Censorship

I Did It for the Lulz

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"I can't push you into the fire…but I can look at you while you're burning in the fire and not be required to help."

Reading Mattathias Schwartz's New York Times Magazine story about Internet trolls is like eating blowfish: Fun during the doing, and a little nauseating afterward, when you realize that the stuff could mess up your day.

Trolls are people who lurk Internet comment boards under pseudonymous handles, posting stupid questions and antagonistic comments in hopes of baiting the devout into flame wars. Schwartz managed to meet and interview one of the worst of the breed: Jason Fortuny, who lured responses from over 100 Craigslist users with a sub-seeking-dom ad, and then posted their pictures and personal information on his blog. More recently, Fortuny created the Megan Had It Coming blog, where he drew over 3,000 comments with a few posts mocking the Myspace-related suicide of 13-year-old Megan Meier.

Fortuny, along with most of Schwartz's anonymous trolling subjects, is remorseless and—this is purely my amateur psychological opinion—bat-shit insane. But he and his kind are also the Janus-headed future of the Internet, because a number of them aren't just trolls; they're hackers, identity thieves, and genuine misanthropes, and they wreak with ease a kind of petty yet terrifying havoc that's difficult to stop.

Schwartz shares one story about Sherrod DeGrippo, the web administrator for a site about trolls called Encyclopedia Dramatica. According to DeGrippo, a band of trolls bombarded his apartment with pizza deliveries, escorts, and taxis when he refused to edit the group's entry. Other trolls that Schwartz interviewed link fabricated records with real Social Security numbers. Some are able to block or cancel cell phone access.

Not every troll is a hacker—many trolls are just run-of-the-mill assholes; the guys and gals who stick out a leg when you're trying to make your way from the bar to a table with an armful of drinks, or shout "Fight!" in a high school hallway as a couple of twerps roll around on the linoleum. Nevertheless, Schwartz brings up the question, Should we do anything about this? If yes, what exactly? The answer is, well, complicated:

Several state legislators have recently proposed cyberbullying measures. At the federal level, Representative Linda Sánchez, a Democrat from California, has introduced the Megan Meier Cyberbullying Prevention Act, which would make it a federal crime to send any communications with intent to cause "substantial emotional distress." In June, Lori Drew pleaded not guilty to charges that she violated federal fraud laws by creating a false identity "to torment, harass, humiliate and embarrass" another user, and by violating MySpace's terms of service. But hardly anyone bothers to read terms of service, and millions create false identities. "While Drew's conduct is immoral, it is a very big stretch to call it illegal," wrote the online-privacy expert Prof. Daniel J. Solove on the blog Concurring Opinions.

Many trolling practices, like prank-calling the Hendersons and intimidating Kathy Sierra, violate existing laws against harassment and threats. The difficulty is tracking down the perpetrators. In order to prosecute, investigators must subpoena sites and Internet service providers to learn the original author's IP address, and from there, his legal identity. Local police departments generally don't have the means to follow this digital trail, and federal investigators have their hands full with spam, terrorism, fraud and child pornography. But even if we had the resources to aggressively prosecute trolls, would we want to? Are we ready for an Internet where law enforcement keeps watch over every vituperative blog and backbiting comments section, ready to spring at the first hint of violence? Probably not. All vigorous debates shade into trolling at the perimeter; it is next to impossible to excise the trolling without snuffing out the debate.

If we can't prosecute the trolling out of online anonymity, might there be some way to mitigate it with technology? One solution that has proved effective is "disemvoweling"—having message-board administrators remove the vowels from trollish comments, which gives trolls the visibility they crave while muddying their message. A broader answer is persistent pseudonymity, a system of nicknames that stay the same across multiple sites. This could reduce anonymity's excesses while preserving its benefits for whistle-blowers and overseas dissenters. Ultimately, as Fortuny suggests, trolling will stop only when its audience stops taking trolls seriously.

In a strange way, trolls represent the best and worst of the Internet. In applying their anarchic philosophies, trolls like Fortuny end up on the front line of the fight against censorship and regulation. Yet their small-scale terrorizing expands the list of potential victims to include anyone who happens to earn the ire of these tech-savvy psychopaths.

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  1. In the material world, social pressure is the first line of defense against petty assholery. In the virtual world, the scope and effectiveness of social pressure is vastly diminished. I’m not sure what can replace it, as regulatory solutions can’t help but be worse than the disease.

  2. where’s juanita?

  3. I would say there’s a big difference between trolls (the aforementioned juanita) and someone that posts somebody’s personal information on the internet.

  4. Lets hear it for the trolls who make Hit and Run the amusing place it is today. LoneWacko, Dan T., Juanita: stand up and take a bow.

  5. Hacking a message board for epileptics and posting flash animation that will provoke a seizure sounds like a form of assault. And that excuse “I did it to teach epileptics a lesson about safe websurfing” sounds about as sane as “I shot you in the chest to teach you a lesson about why you need to wear bulletproof vests.”

  6. The word “troll” is different things to different people. Obviously, the NYT is dumb enough to try to portray it as equivalent to “criminal”, and Mike Riggs is dumb and ignorant enough to follow their lead. Try a search next time.

    Examples:
    here

    here

    peekURL.com/zabkfbv

    Note that the second proposal is highly similar to a proposal that was printed in Reason (from WillWilkinson) *after* I came up with the idea and proposed it to Reason.

    And, here’s one from “JimGillespie”.

  7. You libertards are the boringest and least-sex-havingest people on the internets. You’re just Rethuglicans who like to get high and look at porn and play Mechwarrior on your crappy PCs. Or else you’re liberals without the concern for the fellow man. In short you’re all just fucked up, and your magazine sucks and nobody reads it!1!!11!!

  8. “You libertards are the boringest and least-sex-havingest people on the internets. You’re just Rethuglicans who like to get high and look at porn and play Mechwarrior on your crappy PCs. Or else you’re liberals without the concern for the fellow man. In short you’re all just fucked up, and your magazine sucks and nobody reads it!1!!11!!”

    You have just caused me “substantial emotional distress” you no good cyberbully.

  9. encyclopedia dramatica is so much more than a compendium of trolling stuff. Its also an internet hate machine. That is important. Do not forget that, guise.

  10. (t)reason sucks.

  11. In the virtual world, the scope and effectiveness of social pressure is vastly diminished.

    it’s more like these people hang out with other trolls online and in real life, so the social pressure is working in the opposite direction. i mean these people seem to all be assholes in real life too. they aren’t normal people who blow off steam online, they’re just really psychologically fucked.

    ps fuck libertarians ur all just mad because you got shoved in a locker in high school.

  12. Mike: Please reread the article. Sherrod is a woman. She’s cute and intelligent woman at that. There is no mistaking her for a man.

  13. AMATEURS RUIN IT FOR THE PROFESSIONALS.

  14. Jason Fortuny is an assho;e in the first degree.

    Megan Meier is a sad pathetic case.

    Neither of these are valid reasons for legislation that creates a federal crime to send any communications with intent to cause “substantial emotional distress”.* When I call other H&R posters stupid, delusional or fuckwads, recommending that they seek professional help try to stop a train,** of course I wish to inflict emotional stress.

    OMGI There are people on the internet that aren’t nice or honest about themselves! There are others who are emotionally fragile as well. We have to do something about that! For the children!

    * If somebody beats the crap out of Jason Fortuny or that woman heartless bitch who played sick psychological games with a thirteen year old girl, I will not object very loudly.

