OPINION: Do Not Feed the Troll
Greendale, we have a troll problem.
I’m talking anonymous Internet trolls. There will always be those who enjoy making others miserable and stirring the pot. Trolls have decided it is their job to make personal attacks, spread rumors, lies and other nastiness about people, organizations or institutions.
We’ve all experienced their special brand of comments on Everything Greendale and elsewhere. It is an issue the Internet has been wrestling with for years. They exist to agitate and the bigger the argument becomes the more they love it.
Everything Greendale readers and commenters are — by in large — kind, decent and thoughtful folk. However, I have heard some people say they don’t like the negativity of some of the anonymous comments on Everything Greendale.
There are other people who believe the comments add value and enjoy trying to figure out the true identity behind the screen names. Others don’t understand why people in our little Village just can’t be more civil and get along.
Originally, comments on Everything Greendale were unmoderated. For good or bad, that policy was changed a few years ago after the Greendale Patch shut down and the trolls started to move in here. Our comments are now moderated and we’ve even considered eliminating comments all together.
When it comes to comments, our goal at Everything Greendale is to create an open forum for useful conversation about news and the issues. There’s an inevitable tension between those who want to be able to say most anything in our comment section, and those who want a level of civility and focus that encourages commenters from a wider range of readers.
You might ask, “Why isn’t [insert troll’s name here] being blocked on Everything Greendale?”
Only one commenter has been permanently banned from Everything Greendale for repeated and multiple violations of the Comments Policy including: general mean-spiritedness, bigotry, bullying, blatant trolling, the use of multiple identities and knowingly spreading lies.
Like most Internet trolls, he wants one basic thing: an audience. If he didn’t, he would spend his time emailing personal attacks, lies and half-truths to himself. Where’s the fun in that? Lately, he’s been blogging and camping out at GreendaleNOW.
Moderating comments requires balance and a deft hand. Rest assured, not every comment submitted to Everything Greendale makes it online. Some of those rejected comments are toe curling and there are well over a hundred pending comments that for one reason or another didn’t make the cut. Others are edited to keep the comment on point.
The Internet and society is still looking for the silver bullet for dealing with trolls. Some say don’t feed the trolls and starve them of attention. Others take the opposite approach and propose feeding them until they explode.
It is also important to point out that a person is not automatically a troll, simply because you disagree with their opinion.
I do applaud those who choose to comment under their own name. Sometimes that takes courage. However, the vast majority of the anonymous comments make a significant positive contribution to the public conversation, far outweighing any perceived harm done by allowing them. Remember, if you don’t feel comfortable commenting here, you can also comment about stories and issues on our Facebook page (with the exception of the troll mentioned above).
I invite you to leave your comments below and please remember, keep it classy Greendale.
A Parting Gif…