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incendiary_dan's avatar

How are trolls dealt with on Fluther?

Asked by incendiary_dan (13386points) April 10th, 2011

After giving up on someone I suspect to be purely a troll on a question here, I got to wondering if the mods have any specific policy and set of standards by which to decide if someone is trolling, and what is normally done about it. Is there a way to report a troll that I haven’t seen?

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34 Answers

marinelife's avatar

Swiftly and surely. Flag the response or question with your thoughts about a troll.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

Wow, dude, I didn’t even see that thread. Sorry you spent so much energy, so commendable, truly.

augustlan's avatar

I eat them. Burp.

Serious answer: Flag an offending post by the member, asking us to check into their behavior. Tell us if you suspect it’s a returning troll, especially. We dig into it, and if we find enough evidence, we suspend or ban them. That particular troll is already in my belly taken care of. POOF!

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

Are you really sure that the OP is a troll? I’ve been following that thread, and it just seems to be someone who doesn’t agree with the opinions of many others. The thread is one of the many debates on Fluther where it is highly unlikely to sway the opinion of those left debating. Resorting to name-calling and attempting to derail the thread with an unrelated topic does no good. It has now turned into a chest-butting competition between the two of you. Please just let it go for the sake of your own sanity.

augustlan's avatar

The OP (Original Poster) is not the troll. The other guy? Yeah. Troll.

iamthemob's avatar

Fluther deals with them because I call them out.

I’m a self-described master at finding the people who come back under different names and referring them without any official authority to the mods, who always listen to everything I say because my milkshake brings all the mods to the yard.

Or at least, that’s how I like to think things happen.

incendiary_dan's avatar

@iamthemob I like that version of the story. Next time, wear a cape. :P

iamthemob's avatar

@incendiary_dan – Who says I don’t.

Who says I’m not right now.

Long, flowing cape…absolutely no pants at all.

Pants are unnatural.

But that’s just my opinion.

incendiary_dan's avatar

I was actually just having a conversation about the naturalness of pants with some of my wilderness skills friends. :P

Yes, there was a bit of beer involved with our reasoning. All natural maple beer.

augustlan's avatar

For the record, we found this particular troll because two people flagged him in that thread and voiced their suspicions. Good work, jellies!

Also, Fluthering by proxy isn’t allowed, anyway. If a banned or suspended member asks a ‘friend’ to do their bidding, it doesn’t really matter whether the ‘friend’ is actually the original member or really is a friend. Either way, we don’t allow it.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@incendiary_dan I’ve met @iamthemob – he wears a cape. It interrupted dinner.

chyna's avatar

I have to admit, @iamthemob is the master of sniffing out the trolls. I’ve seen him in action.

cockswain's avatar

OK, I’ve been on this site for a while now, and I’m uncertain how one defines a troll. When is someone a troll vs. just being, I don’t know, close-minded?

iamthemob's avatar

@cockswain – a troll is someone who is simply trying to stir the pot. They may or may not hold the beliefs that they are espousing on the forum, but they engage only to mess up the conversation and provoke an emotional response.

A closed-minded individual will themselves get emotional, will often leave the conversation, or at least will have a consistent argument at times.

So the main difference is that the troll just wants to mess with you, whereas someone might simply be a douche about certain topics without being a troll.

cockswain's avatar

Now I’m not one to defend a douchebag, but the guy with the “gays aren’t natural” view on the linked thread in the details did not seem to fit that description. Assuming both users were the same person, he was supporting his views logically and in a generally non-confrontational manner unless attacked. While logical, I believe they were invalid premises, but my opinion doesn’t really matter. Why was that person kicked off by definition of a troll?

incendiary_dan's avatar

@cockswain I must have missed something, but what about those arguments were logical? They routinely engaged in circular logic and repeatedly ignored whatever they decided was inconvenient, even when they’d addressed it in the comment immediately preceding. Nothing about it was logical in any way, much less consistent.

iamthemob's avatar

@cockswain – I can’t speak to what the decision on the part of the mods was…but for me, well, I considered that one a troll even though there were decent arguments because the user made scientific claims (or ones said to be scientific), and demanded support from those who made contrary claims. The user then, when asked for support, did not respond, dodged the question, or said that support was unneeded. Thereafter, the user would not justify why the support was unneeded.

It’s a “you have to prove it, but I don’t have to because I don’t want to” tactic that I’ve seen in someone who appears every once in a while under a different name.

cockswain's avatar

Ok, I’m with both you guys on the fact that his view was warped, and instances where the logic was circular. But he was more or less trying to support his view with logic and sources in a fairly civil way. I think anyone with a limited view like that is going to eventually have to circle the wagons, and only a very humble ego is going to allow such a person to turn around and say “holy crap guys, I’ve got it all wrong about gay people.” Rarely does such a thing occur.

But what sticks in my craw in this particular case was that, although his view is entirely unpopular by fluther standards, I didn’t see how he violated the rules of trolldom, or even the rules of the site per se.

@iamthemob I can recall conversations we’ve had with a certain person on this site about Muslims before, and that individual was far more close-minded and defended his position with no sources and far worse logic than the apatheia. There was once an admitted pedophile on here, and I found his view enraging, but he was allowed to stay per mod approval.

