July 19, 2005


I lurk around political blogs, both Right and Left, and I particularly prefer those blogs that actually have the cajones to maintain comment engines.

I realize that some blogs can get to be so popular, they simply can't maintain comment threads because the crazies on both sides come out in full force. But, political blogs with less traffic can still support comment engines without having them totally inundated with hate from both sides.

Something I've noticed though, is that the term "Troll" has undergone a transmogrification. There was a time not so long ago when a "Troll" was a commenter to a political blog who would drop an opinion counter to the prevailing opinion of the other comments and the post itself. The opinion typically would be poorly considered, usually include an insult, and the commenter was almost always "Anonymous." These people, rightly, were labeled "Trolls," ugly little creatures lurking under a bridge until the right moment to leap up and make a nasty little scene. A "Troll" commenter typically made one comment and one comment only, after which they'd disappear and the other commenters would rip apart the troll's comment for the next 50 comments or so.

Nowadays, I've noticed that the term "Troll" is applied to basically any commenter to a political blog who offers up any differing opinion, no matter how thought out, no matter how considered, and no matter if the commenter uses a name other than "Anonymous."

Again, I see this happening more and more on both the Right and Left. I'm wondering if anybody else has noticed this trend.

I mean, if you can't offer up debate on a political blog without simply being dismissed as a troll, what's the point of political discussion at all? To preach to the choir? What fun is that? What value is that?

Posted by Ryan at July 19, 2005 04:42 PM | TrackBack

That's the dumbest shit I ever heard.

Posted by: Anonymous at July 19, 2005 05:08 PM


Posted by: Ryan at July 19, 2005 05:10 PM

Just kidding, of course. All I can say is absolutely. Discussing, arguing, and trying to convince is sort of the point I thought.

Posted by: Tony B at July 19, 2005 05:11 PM

I got a pet troll of my own a while back and so I did some reading on the phenomenon. I think it originated in old Usenet discussion boards, and contrary to my assumptions as to its origins (like you, I assumed it referred to an ugly little monster from Scandinavian folklore), I was informed that it originated from the verb "troll", as in "trolling for suckers." The idea being that a troll was someone who was deliberately being contrary or provocative in order to start a shitstorm. Thus, "don't feed the troll", meaning "don't encourage these assholes by attempting to debate them or insult them."

Any geek who's worthy of the title knows this already but it was news to me. People who are merely posting contrary views are not trolls because they are not trolling. Who knew? Which means, it's okay to debate and/or insult them!

Posted by: flamingbanjo at July 19, 2005 07:13 PM

I used to get accused of being a troll on A Small Victory all the time. Even after Michele started explaining to people that no, in fact, I wasn't a troll-- I was actually looking for intelligent debate --there'd still be some bright light who'd trot out "don't feed the troll!" every time I posted a comment. Got pretty fucking old.

Posted by: Joshua at July 20, 2005 12:45 AM

Actually, what's the value in preaching to the "non-choir" either. :)

Posted by: bigdocmcd at July 20, 2005 11:58 AM
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