It's double-post day here at Metafilter. February 13, 2002 8:55 AM   Subscribe

It's double-post day here at Metafilter.

And those posts which are new have turned into very nasty places to visit.
posted by jpoulos to MetaFilter-Related at 8:55 AM (46 comments total)

That last thread you linked makes me really sad.

My opinion on dealing with trolls, which is really hard to follow in practice, and I find myself falling for their bait sometimes too, but: IGNORE THEM. And if they make some particularly offensive remark (like rabbit's comments about New Israel may be to some people), it should be talked about here, not in the thread.

What's the point of having a discussion that just consists of "you're a troll!" "no, you're the troll!" "it's trolling to call me a troll!" "he's the troll!"? Why not just address the issues without worrying much about the rhetorical style of the other posters?

But then I don't imagine my saying so will change much of anything, so... whatever.
posted by daveadams at 9:28 AM on February 13, 2002

If I want to retain my MeFi sanity, I have to avoid looking at any threads involving Israel and Palestine. They all devolve into the same thing, usually said by the same people. It is, in a way, just one long extended double post.
posted by anapestic at 10:32 AM on February 13, 2002

It is, in a way, just one long extended double post.

I agree completely. The same goes for all the "You Call That Compassionate Conservatism?" Bush posts. I'm no fan of Bush, but judging from these posters' grasp of relative history or politics in their arguements, I'm beginning to think Lileks was dead-on.
posted by Karl at 10:39 AM on February 13, 2002

Same goes for the death penalty, althought thankfully we haven't had one of those in a while.
posted by jpoulos at 10:39 AM on February 13, 2002

And if they make some particularly offensive remark (like rabbit's comments about New Israel may be to some people), it should be talked about here, not in the thread.

it was offensive to me, despite the "but it's a joke!" claim and the later post by a jewish person who was not offended.
posted by judith at 10:42 AM on February 13, 2002

I didn't get to see any of those posts, as they are all now deleted. I probably didn't miss much.
posted by insomnyuk at 11:13 AM on February 13, 2002

I'd just like to voice my agreement with Judith - I was offended, regardless of the intent of the poster. There's a million things I'd like to say, but in the current environment at MeFi, I feel I'd be flamed for saying them. Lose/lose.
posted by J. R. Hughto at 11:16 AM on February 13, 2002

So wait a second ... ParisParamus (and others) can run around here spewing his bigoted anti-arab bile and vitriol virtually unchecked, but someone makes a crack about jewish bias in hollywood and they get shut down? If there's going to be a double standard, can we at least add something to the rules tellng us which groups are ok to slander and which ones we have to leave alone?
posted by hipstertrash at 11:55 AM on February 13, 2002

Hipstertrash, I know where you're coming from, but I know Judith (by her site and posts) and I'm sure she would be just as offended by any anti-Arab bile. I have a feeling the other people who said they were offended would feel the same way.

There is no double standard, very few people besides the offenders themselves would agree that slandering or otherwise defaming any group/religion/etc on MeFi is something that is OK. If someone feels annoyed/offended, it doesn't mean they accept other forms of abuse. It's up to all of us to at least let the person know how we feel about their views.
posted by cell divide at 12:01 PM on February 13, 2002

Sorry you're wrong. The first post in that thread was "But don't let any Arabs hear that!" regarding a map error about Palestine. That went ignored until I pointed it out. Sorry, but there is a double standard.

I noticed that, and it was a reason why I deleted it. Anything mentioning palestine or israel turns into crap here, and I'm making an effort to eradicate it all from the site until something civil shows up. Deleting that post was the beginning of what could be many in the future.

