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MeFi Troll Alert
December 21, 2000 10:10 PM   Subscribe

God I hate trolls. There's someone trolling MetaFilter now, under a couple names. They're posting links to stuff that is somewhat related to their own stuff (it may or may not actually be their own sites they are linking to), and they're posting ridiculous comments from different accounts, but at the same IP, at the same time.

It's times like this that I wish someone would just buy MetaFilter off me and take over. Deleting posts by trolls is about the biggest waste of time in the world, and trying to build an idiot proof site is no picnic either.

Everyone with sites that allow user input: beware of stupid trolls. They ruin everything for the rest of us, and they do it for no good reason. Ugh.
posted by mathowie to MetaFilter-Related at 10:10 PM (21 comments total)

Would it be beneficial to just post the known troll accounts, and just let them have their fun?

I mean, if you post some kind of notification that users X Y and Z are the same person, and they're trolling and that everyone should just ignore them, troll person doesn't get the thrill of attention and you don't have to bother uh, trolling for the trolls. :-)


posted by cCranium at 5:45 AM on December 22, 2000


But I equate "everyone should just ignore them" with giving up.

I emailed Rob Malda a while back, asking him what they did to deal with "first post!" accounts, and he said there was nothing they could do.

I don't want to give up.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 9:34 AM on December 22, 2000


Coding: I don't know how hard it is, but could you at least automate it to delete an account and all associated posts in one fell swoop? (I got the watch set correctly at the time change, exhausting my knowledge of how to program things.)

Does not deal with the fact that it would be so nice to have a smart firewall for trolls. Hey, you AI people, we have a job for you!
posted by mrmorgan at 10:01 AM on December 22, 2000


Yeah, but what's classified as a troll in one thread could easily be defined as a witty rejoinder in another. Context is something that AI systems are no where near accomplishing. Perhaps some research projects I'm unaware of, but certainly not at a consumer level.

I can see your point, Matt. I mean, /. has a much bigger problem than MeFi does at this point. Hell, /.'s got an entire subcommunity of -1 posters.

But while we're only dealing with one troll, ignoring may be a reasonable answer. Trolls troll to get a reaction, if they don't get a reaction, they'll move on. It's that old Bully story my mom always told me, and it's awfully close to being true.

Is it the same IP all the time, or is it just the same IP for a given period of time where the trolling happens? And is the subnet reasonably tiny (like, class b even?). Basically I'm wondering if IP filtering at a firewall level is worthwhile.

And contacting the ISP itself, informing them that a troll was active at this IP in this time period.

Unfortunately, these are solutions that are only good for a very minimal amount of trolls, definetely single-digits, but it may be worthwhile.

Or it may piss the script kiddie off, resulting in a kuro5hin-like hack, which would seriously suck. I wish there were just a way to smack someone upside the head and say "Just figure it out. Get a clue, you are not being cool by doing this."

Anybody got a TCP/IP-aware cluestick?

posted by cCranium at 11:20 AM on December 22, 2000


This is not quite a troll, but how do I stop this new user from posting to *every* single thread on the first day he arrives?

I'm going to set a limit of 2-5 comments in your first 24 hours as a member. I can't see why someone would go beyond that.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 1:25 AM on December 23, 2000


One of them standard newsgroup FAQ comments may be helpful. "We're glad you came, but lurk for a while before posting, read some archives so you know what's talked about..."

Hrm. I wonder if a MeFi FAQ would be a good idea.
posted by cCranium at 2:04 PM on December 23, 2000


I feel bad now--I actually responded to the troll. I almost never do that, but the occurrence of trollage is so rare on MeFi I lost my head.

Matt: you seem to do a great job of keeping the bozos out. It's one of the reasons I love this place.

Despair not, oh wizard oh wise one.
posted by frykitty at 5:13 PM on December 23, 2000


Well, with Matt out of town and potentially unavailable I've encountered the troll first hand also, in a couple of threads.

