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Why Trolls Win With Toxic Comments

Soulskill posted about a year ago | from the bring-you-down-to-their-level-and-beat-you-with-experience dept.

The Internet 298

Hugh Pickens writes "The Web is a place for unlimited exchange of ideas. But according to an NPR report, researchers have found that rude comments on articles can change the way we interpret the news. 'It's a little bit like the Wild West. The trolls are winning,' says Dominique Brossard, co-author of the study on the so-called 'Nasty Effect.' Researchers worked with a science writer to construct a balanced news story on the pros and cons of nanotechnology, a topic chosen so that readers would have to make sense of a complicated issue with low familiarity. They then asked 1,183 subjects to review the blog post from a Canadian newspaper that discussed the water contamination risks of nanosilver particles and the antibacterial benefits. Half saw the story with polite comments, and the other half saw rude comments, like: 'If you don't see the benefits of using nanotechnology in these products, you're an idiot.' People that were exposed to the polite comments didn't change their views really about the issue covering the story, while the people that did see the rude comments became polarized — they became more against the technology that was covered in the story. Brossard says we need to have an anchor to make sense of complicated issues. 'And it seems that rudeness and incivility is used as a mental shortcut to make sense of those complicated issues.' Brossard says there's no quick fix for this issue (PDF), and while she thinks it's important to foster conversation through comments sections, every media organization has to figure out where to draw the line when comments get out of control. 'It's possible that the social norms in this brave new domain will change once more — with users shunning meanspirited attacks from posters hiding behind pseudonyms and cultivating civil debate instead,' writes Brossard. 'Until then, beware the nasty effect.'"

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298 comments

F U (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43191241)

That's Why.

Re:F U (2, Funny)

dadelbunts (1727498) | about a year ago | (#43191255)

I am now polarized against this story. THANKS!

Re:F U (4, Funny)

Internal Modem (1281796) | about a year ago | (#43191275)

If you don't see the benefits of trolls winning with "Toxic Comments," you're an idiot.

Re:F U (4, Interesting)

Penguinisto (415985) | about a year ago | (#43191545)

Ah, trolling. :)

Back in the days of USENET, it was (once) an art form. It served the purpose of getting a good giggle at the expense of blind ideologues (of any subject), and to force the lurking observers to mentally dig deeper - to more thoroughly examine their beliefs and what they thought they knew. It was an excellent way to explore concepts outside of orthodoxy, and challenged the status quo. At its highest expression, a good troll will spark further research into a subject (if only to win an argument), and served the noble purpose of everyone learning something new in the end.

Now? Bah - in most cases, it's become pedestrian at best, and often shows the low intelligence of the troll.

Interestingly enough, it is nowadays employed by corporate and political entities via mechanical turk - like astroturfing, but in reverse. For instance, take politics: Lurker sees a bucket of misspelled repugnant garbage posted in opposition to a particular viewpoint, and thinks that it represents nearly everyone else who opposes said viewpoint. Suddenly, that 'team' is tainted, swaying the lurker towards the troll's real viewpoint. It's an effective way to create discord in the ranks of those whom you want to diminish, and is employed quite often. It also provides "proof" that The Other Side is a bunch of racists/pedophiles/whatever, thus their motives are evil, wrong, etc.

Dishonest as hell, but hard to see through from the casual lurker's eye. And, well, TFA proves that a lot of it works.

So what was once a sport that some of us did long ago for a bit of intellectual fun [baetzler.de], has now become either the epitome of lame-assed prose, or has become serious cash-money business to further (or retard) a cause.

Re:F U (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43191635)

I think you are confused. The intelligence level of 1980s and early 1990s (prior to the Eternal September [wikipedia.org]) Usenet posters was very high. The intelligence of the average Internet poster is close to the population average. But those very intelligent Usenet posters didn't simply disappear--they were too smart for that. They formed new communities with restrictive memberships. I'd tell you where you are, but it is obvious that there was a reason you weren't invited to join them. Let's just say that the migration away from Usenet provided an opportunity to separate the wheat from the chaff.

You're full of arse (3, Insightful)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | about a year ago | (#43191679)

And the WELL stinks.

Circular fantasies about post-economic info-tech utopia.

You people were the usefull idiots who forged the tools for perpetual, universal surveillance and drone warfare.

Re:You're full of arse (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43191727)

Maybe the noble USENET users just got corrupted by the need to fund their families and greed for money.

Nothing to see in this particular century, move along.

Re:You're full of arse (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43191853)

Either that or they got too busy wanking to post on USENET.

Re:You're full of arse (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43191751)

We only use our surveillance on those who don't have the wits to evade it. We don't want them to rise up and send everybody back to the Stone Age. I know that you disagree, but if you had the intelligence to challenge us then you would also know the danger in disturbing our carefully controlled geniocracy that has allowed science to flourish for the last 200 years. Just go back you your porn, WWE, Big Gulps, and Justin Bieber. You'll be fine, trust us. We know what we are doing. And if you can't trust us, we have ways of dealing with that as well.

Baa!

Re:F U (1)

Sla$hPot (1189603) | about a year ago | (#43191693)

>So what was once a sport that some of us

Ohh you are still trying. Arent you. You fuck!! (wink wink). With your self contradicting, ironic, distancing remarks. Oh you are so clever.
When i was young...bla, bla, bag of onion rings.
Finishing of with a half assed, either this, either that, dual nonsense conclusion.
Great bate..yum yum yum...
Give me more!!

Re:F U (5, Insightful)

hairyfeet (841228) | about a year ago | (#43191787)

USENET? Hell Slashdot used to have some truly epic fucking trolls and sadly the guys back then could tell the difference between someone arguing a position and trolling. All the posts worth reading were UID holders , ACs were for Goatse and nigger jokes. Back then a troll was one of the "bastshit brigade" like old Twitter, you took the fact he made a knockoff of your UID as a badge of honor, he had either Hairyfeets or Hairytoes for me, but anybody who had a halfway known UID got the Twitter knockoff, Macthorpe, Crosshair, all got a knockoff.