I'm offended by anti-arab stuff too, and will keep an eye out for it.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 12:25 PM on February 13, 2002

thanks, celldivide. it's true that most of my posts (and you can check this if you want, hipstertrash) in israeli-palestinian discussions here have been to point to organizations on both sides working for peace and justice (a new one to me:

nevertheless, i think it's important to clarify here between an anti-israeli comment and an anti-jewish comment. i was offended not as a "zionist" or a "pro-israeli" but as a jew. still, i did not call for the deletion of the thread, just pointed out that it bothered me, in the same way that i would point out an anti-arab comment that bothered me. i don't think there's a double standard at play here in the slightest.
posted by judith at 12:43 PM on February 13, 2002

Anything mentioning palestine or israel turns into crap here, and I'm making an effort to eradicate it all from the site until something civil shows up. Deleting that post was the beginning of what could be many in the future.

This is the best news I've seen here in quite some time.

Also, hipstertrash, it's not that there's a double standard between an anti-jewish post and an anti-arab post; it's more that Paris has been posting the same garbage so consistently and for so long that we're tired of calling him on it. Shutting down that sort of thread entirely is the best way to deal with the situation.
posted by anapestic at 12:58 PM on February 13, 2002

I wish there was a way to get Paris to cool it, but he seems impervious to criticism, so short of calling for his banning (which I'm not willing to do), what can you do?
posted by rodii at 2:47 PM on February 13, 2002

Anything mentioning palestine or israel turns into crap here, and I'm making an effort to eradicate it all from the site until something civil shows up. Deleting that post was the beginning of what could be many in the future.

The boss is back and HE IS PISSED! Viva le Matt!

I'm not being sarcastic in the least here. I'm glad you're taking a stand, mathowie. Improvements to come shortly ...
posted by Wulfgar! at 3:04 PM on February 13, 2002

rodii - That was kind of my point, though. Why stop it now, when there seem to be more and more people around willing to take Paris head-on? It seems as though it was tacitly accepted as long as there was only him on his soap-box. As soon as some people come around and decide to call him on his shit, people bitch, matt takes notice, and the debate gets shut down. I don't want to see this place turn into Mideast Smackdown-filter, but at the same time I am troubled by a climate that looks on Paris as a tolerable annoyance, yet cries 'foul' when the other side fights back. Can you see my point?
posted by hipstertrash at 3:18 PM on February 13, 2002

The boss is back and HE IS PISSED! Viva le Matt!

It's like that bit in FotR at Bilbo's house when Gandalf gets really big, really loud and really scary :)
posted by obiwanwasabi at 3:33 PM on February 13, 2002

hipstertrash said: I am troubled by a climate that looks on Paris as a tolerable annoyance, yet cries 'foul' when the other side fights back.

I don't see it as two different sides. Racism is racism; it's the same side of the coin, whether it be anti-Semitic or anti-Arab (which is a rather dilute term; there are just as many types of Arabs as there are Jews).

And Matt is right to zonk threads that quickly turn into the Gaza Strip; they don't serve to do anything except to bait and anger people of all political persuasions, and the fire spreads to other, peaceful threads. That said, I didn't even see ParisParamus' comments (I saw the 'new Israel/Hollywood' one, but I ignored it.) What did he say?
posted by evanizer at 5:11 PM on February 13, 2002

evanizer - when I last looked at that thread, Paris hadn't yet made an appearence. When I next looked at Mefi, the post was long gone. However, in another recent thread, when confronted with statistics on Palestinian casualties, he refered to the (largely civilian) dead as "mostly criminals," and implied that the Palestinians only have themselves to blame for any loss of innocent life. So I hope that you'll forgive me if I don't see much (relative) harm in a comment about demographics in the US entertainment industry. And that isn't even the worst thing he's said, by a long shot.

Yes, racism is racism, but when the cultural climate defines anti-semitism as "saying anything bad about israel, its supporters, or those who espouse (political and social) ideologies that are closely linked with the Jewish religion and culture," accusations of racism become a way to silence dissent. Can anyone stand up and say with a straight face that there isn't a considerable amount of pro-Israel bias in Hollywood? Rabbit's phrasing was snarky and a bit hyperbolic, but I fail to see how it was bigoted or malicious. The worst thing he can be accused of is poor taste.