I want to post a top-level MeFi thread telling everyone to ignore jpl. I also suspect supremecourt or trolling in the Victor Borge thread, but christ, both the posts are seemingly innocent enough to be considered misposts.

The fact that they have sequential user ids (2696 for jpl and 2697 for supremecourt) is what makes me cross the line from innocent mis-post to pathetic trolling.

Matt, you provide us all with an excellent service. If there's any way you can think of for us to help you resolve the troll issue, just let us know and we'll be happy to help.
posted by cCranium at 6:26 PM on December 23, 2000


Fuck these monkeys. Boot them and block the IP.

This is your sandbox Matt; if they're giving you a headache they don't deserve to play. I think you're smart enough to see the difference between intelligent contrarians and trolls.


posted by capt.crackpipe at 9:23 PM on December 24, 2000


I hate trolls. Worse, I hate suckering for trolls as I did a couple of days ago, in an indicent in which a troll used someone else's real name and site in his login information. Then, when I went and did vigilante research, I researched the wrong guy. And posted it. It was my fault. I was wrong: I should have done a better job.

I still think vigilante research is a good way of combatting trolls: not responding to the trolls, but revealing them. I've shut down trolls from here to Romania in this way and I feel good about the successes. I have, however, decided to stop posting these to Metafilter (only two were ever posted, anyway), although the larger exposure there would be better.

That said, here's the real information for our current nasty troll.

His real name appears to be Mickey Suttle. His primary occupation online seems to be promoting his Star Wars-related web site which is apparently filled with made-up rumors, borrowed news, invented interviews and faked email messages.

In his domain registration information he also uses the names Bailey Suttle, Ridley Suttle and Wilson Suttle. The address, with minor variations, is always the same:

Suttle, Mickey
InterNic Handles: MS36266, MS34137
2339 24th Ave NE
Hickory, NC 28601
US
828-256-7395

He gives this toll-free number out on his site:
1-866-279-4100 Extension 439

Some email addresses:
swtpm1@aol.com
hi@swprequeltrilogy.com
rogue@swprequeltrilogy.com
ridley@swprequeltrilogy.com
starwarsrumors@EXCITE.COM
avon@avonleonard.com
StarWars@2starwars.com
mickeysuttle@yahoo.com

Some domains he owns:
1starwars.com
avonleonard.com
starwars2x.com
swprequeltrilogy.com
micfilms.com
2starwars.com
supershadow.com

He may also be affiliated with the email address "oracseven7@aol.com" and the domains "moviebabble.com" and "americasqueen.com". It has been suggested that he has used the aliases Davenseven and Nightmarish in Aint-It-Cool-News discussion forums.

An old site of his: http://members.tripod.com/~prequelrumors/soguco.html . All of its pages except the index appear to be online and can be found through Google.

....

Episode II Script Fabrications
Wed, Mar 15, 00 02:08:02 PM EDT
A website called Supershadow, run by Mickey Suttle, is claiming on the site and through the newsletter that Lucasfilm has given him an Episode II script in exchange for not badmouthing Lucas. Suprisingly, many of you have thought this might be true, and even one movie website has directed people there to see it.

This is all completely untrue.

This individual has not spoken with Lucasfilm. He has not interviewed George Lucas. He has no arrangement with Lucasfilm. He does not have the Episode II script. In fact, the Episode II script hasn't even been completed yet. If Lucasfilm doesn't even have it, why would they give it to any Star Wars fan (as if they would)?

You're probably asking, "Why hasn't Lucasfilm shut this guy down if he's lying?" Good question. Is this stuff grounds for getting a site shut down? No. If you shut down every site run by a person who posts fabrications on their site, then you'd shut down half the net.

You have been warned!

.....

16th March 2000

We have received a number of emails regarding this story and also noticed that TF.N and Episodeii.Com have notes on this character as well.

Mr. Suttle, if that's a real name, claims to have done a deal with LucasFilms to obtain the worlds only released copy of the script to Episode-2. What was the price he paid for this piece of history? To stop bugging Lucasfilms!!!

