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Criticizing the critical

By communista in Meta
Sat Jan 06, 2001 at 10:56:36 PM EST
Tags: Kuro5hin.org (all tags)

I was going to title this "Troll!" but didn't, for obvious reasons.

Many authors on K5 have been accused of being a "troll" for the topics they choose to open for discussion. How can it be determined if someone is in fact a troll? How do you determine?

While browsing through the stories in the mod queue, I notice a story by Anne Marie and before scrolling to the comments, I can already predict the genre of posts I'm going to see.

"Anne Marie, you might think about perhaps using your time to follow more worthy pursuits....your post is a troll, plain and simple..." is a good example, with very little justification as to why. The comment continues with a 'I didn't see it, it didn't happen' retort of "BTW, this is the first time *I* ever heard of this peding legislation.". If the article has actual flaws, wouldn't it make sense to provide non-biased/opinionated reasons why the article doesn't work?

Are we shouting "Troll!" when it's truly deserved, or when we see somthing we personally don't like? Trolls by definition, are "...recognizable by the fact that the have no real interest in learning about the topic at hand..."

So it seems that more often than not, the comments attached to the "offending" stories are the trolls. Which begs the question, should someone who introduces a contraversial subject immediately be regarded as a troll? If you truly feel the story has little information to provide you, vote it down and tell them why, rather that throwing a word around that more or less holds a trivial amount of worth nowadays. If it's justified, then it's justified.

I think that the way we moderate the pending articles needs reform. Truly there will never be a infallible method, nor will the trolls ever go away. Sometimes you'll notice certain authors (No this is not about Anne Marie...) catch a lot of criticism but don't vote the stories down. Others comments are targeted, regardless of content, to be modded down to a "1" or "0".

So what does being a troll entail? I ask you not to look at the Jargon File, but to describe what it means to you, in your own words.

The problem is not labeling someone as a troll, but that the necessary (constructive) criticism is missing. On occassion the word troll is there, the strident comments...but the stories still get posted. It either means that we have an affinity for trolls or we're not moderating properly.

Note: /me is aware that there have been articles like this in the mod queue before, but she would like to shed a different light on the subject...So please, before stating the obvious....

Tell K5 what you think.


Voxel dot net
o Managed Hosting
o VoxCAST Content Delivery
o Raw Infrastructure


A troll is...
o Someone who posts articles that nobody gives a fsck about... 3%
o Someone who posts articles that are trite and shallow in their information... 16%
o Someone I don't care to see posted on K5 (A personal dislike for the author) 3%
o Someone who's articles scream FLAMEBAIT!! 61%
o A combination of these (Explain) 15%

Votes: 86
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o "troll"
o Anne Marie
o Also by communista

Display: Sort:
Criticizing the critical | 96 comments (84 topical, 12 editorial, 0 hidden)
Who are the trolls? (4.00 / 9) (#2)
by fossilcode on Sat Jan 06, 2001 at 06:06:07 PM EST

This has confused me too. I've seen articles that were true to the goals of this site (new AND discussion) modded off because the author was an established "troll" in the eyes of the moderators.

In the case of Anne Marie, s/he was branded a troll as soon as s/he published here. This was due to some alleged Anne Marie troll activity on the other site. For an open-minded bunch, the moderators here sure jumped to conclusions without REALLY reading the articles to see if they would generate meaningful discussion.

I'm not saying that I advocate trolls. I just think that sometimes in their zeal to kill the messenger, some of our moderators fail to listen to the message and so fail in honoring our mission.

"...half the world blows and half the world sucks." Uh, which half were you again?
Exactly. (4.00 / 6) (#3)
by communista on Sat Jan 06, 2001 at 06:14:33 PM EST

Authors are being judged by reputation rather than lack of content. I just feel people should be honorable, and comment if they mod down, or throw the word "troll" around.
/me fucks shit up!!!!
[ Parent ]
Honor among trolls? (4.00 / 2) (#22)
by TrentC on Sat Jan 06, 2001 at 07:33:49 PM EST

Authors are being judged by reputation rather than lack of content. I just feel people should be honorable,

Therein lies the problem with trolls; if people were honorable and stated their honest opinions (regardless of whether or not they are "right" or "wrong") then we could get meaningful discussion. It's when the troll posts on a topic they, by definition, don't really care about to stir people up, that the problem arises.

As for being judged by reputation, I'm not obligated an ex-Slashdot troll the benefit of the doubt simply because this isn't Slashdot. For example, even if Signal 11 had a falling out or disagreement with the /. owners, he made a concerted effort to make CmdrTaco's life hell, and in order to do that he had to shit on a lot of people. Hey, if he can hold a grudge against CmdrTaco, then the people he pissed off can hold a grudge against him.

In his defense, if he's trying to put his tenure on Slashdot behind him, well, time will ultimately work on his behalf. Even if there are a bunch of ex- /.ers who want his head on a stake, new people are coming to K5 who won't know him by reputation, and their votes are just as valid for story moderation.

Jay (=

[ Parent ]
Past reputation (4.57 / 7) (#40)
by sugarman on Sat Jan 06, 2001 at 09:34:58 PM EST

In Anne Marie's case, past reputation does come into effect. Her first couple submissions here were weak, and had a number of links that were only very marginally realted to the topic at hand.

Apparently since then, she's refined her technique on her submissions a bit, and managed to push a few buttons at the same time.

This is the main piss-off. She'll post a button-pushing story (human rights for animals, gun control, etc.), and not participate in the discussion. Hell, I'd swear it was the second coming of Jon Katz (and that's *not* a good thing.) This increases the perception that she is just stirring shit up to see what type of reaction she gets. Ie, a troll.

Anyhoo, so while every article can and should be judged on its own merits, those merits can include the past history of the poster. The merits for an article can also include whether a recent one had been submitted or rejected, and how similar the article is in this case.

[ Parent ]

Has she not improved her work? (4.00 / 2) (#43)
by communista on Sat Jan 06, 2001 at 09:48:34 PM EST

I'd say so...so I am curious still, why people continue to negatively judge her.
/me fucks shit up!!!!
[ Parent ]
Re: past reputation and judging in the present (4.50 / 2) (#47)
by ajf on Sat Jan 06, 2001 at 10:29:20 PM EST

Anyhoo, so while every article can and should be judged on its own merits, those merits can include the past history of the poster. The merits for an article can also include whether a recent one had been submitted or rejected, and how similar the article is in this case.

While I agree with most of what you're saying, I don't feel comfortable with that part about "the past history of the poster".

I agree that it's unsatisfying to see Anne Marie posting controversial stories and then seeming to ignore the discussion that follows. And that might tip the balance for me - if Anne Marie submits something about an interesting topic but I can't decide +1 or -1, that apparent lack of interest would probably mean I'd lean towards dumping it.

But the trollcalling is getting old, folks. If you don't like a comment or story submission, say why you don't like it - it only takes a little more effort than accusing someone of trolling.

"I have no idea if it is true or not, but given what you read on the Web, it seems to be a valid concern." -jjayson
[ Parent ]
No problemo (4.00 / 2) (#58)
by sugarman on Sun Jan 07, 2001 at 12:13:45 AM EST

While I agree with most of what you're saying, I don't feel comfortable with that part about "the past history of the poster".

That's fine. I'm thinking that for 95% of the people here, it would probably never come into play. Hell, I can't even recall what *I've* said half the time. But for the dozen or so most visible (or vocal, however you like to phrase it) people here, it might.

It's also entirely subjective for everyone. That's also why everyone has the option to vote and rate comments. One individual opinion isn't as likely to skew the results too much.

[ Parent ]

thank you!! (1.75 / 4) (#48)
by yankeehack on Sat Jan 06, 2001 at 10:36:25 PM EST

"This is the main piss-off. She'll post a button-pushing story (human rights for animals, gun control, etc.), and not participate in the discussion. Hell, I'd swear it was the second coming of Jon Katz (and that's *not* a good thing.) This increases the perception that she is just stirring shit up to see what type of reaction she gets. Ie, a troll.

Anyhoo, so while every article can and should be judged on its own merits, those merits can include the past history of the poster. The merits for an article can also include whether a recent one had been submitted or rejected, and how similar the article is in this case."

yes! yes! yes! You hit the nail on the head! Thank you!

No one who was bad in bed has ever been good in life (i.e. liberals, I've never had sex with a liberal woman who knew how to use her body.) Keeteel :-P I'm *right*!
[ Parent ]

Not really (none / 0) (#85)
by spiralx on Mon Jan 08, 2001 at 07:31:44 AM EST

I've been a /. troll for a long time now, have written the /. troll HOWTO and blatently posted crap there under several accounts, and I haven't had any trouble getting my stories posted here or any grief over trolling. I don't think streetlawyer has really had any problems either, and he's been trolling /. longer than I have.