I'll probably get hate for saying it but fuck it, its the truth, Slashdot has REALLY gone downhill since they sold it. We used to have epic threads about subjects like file systems and dark matter and you would often get experts in the field to debate with. Hell I've have argued about different OS designs with some of the guys that were building the bloody things and even when you got schooled you frankly learned something. Now its all "U no agree with me? U are teh sekret ninja shill!" and fucking ACs, it feels like Digg or Reddit anymore. No wonder more and more of the old guys have walked away, if I find me another site that actually talks geek tech and has a decent community I'll be happy to join them as its just not as good as it was, and that isn't some rose colored glasses, that is just looking at the threads. Now its all fanboi circle jerks whereas before we'd have threads over a 100 posts long arguing about the details.of the topics. Now its all just wank.

Re:F U (2, Funny)

inode_buddha (576844) | about a year ago | (#43191905)

The fact that some Mac users are migrating to linux is *proof* that homosexuality is a choice, and it can be cured. There just needs to be a free enough market. But the dems will never allow this, with the need to fund their total-control utopia. Microsoft, on the other hand, cannot be cured; it must be killed with fire before it lays eggs.

Re:F U (0, Troll)

Artifakt (700173) | about a year ago | (#43191797)

This happens because there are serious cases where it's "only" 90% of the idiots making the rest of the team look bad. For example, when President Obama took office, death threats and such passed to the secret service took literally a tenfold jump over the last few presidents cases. 100,000+ death threats using the N word, in the first month alone, convinced me there are still a lot of racists out there. So when I hear somebody on the Tea-party style right claim they haven't noticed a lot of racism at meetings, or any racist incidents at all, or similar statements, I just assume they are either incredibly clueless or deliberately lying. There's just too much for it to go unnoticed by anyone of normal capabilities. I'll freely admit there are at least occasional crazies and jerks on my side in most arguments, but I still see a difference when the amount on any side sometimes becomes a whole lot more than occasional.
            There's an old Astounding Science Fiction article by John W. Campbell junior that talks about "Gestalt Logic". His argument was you don't judge that a man is a criminal just because his means of support isn't obvious, or because he drives a flashy car and wears flashy clothes, or because somebody else he knows is a criminal. But what should you do when a whole lot of those circumstances line up? If the person has no obvious means of support, seems to be in areas where crimes were committed at those times on a regular basis, knows and associates with dozens of other people who have criminal records, and so on, how much of that is enough that it's fair for you, as a private individual, to assume the person really is a criminal, even if they've never been actually convicted of anything?
            I suspect we all set individual thresholds. Equally, I doubt most of us are consistent about just where we set them.

 

Re:F U (3, Interesting)

buchner.johannes (1139593) | about a year ago | (#43191343)

"This is stupid, and they are all idiots" is simple to understand, you just flag all what you have heard as untrustworthy, and put the people who say that stuff in a mental box. Our brain likes simple structures, and avoids complex ideas, so this wins by default.
Some issues, even when you understand the fundamental problems, are out of the control of the individual, and thus frustrating.

Structured discussions like liquidfeedback or moderation by users may help, but it really depends on whether you can build a community and which culture that community would like. It's not merely a technical issue (another example where our engineering-brains like to look for a simple solution, avoiding complicated social studies).

Re:F U (2)

Hentes (2461350) | about a year ago | (#43191563)

If I understand the paper correctly it's the other way around, impolite comments decrease the credibility of the opinion they hold. Which is problematic when a troll pretends to hold a viewpoint and then acts like a jerk in order to discredit it.
I still don't see how this is a problem though. It may ruin a first impression, but people actually interested in a topic won't make up their minds based only on a few internet comments, but do further research. And the people who don't most likely don't really care anyway.

Re:F U (1)

hairyfeet (841228) | about a year ago | (#43191891)

Or you can have new owners fuck the whole thing up like /. had. Lets face it, we ALL know the mod system is fucked up, been fucked up for awhile, and it encourages crap like sockpuppets and ACs because it is too damned easy to game the system but its obvious the new owners have no fucks to give so that is that. Hell the new system even ran off the batshit brigade like old Twitter, never thought I'd say it but I actually miss the Twit and his "6 degrees of MSFT". Oh there was an Earthquake? twit could bring MSFT into it in 6 degrees or less.

Now all the old guard is gone, the epic threads a thing of the past, hell we don't even get any penisbird or GNAA posts, its all flag waving fanboys that don't know anything but whatever the groupthink of the day is and its just sad. I think we tech geeks are dying whether Netcraft confirms or not, being replaced by "geeks" that think if they can sideload their Android or jailbreak an iPhone that makes them hot shit. Its a damned shame is what it is, but the world is going game consoles all the way down and there just isn't any room for us old tech nerds anymore.

Re:F U (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43191805)

Shut up wanker.

Frist! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43191261)

I am frist!

Can't win, so why bother trying? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43191263)

So.. you can't gain anything, but you CAN lose the idiots even more? Sounds like there's nothing you can do, then. The idiots will always be idiots and look for whatever excuse they can find to polarize themselves against things they don't understand.

Re:Can't win, so why bother trying? (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43191339)

If nice comments don't make you question the story (which is what this research determined), then perhaps trolling has a value. Any technology is going to have pros and cons. If nice comments don't change any opinions, then what is the point of them? And if trolls cause a more thorough discussion, then perhaps their damage is overrated.

Nonetheless, there is a strong value in moderating trolls when they become cliquish. Go read the comments in any jpost article to see an example.

