22 January 2008

Dealing with political trolls

Forums on some political sites employ some creative methods to foil trolls (Wall Street Journal, A Web Troll's Toll on the Clinton Campaign):

Campaign trolls popped up en masse in 2004 on Democratic presidential hopeful Howard Dean's Web site. Dean supporters batted them back with a "troll goal," donating money to the campaign's coffers each time they spotted an offending post. The supporters crowed about each sighting, eliminating the trolls' incentive to disrupt. [...]

Daily Kos has another tactic: the recipe. When a troll attempts to start a conversation at that site, loyalists post recipes instead of engaging them. With so many trolls, the recipes have proliferated -- enough so that Daily Kos compiled a 144-page "Trollhouse Cookbook," including crab bisque inspired by President Bush's second inauguration and "Liberal Elite Cranberry Glazed Brie."

However, in some cases I believe the cure to this problem has the potential to be worse than the disease. Purging posts that aren't libelous, etc. is a disservice to political debate.

"If you're on a site and you're just agreeing with each other all day, where's the argument?"

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