It's probably because we're playing nicely here :)

You're doomed, I'm doomed, we're all doomed for ice cream. - Bob Aboey
[ Parent ]

What is a troll? (3.83 / 6) (#4)
by xdroop on Sat Jan 06, 2001 at 06:31:00 PM EST

Seriously. Everyone seems to be quick on the wrist with the word "troll", but there does not seem to be much consistancy (excepting for the fact that anything Anne Marie posts gets that label within four comments).

I think in the minds of the labelers, the definition of a "troll" is anything _I_ think is stupid.

Perhaps our troll-detector extrodinare, Signal11, could enlighten us?
xhost +

Trolls are rarely the authors (3.90 / 10) (#5)
by tetsuo on Sat Jan 06, 2001 at 06:33:49 PM EST

Before defining the actions of a troll, I'd like to define, for me, the form a troll takes. A troll is rarely the author; mostly the respondants.

For me, there's no such thing as "Flamebait", only topics that draw a lot of discussion or are controversial. Such discussions are good. When they turn bad is when the real "trolls" appear.

The initial story/submission/whatever should stir the emotions and prompt meaningful discourse on the subject at hand. The trolls are there to play off of emotional responses to stories. They contribute nothing to the discussion, except to quickly degrade it into a name calling fiasco.

I think the state of things around here has become "5 metric tonnes of prevention are worth a pound of cure." There's the cry of troll at the drop of a hat. And there's been a bit of unfortunate knee-jerk reactionism against those who have "jumped ship". In time I think it will fade.

My definition of troll... (4.14 / 14) (#6)
by iCEBaLM on Sat Jan 06, 2001 at 06:40:04 PM EST

My definition of troll is a rather simplistic one: A troll is a person who posts ingenuinely in order to illicit expected comments.

These expected comments are usually flames, however can also be "geeks rule", "free software good, closed source bad", etc.

The problem with trolling is that, dispite our diversity, the "geek community" is so predictable that it's very easy to troll us.

-- iCEBaLM

Past history...future conduct. (4.26 / 15) (#7)
by Miniluv on Sat Jan 06, 2001 at 06:43:46 PM EST

This may sound a little harsh, but I really don't see any value being contributed to this website by all the "former" slashtrolls. Signall 11 has been little more than a queue spammer and diary whiner, enterfornone sees the queue as his personal plaything on slow days at work, 11223 really only populates trolltalk, fluffy grue is borderline cuz at least he can code.

The point is, why do we let these people have accounts when their presence brings about such vicious trolling? The community is apparently pretty sick of being trolled, despite their apparent glee at the chance to dig into meaty topics to discuss frivolously.

Anne Marie is one of the best authors we've yet seen on k5. She juxtaposes completely unrelated topics in a sometimes scathing, often humours, and always insightful fashion much to the delight of the community at large. Everyone gets something from one of her posts, be it the chance to scream "I'm a pot, you're a kettle and you're BLACK!" or to sit down and ponder the weight of non-existant issues.

If you've read this far in the comment you should have realized this is complete bullshit, but not in fact a troll. If this were to be a troll I'd be making some comment that with a distributed peer to peer encrypted steganographic architecture we could defeat trolling and solve moderation issues. I might also be crying for Bill Gates' head on a platter, his blood as pudding, or something equally distressing.

"Its like someone opened my mouth and stuck a fistful of herbs in it." - Tamio Kageyama, Iron Chef 'Battle Eggplant'

hehehe (4.83 / 6) (#42)
by rusty on Sat Jan 06, 2001 at 09:44:03 PM EST

I was confused until "If you've read this far...". One thing that I'm sure you (Miniluv) have realized, but a bunch of others don't seem to have yet is that Anne Marie, right now, has four stories on the front page. Now, say what you will, "troll", blah blah blah. I know that stories don't get to the front page easily, and the voting isn't rigged. So I guess K5 likes Anne Marie's style, and that, IMO, is that.

Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]
Or multiple accounts.. (3.33 / 3) (#61)
by Sheepdot on Sun Jan 07, 2001 at 01:53:58 AM EST

Don't throw out the possibility someone doesn't have a gazillion accounts on here. Err well, a dozen or so. And whoever Anne Marie is, she or he has at least one account that they use for commenting or posting to diary on here, and I'm real sure that person is being honest and *not* voting +1 on their stories.

Course they might not be posting or commenting on here, just writing stories, but if that was the case I'd be voting them down on principle. It is just plain rude IMO to post a story if you really have no interest in responding to the people that discuss it.

[ Parent ]
And that's exactly what a troll is :) (4.00 / 2) (#81)
by enterfornone on Sun Jan 07, 2001 at 07:07:07 PM EST

A good troll should be difficult to tell apart from an excellent post. You would expact a clever troll to make it to the front page.

The only way to tell a good troll from a good post is the authors intentions, without being the author you will never what a troll is or isn't.

efn 26/m/syd
Will sponsor new accounts for porn.
[ Parent ]
Worthless distinction (4.00 / 1) (#88)
by leviathan on Mon Jan 08, 2001 at 08:59:39 AM EST

If a good troll and a good story have exactly the same consequences, what's the point in distinguishing between them?

efn's comment above could be a troll, but it certainly isn't flamebait, so I don't mind responding to it. The difference between trolling for discussion and trolling for flames is the only distinction I care to make.

I wish everyone was peaceful. Then I could take over the planet with a butter knife.
- Dogbert
[ Parent ]

Subtlety and purpose... (4.00 / 7) (#8)
by theboz on Sat Jan 06, 2001 at 06:44:15 PM EST

The best trolls you will not recognize easily. They can be very subtle. Now, on slashdot this Anne Marie person has done other things that were not so subtle...I have nothing against this person and find them amusing but don't really care.

However, it is annoying when someone puts ascii teddy bears or something on a story...although that made me laugh more than anything. However, this person done good and bad posts in the past so it is dumb to hold a grudge. Here's an example of what I think is a good job:


There are a ton of links in there. Sure, I'm not bored enough to read all of them but the ones that I have read and how familiar I am with that story I already feel that it would generate a good discussion. There are other posts of stories that did not make it past the moderation queue so I can't post references to them. Those would be the trolls. :oD

In any case, even someone judged to be a troll probably won't do bad all the time. I try to judge the stories on a case by case basis.


Trolls (4.00 / 6) (#9)
by WispFox on Sat Jan 06, 2001 at 06:51:26 PM EST

My own interpretation of a troll is anyone who posts (or any post) whose intent is to go for the emotional/defensive-type reactions.

It's someone who is trying to get as many reactions as possible to whatever is posted, and often posts things which have little to nothing to do with the intended use of the medium in question.

I seem to recall that the main reason that people call Anne Marie a troll lies in the fact that s/he never seems to submit any comments. My own interpretation of that is that the Anne Marie account is simply an account which someone intentionally set up for story submission purposes, only.

I don't tend to agree that the stories are trolls. Foster discussion? Yes. Often interesting? Yes. Sometimes something I don't want to read about? Also yes. Doesn't mean that s/he's a troll. S/he just likes controvertial topics. Maybe that's the entire point of the account - to submit those topics which are controversial, but which the author thought needed to be submitted.

And that's what makes it tough (4.66 / 3) (#19)
by simmons75 on Sat Jan 06, 2001 at 07:20:23 PM EST

It's hard to distinguish between a troll and someone who truly believes in what they're saying. There are those who claim to be able to, but somehow I doubt it.

A rule of thumb may be if the story or comment has factual errors that more easily initiate a flame war than a factual story (which neatly classifies Slashdot.org as a troll site). I really don't like that definition because on occasion I have been labeled as a troll for that reason (and not know I had my facts wrong.)

In general, I think it may be best to simply not use the word "troll" and use our handy voting system to let people know what we think of those indiscriminately screaming "Troll!"
So there.

[ Parent ]
Quite (2.00 / 2) (#29)
by WispFox on Sat Jan 06, 2001 at 08:19:08 PM EST

Which is why 'troll' is not a term I normally use.

[ Parent ]
What a slippery thing a troll is (4.14 / 7) (#10)
by Skippy on Sat Jan 06, 2001 at 06:53:58 PM EST

Defining a troll isn't too difficult. There are pretty standard criterion for determining what is and isn't a troll. The base definition is usually that the troll posts purpose is to fan flames and get someone's ire up. Other often cited characteristics are:
  • Trolls often have logically weak or wrong arguments.
  • Trolls often take a position diametrically opposite that of the general consensus of the community in which they post.
  • Trolls often contain ambiguous language so that the troller has room to maneuver in the resulting argument.
  • Trolls often engage in personal attacks

    There we go. Troll as defined by Skippy (as if that were worth anything). I do think a lot of people would agree with this list or one similar. So we see the problem lies not in DEFINING at troll, but in SPOTTING one.