    ** You stupid, delusional fuckwads know who you are.

  15. You libertards are the boringest and least-sex-havingest people on the internets. You’re just Rethuglicans who like to get high and look at porn and play Mechwarrior on your crappy PCs

    Libertards have great PCs. Can’t play videogames and ‘bate to hi-def video porn in your mother’s basement with low-end PCs. Arguably, the cost of the high end PC contributes to the need to be a basement denizen.

    Trolls have crappy PCs. How good a PC do you need to post text messages to bait those who haven’t learned to hit the scroll down key?

    And it isn’t just a coincidence that ‘bate and bait sound alike.

  16. Neither of these are valid reasons for legislation that creates a federal crime to send any communications with intent to cause “substantial emotional distress”.

    The Hawaii legislature learned this the hard way a couple years back. There was some troll who kept bombarding legislators with requests to disclose huge steaming heaps of documents under the state’s “Sunshine” law requiring public access to public documents. This guy would find some thin-skinned legislator and goad them into profane responses, and then file complaints against them.

    Finally, some of the Democratic legislators had enough, and wrote legislation to make these records requests illegal if done in enough volume, obviously aiming at just this one arsehole.

    It all fell apart in contentious hearings just before conference committee when the outraged public had a “WTF?” moment, and a bunch of hard-lefty civil libertarians ripped into the instigators, joined en masse by the Republicans, who scented a chance to finally be relevant despite being outnumbered 4-1 or so. The offending legislators realized they were violating their lofty promises during campaign season to uphold the principle of legislative transparency — and, more to the point, offending a substantial constituency that was normally reliably Democratic.

  17. Agreed that being an asshole is protected by free speech, but seriously: what about things like hacking an epileptics’ message board solely to install animation that you know will cause seizures? Under the right (or wrong) circumstances, somebody could literally have died.

  18. Trolling is when someone without a sense of humor or irony is offended by another person’s attempt to get them to think.

    There isn’t a thing described in the article that is any worse than Chris Hanson luring pedophiles to upscale suburban homes for on camera humiliation. As a libertarian, I find that kind of reality television strangely compelling.

  19. Trolling is when someone without a sense of humor or irony is offended by another person’s attempt to get them to think.

    Yes, it takes rare intelligence and insight to post a thought-provoking comment like “UR FAGS LOL” on a message board.

  20. Trolling is when I agree with majority opinion that the libtards are a vacuous pot of mental stink.
    You are a true threat to the real liberty that heroes in the government have been fighting to preserve since that terrible day seven years ago.
    Take your ideas and shove them up Milton Freidman’s rotten corpse ass!

  21. Agreed that being an asshole is protected by free speech, but seriously: what about things like hacking an epileptics’ message board solely to install animation that you know will cause seizures?

    Hacking a website that is not yours is already illegal, I believe.

  22. Question…

    Could the INTERNET be considered a “Public Domain”? [ Consider phone conversations, postal letters ] If someone is suspected of terrorist remarks or verbal abuse spoken or written – or other forms of communicating? This too would be investigated, evidence collected and the person or persons would be sought after and brought to justice.
    To me… Mrs. Drew – An ADULT – Knew of the mental instability of her victim. Plained out a course of action to abuse her mentally till the obvious happen.
    I hope to see she serves at least 20 or better years and if there’s a need to be watched by “Big Brother”. – No One Should Have Nothing To Hide. And if those who have a mental need to abuse this portal of communication should be dealt with by legal means.

  23. A lot of MySpace pages could probably cause seizures, just needs flashing lights at greater than 5 Hz and less than 55 Hz. I’m too lazy to research it, but I’d be surprised if there weren’t some way for photosensitive epileptics to prevent gif images from animating.

  24. the epileptic thing is actually a bit funny . . . you are a liar if you do not admit to laughing, even just a weensie bit, when you first read that story.

  25. Yes, it takes rare intelligence and insight to post a thought-provoking comment like “UR FAGS LOL” on a message board.

    If that’s all it takes to bait a serious discussion of homophobia, bolt down the furniture on that forum. That isn’t worthy of the term “troll”. Maybe you need a lesson in a good troll. Head over to MacObserver.com and in one of their threads bashing Microsoft or Bill Gates, make a short, reasonable (and reasoned) argument about something good that Microsoft does or something bad that Apple does. When they call you a troll (they will), insist you aren’t trolling but have thought about the issue and have a different opinion. When they apologize (they will), you have executed a textbook troll. Give yourself 10 points.

  26. The worst part of that article (aside from the girl associated with Weev calling the author “jew” instead of his name, not a good sign) was when Fortuny rationalized the attack on the epilepsy website by saying that if he didn’t do it they would never fix the problem. It shows that he honestly doesn’t get the right way to empathize with people. He doesn’t seem to realize that the problem isn’t in exploits being left open in programs but in people exploiting programs; it wouldn’t have been a problem if he or other people like him didn’t have the idea and then go ahead with it. I feel like I have to forgive the guy, though, because he was messed up pretty badly as a kid, but without the internet the impact of introverted folks like Fortuny wouldn’t be nearly as large or bad as it is.

  27. The worst part of that article (aside from the girl associated with Weev calling the author “jew” instead of his name, not a good sign) was when Fortuny rationalized the attack on the epilepsy website by saying that if he didn’t do it they would never fix the problem. It shows that he honestly doesn’t get the right way to empathize with people. He doesn’t seem to realize that the problem isn’t in exploits being left open in programs but in people exploiting programs; it wouldn’t have been a problem if he or other people like him didn’t have the idea and then go ahead with it. I feel like I have to forgive the guy, though, because he was messed up pretty badly as a kid, but without the internet the impact of introverted folks like Fortuny wouldn’t be nearly as large or bad as it is.

    WORD.

  28. I feel like I have to forgive the guy, though, because he was messed up pretty badly as a kid,

    Having a crummy childhood doesn’t excuse going out of your way to harass innocent people. If he were hacking the NAMBLA boards, then “I was molested as a kid” could justify his behavior. But that doesn’t justify provoking seizures in epileptics.

  29. …Megan Meier Cyberbullying Prevention Act…

    Tr?s lame.

    How about the Knowledge and Information License and Liability For the Internet’s Livable Environment Act.

  30. Fortuny is a sociopath.

  31. Is this 1992?

  32. All trolls are sociopaths, in the literal, un-ironic sense. Kinda the point.

  33. Didn’t it strike anyone else as strange the way these guys were acting? Like they managed to pass themselves off as the preeminent “trolls” of their hacker community and then decided to go to any and all lengths to screw with this reporter from the Gray Lady who was taking them seriously? Rolls Royce? Looking for lice and addressing the reporter as “Jew”? Really?

    I thought it was a spectacularly written piece of journalism, but I question the reality that Schwartz seems to take for granted.

  34. How good a PC do you need to post text messages to bait those who haven’t learned to hit the scroll down key?

    Hell, you don’t even a keyboard with a working shift key.

    LIBERTARD FREAKS

  35. Lbrtrns r stpd mrns! Frdm ds nt wrk n sttns lk ths! Th Gvrnmnt shld mk trllng llgl!

  36. Oh for God’s sake, people, I didn’t hack the epilepsy site. I just said I didn’t have any problem with those who did.

    It’s really discouraging when people miss the obvious points of an article.