I appreciate that Judith made the distinction between anti-semitism and anti-zionism, even if she came to a different conclusion than I did. But too often, it seems, both here and in the world at large, statements against Zionism are wrongly portrayed as anti-semetic. As a person of Jewish ancestry, I'm enraged by the ways in which the Holocaust and the historical persecution of Jews are used opportunistically to sheild Zionism from criticism. History seems to belong to the victors in this regard, but Zionsm was never a universal part of Jeish history and culture, and many of those who have suffered persecution and death because of their background spent their lives speaking out against the militant Zionist movement. The state of Israel is historically and ideologically attached to those millions of deaths, leaving us a legacy of what? More death? The oppression of another dispossesed minority? Before the fulfillment of the zionist programme, ethnic Jews and staunch anti-Zionists like Emma Goldman and Alexander Berkman were simply in disagreement with an ideology. Today, they would be labeled as race traitors. Jews, like any other ethnic group, have always held within their ranks a vast plurality of opinions and voices. When one ideology is institutionalized (like Islamic fundimentalism among several ethnic groups) and attached to the culture as a whole, internal dissent is silenced and external dissent becomes a racist threat.

So in that sense, evanizer, racism is NOT always racism, and turning conventional wisdom into a bad joke is not the same as portraying dead children as criminals, and then putting the blood onto the hands of their grieving parents.

Sorry to be long winded, but no serious attempt to raise the level of debate here can happen without analzying these issues.
posted by hipstertrash at 8:05 PM on February 13, 2002

Hipstertrash: I'm still waiting for my key to the vault that will let me control the media.

You know, frankly, I never understood how being accused of controlling the banks and the media could be a bad thing. Considering the absolute power and authority the Catholic Church wielded through centuries, and the horrific atrocities said church committed, owning a few movie studios doesn't look so bad. Sure, you guys can have the Inquisition, the Crusades, looking the other way regarding Hitler; I'll take Paramount. Wheeeee!

I'm in agreement with you regarding the distinction between anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism and how the Holocaust has been used and abused for decades now, and how any mild questioning regarding Israeli policy somehow equates thoughtcrime against Judaism.

On the other hand, the "conventional wisdom," as you refer to it, also says that Arabs are swarthy oil shieks, Irish are drunk potato eaters, and Italians are all mobsters, every one of them. Please be careful when flinging "conventional wisdom" around, because that's how stereotypes get started, and frankly, the Holocaust happened in part because young Adolf got his hands on a piece of "conventional wisdom" called Protocols of the Elders of Zion, so let's not fling these generalizations around without regard for their origins or their consequences.

And when it all comes right down to it, we can always safely make fun of Scientologists and Objectivists, so it's all good.

P.S. As someone who is ethnically French/German/English - a/k/a heavily WASP - yet was adopted into a Jewish family, I always dislike when Jews are considered an ethnicity. Bzzt, sorry!
posted by solistrato at 9:04 PM on February 13, 2002

Watch it with the Objectivist stuff, sjc. :-P
posted by evanizer at 9:23 PM on February 13, 2002

OK, the Objectivists are off limits now. Can we at least mock the Moonies and Jehovah's Witnesses?
posted by jonmc at 9:30 PM on February 13, 2002

I have never said anything racist. Attacking despotic, tyranical, undemocratic regimes and leaders of such regimes is not racist. Describing the fact that certain groups of people can't get their democratic and/or economic acts together is not racist. And comparing groups of people who endorse medieval forms of religion and or government is not racist. Stop hiding intellectually behind cheap accusations.
posted by ParisParamus at 9:30 PM on February 13, 2002

I didn't comment in that thread. Because it was a vapid thread.

posted by ParisParamus at 9:32 PM on February 13, 2002

I have never said anything racist.

You're in as much denial as when you joined this board and said Palestinians don't exist. But I guess that's not racism, since if a people don't exist (or, even worse can't get their economic acts together) it's not really racist to endorse the murder of their leaders, the disrespect of their women, the killing of their children, and the genenral understanding that they are beneath 'your side.'