It's Obama's fault (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43191267)

The polarization is because of the left wing agenda pushed by Obama. You see it when the poor rise up and congratulate the new pope while simultaneously agreeing to farm subsidies for Monsanto

Re:It's Obama's fault (3, Funny)

thomasdz (178114) | about a year ago | (#43191285)

The polarization is because of the left wing agenda pushed by Obama. You see it when the poor rise up and congratulate the new pope while simultaneously agreeing to farm subsidies for Monsanto

We have a winner!

This is science? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43191269)

Man, who would believe these crackpots? ;)

not relevant here, fortunately (4, Funny)

Trepidity (597) | about a year ago | (#43191281)

Not sure what kinds of forums they're talking about, but I'm pretty sure there isn't any trolling on any of the forums I post on.

Re:not relevant here, fortunately (0)

PReDiToR (687141) | about a year ago | (#43191401)

<FamilyGuy-Fouad>Oh ho! Is funny because he posting on Slashdot, known for trolling!</FamilyGuy-Fouad>

Re:not relevant here, fortunately (1)

TheP4st (1164315) | about a year ago | (#43191407)

I'm confused, your UID indicate that you have been here since the beginning of time but your comment indicate that you are new here.

Re:not relevant here, fortunately (4, Interesting)

hedwards (940851) | about a year ago | (#43191415)

Obviously, it's only trolling if it's not what the reporter wants you to think, you idiot.

Re:not relevant here, fortunately (1)

RLiegh (247921) | about a year ago | (#43191457)

Hah! And people said Apple would never release their Reality Distortion Field tech for general use!

Re:not relevant here, fortunately (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43191603)

And thats why
I'm a wanker
I'm a wanker
And does me good like it bloody well should
I'm a wanker
I'm a wanker
And im always pulling my pudd

Re:not relevant here, fortunately (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43191755)

I give up wankin this mornin
I never thought that I could,
and I'm feeling better already,
this time I'm off it for good.

When I first wanked I thought I was so clever
And all of me mates, they were mugs
Thought I was the first Bloke here on Earth
who'd ever played with his slug

It was me own little secret,
I never told anyone
And the feelin I got, the first time I shot
Was like chooks flying outta me bum

So I'm givin up wankin' tomorrow,
I never thought that I could
I'll be glad to get rid of these headaches,
Then I'll be off it for good

I've wanked in some unlikely places,
The shower, the beach and the pool,
the dunny, a tram and the pictures,
biology classes at school.

And once my grandmother caught me,
wanking meself in me room,
But to her suprise,
I just shut me eyes and imagined her standin there nude.

I'm givin up wankin on tuesdee
I never thought that I could
Then I won't squint like I do now,
Then I'll be off it for good.

Me dad says it's gonna take will-power
There really is no easy trick,
I honestly thought I'd need surgery
To help get me hand orf me dick

Me dad's been a great inspiration,
He's really been a great help,
He knows what I go through,
And just what to do,
Cause he give it up yest'dee himself,

So I'm givin up wankin next Fridee
I never thought that I could
and I won't have to wear these thick glasses,
then I'll be off it for good

So if you say you don't wank,
Your a liar,
And a fool if you say that you do,
So next time you see,
Prince Charles on TV
Remember he wanked himself too,

So I'm givin up wankin come Christmas,
I never thought that I could
And I'll sell me dog and me white cane,
and then I'll be off it for good

I'm givin up wankin next Easter
I never thought that I could,
and the warts on me hand will just vanish
then I'll be off it for good

I'm givin up wankin' next August,
I never thought that I could.....

Re:not relevant here, fortunately (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43191667)

They're talking about slashdot. In an unrelated statement, my anus is now hyuge!

Re:not relevant here, fortunately (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43191691)

Suck the pus out of the bumps on my scrotum.

One bad apple... (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43191291)

I don't know if anyone felt like this, but I remember in middle school being with a group of kids and as soon as someone said something nasty/ negative about an individual, everyone felt they had to agree and chime in. Whenever it was something positive, the responses were mostly neutral.

Now as a 30-something, I sense this "negative groupthink" with the younger coworkers, but with my peers we have disagreeing opinions. I know at least when I debate I try to see it from all angles, whereas people younger (and much older) than me seem to only have one point of view, and only theirs is the correct one. Or, it's easier to follow than to create your own set of opinions and facts to support it.

Re:One bad apple... (2, Insightful)

hedwards (940851) | about a year ago | (#43191435)

Pretty much, most people are of the hurd mentality and if you go against the hurd, then you wind up being burnt at the stake or shunned.

The elderly end up trapped in their own experience in many cases because they, wrongly, believe that they have seen everything and that this case is exactly like the one they've seen previously. Which might be true in many cases, but if it isn't true, their mental rigidity will prevent them from ever seeing the truth no matter how obvious it is to an outsider.

Experience is a good thing if what you're doing is like the things you've had experience with, it gets the job done faster, but if there's any novelty to it, you run the risk of doing it wrong.

Re:One bad apple... (4, Interesting)

russotto (537200) | about a year ago | (#43191657)

Pretty much, most people are of the hurd mentality and if you go against the hurd, then you wind up being burnt at the stake or shunned.

Linux is still doing quite well against the Hurd. So is BSD. Heck, I think the Colecovision might still have more users.

Experience is a good thing if what you're doing is like the things you've had experience with, it gets the job done faster, but if there's any novelty to it, you run the risk of doing it wrong.

There's always risk of doing it wrong. But if I had a dollar for every time someone told me "This time, things will be different" and they weren't, I'd be wealthy. You know who believes that things will be different when every damn time in the past they haven't been? Charlie Brown, that's who. He never managed to kick that football.