    Further, there’s a lot of misinformation about that incident. The people who did it (most likely 7chan members, according to the intel we have) didn’t hack anything. The board was poorly designed and allowed people to post javascript code just as easily as the average user could post “Hello, World!” Understand that again: it took no extra effort to inject code into the site than than it did for an ordinary user to post ordinary text.

    The web developers responsible for that forum didn’t perform a basic programming step called “sanitizing input.” If they had sanitized input into the forum, then any attempt to get around that measure would qualify as hacking. But that’s not the case.

    Additionally, that web surfers with a potentially fatal vulnerability didn’t take basic steps to protect themselves is mind-boggling. Sure, we all say that’s no excuse for what the attackers did. But do you really want to passively trust your safety to the public, or do you want to take an active role in improving the quality of your life.

    I really just amazed at people sometimes.

  37. I was truly struck by how stupid and transparent the rationalizations put forward by the interviewed trolls were. They act as if by hacking sites and stealing Social Security numbers, they are somehow doing us all a favor by forcing security measures to improve, thus protecting us from the “real” bad people on the internet. They don’t seem to realize that they are pretty much the worst offenders – ruining people’s lives (e.g. Fortuny’s Craigslist “experiment”) and engaging in identity theft (as Weev claims to do with regularity) are about as damaging as internet trolling/hacking get.

    They may force the internet to become more secure, but they also make in a much worse place overall, in much the same way that acts of terrorism have driven increased security measures in public spaces, but have unquestionably made many aspects of public life far more miserable.

  38. “many trolls are just run-of-the-mill assholes” one of my favorite quotes in a long time!

  39. Oh for Allah’s sake, people, I didn’t attack the WTC site. I just said I didn’t have any problem with those who did.

    It’s really discouraging when people miss the obvious points of an article.

    Further, there’s a lot of misinformation about that incident. The people who did it (most likely Al Queda members, according to the intel we have) didn’t attack anything. The building was poorly designed and allowed people to fly planes into it just as easily as the average user could drive a bus into a building. Understand that again: it took no extra effort to crash a plane into the site than than it did for an ordinary user to drive a bus.

    The building developers responsible for that site didn’t perform a basic engineering step called “disaster protection.” If they had planned for disaster, then any attempt to get around that measure would qualify as terrorism. But that’s not the case.

    Additionally, that airline passengers with a potentially fatal vulnerability didn’t take basic steps to protect themselves is mind-boggling. Sure, we all say that’s no excuse for what the terrorists did. But do you really want to passively trust your safety to the public, or do you want to take an active role in improving the quality of your life.

    I really just amazed at people sometimes.

  40. [i]Having a crummy childhood doesn’t excuse going out of your way to harass innocent people. If he were hacking the NAMBLA boards, then “I was molested as a kid” could justify his behavior. But that doesn’t justify provoking seizures in epileptics.[/i]

    First, “crummy” probably doesn’t cover being molested, especially by a familial authority figure. Second, it may not make harassing innocent people OK, but it probably explains it a bit. I wonder how I would react to such a situation, and suddenly I have a little more sympathy for the guy. That mentality is what originally brought me to libertarianism, respecting the judgment and circumstances of others. Anyway, I wasn’t forgiving the epilepsy thing, I was kind of trying to say that it’s a shame this bright guy turned out to have this hostility towards the world, especially since that attitude was probably spurred by something that happened when he was young and relatively helpless.

    Jason, I’m going to reply as though I was sure that that’s you. Passively trusting the public isn’t smart, but taking advantage of the instances in which that trust exists is frankly pretty mean. The vandals could have just as easily sent something to the webmaster suggesting a fix. If that alternative exists, is there really any other reason for posting a flashing picture besides schadenfreude?

  41. uh-oh, board tags on a blog, I sure do feel sheepish

  42. Additionally, that web surfers with a potentially fatal vulnerability didn’t take basic steps to protect themselves is mind-boggling. Sure, we all say that’s no excuse for what the attackers did. But do you really want to passively trust your safety to the public, or do you want to take an active role in improving the quality of your life.

    Jason,

    Your philosophy here is missing something important: Society, and civilization, cannot function without a large does of mutual trust.

    Yes, most people implicitly trust their safety to the strangers around them. Every time you get in your car and drive down the freeway, you are trusting that the drivers around you will follow the rules of the road in a more-or-less predictable manner. You’re trusting that strangers won’t decide to drive into oncoming traffic, or attempt to ram your car off the road. When you walk down the street in your town, you’re trusting every other person in range not to pull out a gun and try to shoot you, or come at you with a knife.

    A side effect of the way our entire society is structured is that, yes, there are many ways that an individual could abuse this trust to assault random strangers. The term for folks like that is ‘sociopath’.

    It’s not possible to keep up a defense against every possible way that a random stranger could attempt to assault you, unless you expect every person to live in a fortified compound out in the wilderness, and travel only in heavily armored convoys. Or else, to convert our entire society into a police state, which I hope you would agree is not the desirable end-state.

  43. Any person noticing a security hole on a epilepsy site that enables bad people to post material that could provoke seizures and instead of just sending a email to the webmaster, exploit said hole to “teach them a lesson” is batshit-insane and/or retarded. Period.

    That goes for anyone trying to justify their actions too.

  44. The nytimes article disturbed me more than I have been in a while. I’m uncertain why.

  45. lolanonymous is spot on. There is no way to protect oneself from all avenues of assault and exploitation, especially on the internet, where the hackers will always be one step ahead of the rest of the only moderately tech savvy among us. Eroding trust among people with trolling is not creative destruction, as trolls tend to rationalize it, it is just destructive.

    Hackers that use their skills to point out weakness and flaws to website owners and software developers without engaging in destructive behavior are performing a service. Those that simply exploit weakness and trust, then rationalize it to themselves as the same are self-deluding sociopaths. The difference is as stark as the inhabitant of a bad neighborhood instructing someone not from the area to get on the next subway uptown before dusk, and the same inhabitant pulling a knife and taking their wallet.

  46. Errata: Sherrod DeGrippo (girlvinyl) is a she, not a he.

  47. Posting in a thread about trolls.

    I think Internet trolls are explained nicely here.

  48. Fortuny,

    You are emotionally damaged and you need help. I’m sorry for what your grandfather did to you, but stop taking it out on other people.

  49. Mike Riggs wrote: “But he and his kind are also the Janus-headed future of the Internet, because a number of them aren’t just trolls; they’re hackers, identity thieves, and genuine misanthropes, and they wreak with ease a kind of petty yet terrifying havoc that’s difficult to stop.”

    Gotham National Bank Manager: The criminals in this town used to believe in things. Honor. Respect. Look at you! What do you believe in? What do you believe in!?

    The Joker: I believe whatever doesn’t kill you simply makes you… stranger.

  50. Come now, Encyclop?dia Dramatica is a fun place to kill time. I mean really, “X? In my Y?” Great stuff there. You just have to watch your step around the “hate machine.” I have a childhood friend that was recently roasted with the creation of a page about him. But he spent a lot of time basically asking for it, unlike all the targets of griefers who are all totally innocent people (i.e. a lot of them need help but instead of getting help, they go on the internet and make enemies).

    There’s some really good comments here about moral distinctions in what these people are doing, but we have a lot of different words to describe who and what they are. Calling every black hat and griefer a troll is totally missing what a troll is, a very specific type of internet trickster. Why are the media so bad at getting the terminology right, they call themselves reporters, but doing it wrong.

    “Whatever doesn’t kill you simply makes you… stranger.” Where else has this line been? I remember it being in the second episode of the Aeon Flux animated series, anyone know any earlier sources?