People have called you on your bullshit time and time again, presenting you with rational arguments, links, and statistics, but you ignore them and go happily on your ignorant, annoying, immoral way. You don't bother to educate yourself, you just keep spouting the same tripe over and over and over again. So people just ignore you if a debate comes up in that issue.

It is people like you on both sides of the Israel/Palestine conflict that keep the fires burning and the bombs coming. People who refuse to give in even a little bit and accept a share of the blame. People who perpetuate myths, lies and distortions in order not to find some solution, but to 'win'.
posted by chaz at 10:31 PM on February 13, 2002

Exactly on the money chaz. well said, well said.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 10:46 PM on February 13, 2002

Same here chaz, though I doubt he'll get that message either.
posted by Zootoon at 12:11 AM on February 14, 2002

Let's just take him out and burn him then! Or how bout a dunking stool? Honestly. I thought he was slinging racial slurs or something. Supporting Israel and opposing many of the tactics of the Palestinian regime does not necessarily mean one advocates all the actions of the state of Israel, nor does it indicate a desire to prolong the suffering of the Palestinians. Every time anyone supports Israel, they get pummeled with all the evidence that Israel is the bully. But there is nary a word said to criticize the tactics and political machinations of Arafat and the PLO. If you are going to call for Zionists and Israel to "accept a share of the blame", then you better be damn ready to produce equivalent information about the Palestinian-committed atrocities and call for them to "accept a share of the blame" as well. But you haven't done that, have you? You just made a vague laundry list of atrocities and expect them to be taken as facts, while the atrocities on the other side are ignored. But you don't want both sides to take a share of the blame; it's quite obvious whose side you're on. You're willing to call racism against anyone who opposes your beliefs. Double standards, children.

But then, I'm a Zionist, so I must be evil too, right?
posted by evanizer at 1:11 AM on February 14, 2002

But then, I'm a Zionist, so I must be evil too, right?

depends on whether you fit the description that chaz just provided. Personaly, I believe that Zionism often goes hand in hand with the kind of contempt set forth in his post, but that contempt does not have to be present. Its perfectly possible to believe in the need for a Jewish state without subscribing to that supremacist undercurrent.

Do I have a problem with the way that Israel came to be, carving out borders and giving one group claim to a reigon that historically belongs to many? You bet, but I also have a problem with the displacement and elimination of Native Americans by European settlers. But both are irreversible realities of the modern world. Israel is a fact, and as such, I'm more than willing to hear out the opinions of anyone who wants to find a way out of the current horrors, even people whose views of the past and ideological affiliations are at odds with mine. All viewpoints instrumental to the development of the current conditions have to be part of any eventual solution. That being said, no one faction has a right to dictate absolutely the present and future status quo. And yes, there are militants on both sides who demand such absolute power, but only Israel is in a position to dictate and enforce a one-sided "resolution." The suicide bombers, assasins, and those who enable them will all have serious crimes to answer for. But they can't take down Israel, and all but the most feverish zealots realize this. Is it really that surprising that its taken a half-century for the Palestinians to approach a grudging acceptance of a state created in their backyard by diplomats from the other side of the planet? The growing movement among Israelis to end military atrocities and reach a fair compromise is proof to me that people can at the same time support Israel and acknowledge the rights and grievances of the Palestinians.

Its not about being a Zionist. Its about being a human being first, and a Zionist second. When ideology preceeds all else in a person, things like reason and compassion whither up and die.
posted by hipstertrash at 2:21 AM on February 14, 2002

I think the MetaFilter ideological demographics are responsible, inasmuch as we Zionists are very much in a minority here. We could learn to be less vocal, I guess. We do make a lot of noise. But it feels wrong and cowardly to just shut up. Israel is about me in a way that Palestine can never be about you - only about Palestinians.

It's true that the anti-Zionist majority is much more willing to see both sides of the question. But that's what civilized majorities do - as is clearly the case. Thanks for that. I grant that our attitude is much less open and tolerant.

But I guess, relatively speaking, we're the Palestinians here at MetaFilter, shouting and throwing stones in our little Gaza strip. We could tone it down, I agree.