When does Polarization begin? (2, Interesting)

3seas (184403) | about a year ago | (#43191297)

Does it begin with polarized news or comments that may correct/nullify the polarization of the news?

Certainly more and more people are realizing the News is polarized already.

Re:When does Polarization begin? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43191335)

For-profit news agencies: the original trolls.

Freeze them out. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43191305)

There is only one way to deal with a troll, freeze them out. No access, no comments, and edited from the conversation. Think of it as cleaning graffiti.

Re:Freeze them out. (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43191369)

My favorite method requires a bit more work. I don't know if I've seen it done, but that is the point.

The method involves letting the person keep posting, but only they can see their posts after being flagged. That way they can keep thinking they are making noise and also not get any attention.

Re:Freeze them out. (5, Interesting)

preaction (1526109) | about a year ago | (#43191505)

It's called "hellbanning", and it's done in more places than you might think. You can even have the hellbanned trolls see the other hellbanned troll posts, giving them all a nice padded room to go nuts with Nerf.

Re:Freeze them out. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43191577)

Learn at least one new thing each day. Thanks for the name for it and the idea of grouping them together.

By keeping the group interacting with themselves only, that can drive up page views and thus some more revenue. If that is the financial model used of course. It sounds like every forum has a lue-life subset. I'll go on thinking that for at least humor's sake.

Re:Freeze them out. (1)

RabidReindeer (2625839) | about a year ago | (#43191647)

It's called "hellbanning", and it's done in more places than you might think. You can even have the hellbanned trolls see the other hellbanned troll posts, giving them all a nice padded room to go nuts with Nerf.

So THAT's what those commentary sections on online news sites are for! Wait... What?

Re:Freeze them out. (2)

SomeKDEUser (1243392) | about a year ago | (#43191403)

This is true. But also, there is the problem of determining what/who is a troll. If you admin a forum, and especially if you are a media organisation, you should be aware that people will try to push their political message, and you should simply remove these comments if you cannot filter them before their arrival. In internet communities, sockpuppets are frowned upon, but it seems that the old media has not caught up yet, thus multiple trolls thrive.

Then there are idiots and rude people. A simple upvote/downvote system can keep that under control.

Also, threads. Threads are good because they contain/constrain the trolls who cannot effectively pollute large number of conversations (if they try, they will also "lose" large numbers of conversations, to the detriment of their "side".)

Re:Freeze them out. (1)

achbed (97139) | about a year ago | (#43191535)

The problem becomes when you open up your comment system to the world et al. If you have a never-ending expansion of the number of accounts that can post, then you have a never-ending expansion of the number of posts to check for this kind of behavior and ban/remove accounts and/or posts. That gets expensive quickly, and for site that have a low profit margin to begin with (if they have any profit at all), this is a business-breaker.

Re:Freeze them out. (2)

SomeKDEUser (1243392) | about a year ago | (#43191903)

This is true. Which is why, for all its flaws, I suspect the slashdot solution is the best-ish you can get. It is not perfect, and perhaps a slightly more fine-grained solution to points would be nice (for example, getting+1 would require 1 moderator giving you a point, +2 two mods, and so on).

But in general moderator aversion to shills helps a lot: to give an example, if you read the Guardian, whenever there is a subject remotely connected to the EU, a horde of people are there to spew general nonsense, and they will repeat the same false points again and again. Except there simply are not that many people who care that much and I suspect that this is an organised ploy which is meant to push a particular political agenda. Same thing for nuclear, or any topic where there is a very vocal minority who has an agenda.

I realise this is all conspiracy-theory sounding, but it is a documented truth that activists groups of all sides do that, and to me, when you are a respected news organisation, it falls within your duties to police the trolls.

Re:Freeze them out. (2, Interesting)

Kjella (173770) | about a year ago | (#43191835)

This is true. But also, there is the problem of determining what/who is a troll.

The real destroyers of the discussion aren't usually strictly speaking trolls, they're people with an extreme black-and-white point of view who'll attack anyone with a dissenting opinion with the intensity of a pit bull with rabies. They're often met by their equal and opposite and together they'll churn out 100 posts drowning out any discussion by anyone with the slightest hint of seeing both sides of the argument.

For example on our largest newspaper's discussion pages on any page related to immigration or that could possibly framed in reference to immigration (employment = immigrants stealing our work etc.) we'd have the ex-leader of a white supremacist party ranting and raving, all within freedom of speech but what's the point of trying to have a discussion with him? I think they got 200 votes at the election so they represent some 0.00...% of the population, but he sure can take up a lot of online space. And their opposites are those who want to open all borders, let all cultures and people blend and afterwards we'll all sing kumbayah and be one big happy family, nothing could possibly go wrong with importing dark age attitudes and Sharia law or completely extinguishing our national identity.

Or on any article about our version of the CPS there's a guy who clearly is on a crusade against them, half the time he claims they're mad with power and just like to crush families, twist lies and abuse their power, the other half he's trying to make them part of a feminist conspiracy that will always side with the mother no matter what. No points for guessing what his experience with them is, though he never mentions that only uses a lot of pseudoscience and worthless studies that claim the same as him. I could on, but for every subject there seems to be a few people with an ax to grind who just won't shut up. It's practically the online variety of filibustering.

Re:Freeze them out. (1)

poity (465672) | about a year ago | (#43191715)

That's be censorship, friend. Defending against trolling will always be tougher than trolling itself, we need to accept it. The only way is to break down the troll's logic, which is fairly easy (and hold on to the hope that most people are intelligent, which is not easy)

This is a f%@$(p nasty .. awww.. too easy! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43191307)

Way too easy! LOL!

Anchor effect is well known (5, Interesting)

b4dc0d3r (1268512) | about a year ago | (#43191319)

TV ads have used anchoring for decades - "You won't pay $300, or $200, or $150 for this product, but it's yours today for 3 low payments of $29.99".