  51. “Yes, most people implicitly trust their safety to the strangers around them. Every time you get in your car and drive down the freeway, you are trusting that the drivers around you will follow the rules of the road in a more-or-less predictable manner.”

    Uh-huh. So why do wear seat belts, use turn signals, and check our rear view mirrors?

  52. “Uh-huh. So why do wear seat belts, use turn signals, and check our rear view mirrors?”

    Sorry, that’s just dumb. You use turn signals to indicate your intentions to people who have the right of way; you check your rear view mirror so you don’t back into someone with the right of way. These help implement the rules of the road, and they still assume that other people obey them.

    Seat belts, airbags and roll cages help even in one-car wipeouts, and, yes, in collisions when someone happens to screw up. But if we couldn’t trust other drivers, no one would dare go out on the road because collisions are expensive.

    Your argument would make sense if we had SUVs with armor-plating and flamethrowers. Guns are of limited utility in moving vehicles, esp. when it’s just the driver.

  53. Flight 93 was shot down.

  54. Stinky, erratum be the singular. As in Tyrannosaurus wreck.

    Uh, snigular, that is.

  55. The guys in that article give trolls a bad name.

    Here is the key part of the Congressional bill filed by Rep. Sanchez:

    “Whoever transmits in interstate or foreign commerce any communication, with the intent to coerce, intimidate, harass, or cause substantial emotional distress to a person, using electronic means to support severe, repeated, and hostile behavior, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than two years, or both. . . . [T]he term `electronic means’ means any equipment dependent on electrical power to access an information service, including email, instant messaging, blogs, websites, telephones, and text messages.’.”

    The preamble to the bill is full of claims about the harmful effects of cyberbullying on children, but note that the substantive part of the bill is not limited to children, but can apply to acts solely involving adults.

    As a citizen, I think this bill sucks. As a potential future lawyer, I salivate at the potential income I could gain if the bill passes – assuming (which is likely) that the bill makes it easier to sue alleged “cyberbullies.” Both plaintiffs and defendants would need lawyers.

    Please, won’t someone think of the lawyers?

  56. No doubt about it. Some people get off on exploiting other peoples misery and this douche bag is clearly one of them.

    JT
    http://www.FireMe.To/udi

  57. Flight 93 was shot down.

    So was flight 207.

  58. Jason Fortuny is a social misfit whose lack of empathy and reasoning skills are readily apparent.

    Jason, you are a loser. Granted you’re a loud and proud loser, but the misfit, frustrated loser tag is going to be very hard for you to shed as you mature, should that ever happen. Intelligent folks, even young ones, are aware that one’s reputation is worth valuing and protecting. What do you make of yours?

    In summary Jaosn, you are a misfit loser kerk with below average reasoning skills.

    Feel free to post bad things about me all over the place.

  59. Flight 93 was shot down.

    By the Freemasons in cohoots with Trilateraslists and International Jewry. For more information on this secret cabal, go here.*

    You know it’s a secret conspiracy because it’s all over the internet and everbody’s heard about it.

  60. J sub D,

    No illumanati or LDS?

  61. You really believe Jason Fortuny was molested as a kid? Sounds like self-serving BS. He probably made that up, too. His first troll. How sad and pathetic.

  62. Feel free to fuck off, Fortuny.

    Those people on craigslist had a certain amount of trust and common decency to try to do the right and sex-positive thing by being honest and open about who they are and what they wanted, and you exploited that…and for what?

    Sick bastard. go to hell.

  63. Does it matter more to him or to anyone else whether we are reading and responding to the words of Jason Fortuny, or to the words of a troll skillfully representing him?

    “Yesterday upon the stair
    I met a man who wasn’t there…”

  64. Trolls are just weak, bullied introverts who have been empowered and anonymized by technology to spill the tortured contents of their souls onto the Web.

    So what if you can hack a bank site or email me my SSN? You’re still a tool who hasn’t taken a shower in six weeks and masturbates to plushy porn in a windowless room that smells of gym socks.

    But I share a quality with people who have known you for years:

    I don’t care if you live or die.

  65. I’m sorry for what your grandfather did to you

    I’m not. He was dressed like he wanted it.

  66. You really believe Jason Fortuny was molested as a kid? Sounds like self-serving BS. He probably made that up, too. His first troll. How sad and pathetic.

    The article says it was actually Fortuny’s mother that brought forth that tidbit

  67. You really believe Jason Fortuny was molested as a kid? Sounds like self-serving BS. He probably made that up, too. His first troll. How sad and pathetic.

    The article says it was actually Fortuny’s mother that brought forth that tidbit

    Indicating his mother was his first troll target.

  68. Orange Line Special | August 2, 2008, 2:45pm | #

    The word “troll” is different things to different people

    That is so funny,

    It’s what Trolls think it means, and then there’s what the rest of the world thinks.

    You, on the other hand, are exactly the same thing to everyone*, so i guess that rules you out.

    [*douchebag}

  69. Even it we assume that Fortuny (a known liar) is telling the truth about being molested as a kid, since when does being a victim of a crime give someone a free pass?

    I’ve been robbed once or twice in my life. That doesn’t entitle me to rob anyone else.

    -jcr

  70. These nimwits, such as Fortuny, construe their actions as some sort of brave, subversive campaign against parts of humanity. They feel empowered by it; they believe they feel a strengthening of Self.

    But here’s the thing, you losers: You’re not truly empowered, you’re not truly strong, you’re not truly cool … because you’re still in thrall to other human beings. You’re weak, because you remain submissive to the notion of “society” and the people who make it up — whether it’s Megan Meier/Lori Drew, Mitchell Henderson, the “noobs” you bash online, whoever. You still give a shit about the fact that they’re there, and thus in your own way are just as lame as the 40-year-old office chick clicking over to Perez Hilton a dozen times a day to breathlessly soak up the latest celeb gossip.

    If you were truly self-empowered — hell, if you were even just truly misanthropic — you wouldn’t have contempt for these people or engage with them. You simply wouldn’t think about them. If you were truly smart, truly strong, you’d burrow away and become all existential about yourself rather than remain captive to the fact that other human beings are in your midst, breathing and existing too.

    But you don’t, because you’re weak, and you suck.

  71. Did Fortuny ever thank Grandpa Badtouch for slipping him the magic thumb?

    After all, it taught him an important lesson about old men in raincoats. . .

  72. Was Gunnels/ Jean Bart/ etc interviewed?
    (is he Colin Clout these days? Can’t keep track anymore)

  73. Some days, I just cannot figure out the H&R crowd. So long as he got all the personal information from the guys who replied, the Craigslist hack is just plain funny.

    I bet some of you would have problems with this, right?

  74. You libertards are the boringest and least-sex-havingest people on the internets. You’re just Rethuglicans who like to get high and look at porn and play Mechwarrior on your crappy PCs. Or else you’re liberals without the concern for the fellow man. In short you’re all just fucked up, and your magazine sucks and nobody reads it!1!!11!!

    Wow, he certainly has my number! Except I never play Mechwarrior.

    How does he know?

  75. Some days, I just cannot figure out the H&R crowd. So long as he got all the personal information from the guys who replied, the Craigslist hack is just plain funny.

    You’re confused by the dislike for someone who humiliates human beings who have done nothing wrong, by betraying their good faith?

    That’s “just plain funny” to you?

