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Legal Implications of Troll-Bashing

By rusty in News
Tue Feb 15, 2000 at 11:46:20 PM EST
Tags: Kuro5hin.org (all tags)
Kuro5hin.org

I posted a question over on Technocrat about the legal ramifications of deleting trolls from a site like this. I'm strongly of the opinion that simply deleting them, and not allowing any quarter or foothold in the system is the best policy. But Bruce's gang tends to have the lawyer types among them, so I thought I'd float the question over there and see what they said. There's already been some discussion here about this, but feel free to discuss there or here if you have something to add.


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Legal Implications of Troll-Bashing | 4 comments (4 topical, editorial, 0 hidden)
Anonymous * (none / 0) (#1)
by Inoshiro on Wed Feb 16, 2000 at 11:05:46 AM EST

Well, hmm.. This is thorny. I've always been one to say that everyone should have an account on the site they intend to post on, because they can always choose the anonymous option (like AC or AH).

When you have true ACs, it exposes the system to abuses. You can have the whole account -> AC message thing setup to not record anything, thus making it as secure (privacy wise) as true ACs, but the accountability is still there. People still have to get an account at some point.

Since the only way to moderate a discussion properly is to filter each and every post, the bottleneck might become Rusty or other moderators, kinda like how the current bottleneck on Slashdot is the story submission/review system (it's also very arbitrary). But if people think they are accountable, they tend to not troll in their own areas. Those that due tend to be klueless 31337 K-R4D 12-14 year olds with their new Compaq PC and AOL account. Simple autobans based on traffic and other quotas would easily curtail their influences until a human could deal with them.

I'm sure we're all familiar with the trolling done by certain people on certain other discussion sites. While you get the odd funny one (OpenSource Man and his Source Wars thing), or the genuinely insightful (in a flamey kinda way, see Meept!), you also get a lot of wannabe newbies trolls who know nothing but hot grits, and that actress from that horrible excuse for a movie. I don't care about any of those, and I'm sure no one beyond the actuall troll poster does, either. Having moderation and score levels fixes this, but at what price? You need thousands of man hours spent daily tracking down and turfing these with negative karma, which is ineffectual as they have no account.

The only problem is that if you decide to delete posts, you need a disclaimer of some type in your post box text, and you are accepting responsibility up to an extent (set by a general site disclaimer filled with legalese) to delete all postings considered wrong. And this can be very bad if you don't set, in legalese, how far it goes and such. This is a private site on a private machine under your private control, so you have a lot of lee way, but you should set standards and controls.

--
[ イノシロ ]
Re: Anonymous * (none / 0) (#2)
by rusty on Wed Feb 16, 2000 at 11:22:02 AM EST

You can have the whole account -> AC message thing setup to not record anything, thus making it as secure (privacy wise) as true ACs, but the accountability is still there.

That's true, and actually how it works now, if you were curious-- the system cannot distinguish in any way between posts by users claiming anonymity and AH's in from the street. But it's also, I think, sort of beside the point. If I disable totally anonymous posting, it'll be because it's enabling abuse. I suppose what I'd do first would be disable non-account posting. If there was still trolling by people who had accounts but posted anonymously, then I change it so the system did record a UID with every post, but didn't display it, except to an admin. That way an admin could lock an account if there was trolling being done from it, regardless of claims to anonymity.

My basic premise is that you can be as anonymous as you choose to make yourself. That is, the onus is on you, not on me. I'm going to ask for as little information as I have to to do my job. A working email is currently all you need. How hard is it to get an email address that cannot be traced to you? Not hard at all. Basically, I don't care about knowing who the user is, I just care about being able to distinguish user X from users W, Y and Z.

There should be a disclaimer on the comment posting form, though, you're right.

____
Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]

Re: Legal Implications of Troll-Bashing (none / 0) (#3)
by Paul Dunne on Wed Feb 16, 2000 at 03:07:12 PM EST

My understanding is that you, rusty, may well be liable for what I and others post here -- the "common carrier" argument probably won't wash in court, because what you are doing is basically publishing. However, couldn't you set up a limited-liability company to "own" www.kuro5hin.org? Then, if there ever is a libel case, at least they won't take your house and car?! Yes, I put a `!?' there, but it is a serious issue. Yes, early days yet, etc. But I think that this is going to be a very, er, "interesting" area in future. For example, there were many hot-headed assertions made about LinuxOne on slashdot a few weeks ago that might well have made a company lawyer sit up and start preparing a case. Bound to happen here sooner or later. Have you thought about getting legal advice on where exactly you stand?
http://dunne.home.dhs.org/
Re: Legal Implications of Troll-Bashing (none / 0) (#4)
by ramses0 on Wed Feb 16, 2000 at 03:19:48 PM EST

Either that, or they'll take Edna's house and car. Maybe you should do something about that ;^)=
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[ Parent ]
Legal Implications of Troll-Bashing | 4 comments (4 topical, 0 editorial, 0 hidden)
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