    <old arument rehash>
    You can't tell from a text posting whether or not someone is sincere or trolling. What you see as a troll may be seen by me as someone who has strong beliefs and tends to be forceful in expression.
    </old argument>

    Basically what ends up being a troll is what people agree is a troll. I wish I had something more to add or some pithy nugget of wisdom to impart on spotting at troll so I could end this post well...but I don't. Darn

    # I am now finished talking out my ass about things that I am not qualified to discuss. #

  • Do these make a troll a troll (none / 0) (#86)
    by squigly on Mon Jan 08, 2001 at 07:35:20 AM EST

    Trolls often have logically weak or wrong arguments.

    Quite true. The more succesful ones base everything on an unsound axiom that can't actually be disproved, but is totally ludicrous. Something like the Atlantians having invented the computer for example.

    Trolls often take a position diametrically opposite that of the general consensus of the community in which they post.

    This is a requirement.

    Trolls often contain ambiguous language so that the troller has room to maneuver in the resulting argument.

    Often. Not always. Besides, excessive ambiguity maskes it too obvious.

    Trolls often engage in personal attacks

    Do they? I wouldn't call that a troll. Its a pure flamer thing.

    People who sig other people have nothing intelligent to say for themselves - anonimouse
    [ Parent ]
    Anne Marie is *not* a troll, lets make that clear. (3.55 / 18) (#11)
    by Kiss the Blade on Sat Jan 06, 2001 at 06:55:15 PM EST

    How can I be so sure? Well, the detached observer merely has to look at her comments on their own, and purge himself of all previous prejudice. If he does, it is clear that she is just expressing a consistant set of beliefs. In addition, I have actually met Anne Marie (one of the lucky few, heh) and I can tell you that she certainly does not troll, being a woman of character. She does, however, have her own set of opinions and beliefs, like anybody else, and is a very attractive and intelligent young woman. If expressing said beliefs is trollish, I suppose we are all trolls here, because that is what this site is all about. Anne Marie(good feature there btw) is simply a pleasant girl who manages to think for herself, and this is probably what gets people so wound up.

    Anne Marie has very clearly picked up an entirely undeserving reputation. The question we must ask is why this is the case and what we can do about it. We must solve the problem in another way, not by harassing the innocent Anne Marie but by getting the problem at its root.

    I would say that the reason Anne Marie is so unjustly attacked is simple: she is female, intelligent and technologically literate. The majority of readers here and at /. are male, and being geeks, they have the trademark trait of being scared of women. Normally they feel superior in their intelligence and computer skills, and when a woman comes along who can equal or better them in this regard they are very threatened indeed. This is why Anne Marie was flamed so on /., and this is why she came here to k5, to try and find solitude among (she supposed) a more mature and sensible community. Imagine how she feels then, to find that this comunity is behaving in the same way that k5 did! I think we should all be ashamed. We spend half our time sneering at the behaviour on the 'other site' (a superior term in itself) while, in some respects, being just as bad ourselves.

    I would like to see everyone grow up a little and realise that Anne Marie is not a threat, does not troll, and is just like anyone else here in most important respect.

    KTB:Lover, Poet, Artiste, Aesthete, Programmer.
    There is no contradiction.

    I agree completely... (3.00 / 2) (#14)
    by communista on Sat Jan 06, 2001 at 07:02:24 PM EST

    But I admit I don't know the fabled jutification for being one. I heard it was because of something with Slashdot, but I am glad I was able to view her stories personally without bias. :)
    /me fucks shit up!!!!
    [ Parent ]
    Absolutely. (3.50 / 2) (#20)
    by Kiss the Blade on Sat Jan 06, 2001 at 07:21:12 PM EST

    And one thing I'd like to ask you. Most females I know who use weblogs and general community based internet sites keep their sex a secret; they find it shields them from unwanted attention. Perhaps the greatest mistake Anne Marie made was to choose such an obviously female name. I'm sure none of us would have heard of her were it not for that.

    From your sig, I see that you flaunt your sexuality quite openly, and I was wondering if it ever gave you any problems on the net; unwanted attention or hostile behaviour for example.

    I find it quite pathetic the way that geeks react to women on the net. They seem to either behave with fawning admiration or outright hostility (the latter would never behave like that face to face, of course).

    I would be very interested to hear your comments on this matter. I would bet that if you were to make a series of intelligent articles, people would react negatively, as they did with Anne Marie.

    KTB:Lover, Poet, Artiste, Aesthete, Programmer.
    There is no contradiction.
    [ Parent ]

    Yes sometimes... (3.00 / 2) (#23)
    by communista on Sat Jan 06, 2001 at 07:35:50 PM EST

    ....And apparently someone thinks I'm enterfornone and Anne Marie. Wow.

    I suppose there are those that will judge me for being a woman, and I honestly don't care. I take it in stride, because I think anyone who neglects to judge what I have to say or do based on its content is a waste of my time. It's harsh...I know, but those who like me, have taken the time to know me.
    /me fucks shit up!!!!
    [ Parent ]
    communista revealed (3.00 / 2) (#28)
    by h2odragon on Sat Jan 06, 2001 at 08:15:47 PM EST

    and Signal 11 and qslack and vsync and probably 20% or so of all the other fabled mythical beasties...

    [ Parent ]
    WTF? (2.12 / 8) (#24)
    by 0xdeadbeef on Sat Jan 06, 2001 at 08:00:18 PM EST

    Anne Marie is supposed to be the "educated escort"? Damn, that changes everything. She isn't just a troll, she's involved in a media scam as well. Or are you going to tell me she really is a prostitute?

    And why are you, a self-admitted slashdot troll, asking us to respect this person, when you disrepect others so much you engage in the same behavior?

    And it's funny you accuse people of sexism, when most of her detractors assume she is male, sluring the reputation of female geeks everywhere with her manipulative antics.

    [ Parent ]

    Hmm... (3.00 / 2) (#26)
    by communista on Sat Jan 06, 2001 at 08:07:37 PM EST

    I don't think Kiss The Blade was accusing people of sexism, but they were stating it as a possibility. It does happen. You don't have to respect Anne Marie, just acknowledge that she's capale of intelligent compositions, just like all of us are.
    /me fucks shit up!!!!
    [ Parent ]
    Hmm... donuts (3.00 / 2) (#36)
    by 0xdeadbeef on Sat Jan 06, 2001 at 08:55:07 PM EST

    I never questioned the intelligence of the person behind the Anne Marie character. Hell, I even voted for the gingerbread man story because I thought it was clever. But this person is playing a game with k5, which that story made plainly obvious.

    And really, if you are defending her in some sense of female solidarity, you're being used to do her dirty work, probably to great amusement for the person behind the name.

    [ Parent ]
    Not solidarity. (2.00 / 2) (#37)
    by communista on Sat Jan 06, 2001 at 09:02:43 PM EST

    I don't usually participate in solidarity related events. I just don't like to negatively criticize when I don't feel it's just. :) I'm not implying that you or anyone else is. Just voicing my opinion.
    /me fucks shit up!!!!
    [ Parent ]
    So what? Who cares? Why should we care? (2.50 / 6) (#31)
    by Kiss the Blade on Sat Jan 06, 2001 at 08:36:33 PM EST

    Firstly, no media scam. She is what she says. I don't believe that changes a damn thing, personally, if you do that is up to you. I don't have any moral hang ups about it, though it seems that some do. This probably has something to do with her notoriety.

    Secondly, I don't behave in the same behaviour - because Anne Marie doesn't troll. That is why she came to kuro5hin - /. is a much more fertile trolling ground. Yes, I have trolled on occasion, that I will admit. But *everyone* does. I'm sure that, if I wanted to, I could rake through your user bio and make the same allegations as what you so enthusiastically aim at Anne Marie.

    Anyway, it seems to me that you are quite enthusiastic about accusing people of being trolls. I can inform you that nobody trolls k5, the full time and occasional trolls (like me) tend to stick to /. - this is probably why /. is such a popular site. Why do you take such glee in accusing people and hurling abuse? That seems pretty damn trollish to me, I'm afraid. Your post wouldn't be out of place on 'The other site'.

