Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Never Gonna Give You Up

Last week got a bit trolly. Some of it was incredibly nasty and abusive, and has been deleted hopefully before most people saw any of it. Thanks to the other writers here for their moderating efforts, especially Anjum who has taken the brunt of it. And massive big ups to the readers who have ridiculed and called out the trolls in comments; each one of those responses really warmed my heart.

There are currently two persistent trolls and a few others from time to time, but the fact is that they are a tiny proportion of our readership, which I estimate, based on our various stat counters, is over 400 individuals on a weekday. This blog is not for those few trolls, it's for the over 99% of people here who aren't interested in shutting us down but instead enjoy The Hand Mirror as a place to come and read stuff and think about it and sometimes comment about it too.

And make no bones about it, shutting us down is what trolls want to do. Like the bully in the workplace or at school, their motivation is to target difference and to eliminate it by forcing conformity. This is encapsulated rather precisely in a troll comment we got towards the end of the last assault:
shut the fuck up
Another comment made it clear what the aim of that particular troll was:
have fun turning on comment moderation and ruining the flow of your blog, as posters have to come back a day later to see if they got a reply...
Making threats of violence against a blogger might work if they are isolated and alone. Maybe that's worked for these two trolls in the past. It won't work this time; they are not picking on one person, they have taken on a group of women who have each other's back, plus a readership that gets what The Hand Mirror is about and wants it to continue. They are weak in numbers and in brain power, and we shall overcome.

We're not going away. We're not going to shut up. We don't need to turn comment moderation on because the vast vast majority of those commenting on this blog agree with the nature of this community and treat each other with respect. And if we do end up needing to be more heavy handed with moderation we will do it to maintain and protect what we have built; a safe space. We will outlast and outwit any trolls, together.

18 comments:

Julie said...

Please also note the comment policy has been updated a little.

Anna said...

Well said, Julie.

I often wonder what inspires someone to anonymously type abusive messages to strangers. It's actually kind of pitiful. And it takes a real hero to threaten violence to a woman on a blog - take a bow, troll.

It seems to me that the people who write for or read THM are also those who get involved in activism, social justice type stuff in their communities - so are unlikely to be put off by a couple of angry dumbarses hiding behind their computers.

stargazer said...

thanx for writing this julie. you've put so much hard work into building this blog community over the last year (and the rest of us have been happy to be a part of it). there's no way that we're going to let that be put at risk by a few people that don't like us being here.

just wanted to provide more details on one of our trolls, just to let our regular readers know what's happening. this troll will write very politely worded comments with slightly outrageous positions which on the surface appear to be supporting feminist positions. it's done purely to bait and trap other commentors. we had something similar happening last year.

sometimes we choose not to delete the comment because the takedowns by others is quite wonderful, and sometimes the thread will go off in a direction that the troll wasn't expecting.

other times, we'll delete the comment and this troll will come back all innocent and apologetic, asking what he's done wrong and telling us how he didn't mean to offend us. i really have a laugh as i delete these come-backs, mostly because they show a spectacular level of immaturity.

so really, just a heads up to our readers. feel free to engage with this troll if you want to. but we will be randomly deleting his comments at our discretion.

Anonymous said...

As the troll in question, Stargazer, I really need to protest. First of all I am not a 'he'. Secondly, you may disagree with my ideas, like the one in the threat about rape myths, even to the point of calling them 'outrageous', but I am not intending to 'bait' anybody.

Anonymous said...

Please ignore that last comment. I've just looked at the comments policy - either I hadn't noticed the 'don't discuss moderation in comments' policy before or it's new. Either way I will take it up by email as requested.

stargazer said...

thank you for proving my point anon. please do keep your further comments on this to emails, and we will continue to delete comments at our discretion.

Anna said...

Anon, you might think about adopting a blogger identity - it makes it heaps easier to identify trolls from non-trolls, and makes for more cogent discussions.

Anonymous said...

I think the fact that THM was recently linked to on the ACT on Campus blog goes a long way towards explaining the sudden troll influx

stargazer said...

the trolls are from various sources anon, but rest assured that they will be dealt with appropriately.

Chally said...

Hear hear! :)

Anonymous said...

I assume we are still allowed to disagree?

Bruv

Anna said...

Of course, Bruv, but the disagreement has to be respectful. And it's also good manners to back up any claim you make with evidence, and acknowledge points that people make in relation to your arguments (instead of going on and on about the same thing like a chimp hitting a pot, which some of our trolls have been known to do).

portia said...

I've only recently come across this site, and I like it very much. Thank you for putting the time and effort into keeping it reasonable, and calling out the fools.

Anna said...

Nice to have you here, Portia - I enjoy reading your comments. :-)

portia said...

< blushing > Thanks for the welcome, Anna.
:-)

jingyang said...

Good luck with the trolls, I'm glad you are all watching each other's backs.

I have largely given up commenting on Frogblog largely because a/ the same old bunch of right-winger replies would appear with the same old knee-jerk responses, and the whole discussion was often derailed before it even started, and b/ I found myself composing angry replies to prats who were never going to change their views however much they were pretending to be debating.

So here's to the Hand Mirror avoding such a tedious fate.

Sarah said...

I missed the comments last week - but do agree trolls can be tedious. I really enjoy THM and the discussions that come out of the posts - good on you for fighting back in an upfront way.

Lita said...

Well said. Down with trolls - out their IP address.