The first prices anchor your expectation, and $29 sounds like a great deal. Even those smart enough to mentally say "you mean $90" still come up with a 2-digit number instead of 3 digits, and it seems like a good deal.

Stores do this too. A slow-selling model will suddenly jump up in price when placed next to the product's big brother, at a higher price. The goal isn't to sell the more expensive product, it is to anchor your price to the smaller version seems like a deal.

When people have no idea what is going on, they need an anchor. This seems to be true of anything.

Automatic Master's thesis in any subject in advertising - take something advertisers have known for decades, make your thesis about how that applies to your field, and then do a study.

Advertisers have the financial incentive to know how people think, and the only problem is they stopped before generalizing into behavior patterns, and just made it about purchasing.

Re:Anchor effect is well known (1)

kangsterizer (1698322) | about a year ago | (#43191741)

then again, as you pointed out, i'll take 90 over $150 any day :P it's not that it's two digits.. it's that it's much lower than 150. It's 40% cheaper. 40%!

so while i sort of get your point, the example is pretty bad.

Troll? (2)

Twinbee (767046) | about a year ago | (#43191333)

Strange how I still don't know the actual definition of 'troll' despite being on here for ages. It seems to have multiple definitions to suit whoever throws the comment out.

Re:Troll? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43191491)

Like any word, especially a negative one, it's probably got as many definitions as it has users.

Sometimes there are legitimate complaints of trolling. Then there are complaints of trolling used to de-legitimize criticism.

But the sad thing is that such conduct works. A reasonable argument is half as likely to shift views as a rhetoric-laden bash-fest.

Want to get somebody to do what you want? Screaming in their face will work far better than trying to convince them with reasonable statements.

Re:Troll? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43191597)

you must be trolling

Why do they have comments on news sites? (4, Insightful)

Beetle B. (516615) | about a year ago | (#43191347)

I've never come across a news site that allowed "open" comments not become dominated by their inaneness.

Why do news sites allow them? I suppose there may be a connection between allowing them and traffic (I really don't know) - but I see highly serious, respectable local news outlets that already have a strong base suddenly decide "Hey, everyone's doing it, why not us?"

In ye old days we had "Letters to the Editor". Open comments are not a viable replacement. The former were heavily moderated.

Re:Why do they have comments on news sites? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43191419)

Letters to the Editor still exist and they're just as stupid as the people that submit letters to the editor.

Re:Why do they have comments on news sites? (3, Insightful)

jklovanc (1603149) | about a year ago | (#43191579)

In ye old days there was a specific amount of space available for letters to the editor; usually about half a page. They had two main issues; very few people could be heard, the comments and the article were disconnected (the article and letter could be printed days apart). With web pages there is plenty of space and immediacy.

I believe in moderating posts but it needs to be done by people with integrity. I have seen too many posts moderated troll, off topic, overrated, etc when the moderator really meant "I don't agree".

I think comments are a counter to today's move away from reporting and toward commentary. We used to get facts. Now, more often than not, we get slanted commentary and are told how to think. Comments allow people to bring forward alternate viewpoints.

Re:Why do they have comments on news sites? (3, Interesting)

jfengel (409917) | about a year ago | (#43191581)

For many news sites, comments are one of their key value-adds. For news beyond the local level, they're generally not doing original reporting, but merely aggregating news from other places. Including, um, Slashdot.

(In fact, on Slashdot I find the comments often more revealing than the articles, since they can generally de-spin the puffery that is required to turn marginal news into something that feeds the maw of a 24x7 news cycle.)

News sites would often like to seem themselves as the town hall/water cooler/public forum of the 21st century. It attracts returning eyeballs, giving the page multiple views from the same reader who tunes back in to the ongoing conversation. I think they'd like to present themselves as having a broader perspective on the news, rather than as mere conduits for it.

Unfortunately, that means running a community, and that turns out to be a non-trivial job. It certainly won't run itself; they need to actively curate it. (Translation: it's not the free money you were hoping for.) The social sites generally do a better job of it, since it's what they specialize in.

There may still be a niche for them, in areas where they actually have expertise, such as local news or niche news (like Slashdot). It helps to have citizen curators doing the job for free, though the smaller the niche, the harder it is to get critical mass.

Re:Why do they have comments on news sites? (1)

Christopher Lloyd (2867463) | about a year ago | (#43191591)

I suppose I can see the point of having the comments but why on earth would anyone bother reading them? The clue's in the name - NEWS site. Surely most readers read the actual news and then move on to the next story.

Re:Why do they have comments on news sites? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43191663)

The comments to the news story is where you find out in what way the news story was slanted, and how the reporter twisted the actual events to find their preferred narrative.

All news is propaganda. All of it. Only in the comments can you read where people are fighting back against the news media's lies. That's why so many "news" places no longer permit comments at all.

Re:Why do they have comments on news sites? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43191789)

I think you will be put into the TROLL (Tracking of Repeated Obvious Lies and Lunatics) database of the Department Of Homeland Messaging. It's a highly successful program of Lockfart Porkstar Corporation and makes them 127 billions every year out of a secret Anti Terrorist Information Suppressing Fund of the DHM.
What you say ? DHM does not exist ? It does and you don't know because it is Top Secret, Money Porn. Only Money Porn-cleared elite members have access, you know. What's your clearance ?

Re:Why do they have comments on news sites? (2)

wisnoskij (1206448) | about a year ago | (#43191645)

Comments are like peer review. I don't trust any article that does not have the ability to post comments and at least have a few showing.
In addition to posting a different viewpoint, it allows actual experts whose main objective is not to get as many views as possible to write about a topic.

If an article interests you, the comments are where to go to see if the idea holds water and to learn more about it.

