Friday, 13 February 2009

Trolls

LabourList officially launched yesterday with a blogger's breakfast; I was intending to go, but then had to be somewhere else. Having had my doubts about the site when it took its first tentative steps into the blogosphere, I think it's now starting to come together. I will get around to posting on there one day, but I think it's a particular useful tool for MPs who don't have their own blogs, but have one specific issue where they want to get their views into the public domain (e.g. Andy Slaughter and Heathrow).

As expected the trolls have been busy on the LabourList site. They also seem to be in a particularly obnoxious mood on here at the moment - it's not that I've not been getting comments, I've just been pressing 'Reject' rather a lot. (And thanks BB for the last one; I'm sure you can understand why I'm not posting it).

Derek Draper is, naturally, the main target and has been forced to set up his own personal blog to defend himself against libellious attacks - http://derekdrapersblog.blogspot.com/. I particularly like Luke Akehurst's piece on this, and his comment that he has never met anyone like Guido or his 'useful idiots' in real life. Neither have I.

Is it because they maintain a veneer of normality in real life and, like the modern-day equivalent of 'poison pen' letter writers in Agatha Christie books vent all their spleen under the cowardly cloak of anonymity? Or maybe they just never leave home?

18 comments:

N said...

With regard to trolls on the LabourList and other sites, here is a comment I added yesterday:

Have you not notice how right wing many forums and boards became after Lord Ashcroft of Tax Dodge gave Dave+1 a large bag of money? Its because the first thing they invested it in was a small but very effective team of people who work out of Tory HQ and whose sole job it is to comment on discussion boards and fill in opinion poll questionnaires. Each individual has multiple accounts with the relevant site (e.g. BBC, YouGov, Tory Blogs & now here) and each day they are given “hot topic” issues to rant on, and key phrases and tones to use (poplar ones being “Nu-Labour” and anti-Scottish jibes).
It’s an effective strategy for forming, and bolstering public opinion: opinion poles are skewed leading policy makers to bend to a nonexistent wind; media outlets run with stories that gain “fast board reaction” and editorialise in favour of the “reaction”; the public react to the proscribed media line.
As I said it is an effective strategy for opinion forming, but as the consultants who sold this idea to Dave+1 already know, it doesn’t translate into electoral gains.

Captain Swing said...

I see you value free speech as much as the Second Home Secretary.
Whats the point in having a blog if people cant comment as they see fit.

Old Holborn said...

What about non Tory blogs like mine N?

Don't make the mistake Derek is making. Guido is not a Tory either.

We have views and we publish them.
It really IS that simple. Labour is having a problem because it cannot understand that the individual may have views. Only the collective may have views (after approval, minutes taken and voted upon according to procedure and refelcting the views of minorities/the disabled, see para 9, section 12 of the "using t'interweb" Unison Handbook for comrades)

Alice Dale said...

The posts I love the most are the Anonymous ones - good to see they have the courage of their convictions to actually, you know, use their name ... or at the very least go to the trouble of making one up.

Andreas Paterson said...

N - I've certainly noticed that there are a lot of Tory Trolls about on the net. It seems almost anywhere you go on the blogosphere or net in general, LabourHome, Labour List, the Labour Facebook group and even some Labour Blogs.

Do you have any proof of this?

Grim Reaper said...

Leave off, Kerry. The Tories have been far too busy editing random Wikipedia pages to actually do any attacking of Dolly Draper and the government this week.

Dick the Prick said...

Sure, there is significant trollery if that's defined as drivveling abuse with no clear content and unrelated to topic.

I think anyone who visits here or the BBC etc does so with the understanding that there should be a point.

I'm not completely sure what trollery is though on Guido or Biased BBC in that they also concern a niche market - an online community of like minded (David at BBBC doesn't like swearing whereas Guido almost requires it) - it kinda makes me wonder what they're doing there at all.

Hmm... it's a funny one. The most egregious trollery is the carpet bombing repetitive posts - they are freaky. (plus - oftentimes posters may be tired and emotional).

Ben said...

There will always be trolls, but seriously, what has finally snapped in Dolly's head to follow my Tweets? He's the worst kind of troll, one without a bridge to slink under anymore.

DaveA said...

Hi Kerry, I hope you are well. I appreciate you are not going to trash Dolly's best efforts, but I have written a couple of comments which have not been published. It maybe grandad not ticking the right boxes, so I will give him the benefit of the doubt. As you publish comments mainly uncensored, the deal is, I keep my comments moderate and hopefully worthy of thought.

However there is a deep suspicion that not all is well with free speech there.

His piece on Guido's caption competition, I think is purile. Yes, some of the comments are near or even on the knuckle, but funny just the same.

The internet gives us the un-PC people a platform to let loose much frustration from frankly Labour ideals. The point is if we had a honest debate without being shouted down as racists, homophobes etc the humour would be less caustic.