    KTB:Lover, Poet, Artiste, Aesthete, Programmer.
    There is no contradiction.
    [ Parent ]

    It's a talking spaceship (4.50 / 2) (#38)
    by pw201 on Sat Jan 06, 2001 at 09:06:03 PM EST

    Well, my moral problem is that I don't think I should talk to you because you're a battleship of the evil Affront empire. :-)

    Firstly, no media scam. She is what she says. I don't believe that changes a damn thing, personally, if you do that is up to you. I don't have any moral hang ups about it, though it seems that some do. This probably has something to do with her notoriety.

    Seriously, do you think that just because Anne Marie has chosen a name which has some resonance for your average weblog reading geek, that she is actually the Educated Escort? Do you have some inside information on this? I'd always assumed Anne Marie had chosen the name because she'd heard of the real Anne Marie, but that she was unlikely to be her.

    [ Parent ]

    Heh, don't worry, I'm demilitarised now. (3.20 / 5) (#41)
    by Kiss the Blade on Sat Jan 06, 2001 at 09:34:59 PM EST

    Well, the name Anne Marie is a psuedonym of course - she has been using it online here and here for quite some time. It has always been a vexing question just who the 'real' Anne Marie actually is - I have oftentimes wondered it myself. But I can only assure you that the Anne Marie's of /., k5 and educatedescort.com are all one and the same. She is a very clever woman indeed, and I know she gets some amusement out of the endless speculation over just who she is. Although 'Anne Marie' is a pseudonym, the woman behind it is very definately real. Hmm, I talk too much, I must be careful not to say too much, I am honor bound, I suppose.

    If you don't believe me, I can only suggest that you read the salon.com article I originally linked too, it is very informative. The real Anne Marie actually does read /. and k5, and gets great enjoyment from doing so, being a little contrary.

    Oh, and you needn't worry, although I hate the Culture and all it's works and smart arsed ships, I quite like the Solar System. Nice and primitive for one such as me.

    KTB:Lover, Poet, Artiste, Aesthete, Programmer.
    There is no contradiction.
    [ Parent ]

    Say what? (4.50 / 2) (#70)
    by Potsy on Sun Jan 07, 2001 at 04:13:48 AM EST

    But I can only assure you that the Anne Marie's of /., k5 and educatedescort.com are all one and the same.

    I have a really hard time believing that. Anyway, how exactly would you know?

    [ Parent ]

    Cry me a river (2.00 / 2) (#39)
    by 0xdeadbeef on Sat Jan 06, 2001 at 09:16:09 PM EST

    I have no moral hang-ups about any sort of consensual behavior. I think that sort of thing is sad, if true, and sleazy, if a prank. In either case, it denegrates real female geeks, and for that I withhold my respect.

    Oh, I am not ashamed of my behavior, here or on slashdot. Like you, this is my playground for rhetorical games and mischief. It's the bullshit that leaves a bad taste in my mouth, this nonsense about sexism and lack of respect for what is most certainly a character created for someone's amusement. It cheapens these sentiments when they are real.

    [ Parent ]

    You seem to contradict yourself (3.66 / 3) (#44)
    by Kiss the Blade on Sat Jan 06, 2001 at 10:08:57 PM EST

    How do you know that it is bullshit? Is it because you disagree with what she says that you don't like her? Is your definition of a troll someone who disagrees with you? If she mindlessly agreed with consensus like most morons on k5 and /., would you like her more? If you would, I find that sad.

    Also, I can't understand how 'it cheapens these sentiments when they are real'. How do you know they are not? And then you contradict yourself by saying that k5 and /. are your playground for mischief. Have you considered that *you* might be 'cheapening sentiments' by doing so?

    I would say that you don't need to take things so seriously; in the end, it just doesn't matter one whit.

    KTB:Lover, Poet, Artiste, Aesthete, Programmer.
    There is no contradiction.
    [ Parent ]

    Contradiction is my middle name (3.00 / 2) (#50)
    by 0xdeadbeef on Sat Jan 06, 2001 at 10:43:41 PM EST

    Dig through my bio again, find where I have disagreed with anything she said. The only relevant comment you will find is my playful mocking of the gingerbread story. I'm objecting to your and communista's use of her as a platform for creating controversy much more than I am of her attempts at it. It just rubs me the wrong way to see you tsk-tsk'ing people for calling her "troll".

    [ Parent ]
    Any proof? (4.25 / 4) (#46)
    by Broco on Sat Jan 06, 2001 at 10:21:32 PM EST

    I don't really have anything against Anne Marie, but I see little evidence that this character is female. The evidence seems to point to her being a fictional character created for entertainment purposes.

    First, she appears to be manipulative and enjoys trolling, as we can see from her posts on slashdot. And trolls love creating multiple fake personalites; it is part of the game. And she methodically never gives any background info about herself, and never replies to anything.

    Also, the name "Anne Marie" itself seems to be chosen to be part of a fake personality. On slashdot and kuro5hin, it's not conventional to call yourself by your real name, and Anne Marie is surely aware of that, manipulative as she is. So I think the choice of the name "Anne Marie" was made on purpose to create a memorable personality and also, as good inflammatory material for a few slashdot troll posts (she wrote a "life of a female geek" troll at least once).

    Everything points to her being fake and I see no evidence to the contrary. Now, I don't really care and will vote up or down her articles on merit. I've been tempted to invent personalities myself, so I don't really have any moral objections :). But I'm not going to naively believe she's real until I see something more solid.

    Klingon function calls do not have "parameters" - they have "arguments" - and they ALWAYS WIN THEM.
    [ Parent ]

    Ender's Game (none / 0) (#93)
    by CodeWright on Mon Jan 08, 2001 at 11:18:22 AM EST

    Is anyone else reminded of Orson Scott Card's "Ender's Game" by Anne Marie (of /. & k5 fame -- not EE)?

    Namely, of Ender's brother and sister? Let's see.... what were their netnames? something and Demosthenes?

    Or, alternatively, of Wintermute & Neuromancer?

    A: Because it destroys the flow of conversation.
    Q: Why is top posting dumb? --clover_kicker

    [ Parent ]
    Ugh. (3.33 / 3) (#63)
    by Potsy on Sun Jan 07, 2001 at 02:56:48 AM EST

    Please. The Anne Marie account on K5 is not being run by the woman you're talking about. Why are you trying to spread bullshit like this all of a sudden?

    [ Parent ]
    Disregard Karma Sink; She knows nothing. (3.80 / 5) (#68)
    by Kiss the Blade on Sun Jan 07, 2001 at 03:59:02 AM EST

    This can be clearly shown in this thread with Rusty, in which she begs to be told who the real Anne Marie is. So, Potsy (Karma Sink? It can be difficult to tell who's who, but that is the point), how do you know that Anne Marie isn't the person she (and I) claims she is? I would be very interested to know. What you say seems entirely baseless and without substance - it is just a set of assumptions that you have made with no good reason or evidence.

    I would suggest that you write nasty missives elsewhere, rather than here, because people don't like to be attacked without evidence or good reason.

    KTB:Lover, Poet, Artiste, Aesthete, Programmer.
    There is no contradiction.
    [ Parent ]

    Sigh. (4.00 / 4) (#72)
    by Potsy on Sun Jan 07, 2001 at 04:47:20 AM EST

    As I and others have pointed out, I am not "Karma Sink". Before admonishing me not to make assumptions, you should stop making a few of your own.

    Anne Marie on K5 has never "claimed to be" anyone. The account has no homepage linked, no e-mail address listed, and has never posted any comments or diary entries. The notion that the account belongs to the "educated escort" woman comes solely from you. And as someone who likes to brag about spreading misinformation, I would say there's a pretty high burden of proof on anything you say. I simply don't belive you. Show me some proof and I'll eat my words.

    And why are you linking to your own comment as a "nasty missive"? Are you angry because I rated it down? Fine. I'll rate it as "none". I suppose that was a bit out of line. My apologies.

    [ Parent ]

    I AM Anne Marie but not the one posting on here!!! (5.00 / 3) (#71)
    by Educated Escort on Sun Jan 07, 2001 at 04:34:33 AM EST

    I would like to get a few things straight. First of all to Kiss the Blade; I appreciate your compliments you have bestowed on me, but I can promise you that I am not the Anne Marie who posts on here nor on Slashdot. I have made that perfectly clear on Slashdot and on this board (although no one seems to read it.) I am the owner of EducatedEscort.com and my name is Anne Marie, but many people have this name.

    The URL at the end of my post is what I wrote on this board only two days ago letting you all know that I am not the woman (or man or troll or whatever you would like to call her/him) who posts as Anne Marie.

    And Kiss the Blade, I only met a handful of people (less than one dozen) during the year I had my site. Are you saying you are one of them? And if you were then you would surely know that I am not the Anne Marie who posts on Slashdot so are you sure we really met?

