Banning a User January 11, 2001 2:38 PM   Subscribe

I'm going to go out on a limb here, and I know there will be detractors, but I'm going to ban this Ed V... guy soon. I built this place, and it wasn't for trolls like this. My reasons are as follows.

He's mucking up the place. It's as if you were talking to people at a party and some guy barges in on the conversation, saying outlandish things just to get a rise out of people.

It's got nothing to do with his positions, it's that everything that comes out sounds like trolling bait for other people to argue with. I've seen it on countless numbers of online forums. The last place I remember seeing it was Slate's boards (called, "the fray" heh). It seems there was a small pack of very conservative posters that would tromp on any thread that mentioned abortion. Every response from them was pure trolling, and usually done in all caps. Every one of their posts would be followed by 5x as many posts refuting everything they had said, but then they'd follow up with more trolling. It rendered any sensible discussion meaningless, which is what I think was the inteneded purpose.

So that Ed guy is gone very soon, and I don't feel bad about doing it.
posted by mathowie (staff) to MetaFilter-Related at 2:38 PM (12 comments total)

Hey, it IS your ball. There is no need to justify anything to anyone, especially something like this. I think we all appreciate the mellow tone this forum has had, and you are the only one with the power to maintain what we all love. Tough love, kick that troll back under the bridge.
posted by thirteen at 3:48 PM on January 11, 2001

The guy's a troll. His only goal here is to ruffle feathers.

And he's real good at it. I suspect if he wanted to debate real issues instead of cliche-filled rhetoric he'd be fun to trade posts with.

This post is pure flamebait. No one actually believes this crap. But it's hard not to jump in and start screaming about it.
posted by y6y6y6 at 6:13 PM on January 11, 2001

Mathowie, I don't know whether anyone else among the small cohort of regular MeFi cohort whose views are right-of-center on political questions would agree, but I want to commend you for banning Ed V.

I am not sure whether or not he intended to troll, or was simply ignorant, but he was making no contribution to the conservative side of the discourse, and moreover, was displaying none of the courtesy towards his leftist adversaries that I have always felt has been displayed to me by the MeFi majority, even in the face of my (occasionally) provacative or iconoclastic assertions.

I would be interested to know what, if any, private corrective actions or warnings were administered, and what his reaction was. (It is evident that if there were any, he did not comply!) This is not to say that I think he was due any such warnings, but just what course they took if any existed.
posted by MattD at 9:11 AM on January 12, 2001

I don't know Matt; I don't think he is a troll. He may be rude, may not know how to type in a way that is readable, may not know how to argue well, but he isn't baiting people as far as I can see.

The post that y6y6y6 calls pure flaimbait is certainly Ed V at his worst, but I think he is lashing out at an overwhelmingly liberal community (I'm talking about MeFi, which is often cruel and dismissive to other-than-liberal views, and which often makes unchallenged attacks on all things conservative). I don't defend his tone, but can't he be given some ultimatums before he is tossed?

Tell him he must:

*Learn to put spaces after sentences, and put paragraph breaks at appropriate places in long posts.

*Speak respectfully to other MeFi persons.

*Not make sweeping generalizations without supporting his arguments in a reasonable manner.

If he can't change his behavior, then I think you have every right to can him. Or did you already do this sort of thing with him privately?
posted by ericost at 11:41 AM on January 12, 2001

Ericost, to follow mathowie rude-guy-at-a-party metaphor, I'm not certain that MeFi being overwhelmingly liberal bestows any rights on Ed V to say things which are inflamatory to the community -- who happens to be at the party gets to determine what is okay to say in the party.

(As a conservative with an overwhlemingly liberal group of friends, I'm very accustomed to the real-world need to keep my remarks within the bounds of (their) acceptability, and, also, to be in many other non-political conversations which in the aggregate bolster my standing as someone it is fun and worthwhile to hand out with... I didn't see one Ed V posting on any other than political matters.)

posted by MattD at 2:14 PM on January 12, 2001

I don't believe he's a intentional troll; he's just possessed of a bountiful amount of cluelessness about how to conduct basic online discourse. Unfortunately, the effect is the same as if he were legitimately trolling. Stream-of-consciousness rants, combined with a total lack of formatting, only results in a big mess.

