I’ve become much less tolerant of trolls lately and have banned several, here and at Crooked Timber. Simply put, after blogging for six years, I’m no longer interested in, and no longer have time for, dealing with people who are rude and insulting, particularly if they are rude and insulting to me (biased I know, but I do the work to produce this blog and it comes with my biases). I’ve given such people lots of warnings, but in most cases it hasn’t worked. So, from now on, trolls will get one warning if I’m feeling generous and none if I’m not.

Anyone who would like to whine about censorship is welcome to do so, but not here. There are many services offering free, and easily established, blogs where your complaints about being silenced can be published. This is my blog, and I publish what I feel like publishing.

I am interested in serious discussion from all reasonable points of view, from classical liberal to radical socialist in economic terms, all kinds of different positions regarding environmentalism, and so on. However, I no longer have the patience to deal with recirculated talking points from the rightwing parallel universe on the Iraq war, climate change and so on. If people sincerely want answers to such points, I’ll try to set them straight, but I’m not going to engage in prolonged debate on this kind of thing, or encourage it in comments threads.

40 thoughts on “Trolls

  1. Wilful,

    Some people’s rational allows them to label it “Left Wing”

    To me there is no left or right, just straight over the middle.

  2. Excellent news John.

    None of your intelligent, incisive, genuine interlocutors – yea, even though they be critics – need fear a thing. Swio says it well:

    “I would like to think that when I see a post has 50 comments I click on it immediately because it represents a conversation well worth my time to read”

    I’d like that too.

  3. The parallel left-wing universe has Cuba as a paradise, only damaged by the US, genetically modified organisms that have been solidly scientifically shown to be dangerous to health, we’re about to run out of energy and where all companies are largely evil and where all legislation is well intended and well executed.

    You’re not part of it, but it exists.

  4. The debate we really didn’t want to start…

    Actually, Pedro, GMO are dangerous to health – but so are natural organisms. It remains to be seen whether testing procedures for GMO’s will remain sufficiently adequate to ensure nothing really nasty ever gets released.

    As far as “about to run out of energy” goes, the very small fringe that really believes that all the world’s fossil fuel supplies will dry up in the next 100 years is just that…a fringe, and not an obviously left-wing one from my experience. But general concern about potential energy crises is hardly a left-wing phenomenon either.
    I’ll grant you the “big corporations are largely evil” line, but I don’t believe there’s a person alive that seriously believes “all legislation is well intended and well executed”. Whereas I’m pretty sure I know at least a few examples of right-wingers that subscribe to the belief that “any legislation always makes things worse due to unintended consequences” (of course, legislation over personal decisions such as marriage or abortion is exempt from this rule).

  5. #23 is an example of the kind of silly talking point I don’t intend to deal with.

    #28 I agree with wizofaus that there’s room for legitimate debate about GM policy, but I have already banned one insistent anti-GM troll, so I guess you have a point. But, while some people have these views, there doesn’t seem to be any sort of blogosphere/internet machine generating and circulating talking points for them, or, if so I haven’t seen it.

  6. I just wanted to add my voice to the chorus this is looking forward to no longer reading dumb and insulting comments, and no long reading whining about so called ‘censorship’.

  7. JQ Says:
    “Obviously, the term “parallelâ€? implies a reflexive relationship. The leftwing universe in which there were no WMDs in Iraq, DDT use against malaria was never banned, science is generally correct and so on is parallel to the rightwing universe in which the opposite is true.

    But, in keeping with ordinary convention, the real universe is treated as such, and the delusional one is referred to as “parallel�.

    There was once a leftwing parallel universe with a lot of talk about the Trilateral Commission, the 50 ruling families, and so on. You can still find remnants of it in obscure websites. But it never really made it to the blogosphere.

    These days, organised delusionism is a rightwing monopoly.”

    I say:

    I hate to troll, but I really want to plaster that all over the world! 🙂

    (good to see someone who actually reads the comments on their blog too – good on you, JQ)

  8. I remember discovering Usenet in the 1990s and trying to use the rec. pets. dogs forum. Such forums are enormously useful, because vast numbers of people acquire dogs every year and large numbers of those end up in the pound or euthanised because, really, of lack of knowledge on the part of their human owners.

    This forum was pretty much single handedly ruined by one troll, called Jerry Howe. I checked back briefly a while ago, he was still there and the forum was still a ruin.

    It’s a pity, because people really need information on their animals. Sorry if this seems like a threadjack – another usenet term!- but it’s just a really egregious example of what JQ is talking about.

  9. Oh, yes, yes, we need threaded newsreaders and killfiles. Perfectly usable 1980s technology.

    As I posted elsewhere:

    If [anyone does] know a place programmers read, suggest an open source tool?

    If [anyone does] write [a threaded newsreader tool for weblogs, with killfiles], oh please, do allow a killfile to look to a shared list of known IP addresses (to which science bloggers could contribute) — as a way to filter known sources of blag* (call it a “blaglist�).

    For those too young (sigh) here’s how it worked:

    Show me nothing posted by this user
    Show me nothing with this (wildcards allowed) in the subject line, to eliminate people _replying_ in re the killfiled comment.

    It was wonderful.

    The only people who got huffy and offended were either clueless newbies, or those who intentionally _wanted_ to get offended after recognizing what offended them.

    And everyone who wanted a conversation could just killfile all the threads and the people who had mistakenly come there to have an argument.

    Cone of silence. Bliss.


  10. Go for it JQ. Full support.

    Parallel to usenet was a network called fidonet, run through the bulletin boards – very amateur stuff. The creationists were the major hazard there, but fortunately individuals could killfile them. But it JQ is going to do the signal favour of saving me the time and effort, then so much the better.

  11. > USENET groups (now Google Groups)

    Nononononono … Usenet is still in place.
    Google’s just providing a frame through which you can view (some of) Usenet.

    There are better (older!) tools — at least for those who like keystroke commands and killfiles:

    “The underlying philosophy of nn is “no news is good news” and “nn” actually stands for “no news”! … nn makes it easy to efficiently read only articles and newsgroups you’re interested in.”

    Hunt around:

  12. Tony G: “What about banning ‘recirculated talking points from the leftwing parallel universe’ as well?�

    For instance?

    I’m not trying to start a debate about any such talking points, I’m just curious as to what they might be.

    Those would be the ideas that man is responsible for “global warming” (or “climate change”, or whatever they’re calling it this week), no weapons of mass destruction were found in Iraq (they were), waterboarding is torture (it’s not), and Al Gore invented the internet (he didn’t), just to name a few.

  13. Isn’t it quaint when people use the word “man” to denote the whole human population? I remember that from old primary school texts. You don’t see it much in the wild now though, and when you do you tend to make a few assumptions about the speaker (or writer).

  14. Chuckle. It’s as dumb as the way people say ‘Google Groups’ when they mean ‘Usenet’

    Apropos that, newsreaders are being enabled to filter out anything posted from ‘Google Groups’:

    For blogs, I can think of only one possible improvement — that would be for the author of “killfile” to enable it to notice and react to codes inserted by the blog’s host and killfile on those codes as well as on the user’s name. I wish it’d notice IP numbers but doubt they’re available to it.

    If a host took the trouble to go back and insert some kind of tag, say to mark off-topic posts generally (or perhaps even to mark ‘side thread 1, side thread 2 …?) and Killfile would react to those … hmmmm. Guess I better suggest it.

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