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Discussion > Trolls and thread spoiling here

Here's a new thread cos even talking about trolls on an existing thread helps their objective of spoiling that thread.
Over on the "Children's Science books" Thread @Radical Rodent said

Golf Charlie, M Courtney, Stewgreen et al: I am afraid you have been caught bang to rights. What sort of an fool allows the discussion to be derailed by no more than a simpleton who has difficulty stringing two concepts together, is unable to read what others may write without construing the most absurd interpretations, regards history, historical data and discussion to be at best somewhat malleable, and is unable to remember much of what he/she has written, anyway?

I mean, you even waste time asking questions as if expecting an answer, where a simple review of this site will show that none will be forthcoming, no matter how simply the question might be put. Pull yourselves together and ignore the idiot; return to the topic of this discussion, and the blatant propaganda that is being perpetrated in the name of education...Dec 30

Dec 31, 2015 at 1:42 AM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

@RR ..Yep, It's almost as if troll-types are using BH as a practice ground as to how to spoil discussion threads.

With Raff at one side, Dork at the other and ATTP popping up and then running away from questions, the threads are not as smooth as they could be.Their points can typically be rebutted easily, but when their errors are pointed out they hardly acknowledge but move on to look for another mole-hill to hype up.

Open discussion is a great thing as opposed to censorious discussion like at activist hang-outs like the Guardian and The Conversation, but those same warriors often seem to move out to use bullying, intimidation and disruption in other venues for discussion.
Some one mentioned hoards of eco-trolls have started to patrol the comments on Christopher Bookers articles.

Dec 31, 2015 at 1:51 AM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

You can't have an open mind without freedom of speech and a willingness to listen to views that you think are wrong.

This is what I like about this place. It genuinely is libertarian - it believes in free speech.

OK. Sometimes the trolls disrupt the thread. But sometimes they prevent a hollow echo chamber of "Hear Hear"s.
If you don't think they are helping, ignore them. But don't silence them.

Acknowledgment of Interest: It's hard to see a definition of a troll that wouldn't include me on a political thread.

Dec 31, 2015 at 9:34 AM | Registered CommenterM Courtney

M Courtney: hear, hear! I would not want any trolls to be banned, as that would be a curtailment of freedom of speech, and they can be quite entertaining. While it can be interesting to get another view of the subject, it is also interesting to observe the mental contortions that people are prepared to put themselves through in public in order to justify their beliefs. While I may not agree with what they say, I would always defend their right to say it.

p.s. Stewgreen, you could at least have corrected my silly typo!

Dec 31, 2015 at 10:23 AM | Registered CommenterRadical Rodent

Years ago, I attended a meeting in the Midlands where a high powered American pentecostal evangelist was reputed to be taking money from hopelessly sick or handicapped people with the promise that the Lord would make them whole.

When things were getting under way, man in the audience stood up and eloquently expressed strong disapproval of this exploitation of vulnerable people. The American evangelist said "We are calling the police department to have you thrown out". The man answered "This is a public meeting and, in this country, we have freedom of speech. I am not breaking any law and I have the right to speak" and he continued to say why giving false hope to these pitiable people and taking their money was very wrong.

Ever since then I have seen the value of freedom of speech in expressing views that are not shared by the organisers of a meeting or, for that matter, by the majority of the participants.

I can see that it's a bit annoying to have a thread distracted by a discussion irrelevant to the main topic. But I think that people that Stewgreen refers to as "trolls" are simply expressing their own strongly held views and dissenting from views more commonly expressed here. I very much doubt that they comment with the specific objective of disrupting a thread.

Dec 31, 2015 at 10:29 AM | Registered CommenterMartin A

Troll are useful chew toys. Stops us gnawing on each other too much. Plus some of our best researched, impassioned replies are to trolls.

Dec 31, 2015 at 12:54 PM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2

If you want to see the suppression of mildly dissenting views on climate, take a sniff at ATTP or Realclimate.

Dec 31, 2015 at 1:09 PM | Unregistered Commentersplitpin

Stewgreen - I don't see you proposing it, but FWIW I'm not in favour of banning.