    Again, I do appreciate your nice comments but please do not assume that I am the one and the same with Anne Marie who posts on here.

    I had no less than seven people on slashdot pose using my name. Anne Marne (or something to that effect) Anne Mariee , and other variations of the name saying they were me.

    And to Oxdeadbeef, I am sorry if you think that I was a media scam, but no I was not. My site was real. It lasted for one year and I did not spend several hours a day answering emails for entertainment. I made a living off meeting a few select people over the year the site existed.

    If you do not believe that I am really the Educated Escort then feel free to write me at AnneMarie@EducatedEscort.com and I will promptly write you back so you will see it is really me. Sling the blade or kiss the blade or whatever it is, please email me and let me know who you are so I can see if I really met you out of the few people I met the last year.

    I find it amazing that people on here claim to know me and are 100% sure that I am the one who posts here and others are convinced my site was a "media scam". I love it. My site isn't even up now for over three months and still the talk. I never did quite understand why. Maybe someone can explain the big phenomena to me sometime. I was just making a little two page site to make some money yet the talk on Slashdot, here and everywhere still goes on.


    Happy New Year and hope all are well,

    Anne Marie , Educated Escort

    the post I wrote explaining who I am.

    "It has become appallingly clear that our technology has surpassed our humanity"

    Albert Einstein

    Parent ]

    Can ya give us furthur info? (none / 0) (#78)
    by Sheepdot on Sun Jan 07, 2001 at 12:17:08 PM EST

    I'd really like to believe it and all, especially since people are trying to link educatedescort.com (of which I know nothing about, I wasn't that big of a fan of /.) and anne marie on this site together, and if you really don't want to be linked, is there a way you off some pretty distinctive proof of that?

    For all I know, someone might have made an account earlier this week and posted one story so they could do this. No doubt others would believe this way too.

    Just change the source of the main page at educatedescort.com to include:


    Or something of the like. We'd *all* appreciate it. Then I can just link to the site and tell people to view the source if they need proof.

    [ Parent ]
    She's done it (5.00 / 1) (#82)
    by goonie on Sun Jan 07, 2001 at 08:11:32 PM EST

    from the page source of educatedescort.com:

    <!-- I am not Anne Marie on K5 or slashdot. -->

    I've always believed this to be the case, but at least it puts the argument beyond a reasonable doubt. While we may know who she *isn't*, we still don't know who the K5 Anne Marie *is*. Only she/he (and possibly the K5 admins) know that.

    [ Parent ]

    However, (none / 0) (#89)
    by Steeltoe on Mon Jan 08, 2001 at 09:23:57 AM EST

    if she's really Anne Marie on here and Slashdot, maybe this is just a covert way to fool us all. I'm not saying I believe this is so, just making a point that we can't know for sure who anybody really are on here. There's so many ways to fool people on the Internet. So instead of being easily provoked, we should take it for what it is, and not for what it *could be*.

    - Steeltoe
    Explore the Art of Living

    [ Parent ]
    Anyone read Enders Game lately? (5.00 / 1) (#90)
    by Steeltoe on Mon Jan 08, 2001 at 09:42:38 AM EST

    This whole business reminds me of a bad copy of an Orson Scott plot. Now if Anne Marie is Demosthenes, who is Locke?

    - Steeltoe
    Explore the Art of Living

    [ Parent ]
    oh drat. (5.00 / 1) (#94)
    by CodeWright on Mon Jan 08, 2001 at 11:20:17 AM EST

    i hadn't read all the way down the posts before i mentioned Ender's Game -- but I guess your post preceding mine seems to confirm the surreality of my own impression... and answers my question.

    A: Because it destroys the flow of conversation.
    Q: Why is top posting dumb? --clover_kicker

    [ Parent ]
    A troll to me... (3.50 / 6) (#12)
    by vastor on Sat Jan 06, 2001 at 06:56:25 PM EST

    A troll to me is someone that goes around posting really stupid short comments.

    Like 'oh, I bet communista would look great in hot grits'

    or like srw1080 or whoever it was, did a while back with lots of really bad pointless posts that had them taking about a third of the spots in the hidden comments section.

    I've often wondered if the people who call enterforone/signal11/marie etc trolls might be trolls because EFN/Sig11 etc certainly aren't (or haven't been in any of the posts I've seen).

    Maybe we should call them 'crying troll' trolls ;-)

    Communista and grits... (2.31 / 16) (#16)
    by Miniluv on Sat Jan 06, 2001 at 07:04:21 PM EST

    A troll to me is someone that goes around posting really stupid short comments. Like 'oh, I bet communista would look great in hot grits'
    But she DOES look great in hot grits. And if you're a grits fan, even more fun is eating the grits off of her rather salient anatomy.

    "Its like someone opened my mouth and stuck a fistful of herbs in it." - Tamio Kageyama, Iron Chef 'Battle Eggplant'
    [ Parent ]
    Is it just me or... (2.00 / 5) (#25)
    by elenchos on Sat Jan 06, 2001 at 08:06:31 PM EST

    ...are we trying to say, "Get a room?"


    [ Parent ]

    Oh now... (3.00 / 5) (#30)
    by communista on Sat Jan 06, 2001 at 08:31:13 PM EST

    They're just teasin'. They all give me shite in the #K5 channel. :)
    /me fucks shit up!!!!
    [ Parent ]
    I'm not speaking to you. (1.66 / 3) (#32)
    by elenchos on Sat Jan 06, 2001 at 08:40:20 PM EST

    Because you didn't read any of the stuff I posted for you.


    [ Parent ]

    Say again? (2.00 / 2) (#34)
    by communista on Sat Jan 06, 2001 at 08:46:08 PM EST

    Would you have posted it to something relevant to something that I wrote, I might have.
    /me fucks shit up!!!!
    [ Parent ]
    For those about to troll (we salute you) (4.41 / 12) (#27)
    by Beorn on Sat Jan 06, 2001 at 08:10:02 PM EST

    I have nothing profound to say about trolls, (perhaps tomorrow), but I do find it interesting to observe how this issue is dealt with differently on k5 than other places I've been. I know one thing: The term trolling is inadequate to describe the situation here. The word was invented for Usenet, which is completely different from k5. It can't be translated.

    Ladies, gentlemen, and gentlemen pretending to be ladies: We need some new terminology.

    - Beorn

    [ Threepwood '01 ]

    I agree completely (3.66 / 3) (#53)
    by Eloquence on Sat Jan 06, 2001 at 11:12:43 PM EST

    As I pointed out here, I have a lot of problems with the term "troll". I think "trolling" should only describe clearly destructive behavior, as this seems to be the context it is understood in (and having been a fantasy-fan for some time, I usually think of trolls as .. well .. destructive creatures).

    For people who post solely to elicit responses, with the content of the comment differing from their personal opinion, I suggest one of these terms:

    - clowns
    - pranksters
    - teasers (from HHGTG)
    Copyright law is bad: infoAnarchy Pleasure is good: Origins of Violence
    spread the word!
    [ Parent ]

    It's not a fantasy thing... (3.66 / 3) (#59)
    by sugarman on Sun Jan 07, 2001 at 12:32:32 AM EST

    it's a fishing thing.

    I know trolls are scary creatures, but we're talking about technique here, after all.

    [ Parent ]

    Actually, it's both .. (4.00 / 3) (#60)
    by Eloquence on Sun Jan 07, 2001 at 12:46:57 AM EST

    .. and that's what makes it so tricky. See jargon file definition. The "ugly creature" etymology is expressed on Usenet by often appending little troll ASCII art to posts. (And, if it only referred to the fishing sense, the proper use would probably be "troller" and not "troll". I'm pretty sure the people who use the trolling fishing technique would hate to be called trolls :-)
    Copyright law is bad: infoAnarchy Pleasure is good: Origins of Violence
    spread the word!
    [ Parent ]
    I can't tell... (3.50 / 4) (#35)
    by communista on Sat Jan 06, 2001 at 08:48:28 PM EST

    If you're all just fscking with me about thinking I'm Anne Marie, or EFN...So any for any unjustified flames, I am sorry. I have much respect for everyone on K5 but I don't like being perceived as someone I'm not.
    /me fucks shit up!!!!
    Is the cure worse than the disease ? (4.12 / 8) (#55)
    by redelm on Sat Jan 06, 2001 at 11:34:59 PM EST

    I'm not really sure what a troll is, but I take it to be someone who posts inflammatory material to garner attention. Very pitiful.

    Trolling is not unknown in the older print media. Editorial writers have been known to publish screeds merely to excite their readers and generate attention.