Ratcat's Comments: Hmmm, seems like there's something rather smell going on her, and I think is came out the back end of a bull!

According to Episodeii.Com, this guy has been concocting stories like this for some time. Previously he has alleged to have exclusive interviews with George Lucas.

And if the counter on his site is true, I'm sure he's making a fortune off of the web advertising he's has on his page. I that, I think, is really what he's about.

....

A post originally from theforce.net:

An individual named Mickey Suttle may have many of you duped.

He runs a website called Supershadow. On that site, he has claimed to interview George Lucas repeatedly (among many other outrageous things). Now he is claiming on his site and through his newsletter that Lucasfilm has given him an Episode II script in exchange for not badmouthing Lucas. Suprisingly, many of you have thought this might be true, and even one movie website has directed people there to see it.

These are all complete and utter lies.

This individual has not spoken with Lucasfilm. He has not interviewed George Lucas. He has no arrangement with Lucasfilm. He does not have the Episode II script. In fact, the Episode II script hasn't even been completed yet. If Lucasfilm doesn't even have it, why would they give it to any Star Wars fan (as if they would)?

You're probably asking, "Why hasn't Lucasfilm shut this guy down if he's lying?" Good question. Is this stuff grounds for getting a site shut down? No. If you shut down every site run by a looney who posts fabrications on their site, then you'd shut down half the net.

And on another level, Mickey Suttle has harassed members of TheForce.Net repeatedly. Several years ago he'd go to websites and pretend to be an ILM informant, passing bogus info on to unsuspecting webmasters. When we pointed this out and confronted him about it, he started harassing people in our forums, intending to drive them off. (Back then he went by the alias Davenseven, and Nightmarish on the AICN forums.) He then began sending out hate mail to various Star Wars fan sites, signing the e-mails with our names and return e-mail address. Mickey Suttle would also sign site guestbooks in our name and leave insults and profanity. It then escalated to him sending out requests for child pornography in our names. He also posted web pages on free services that said members of TheForce.Net were convicted child molesters and that we were using this site to lure in children. He did all of this anonymously, but through various slip-ups on his part we were able to trace everything back to him. We went to the police about this, and even the FBI. Why didn't they do anything? Why haven't we sued him yet? Well, you'd be suprised how unprotected you are on the net, and how much the hands of the authorities are tied. Without the cooperation of ISPs on such matters (such as AOL), your options are severly limited. Plus, it has been a while since he has done any of this and we have more important things to worry about.

Webmasters from many of the other Star Wars sites can verify that all of the above is true. Many of them have been harassed by this individual as well. We would ignore all of this, but it seems that so many of you out there trust this guy to bring you legitimate news when, the fact is, he's lying and he's tarnishing the reputation of Star Wars fans online. We don't want to simply stand by and watch this happen.

This individual has some serious problems, so you would do well to drop his newsletter, not trust anything on his site, and avoid contact with him. Otherwise you'll find out the hard way you've been lied to all this time.

....

UPDATE: The Imaginary world of Mickey Suttle
Date Line: 17th March 2000

TF.N have an update on this story. The spoke to some of the Lucas contacts and have confirmed what we suspected all along.

* None of the names given by Mr. Suttle as Lucasfilm employees actually exist.
* Claims of possession of a script for Episode-2 are completely false.
* Staff at Lucasfilm are unsure if the site is simply trying to get media attention, or if it is a satire on Star Wars news.
* This is not the process George will bring Episode II to the Internet

If you want to read the rest of what TF.N have to say, go to the Episode-2 Section at TF.N.

Personally, I have a bit of a problem with the whole thing. On the one hand, I don't wish to give this gut any free publicity as that just feeds his ego. But, on the other hand, I want to highlight the fairy tale that is his site.

I took the time to browse through his message board and noticed that all the same names keep appearing. Such comments as "Mickey, your so cool!" and "Mickey, without your site I'd know nothing about Star Wars."

