Is calling somebody a troll an insult? Or not?

This reminds me vary much of the oft-disputed debate over calling a poster a liar, vs calling a post a lie.

Wow, that sure didn’t look like “seeking clarification”. And I just used the 1st example in GD earlier today because of a that post!! :slight_smile:


emph mine.

Gawd, it’s right up there with cunt is it?

Clearly there is a toll with the use of the word troll when crossing the bridge. We just don’t know how much yet.

Let’s say I found the actions of a poster to be repeatedly “trollery” in nature, and reported those posts. Nothing happens.

The normal response, I would guess, when a rules situation is unclear (like now!) would be to go to ATMB and start a thread. Given that Ed felt confident enough to give a certain answer before discovering that actually that might not quite be correct I think it’s reasonable to say there’s apparently some degree of modly interpretation going on there, making generalising less than helpful. How would someone go about asking why a particular post or series of posts in ATMB isn’t trolling without saying they seem trolling at some point?

This seems like it might be another one of those issues caught in the “no insults outside the Pit/no rules discussions outside ATMB” black hole.

:new_moon: :point_left: This black hole? :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

Is the black hole really that large, if it exists at all, though?

Calling someone a troll is just shorthand for ‘I don’t like this person’ or ‘I don’t like what this person is posting’. Instead of using the word troll, it might be possible to describe the behavior or describing what you [general you] don’t like about the person and why they might not fit into the community.

It pretty much has to be defined at some point anyway. Opening an ATMB thread and saying ‘X is a troll and is trolling’ without saying why you think so, won’t get very far. At some point, someone would have to ask why you think so. It saves a step not to go through that process.

I honestly have no idea how big the black hole is. Perhaps more importantly, it looks like** Ed **didn’t realise he didn’t know, either.

Except that at some point I’m going to have to say “…and they’re being deliberately antagonistic and purposefully inflaming everyone else.”, no matter what my reasoning is behind that. If I wanted to accuse someone of stealing, at some point I’m going to have to say “they took something not belonging to them with no intent to bring it back”. I agree that just saying “X is a troll” won’t help. But* not *saying “X is a troll” would make my post entirely moot. Why should the mods care, if no rule is being broken? Why should it be in ATMB, if it’s not a question about the rules? Thus the black hole.

Right. So perhaps it’s not that important to know, especially if ‘the black hole’ is not big or doesn’t exist.

bold added

The thread is about the acceptability of calling someone a troll or at the least calling their post trollish. It was pointed out that the word should be able to be used in ATMB to describe what the person is doing that’s unacceptable. You pointed out that there was a ‘black hole’ between calling someone a troll in the Pit and not being able to discuss them being a troll in ATMB. If the word doesn’t need to be used to make the case in ATMB, then I’m not seeing the issue.

This thread is just about using the word. If the case for someone’s unacceptability to the board can’t be shown without the use of the word, then using the word doesn’t really change that. Conversely, if the case for a person’s unacceptability to the board can be shown without the use of the word, then the word is not necessary for use in ATMB.

Why not just say that, then? That’s more of a behaviour description, without as much of the baggage of the actual word “Troll”. Seems like no mod could object if you said the above (in ATMB).

What happens often when someone believes that no action was taken on a report they made is they will PM or email a mod. That way you don’t have to skirt around any no insult rule in ATMB.

True. And perhaps it’s very important to know, especially if “the black hole” is big and does exist.

I was under the impression that calling someone a troll was calling someone a troll even if you don’t use that exact word.

So it’s a good question to ask! Is that so? So long as I avoid that particular word, but still describe someone’s trollish behaviour, I’m fine in ATMB?

If I’d PM’d Ed on this he would have answered my question, I would have thanked him, and neither of us would be aware that the answer might have been wrong. There are advantages to doing this sort of thing in public. Plus I’ve PM’d a mod before about a rules clarification and didn’t receive any answer. Though to be as fair as possible I’ve also had email discussions with mods where they did.