Re:Why do they have comments on news sites? (2)

kangsterizer (1698322) | about a year ago | (#43191767)

Generally they allow comments and often they moderate them (by unilaterally deleting anything THEY disagree with, not just "trolls").
Also, by TFA's logic, sites that have crowd managed comment sections should also have the trollish comments on top. Well that may be true for reddit and many others, but I don't see this happening on slashdot. In all seriousness slashdot comment system has solved this a long time ago. It's probably the best comment system out there.

Heck I feel like it could be sarcastic, as i('s far from perfect, but I actually think this is true:

Re:Why do they have comments on news sites? (1, Troll)

roman_mir (125474) | about a year ago | (#43191909)

Why shouldn't they?

I don't want to use FB for example, so I don't. At the same time I sometimes want to leave a comment for any article that I read on the Internet, but most of the time (actually almost all of the time today) the requirement is to login with one of the following: FB, Google, Twitter, Yahoo, MS something... I don't like giving any of my information and I don't have an FB or Twitter, so I don't post.

When a site allows its own registration mechanism (or when AC is allowed), I can post. Now, I don't troll (I know many people on this site will disagree), I can express my opinion but I don't troll even if you think my opinion is a troll in itself. So now by getting rid of their own registration mechanism they cut off my input and I leave even though I would have posted the comment otherwise, and so they are deprived of a comment that I would post, which would not be a troll under any circumstances unless that's what some people believe, because their opinion on the issue differs.

The people who want to troll log in with one of those accounts, they don't care.

Should do the same study, but without reading TFA (4, Funny)

raymorris (2726007) | about a year ago | (#43191375)

The study had the subjects read an article and the comments. I'm curious what effect rude comments have when noone reads the article, so we can better understand Slashdot.

Thank you very much for your time spent reading this, ladies and gentlemen.

Re:Should do the same study, but without reading T (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43191651)

And thanks for sharing your articulate, polite comments with the rest of us. If only you would post your home address so that I might send you an appropriate thank you card for your insight.

Explanations (2)

jklovanc (1603149) | about a year ago | (#43191397)

The polarizing effect can even be a good one. When I see someone make a stupid attach I have a tendency to research the subject and become more informed. That is a good thing. Perhaps attacks make people learn more to defend their positions.

The changing of attitudes is more complex. Here are some possible reasons;
If people who can not carry on a polite debate in support or opposition of a technology perhaps their position is weak and they are trying to bully their way through. I would hesitate to support the same position as a troll.
Perhaps when people see negative speech they begin to think negatively bout everything and that manifests at negativity about the subject.
This too may be a research issue as more information may change the position.

/. troll Sardaukar86 didn't win recently (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43191427)

Where Sardaukar86 had to "eat his words" -> http://it.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=3417867&cid=42756893 [slashdot.org] vs. apk after Sardaukar86 shot his mouth off and had it slammed shut by his own mistakes. In the end, it got Sardaukar86 spouting profanities here -> http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=3427183&cid=42849825 [slashdot.org] (the surest sign of defeat in debate is an off topic illogical ad hominem attack and evading questions). So much for "trolls winning" in this case, considering 250++:1 odds vs. Sardaukar86 the profanity spewing troll was outnumbered by that many of his own /. peers.

Starts at home, then school. (3, Interesting)

TigerPlish (174064) | about a year ago | (#43191455)

It's called "bully."

Don't get what you want? Throw a tantrum or take by force.

Few people agree with what you say? Be mean to them, belittle them, In public if possible. Bully them until a) they kick your ass or kill you, b) you *do* win them over, or 3) they stop listening to you.

This particular phenomenon isn't quite new. TV and Religion work much the same way. One blogger or poster or anchor or pastor or priest will say one thing, then an avalanche of people incapable of original, independent thought nod in assent. In order to rile the crowd, they will attack the person and ideas of those who "oppose" them. "Gee, if senator Juan Pingalarga is here in church agreeing with the pastor's bashing of gays, it must be ok! I'll bash gays too!" Tell me this isn't how it works. Tell me this isn't how we get these sickening political comments threads on CNN, etc. Tell me that's not how we get these fantastically bellicose flame wars here about win vs. unix, apple vs. android / samsung etc.

Tell me this isn't why America's rapidly slipping into irrelevance -- the smart and quiet ones constantly out-mouthed by the dumb and loud.

This starts at home and school, and the only way to buck it is to teach the little ones right, not trusting their education largely to TV or the Internet.

Re:Starts at home, then school. (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43191653)

It certainly is not because of the nasty tactics of Microsoft Corporation that they are "trolled" and "flamed". No, can't be. A corporation of gentlemen who would never, ever do anything unethical.

You know what ? There is a lot of smell in the state of denmark and the west is exactly so powerful and advanced because deep-down we all trace our roots to the Germanic warriors of the forests of Europe, who knew no system of servants and slaves. They spoke out the plain truth irrespective of the politicos on site. They were and many still are, brutally honest.
If we know a fact, we say it. That exactly is the kernel of scientific and general progress.
Windows is a major security and economic risk to the West because our hard-earned trade and Technology secrets can be ex-filtrated by means of MS, Adobe, Oracle software. THAT is the real reason many people blast them. We might lose this fight to the "flexibility" of the business- and money-men, the current eco-politicial system might burn down to ruins, who knows. But at least we already know what went wrong, and how to fix it when we rebuild a new system from the ruins.

Now tell me what the polite scheming of Asia has achieved. Slavery, oppression and all sorts of crap.

Observation about Slashdot (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43191481)

Clearly the submitter and editor had Slashdot uneasily perched in the backs of their minds as they put this one up.

