to respond.

sally – that is true indeed.

More comments on commenting than on anything else!

LC comments policy *is* pretty liberal, isn’t it?
The owners may attack the suppoed “trolls” but no-one is banned.

(NB Sunny’s latest and excellent CiF blog is now up to 733 (!) comments – must be a record – and has earned a vituperative response piece from the dreadful “Lenin” on his tomb.)

This article has a couple of gems within it.

Newmania is definitely attention-seeking, but he is also a slight improvement on your average troll because he has a level of self-awareness. His persistence indicates to me that he does at least have second-thoughts about what he says and is therefore open to argument. Maybe all he really needs is a bit of compassion…

FWIW I really don’t like the path analogy unless it can be extrapolated upon. I’ve stated before how I distinguish between supporters of the three main groups: liberals think the ends are determined by the means, socialists think the means are justified by the ends, while conservatives think ownership of the means confers the right to pick and choose the ends.

What you advocate as the method of dealing with trollery is a good indicator of your thought processes – are you selfish, principled, results-oriented or a mixture?

One idea we could consider, possibly for January, is to maintain a list of topics about which we feel there is no further need for discussion (unless new evidence is produced) because everyone has had their say and no one is going to change anyone else’s mind.

How about a list of topics of which this is not true?

I reckon I could rustle you up a list before they kick off at Field Mill tonight.

The question is why can’t you have a conversation with Newmania. As long as he isn’t using offensive language and making ad hominum attacks – what’s the problem.

Trouble is, he’s had form for the latter at least, as well as lazy variations on ‘you liberals are [insert cliché here]’. The politeness of some LC commenters in engaging with him just feeds his ego, and enables him to derail every single thread on this blog. If Sunny’s not going to ban him, the only alternative is ‘Do Not Feed the Trolls’.

I like this one.

And this.

Or how about?

skitched-20081204-182103.jpg
Uploaded with plasq‘s Skitch!

Ha ha …well perhaps there has been a little too much of me me me …………… Look if anyone just cannot get enough , and I am thinking of my big fan UK Liberty , you are more than welcome to a copy of my three volume Novel entitled ” Me ” . Mystifyingly it is yet to find a publisher but I love it and you will too.

Tra La

Well this comments section supports the need for good moderation because it demonstrates that people do feed the trolls.

@Nina: Any thread that discusses trolls will naturally generate interest from trolls. How to handle commentators who enter dialog with trolls is probably the third serious question raised here.

I dislike disemvowelling as it seems like playing whitenoise when someone is trying to speak, i.e., it is basically insulting and tells me more about the people doing it than the people disemvowelled. If you insist on it needs to be in the comments policy with an explanation of when people will have their contributions hit. “When we want” is not good enough.

Personally I’d prefer you to have the courage of your convictions and delete ‘trolls’ leaving a blank space and a name – or follow the example of Slugger with their “sin bin”.

How do you deal with left-wing trolls?

“Newmania, you are ridiculously off-topic. Do you want people to read and respond to your comments? ”

If you’d have told me this morning that we could be having a debate with right wingers about the differences between Sweden and the UK on “broken families” despite family demographic similarities, or a discussion about how to shame, dissuade or punish “trolls” I know which I would have chosen…

@Nina, “Well this comments section supports the need for good moderation because it demonstrates that people do feed the trolls.”

Um. Where, exactly? Because I suspect we might be talking at cross purposes. I have a feeling that my “having a conversation with someone I disagree with” might be your “feeding the trolls”. Correct me if I’m wrong.

Alix/Alasdair – just to be clear I wasn’t actually suggesting maintaining a list of forbidden topics for discussion – I just thought that was an appropriate sort of troll comment to make for this thread (though I think tim f might well not have been joking in agreeing with me…)

66. Job's Tempter

Trolling (for want of a better word) can have a point. I sometimes pop over to Cranmer’s blog to point out what a miserable, life-denying woman-hater he is. We’re never going to win a rational debate with these guys, but shouldn’t we point out from time to time that we’re on their case?

Just to return to the original blogpost by Jason Kottke about trollin, for a moment . Ironic that Kottke, one of THE original bloggers, doesn’t have commenting enabled and has NEVER had commenting enabled on his blog.

