Sunday, July 21, 2013

TBGO: Back, Troll! You Shall NOT Pass!

If you spend much time in Intertubez conversation, colloquy, or debate, you have probably heard or are otherwise aware of allegations that there are 'correspondents' on many popular pages who are actually paid disruptors who are reimbursed for highjacking threads in conversations the subjects of which reflect poorly on, or are not in the best interests of, their bosses. Such actors are called universally called "trolls." Though I've my own portmanteau term for 'em: "Trools," a combined form of "trolls" and  'tools."

My experience with such entities is of relatively ancient lineage. I took up internet jousting or fencing, if you prefer) when I left California for Louisiana, in the mid-80s, and couldn't surf anymore. That's when I started posting in news-groups in use-net.  Since then, in the process, I've detected a couple of tells which I'm happy to share, out of the goodness of my heart, but also because there is too much troolshit around a lot of "popular" and "trending" sites to be polite about it. Being nice to 'em takes too much time.

Lately, they've gotten better at disguise. They have figgered out how to appear plausible. And likable. They are "reasonable." They just wanna get along. They agree with you, while subtly twisting the frame. How 'bout dem Dodgers? They have great life-stories, families, lots of friends. Just the salt of the earth. Simply wonderful folks. 

 Or so it appears: However, it's worth remembering: On the Intertubez, you are only who you say you are.

 And, luckily, they still will tip their hands in fairly, reliably predictable ways. Their tactics are pretty easy to spot: For one, I'm sure they work together, usually in pairs. They'll be the two who agree with one another against the tenor of the group. And they have replacements who come in when a prior one has been "busted" and lost cred.  (I also think they have figgered out how to steal someone's f-book identity, so they can pose as someone utterly inoffensive, but I'm not sure about that.)

Such as:

 En Garde: To me one infallible "tell" of troolish intention is evidenced when the "suspect" correspondent offers blustery, truculent, obstinate resistance to providing links to sources they claim as support for their assertions. Ask them whom they're citing (a perfectly reasonable question) and their first line of defense will inevitably be to inform YOU that THEY aren't going to do YOUR research for you. 

Next, if pressed, they'll claim that YOUR unfamiliarity with the primary sources under discussion isn't THEIR fault, but a sign of your own scholarly ineptness. And they'll resolutely refuse to offer names, citations or links to their "research." A "real" scholar, they're likely to declare, does her or his OWN research.

Continue to call them on their refusal, and they get mean, accusing their interrogators of bullying or "hurtful talk," and of course, of ad hominem attacks on them, personally.
En Riposte: Having been at one point in my many careers a 'licensed' scholar (Ph.D., LSU, '89), I will say that, when asked for sources, a "real' scholar doesn't admonish their interrogator to "do their own research," or upbraid them for not being familiar with "primary sources." A real scholar has at least one very familiar reference right off the top of the head, can provide a dozen within 10 minutes, and will offer to do so.

If you're attentive, you too can prevent trool contagion and banish them whence they came:
"Back, Trool. Under Your BRIDGE!"

1 comment:

Cirze said...

Concern trolls.

Banish them!

Love ya,