Slashdot has moderators, which raises it above some over sites. However, the moderators are volunteers and tend to be young (most of them are under 30 is my guess). My experience is that with stories like nanotech where there is not widespread prior familiarity or strong opinions, the mods do a good job in trying to be evenhanded and modding up comments that raise an insightful or informative point, regardless of which side they are on. But in stories where the mods have a strong personal bias, that bias will be reflected in their evaluations, so we often see the following:

+5, Informative:
Die RIAA/MPAA! You slimy fuckers need to crawl back under a big rock and stay there!!!

while point by point rebuttals taking the anti-piracy side that clearly took several minutes to compose might be modded as "troll". It could be that the moderation itself on those types of posts is intended to be funny or ironic, but somehow that gets lost when every non-collapsed post takes the same side of the issue.

Slashdot would benefit if its moderators learned to be more evenhanded, even on stories where they have strong personal opinions.

Re:Observation about Slashdot (2)

AdamHaun (43173) | about a year ago | (#43191911)

I'm not sure it's bias that's the root problem. There are many more other factors to consider:

1. Slashdot was born in a time when computer geeks were frequently abused and ostracized as teenagers. One of our defense mechanisms for this was to decide (often with adult encouragement) that we were smarter and better than everyone else.
2. Intelligent people with technical training (i.e. geeks) can easily come up with a plausible-sounding explanation for just about anything. You'll sometimes hear this called Engineer's Syndrome.
3. Moderation is focused on modding up entertaining writing and modding down flagrant spam. There's no separate mod option for rating actual subject matter expertise.
4. Getting modded +5 is rewarding (for your ego, at least). There's no reward for not commenting.
5. You have to be an active commenter to get mod points.

The upshot of all this is that users are motivated to comment regardless of what they add to the discussion. We underestimate how much we don't know, and thus overrate the comments of people like us. There's very little incentive for humility here.

(All this is based on my observations from reading and commenting in the past ~15 years. Am I a psychologist? No. Have I done any kind of rigorous study of this? No. Am I doing the thing I complained about in #2 above? Quite possibly! See how easy it is to fall into this trap? ;-) )

Politicians have known this for centuries (3, Insightful)

achbed (97139) | about a year ago | (#43191483)

Why do you think politicians use nasty vile language to trash their opponents? It delivers both (a) the message that they are better, and (b) reinforces that with a visceral reaction from their audience. The problem become when they then have to sit down and work out a solution to a problem - the previous reaction of the audience makes their compromise seem unacceptable. So what we have in a two-party system is a race to abandon the middle. Anyone trying to reduce the level of nastiness is attacked by their opponent as weak and unprincipled, and therefore is voted out of office, leading to a more and more splintered society.

People know politicians = shifty scum (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43191655)

Who project their issues onto others in name tossing. If you *think* that's "winning", then I suggest you review formal logic and see that ad hominem attacks are illogical and invalid in debate. Calling others names is the surest sign of defeat in a real debate. You're speaking of mere pissing contests if you consider name tossing valid.

So maybe (1)

Pezbian (1641885) | about a year ago | (#43191509)

The overall point is to stay away from comments since, at best, they change nothing?

Re:So maybe (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43191565)

That's exactly what the current rulers want you to do. Shut up and consume the polished shit. See how it worked out for the Romans. Normally, corruption breaks anything and sure as hell it will break your state. It's up to you.

Alinsky's Rule #5 (2, Insightful)

phrackthat (2602661) | about a year ago | (#43191517)

RULE 5: “Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon.”

There is no defense. It’s irrational. It’s infuriating. It also works as a key pressure point to force the enemy into concessions.

Re:Alinsky's Rule #5 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43191671)

A bullet to the head is man's most potent weapon. You don't have to worry about what someone thinks when their brains are splattered all over the room.

LMGTFY .. Trolls (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43191537)

Surely this is out of date, isn't it a very Japanese thing to ask for Artwork from a porridge supplier .... http://bit.ly/YyCg1C

Thank you for taking the time for us to know you.

Caustic is the place for these images not anywhere else.

Oh Yeah, Difficult To Drum Up For War, Currently (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43191553)

Traditionally powerful people have been pissed lately they can't easily program the masses for the wars and other scams they have decided for in the Bilderberg group or wherever the real decisions are made.
Let's smear Free Speech and call it "Trolling". We really, really need to "license" speech to ensure the current class will control all us dumb fucks. After all, in their infinite wisdom they are improving the system every day. Finance is more stable than ever, industry is prospering, public health is improving. Obesity is non-existent, due to the good works of the corporations and bankers. Nobody abuses drugs, our families are 100% in good shape.
Only these trolls, they threaten this marvellous system, as they ask unlicensed questions whenever the weapons peddlers and near-east religionists want to increase their revenue and power. I say, control those nasty trolls !!!

That's the real story, here boys. The corrupt politicos and the journalist whores are pissed.

Captcha:Lawsuit

"Trolls" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43191569)

Like the story out of the Copyright Office, how they are going to "reform copyright" by changing the length from "Life + 70" to "Life + 50 + 20-if-someone-renews-it" plus some minor details with the safe harbor rules and increased enforcement which is of course always good...

WAS TROLLED TO DEATH!!!!!

Instead of happy, positive comments, threads were hijacked by trolls all over the place! I'm glad Slashdot is finally doing something about the trolling!

Rude != Troll (4, Insightful)

GNUALMAFUERTE (697061) | about a year ago | (#43191619)

Big mistake. The idea that any rude comment or any comment that you disagree with is a troll. Any clear view on a subject, any unpopular opinion is a troll.

I've been marked as a troll, for example, for my ideas regarding religion (I understand that religion is detrimental for modern humans, that teaching religion to children is a form of abuse, and therefore indoctrinating anyone under 18 should be illegal).

