Mods: still incredibly bad at spotting trolls

Okay, let’s talk about this in ATMB.

In this thread, there is at least one poster who is blatantly trolling. They are not discussing in good faith. Their argument is not intended to further discussion but rather to sidetrack it in an incredibly dumb, dishonest way. It is insane troll logic at its finest.

And they keep on doing this. This facile non-argument has been their sole response to any discussion of this topic for quite some time. Anyone who’s had the displeasure of encountering this person in a thread about climate change has seen basically exactly that post - the exact same post he made 16 fucking times in one thread, regardless of who challenged him.

I reported this. Then, when that apparently did absolutely nothing, I asked the other posters in the thread to please stop engaging the person who is obviously trolling and arguing in bad faith unless he’ll do the absolute base minimum to establish that he has any intention in this thread beyond doing exactly that. Then I get told off.

Well let’s be really clear here. This guy is a troll. He’s not subtle. In fact, he’s incredibly blatant about it, in the way he keeps doing the exact same thing over and over again - you can find this exact same bullshit non-argument in threads about global warming going back years.

So the mods are really bad at spotting trolls. What’s more, it’s unacceptable to:

[li]Call a troll a troll[/li][li]Ask people to stop feeding the troll[/li][li]Ask the troll to leave the thread if he won’t show he’s arguing in good faith[/li][/ul]

This is a bad combination. It means it’s basically just trivial for bad-faith actors to come in and disrupt any conversation they want.

And no, the ignore list does not help. Unless there’s general consensus that the person is a troll and he’s ignored by basically everyone (in which case why haven’t you guys cottoned on?), chances are good the thread is still going to be sidetracked, because that’s, ultimately, the goal of trolling. It’s to disrupt the discussion. And “say something stupid that people want to respond to” is trolling 101. An ignore list does not help against a troll. Case in point, a quote from someone I’d rather not put on my ignore list:

Just FYI, that doesn’t help. You’re still feeding the troll. You’re still dragging the thread off-topic. You’re still letting him control the conversation and never play defense.

I think it’s trivial for any person here to look at that thread and notice that a certain someone is not arguing in good faith, keeps repeating the same nonsensical bad-faith argument, and refuses to engage with actual questions. It’s really frustrating to deal with. Can we do something about this?

Sigh. I was typing out a long post, and then I lost it, and it’s getting too late at night to redo it.

Any way, I agree with BPC. There’s some posters that never argue in good faith, spewing the same tired BS every time the subject comes up. There’s no point in debating them, because they will never acknowledge the flaws in their facts and their arguments. I’ve given up on it myself, because life’s too short to be continually refuting the same mix of delusion and dishonesty.
It’s a sad thing, because there’s actually not so many of these posters, but they seem to live on simply being assholes, and have plenty of time to clog up any and all threads that catch their ire.

And yet people CONTINUE to debate them! THAT’S the problem, not lack of modding.

Ceasing to reply to these posters and/or putting them on ignore is the foolproof way of dealing with them. Do not read them. Do not reply to them. Do not insult them. Do not engage–PERIOD. Continuing to engage and then getting mad at the mods for not intervening is not the way to deal.

We don’t need more modding. We need Dopers to get smart and stop feeding the trolls.

The fundamental problem is that trolling is virtually indistinguishable from idiocy, and we don’t have any rules against being an idiot.

A further problems is that many of these people are both at once.

But if being an idiot is indistinguishable from being a troll, and the net effect is the same, why **wouldn’t **these posts and posters get moderated as if they were trolling? Innocuous idiocy could potentially be mitigated by a few Notes, Warnings and/or a short suspension, insofar as the person involved would then be aware that their posting style was not in line with board rules and could act to avoid future Warnings, whereas trolls will deliberately continue with the same obnoxious behavior.

Sometimes the banhammer is needed, and sometimes the best course of action is to hand out rope and see how good they are at noosetying.

Since that last quote is mine – the one about why I’ve sometimes responded to the subject poster in discussions related to climate change – I feel have some skin in the game here and should perhaps pick a few nits. No real argument with you, BPC, you’re one of the good ones. But I will point out a couple of things.

You complain that other posters engage with doorhinge, and single me out here in particular with that quote. So I went back to that thread to check out a few things. The first thing I found was that YOU, not I, were the first to engage with him, and in fact you responded to him three times (#53, #59, and #63) before the first time I ever did (#66). And indeed in total, unless I miscounted, you responded to him a total of six times (the first three, plus #69, #94, and #136) whereas I only responded to him three times in all (the one I mentioned, plus #102 and #166).

So if responding to him is a distraction and a disservice to the thread, you seem oddly unaware of your own proclivities in that regard – and I’m not saying this to be snarky or argumentative, just pointing it out. As I said, in my view you’re one of the good ones.

The other thing I’d point out is that there were at least three other posters in that thread with some kind of negativity or denialist slant on climate change, and I thought it was useful and informative that several of us addressed all of them, even if it briefly diverted the thread from its main intended subject.

What I will acknowledge is that the poster you’re particularly upset about is indeed annoying on this subject because he knows nothing about it, but I’m not sure if that necessarily makes him more or less deserving of being ignored than those making more nuanced arguments.