Those statements alone have convinced me that this thing is a total fraud and publicity stunt. Why? Well, ever gone to Yahoo and typed in Star Wars? You must get 918 entries. AltaVista gives 542,567!!!

So Why is this guy doing this and what is he up to???

THE ANSWER

Surprisingly, the answer is right there in the website I think. No one who has commented on this site has actually mentioned it as far as I can find. Mickey Suttle is writing a book about Star Wars! Yep, this guy is a budding author and according to website, he's writing a book about Star Wars and he'll even put your name in it if you ask!!!

I surmise that he is trying to get himself noticed by making these wild claims. Allegedly he has already been approached to appear on a number of talk shows and his site has gained a degree of notoriety in just a few short weeks. If he actually manages to get onto TV, Radio or a major internet entertainment news site he'll have an ideal forum to promote his work for free!

.....

SPY REPORT: Final Word
Tue, Mar 28, 00 12:10:47 AM EDT
We still every once in a great while get an email asking about this fake website situation, so we figured we'd post the information from a trusted source and then not mention it ever again:

As you undoubtedly know, Mickey Suttle (aka "SuperShadow" on the Internet) is a complete fraud. Anyone who has followed his actions for any length of time will know this to be the case. All during the production of The Phantom Menace, Suttle claimed to be an employee of Industrial Light & Magic assigned to a key position on the Episode I VFX crew. (That's one heck of a commute for someone living in North Carolina!) He also claimed to have visited Skywalker Ranch many times and to have met and worked with George Lucas. Then suddenly one day a disclaimer appears on his website stating that he has absolutely no connection to Lucasfilm, ILM or any of the Lucas companies. No doubt Suttle was contacted by someone within the Lucas organization and told to knock it off.

"SuperShadow" behaved himself for a time until his recent false claim that he is in posession of the completed script for Episode II, a script that by George Lucas' own admission is not yet finished. Says he had receive it from someone named Brad Bender, the supposed head of Lucasfilm Internet Relations. There is no such person at the Lucas companies. Never has been.

Now Mickey Suttle tops everything off by telling the world that he was meeting with George Lucas at Skywalker Ranch on Monday March 20th to go over suggestions for Episode II that he has gathered from the fans, spent the night at the ranch and toured ILM on Tuesday March 21st. But wait, didn't Mickey Suttle say he worked at ILM, had already been to Skywalker Ranch and already knew George? I can tell you for an absolute fact that Mickey Suttle did not set foot on Skywalker Ranch or anywhere on campus at ILM.

None of his claims are true. So that's the end of that.

....

An entire bulletin board of people mocking Suttle and his various pseudonymous attempts to curry favor. More from the same source.

....

Usenet posts about this nutjob. More about or by him.

posted by Mo Nickels at 10:57 AM on December 25, 2000


Mo, you got the same guy.

I deleted two accounts earlier this week, as they were pointing to nothing but starwars sites. I deleted all traces of them, and banned two of the IPs they were using, but not the entire subclass (which I will do when I get back). The IP block resolved back to that address in kentucky. You probably remember the first user account, vespon, that pointed to all sorts of star wars BS.

So, Mickey whatever-your-name-is, we're all onto you and I'll be doing the necessary steps to block you from the site forever. Hope you're happy with everything you've done here, and got a few hits to your stupid star wars sites.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 12:04 PM on December 25, 2000


supremecourt and vehicle are both posting from this IP:
216.104.228.125 which is at Exodus. I don't think such a scumbag could pay for a cage at exodus and they don't fuck around with abusers, but I'm betting it's an anonymizer of some sort, probably SafeWeb. I'll continue looking into this.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 12:11 PM on December 25, 2000


This sort of thing won't ever go away, but (IMHO) it's not that big a deal. In this medium we have to take the bad with the good. On open forums trolls will be a fact of life.

That said here are a few ideas I had:\

1) Draw up a legal document explaining the legal ramifications. Of course there aren't any, but I'll bet it would keep the kid awake at night. Lawyers can be very scary when they want to be.