Posters interested to share, debate and learn, see through the trolls and generally ignore them. Other times they will engage to pursue a point to conclusion and I've yet to see that resolved in favour of the "nil evidence" opinion.

Sometimes this engagement can be through making the troll position the headline of a discussion thread - Adrian Ashfield's continual unsupported Rossi LENR claims is what prompted me to start the LENR evidence thread.

Sometimes it might be through the Bish posting something to put them in the spotlight - the Bish's thread on Seitz for example.

As somebody else observed: lack of answers is an answer in itself.

Dec 31, 2015 at 2:31 PM | Unregistered Commenternot banned yet

This topic came up at Climate Scepticism in the comments on a post I made there in November. Especially since my comment there mentions BH, I hope you will all find it worth repeating here:

The comment from WebHubTelescope provides an interesting, if still wearisome, glimpse into the doings of those who see themselves, I presume, as some kind of specialist squadron of footsoldiers whose contribution to ‘the cause’ is to sprinkle offensive comments on blogs where that cause is held in question. Most commonly using a nom-de-plume.

At Bishop Hill, they have turned up from time to strut and fret their noisome ways. One feature is that they seem to see their comments as being like sharp spears which pierce the pretensions of the sceptical. But yet they come across as smart-alecs with personality defects – the kind of person you would go out of your way to avoid whenever you could since they have the ability to demean and degrade conversations with whatever their current obsessions / catchphrases may be.

Some think they should be engaged with, and their comments examined to expose their nature further e.g. to highlight their poor manners, or flaky logic, or low relevance, or whatever. Others think they should be ignored, since any critical response can so readily trigger a fast and furious jumble of more comments. While that can be amusing or informative on occasion, I think I mostly fall into the latter camp, generally on the ‘life is too short’ principle. As a further confession, I do sometimes feel myself cheering the engagers on, from the shadows so speak. My immediate reaction to Catweazle’s ‘drivel’ reaction was a simple ‘spot-on!’ for instance.

So, this will no doubt continue. Some will engage, some ignore, and some just express their disdain for these troubled people and their malevolent ways. Maybe like me, you will find yourself doing any one of these from time to time despite whichever way your general inclination lies.

Dec 31, 2015 at 3:13 PM | Registered CommenterJohn Shade

stewgreen, sorry, but on this issue I am with Radical Rodent and M. Courtney (and others)

Ruthless censorship is for the Dictators at Real Climate and Guardian and their mutual self-interests.

It is sometimes very interesting to realise what experts on Climate Science DON'T want to discuss! (no matter how politely asked) Or even how often Links are posted to Green Blob subsidised websites, as though that guarantees honesty, reliability and impartiality.

If you have an allergy to nuts, they are best avoided.

Dec 31, 2015 at 4:28 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

There is an exception - those who interject issues that have nothing to do with climate change all the time - eg the Dork. Sometimes it's interesting to divert onto other areas but long screeds about obscure Irish history are just boring.

Jan 1, 2016 at 12:36 PM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2

Right I am annoyed with some of you lot
I never mentioned censoring/banning
@Radical Rodent never mentioned censoring/banning, just ignoring
and NotBnnedYet said "Stewgreen - I don't see you proposing it, but FWIW I'm not in favour of banning."

Yet after a few comments, Starting with @MartinA you are all talking as if that is what I suggested
@golf charlie says "sorry" as if I had suggested it

No, What Iwas hoping is that people would come up with new inspiration and tactics rather than repeating the general "no censorship" line that we all share.

eg. Number each question/request you ask, cos we know the trolls ignore questions and then fire off a barrage of their own
- Maybe Dork's comments could be put in grey font by the mods
.. Or maybe non registered commenters comments could be set to be in grey font.
- When Dork's are at the bottom of the page you don't realise immediately to ignore that comment.

Like should we ignore "open goals" where you are drawn into pointing out a trolls error ? Cos instead of acknowledging that error the troll immediately spins off topic and tries to draw you into the minutae of 'forcings' theories etc.