Some of the political and religious arguments Isee on here are supported far more poorly than apatheia’s. Apatheia at least made the effort to be rigorous and thoughtful. Again, I hate apatheia’s stance and assertions, but I respect his right to share it.

Am I making sense? Or am I just pissing you guys off?

iamthemob's avatar

@cockswain – No no, your confusion is completely reasonable. This one was a hard one, and in the end the mods determined the user’s status. Therefore, we have to assume that there was at least some private discussion or analysis that we were not privy to, and that was what actually was the deciding factor, rather than the user’s public behavior.

For me, I was suspicious but not clear that the user qualified as a “troll.” As you can see from my response after the user “left the building,” I was still determined to build my case. ;-)

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

@cockswain Yeah, I’m with you – I think it’s one of those questions that really causes more conservative members to claim that moderation is biased liberally on here, because a lot of conservative views are seen as trolling. Especially when the member is not only conservative, but generally antagonistic (not all conservatives, or even most, obviously, but a few), so they wouldn’t necessarily call it quits on the convo when things got heated. But I myself am not seeing anything that violated guidelines.

augustlan's avatar

In this particular case, he didn’t even have to be trolling (I believe he was, but I’ll address that in a minute). If you’re on active suspension or banned, and you come back (either yourself or via a ‘friend’), it’s an automatic ban. No other bad behavior is even necessary.

Having a minority viewpoint and sticking to it does not make one a troll. We’ve got many members who we’ve never suspected of trolling, despite them being in this exact position. We certainly don’t go around banning people just because they disagree with us… if we did, we’d have far fewer members here. Not to mention a dead site. What would Fluther be if not for debate?

That said, I’m 100% certain that this particular individual is a troll (the kind who is not actually interested in genuine discussion, but instead thrives on getting people all riled up just for kicks). This is a very subtle form of trolling, and can be hard to spot. It generally takes some time to really have solid evidence of it. However, many trolls return to us over and over and over. They’ve been here many times before, under several different usernames. Their patterns become obvious to those of us who have dealt with the same troll on many occasions. Such is the case with this individual.

incendiary_dan's avatar

I just don’t see anything that this particular person said as close to resembling a reasonable debate form or consistent argument. Nothing but baiting and constant refusal to dignify more than one segment of another person’s argument, if even that much. It was clearly someone deliberately misconstruing what others wrote.

JilltheTooth's avatar

Glad you ate that troll up, Auggie, s/he managed to derail a perfectly good food thread.

bob_'s avatar

Sometimes I wish they could simply be ignored.

But then, that’s probably not going to happen.

cockswain's avatar

@incendiary_dan I’ve seen plenty of other current, veteran users use the same sort of debating style about Sarah Palin, evolution, immunizations, death panels, or immigration but worse. That was to what I was comparing apatheia. But in light of @augustlan ‘s comments of him to be a known troll, that pretty much settles it.

@augustlan Is it my arch-enemy?

iamthemob's avatar

@cockswain – in all honesty, so have I. I believe that you were there for one of the more frustrating exchanges, where I lost it in a very inappropriate manner. ;-)

However, those users don’t stick to that – it’s more like we “all have our moments.” This individual comes in specifically for the purpose of taking an inflammatory, absolute, and often discriminatory position, and argues solely on this “double standard” platform – I get to say what I want, you have to back your stuff up, and when it doesn’t go my way, I’ll reset the argument and start all over, or I’ll state that we’re arguing something completely different, etc. etc. That’s the ONLY think they do.

Also – they will stay on a single thread, or similar threads, focusing on one issue or user. Others who may use these tactics, regularly even, are different as they also comment on a variety of topics.

For me, it becomes clear what they’re about when I go to the profile and see the history.

Foolaholic's avatar

As I understand it, Fluther secretly employs a small, crack-team of elite trolling agents, which they use to “fight fire with fire.” In doing so, rogue trolls are demoralized and sent running back to whatever bridge they crawled out from under to spread the word that unsuccessful trolls are unsuccessful.

Berserker's avatar

Damn, as far as trolling goes, that was actually kind of epic. It’s a much higher caliber of trollery than what you’d see on AB anyways.
Still, attributing HIV to homosexuals when heterosexuals get it too; lame. Glad that they’re/he whatever got dealt with. Big words and links do not a productive argument make.

cockswain's avatar

For the record, when I say someone is using logic, I don’t mean they’ve necessarily created valid arguments. I just mean one is making statements of the form “since this….then that….therefore this.” His premises were frequently false, and many statements did commit falacies, but they generally followed logical form.

Berserker's avatar

Oh I know. That’s why I say this troll was a bit higher than most; at least he had some consistency going on.

incendiary_dan's avatar

@cockswain said: “I just mean one is making statements of the form “since this….then that….therefore this”

They did at first, but any rebuttal didn’t. I guess that’s mostly what I was reacting to, particularly since I barely read their actual assertions when I started posting and only caught up later.

cockswain's avatar

It is, in fact, extremely difficult to find a way to prove there is something wrong with being gay.

flo's avatar

I am still not clear about that term. It is often used by the people who lose a debate though.
I’m going to read that thread and get back.

flo's avatar

I wrote I am still not clear about that term without reading the answers above. I read
’’... They may or may not hold the beliefs that they are espousing on the forum, but they engage only to mess up the conversation and provoke an emotional response.’’ Okay, to people who get emotional, don’t them get the better of you.

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