One of the common afflictions of internet discussion is trolling. Trolling is behavior that generally seeks to irritate or enrage participants, it is a move in a social game that seeks to win by upsetting the opponent. It is possible, at least in theory, for a troll to be ‘sincere,’ but merely ignorant. Having no mind-reading crystal ball, I assess trolling by effect, both actual and inferred.
A characteristic of trolls is that argument is endless. No matter what has come before, the troll will assert that his points have been completely established, and that resistance is futile, and stupid.
When trolling is allowed, discussion quality declines. There is, however, a strong anarchist bent to internet communities, and so trolling may be permitted. There is an audience that loves to see the conflict.
Lenr-forum traffic appears to have declined, there are fewer comments than I was accustomed to seeing. However, today brought these, so far. I will examine them from the point of view of trolling.:
Planet Lomax (population 1)
A while back I wrote:
Trolling will often be dense with provocative statements, inviting outraged comment. The troll is not really interested in facts and evidence, so references will be without links. It is all abstracted from history. Zeus46 here simply repeats himself, but does not link so that context can be examined. “Planet Lomax” is his reference to this blog. There is no clear definition of population for a blog, it is often just a single person (though registration here is invited). I know that this blog is being read, and, in fact, Zeus46 shows that he has read it. He also has commented here previously. Because it was pure trolling, without any redeeming value (just repeating the “Planet Lomax (population 1)” trope), I deleted it.
Abd – now free to insult with impunity – has written on his latest bolt-hole website, planet-lomax.com, accusing me of reacting with glee to his banning…
Here is where he wrote that. Typical of trolls: false statements, easily verifiable if anyone checks. They then invite response, and so flame wars arise and continue. On occasion, the troll’s intended victim then responds in a way that attracts moderator sactions. Victory!!!
“now free to insult with impunity.” Well, I’ve always been free to insult, if I choose to do so! What changed? The comment he quotes was written when I was banned before. His reference is to this blog post, where there was an off-hand reference, the user not named, but indicated by “idiot,” which, in context, does identify him.
In his comment, linked above, Zeus46 refers to an old post of mine, where I reveal some personal history. Trolls will take that and run with it, it’s ideal material for them, they will think, because their target may be sensitive. It is ripped out of context and radically re-interpreted. That I used drugs — a little, never habituated — over fifty years ago (not more recently, as was implied in the sequence where I was first banned) is used as a justification to allege drug use in later events. The original allegation was from Sifferkoll, referring to suggested current drug usage. Trolls will recycle this stuff endlessly, often repeating each other. This is part of how on-line discussion goes downhill.
The next post of mine, after that one, is my all-time personal favorite lenr-forum post, revealing my secret. Heh! I am legion.
Do these people even know what the central scotoma is? I just mentioned the visibility of the scotoma to an opthalmologist. She was excited. She said, “I’m going to go home and check this tonight!” (this refers to something I discovered, that I have never seen documented anywhere. Normally the central scotoma is observed by what is missing, not as an object in itself. It is, however, under some conditions, visible as a dark patch, transient, because as soon as it is visible, the optical processing fills it in with the surround so that it becomes — mostly — invisible, within maybe a half-second. I have recently noticed that scintillating scotomas — a migraine symptom — may first appear in that location, but I don’t consider that confirmed. It would not be surprising, since there is a mechanism for creating image or at least a patch of color there.)
That’s how my conversations go with the knowledgeable. Not with trolls.
The comment received several downvotes including those from the Doxxer’s perennial favourite, THHuxley, and the social maverick (and alleged wanna-be cult leader), Abd Ul-Rahman Lomax.
Well, duh, as to the substance. As to trolling (the topic here), I am a social maverick, often. “Wanna-be cult leader?” What? One of the worst positions on the planet is “cult leader.” I’ve known some. It can be fatal. But this is similar to what Sifferkoll claimed. Trolls will call someone a “doxxer” if they have revealed anything about others, but do it themselves, routinely, pulling up material from the past, mixing it with shit, and tossing it.
Well, in a rapid and shameless return to form, Lummox has once again made a mockery of his sites strap line: Increasingly paranoid, Abd ascribes his downfall to a shadowy and mysterious figure known only as ‘Zeus45’, who is accused of making “private complaints” about His Lordship’s behaviour (No one likes a Grass, Lomax), and of several times putting a collection of non-insulting words into a special order which somehow became insulting.
He must be referring to: “Reality / Don’t leave home without it.” There is no reference to Zeus45 that I could find here. This is Zeus 46, and he is not responsible for my “downfall,” and I haven’t fallen, I have been rescued from a cesspool, where, almost every day, there would be trolls. I have not accused Zeus46 of making “private complaints,” he imagined that, and most of what he writes. As to non-insulting words “somehow” becoming “insulting,” what if I were to say that Zeus46 lures small children under the bridge where he lives and touches them? No bad words, but put together, well, I would never say that, right?