I'd maybe give him a warning, to see if he's at all capable of getting his act together. But if that doesn't work, then point him towards /. and set him free.
posted by aaron at 2:21 PM on January 12, 2001

I don't think he is bestowed any special rights, nor did I say so. But I am quite uncomfortable with the argument you seem to be making. It should be his behavior, not the content of his arguments that gets him booted. To view MeFi as a liberal party where conservatives get asked to leave if they don't keep their mouths closed is depressing to me, and hopefully not what Matt has in mind for the place.
posted by ericost at 2:24 PM on January 12, 2001

My last post wasaddressed to Mattd, sorry.
posted by ericost at 2:25 PM on January 12, 2001

ok eric, get the hell out of here. :)

I tried to mention this at every turn, it's not the argument, it's the delivery. Someone could certainly spoof his style, spouting liberal BS, and I'd also want to can them too. You may see people take impolite stabs at GW once in a while, but never a string of 20 sentences with one insulting thing after another.

I should have warned him via email, but in this case I didn't. I'm guess I'm getting tired of dealing with difficult members over the last year or so, and am getting trigger happy at this point. There are two or three others that are borderline in their behavior, but if they cross the line a few more times, I'll be sure to contact them first.

There are plenty of conservatives on MetaFilter that I'm glad are here. MattD and Mikewas come to mind. Their viewpoints are almost always diametrically opposed to mine and probably most members, but they engage people politely and thoughtfully.

It's the people that regard metafilter as a "liberal leaning" site and say certain things purposely to get a rise out of the crowd that I don't care for. The politics of metafilter members may lean that way, but I don't see the site as any attack on conservatism or promoting liberal ideals. It's a site filled with lots of junk found on the web, and before the election, it was never very political.

And as for people like Ed being trolling or non-trolling posters, I just have no patience for it anymore. It might take him weeks to learn how to act more civil here, and I just can't stand another day of it. He seems to be more like the posters at slashdot or free republic.

I've always said that whenever metafilter slides down to a discourse level seen at slashdot on a normal day (surf at 0 or -1), I'd shut the site down. And I might someday. I can tell that sometimes the site wears on me, and there are times I wish I wasn't in charge of it (imagine going on vacation and wondering if script kiddies have posted browser crashing code while you were gone, then getting home to see that yes, it in fact happened). But it's hard to take a vacation from a site that requires constant upkeep. I'm just venting here, so don't think the server's coming down anytime soon.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 3:31 PM on January 12, 2001

I know it's not coming soon, and hopefully not at all, but if the decision ever is made, would you consider handing it off to someone else?

I can't, at this point, volunteer myself, but you have created something many of us cherish. I imagine there's someone out there with the server space and naivity to try it themselves. :-)

I know, I know, pressure and all, sorry. I certainly don't want you to say yes or no now, and I hope people don't take this opportunity to say "I'll do it!" because it isn't necessary and there's no point. I'm just planting a seed for your consideration.
posted by cCranium at 5:19 PM on January 12, 2001

>You may see people take impolite stabs at GW once in a
>while, but never a string of 20 sentences with one
>insulting thing after another.

Well that's true, but then neither did you see that from Ed V. I understand that he is acting inappropriately, but you should not exaggerate his faults. They are bad enough as is, and it only weakens your case to inaccurately describe his behavior.

I am afraid we might start talking past one another if we talk about this much more, but I do ask you to consider that what might be considered trolling in one context could be considered good clean fun in another. Most of the jabs at conservatism that occur on Metafilter strike me as the kind of jokes that a group of friends who share a liberal ideology might make over a few beers. That sort of camaraderie is part of what is good about MeFi, but you probably don't realize (and maybe some don't care) that the particular spirit of the such camaraderie also makes conservatives in your midst uncomfortable and defensive. And I am not talking about jabs at Bush either. I am talking more about the disdain and disgust expressed by many here about anyone that holds an opinion that might be called "conservative." I don't have any examples right now, so I won't go too far with this point, but I think some bad behavior by liberal minded people at MeFi sometimes gets ignored because most of the people here share that mindset.

Still, MeFi is one of my favorite places on the web, and when people act like Ed V, they deserve to be warned and then canned.
posted by ericost at 7:19 PM on January 12, 2001

I think some bad behavior by liberal minded people at MeFi sometimes gets ignored because most of the people here share that mindset.

ericost, I utterly agree with you (speaking as a liberal-minded person). It does seem that we (the community as a whole) are quicker to shout "Troll!" when the person's ideology is right of center. Civility and a general sense of welcome is essential for MeFi to stay vibrant, and perhaps for folks to continue to feel welcome, we should generally be slower to play the troll card. However, I think that even if Ed was liberal, he would have deserved to be shown the door.

That said, I strongly believe that the events of the last few days (precipitated in some measure by Ed) have done much to raise general awareness of the necessity of behaving civilly, judging from the fact that we have talked so much about this topic in several threads. I also hope that the next time debate becomes heated that folks remember what happens when community members become quick to pull out the knives.
posted by Avogadro at 8:44 PM on January 13, 2001

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