Monday, May 11, 2020

My Troll Policy

One reason I have comments disabled, is trolls.

What is up with trolls?  I really don't care that much, other than to wonder why people spend the time and energy trolling.  To be sure, mental illness and depression is a part of it.   Other trolls represent commercial interests and try bait people who post negative information about a company in order to make them look unhinged.

I noted before on a discussion group about some online company, the OP had put up a concise explanation of why the company was a rip-off.   The accompanying comments went off the rails, and the OP tried to respond to those, which only served to make him look unhinged.  If you can do this to a poster or a blogger, you have defused a bomb for your employer.  "Sure, he says payday loans are a bad bargain - but did you see his reply to my innocent comment?  The guy is unhinged!"  And sometimes they will "edit" their original comment to make it an innocuous question, in place of the personal attack they previously had posted.

Still others work for foreign governments (or maybe even our own) trying to insert comments that divert discussion into chaos.

Chaos.  That is what trolls want, what terrorists want, what hackers want.   The idea isn't to spread ideas, but to spread chaos - to be disruptive and divisive and sow depression, angst, and ennui.

But most are just crazy people with too much time on their hands.

I disabled comments because of trolls.  Fights were breaking out in the comments section, and I felt like a 3rd-grade teacher, trying to separate warring kids.   I have better things to do with my time.

Undeterred, some have resorted to e-mailing me.  I get occasional e-mails from readers, often with good suggestions.   Other times, I get pleas to put commerical links in my blog - such as this one, today:
Hi Robert,

Would you be interested in placing a text link on Basically, I am interested in placing a text link on just one of your existing posts. I have around $100 to work with. Would that be sufficient enough to place the text link on this page: 

I'm sure there are other pages on your site that will work too so if that post is not usable, please let me know and maybe we can figure out an alternate placement.

I'm more than happy to send you more details, but I wanted to send you a basic outline first. Please think it over and get back to me when you have a spare moment or two.

If you wish to be added to my list of sites not to contact again just let me know please, and I'll make sure you're added there.

Have a wonderful day :)

Thanks in advance,

Weird, eh?  "I have $100 to work with" - why not just say you'll pay me?   I am sure if I put the link in the blog, the $100 would not be forthcoming.  Often these types of come-ons want me to hand over the password to the blog, so they can insert the link themselves.  You know how that works - and no, there is no $100....

UPDATE: I replied to his e-mail expressing interest and asking him how this would work - and how he would pay me $100.  No reply.  So I am not sure what is going on -just harvesting e-mail addresses, or what?   It clearly was a bot e-mail, picking a random posting.

But getting back to trolls, the third type of e-mail I get are just disjointed weirdness.  I mean incoherent stuff.  I am not sure what this is all about.  My policy with these types of e-mails is just to put them on the blocked sender list, where they are marked as SPAM and deleted.

I had one person send me dozens of long-winded detailed e-mails as to why I was wrong about just about everything.  Debt is great, they said, and you can never get ahead in life, so why not buy bling rims instead?   People really think that way?   Some do, I am sure.  But I think it is just a baiting attempt or something.   Little kids poking a turtle with a stick and giggling.

Whatever.   I finally e-mailed the guy and told him that his three-page missives were going into the SPAM bin, unread, and that he might want to find a better use for his time.  I mean, I was trying to be helpful here.

And I am trying to be helpful here, too.  If you want to troll, I guess that is a life choice you can make.  But think about where it is taking you - a lot of effort with nothing to show for it.

Speaking of which, given the downturn in the economy, I may monetize this blog again and see if it makes a few dollars of beer money.    Sorry to have to do that, but hey, the virus, right?  ;)