A Couple Thoughts on Trolls

I’ve been thinking a lot about Internet trolls lately. These are people that often anonymously leave discouraging or rude comments.

I recently wrote a post for CSS-Tricks; which is an important and popular site for people that write CSS. You could say this site has a niche audience, and maybe this makes its (enormous) audience a tight-knit community. As a result, all of the comments were positive, and friendly – even when the reader didn’t entirely agree with something about my crazy idea.

Conversely, previous things I’ve written have been for sites with a broader audience. The comments haven’t always been as friendly. One classic example was my post for Six Revisions titled “Never Meta URL Like You Before” which looked at special character domain names. This post had a few comments in it to quickly point out that I don’t know much (and little did they know, but also ‘care’ much) about the inner workings of IDN. In the big picture, this is just debate among passionate nerds.

CSS-Tricks encourages good behaviour: "be the person your mother always wanted you to be: kind, helpful, and smart. "

Trolls start getting really crude in even bigger and broader audiences. My wife was recently shocked to discover that there were less than savoury comments on YouTube – a site that the average human knows to never read the comments on. They can get pretty terrible. Just mean, racist, cruel and demoralizing. Ugh.

The Internet is a big place, and some use the size and ability to post anonymously to say whatever evil thing comes into their heads. I’m not sure if the size or broadness of the audience actually makes a difference, but it was interesting to me.

Man, it’s tempting to disable comments on this post…

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