  76. Speaking of internet “characters”, the “trashman” appears to have gotten himself into some legal trouble:

    http://www.thesmokinggun.com/archive/years/2008/0731081trashman1.html

  77. I don’t consider trolling awesome because it “points out vulnerabilities” or some other bs justification. It needs no justification – it’s hilarious, and watching furries or Scientologists or GoddessMine or other scum get totally ruined amuses me. That’s really all there is to it. It’s the same reason /b/ idolizes Chris Hanson – the pleasure of watching those molesters get owned, watching as they suddenly grasp the reality that they are exposed to the world and have been epically trolled by NBC.

    I don’t personally support trolling against “innocent” victims, just people who deserve it.

  78. I don’t personally support trolling against “innocent” victims, just people who deserve it.

    Ok, drop the scare quotes – who do you believe is actually innocent? Not looking for a list of names, but precisely where do you draw the line between those that deserve such treatment and those that do not?

  79. Some days, I just cannot figure out the H&R crowd. So long as he got all the personal information from the guys who replied, the Craigslist hack is just plain funny.

    Do you understand that when people cease to function like civilized human beings and act like assholes that it’s at that point that the general cry comes up for “regulation and punishment”? It’s 1% of people who ruin it for the rest.

    Add to that, how sadistic are you if you lie about your intentions just to embarrass someone and drag their sexual proclivities out into the public sphere?

    Ask yourself this: would you like that done to you? Would you like it if I fake-offered to sell you the porn of your choice and then broadcast your choice to your mother? To your girlfriends? Your friends? Your job?

    It’s a dick move, dude, and the fact you don’t get that means you should consider remaining within the human race.

    Actually, “Bosco” [Brad], it only took me a few minutes to find your real name, address and telephone number. Wouldn’t it be just knee-slapping hilarious to post that up here? Or maybe over at 4chan?

  80. This is what a REAL troll job looks like:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eBGIQ7ZuuiU

  81. Serious Answer… If there is a component of danger in being revealed publicly for something you are doing in a de facto public space (or a private space not your own), then it’s damned funny when someone calls you out on it. This is what makes National Enquirer’s John Edwards baby momma story work. He meets her in a hotel? He enters through the back door? He depends on hotel security to whoosh him down to the basement and block off the elevator at the lobby? Meanwhile, his wife is dying of cancer and he was likely on Obama’s fairly short list for VP. What is not to like about a creep not getting away with it?

  82. “Tech-savvy psychopaths?” I’d say that’s an apt descripption of Mac users, at least the psychpaths bit.

  83. @Angry Optimist. (1) If you anonymously offered me porn or whatever, you wouldn’t get a reply. I can afford to buy the porn of my choice from the venues of my choice (e.g. Apple TV, Showtime, and HBO), TYVM. (2) I’ve posted under my pseudonym (my dog’s name, if you wonder, and hey, he has is the product mascot for a few cool products if you’re interested) with my real email address for years, with full knowledge that people can find out all sorts of outlandish things I’ve said and done. It’s advertising.

    OK, let me clarify what I said above. The Craigslist stunt is funny to me because I would never get caught in it or anything like it. And I hope that people I care about wouldn’t either. I can certainly see how someone who thought it could just as easily be them would be offended by it. What I can’t see, Mr. Angry Optimist, is why someone like yourself who wouldn’t get caught up in that kind of thing, gets indignant about it. Believe it or not, I would truly like to understand that. I’m not trolling here. My mind could be changed, but the reason would have to be really compelling, not just “it’s not nice to make fun of weird people”. And for the record, I’m not talking about mindless bullying, identity theft, or identifying yourself as “Mike Hunt” on C-SPAN. The Craigslist stunt took some creativity and balls, and relied on people behaving badly to work.

  84. The Craigslist stunt took some creativity and balls, and relied on people behaving badly to work.

    Um, how were they “behaving badly”? They responded to an offer in good faith. They didn’t do anything wrong.

    As for why a nonparticipant would be “indignant about it”: There’s something called “empathy.” Look it up. It’s painful to imagine the embarrassment another human being must go through. It’s painful to see people’s trust abused and vulnerability exposed. It’s ugly and degrading.

    Christ, at least when a normal con artist takes advantage of people, he’s motivated by some personal financial gain. And he doesn’t crow to the rest of the world about his mark’s vulnerability.

  85. The Craigslist stunt took some creativity and balls, and relied on people behaving badly to work.

    Excuse me? Behaving badly? In what sense? Do you feel that you are on some kind of moral high ground to judge those into violent sub-dom [consensual] sexual relationships are somehow morally inferior to yourself?

    And I hope that people I care about wouldn’t either.

    If you want to “hope” that the people you care about don’t have sexual proclivities that you “think” are OK to mock, then by all means, hope away. However, those 100+ men were people’s sons, cousins, uncles etc. It’s not funny to take advantage of folks’ trust, especially WRT the pursuit of unorthodox sexual pleasure. Most of the internet (hell, most of society) operates on a significant level of trust.

    As for your “well, I’d NEVER get caught in it” load of crap:

    “First they came for the sub-dom aficionados, and I didn’t speak up…”

  86. I remember the “craigslist experiment” when it was fresh enough for RFJason’s personal data to still be up everywhere and he was engaging “critics” on his LJ page. As I remember the folks “trolled” weren’t the dumb sobs who responded to an obviously fake craigslist ad with their real email accounts and personal data. They were just the “bait”.
    The reactions of others elicited by the stunt was the real troll and it was brilliant.
    It seems to continue……

  87. The reactions of others elicited by the stunt was the real troll and it was brilliant.

    That’s fine — continue to be bedazzled. I couldn’t care less how fascinating/interesting/funny you find reactions like mine to be. The reality is that 100-plus people and their families are still sitting there having been exposed and humiliated.

  88. “Mike: Please reread the article. Sherrod is a woman. She’s cute and intelligent woman at that. There is no mistaking her for a man.”

    NO GIRLS ON TEH INTARWEBZ!!1!

  89. As a long-time 4channer, and a part-time troll (mostly on digg) this article makes me sick. Trolling isn’t “taking a picture of someone’s debit card”, that’s blackmail.

    Trolling is when you go into an Obama story and say “Well, I like Obama’s policies, but I can’t bring my self to vote for a Muslim”.

    I don’t actually believe this, but it sure as hell sends diggers into a rage. But its harmless.

  90. If you’re not doing anything wrong, you’ve got nothing to hide. Not your kinks, medical records,SS#, credit-card numbers… Right?

  91. Trolling is when you go into an Obama story and say “Well, I like Obama’s policies, but I can’t bring my self to vote for a Muslim”.

    Serious question: what do you get out of it? Why do you find trolling more enjoyable than honest debate?

  92. The reactions of others elicited by the stunt was the real troll and it was brilliant.

    I once respected your conservative critiques, SIV…now I just see that you’re an asshole.

    I suppose you think it’s alright to make any kind of move of ass-holery…”just for the lulz”?
    ‘Cause that seems to be your argument.

  93. The reality is that 100-plus people and their families (WTF?) are still sitting there having been exposed and humiliated.

    LOL

    The real “victims” are the tens of thousands who were “outraged” about what otherwise would have been a cheap stunt.Amazing the mileage Fortuny has got out of this.

  94. The real “victims” are the tens of thousands who were “outraged” about what otherwise would have been a cheap stunt.Amazing the mileage Fortuny has got out of this.

    Look, doodles, there is a certain level of common human decency which you makes “not-an-asshole”.