2) I thought it would be cool to block the troll's posts for everyone but him. That way he wouldn't even know he was being blocked. Everyone would just be ignoring him.

3) IP blocking. I've never used this so I don't know how effective it would be. I would guess that it might not work since most dial-ups are assigned dynamic IPs.

4) Make a longer "lurk" period. The content is good here even if you can't post. Make new users wait a week before they can post. If they piss everyone off after that, delete the account. I would have waited a week. This place is great.
posted by y6y6y6 at 12:25 PM on December 25, 2000


Number 2 is the best option someone mentioned to me earlier. Once I've identified someone as a troll, set something in their user record as troll. Immediately make all their posts invisible to all users except them. Then, when they repeatedly post, and find no one is responding to their drivel, they give up and leave. No one sees their mess beyond the identification process.

It's not that hard to do programatically, and I'm going to give it a go when I have some time.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 1:33 PM on December 25, 2000


I'm sure this guy logs in and out of different accounts all the time so he can see if his posts are visible.

His last post used this link:

https://www.safeweb.com/o/_o(154):_win(2):http://www.starwars2x.com/plot.html

this looks like an attempt to obscure the destination this time.


posted by lagado at 5:54 PM on December 25, 2000


If you flag troll accounts so only trolls can see them that may resovle the multiple account trolls.

It also might spawn a bizarre MeFi subsociety, of trolls posting to other trolls. I'm mildly entertained by that concept.
posted by cCranium at 8:11 AM on December 26, 2000


The BBS system I've run for almost 10 years has that feature, but it's called "twitting." You'd set the "twit bit" for a user, and then no one would see the user's posts except the twit himself. Very handy. But often twits would figure out they had been twitted, and then they'd vow revenge... usually nothing would come of it, though. I haven't had to set the twit bit in years. (The BBS is still up and running and telnettable at telnet://bbs.slumberland.org , if you're curious.)

Anyway, I think it's a good solution because they get to post and no one else sees it. As long as they think they are getting to post their crap, and as long as the rest of us don't see it, everyone is happy. But if the trolls ever visit the site without being logged in, they'll figure out pretty quickly what's going on.

There are other things in that BBS software that could be used on annoying twits -- PsychoChicken mode, in which everything the twit saw on the board lOoKeD sOmEtHiNg lIkE tHiS, and permanent 300 baud emulation. But those were less subtle than twitting, and tended to cause the twit to want to start a war.
posted by litlnemo at 2:13 PM on December 30, 2000


I just sent off an e-mail to Garth Franklin of Dark Horizons; he has a link to a Star Wars Episode 2 script on his page for today. Guesss whose link it is? None other than Mickey Suttle. I directed Garth to this link for all the evidence of Mr. Suttle's questionable credibility, making sure to credit Mo Nickles as the author of the post. Thanks to Mo and Metafilter for the information!
posted by JDC8 at 6:37 PM on January 1, 2001


I apparently wandered into the middle of some bad feelings left behind by Mo's "vigilante research" of a couple weeks ago with my post on another "Mo Nickels." Thought I would try here to reassure Mo that nothing negative was intended--I was just amused by the "Mrs. Nickels" idea and thought he would be too. I had no idea it would draw the reaction it did. But, unless something bad happened last night, I'm curious why it was deleted.
posted by rodii at 8:33 AM on January 4, 2001


I thought that it was pretty funny, though I could see why it would be disconcerting for Mo
to have such information known, especially since we now know his double life. =)
posted by Avogadro at 11:33 AM on January 4, 2001


Seems to me the worst thing about having trolls isn't getting rid of them, almost any system can do that.

The ramifications of known trolls lurking MeFi seems to have brought out the worst in people. Rather than assuming someone's just posting something contrary because that's their opinion, it seems to me as though people are ready to just yell "Troll" and let it be.

<sigh>

(note: the trolls are real, I'm not denying that, but not everyone who doesn't agree with you is a troll, that's all I'm saying.)
posted by cCranium at 1:47 PM on January 16, 2001


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