Michael Totten

When Trolls Reform

Every now and again new trolls show up in my comments. Sometimes they’re left-wing. Other times they’re right-wing. (Funny how there are no politically moderate trolls.) Sometimes I have to chase them out with a baseball bat without warning. Other times they get warned first. The bat comes swinging at their little troll heads later, sometimes five minutes later.
I’ve never been sure why I bothered to warn trolls before banning them. It just seemed like the right thing to do. Now I know why. Some trolls are reformable.
A while back a guy showed up pretending to be a truly, deeply, laughably idiotic conservative. Called himself “Proud Conservative.” It was obvious he was a fake. And I don’t like fakes.
“Don’t be juvenile,” I said. “Either post your real opinions or post somewhere else.”
Amazingly, he complied. He started posting his real opinions. Thought-out liberal opinions are a lot more worth reading than purposely stupid conservative opinions. So when he changed his handle to “The Commenter Formerly Known as Proud Conservative,” I took him off my mental troll list and left him alone.
Later he shortened his handle to simply “The Commenter.” And I noticed that he was able to hold court in the comments in long-running threads and beat everyone else in argument. He can’t do it consistently. Sometimes times he’s as wrong-headed as you are. But he can do it sometimes, and he can also get my back when I need some backup. What kind of troll is that?
Then I created a monster. I told him if he got a blog I would read it. Now I have yet another blog that I’m obligated to read because he went and started one. It’s called Uninformed Opinion, perhaps a rather honest riff on Juan Cole’s arrogantly titled “Informed Comment.” He deserves a link for that one alone.