More on Internet politeness...

I can see by the comments to my Monday post on Internet etiquette that you all are wonderful, considerate people who would never dream of being obnoxious on someone else's blog.

Of course I knew that anyway.  *grin*

However, several of you were confused by my question about trolling.  Let me clarify.  The all-mighty Wikipedia defines a troll thusly...

"In Internet slang, a troll is someone who posts controversial, inflammatory, irrelevant, or off-topic messages in an online community, such as an online discussion forum, chat room or blog, with the primary intent of provoking other users into an emotional or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion."

In other words, trolls are like those people at parties that everyone avoids. They are hugely negative, they try to sell you things or tell you how corrupt the establishment is.  They talk endlessly about themselves and what they think.  And no matter what you say, they never listen.  You cannot have a discussion with them.

Here are the examples the made me start thinking about this.  (And these are just this month.)

Agent Kristin Nelson decides to put comment moderation on her blog after previous comment threads are taken over by people who like to rant.   (example here)

Jim C. Hines, fantasy author and long-time rape information advocate, posted recently about rape on his blog.  He had to stop several livejournal threads that got out of hand, and ended up having to ban someone all together. 

And just this week, the lovely Moonrat disabled anonymous comments because of the comments on this post.

If you look at the comments that offended in each of these cases, you'll have good idea of the kind of trolling and Internet rudeness I was talking about.

I see this all the time:

~Some people claim that comment moderation or deleting offensive remarks amounts to censorship.

~Some people appear to believe that as long as they're speaking "the truth", they can say whatever the heck they want. And do it on any forum they can gain access to.

~Some people think it's okay to be personally insulting and to call other people names, because it's a free Internet.

I know what I think about this.  What do YOU think?


  1. My thoughts are that the blog belongs to whoever creates and writes it. That person controls the content and essence of it. I have deleted posts in the past that went off topic or were inflammatory, and didn't hesitate or think twice about doing it. It often comes down to respect - both ways, and really bloggers should expect nothing less.

  2. I think if I have something to say that I'm not willing to put my name beside, I shouldn't say it...and I don't respect others who hide behind anonymity.

    I have deleted comments from my blog. I want my blog to be a professional forum, not a free for all. When someone is rude or uses offensive language, I delete. It's no different from asking a person wearing ripped jeans to leave a fancy-dress restaurant until they can put on a suit.

  3. I you are interested the issue of internet etiquette mixed with good mystery fiction check out Jeffry Deaver’s, latest book, Roadside Crosses. In it Deaver address the issues of flaming and both the dangers of blogging and the responsibly the owner of a blog should have. In the book there is a car accident where two teenage girls are killed and the teen driver is not charged. However, he becomes the target of flaming on a local blog and soon those that are doing the flaming start being attacked. While not up to classic Deaver standards it is a fascinating look at how the cyber world and the real one can intersect.

  4. Joanne- I totally agree with you. IMO, a blog is kind of like a person's Internet "home". They get to decide how much bad behavior they're willing to tolerate, and when to ask people to leave.

    Beth- I like the restaurant metaphor! I think a lot of things come down to this, is it appropriate? For example, is a rant about the awful state of publishing appropriate on a post that solely celebrates other's good news? Nope.

    Marty- Ooo... That sounds intriguing! And you know I'm always down for some Deavers. :) I think as the Internet continues to grow and develop, we'll see a lot more writers explore this fine line between cyber and reality...

  5. It's your blog and you can delete whatever the heck you want to.

  6. In my blog's previous incarnation, I had comment moderation on--spam catchers and I had to personally approve each and every comment. Then I moved over to Wordpress and now I have it set so that I have to approve the first comment by a given author but after that they can comment freely. I really like the balance between free discourse (which I do think is important) and making sure the trolls don't get you.

    I think a lot of the appropriateness comes from the purpose of the blog. If it's primarily a political/discussion based blog, then presumably they're interested in debate on some level (although I personally believe in being gracious no matter what). However, if it's a personal blog I feel very strongly that being kind and respectful of others is a must.

  7. I suppose that part of my reaction comes from the fact that I'm aware of blogs where only comments which follow the "message" the blog owner wants to get across are allowed--all others are deleted and anything that even approaches questioning any of the blog owner's assumptions are not allowed. I know this is an extreme case, but I don't believe that is appropriate either.

  8. I think those people are poo, in a karmic way.

  9. PJ- No argument there! :)

    Singing- I like the balance you've found, and you're right--the level of debate and argument that is appropriate varies depending on the purpose of the blog.

    I do think that people have the right to control what is on their own blog, but it makes me sad to see a forum where discussion is not allowed at all. That's why I've been thinking so much about the happy medium.

    Amy- I agree. (And thanks for the fun mental picture! *scrapes troll muck off her shoes*)

  10. Deleting comments is not censorship. I loved the anonymous post on my blog who asked why I deleted her comment and said she thought I believed in free speech.

    My opinion - if you don't like your comments getting deleted, get your own blog.

  11. Nic- I remember that person! And I think you actually said that to them... *grin*


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