Wednesday, February 01, 2006

The easy way to deal with trolls and haters.

You'd think that with all the fuss over trolls and hate mail in blog comments that somebody would have come up with the obvious solution.

Instead of censorship or turning off comments, simply have a second set of comments. Nobody can post to them: they are the deprecated, shameful, unwanted, proscribed, improper, hateful, obscene, or otherwise inappropriate comments. Blog editors can consign noisome comments there (or back) with a simple checkbox. Perhaps checking an explanation category too. Perhaps some posters' comments are automatically put there. Readers can see exactly what is and isn't thought appropriate.

This accomplishes too things. It allows blog editors to maintain the atmosphere they want with the same effort it takes to delete a post. And it produces editorial transparency: communication of disapproval without censorship.

Doubtless some won't want this system. In my 30+ year experience of mail lists and news groups (starting on the PLATO system), trolls actually benefit many groups because they lead people to face their own understanding of the topics with more than just belief. But when there is a high volume of obnoxious or off topic posts, this might be a good solution.

3 comments:

pHundle said...

To bad there isn't better opensource blogging software.

Mods like you describe would be easy then.


Rob

Jeremiah said...

A fascinating topic. I stumbled onto your article, just today, as I am in the midst of gathering info on the topic for a term paper I am trying to put together. In the process, I did also stumbled onto this, TrollXing, which I think you might find of interest.

I don't know much about the so-called "New Civilization Network" (NCN) onto which this experiment was attempted by one frustrated member, except that it looks like the original attendance on the network at large has been dwindling as the network has been taken over by a group of Libertarian Trolls (e.g. comments on a thread picked randomly.)

Interestingly, the founder of the Network is himself a self-proclaimed Libertarian, but while his persuasion seems to be leaning more toward the Progressive Libertarian trend of the movement (he appears open-minded and tolerant of diversity), the Trolls who have been taking over his site definitely belong to a hard-core brand of Right-Libertarianism. So, it'd appear that there might be some kind of internal Libertarian war going on, there. But then again, as the founder of the network has passively been allowing this state of thing to perdure at the detriment of the growth of the network (people get turned off, they close their blog and leave), this could also just be a good-cop bad-cop set-up, aimed at turning away any perceived non-libertarian competition, while allowing the founder to use the network as a soft Libertarianism ideological soap-box. It's hard to tell.

In any case, I thought the Trollxing blog would be of interest to you as it does echo some of the ideas you advocated in this article.

Jeremiah said...

The road to (Libertarian) Hell is paved with good intentions, as the proverb goes. I just found another fascinating article (same "New Civilization" network):

To Live is to War with Trolls