Is there really any problem apart from this? I honestly don't think so.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 2:42 AM on February 14, 2002

Israel is about me in a way that Palestine can never be about you

I was going to reply "Speaking as a human being, I disagree. They're both about me, and about you", but I had second thoughts, because I didn't want to just toss in a snarky soundbite without at least justifying it. I recently took a test you linked to Miguel, about moral parsimony. For better or worse, it seems we do count "geography" in our moralising, eg most people would have a hard time deciding whether its best to save one family member or ten strangers from a burning building, given a choice between them.

WRT israel/palestine, I just see an awful tragedy being perpetuated where both sides are geographically equidistant from me, and wonder how the bitterness could ever stop, given the racial/religious entrenchment of the involved parties. I'd like to see people try to forget where their "loyalties" lie, and just listen to each other. But that's probably naive.
posted by walrus at 3:03 AM on February 14, 2002

I don't think it is naive, walrus. It's been done - it's being done right here. For it to be done, though, we should all first admit our prejudices. Prejudices are human too. To help overcome them we need to recognize them. And only others can do that - I don't think we can do it on our own.

In the last forty years racism and other forms of prejudice - once thought acceptable, even natural - have declined remarkably in our world. You just have to keep on talking. When you - or hipstertrash - mention that we're all human beings I do feel a guilty twinge, recognizing that that's what it all should boil down to. It makes me tone down my prejudice. It helps a little bit.

Real progress is necessarily slow - like weight loss, perhaps. To lose weight(or ideological freight)permanently you must lose a little at a time, over a long period of time.
There is no doubt, for instance, that in the last few years many Zionists have become much more aware of the Palestinians - by actually seeing them and listening to them - than they were before. From blindness to vision may be a long haul but you can measure small increases in clarity.

This probably sounds wishy-washy and pathetically gradualist but when you look at evolution graphs of cultural attitudes(say to women, gays, foreigners, universal suffrage)the progress is quite amazing. Who could vote in the 1930's? Not women, not blacks, not prisoners, etc.

Boring old patience is a big part of the solution, wouldn't you agree?
posted by MiguelCardoso at 3:53 AM on February 14, 2002

This probably sounds wishy-washy and pathetically gradualist

No, it sounds honest and hopeful. And I would agree. Something worth chipping away at. Thank you for your post: I don't have much to add or take away from it, except perhaps for that guilty twinge. I doubt it's very justified in your case.

I usually try not to get involved in these discussions, knowing very little about the realities of the situation except for the generalisations and exaggerations presented by the media. It seems to me from my safe remove, however, that zionism versus anti-zionism isn't highly pragmatic, in a situation where the land is already occupied by both Jews and Palestinians, and in which parties on both sides have apparently been guilty of atrociously anti-human acts. Short of genocide, the only way to solve it is for both sides to learn to share and forgive, somehow.

I think this will have to be my final word on the situation, as I'm very conscious that this means a lot more to many people than the small heartache it causes me when I encounter it in the news, and that as such I don't really have much right to be talking about it, much less potentially causing offence.
posted by walrus at 4:29 AM on February 14, 2002

F U very much for putting words in my mouth.

My words speak for themselves. On numerous occassions I have said that Israel is not blameless, but that the blame is overwelmingly with the Arabs, from YA down, who can't get their act together; who have this dellusion that Israel is a temporary nuisance. And yes, I deny there is a nation of Palestinian Arabs. YA is Egyptian; and there's no difference between a Palestinian Arab, an Egyptian Arab, and a Jordanian Arab; especially Jordanian Arab, since the West Bank used to be Jordan (Gaza was Egypt, but at least you could argue that it was separated by the Sinai from the rest of Egypt)(Egypt and Jordan dumped these territories because they were too much troublel Egypt and Jordan should be paying to support these territories). Similarly, there is no Texan, Californian, or Upper West Sidian Nation. Which doesn't mean the Palestinan Arabs can't have their own little state in the West Bank and Gaza; only that it's not going to supplant Israel. But of course, that's not how YA and most Palestinian Arabs view it, so they will stew away in their little economic and political toilet indefinitely, largely without the economic benefit of co-existing with Israel.