    But there is another phenomenon: labeling someone a troll. Most often, this is merely a dismissive insult, and says more about the accuser than the accused. Ad hominem arguments betray weakness.

    I personally hesitate greatly before labelling anyone a troll quite simply because I have very little way of knowing, and I value my credibility. Others do not.

    Trolling is about habit and intent (3.75 / 4) (#56)
    by Holloway on Sun Jan 07, 2001 at 12:02:38 AM EST

    And I quote:

    Tr0LL: To utter a posting on Usenet designed to attract predictable responses or flames; [SNIP!] in which one trails bait through a likely spot hoping for a bite [SNIP!] for no other purpose than to annoy someone or disrupt a discussion.

    In the last year or two online I've noticed a trend to label people you disagree with trolls. Trolling goes to the purpose of a post - any post will do - to spark retaliation.

    Calling someone a troll is a weak way of dealing with disagreements. Unfortunately it's also one of the most debasing categories you can drop someone into - as any troll worth their green pott-belly will deny being a troll.

    There's a paranoia about trolls. Sometimes I forget there are black supremesists online - and they're not trolls. There are also idiots, they're not trolls. Trolling is all about habit and intent - the difference between flamebait and trolling is mostly their post history.

    (not that a natalie grits troll doesn't stand on it's own)

    Assuming it's the same Anne Marie from Slashdot, she's a troll. This little outburst by her was rather telling (unfortunately you can only see the surrounding reactions as she was quickly dealt to by moderators and -1 posts aren't kept in the system for archival)

    == Human's wear pants, if they don't wear pants they stand out in a crowd. But if a monkey didn't wear pants it would be anonymous

    Might not be a trolling, just bad posting (4.14 / 7) (#57)
    by Sheepdot on Sun Jan 07, 2001 at 12:06:04 AM EST

    Firstly, I'd like to congratulate communista on a well-written story and the first I've seen on the topic that I feel justified in posting to. I've had a few of my posts labeled "troll posts" in the past so I can sympathsize with those who have been called a troll.

    Now, what I believe has happened is that the definition of troll has really gotten out of hand. However, I am not so quick to discourage people from labeling something as a bad post just because it doesn't meet the definition listed in the k5 FAQ.

    Why? Because although some stories might encourage learning about the topic at hand, I've noticed that various tidbits are often thrown into them that show a clear bias towards one side of an issue or another.

    Let me give you an example. Anne Marie (I am going to associate as a 'her', without being for certain.) *has* posted stuff that, while maybe not hitting the definition of troll, has upset a large number of people in a way that could have been easily avoided. Her comment about "the libertarians will have a field day with this one" on a story was flat out rude and disheartening to see on this site (it didn't get posted).

    And to top it off, Anne Marie has still not made any comments. Why do I find using one account to post stories and another to do comments wrong? Because no accountability is made to the person posting the story, freeing them to say whatever they want to, when they want to, the *way* they want to. Granted, the topics she posts about might not be something that the author would want associated to them, justifying the second account. But, by crossing the line and posting about the topic in the *way* she would not normally (with the real account) have done is going too far in my opinion.

    There is also the possibility that Anne Marie is only posting comments and has no other account. I find it *very* hard to believe, but at least a comment by her mentioning that to be true would prevent me from auto minusing one all her stories. I want to know there is a person behind the account that actually cares about what they are writing. Till then, she has all the signs of a troll, but just hasn't yet crossed the line. I find it disturbing, others may not.

    Remember that it doesn't have to be a bonfide troll to be a bad post. I just wish folks would say "Bad post, <reason why>." and move on. Or just not say anything at all and vote the story or post down.

    Trolls (2.00 / 10) (#62)
    by King Jerk on Sun Jan 07, 2001 at 02:40:08 AM EST

    You're all talkin about those dudes who live under a bridge right? Now watch, I'll be labeled as troll.... And I dont even like the taste of billygoat.

    Motto: Vote honestly, post honestly (4.26 / 15) (#64)
    by Potsy on Sun Jan 07, 2001 at 03:48:44 AM EST

    As, I've said before when this topic has come up, I think the thing that bothers many people about Anne Marie's story submissions is that they believe them to be someone's idea of an "experiment". "I think I'll 'test' the masses at K5 to see if they're worthy." See how offensive that sounds? Nobody likes to be someone else's lab rat. Whether that fits your definition of a "troll" or not is irrelevant. People don't like being experimented on.

    The fact that the Anne Marie account only submits stories and never posts an actual comment only serves to reinforce the idea that someone is sitting back and toying with K5 users. All it would take is just one comment from Anne Marie saying, "no, I really mean what I say -- this is not an 'experiment'", and people would start to calm down. I'm not saying it would happen overnight, but eventually all this talk of "Anne Marie is a troll!" would die out.

    Now perhaps the Anne Marie account really is being used to "experiment" on K5 users, in which case I think some of the complaints are justified. I really don't know. I wish someone who knows would say.

    In any case, I think the only reason so many people cry "troll" is simply for lack of a better word. Sometimes people have a hard time putting their finger on what is bothering them. I'll bet in most cases what they really mean is that they think the Anne Marie account is being used in some sort of "experiment", and that makes them upset (and I can't say I blame them).

    People always talk about how we're supposed to vote honestly, but I think it's just as important that people post honestly. If there really is someone off laughing about this whole Anne Marie bruhaha right now, I'd like to say to that person: you're a bloody arsehole. K5 is here for honest discussion, not to provide you with experimentation subjects. Other people are not your playthings.

    Oh yeah... (4.00 / 2) (#66)
    by Potsy on Sun Jan 07, 2001 at 03:51:15 AM EST

    Forgot to mention, there was only one instance when I decided to vote -1 on a an Anne Marie story, and believe it or not, I only noticed it was from Anne Marie after I voted it down. I also posted a comment explaining why I voted it down, without mentioning who wrote it. In short, I thought that story was crap, and that's why I voted it down. It had nothing to do with who wrote it.

    However, enough people apparently disagreed that it got voted up to the section page. And, based on some of the comments in that story, it seemed like some of the people who voted it up did so soley in an effort to defy those who had labelled it a "troll". To me, that's just as bad as voting it down based on who wrote it.

    [ Parent ]

    Oops (3.00 / 2) (#67)
    by Potsy on Sun Jan 07, 2001 at 03:52:07 AM EST

    Damn, sorry for the double post. Hit the button twice.

    [ Parent ]
    I agree totally (3.50 / 2) (#75)
    by goonie on Sun Jan 07, 2001 at 07:25:25 AM EST

    While I stand by everything I said in my main post, this is *another* reason why I don't like AM, and makes me want to vote down every article she posts.

    However, if it turns out that this is some kind of weird journalistic or academic research project, I'd be *more* than happy to participate. On the proviso you name each and every poor sucker you've trolled as coauthors :-)

    [ Parent ]

    It's a matter of intent. (4.33 / 9) (#69)
    by AndyL on Sun Jan 07, 2001 at 04:06:40 AM EST

    A troll is someone who's just trolling(ie: draging a line behind a boat. Not to be confused with trawling.) for a reaction and doesn't honestly belive or mean what they are saying. Many are just obviouse and lame But quite a few are more subtle.

    Someone might say "By the way, the three primary colors are Ruby,Grey, and Brown. Hope this helps." as a troll, just to see how many people would corrent them. BUT at the same time it's possible that the person is just stupid and realy thinks those are the primary colors or may even be too young to know better. There is no age-limit for Kuro5hin and middle-schoolers and high-schoolers who can write half-way decently could easily come-off as odd adults.

    Other examples include people who post irrelivant oppinions. ("This whole topic wouldn't be an issue if it wasn't for the Right-To-Lifers!") and folk who have to bring religion in to every post(" The trolls obviously havn't accepted Jesus as their personal saviour!"). But it's possible that some of these people are realy that wacky and belive that Abortion somehow effects the topic at hand.

    In short, there is no way of scientificly determining if someone is trolling. You need to know what they're thinking when they made the post. Anybody who labels all but the most obvious trolls("POUR HOT GRITS DOWN N. PORTMAN'S PERTRIFIED PANTS!") is just stating anouther opinion that could, in turn, be a troll or a honest opinion.

    I think part of the problem is that we can't see eachother's faces. I think most trollers would have a hard time maintaining a poker-face.


    Yes, yes, I know. My spell-checker is offline at the moment.

    I hate trolls (4.30 / 10) (#73)
    by goonie on Sun Jan 07, 2001 at 05:57:36 AM EST

    OK, as somebody who has consistently accused AM of trolling, I suppose it behoves me to outline my personal position on trolling, including what constitutes it, why it's so bad, and why if I had the power I'd personally bitchslap every single troll posted. This discussion will discuss Anne Marie quite a bit, main because she (for the sake of this discussion let's just assume Anne Marie is a she) is an example that everyone's familiar with.

