I'll admit, I voted this article front page, if only to see it get it's just rewords. But I do feel there is some legitimate "bunk" that needs to be aired out. However, do not miss-interpret my +1 vote as support for the article, as I will shortly demonstrate.
Sat May 26th, 2001 at 05:23:06 PM EST
An outside observer, on noticing the recent flurry of meta articles, might easily
come to the conclusion that Kuro5hin.org is facing a crisis. To that extent, the
observer would be correct. However, the nature of this crisis has been
systematically misrepresented at every turn. Worse, the proposed fixes would in
fact exacerbate the true cause of Kuro5hin's ills.
To be blunt, the Kuro5hin community is being consumed with paranoia and hysteria
in response to a threat that does not even exist. While no doubt many people's
belief in trolls is well-meaning, it is most definitely badly informed. Over the course
of this article, the myth of the existence of trolls will be systematically debunked.
Finally, some clues to the origin of the myth will be examined, most pointing to
post-modern liberal ideologies.
You're opening comment is surpassingly vague and fractured, leading me to wonder the following things.
(1) What is the nature of this "crises" that you have observed. The best that you have offered is "paranoia and hysteria." But I have been around the political mulberry bush enough times to know that one man's "hysteria" is another mans march to the gas chambers. My suspicions of this possibility are raised by your adding, "the nature of this crisis has been systematically misrepresented at every turn," leading me to wonder if even your claims of paranoia will pan out.
(2) To watch you attempt to try and disprove the existences of trolls should prove interesting. But I must wonder if you are wise enough to know that for such an esoteric term as "troll," you must first define what a troll is. Once doing so, it will be even more interesting how a definition you yourself sight doesn't exist.
(3) With your final sentience of the introduction, I can already see that you are going to try and link "trolls" with some form of "liberal ideology" of some form. All though I will admit that it is largely reactionary, this is a major red flag to mark a coming conservative ranting piece going on about how "liberals" are doing evil this or evil that. The possibility of bias is further supported by your poll. Do I believe in Trolls? Answers: No; and Yes, I am irrational.
Of course, you are just getting started. So I will wait and measure your arguments in due course.
It has been said that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, and such
evidence will be provided. However, it is important to first realize the difficulty
inherent to any argument for a negative proposition. In truth, any belief in trolls is
ultimately unfalsifiable, and as such cannot be disproved. However, the goal here is
to rightfully oust that belief from the realm of shared objectivity. If one wishes to
believe in trolls, such is one's right. However, that belief must be constructed as a
personal claim of faith, not as a statement of objective fact.
Let me get this straight. You are quantifying the non-existence of "trolls" as a negative. Seems logical so far, and of course you can not disprove prove a negative. But if this is so, you are already in trouble.
I have observed many a creationist argue that evolution is a theory that is unfalsifiable, then spend four hours trying to falsify it. I fear you are running into the same trap.
First, it will be helpful to specify the exact nature of the imagined crises. If the
worst panic-mongers are to be believed, Kuro5hin.org is currently being besieged by
a vast army of posters who post solely for the purpose of causing controversy. To
objectively examine this claim, it is necessary to ask what, who, and why.
Again, once man's propaganda is another man's news. I may be new to K5, but I think that the whole point of this forum is to bring up and disuse various issues. No doubt, many of them are controversial. If discussing a controversial issue is some how inappropriate in this forum, then where should it be tolerated?
What is the nature of this attack? If the claim of a troll invasion is to based in fact,
one should be able to find ample evidence of inflammatory, worthless posts.
However, the posts simply do not exist. Certainly much of which is written in
Kuro5hin.org may offend various individuals to differing degrees, but there is not a
large group of comments that express no tenable opinion and only inflame and
To what "attack" are you referring. So far, I haven't even seen an antidotal example to present. Your train of thought is clearly being interrupted. You seem to have two arguments going here. (1) The posting of hysteria and propaganda and (2) the issue of Trolls.
But you have offered a falsifiable claim and a terse definition of a troll. (A) A troll is some one who writes inflammatory posts and (B) by finding inflammatory posts, we know troll's exists.
Who is the source of this attack? This is also difficult to determine. In the course of
researching this article, I visited many alleged troll meeting places, including "secret
sids" on Slashdot.org, Geekizoid.com, and the channel #trolls on slashnet. Without
exception, I found these places to be inhabited either by extremely juvenile posters
engaging in puerile antics or bored individuals simply discussing everyday topics.
The trolls of myth were nowhere to be seen.
Wouldn't "puerile antics" qualify as inflammatory? It is becoming clear that so far, you have not crystallized the definition of exactly what a "troll." Certainly you haven't defined verbatim. So how can we possibly believe you even know what you are looking for.
Plus going to places where "alleged troll meeting places" I would think would be the least likely place to find "trolls." So far, the best definition of a "troll" that we have is some one who rights inflammatory posts. A skin head is not likely to post an inflammatory post in a KKK message board. But if you were to find a skin head in a civil rights message board, such inflammatory posts would seem to be inhabitable. So you probably did not look in the right places.
While some posters no doubt use more aggressive language than others. On the
whole, most members of the Kuro5hin.org community present a coherent and
consistent world view. Admittedly, some individuals appear to have a particular
issue about which they routinely squabble, but this is to be expected in any group
as diverse as Kuro5hin.org's user base. Importantly, there plainly is not a army of
people routinely posting contradictory and provocative material.
You seem to be backing off of your own claim. First, of trolls do not exist, than MOST is a qualification that would argue they do in fact exist. For your original claim to stand, you must argue that NONE submit an inflammatory post. Here is where your proving a negative bits you in the end. How can you present evidence that doesn't exist? On the other side of the coin however, if one person can present you with an inflammatory post taken from K5, then your claim is refuted.