Similarly, I reject Israel as being legitimate for anything more than it's legitimate political creation in the 1940's, plus certain security-necessary areas, captured in a war Israel didn't start. The Golan: it's now Israel; captured in a war it didn't start. Most of the West Bank needs to be given back--to Jordan, or the Palestinian Arabs, if the former so wish it.

So F U very much for your cheap, false, defamatory remarks. I'm going to the gym.
posted by ParisParamus at 4:40 AM on February 14, 2002

Another Palestinian thread turns ugly, this time on MeTa. Who'da thunk it?
posted by anapestic at 6:00 AM on February 14, 2002

I don't know why, but I have this hilarious image of Paris storming into the gym all in a huff, slamming his duffel bag down, changing into some workout gear, and entering the weight-room.

Friend: "What's the matter, Paris? Why so worked up?"

Paris: "I, uh....well, I...disagreed with some people on an internet forum..."

Friend: [awkwardly] "Oh."

I'm not trying to make fun of Paris at all, it was just this image I had in my head. I just wish we could all take ourselves a little less seriously.
posted by Karl at 8:18 AM on February 14, 2002

If someone managed to come up with a Grand Unification Theory combining all the pissing matches about guns, abortion, racism, politics, religion and Jakob Nielsen, it still wouldn't be one-tenth as nasty as a single Israel v. Palestinians thread. Avoid, avoid, avoid.
posted by aaron at 11:21 AM on February 14, 2002

judith: it was offensive to me, despite the "but it's a joke!" claim and the later post by a jewish person who was not offended.

I'm the Jewish person who was not offended.

I haven't been on MeFi that long, so I don't have the kind of long-term problem with rabbit that some people seem to. But really, I'm kind of annoyed that the thread is gone. I spent about 45 minutes composing my post. And based purely on what had been posted to the thread so far, I thought that in comparison to most discussions about Zionism etc., it was moving along pretty smoothly.

rabbit's joke...that Hollywood is the new Israel...seems to at worst imply two ideas which are flatly true: that Hollywood has a rather large Jewish population, and that a great many positions of power in the entertainment industry are held by Jews. Here in L.A. those facts are so widely acknowledged that jokes like rabbit's (which was really quite tame) are commonly heard from both Jews and gentiles. I've travelled extensively, but I have never been in another city outside of Israel where the gentile population knew as much about Judaism as they do here. They have to. Judaism has more influence here than any other religious/cultural force, except perhaps Scientology. There are a lot of rich and powerful Jews here. And being Jewish doesn't exactly hurt one's chances of success in the industry. These facts may make some put-upon Jews uncomfortable, but they are TRUE. Getting offended when a gentile points them out, even through a joke, is only going to reinforce the idea that you are part of an elitist group, paradoxically characterized by both ambition and a sort of bizarrely self-deprecating refusal to admit that said ambition has paid off a surprisingly large amount of the time.

As a Jew who is not a Zionist, I think that these dialogs do not have to be polarized. The issue is, to some people, a reactionary us-vs-them mentality, but the historical, cultural, political, racial, geographic, and religious issues involved form such a complex web that I think it's silly to write the whole thing off like it's one of those situations with an unstoppable force and an unmovable object. On the contrary, I have come to think during my brief time here that MeFi was exactly the kind of place where such a discussion was possible.

posted by bingo at 11:21 AM on February 14, 2002

I have come to think during my brief time here that MeFi was exactly the kind of place where such a discussion was possible.

It is and it isn't. That is, it is until, when someone starts trolling, someone else goes apeshit about someone trolling.

And someone inevitably goes apeshit these days, it seems. Trolling probably always happened, but it has much more impact now because the size of the community makes it that much more likely that someone will react. And then it takes over the thread, even if other people don't react and continue to discuss the issues honestly.

