GEN-MEDIEVAL-L ArchivesArchiver > GEN-MEDIEVAL > 2007-03 > 1175297587
From: "Peter Stewart" <>
Subject: Re: trolls -- ignore or denounce
Date: Fri, 30 Mar 2007 23:33:07 GMT
"Nathaniel Taylor" <> wrote in message
> In article <mB3Ph.6186$>,
> "Peter Stewart" <> wrote:
>> As for examples of fools and/or abusers of SGM who left off posting after
>> noisy vituperation, remember Dr Tsambourakis, Annie, Phil Moody, St Neel,
>> Ken Fitton, the Rockerfeller impostor? These are just a few brought to
>> on the spur of the moment. And do you seriosly think Hines left because
>> was ignored? Try looking back over the last threads he was involved in as
>> regular. Even Uriah went away when Richardson was made to look silly
>> Who of their ilk ever went away after being ignored?
> These are interesting examples. Aside from 'Uriah' I would characterize
> all of these as self-taught researchers who could not dissociate the
> substance of an argument from personal context. They were or are crazy
> and immature in varying degrees. They took all correction of substance
> as vituperation and engaged in same mistaking it for substantive
> discussion. My impression for at least some of these is that they
> appeared to have been led into that misconception by casual perusal of
> the vituperation already on the list: they 'learned' here that abuse was
I should think Dr Tsambourakis at least had the advantage of some academic
teaching, although this may have been in veterinary science rather than
history. I don't know about Ken Finton (not Fitton as I miswrote). Annie
came here fully armed with her backfiring mental peashooter, and Phil Moody
never showed signs of learning anything, whether by example or precept.
I don't believe it takes more than untutored common sense to make a
distinction between a response saying only that the content of a post is
rubbish from one suggesting that the poster is a fool and/or a nuisance.
This newsgroup tends to handle thoughtlessness, pretension and outright
misinformation roughly. Time and attention for SGM discussions are limited,
and mollycoddling newcomers or patience with inveterate offenders will never
be the rule here.
A lot of readers do not wish to contribute, and that is perfectly
legitimate. Those who do post owe nothing to them but something to each
other: that is, the courtesy of assessing the reasonable meaning of, as well
as any emotional or ulterior intention behind, whatever is said. The latter
can be difficult or indeed impossible at times. When this appears to be some
kind of vanity or simply lazy, preconceived judgment and wishful thinking, a
sharp shock to the misplaced self-esteem is more likely to help a basically
sensible & sincere character in pursuit of medieval genealogy than humouring
them with soft, sweet replies into imagining that their first approach was
an acceptable, or actually welcome, claim on other people's time & effort in
>> There are hundreds of subscribers to GEN-MED, and perhaps as many regular
>> readers on Google Groups (the number in the 400s given there is probably
>> aggregate of posters over time, not reliable for current readership).
>> Brandon showed the other day how touchy he can be and how discouraged he
>> by concerted criticism. Do you think a downpour of hundreds of posts
>> him to behave, apologise and/or quit would have made him any worse? It
>> have been an appropriate response, a very brief inconvenience, and just
>> maybe a quick fix. You can't gainsay this, since the readership in
>> has never had the curiosity (not to say energy) to try it.
> I won't deny that this is a seductive image, but I suspect deeply
> unrealistic; it presupposes not just a shared ethical threshold, but a
> deeper behavioral sea-change: the idea that Usenet / mail list readers
> are obligated to respond in particular situations, to protect the
> virtual community. In open Usenet all participation truly is voluntary
> (in moderated groups people have already agreed that such obligations
> exist but have delegated them ab initio). And I do have no personal
> experience of it, but it has been stated here from the experience of
> other Usenet groups that what you suggest--a flood of synchronized
> denunciation--usually backfires to the detriment of the group.
Maybe that depends on where it comes from, and how many at once. If it seems
to be from just a hardened clique, there is little to be gained. On the
other hand if it comes spontaneously from most of the readership, what
satisfaction can a pest or troll hope to obtain by continuing? A lousy
perfprmer doesn't normally choose to stay on stage while being booed &
pelted from the all sides of the auditorium.
In the course of this episode Brandon made a revealing and rather
humiliating pitch for someone who publishes in genealogical journals to take
notice of his findings and sponor these into print. Given that he had also
slandererd the respected editor of a leading journal, there was occasion if
not obligation for those same people to let him, and the observing readers,
know what they thought of his conduct here. Silence is uncomfortably close
to acquiescence, in daily reality and not just as an ancient legal
Preferring the comfort of saying nothing when someone else is attacked, on
the ground that speaking out will not do any good, is a decision each person
can make but then must live with if & when the attacker turns on them.
Setting this ethical problem into the forefront of civilised thought, from
its _very smallest_ manifestations to the most profound, was the great
witness of the life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. People who choose to rationalise
this in terms of their own conduct, or lack of engagement, are in my view
risking the comfort that largely motivates them in the first place.
>> Even trolls, and perhaps especially trolls, need to imagine they are
>> by someone else, and silence can leave them under this delusion.
> It has been said of true trolls that they seek only discord and
> attention, and are indifferent to the content of posts; they imagine
> they are admired by any, like themselves, who enjoy the disruption of a
> group. Of all those mentioned here, only the Hawaiian comes closest to
> that definition.
> To go back to your original plea: do you purpose that the multitudes
> should post simple, restrained tags like "please don't post xxx
> here"--drowning him in polite rejection; or that they rise (or sink) to
> insult a perceived transgressor in whatever coin he has used? Which
> would be more effective, in your model?
I think it would be proper, and might be useful, for people to express
_themselves_, not to echo me (and anyway I reject the inference that this
must be either rising or sinking - I say what I think ought to be said, and
anyone is free to disagree with me, as you do in this, and to judge my posts
as they will, no matter how vehemently stated on both sides).
|Re: trolls -- ignore or denounce by "Peter Stewart" <>|