After discussing this internally, let me clarify the rule against accusations of trollery:

  1. Our rule of thumb for insults is that you can disparage the post but not the poster. For example, you can say a post is foolish but, except in the Pit, you can’t call someone a fool.

  2. The prohibition against accusations of trollery is a special case of the no-insults rule. Stubborn defenders of unpopular positions are sometimes denounced as trolls, often unfairly. A genuine troll posts inflammatory remarks just to get a reaction - he doesn’t believe what he’s saying. This is a violation of our rules. More commonly, someone accused of trolling is sincere, just obstinate. Stating or implying that such people are trolls is an attempt to cut them out of the discussion. We’re trying to promote debate, not suppress it. Accordingly, we interpret the no-insults rule broadly when it comes to trolling - even an indirect accusation that someone is a troll is likely to earn you a rebuke from a moderator. If you see an example of what you consider trolling, report it privately or take it to the Pit.

  3. General discussion of the rule about trolling is permitted in ATMB; accusations of trolling are not. Do not attempt to use a general discussion to insinuate that so-and-so is a troll. If you believe the rule against trolling is being flouted and you wish to make this case in ATMB, be aware that you face a high burden of proof. The fact that someone persistently makes arguments you consider silly or obnoxious doesn’t in itself constitute trollery, and your assertion to the contrary is likely to earn you a rebuke.

  4. Some users have personal agendas they post about obsessively. We reserve the right to tell such people to dial back or stop posting on a particular subject. However, we don’t feel obliged to do so. It’s OK to call attention to an obsessive poster on ATMB, but we’ll be the judge of whether action is warranted.

  5. Accusations of trollery have been made lately in another thread in ATMB. This is a violation of our rules and we’ll take appropriate action.

Then to clarify - “This argument is trollery” is [ul][li]OK because it is an attack on the post, not the poster[/li][li] Not OK because it is an accusation of trolling[/li][li] Other/why do you hate the mods/you should never tip your vet for declawing and circumcizing your outdoor cat/outer space zombies are controlling my vacuum cleaner[/ul][/li]Regards,

[quote=“Shodan, post:36, topic:709185”]

Then to clarify - “This argument is trollery” is [ul][li]OK because it is an attack on the post, not the poster[/li][li] Not OK because it is an accusation of trolling[/li][li] Other/why do you hate the mods/you should never tip your vet for declawing and circumcizing your outdoor cat/outer space zombies are controlling my vacuum cleaner[/ul][/li][/QUOTE]
Not OK because it’s an accusation of trollery. My earlier post to the contrary was a misstatement and I withdraw it.

So the exception to the rule on not referring to particular behaviour as trolling in ATMB is if you can prove you’re correct?

Let’s say, for example, that I see Poster X holding forth in an obnoxious manner in a thread on one side of the debate, and I remember the same poster being similarly vociferous in the past on the same subject but on the complete opposite side of the debate. I think to myself this is a fairly stupid troll, and report his latest posts with a short explanation. Nothing occurs.

How would I go about asking for an explanation in ATMB without being rebuked? Without context I don’t see that a generalised version, like that one, would be of much help. What kind of evidence would you be looking for to meet that high burden of proof?

I commend you guys on trying to set a consistent standard, but the fact that you disallow any discussions of board policy or moderation outside of ATMB creates impossible situations for well-meaning users. If I want to have a direct, non-circuitous discussion of why poster A’s behavior is not subject to moderation, there’s really no place to have it. Such discussions are routinely closed in ATMB the second anyone uses language deemed insulting, and they’re not allowed in the Pit at all.

Can I suggest that such discussions instead be moved to the Pit? “Poster A should be banned for his shitty posting and because he’s a stupid troll.” would make a perfectly fine Pit thread, even if the heart of the question involves board moderation. Mods could comment on their reasoning for not banning poster A if they chose, but if they’d prefer to not be beaten like rented mules, they can also opt to stay out of the discussion. This seems like it avoid the constant dance of trying to ask the mods about specific situations without running afoul of the ATMB rules.

Thank you!

Wish me luck with my vacuum cleaner.