    Rather than attempt to discuss "What is a Troll?" (which varies from place to place and is really not an Internet-specific phenomenon - the Bill under discussion in Anne Marie's latest story is arguably a troll in the form of proposed legislation), I'll restrict myself to the K5 submission queue, and what I regard as trolling there.

    There are several sorts of "trollish" submissions, some of which probably deserve distinct terms to describe them, but it's too late on a Sunday evening for me to bother defining terms for a taxonomy of K5 submission trolls. Anyway, to begin, there are the occasional "parody" trolls, which are somewhat related to the style of humor The Onion revels in. This kind is obviously intended as a joke and are pretty harmless - even those who don't get the joke seem to be prepared to have a laugh once the joke is pointed out.

    Next, moving up the annoyance scale a bit, is is the troll style exemplified by AM's early submissions here, and is nothing more than an attempt to push readers' hot buttons to generate a flamewar. It typically includes all sorts of references which generate lots of noise but have little relevance to the main thrust of the story (for instance, relating socialised medicine and libertarianism with a story on how sexual fantasies can reduce pain perception). These are quintessential trolls, and I don't think that there's much argument that this type of posting is really a troll.

    Anne Marie's later efforts are less obviously trolls, and deserve another category, if only because many people disagree with the contention that they *are* trolls. The main difference between these and the earlier pieces is that they have generally been on genuinely interesting topics. However, they still take incredibly contrary positions on events, without bothering to justify those positions and seemingly defying common sense (for instance, AM's take on Yahoo's decision to stop Nazi memorabilia sales was that it was "a bold move". Pragmatic - yep. Principled - arguably (if you believe that stopping Nazi memorabilia being sold is principled). A cowardly buckling to a tinpot French judge - also arguable. But "bold?"), and still includes references to topics that provoke lots of flames but on closer inspection are irrelevant to the main thrust of the argument (for instance, her gun law submission mentions ESR, who may be a gun nut but really had nothing to do with the legislation at hand, which I believe as a libertarian he would oppose if it was seriously propose).

    Anyway, enough about the educated escort's namesake. On to what I regard as by far the nastiest form of troll I have (possibly) seen, though it's really not what is conventionally regarded as trolling. I'm still not sure what to make of the events I'm about to describe - I may have been completely made a fool of by an individual on #kuro5hin, who may or may not have been the same individual who goes by the same handle on kuro5hin itself. In addition, I'm still not entirely sure that, true or false, that this should be discussed publically - however, everything discussed here occurred in public forums, so it's not like the individual(s?) concerned was trying to hide his (their?) actions. Anyway, with that piece of verbosity out of the way, here goes (warning: this is long):

    An submitter called "farl" submitted a piece to k5 describing a sexual encounter he had been involved in that occurred under conditions where consent was, at best, unclear, and asking for advice. He submitted identifying details, including an unobscured email address. I thought this was *extremely* unwise, and said so in an editorial comment to the article. His reply, given the possibility that he might be facing years in prison, stated that he wasn't at all worried about identifying himself - a position I found rather odd, to say the least. The article generated large amounts of other discussion - much of it warning "farl" that under Californian law that he may have indeed committed sexual assault, though he was unlikely to be prosecuted.

    Anyway, I found myself on #kuro5hin, where an individual using the nick "Farl-SI" was present. This individual claimed that the article "contained some inaccuracies". Pressed further, he revealed that the crucial point of the article - that there was any ambiguity about the girl's consent, was false, and the night progressed rather differently to how he described. "Farl-SI" additionally claimed to have received large numbers of emails from people on both sides of sexual assault charges describing their (presumably incredibly emotional and hurtful) experiences. Unfortunately, I don't have logs of this conversation, but there were several prominent K5 identities present on #kuro5hin at the time, at least some of whom undoubtedly have kept logs or can at least confirm the gist of the conversation.

    Now, it's not clear whether "Farl-SI" is indeed the "farl" who posted the article, and if so whether "Farl" was bullshitting me or bullshitting in his post. While it's entirely possible that "Farl-SI" was bullshitting, my troll detector tends towards giving false positives rather than negatives :) Anyway, if Farl-SI (whomever he is) was lying, it's me alone (and perhaps some of the other individuals on #kuro5hin at the time) who was/were trolled. While I regard the possibility as rather annoying, anger at Farl is not going turn me into a quivering pile of rage However, "Farl-SI" had no idea about how I would react. Like a close friend of mine, I could have been involved in a false sexual assault allegation (an event which has continued to haunt him for several years now). However, if Farl-SI was telling the truth (and thus the piece on k5 was crap) a whole bunch of sexual assault victims have been trolled. Unfortunately, I tend to believe the latter case is what happened. Either way, I regard the above incident to be the nastiest piece of trolling I've ever seen.

    So, after all of the above discussion, just what identifies a troll? I'm still not quite sure, but I think my key criterion is submissions made in bad faith. Submissions that attempt to reduce the signal to noise ratio. Submissions designed to induce comments that decrease, rather than increase, mutual respect and understanding. Submissions designed to give people some kind of perverse kick out of the misery of others. Yes, maybe you should all get out the sobbing violins, but that's how I feel.

    Why am I comparing Anne-Marie style trolls with the (again, I emphasize) possibility of the far nastier sort I outlined previously? As well as the conventional effects of trolling - reducing signal/noise ratio, driving away the more intelligent posters, and eventually turning turning k5 into usenet with better graphics, I believe allowing this kind of trolling encourages a culture that not being truthful is acceptable here. It's OK to lie, aggravate, and con people just to get a reaction. I think that attitude is fundamentally wrong, and it is one of the most disturbing opinions I have found at K5. It's the kind of self-destructive postmodernist conceit that annoys me greatly as somebody who was once, and may be again, a scientist. I believe it leads, even if the particular incident I described above was my overactive imagination, to a culture where that kind of thing could start to happen more regularly.

    Anyway, I'll continue to vote down Anne Marie's articles if they continue in the same tack, and any others that meet my personal "bad faith" criteria. If people agree with me, well and good. If they don't, that's fine too. If K5 goes too far down a road I disagree with, I'll just go find somewhere else to go and rant. Or maybe write that book I've been kidding myself I'll write. Or do some work. I really don't mind all that much. I'm just curious, AM? Why? I know you don't respond, but surely you read. . .

    Follow the white troll. (4.12 / 8) (#74)
    by kitten on Sun Jan 07, 2001 at 07:18:42 AM EST

    True trolling is difficult to verbally define, perhaps, but relatively easy to actually spot.

    New to the K5 community, my opinion here may not be worth as much as someone else's in this particular topic, but it seems to me that a troller is one who posts a comment/story/whatever with the intent that the primary purpose of said posting is to invoke a negative reaction, and not to convey an actual thought to the reader.

    This is different from a comment/story/whatever that has was meant to convey a thought and had the side-effect of sparking a negative reaction.

    Perhaps rather than going with the immediate instinct to cry "troll!", it would be more simple and effective to simply moderate the posting down.

    Again, I'm finding it difficult to verbalize, but I think it's easy to actually tell a troll from a nontroll. To mangle a quote from Morpheus:
    "Unfortunately, nobody can be told what a Troll is.. it's something you have to see for yourself."

    mirrorshades radio - darkwave, synthpop, industrial, futurepop.
    You hit the nail on the head... (4.50 / 2) (#77)
    by communista on Sun Jan 07, 2001 at 11:32:44 AM EST

    Exactly. I'd rather, if the author is that bad, that the readers mod it down and tell them why they did so. What unnerves me even more, is that I got some very negative comments, but they didn't vote it down or up. I kinda wish they would have.....

    But yes, you have as much of a voice as any of us. :)
    /me fucks shit up!!!!
    [ Parent ]
    re mirrorshades (5.00 / 1) (#97)
    by perdida on Sun Jan 21, 2001 at 04:07:46 PM EST

    nice website

    The most adequate archive on the Internet.
    I can't shit a hydrogen fuel cell car. -eeee
    [ Parent ]
    If Anne Marie is such a worthless troll... (3.66 / 3) (#76)
    by itsbruce on Sun Jan 07, 2001 at 10:12:28 AM EST

    ... how do his/her stories get voted up all the time? If they really are just provocative crap, unworthy of the community, the community shouldn't be voting them in for discussion.

    I'd suggest that, since these stories are making it through, that the community does find these stories interesting. I ask honestly, though, having been away from kuro5hin for a few months.