    You obviously don’t have that level of decency. Which frankly invalidates your entire worldview: your latent misanthropy is what leads to your attitude, not any idea of truth.

  95. OP here, HAHAHA DISREGARD THAT, I SUCK COCKS.

  96. See what I mean !

    LOL !!!

    Everybody is responsible for their own actions
    and in this case their reactions.

  97. Everybody is responsible for their own actions
    and in this case their reactions.

    That’s a decent rule for government. Not so much for common human decency, SIV.

    Are you going to make an explicit point or just continue to *think* that you’re “winning” this non-argument we’re having? You have yet to post something defensible or intelligent.

  98. Why do you find trolling more enjoyable than honest debate?

    Jennifer,

    Because “honest debate” is inappropriate in certain situations. Sometimes humor is called for. Sometimes “honesty” is not the best policy.

    This NYT article is unfortunate because it focuses on personalities at the expense of community. The beauty and genius of 4chan is what it produces, as a community of anonymous pranksters and misanthropes, and not the particular characteristics of the individuals who constitute it.

    Yes, /b/ is a moral cesspool. But it is an equal opportunity cesspool. It’s the difference between a stand up comic like Sarah Silverman who distributes her offensiveness widely, and one like Michael Richards, whose focus became personal and earnest, and ended up getting himself trolled by a heckler.

    Sometimes pranks go too far. I certainly won’t defend everything this community has done. But part of being a community made up of the anonymous is that you have to accept both the good and the bad produced by many disparate anonymous individuals. It’s like the difference between being an apologist for capitalism and being an apologist for individual capitalists. One can recognize the value in the system itself while not necessarily approving of its most vocal representatives.

    Like alcohol in meatspace, anonymity on the Internet lowers inhibitions for both good and ill. It leads to vicious, unconscionable pranks, but also very funny, very necessary ones.

    I think there is much value to putting a name (and reputation) behind an argument, but there is also a place for anonymity. Explore 4chan and /b/ and see for yourself.

  99. There is a certain purity of form to 4chan/b/ that one can respect as a piece of performance art or as a social experiment. Give anonymity to a bunch of young adult (mostly)males on an image board with no memory, and /b/ is what results. Traditions and memes are kept alive by an oral history. Customs are passed from old posters to new ones. /b/ is dominated by juvenile humor that has become so refined as to enter the realm of self-parody, but /b/ understands its own grotesqueness and does not take itself seriously. /b/ has deep self-awareness; it knows that if you ask for advice on /b/ that the answer will be “kill yourself”. /b/ is not pretentious. It knows that it is the cesspool of the internet and that it can never be unseated or surpassed in pure depravity.

    /b/ takes nothing seriously, it seems to understand that the attempt would be futile in a board full of anonymous strangers. So it laughs at death, at rape, at genocide, at racism, at itself, at everything. Any attempt to enforce rules will result in over 9000 attempts to circumvent those rules, so nobody tries.

    Is /b/ evil? Maybe. But every time the moderators threaten to close down /b/, a cry goes up from other established internet communities. They believe, rightly or wrongly, that if /b/ is shut down then the cancer that is /b/ will spread to other parts of the internet.

    By the way, the moderators were lying when they said they were going to close down /b/. The moderators alway lie on /b/. They will probably say they are going to close it down again in a few months, once enough people forget about it to make it funny again.

  100. The moderators on /b/ are also out for lulz.

  101. Do I really look like a man with a plan, Harvey? I don’t have a plan. The mob has plans, the cops have plans. You know what I am, Harvey? I’m a dog chasing cars. I wouldn’t know what to do if I caught one. I just *do* things. I’m a wrench in the gears. I *hate* plans. Yours, theirs, everyone’s. Maroni has plans. Gordon has plans. Schemers trying to control their worlds. I am not a schemer. I show schemers how pathetic their attempts to control things really are. So when I say that what happened to you and your girlfriend wasn’t personal, you know I’m telling the truth.

  102. anonymity on the Internet lowers inhibitions for both good and ill. It leads to vicious, unconscionable pranks, but also very funny, very necessary ones.

    But what is “necessary” about the example I questioned: going to an Obama board and repeating the tired old “he’s a Muslim” canard? That “anonymous v. Scientology” story would count as an example of “necessary” trolling, I think, because the Scientology organization really does do some vile things, and anonymity is indeed necessary for one to fight it. But what great (or small) evil is fought by going out of your way to disrupt a discussion of Obama supporters?

  103. “he’s a Muslim” canard

  104. Jennifer – of course, the answer is “nothing” is served. There’s only immature, anal-expulsive reveling in the ill-formed ridiculousness. There’s no “coherence” to \b\, there’s no “art” in it…there’s ridiculousness.

    Fortuny pretends he’s doing the world a favor so he can justify it to the people around him and to himself. Most people (NYT not included on this) are too smart for that…he says t to simultaneously uplift himself and console his lack of self-esteem.

  105. “But what great (or small) evil is fought by going out of your way to disrupt a discussion of Obama supporters?”

    They are coming together to support Obama, they take that task seriously. And more importantly, they are known to deify their idol.

    “but /b/ understands its own grotesqueness and does not take itself seriously.”

    And taking themselves and this task so seriously, is a sin in the hive-mind of /b/, especially the whole deifying thing.

    Not defending it, just explaining it as I try to understand it.

  106. Making the “I won’t vote for a muslim” comment in a Barak forum is not, in and of itself humorous, the humor comes in the responses. The best way to get rid of a troll really is to ignore them, and there is inherent humor in the fact that people just don’t seem to get this, or realize that the commenter in question is a troll.

    A common motto of such internet pranksters is “The internet is serious business” the fact is that a person posting “I won’t vote for Obama he’s a muslim” isn’t inherently funny, but nor is it harmful. The humor comes when people start launching vitriolic counter-attacks betraying their fanaticism, or writing long articulate responses trying to make this wayward soul see the light, or pretty much anything in between.

    In each case respondants fall into the troll’s trap and treat a random internet comment like it decide the election, or sway votes, or MATTER in any way whatsoever.

    Griefing/Trolling is funny engaging vigorously in a futile activity over something that *does not matter* Another common internet aphorism is that arguing on the internet is like competing in the special olympics, even if you win, you’re still retarded. Politically incorrect no doubt, but prescient. It is IMPOSSIBLE to win an argument with a troll, because they aren’t arguing, they are trolling. Their goal is not to win you over or change anyone’s mind, it’s to push your buttons, get a rise out of you, the more you fight the better the troll, he doesn’t WANT you to give up and submit, he doesn’t want to convert you, he wants to see you get pissed off because you take something (the internet, yourself, etc) WAY too seriously.

    In general that’s all trolls are, people who stir up flame wars in forums or grief people in MMO’s, they’re pranksters have a little fun at you’re expense, but the vast vast majority trollings end with no one hurt, just time wasted and “lulz” had. People like Jason are in an incredibly small minority, and judging everyone who’s ever engaged in trolling on the basis of this single individual is unfair to all of those who are just having a little bit of harmless fun.

  107. As with most things, pranking people walks a fine line between relatively harmless and going too far. Different people will have different lines drawn. What Ayn_Randian Angry Optimist or Jennifer may consider too far may be considered acceptable by someone else.

    What Fortuny did with the Craiglist prank was cruel, no question. But people have to be responsible for handling their own lives, and that includes being wary about responses to sexual ads. Just like people who took out mortgages they couldn’t afford because they accepted a too-good-to-be-true housing market that turned out to be a lie, someone who jumps at a too-good-to-be-true sexual situation that fits their fantasies perfectly needs to be wary and think.