Dave H said...

Draper is egging hostile commenters on by being stroppy. Clearly some have sensed a vulnerability and feel the urge to kick. His CV did mislead intentinally (slightly), though given the circumstances of his initial fall from grace (cash in return for promises of influence over policy) I’m surprised that any sort of political rehabilitation was possible. Then again, who ever predicted Mandelson and Campbell could possibly return? Or Derek Conway would not have to resign his seat? Or Keith Vaz’s career prosper despite a suspension for corruption etc. etc. etc. Ever wondered why the plebs sometimes get angry with the political class? I'm not surprised you get some flak.

Most of the comments on Guido's blog are embarassing. It is curious you give him such an unambiguous political stamp. He isn't left wing, but he’s certainly no admirer of Dave either. So far as I can tell he sees his role as a self-appointed mischief-maker, his principal targets being political ones. Certainly he’s flawed: he preened and gloated and to an alarming extent when Hain resigned and examples of his private misconduct are well known, but there is a clear niche: many posts have highlighted the most breathtaking hypocrisy.

'Trolls' covers such a multitude of sinners, ranging from opinions you don’t happen to agree with to the vitreol of the outright disturbed. If you do make your phone number public, expect crank calls, especially when it is more likely to be published in BastardsBile.com than the SendKerryAValentineMessageInAppreciationOfAllHerConstituencyWork.Com

Of course anonymity means comments are typically more ripe than face to face. But, as you point out, it is equally effortless to delete them.

I’m afraid the vehemently anti-labour commenters (Trolls, if you like) only going to grow exponentially, both in quantity and venom as the recession deepens. There is a strong case for saying you (collectively) deserve it.

And who says we don’t get out enough? I’m going out right now. To check the squirrel trap.

Kerry said...

Ben, Maybe Derek just wanted to participate in Twitter in he spirit in which it is intended and thought that following lots of people - especially people who don't necessarily agree with him - would be a good start? I don't see why you perceive being followed on Twitter as an act of aggression, or even as anything remotely out of the ordinary.

Dave A, you talk about 'un-PC people' but in many cases un-PC does actually mean racist, grossly sexist, etc. I don't have a problem with dark humour, but frankly I'm not in the business of giving a platform to people whose views I regard as highly offensive. I think I've actually been very lenient in moderating comments and in allowing participation from people who I know are posting highly abusive stuff on other sites.

As for N's comment I think he/ she is right - but I don't think he/ she is talking about Guido. It's very clear from looking at comments on some newspaper sites that there is a very obvious line being parroted. Ditto Question Time audiences - you always get at least one Tory stooge reading out a question they barely seem to understand.

Katabasis said...

Still censoring me Kerry? How have I crossed the moderation policy?

Kerry said...

Because I don't see why I should use my blog to publicise other sites which I regard as vile.
Also, you don't have any "right" to use this site as a platform to express your views, and I don't have any "responsibility" to allow you to do so.

Let's say I was in a pub and some drunken foul-mouthed oaf starting shouting things at me. Am I restricting his freedom of speech if I move away and refuse to continue the conversation? Would the landlord/ landlady be restricting his freedom of speech if they turfed him out of the pub and let him continue ranting on his own in the snow?

I assume you can follow that through to its logical conclusion.

the man who fell back to bed said...

'Also, you don't have any "right" to use this site as a platform to express your views, and I don't have any "responsibility" to allow you to do so.'

so you actively approve of censorship in the case of when you dont approve of what other people are saying, then? and then wonder why people say nasty things in response to this?

DaveA said...

Can I confirm that LabourList does publish critical points, this one I wrote was published. It must of been me pressing the wrong buttons.

"Mr. Draper, a "window licker" is indeed a mentally disabled person, it is especially applied to a person with Downs Syndrome.
Downs people often have large tongues that tend to loll out and often out of boredom do infact "lick the windows." My son
who is 13 is Downs Syndrome, hence I can talk with some authority. Unlike Labour's hypocritical thought cimes bureau my son
and me are not offended and you are welcome to continue using the phrase. Guido's caption competition was un-PC and hit and
miss. Mostly outstandingly funny."

Gavin Ayling said...

I am pleased to see you are sticking to the party line -- no freedom of speech on this isle.

That said, at least you're honest about it and it is your blog afterall.

Kerry said...

People are entirely free to say what they like - they can set up their own blogs. Whether or not anyone will read it is another matter - and not my problem!

titus-aduxas said...

"Ditto Question Time audiences - you always get at least one Tory stooge reading out a question they barely seem to understand."

You mean like those two, last week, from the Labour benches, who could barely get the question out, even when it was written on a piece of paper, in front of them?

"Let's say I was in a pub and some drunken foul-mouthed oaf starting shouting things at me."
It's hardly surprising, if you go into a pub with that attitude and start calling people, you don't even know, drunken foul-mouthed oaves.