Truth is, regardless of what you think about my idea (please don't turn this into a religious discussion, I only used it as an example), that doesn't mean I'm trolling, it only means I have a radically different idea, and that yours and mine are incompatible, it doesn't mean I'm intentionally trying to upset you. If you are so sensitive, the problem lies with you, not with my comment.

Also, the idea that anything rude must be a troll. Rude comments win (if the underlying idea has any basis) because rude shows conviction, certainty. If I say "nanotechnology is a good idea, you should be more open-minded", I sound weak. If I say "Fuck this anti-science bullshit. We need to get rid of fear of technology, anyone that doesn't understand the benefits of nanotechnology after reading this article is a backwards idiot that has no place in modern society", I'm essentially saying the same fucking thing, but with different wording. This PC society we live in tells us we need to be nice to everybody. That is simply not truth, if you understand that something is simply wrong, and you are certain of your ideas, grow some fucking balls and express them in a way that is actually effective.

Re:Rude != Troll (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43191833)

Toxicity is a relative thing. Pride and prejudice can effect everyone's use of words and what they hear. Education and social backgrounds too. Chumming the waters can excite a feeding frenzy or make the population of those waters flee or even die depending on the chosen chum and the target population.

But may be entrapment or derailing (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43191889)

Also, the idea that anything rude must be a troll.

Rudeness or politeness are essentially orthogonal to addressing the topic under discussion, as the topic can be addressed using either form. However, rudeness can mask lack of substance in a comment, because the crude words act as a magnet or decoy to divert attention away from poor logic. While it may not be totally accurate to call this use of rudeness "trolling" because its purpose is not to bait, nevertheless it constitutes logical entrapment or derailing, which is similar.

This is why rudeness should be shunned (or moderated away) in forums that intend to provide effective logical discourse.

Meta-trolling (1)

RabidReindeer (2625839) | about a year ago | (#43191633)

... Which leads to topics like this where so many people post lulz-troll comments that you can't tell the difference between actual trolls and people just trying to be funny.

Aw, screw you guys!

Proof of the market penetration for the Tea Party (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43191641)

It's this 'if I don't understand the argument, shout it down" sort of mentality that allows ideas like the Tea Party, Holocaust deniers (sp?), and all sorts of other whack job ideologies to take such root in the US and among other wealthier nations, where we have access to all kinds of technology, and yet the average person is slowly becoming dumber.

Being able to use 'technology' like ipads fools our less educated citizens into believing their are actually quite bright, and in no further need of education or self reflection.

I can set up my own home router - therefore when I believe Obama is the root cause of all of our issues (thanks fox news) I MUST be right.

Re:Proof of the market penetration for the Tea Par (1)

khallow (566160) | about a year ago | (#43191837)

Being able to use 'technology' like ipads fools our less educated citizens into believing their are actually quite bright, and in no further need of education or self reflection.

Haven't you looked at the stats on an ipad? +20 int, +20 status, last I checked.

Re:Proof of the market penetration for the Tea Par (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43191885)

Let me educate you about the roots of Nazism and Fascism: In the 1920s finance basically did the same thing they recently attempted. Namely, robbing their own banks for the gain of the banker. Real economy was destroyed, because finance is the backbone of the capitalist system. Break the backbone, break the organism.
Ordinary people were told that "no job means you are useless, means you don't get food". Now, can you understand it was entirely rational for them to vote for people like Hitler and similar politicians ? The financial Darwinism forced the common people to vote for parties which brought a different flavour of Darwinism. Hitler was the only politician who assured people they would eat and he actually kept his promise.
I can also tell you we can get (broadly speaking) the same nasty shit again, if the current elite don't wake up to their insanity.

The tea party probably is a helpless and ineffective attempt to fix the issues we have. But if you think that ridiculing them is the right way to go, I say, enjoy the pill they give you when/if the current system has self-destructed.

YOu're all retarded (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43191661)

THis is a stupid article, by a stupid author on a stupid site and linux and FOSS sucks.

Civil Debates Hampers Deomocrats,Liberals,Athiests (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43191675)

If fair and logical debate were enforced on websites, no deomcrat could prevail.
Their ideas are toxic and must be legislated at gunpoint.
Same with Liberals. Also Atheists and Global-Warming Believers
would have no way to cope if presented with logic and fairplay.

The marketplace of ideas is highly competitive, and their lame theories do not sell without government subsidy.

Okay, here's what we should do... (1)

Gordonjcp (186804) | about a year ago | (#43191859)

Everyone post "nasty" comments - rude and abrupt, whether you're arguing for or against the premise of the article.

Then tomorrow when it gets posted as a dupe, everyone post constructive comments, and we'll see what happens.

Un publically moderated comments (4, Interesting)

EmperorOfCanada (1332175) | about a year ago | (#43191883)

Not that slashdot is an island of perfection it has a pretty good BS filter, one of the best troll filters, and potentially one of the best off-topic filters. So if there is an article on black holes and someone starts ranting about 911 conspiracies they end up with a -1 pretty damn quick. If someone posts their slightly strange theory on black holes they may or may not survive but probably won't get a 5 and if someone goes half off-topic but against the grain of slashdotters and says blackholes are just a theory and the bible has a better answer they too will get badly spanked.

Where self moderating groups like slashdot and reddit can go wrong is when you violate a cultural taboo. Saying valid good things about Microsoft or valid bad things about Linux will get you a karmic black eye and on reddit not being racist will get you in trouble in many sub sections. Yet reddit is pretty good at sorting out fact from fiction (compared to many news organizations' comments sections).

The quality of many news organizations' comments moderation is best shown by the number of spam/completely bonkers comments that they let survive.

On a side note I am not happy with the number of organizations using Discus (I have hosts blocked them). I had an experience with one of their people and man o man do they seem to gather data.
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