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Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Tips for Trolls (and Those Who Want To Avoid Being Classified with Them)

posted by on April 1 at 9:52 AM


How To Disagree, by Paul Graham.

(Thank you, MetaFilter.)

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U r a fag!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by Mr. Poe | April 1, 2008 10:02 AM

Thanks, Schmader.

In a similar vein, here's a highly readable book on argument and persuasion, for those interested in pursuing it.

Thank You for Arguing: What Aristotle, Lincoln, and Homer Simpson Can Teach Us About the Art of Persuasion

Posted by NapoleonXIV | April 1, 2008 10:04 AM

My perception is that the Stranger writers under 30 have no problem with their readers talking back to them, and those over 30 can barely stand it, with the possible exception of Charles Mudede.

Posted by elenchos | April 1, 2008 10:08 AM

You may be on to something there....

Posted by NapoleonXIV | April 1, 2008 10:10 AM

Funny considering the Slog's definition of a troll is anyone who dares to disagree. Oh yeah, bring on the mandatory registration, wooo-woooo I'm shakin' over here...

Posted by Ding Dong the Feit is Gone | April 1, 2008 10:13 AM

I don't know if it's quite as cut-and-dry as elenchos said, but it seems that people who grew up with the Internet around are more instinctively capable of processing the noise that comes with it better than others.

The dual problem of thin-skinned Internet users is just as bad - plenty of people are pretty much incapable of acknowledging a difference between disagreement with them and ad hominem. Not that, uh, this applies to anyone on Slog, of course.

Posted by tsm | April 1, 2008 10:17 AM

i dunno but to me the peeps that cant use capital letters punctuation speling or grammer bother me much more tham the trolls

Posted by semolina pilchard | April 1, 2008 10:25 AM
Posted by Katelyn | April 1, 2008 10:36 AM

@3 is right.

But at least ECB doesn't resign "for other opportunities" when we point out that Clinton is dropping out of the race like Josh did ...

Posted by Will in Seattle | April 1, 2008 10:38 AM

I just wish people would use the word "troll" correctly. I see it used all the time to simply mean disagreeable or clueless posters, but traditionally a troll is someone who is consciously provoking a reaction for its own sake. semolina pilchard's clever post @7 is more of a classic troll than anything from ecce homo or Issur.

Posted by Cascadian | April 1, 2008 10:47 AM

Why thank you, Cascadian - it's nice to be appreciated BTW, if you liked that one, check out my post on global warming about a month ago. If I say so myself, it was one of the best, classic "troll" posts I've ever seen. Goo-goo-goo-joob.

Posted by Semolina Pilchard | April 1, 2008 11:04 AM

Slog seems to have brought out my most troll-like tendencies. I was just talking to my boyfriend about this this morning. The crazy hair and little pot belly are cute, but the fights over unimportant topics (like pillow fights) really are not.

@10 is right though: Troll usually means someone who just comes to cause trouble.

Posted by Dawgson | April 1, 2008 11:05 AM


Are you familiar with ecce's repertoire? Every comment is intended to provoke a negative reaction.

Posted by keshmeshi | April 1, 2008 11:18 AM

I agree that the word troll tends to be thrown out there a whole lot. The other day, unPC was called a troll, for what basically amounted to supported HRC, which I thought was odd.

In my opinion, ecce homo and Issur are/were the very definition of troll. Anyone can make a trollish comment (a comment with no purpose other than to anger or provoke others), but a true troll's entire online existence is for the purpose of provoking a reaction.

Posted by Julie | April 1, 2008 11:20 AM

Paul Graham is a self-important, long winded douche bag.

and a fag, which is ironic since he's a douche bag and therefore inclined to be inserted into a vagina for the purposes of self-cleaning and hydration. Furthermore to expound on the point I made in DH2 and further elaborated on in DH3 with specific examples of the aforementioned in DH69, e.g. long winded discourse on douchery, I would have to concur.

Posted by michael strangeways | April 1, 2008 11:32 AM

Y'all better learn up, commenters, because you need to match the quality journalism of Slog authors, who are consistently putting forth a logically sound argument in every post!

#14, even though I think their arguments are made in good faith, I consider unPC to be a troll only because they don't respond to counter-arguments, then continue making the same debunked argument over and over.

Posted by w7ngman | April 1, 2008 12:01 PM

One problem with the disagreement style list is that it does not acknowledge that tone is actually a part of a writers' argument, and thus fair game for critique. Creating a hierarchy of rhetorical technique is itself a commentary about writing tone.

Posted by LMSW | April 1, 2008 12:43 PM

@16 I think you're talking about Will in Seattle.

Posted by Donolectic | April 1, 2008 4:00 PM

I just hate it when people use the word "troll" as a noun, because the REAL origin of the term is the verb, meaning dragging a baited hook along behind you looking for fish to bite. Hence such old-timey locutions as "don't take the bait" and "YHBT" (you have been trolled). Trolling is something that you do, not something that you are; and comment-thread fish just can't resist taking the bait.

Classic old-school trolls include things like "what was that funny-looking guitar that Paul McCartney played when he was in The Who?" or "you stupid asshole, everybody knows that light doesn't travel in a vacuum" (the latter one, by Snopes, nearly shut down Usenet for a day or two).

Posted by Fnarf | April 1, 2008 5:30 PM

I'm a troll. Seriously. That's why I picked the name 'Anon' rather than the handle I usually use on the Internet. But apparently the name doesn't stick out so no one remebers me from post to post and I don't get called on it.

I might just start using my real name soon for normal purposes. But I'll still hang on to a sockpuppet troll name. It's kind of fun to be a jerk on purpose rather than accidently. *cough* Will in Seattle

Posted by Anon | April 2, 2008 12:35 AM

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