Subject: Re: The toxicity of trolls
From: Erik Naggum <>
Date: 24 Sep 2002 21:06:21 +0000
Newsgroups: comp.lang.lisp
Message-ID: <>

* Pascal Costanza
| Are there any successful patterns how to deal with trolls, perhaps from
| other newsgroups?

  Stop responding to them.

  I get much more pissed off by the people who cannot understand that ilias is
  literally completely hopeless than by ilias, as I have made an exception to
  my general principle not to kill-file people but listen to what a person has
  to say regardless of his record, but ilias stood out as hopeless from day 1.
  He wore a sign on his forehead telling everyone that he is a useless specimen
  of the human race when he walked in the door.  There is no point whatsoever
  in responding to him, as he gave every evidence of being learning-impaired
  and worse from the outset.  Yet even people I have deemed really smart keep
  responding to him, keeping him alive, evidently believing that the community
  is somehow helped by it, at least by refuting his misinformation.  It is not.

  This breed of untermensch lives for the response they get from real people.
  Unlike reasonably social human beings who attach importance to what they say
  and do not need a response, this breed of untermensch attaches importance to
  how people respond to what they say, and only their responses.  If they have
  to pester and annoy others to elicit a response from them, so be it.  If they
  have to break laws and regulations to cause others to notice them, so be it.
  If they have to deface buildings with spray cans, so be it.

  When the Internet became a public resource, criminals had to come with it.
  We have spammers, Nigerian 419 scams, trolls on newsgroups, etc, just like we
  have criminals in the real world.  The difference is that our governments sit
  on their hands and refuse to deal with them.  ilias' ISP behaves exactly as
  stupidly as every other ISP and refuses to do anything about him.  There is
  no way to stop the criminals.  They even have anti-social defense lawyers on
  the Net to "protect" them from criticism, in our community exemplified by
  Coby Beck, who attack those who criticize the untermensch and want them to
  have free reign of the newsgroups while ordinary, decent people are left with
  no choice but to stop reading newsgroups that are taken over by untermensch.

  If it had helped to kill-file ilias, the problem would have been gone by now.
  The problem is all the people who think that /anyone/ in the known universe
  would believe anything that he produces.  The crucial point when it comes to
  deciding whether to refute some claim or not is to decide whether anybody had
  reason to believe it to begin with.  If not, and you refute it, you gave it
  credibility it did not deserve.  If somebody did believe it, and you did not
  refute it, were you responsible for their confusion, for how long it took
  them to unconfuse themselves, for their spreading more confusion?

  Now, I have to ask all the people who respond to ilias: Who the hell do you
  think you are helping?  Who could /possibly/ believe something he writes?
  Even if such people might exist, /why/ would you care about those people?  It
  should take less time to think about what he writes than to read a refutation
  to realize that he is totally, irrovocably hopeless.

  Previously, kill-filing people was based on their annoying opinions and their
  tendency to stir up conflicts and flame wars.  There is real danger in being
  insulated from "unwelcome" information with this practice, meaning that which
  tests your convictions, but if there is anything the Internet can offer us
  that the offline world could not, it is the free flow of counter-information,
  which is routinely suppressed by the formal publishing channels.  However, if
  you listen to people who believe weird things, you realize very quickly that
  they will more likely than not be crackpots, which is why other people ignore
  them.  It is your task, then, to be able to discern a crackpot from someone
  who has an valuable alternative view, and actually /listen/ to what people
  are saying, which sometimes require that you be much smarter than they are,
  or think much more about it than they have.  People who protect themselves
  from alternative views therefore tend to be unable to distinguish crackpots
  in time, as well.  When presented with an unfiltered medium like the Internet
  and Usenet newsgroups, those who have grown up on the filtered media will of
  necessity feel bewildered and confused.  In very many cases, it helps to poke
  them with a cattle-prod and yell "THINK!" at them or treat them harshly as
  long as they do not engage their brain.  Few cases are literally hopeless,
  but when one comes along, it /should/ be easy to detect because you know how
  to sort an ignorant from an opinionated asshole and a person who believes in
  some faulty premises from an actual retard or nutcase.

  I am puzzled by the fact that people who have lent no benevolence to people
  who have held intelligent views differing from their own, lend benevolence to
  ilias and his ilk.  It is as if they cannot deal with intelligent rejection
  of their beliefs, but have no problems with misbehaving children.  If people
  think and manage to enunciate their arguments instead of defending themselves
  personally and attacking their critics, their contributions may be still hard
  to deal with because it is intellectually demanding, but if you argue and
  listen with them, you may learn something valuable that changes the way you
  deal with the world around you.  Now, this is what I cannot figure out: What
  could anyone possibly gain from converting ilias to his way of thinking?

  /Please/ do not respond to ilias.

Erik Naggum, Oslo, Norway

Act from reason, and failure makes you rethink and study harder.
Act from faith, and failure makes you blame someone and push harder.