Finally, why would anyone engage in the alleged behavior? Why would anyone
expend the necessary time and effort to write contradictory nonsense for the sole
purpose of arousing tempers? The proposition is patently absurd. The passion of the
intellect demands that one remains true to one's deepest convictions. To violate
these passions would be an odious task to anyone. It is ridiculous to suppose that
many would voluntarily engage in such behavior.
Why indeed. I submit to you that there are in fact a number of reasons why such a person would submit a trolling post. The most notable is hatred. If a troll is one who writes inflammatory posts, than his purpose would then have to be intentionally inflammatory. Have you ever heard of a skin head that DIDN'T insult the black community at every turn and opportunity? This type of troll would clearly fit inside your definition.
Another motivation would be ignorance (a class that you would fit into.) For example, you have already seen some of the comments in regards to you post. Are they inflammatory? All though it isn't wise to presume your opinion on this, I find it difficult to conceive that you wouldn't be at least irked by the criticism that you are receiving for an article that you clearly but a lot of work and thought into. From your perspective, then you would have to be surrounded by trolls. And here is where your constant comments in regards to "attacks" may come into play, or so I might argue.
How dose this make YOU the troll when (from your perspective) it is the others who are sending inflammatory posts? Two reasons. First: they are responding to your original post. You are the cause that prompts "their" effect. Second: the responses are not inflammatory. They would only seem that way (I presume admittedly) from your perspective.
Even my own article is not inflammatory. You will not that I have not said any thing of any slanderous quality of any form. You will find myself calling you a "troll", but only because I am arguing that this post would qualify under even your terse definition of a troll.
It is obvious, then, that the myth of trolls has little basis in truth. However, the
question of its origin remains. Although this is impossible to determine with absolute
certainty, the most probable explanation lies in post-modern liberal philosophy. One
of the overriding themes in post-modern western thought is the individualized
relativity of truth. However, because of inherent intellectual passions,
disagreements are impossible to avoid. This presents a paradox. One wishes very
much to argue against another, but if truth is individualized, there are no grounds
on which to do so.
Ah, here is where you rest your argument on an the non-existent table. I submit to you that your claims are far from obvious, and so far, are totally contrived, if not inherently flawed.
Now we move forward to your argument of origins. Already I see you are pulling out the position of "moral relativism." I have seen this used many a time by conservatives are wish to argue about the "wishy washy morality" of liberals. This is a horrific straw man. Conservatives argue that the "truth" is a concept commonly called "moral-absolutes," that "right is always right, and wrong is always wrong, no mater who, where, what why or when." In turn they argue that "moral relativism" is an effort to "personalize morality" or "your wrong is my right."
Your "paradox" is non-existent. First off, there is a difference between "truth" and "fact." But in addressing your own argument at face value, you're argument is still flawed. If two persons have differing positions of "truth" meat each other. Then why would they not have grounds for debate? One would think this is an ideal condition for debate to take place. After all, what is the point of debate if both persons are in complete agreement.
When truth is relative, the only criticism is insincerity. The only remaining means of
disapproval is claims that one's opponent does not actually think what he is
professing, and upon honest reflection would recant. The troll hysteria represents
an extreme instance of this attitude. Faced with opinions that are utterly
irreconcilable with their own, many of Kuro5hin.org's members resort to accusations
of trickery and insincerity.
These are tactics of liberal debaters? I doubt this most strongly. It is usually conservatives who make the claims of liberals that "they don't even understand what they believe" or simply flat out accuse them of lying outright. Most liberal debaters that I know posse challenges for conservative debaters to answer. Usually in the form of explanation to make clear their argument or to address short comings or false claims.
It is usually the conservative debater that is faced with opinions that are "are utterly irreconcilable with their own" and then argue that liberals are "idiots" to make those arguments.
By your own argument, trolls do not exists from the liberal perspective because "differing opinions" demonstrating the weakness of your argument.
Although crying "troll" perhaps provides more immediate gratification, the long-term
health of Kuro5hin.org demands that we as a community learn to accept the
differences of opinion that our diverse membership holds. For the sake of peaceful
intellectual discourse, it is time to retire the term "troll" forever.
I sincerely doubt that the term "troll" will be retired. In fact if you are reading this, you will note that you are being branded a troll yourself.
And now I will press foreword with the counter argument.
Your last comment brings to mind the subject of what I have heard coined as "diversity inclusion" or basically the idea that poor ideas (such as creationism) deserves equally time and at equal footing as more mainstream ideas (such as evolution). The converse of this is commonly called "intellectual freedom" (the freedom to teach and learn real facts, as oppose to "facts" merle presented as real.)
For example, you can not say that the world is round, while at the same time being required to also say the world is flat. Like wise you can not teach evolution while also teaching false information such as the world was created by God in seven days.
This is a big problem for conservatives because many conservative notions are founded on I'll conceived notions. Arguments such as supply side economics and school vouchers simply can not stand on their own. They can't because they are not true. In response, conservatives come up with this "diversity inclusion" by trying to pass off bad science as a free speech issue.
But getting the conservative agenda out in the open is the easy part. Once there, the arguments they present are vulnerable to criticism. More often than not, this criticism is blistering. And here is where you "troll" argument comes in. You are trying to argue that a conservative response is not a "troll" because they don't exist, thus allowing the illusion of cover for poorly conceived and framed ideas.
To quote a mentor of mine. "As long as you insist on sticking your nose in the fan, the fan will always insist on cutting it off."
As for stopping trolls, I have this advice. "Do not feed the trolls. It only makes them mad."
(_¬¬) Truth dispatched by mer logic, was never truth to begin with.