    Fortuny’s problem is that the mechanics–the details–of his prank were funny, but the final result was not. But you know what? There will always be people who go to far, whether it’s drinking alcohol, pranking, whatever. We either realize that this is an inevitable result of having the freedom to do something, or else we regulate it. I’ll take the Fortunys instead of regulation, thanks.

  108. I think that what is happening here is the notion of a “troll” is being misdefined, and Fortuny has precommitted to defending all “trolls”, so he’s defending people who are petty criminals.

    I’m pro-troll. But the folks who posted that script to the epilespy site were engaged in petty assault. I’m not pro-assault. But others have [I think, falsely] called those assaulters “trolls”, so Fortuny feels obligated to defend them.

    Why am I pro-troll? Because the overwhelming majority of people who are called “trolls” are really just people who refuse to buckle to the majority on a given site. People here call joe a troll all the time.

  109. Actually, I would expand on that to say: isn’t a requirement of the definition of a troll that the troll’s actions be within the law? Or even within either the TOS of a site, and/or the “posting customs” of a site?

    “Real” trolls put themselves in a position where they provoke others to get themselves banned. By using their anonymity and knowing the rules.

  110. Jim McDrop | August 3, 2008, 9:54am | #
    No doubt about it. Some people get off on exploiting other peoples misery and this douche bag is clearly one of them.

    JT
    http://www.FireMe.To/udi

    A phishing troll criticizing trolls with a phishing post. I think this actually caused the irony singularity that is currently consuming Colorado.

  111. People here call joe a troll all the time.

    And each time, the troll they call appears at his doorstep. Amazing!

  112. People here call joe a troll all the time.

    They do, but that is not accurate. joe is here to argue/discuss, not to spur people to freak out.

    “Neil” was a perfect example of a troll. Cesar specifically used him to get people riled up and arguing incessantly. And he did it well, which is why I still miss “Neil”.

  113. Everybody is responsible for their own actions
    and in this case their reactions.

    I don’t enjoy the pseudo-intellectualism that this type of post-modern exaplanation seems to engender. You are not profound. You are not special. Believe me, I used to have this sort of mindset. It’s pseudo-nihilism, used to cloak one’s fear of intimacy and rejection. If you claim that being a dick is the subversive way to engage the world and that no one “gets” you, then when you are alone because no one likes you, it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. Sure, for a while, you can con people into thinking there’s more to you than being a dick. After a while though, your protestations and false explanations become tired rhetoric. You become unnecessary because all you’ve done is prove another way in which people can be dicks. I guess that’s the “genius” behind the trolls. Maybe I don’t “get it” after all.

  114. Making the “I won’t vote for a muslim” comment in a Barak forum is not, in and of itself humorous, the humor comes in the responses.

    The flaming bag of poop on the guys porch isn’t funny, it’s his response to it.

    Trolling like that is simply juvenile antics. I’m certain that most trolls rang doorbells and dashed away as a kid. Grow up. You’re embarrassing yourselves and your ancesctors with your behavior.

  115. …of, albeit derivatively, paraphrasing J sub D.

  116. I want to comment on Butts’ post also, because I think it reflects another misidentification of trolls.

    What’s the basis for the claim that all trolls are solitary misanthropes sitting alone in their basements with no friends, “fearing intimacy and rejection”? Trollery is situational. A troll at Feministing is not a troll elsewhere. I think the “trolls are solitary losers with no friends” story is a spiel the victims of trollery have invented to try to console themselves. “That jerk who doesn’t like us must have no friends at all.” I think it’s more likely that the troll is just a member of a social group at odds with yours.

    There’s a guy named Shooter who trolls Greenwald. I bet he has lots of friends at Captain’s Quarters and LGF. The Rockwell people probably have lovely social lives full of happy barbecues where they get together and think of ways to troll (T)reason.

    One man’s troll is another man’s hilarious provocateur.

    Some people NEED to have emotional distress inflicted upon them. “Our” trolls are like “our” lawyers. Maybe they’re dicks, but I hope they’re effective dicks.

  117. Some people NEED to have emotional distress inflicted upon them.

    And really, this says it all. When you meet other people, do you critique them on their personalities? I’ve found in my personal experience that I get along much better with others when I’m not critiquing them and explaining how screwed up everyone else is in relation to what I “know” to be the “truth.” It’s not constructive criticism at all. No matter how “intellectual” you want it to be.

    Without a wink to the audience from time to time, it’s not performance art, either.

    The Rockwell people probably have lovely social lives full of happy barbecues where they get together and think of ways to troll (T)reason.

    So what you seem to be describing is a clique, which leads to peer pressure, etc. Not a very original way to ostracize others, since humans have been doing it for 200,000 years. Like I said, one isn’t profound by being a dick.

    The post-post-post-post-post-modern levels of irony and sarcasm that are the thought process of some trolls are not clever or cute. Especially because I assume it is apparent in their off-internet life. If one never takes anything at face value, then others will never take one at face value. Who do you have to share the jokes with then?

  118. Fluffy, presenting another opinion or point of view on a forum is not trolling. Always being in disagreement and disparaging the other posters is. I don’t necessarily like or respect the folks at some sites I visit and comment on, but that is no reason to deliberately start flame wars. That behavior is childish.

  119. Trolling is not our m?tier, thank you for the slur, although, as has been established, some folks identify any opinion diverging from their own as trollery or its like.

  120. And really, this says it all. When you meet other people, do you critique them on their personalities?

    Actually, no. But that’s a way in which “real life” is inferior to the internet. Not superior. You seem to think it’s good that people can use the implicit threat of physical violence or some other kind of personal retaliation to keep the people around them in line, so they don’t have to hear what other people think of them. And that’s lame. The jerk at work spewing conservative talking points about [say] the Terri Schiavo case deserves to be told he’s a pinhead and a loser. He deserves to be trolled. But social circumstances don’t always allow that. One good thing about the internet is that it does.

    I’ve found in my personal experience that I get along much better with others when I’m not critiquing them and explaining how screwed up everyone else is in relation to what I “know” to be the “truth.” It’s not constructive criticism at all. No matter how “intellectual” you want it to be.

    Who said it was constructive? I don’t care if you benefit from it or not. When people set up their little online echo chambers to reinforce each other’s nonsense by repetition, it doesn’t matter if it’s constructive for someone to show up and flame them – it’s a good in and of itself, depending on the actors involved. Sometimes it’s just to be nice, and sometimes it’s just to be a dick. It depends on the target.

  121. I don’t care if you benefit from it or not.

    To bring it back to the libertarian perspective here, my point is that people seek mutually beneficial transactions. If you choose to ignore the wants and needs of others, they will see no benefit in indulging you. Thus, you will be left to make your cracks and observations to no one.

    Sure, the benefit some people get is laughing at those who get frustrated by the troll, but why not become the troll yourself then? You might say, well, I’m not clever enough to be the troll, but who would think that and then go and laugh at others being taken advantage of by the troll. You’d be admitting weakness while laughing at those who are weak. Point being, if you think you are so much better than the weaklings who the trolls pick on, then you should also believe you can be the troll. Eliminating the need for the other troll who brought you laughter.

    One could counter with the, well, we have a group who trolls together, and we laugh at each other. That’s fine, but then it’s not so brilliant to gang up on others, because it’s typical ostracism then. And guess what, secure individuals no longer worry about what the roving gangs of cheerleaders thought of us in high school.