It's lame, but until people start ignoring trolls, and just continuing on with the discussion, it will remain a problem.
posted by mattpfeff at 11:46 AM on February 14, 2002

It seems to me, though, that part of the issue is the question of what a troll is to begin with. I think people went apeshit over items that were not really trolls. I think that most of this thread is people going even more apeshit about the same subject. I wish we could have had the argument itself, instead of an argument about why we couldn't have the argument.
posted by bingo at 12:40 PM on February 14, 2002

part of the issue is the question of what a troll is to begin with.

I agree. In one sense, though, a troll is, trivially, any post that someone takes offense at/reacts to/goes apeshit over, whether it was intended that way or not.

I also agree that people should just discuss the issues, and not how the issues are discussed. But I do think the discussion in that thread had degraded, and that, unfortunately, the thread needed to be deleted, despite those elements of it that were still worthwhile. And, I think, the only way this kind of thing will get better is if people here are conscious of how their comments will affect the discussion in a thread, and act accordingly, even when they are rightly displeased by another person's prior comment.
posted by mattpfeff at 1:50 PM on February 14, 2002

I wish we could have had the argument itself, instead of an argument about why we couldn't have the argument.

We've had the argument. Do a search and see how many times we've had the argument in the last month alone. And see how often the same people say the same things. I don't think that Matt lightly proposes entirely eliminating a topic from discussion here, but the fact is that this particular topic always devolves into name calling and shouting.
posted by anapestic at 2:03 PM on February 14, 2002

In one sense, though, a troll is, trivially, any post that someone takes offense at/reacts to/goes apeshit over, whether it was intended that way or not.

I think this is a dangerously misguided definition of a "troll." If we accept this definition, then the poster is always de facto guilty of a crime (as MeFi actions go, anyway) anytime any reader whatsoever gets bent out of shape over something the poster said ... no matter how irrational - or insane - the reader might be. I don't think it should be my fault if I post something about kittens and the first person to read it is an incurable ailurophobe who immediately launches into an incoherent rant.

Any determination of trolling should always be madebased on the intentions of the poster, nothing more.
posted by aaron at 4:37 PM on February 14, 2002

I think this is a dangerously misguided definition of a "troll."

I don't intend it as a definition, just as an observation, and a trivial one at that. Because, obviously, if someone reacts to the post as if it were a troll, then it effectively was, as far as its impact on the thread is concerned. And, in that regard, a troll's intent is actually irrelevant -- if you ignore his post, it won't disrupt the thread (no matter how vile or crude his intended statement), and if you take issue with something he didn't mean to be offensive, then it will.

As for placing culpability for any "crime", yes, of course you'd have to take the accused troll's apparent intentions into account. I didn't mean to suggest otherwise.
posted by mattpfeff at 4:57 PM on February 14, 2002

On a case by case basis, I think that trolls are defined by the style of the speaker, the context of the discussion, and the tone of the forum. But in spite of the vast differences caused by these variables, the common denominator is a complete disregard for the dynamics of a discussion. If the poster has no real interest in what anyone else has to say, and constructs his or her post in a way that deflects rather than invites discussion, its a troll. "I know the truth, here it is, fuck you very much and have a nice day."

I'll be the first to admit that I'm often pig-headed, hyperbolic and vehement, and sometimes post with my emotions and not my head. But I sincerely try to state my thoughts in such a way as to invite discussion, however heated or challenging it can get. There are always going to be clashes of ideas, personalities, and demeanors, and the line between spirited, yet constructive, debate and a troll fest is sometimes blurry.

Some people would look at this thread and see an interstate pileup, but for the most part I think that this is the most positive I/P thread I've ever seen on MeFi. People are shouting, but they seem to be listening as well.
posted by hipstertrash at 7:15 PM on February 14, 2002

This thread rocks.

... and just in time. I had pretty much lost all hope that the intelligent give-and-take (of the past) would resurface and replace the closed-minded ranting and sniggering in-jokery that currently stinks up the place.

posted by websavvy at 9:25 AM on February 15, 2002

I must say I am impressed, too.
posted by y2karl at 9:41 PM on February 15, 2002

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