Jan 1, 2016 at 1:21 PM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

@Radical Rodent see in the Children's book thread you have been drawn into the minutiae of whether children understand the amount of CO2 easiest, as (the standard format) 400ppm or by 0.04%

but the whole point @RC started the thread with is that the DAMM book was 12.5 magnitudes out by stating
"page 43
We now know that carbon dioxide makes up about 0.5% of the air."

Thread: Predictions for 2016
I can not agree with your indulgence of EM and Raff: this was meant to be an interesting and humorous thread but they have ruined it as they have many others.

Dec 30, 2015 at 2:49 PM | Dung

Jan 1, 2016 at 1:35 PM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

TinyCO2
After a while I just skip all postings by certain people, if their posts have been irrelevant and long winded or deliberate attempts at diversion. This means that when they post a nugget of of relevant stuff I miss that, but comments by others will alert me and I still don't have to read the accompanying verbiage of the original post.

On the other hand occasional quotes and references not directly relevant can be of interest, in my opinion.

Jan 1, 2016 at 2:05 PM | Unregistered CommenterSandyS

- When Dork's are at the bottom of the page you don't realise immediately to ignore that comment.
Jan 1, 2016 at 1:21 PM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

I find I can often quickly guess the authorship of some commenters who make long posts, and skip to the end if it's one I don't want to read.

Jan 1, 2016 at 2:43 PM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

Right I am annoyed with some of you lot
I never mentioned censoring/banning
(...) Yet after a few comments, Starting with @MartinA you are all talking as if that is what I suggested
Jan 1, 2016 at 1:21 PM stewgreen


Huh? In your initial comment you said
"Here's a new thread cos even talking about trolls on an existing thread helps their objective of spoiling that thread."

I commented, after stating that I see the value of freedom of speech,
"(...) But I think that people that Stewgreen refers to as "trolls" are simply expressing their own strongly held views and dissenting from views more commonly expressed here. I very much doubt that they comment with the specific objective of disrupting a thread."

If my saying that annoys you, I'm sorry about that but I think my response to your original comment is entirely reasonable. And (except for my stating that I value freedom of speech) it says nothing about censoring/banning.

Jan 1, 2016 at 3:11 PM | Registered CommenterMartin A

Sorry @Martin ..I started with reading @Golf emphatically saying I was calling for "ruthless censorship" ...and I wondered where people got the idea I was calling for banning ...
Then when I scanned your story it says quotes them trying to ban a guy "We are calling the police department to have you thrown out". So presumed that's where he got it.

- Ah on the subject of spoiling threads .. It does seem to be a deliberate tactic of Dork, Russel, Raff, Rabbett and ATTP ..and Maybe sometimes EM has accidentally done it.

Jan 1, 2016 at 3:53 PM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

stewgreen, as soon as anyone 'interferes' it is a form of 'censorship'. As soon as you have written rules, they are open for re-interpretation, as one person may not take offence at what is deeply offensive to someone else.

The BBC Grauniad, Real Climate may choose any number of different rules to censor, but it comes down to 'heresy' for not displaying faith in climate scientists.

If someone pops up here with a one sentence rant, then fine, delete. If someone pops up here with an explanation as to why 'we' are wrong about an issue, and it is not a rant, then I believe it should stand.

My qualifications are technical, and much of my work has been involved in working out why things didn't work, what went wrong, troubleshooting etc. All too often, a minor technical problem is exacerbated by human error, or human ego. Then the coverup starts, and things get messy.

This has regularly taken me into specialist environments outside my technical knowledge. People who always attack or defend from a position of their own presumed authority, are not always right, but they surround themselves with people who always agree with them, and treat anyone who challenges them with contempt.

So what were you calling for, if it wasn't censorship? There is a difference between a 'troll' and someone with an opposing view. My definition will not be the same as yours. Some trolls have nothing to offer apart from malicious intent/contempt. My definition will not be the same as yours.

I remain generally happy with the 'moderation' at this blog. Moderation is only a politically correct way of saying CENSORSHIP. It is down to interpretation, isn't it?

Jan 1, 2016 at 6:13 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

Stewgreen, thank you for starting this thread.

