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Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Trolls and Sockpuppets

Just in case you are a reader unfamiliar with the Internet terms "troll" or "sockpuppet",  let me explain these to you. Here is Wiki's definition first of all of a troll.

In Internet slang, a troll (/ˈtrl//ˈtrɒl/) is a person who sows discord on the Internet by starting arguments or upsetting people,[1] by posting inflammatory,[2] extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community (such as a forum, chat room, or blog), either accidentally[3][4] or with the deliberate intent of provoking readers into an emotional response[5] or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion.[6]
While this sense of the word troll and its associated verb trolling are associated with Internet discourse, media attention in recent years has made such labels subjective, with trolling also used to describe intentionally provocative actions and harassment outside of an online context. For example, mass media has used troll to describe "a person who defaces Internet tribute sites with the aim of causing grief to families."[7][8]

As you know, like Fr. Z and many others, I make all comments go into moderation. In the past three months, I have noticed an increase in trolling. Trolls give themselves away by referring to information off-topic and not really wanting information. Such commentators only want to vent, cause trouble, spew insults, and act like spoiled kids at the dinner table who want attention all the time instead of getting down to eating in a civilized manner.
I have been wondering why there are more and more trolls. I intend to become more strict about commenting.
If a person is not truly interested in the conversation, but wants to stir up trouble, that person is a troll.
If a person uses personal attacks either towards me or other commentators, that person is a troll.
Sadly, trolling activity is sick activity, negativity gone wild and antagonism gone wild.
Some trolls have real anger management problems. 
Most trolls want to start trouble. 
I am sorry that I have to bring up the seedy side of  some commentators on blogs, but more and more people are falling into attack mode. 
Emotional responses are just not what commenting on blogs is about, folks. So, if some of you do not see your comments posted any more, take this posting to heart, and examine your own writing and even anger problems.
Here is a good quotation from the Wiki article as trolling is deceit-big time.

Trolling is a game about identity deception, albeit one that is played without the consent of most of the players. The troll attempts to pass as a legitimate participant, sharing the group's common interests and concerns; the newsgroups members, if they are cognizant of trolls and other identity deceptions, attempt to both distinguish real from trolling postings, and upon judging a poster a troll, make the offending poster leave the group. Their success at the former depends on how well they – and the troll – understand identity cues; their success at the latter depends on whether the troll's enjoyment is sufficiently diminished or outweighed by the costs imposed by the group.

Another problem are sockpuppets, and all these people, trolls and sockpuppets, deceive on purpose.

 Wiki again: sockpuppet is an online identity used for purposes of deception. The term—a reference to the manipulation of a simple hand puppet made from a sock—originally referred to a false identity assumed by a member of an internet community who spoke to, or about, himself while pretending to be another person.[1] The term now includes other misleading uses of online identities, such as those created to praise, defend or support a person or organization,[2] or to circumvent a suspension or ban from a website. A significant difference between the use of a pseudonym[3] and the creation of a sockpuppet is that the sockpuppet poses as an independent third-party unaffiliated with the puppeteer. Many online communities have a policy of blocking sockpuppets.

Thankfully, I have had limited sockpuppet invasions into my combox. But, there have been some recently.

I do know of several persons on line who assume other's identities and this has come up on this blog at least six times. A pseudonym, like Supertradmum, is not a sockpuppet, but if someone else on another blog started using Supertradmum as a deceitful way to either get me into trouble or hide their own identity, that person becomes a sockpuppet. Or, if I took another identity and started praising Supertradmum, I would be a sockpuppet.

Of course, all this activity is extremely sinful and may also reveal serious personality disorders or other sociopathic behaviors.

All deceit is sin. And, the sin of maliciousness, that is, desiring to stir up trouble or to hurt people, is a serious sin.

Blogging gets harder and harder as people who have never learned how to engage in rational discourse become the norm in society.  UPDATE: I am not posting anything which refers to specific people, so if one comments and refers to situations which I simply really do not know about or read about, and if blogs or tweets are mentioned, I shall not publish those comments. Again, one does not have to engage these people or get involved.

As Christians, one must avoid unnecessary and self-enhancing conflict.

See the postings here from the past week on sin, discord, and suffering.