Others confirmed the insulting nature of Zeus46’s comment, and, in fact, he invited the response of “idiot” by asking about why his reaction was as it was. Should I have written, “because you are so smart and perceptive”? Would adding “Yeah, right!” have turned those nice words into an insult?
Writing on lenr-forum, given that moderation is clueless and ineffective, is, every day, being tempted to respond like this. I don’t plan to make a habit of it!
All the while refusing to acknowledge both that the words “idiot” and “troll” are actual insults, and the various other veiled and unveiled insults he tosses at some well known members here, including the erstwhile THHuxley, dismissed as “clearly a pseudoskeptic” and further victimised by yet another casual doxxing.
THH, if he is offended, may request redaction. I would, at least, consider it and not use the request against him in any way. THH, however, if “doxxing” harms him — if he is a “victim,” — has behaved very strangely; he could trivially have removed himself from focus, could have created a new account if he wanted to be truly anonymous. But he didn’t. I don’t know why. As to “pseudoskeptic,” it’s a common affliction and nobody is “dismissed” by being identified as such. As well, “troll” is a term of art, and if the shoe fits, wear it. “Idiot” has meanings that depend on context. In the circles I came of age in — undergraduate culture at Cal Tech — people called each other idiots or “warm bodies” all the time. And we all are idiots in some ways or other, that is, we cannot see what is in front of our faces.
The troll complains that he was insulted! Of course he complains! Trolls do that. On Quora, a troll will go after a skilled writer, will poke and provoke, and until the writer learns to ignore this, to block the troll and delete comments on their Answers (which runs against the grain for internet writers), if the writer answers with insult, and even if the original trolling comment was grossly insulting, the troll then complains to moderation and the writer gets warned or blocked or banned (moderation will not look at context, it’s overworked!). It’s happened to the best. And then they learn to not respond at all, but to report the trolling comments, to delete them, and to block the troll (Quora allows users to prevent specific others from commenting on their Answers).
The response can be completely and totally true, but if it is Not Nice, it can and will be sanctioned.
…Which maybe in itself doesn’t prove an awful lot – except perhaps that there really is no honour amongst the humourless.
So, in one sentence, I am accused of being humorless and without honor. Will moderation allow this to stand? Maybe, maybe not.
Other highlights from planet-lomax.com include details of the various Machiavellian strategies pursued in order to divide and conquer the Lenr-forum moderation team.
Such as? The team is divided, that’s clear. I did not create that division. This will be covered, a little, in the next trolling situation below.
And finally, a forlorn cry for all to join him in his continued boycott of the forum…
So he ends with several lies, including a fake link, a Joe Job, actually linking to http://everything2.com/title/Monkey+Shakespeare+Simulator.
The next trolling is a different kind. It is from randombit0, who has been accused of being Rossi. The arguments RB0 uses are very recognizably Rossi, but the language is a bit different. RB0 has used “us” to refer to the Rossi team, but I do not consider “Rossi sock” proven for RB0, merely plausible in some ways. Rossi does use many socks on his blog, that is not in serious doubt. So what does RB0 come up with today?
“BTW – the forum management needs to straighten up if it expects to have a chance to be relevant in the coming next phase of LENR. Amateur hour needs to end.”
Dear Mr. Weaver,
is that a threat an order to the forum administrators or what ?
I think that the real basic working of a forum is to be open to various voices in a democratic way.
If you don’t agree with somebody why don’t you try to answer with effective and sound arguments ?
This is trolling, because the answers are obvious, but the target will be tempted to respond (and he does). “An order” refers to Rossi’s expressed opinion that lenr-forum has “sold out” to Industrial Heat. Dewey Weaver, for those who don’t have a playbook, is an investor in — and advisor or consultant for — Industrial Heat; Industrial Heat itself never gets involved in internet discussions. Dewey is not officially representing IH, but only his own opinions. But that’s his real name and he is an insider, often with insider information. I would not seek the blocking of RB0, because RB0 is as close as LF has for official Rossi points of view, other than what is directly quoted from his blog. The same with Dewey Weaver. If they go beyond limits they, like any other user, could be warned and, if necessary, sanctioned. What RB0 does here, though, is more subtle than I’d expect to see a moderator react to.
The first question was trolling. The meaning of DW’s comment is clear: forum administration is amateurish, what would be expected from moderators with no experience, and clearly it is not professional. If an administrator on Wikipedia acted as Alan Smith has acted on LF, the administrator tools would be yanked by the community, and quickly. As many pointed out, deleting comments merely because they are off-topic is not sensible. That would not be done on Wikipedia (rather, comments can be hidden, but anyone can read them in history.) Only illegal content, normally, will be fully hidden … but if a whole page is deleted, then it takes admin tools to see the content. And it’s easy to get that content, normally, by a request to an admin, and there are hundreds which are active….