Raff's post in the 'Children's Science books' thread (at 8:41 PM on Dec 23) condones giving children false information in a Science book and dismisses 8 year olds as not worth the trouble of educating properly, or it dismisses the rigour of Science itself! It is important to educate a child in the Scientific discipline from the start, just as it is important to teach the correct pronunciation when starting a new language.

Al Gore's film, Inconvenient Truth, may be economical with the truth but, surely, it is not acceptable in science books, for any age, especially for children! Perhaps the solution is to ensure we have a good grounding in the Philosophy of Science and an understanding of what we expect from the various specialised sectors of our complex economy so we can call slackers to account.

I started my response to that post with:
"I am not offended, just annoyed that we are misleading children, frightening them in some cases."

I think parents of school aged children should be more worried than annoyed about it as it is part of the decline in being proud of being capable, being knowledgeable: the desire to be mediocre! Would a head teacher get away with an attitude displayed in the post? If not, we need to ensure it doesn't happen on this site. I can remember when primary school children didn't have to learn their multiplication tables, so 'what Goes Around Comes Around'.

The 'book banning' question in the same post strongly implies that the Church banned all books proposing the Copernican system, with little reason. The Church didn't stop discussion of the subject which had been an acceptable topic for many years before Galileo, and the underlying question was answered in the first post of the thread! This lack of skill in comprehension stops the thread from flowing along to help create an interesting discussion. This is the damage that is caused.

It used to be that, as we grew older, the love of learning ensured that discipline, in every sense, became less of a problem. It appears that many have lost that ideal, but it needs to be rekindled.

Jan 1, 2016 at 7:26 PM | Registered CommenterRobert Christopher

@Golf I really think you have got the wrong end of the stick, cos I haven't called for anything.

So what were you calling for, if it wasn't censorship? There is a difference between a 'troll' and someone with an opposing view. My definition will not be the same as yours. Some trolls have nothing to offer apart from malicious intent/contempt. My definition will not be the same as yours.

I remain generally happy with the 'moderation' at this blog. Moderation is only a politically correct way of saying CENSORSHIP. It is down to interpretation, isn't it?

Can you show me where I have called for anything ?
My main point was to draw attention to @@Radical Rodent's question ...Do we engage with trollish posts and risk wasting our time or just ignore them from the first

I really don't think my view differs from yours..I am absolutely fine with people who just have different opinions.

Jan 2, 2016 at 4:28 AM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

Can you show me where I have called for anything ?

Here?

No, What Iwas hoping is that people would come up with new inspiration and tactics (...)
eg. Number each question/request you ask, cos we know the trolls ignore questions and then fire off a barrage of their own
- Maybe Dork's comments could be put in grey font by the mods
.. Or maybe non registered commenters comments could be set to be in grey font.
(...)
Like should we ignore "open goals" where you are drawn into pointing out a trolls error ? (...)
Jan 1, 2016 at 1:21 PM stewgreen

I'm not sure that agreeing to ignore some comments rather than respond to them is not just censorship by agreement.

Jan 2, 2016 at 9:27 AM | Registered CommenterMartin A

Is that what you meant @Charlie ?Throwing up ideas for tactics is hardly the same as "calling for something"

Jan 2, 2016 at 9:33 AM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

For my two cents I think it should be entirely up to the bloghost or their appointed reps. The dork and Zed represent this well. It is interesting that we are worried about this when we have been provided a rare glimpse of how climate hype becomes consensus. Dork, for me, is a long winded but mostly harmless poster. Zed is a shallow ignorant reactionary. Both could be ignored. Our host chooses to delete Zed entirely. His pub, his rules. Period.

Jan 2, 2016 at 11:08 AM | Unregistered Commenterhunter

Ahhhh, there are some who actually think that it's possible to spoil threads more than they currently are. How cute.

Jan 2, 2016 at 11:15 AM | Unregistered Commenter...and Then There's Physics

Ahhhh, there are some who actually think that it's possible to spoil threads more than they currently are. How cute

Said the owner of a blog who regularly deletes comments that do not toe the line. How cute.

Jan 2, 2016 at 11:22 AM | Unregistered CommenterMartin A