Finally I want to address this:

The post I made that brought out your admonition to just ignore the guy was #166, and what I’m trying to explain in that quote is that, since the post contained a brief summary of the progress of the science in the past 30 years, it was information that I thought others would find useful or interesting, even if it did nothing to change the mind of our mutual friend. I tend to abide by the principle that more information is always better than less information, and is kind of the purpose of the board, is it not? Maybe I’m reading your comment the wrong way, but with all respect, I think if the best you can say for someone like myself who’s totally supportive of your position on climate change and has been providing often-detailed factual arguments for it for years on this site is that “I’d rather not have him on ignore”, it’s frankly rather an ungracious attitude.

Like what ThelmaLou said, you need to stop responding to them, but at the same time, you need to not care if other people engage. If someone that you feel is a troll is not being dealt with by the mods (at least visibly), then there’s nothing you can do other than accept that they’re going to be around and ignore them. Not quote them, not respond to any of their posts, ignore questions they pose or posts they type, especially when directed at you. Other people may continue to engage them, but you don’t have to.

We had a long standing troll here a few years ago. I’d heard about him here and there, but never really gave it any thought (we were really never in the same threads) until one day I’m in some kind of debate and thinking ‘I feel like I’m arguing with a brick wall…oooooh, that’s what everyone is talking about’. It was obnoxious for a while, this person was completely hijacking threads, using insults and name calling as arguments and just being a general ass, all while getting, what appeared to be a free pass from the mods. In the end, I found it much easier and much less stressful to just ignore (not ‘ignore button’ ignore, just not reply) his threads or if was really taking over, walk away. Screw it, let all the other posters get all worked up into a frenzy running around in circles with that guy, I got no use for it.

The whole point of trolling is to get a reaction. The whole point. It’s a whole lot easier to ban the trolls than to get everyone else to stop responding to them.

You’re right, and I’m sorry.

You may be correct, but if the mods don’t, then they only thing you can control is your own reaction.

Think back to school when parents/teachers’ best advice for dealing with the schoolyard version of the troll was to ‘just ignore him’. At some point you realize that the grownups aren’t going to step in and disciple the kid and all you can do is avoid him. Beyond that, it’s not worth worrying about him just doing the same exact thing to the other kids, it’s not your problem anymore.

Not a perfect example, I’m sure and I hate that a lot of trolls get away with trolling here, but sometimes all you can do is walk away. There’s not much point in getting stressed out about it. I’m sure you could find a couple of posts here where I said something like ‘ya, you’re probably right’ and never came back to the thread or even specifically said ‘since you’re just going to name call, I’m going to bow out of this thread’.

Again, if you’ve reported something (and likely others have as well) and the mods have done nothing* and the other posters are still posting with or around that poster, it’s best to move on to the next thread.

*and remember, if you never see a response to a mod report, they’re effectively endorsing the behavior. Or, at the very least, a non response means they see nothing wrong with what’s being reported. They’ve said that many times over the years.

If “A” is virtually indistinguishable from “B”, and you have no rules against “B”, then it logically follows that you have no rule against “A”.

Not for each individual, it isn’t. The easiest and most effective thing for you to do for your own peace of mind is ignore the trolls.

Report the trolls, ignore the trolls as if they haven’t posted in the first place, but do not just walk away from the thread-that is an absolute troll win. By walking away you tell the troll that his plan to disrupt is an absolute success, and it only encourages the troll to do the same thing the next time the topic she/he/it opposes pops up.

I agree with that in theory, but there’s enough threads here and enough places on the rest of the internet to go, there’s no point, at least for me, in sticking around in a troll-hijacked thread. Why bother? I know enough people won’t do that to keep trolls at bay, but I’m not going to continue posting to a thread that’s gotten totally sidetracked and difficult to read because someone is being a jackass.

Amen. If only there was some omnibus thread in the Pit for responding, if you must.

A = troll. B = idiot.

Except that B is a subset of A (if we assume idiots are also trolls). There are plenty of As that are not Bs, so yeah, we do have a rule against A.

It depends. Sometimes a thread goes totally off the rails and walking away is the only thing to do. Sometimes the hijack only covers a few posts and if ENOUGH people stay on topic the troll will give up.

Why would we assume that? There’s overlap, sure, but B isn’t a complete subset of A. Plenty of non-troll idiots out there.

As others have mentioned in the recent past, the board suffers an increasing amount of hijacking and trolling that rapidly takes threads off-topic and introduces acrimony. Neither of these is enjoyable. Both decrease my participation.

I was just assuming that for simplicity. But if we go with your case, Czarcasm’s claim is still false. Point being that not all trolls are idiots, so if we don’t have a rule against being an idiot, that doesn’t mean we don’t have a rule against being a troll.

If the mods banned everyone who won’t admit that they’re wrong, GD and the Pit would have Bricker and about six others.

Something that has helped me survive 18 years on the SDMB is to cultivate the ability to decide for yourself when you have won an argument, and not waiting for the other side to admit it. Because there are always those who aren’t listening, aren’t convinced, or otherwise fail to be convinced by my incisive logic, irrefutable cites, and brilliant rhetoric. Hard to believe, I know, but still it happens.