Apparently, there are (gasp) trolls on the Internet!

I went to GNXP looking for good discussion on genetics and instead found this long post about a tempest in a teapot , a blogger called Mac Diva. I also saw a brief mention of this blogger at Tacitus, but never took the linkbait. I just assumed she was an unreasonable and militant computing ally of Brian Tiemann (who I think is one of the coolest dudes in the Metaverse).

Now, Dwight Meredith has a moving post that chronicles how this troll has done what trolls do - poison the well of online communities. Sadly, the blogsphere is not the first part of the Internet to have experienced this phenomenon, nor will it be the last. Dwight berates himself for having not spoken up earlier, but I think the lesson of the past is more applicable when dealing with trolls.

Feed them at your peril.

Of course, mocking them (and still refusing to feed them) is fair game, because as entertainment you just can't beat a troll for PSR (Pity to Sympathy Ratio). For example, note how in Dwight's coments section, a commentator named Atrios Jr. decides to disagree and critique Mac Diva:

I was recently caught up in this madness, and have learned much of this story just in the last few days, and I must say that this is by far the most well written, even handed account I have come across.. I can tell you first hand that it is a wacky world the Diva lives in, one I hope to never end up in again. Take this as a warning, I was once fooled by her, don't let it happen to you.

Atrios, jr. | Email | Homepage | 06.12.03 - 8:01 pm | #

Atrios, Jr., in my world there is a wrong and a right. In yours, there is just instigation of whatever trouble you can cause or add to. I prefer my world.

Mac Diva | Email | Homepage | 06.12.03 - 10:24 pm | #

I feel I see this particular situation with a clarity that few can, because I do not happen to know the others involved, and once greatly admired Mac Diva.. but I have been completely turned off by her incessant pleas for attention, and disgusted by the means in which she tries to achieve her goals, and saddened by her ability to lash out at anyone who disagrees with her. Please Mac Diva, I beg of you.. quit emabarassing yourself now before you lose the last bits of respect anyone has left for you. Can't you see this is not a conspiracy? That I have not been swayed by your "attackers", but merely have begun to see you for who you really are? It's time for all of us to stand up and say "enough is enough".. I for one can only stand so much.

Atrios, jr. | Email | Homepage | 06.12.03 - 11:16 pm | #

*snicker* "I can see the situation with a particular clarity" indeed! Making up alternate identities, and then engaging in debates with yourself, is old hat on the Net with people who just don't have the imagination to talk with people other than themselves. Mac Diva, as trolls go, isn't even that good at it, her alternate personas are amateurishly disguised.

If I set up a guest blog for Atrios Jr. and Mac Diva to debate Netiquette, I'd probably be able to charge admission. To psychiatrists.

It's pointless to go on a condemnation spree and meticulously document the spree of a given troll (though I'm indebted to GNXP for my amusement at Diva's little schizophrenic exchange). The more you try to play the rational-evidence game with a troll, the more you fall into their trap. And that's exactly what they want. It's easy to declare jihad on a troll, it's much harder to simply walk away.

You have been trolled. Have a nice day.

UPDATE: I am indeed wrong on occassion. Well, I haven't conclusively proved that Mac Diva and Atrios Jr. aren't the same person, but having looked at their IP addresses, I found that one uses US West and the other Comcast. I find it unlikely that the same person would have two separate cable modem accounts. It is possible that one person is borrowing someone else's account or at a friend's house, but when the level of assumption exceeds two layers, I prefer to employ Occam. So now unless presented with evidence otherwise, the burden of proof has shifted and I think the probability that they are different people is low.

Mac Diva, Atrios Jr., my apologies to both of you for accusing you of being each other. Actually, my special apologies to Atrios Jr. for accusing him/her of being Mac Diva (whose behavior under her Mac Diva pseudonym has been troll enough that the entirety of Dwight's accusations stand). I've stricken the portions of the above post accordingly.

But note that YHBT. HAND> still stands as a reminder to all - do not feed the trolls. You'll regret it...

No comments: