Eventually someone will comment on one of our blog posts – it is possible – certainly it can’t yet be excluded from the realm of possibilities at least while the issue of having people actually reading the blog is still such an unsettled issue. Never the less, the editorial staff of the Meme Merchants have been carefully examining the issue we have come to a few initial conclusions as to what may be going on. The first most obvious issue is that at the current hit rate the blog has achieved up till now has not allowed the vapor pressure of the blog to reach the point necessary for spontaneous commenting to occur. Another factor could be an insufficient number of nucleation sites available in the currently available raves to catalyze auto-comment formation, this could be do to inadequacies in editorial practice, or people are just hanging back while we get the administrative preliminaries of the blog out of the way – in other words people are waiting for the first REAL post to jump in and comment. In the interest of exhaustive thoroughness the possibility of reader apathy was discussed, but tabled as unlikely. A third and more disturbing possibility is that because Meme Merchants has not yet announced its Moderation Policy the few readers that we do have are hesitant to jump in and post a comment for fear or uncertainty over what may happen if they do.
Not to worry, there is no Moderation Policy here, or rather to say that our policy is no moderation.
You are all officially on your own recognisance here, so take some metaphysical responsibility for yourselves and play nice with each other. Your posts will not be held up and inspected for suitability, they will not be censored, lined through, or deposited down a mine shaft. The only form of censorship we wish to have practiced around here is the judicious application of self-censorship. We are not RealClimate here, we treat those who disagree with our positions with respect and will not suppress their opinions – as long as they behave civilly. We are also not SkepticalScience either, where the adolescent moderator staff will come after you with a hockey stick if you do not bend to their will.
Meme Merchants is a much more Do What Thou Wilt, type of blog but in a First Do No Harm kind of way, and we take it as a first principle of conduct around here not to impose our wills upon anyone, unless they of course are trying to impose their wills upon our selves or others, then the Mosquito Principle may be applied; which is: You have the right to resist being made into lunch by anyone else, and you may have to squash them like a bug to do so if necessary. Non-violence is all fine and dandy when it works, but when dealing with slope-browed-retro-troglodyte types of behavior and applying non-violent methods will itself result in more violence in the end itself, it starts to look a little childish.
We are expecting that everyone to be visiting this site are adults, and if they are not adults, they are expected to act like one. If you write comments that are off topic and boring, people will simply not read them, and will skip over your comments. If you write something rude and inflammatory, you may get flamed. If you write something ridiculous you may be ridiculed. If you write something outrageous you may be mocked by either us or your fellows. If you write something totalitarian or fascistic and worthy of being denounced, you will be denounced – Godwin’s Law be damned. If you write something that simply goes beyond the pale of decency, we may find it necessary to create a ‘Hall of Shame’ page in which to immortalize the transgression and the transgressor, but the original comment will stand. What you say and how you say it will become part of the permanent record for as long as the blog exists. In other words:
Don’t be a Troll!
And, everything will be cozy. If after you hit the ‘Post Comment’ button you realize you have made an error that needs correcting, there may be a way for the staff to facilitate correcting it, Contact us as quickly as possible and we will try to help – just remember we are not YOUR editors here.
But what exactly is a Troll, and what is Trollish behavior? One way to define Troll is: Anyone who I don’t particularly like on this blog. Wikipedia is more specific and defines an internet troll in the following way:
In internet slang, a troll is someone who posts inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community, such as an online discussion forum, chat room, or blog, with the primary intent of provoking readers into an emotional response, or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion.
Lets hope there is no one like that at our fair blog!
The question is, is either of those two definitions a STRONG definition, does either definition capture the totality of the phenomenon?
Mike Reed at his Flame Warriors page keeps an encyclopedic list of the complete internet Troll taxa. Apparently there are no fewer than 89 identified species of Troll – who knew? After taking a considerable amount of time studying them all the staff here realized that neither Wikipedia’s scholarly definition, nor the layman’s definition was sufficiently strong to capture the phenomenon with completeness. Most disturbing of all was the from the bowels feeling of sickness that arose when we realized that the phenomena of Trollism is broad enough to capture some aspect of just about everyone – including ourselves.
I know I for one can become overwrought from time to time, I know I’ve been /snip’d by the best, [someone will have to request that story] so that I might be some kind of a Troll can’t come as a complete surprise. But the real question to ask is:
What kind of Troll are You?
While you all rush out to the Flame Warriors page to take a look, I will prime the pump a little and self-identify for your pleasure. Schadenfreude is not usually encouraged on this blog, but in the spirit of fun we will make an exception in this case.
ALLCAPS attempts to compensate for his limited rhetorical weaponry through the extravagant use of capitalized words – something netizens refer to as SHOUTING. Sure, a sprinkling of capitalized words can add some zip to a thrust, but they should be used sparingly. Even worse from a tactical point of view, too much shouting alerts other Warriors to the opponent’s verbal WEAKNESS and emotional EXCITABILITY
Artiste has an unshakeable faith in his own artistic gifts, and is very pleased to share them with everyone else. Frequently his own insipid poetry will appear in his email signature, and at other times, and to no apparent purpose, he will be overcome with the urge to post a poem in the midst of battle. Artiste, in his need to demonstrate his aesthetic sensitivity and cultural sophistication, will reference obscure artists to drive his point home. He assumes that the mere mention of, say, Pollaiuolo (Italian,1431 –1498), will confirm the breadth of knowledge and thereby cow his opponent in battle. Actually, he is universally regarded as a pretentious blockhead. CAUTION: Artiste often has serious mental problems and, though easily defeated in battle, may be unpredictable in defeat as well as in victory.
Ego the discussion forum is all about him, and he regards discussions that stray from that topic as trivial dalliances. Although tolerant of an occasional shift in focus, Ego grows increasingly restive when the forum’s attention shifts away from his interests, and he will often provoke conflict to reestablish himself as the subject at hand. Ego is one the the fiercest of all the Warriors and will fight to the death when attacked
Stealth prefers to go into battle disguised or heavily camouflaged, often using pseudonyms, anonymous mail servers and multiple e mail addresses. Operating from a position of anonymity he can launch vicious attacks with little fear of reprisals. Because of his cowardice Stealth is often dismissed by other Warriors as an unworthy adversary.
Hysterical Realist – possibly a new species! You come up with a description and post it.
I hope that’s a start. What do you think?