(Given the apparently limited tools available at LF, the sane solution is moving comments to new or off-topic discussions. But that could be more work for a moderator, and if the moderator personally dislikes the comments, it can be more satisfying to delete the suckers, and, knowing that this may irritate users, it is also a way of punishing them.)
As to “democratic way,” it’s obvious that LF is not “democratic.” Decisions are made secretly, without public discussion, and what I was really banned for, my opinion — I’ve not actually been told — is discussion of moderator actions, specifically those of Alan Smith. Alan Smith, however, is not the real problem, he is just a symptom. The real problem is deeper, apparently.
As to “effective and sound arguments,” RB0 is not referring to a debate or argument, but only DW’s comment about amateur. Further, what happens when one “tries” to answer with “effective and sound arguments”? Long-term, nothing. And we will see that, here. (Such responses can be useful for learning, but that depends on context).
RB0 immediately wrote another comment:
“but given the accusation on Lugano emissivity”
Come on we have discussed all that in another thread !
Need a review ?
So, the issue of Lugano emissivity was, in fact, discussed thoroughly, with RB0 expressing a set of highly misleading arguments, repeated as if they were obvious to anyone who is not an idiot, and with comments dripping with sarcasm. Several users replied, patiently and thoroughly. Here, it’s obvious: RB0 is inviting further useless discussion, beating a dead horse, having apparently learned nothing — or being utterly insincere.
In recent blog posts, Rossi has repeated his long-expressed opinion that “control experiments” or “dummies” are unnecessary. The first critique of Lugano, by Michael McKubre on Infinite Energy, was overall positive, but McKubre pointed out a glaring shortcoming: no calibration or control experiment, using the dummy cell, at full input power. Even if Lugano actually did generate the claimed heat, the missing calibration was a strong reason for the results to be suspect. And then the actual mechanism for error was found and documented, by a number of people in and outside of the field. It’s about emissivity, and an error that was repeated here, over and over, by RB0.
(A control experiment would have established the response of temperature to ordinary input power, and would also have calibrated the camera, to a degree. An actual calibration would need to cover the full range of temperatures, which would have been easy if there was no XP, but it could be difficult if there was XP. But that would not prevent a control experiment, only calibration up to the claimed full power output.)
Lenr-forum has no ready means for determining answers, for closing issues. A troll can continue arguing forever, and trolls will. They are not interested in finding agreement, it would be entirely contrary to their purposes. Others often give up, which the troll will consider represents victory.
There was ensuing discussion of interest. Because Alan Smith popped in and threatened “green ink” or “purple” — whatever that means — I have saved these comments to this local page. (Green ink is redaction, where a mod removes comments, sometimes replacing them with metacomment, I think purple ink is deletion, leaving a deleted comment in the thread.)
to check this, I went to where I had previously documented many comment deletions.
The links there no longer show any deletions. What has happened is that visible deletions have been changed to invisible ones. The comments have now been actually removed from the thread, which then can change page links to subsequent posts. There are normally 15 posts per display page, and sometimes users link to pages, not individual posts, never imagining that the page location of a comment would change. This link is from that original documentation, to page 10 of that discussion, which had 12 comments (or maybe 11) showing as deleted by Alan Smith. Now, all later posts have been moved up so that there are no visible deleted posts (and no reference to who deleted them). Sigh. More and more amateur, flopping about, entrenching conflict. “It’s the cover-up, stupid.”
Now, that prior discussion with RB0. I wrote what is currently the last comment in that discussion. RB0 retired from it, but now returns as if that very long discussion, with many posts in it that took substantial research and time to write, were his establishing his point, but, in fact, he is the only one supporting that point. There are 31 pages there, that is over 450 comments.
In that discussion, I took to calling him “Zero.” This was the last comment of Zero in that discussion. It has three dislikes at this point, no likes. I didn’t bother to dislike it, mine could be tossed in. Looking back — I have not reviewed all 450 comments! — I find no support for Zero’s position, and a whole series of users, including actual researchers with experience with the thermal camera used, who confirm the problem with emissivity that Zero denies.
And this is a problem with internet fora. They can become colossal time-wasters, and people with real work to do, which generally includes the most knowledgeable, will stay away. Exceptions can be those who are effectively retired (like myself and certain others, and at various times, I also have too much to do.) As well, some may have a vested interest. Such as Andrea Rossi or anyone working for him, Dewey Weaver, whose interest is obvious and disclosed, or, perhaps, Alan Smith, who is actively operating a company that sells materials for NiH research. Or how about the owner of lenr-forum who, if nothing else, is selling advertising on the site. I’m not saying that any of these activities are “wrong,” but that they can create conflicts of interest, which, in some cases, will show up as tenacious argument (Lugano was very important to Rossi, his “independent professors”) or as otherwise mysterious actions.