Maybe Sunny should open up the “moderation policy on trolls” to external bidders…?

This way it could be outsourced to Crapita, say, and he could then pay them for the next 20 years for the privilege of having offensive comments go un-deleted for days, regular contributors being mis-labelled as trolls, and eventually having to get further consultants in who’ll conduct a 3-day seminar (at a very expensive country hotel, naturally) on “progressing towards a definition of a ‘troll’ within a paradigm of an increasingly fluid marketplace dynamic”.

Just a thought…

🙂

69. Mike Killingworth

[69] It wouldn’t work like that unless we got a civil servant to oversee the tender process.

Mike – yer absolutely right. I forgot about that…

Of course, it would have to be someone who’d been seconded to the “department of troll comment moderation policy” from one of the accountancy firms who’d set-up the terms and conditions of the PFI contract in the first place…

🙂

I am impressed that Sunny has managed to find something good to say about private property:)

But absolutely: your blog, your rules.

Hey, who said I was a communist?

How do you deal with left-wing trolls?

You know, I don’t think I’ve ever encountered one. There are far-left trolls, like Neil Clark, but thankfully they generally shout abuse from their own blogs. And most left-wing trolls are usually civil when pointing out what an utter bastard you are in academic language. I’ve never seen any left-wingers here trying to destroy conversations.

Job’s Tempter: I sometimes pop over to Cranmer’s blog to point out what a miserable, life-denying woman-hater he is. We’re never going to win a rational debate with these guys, but shouldn’t we point out from time to time that we’re on their case?

Ahh, ok I’ll put my hand up and admit I’ve done the same. But I’m not persistent, I just like abusing Cranmer once in a while… he’s not worth my time. Whereas the right-wing trolls we get here seem to be on automation (apart from newmania, who generates new gibberish every time) and keep repeating the same thing.

I’m all for outsourcing the trolls themselves.

These guys are pretty rubbish. We may get a better quality of troll if we pay for it.

74. Mike Killingworth

[73] I think the reason Sunny’s never encountered a left-wing troll have to do both with the nature of the Internet – it does bring people together, but in a transactional way rather than into relationship (unless you work on it e.g.. by arranging face-to-face meetings) and also with the fact that left-wing people tend to be other-directed and right-wingers inner-directed (this a broad generalisation, there are of course inidividual exceptions in both directions), and trolling is a “me me me” activity.

I suppose the name “troll” is established usage by now, but I prefer to think of them as Randettes, after Ayn Rand, whose miserabilist rationalisation of selfishness is – whether they know it or not – their true political philosophy.

left-wing people tend to be other-directed and right-wingers inner-directed

Left wing people are good at giving other people’s money away but bloody awful at buying you a drink ( and talk about bitchy ! ) Emotionally I find there is a common humanity between Old Labour , Conservatives Some Liberals but not the preachy ones as against New Labour and its Fabian fellow travellers.

Emotionally I find there is a common humanity between Old Labour , Conservatives Some Liberals but not the preachy ones as against New Labour and its Fabian fellow travellers.

Yeah but what David Cameron? What humanity does he have?

He’s a suit. A PR goon.

David Cameron does not have the luxury of being authentically unelectable. His PR budget is still dwarfed by New Labour`s and regrettably anyone who seriously wants this country to be rid of Brown has little choice but to fight in the degraded slime pit of lies and sound bites New Labour have made for us . You will note that almost all of its architects have now rejoined what Brown called” The new Politics “, even that prat Draper .

Blair did this

Well I couldn’t give a fig about new labour, but I’d like to see some data that suggests that Cameron’s PR budget is still dwarfed by New Labour`s. I find this hard to believe, when the Tories are flush with cash and NL are threadbare.

I’d say that Clegg is much more robust than Cameron. Morally, intellectually and – if he could more readily embrace the politics we all know he advocates – ideologically.

The Tories are much, much stronger in the background, and I don’t think DC is a very good front man. Just my opinion, obviously.

Cameron- I `ll shall treat your remarks with an icy silence

Clegg
See what Cicero songs has to say . ( Time to listen)
http://cicerossongs.blogspot.com/search/label/Liberal%20Democrats


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