    He deserves to be trolled. But social circumstances don’t always allow that.

    What’s stopping you? Shouldn’t you be honest with him? Isn’t it possible to be honest in a way that isn’t mean at first?

    You seem to think it’s good that people can use the implicit threat of physical violence or some other kind of personal retaliation to keep the people around them in line, so they don’t have to hear what other people think of them.

    Also, I want to clear the record, Butts Wagner is a lover, not a fighter. I’m not sure how you inferred that I would advocate violence of this nature. I actually think people should hear the truth, but not in ways that makes them defensive.

  122. Jennifer,

    But what is “necessary” about the example I questioned: going to an Obama board and repeating the tired old “he’s a Muslim” canard? That “anonymous v. Scientology” story would count as an example of “necessary” trolling, I think, because the Scientology organization really does do some vile things, and anonymity is indeed necessary for one to fight it. But what great (or small) evil is fought by going out of your way to disrupt a discussion of Obama supporters?

    What was necessary about the New Yorker cover with Obama and wife? Nothing, except humor, and poking fun at people who take themselves and the political process way too seriously. If anything, the best way to counter false political rumors is to parody them mercilessly.

    For what it’s worth, the organized in-person anti-Scientology protests are looked down upon by /b/; organizing a protest with signs and shit for a “righteous cause” is the sort of earnestness that /b/ regularly belittles. They are referred to as “protestfags.”

  123. Trolling like that is simply juvenile antics. I’m certain that most trolls rang doorbells and dashed away as a kid. Grow up. You’re embarrassing yourselves and your ancestors with your behavior.

    My ancestors were monkeys who threw their fucking poo at each other, if you can’t handle a little flame war GTFO the internet and go back to church.

  124. What was necessary about the New Yorker cover with Obama and wife? Nothing, except humor, and poking fun at people who take themselves and the political process way too seriously. If anything, the best way to counter false political rumors is to parody them mercilessly.

    False analogy; you’re not going around waving the New Yorker cover in the faces of people who don’t want to see it. The previous examples of trolling — going to a pro-Obama board and posting obvious bullshit statements — is more akin to crashing a party when you’re obviously not wanted, making an annoying ass of yourself, and then patting yourself on the back and pretending you’re doing something noble and important, by annoying people who were not bothering you.

    I dislike country music, but I’m not going to go to Garth Brooks fan boards and post a bunch of insults. I disapprove of Israel’s policies toward the Palestinians, but I’m not going to crash Jewish dating sites and write “Eat some bacon cheeseburgers, losers!” And if I hear of someone doing either one, I’m not going to admire them for being some bold freethinking challenger of the status quo blah blah; I’m going to think “What an immature dick.”

  125. What the hell are you talking about, Jennifer? As I recall, this whole “Obama” example originated upthread in a post by 4channer, with this comment:

    Trolling is when you go into an Obama story and say “Well, I like Obama’s policies, but I can’t bring my self to vote for a Muslim”.

    You, then, decided to turn this from trolling a (neutral) comment thread for a mainstream article about Obama into a “pro-Obama board” that is somehow incapable of hearing opinions outside their echo chamber.

    Not that I have a problem with doing that either, but let’s keep things straight here. We are not talking about some private, secret, secluded “pro-Obama board.” And honestly, even if we were, why on earth would you care? Since when do people have a right to not have their bubble of conformity popped? Or a right against being parodied? Is it really that traumatic to read such a comment?

    This is exactly the kind of “taking oneself way too seriously” that makes /b/tards so valuable. Get a sense of humor, folks.

  126. somehow incapable of hearing opinions outside their echo chamber.

    It’s not “a different opinion,” it’s “pure bullshit uttered by an attention whore.”

    And honestly, even if we were, why on earth would you care? Since when do people have a right to not have their bubble of conformity popped? Or a right against being parodied? Is it really that traumatic to read such a comment?

    I turn the question back to you and your fellow trolls: why do you care? You have a finite amount of time on earth before you start feeding the worms, and the best thing you can think to do with it is “annoy people for no reason?”

    You’re not correcting injustice. You’re not exposing a corrupt politician who misuses his authority. You’re not pointing out the logical fallacy of a bad law. You’re just annoying harmless people, and deluding yourself into thinking that the world is better off for your having done so.

  127. Arguing on the interwebs!

    Good holy god, people. You’ve committed the cardinal sin.

    The internet is not serious business, contrary to popular belief.

    To focus on a single incident, if you send naked pictures of yourself to some anonymous person on the internet, you are an idiot.

    That this kind of basic error is *still* being committed is amazing, really. It’s what keeps all the phishers, spammers, occasional pedophile, and chain emails in business. Srsly.

    As for all the bleeding heart comments, really? You really care about all those people? That deeply? I feel sorry for those who were outed in the whole sex-ad thing, but I don’t really care either. Outside my monkeysphere, personally.

    I submit that perhaps the difference between you and I is that I’m just more honest with myself about how little I care about distant people.

  128. Hat in the Ring and others…

    For all your not caring, you post quite a big answer. And quite a bit of self justification, not to mention the usual and omgisithackneyed cliche about the “internet is not serious”…

    So you spend a whole lot of words defending yourselves, when you say you don’t care.

    Yeah, whatever…

  129. Jennifer,

    I turn the question back to you and your fellow trolls: why do you care? You have a finite amount of time on earth before you start feeding the worms, and the best thing you can think to do with it is “annoy people for no reason?”

    I care because it’s funny. Doing it for the lulz is self-justifying. Humor and parody needs no further justification.

  130. Deep thought, you have going there, Umbirel. How about dealing with it as you would graffiti on a bathroom wall, with a grain of salt?

  131. I care because it’s funny. Doing it for the lulz is self-justifying. Humor and parody needs no further justification.

    You’re not writing or drawing parodies. You’re simply being a bullying dick who goes out of his way to annoy people. And you don’t even have the balls to put your own name to your actions, but cower behind anonymity like the coward that you are.

  132. Let’s not make this personal, Jennifer. I, Micha Ghertner, nearly always use my real name when commenting on the web, partly as a form of self-control. I want to be able to stand behind everything I write years later when it is cataloged for all to see.

    But I see the value in anonymity as well. Didn’t some of our founding fathers write *gasp!* anonymously? Were they cowards? Sure. So what? That didn’t make what they had to say any less valuable.

    And who the hell do you think are determining what constitutes parody and what constitutes being a dick? Honestly, unless you have a giant stick shoved up your ass, how can you possible not see the humor in the Obama comment referenced above? Who is the commenter being a dick to? The victim is an amorphous blob of true believers, not a single person. If that isn’t a form of parody, I don’t know what is.

  133. If that isn’t a form of parody, I don’t know what is.

    You’re already made that clear.

  134. RON PAUL, reason

  135. I have been stalked and cyber bullied by one man named Joachim Hogan from Staten Island NY. He used that site to slander me because I am not into perversion and his life of obscenity. He is a sociopath and many people like himself need to be stopped.

  136. Joachim Hogan from Staten island NY also wrote me some beautiful love poetry. He doesn’t always make sense to me.

    He is a beautiful person.

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  138. thank you for the slur, although, as has been established, some folks identify any opinion diverging from their own as trollery or its like.

  139. thank you for the slur, although, as has been established, some folks identify any opinion diverging from their own as trollery or its like.

  140. thank you for the slur, although, as has been established, some folks identify any opinion diverging from their own as trollery or its like.

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