    It is impolite to tell a man who is carrying you on his shoulders that his head smells.
    Maybe (3.00 / 1) (#84)
    by Elendale on Mon Jan 08, 2001 at 01:19:09 AM EST

    Maybe because a lot of people don't notice. Maybe because anne marie is starting slowly. Who knows. Maybe we're all nutcases in a great cosmic mental institution. Got me.


    When free speech is outlawed, only criminals will complain.

    [ Parent ]
    MnvHO on why many AM submissions go through (3.00 / 1) (#95)
    by iGrrrl on Mon Jan 08, 2001 at 12:03:52 PM EST

    I've noted that AM's shorter, MLP-type stories seem to find favor with the moderators. The subjects tend to be all over the map. I infer without further data that the hands behind the nick don't have much else to do with their time than trawl the 'net and make submissions based on a fairly random catch. It's the longer AM stories which get trashed, in part because they fall apart.

    I say this because the more AM puts in the story, the more clear it can become that the hyperlinks are barely relevent or are misrepresented. The arguments fall in upon themselves. The flaws become more obvious. In the short submissions, there's a slant (most often misleading) to the text, but because the article does contain something (usually a link) of interest, the moderators let it slide.

    You cannot have a reasonable conversation with someone who regards other people as toys to be played with. localroger
    remove apostrophe for email.
    [ Parent ]

    Troll-- noun, one who posts to an online forum.... (5.00 / 1) (#79)
    by cryon on Sun Jan 07, 2001 at 12:31:37 PM EST

    ....espousing politically incorrect views using abrupt, immoderate or curt phrasing or language, and or posts frequently on topics that are not covered commonly in the mainsteam media.

    What I think would be truly trollesque... (4.80 / 5) (#80)
    by WWWWolf on Sun Jan 07, 2001 at 05:42:52 PM EST

    What is a troll?

    A troll is someone who writes something...

    ...that leads to extremely heated debate...

    ...that turns into a flamewar...

    ...that crashes the database/news server (for the web sites, the story ends here)...

    ...that cause complete and utter destruction of the Usenet...

    ...that leads to the emptiness in Netizen's hearts...

    ...that plunges the Internet into thousand years of darkness, warez and pr0n...

    ...collapse of the "new economy", then the whole economy, the governments fall and burn...

    ...that shall lead into the new World Wars...

    ...and the World shall Burn to the Ashes in Nuclear Fire.

    Okay, enough headless hyperbole.

    A troll is someone who tries to stir dissonant discussion, ie, posts flamebaits.

    There are a lot of bad trolls who are more or less clever and do it for sadism. Then there are even more of trolls who are just plain boneheaded and spew absurd negative arguments that everyone laughs at (unless they happen to take them personally). Let's examine your poll options:

    • A troll is someone who posts articles that nobody gives a fsck about... This clearly isn't "troll". I might as well post about something pretty local that would probably interest a tiny fraction of the readers, but it wouldn't be trolling because stuff in essence was not used to draw flames in. Someone might post about something that most of the readers would consider completely irrelevant. Again, it mattered to the sender, and s/he wanted the point of view to be read and discussed in peace; Nothing trollesque.
    • ...someone who posts articles that are trite and shallow in their information... I wouldn't classify this as a "troll" either. That would be just cluelessness, and cluelessness is the second-most common element in the universe. Or, it may be something that the author feels is important, but hasn't known how to phrase it to make an interesting story. Again, not done specifically to hurt people.
    • ...someone I don't care to see posted on K5 (A personal dislike for the author) ... If you fight trolls too long, be careful not to become one yourself. "Personal dislike." That, friends, is the reason many trolls become trolls. Hate fuels the Bad Trolls.
    • ...someone who's articles scream FLAMEBAIT!! Now we're talking - this is the schoolbook example of what a troll is. =)

    Sorry for rambling, it's a dark but not a stormy night...

    -- Weyfour WWWWolf, a lupine technomancer from the cold north...

    What is a troll? (2.50 / 4) (#83)
    by Elendale on Mon Jan 08, 2001 at 01:16:03 AM EST

    Well there are three main 'groups' of trolls:
    • First, there's the spammer/flamer. This type generally posts useles info, and lots of it. The 'famous' Meept! and the various incarnations of hot grits/natalie portman/goatse.cx fall into this catagory.
    • Next, there is the 'moralist' troll. This kind just can't avoid pointing out hipocrisy, foolish ideas, or mindless groupthink. Often, this troll will overlap with the flamebait type but the posts will be actually on topic instead of pointlessly offensive. More often, however, this type will use parody to prove a point. Bill Fuckin' Gates (http://slashdot.org/users.pl?nick=Bill+Fuckin'+Gates because for some reason it doesn't want to be hrefed) is an excellent example of this kind of troll.
    • The last kind is the 'useless post' type. This almost overlaps into the first two, but it starts out as a real post then gradually degenerates with incorrect links/info and ends with something completely offtopic and pointless. This is the kind that you read through, and looks good until you click on a link and end up somewhere you really wish you weren't. This is also one of the most successful on sites like /. due to the generally weak moderation (in part, due to troll type number 1) and an average low 'clue' level in readers.
    One of the main advantages trolls have is that the average person is fairly ignorant to what a troll really is and how to recognize one.
    The other thing a troll enjoys is seeing attention given, hence my -1 to this post. Remember, its not the troll who deserves the beating, its the trolling that deserves the beating. Most trolls are highly intelligent (though many have a rather mean streak) and can contribute well when they want to.


    When free speech is outlawed, only criminals will complain.

    I actually have to apologize... (none / 0) (#92)
    by trhurler on Mon Jan 08, 2001 at 11:14:11 AM EST

    I rated your post 1, and I'll stand by it, because you're talking about a subject you know nothing about and getting every single fact wrong, but I feel bad - like I'm beating a baby seal. The fact is, the term "troll" has a very specific meaning, and none of your three "types" fits it. It predates this forum, and it predates Slashdot. It probably got started on Usenet, but I'm not really sure. Trolling is the art and science of posting something in a forum which is calculated to generate a maximal number of content-free flames in reply, hopefully causing reply flames, and so on. This is how the term was originally applied on Slashdot, too, until ignorant idiots who think Usenet is a verb similar to "web surfing" came along and appropriated it to mean "anything I don't like that gets posted."

    'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

    [ Parent ]
    Maybe (5.00 / 1) (#96)
    by Elendale on Mon Jan 08, 2001 at 06:27:32 PM EST

    Its more than that now. Trolling isn't defined by the usenet activity anymore. Vote one if you want, but i stand by my comment. If you'll notice, both the second and third part can (if done correctly) create large numbers of non-clued replies. I was explaining more what trolling looks like than why it is done.


    When free speech is outlawed, only criminals will complain.

    [ Parent ]
    Who is a troll? (5.00 / 1) (#87)
    by Steeltoe on Mon Jan 08, 2001 at 08:50:07 AM EST

    Basically, whoever you choose to call a Troll. However, with regards to Anne Marie and other story submitters that serve stories "with an edge", is this really trolling? I'd say no, as long as we don't have to discuss the same issues, but remain fixed on the new angles presented. However, if all comments boils down to Open Source vs Proprietary, Gun-loving or other stereotype flamatory discussion, then we need to vote up stories that offers other themes. So all in all the responsibility lies on the collective, not in individual posters. This is the crux of the matter on a site like K5 where the readers themselves submit stories and moderate.

    - Steeltoe
    Explore the Art of Living

    Beating a dead horse (5.00 / 1) (#91)
    by Kugyou on Mon Jan 08, 2001 at 10:57:28 AM EST

    We're beating a dead horse here, but don't take the whip from me just yet, I wanna get my lash in. Since 'troll' seems to be a pretty personal and subjective term, I figure I'll add my person and subject to the (pretty civil) discussion. I have to agree with the 'moralist' and 'useless post' bits from an earlier comment, while adding in my own view that oftentimes trolls are either the clueless or the insipid, those folks that can't post anything without adding their particular view on *everything* (including the flamewars between plaintext and HTML-formatted commenting systems)!

    Usually, if someone's .sig is loud and vulgar, or their posts end in the 'Net equivalent of 'Lawndale Highschool Football Rules!' (or the Grammy translation: 'No doubt. Foreva. Hip-hop myoo-zik'), I tend to classify them either as troll - if their post is, er...excessively controversial ('BSD users are f***tards', anyone?) - or clueless. The clueless can be educated. The trolls - pardon my categorical imperative - must be bludgeoned to death with a plush Iwatobi Penguin. Thank you, you may now take your turn on the equine corpse.

    Dust in the wind bores holes in mountains
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