Calling all trolls: you'll have to come to our forum to comment next week

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We're inviting our trolls to come out from under the bridge, join our forum, and defend your domain.

We are all very excited about our July 31 public forum on the future of the Bay Guardian and progressive journalism in the Bay Area. We’ve already received lots of great community support and input since our recent turmoil and leadership transition — and we want even more feedback as we work to rejuvenate the paper.

But there is one piece of advice that we’ve received over and over again from readers: do something about the trolls that pollute our comments section. So we’ve decided to turn that input into a little week-long experiment starting on the day of the forum. As we post next week’s Guardian here at sfbg.com, we will disable the comments on the stories and in our blog posts that week.

We always welcome reader input and we appreciate thoughtful commentary, criticism, and debate on our stories, which we’ve seen plenty of this week, particularly in our posts on the Giants labor impasse, Board President David Chiu, privatization of the Botanical Gardens, problems at SFDPH, racial profiling, and our editorial on democracy, as well as on last week’s op-eds on the Trayvon Martin aftermath.

Unfortunately, under the Guardian’s bridge live a few nasty trolls who hate everything that we and our progressive community do and are usually the quickest to comment on the things we write, often making the same pointed, off-topic criticisms, over and over again. Sometimes it’s racist, usually it’s reactionary, often it’s self-indulgent, and it always lowers the level of debate on our site.

Many of our regular readers and supporters have repeatedly told us the often toxic nature of these discussions chases them away and needlessly undermines the reporting and information that precedes it. Sometimes, we’ve seen organized misinformation campaigns from anonymous but clearly self-interested parties that post to our site, as we’ve seen in our coverage of Airbnb’s legal troubles and tax avoidance.

So in addition to all of our proud, loyal, flesh-and-blood readers, we’re hereby inviting all of our trolls -- Matlock, Lucretia Snapples, Anon, and all the rest -- to come to our forum and defend your domain. Among the many orders of business at the forum, we will consider changing our online comment policies and registration system, particularly as we redesign our website this fall.

If you want to comment next week, you’re going to have to come to our forum. Or you can always send us good, old-fashioned letters to the editor, either through email (steve@sfbg.com or marke@sfbg.com) or snail mail. Then, in our Aug. 7 issue, we’ll devote a page or two in the paper to those letters and the input that we receive at the forum.

We’ll probably just leave our comments turned off for one week — but you never know. So for now, let us know what you think as we rethink our approach at the Guardian. And please stop by our event page on Facebook and let us know that you’re coming to the event on July 31 from 6-8pm on the fourth floor of the LGBT Center, 1800 Market Street ... if you dare.  

Comments

You never seem to ignore what you don't like.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 27, 2013 @ 1:54 pm
Posted by Guest on Jul. 27, 2013 @ 2:29 pm

"The fact that some posters who are obviously opposed to either the politics of SFBG or the writers themselves obsessively post comments here is a testament to the importance of SFBG's articles and comment section since reasonable people rarely waste time responding to people or ideas that aren't serious or well-reasoned."

That is a convenient explanation but it isn't the only one. Here is another to consider.

SFBG writers, especially Steven, often say things that are not true or are gross misrepresentations pushed to the point of falseness. That is what many of the trolls respond to. Without the trolls Steven can say whatever he likes and there will not be an easy way for someone who arrived to the site via Google to see that his writings should be viewed with considerable skepticism.

Here is one example. If you go to the pro 8 Washington Facebook page you'll see that their 'trolls' are linking to an SFBG story (not Steven) talking about the $3 signature gathering proving how desperate the developer is. The SFBG story never mentioned, of course, the fact that the anti 8 Washington group also made extensive use of $3 signature gatherers.

The average person doesn't know that the SFBG produces extremely misleading information. At least the trolls were able to mitigate that and I can see why Steven wishes that they would go away.

Posted by Guest George on Jul. 27, 2013 @ 7:35 am

is not the same as making things up. A progressive publication is selectively reporting negative things about the anti-progressive side? And this is different from the Comical doing the opposite thing, how exactly?

There are no objective media outlets. Unlike the Comical, the Guardian is just open about the fact that it's a progressive publication.

Posted by Greg on Jul. 27, 2013 @ 7:45 am

There is some degree of bias in almost any journal but I cannot think of one paper that is so totally riddled with prejudicial bias as this one.

And that of course is exactly why steven goes off on anyone who corrects or rebuts him. By dismissing his refuters as "trolls" or "racists" he hopes that at least some readers will take him at face value.

In the end, this is just a chatroom and we should accept all opinions. I doubt if more than a couple of dozen people read it anyway, and the idea that people criticize SFBG here only because it is so important, is laughable.

For me, for instance, I come here for light amusement and because I know of no other site where it is so easy to win a debate.

Posted by anon on Jul. 27, 2013 @ 8:00 am

I don't think it's "hopelessly biased." It just has a progressive slant, like the Comical has a pro-corporate slant. The Guardian is more open about it's slant, but that doesn't make it more slanted. Just more honest. The Comical doesn't bother to respond to people they disagree with. They just ban them. I've given up reading that site long ago, because it's so hopelessly biased. And everybody knows that.

Posted by Greg on Jul. 27, 2013 @ 8:24 am

So someone on the far left (you) thinks SFBG has nothing more than a "slant" whereas to the 2/3 of SF voters who approve of Mayor Lee, it's very left-wing.

Likewise, I'd say the Chron is fairly liberal by national standards, and only appears right-wing to someone way over on the left.

