Over on Dalrock, there was an entire article devoted to someone — no one knows who — simply because he was related to someone that the author doesn’t like. That sort of tastelessness offends my sensibilities, and I expressed as much a couple of days ago.
Naturally, all the usual suspects were immediately activated, jumping into the fray. First on the scene was Cane Caldo…
The fact that Cane Caldo is libeling someone with zero evidence (no one even knows their target’s first name) shouldn’t come as a surprise. He’s made his internet career doing similar scroungy things, a couple of examples have been archived here.
Some time later, God is Laughing showed up to agree and amplify…
If someone is spreading “moral rot” then (of course) they are fair game. We should troll such people mercilessly and with abandon. The problem, in this instance, is that no one can point to the target with anything substantive, suggesting he has ever done anything at all… with the exception of being related to someone they don’t like.
There are a group of people who regularly harass and threaten the family members of those others they disagree with. I’m talking about feminists and their allies, both CONservative and SJW liberal.
There is no reason for anyone on our side to stoop to this level. In the first place, such a descent would injure the dignity of a normal man. In the second, these tactics rarely work. To attack someone’s uninvolved family members is to invite all and sundry to see you as an unhinged internet kook, rather than someone who has a legitimate argument.
In any case, since God is Laughing scoffed at the idea of ethics in trolling, I thought I’d throw some thoughts up here. Ya boy Boxer grew up in the golden era of usenet, and cut his virtual teeth in places like rec.pets.cats. These are the rules I learned way back then, and I still try to follow them:
- Do not troll any forum with “support” or “recovery” in its title.
Hassling the despondent is the sign of a very weak troll.
- Do not “go real life.”
This rule includes what is now termed doxxing, but it includes looking up people’s relatives and neighbors, in an attempt to harass, threaten or otherwise bother them. That’s what began to happen over at Dalrock, and it was disturbing to see it.
- If the forum’s owner/moderator asks you to leave, do so immediately and without drama.
This is just common politeness. If someone came to your house and pissed on your rug, you’d probably order him out.
- When engaging with a target, keep your sense of humor.
The difference between a troll and a kook is basically predicated here. You can be hostile, but if you’re not being simultaneously funny or interesting, then you’re just a bore.
I have been banned from too many places to count, including David Futrelle’s Manboobz, WF Price/Welmer’s The Spearhead, and, my favorite, Catholic Answers. I have never kicked up a fuss about being asked to leave any of these places. A troll will come to expect that his account won’t last forever. Even so, sometimes it’s fair to question who is the actual “owner” of a forum. I’m speaking specifically of Twitter, which is run by a billion dollar transnational corporation, and which claims to be a public utility.
Thus there is a certain measure of exception to rule three. Aside from Twitter, I’d also put Facebook in this category. Being suspended from one of these platforms is something that can be fairly ignored (though if someone has a private page on one of these frontends, and he asks me to leave his own tiny segment, I’d respect his wishes.)
Protip: One can use Google Voice and GMail to facilitate the creation of a new Twitter account. Never stop playing one huge, faceless, corporate monstrosity against another. Rinse and repeat as necessary.
Edit 1: Dalrock has penned a good-natured rebuttal to the points I’ve raised here. I’m copying his reply below. I suppose we’ve both made our positions clear, and tomorrow is a new day to put the screws to our common feminist enemas, so without further comment…
Edit 2: As of Sunday, 7 January, Dalrock has deleted all comments which include the legal names of the family members of the combatants. I am personally grateful to him for a wise decision. This conversation is now closed, and we’ll all move on to better things.