Posted by anon on Jul. 27, 2013 @ 8:37 am

The tired old "Ed Lee approval rate" meme, as if that proves anything. You know how the game is played, how candidates are created out of thin air when you have a corporate near monopoly of the media. Nobody knew who Ed Lee was a few years ago, but one treacherous vote allowed the machine to use an opening to let their candidate weasel his way in. Had that 6-5 vote gone the other way, the economy would still be in recovery, and 70% of the voters would be approving of mayor Hennessey, or Mayor Mirkarimi. And I could make the boastful claim that I'm sooo mainstream while you're far to the right. But I don't engage in that kind of cheap rhetoric, because you know it's BS, I know it's BS. But I'm not a troll. You're just trotting out the same meme to score a rhetorical point, not trying to have a legitimate debate. That's what trolls do.

Posted by Greg on Jul. 27, 2013 @ 9:24 am

I can guarantee you that a Mayor "wife-beater" Mirkamiri would not.

There's nothing unusual about having a moderate mayor in SF because it's a moderate city. Newsom, Brown and Jordan before him were similarly centrists. A progressive mayor hasn't happened, at least not since the ill-fated one-term Agnos.

I'm in a central moderate camp with those guys and you are way out in left field. I'm not the extremist here - you are.

Posted by anon on Jul. 27, 2013 @ 9:30 am

Maybe Mayor Mirkarimi or Kim or Chiu or whatever would be just as popular as Ed Lee. Who knows. But we are stuck with this reality and Lee's approval rating has been objectively measured in the 60% range.

So bringing that up is what makes us 'trolls'? Cause we list something that actually exists as opposed to something that might exist in a parallel universe?

Is that the type of thinking that we need to get rid of?

Posted by Guest George on Jul. 27, 2013 @ 9:53 am

when Newsom moved on and "if only" they could have gotten a leftie in the interim mayor role, then they think that momentum would have enabled them to do what they have never done, and that is somehow get a leftie elected in a city where 2/3 of the voters are moderates.

When a rather introverted bureaucrat like Lee can easily win an election against the sharpest guys on the left, you just know that the left can never prevail here.

And the demographic changes we are seeing in SF is making it less and less likely a leftie will ever win the mayoral office. The Gonzales near miss was perhaps their one chance, and even then they lost by a clear margin.

Posted by anon on Jul. 27, 2013 @ 10:01 am

How much does Alex Clemens pay you to troll here?

Posted by anon on Jul. 27, 2013 @ 10:49 am

ludicrous idea that the SFBG is so important the the establishment would need to pay people to post contrary comments here.

But of course a shred of evidence has never been advanced, and never could be. In truth, I wish such jobs existed, as I would love to be paid for doing what is merely recreational.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 27, 2013 @ 12:18 pm

Except that you all are flailing at the prospect of losing your platform to hijack progressives, Alex is scrambling to figure out how to deploy his ersatz storm troopers lite to clear the way for him to make much more money.

Posted by anon on Jul. 29, 2013 @ 5:52 am

commentators here clearly must have for censorship to be deemed a viable option.

Posted by anon on Jul. 30, 2013 @ 5:48 am

I doubt any non progressive cares all that much about Pravda SF.

By the way...

SFBG used to have a sign in policy years ago, it never worked right and no one posted anything.

Posted by Matlock on Jul. 30, 2013 @ 6:06 pm

if not for the progressive triumphalism around the 00's. Ammiano and the rest of the progressive BOS gang were in the drivers seat giving all the peasants the finger for some time. Now Greg complains that the triumphalist rants are out of touch?

Alas there is always some reason the carpet is pulled out from the people who makes claims about speaking for the people. We are all duped and manipulated by the media it seems, if the world was fair to Greg's advantage the progressive 00's would have marched on endlessly. Alas we are all dumb and manipulated, the people who speak for the people say so.

As to Lee, as has been said before, progressive refuse to accept the reality of how Lee came to office. The progressives went into the end of Newsom situation with the express goal of putting "one of their own" into the mayors office. Progressives were quite willing to foist "one of their own" onto a city that was not electing progressive mayors. They got out schemed and then claimed it was all so unfair that they couldn't foist a minority position candidate on the population.

If only progressives had manipulated a minority party candidate into office they would be the majority party.

Greg remakes reality to suit his beliefs of the minute, while ignoring history he loves to claim to take part in.

Posted by Matlock on Jul. 30, 2013 @ 6:03 pm

into the mayors office but, of course, there was so much in-fighting between them, as there always is, that they could not agree on one person.

And so the guy the least number of people disliked got in instead, and is proving to be a very popular mayor.

So what's the problem, Greg?

Posted by Guest on Jul. 30, 2013 @ 10:04 pm

Yes Greg, I can understand why the SFBG would be happy to report, for example, that the 8 Washington developer was paying signature gatherers $3.

But if they employed even the lowest journalistic standards they would have to stop and say to themselves "well, our side does EXACTLY the same thing,we need to acknowledge that somehow".

SFBG doesn't employ even those minimal standards which is why they get so much (deserved) ridicule.

If I was a progressive I would be pissed. Your positions could be advanced using enlightened integrity.

But Steven Jones is in no way up to that task, sorry. I think Vogt put him in his new position to embarrass you guys.

Posted by Guest George on Jul. 27, 2013 @ 8:32 am

Collecting six times the signatures for a referendum than for an initiative within a narrow statutory timeline is next to impossible to do while any fool can qualify an initiative these days with volunteers.

Posted by anon on Jul. 27, 2013 @ 1:27 pm

I read the comments for their entertainment value. The actual articles in the Guardian are so doctrinaire, predictable, and dull, that but for the comments, I would not even bother to visit the website.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 27, 2013 @ 11:51 am

And it happens routinely in the comments, thanks to the diligence of the trollerati.

Keeping Steven honest R'us. It's an important service we provide free and gratis, pro publico bonum.

Posted by Trollosaurus on Jul. 27, 2013 @ 12:15 pm

Progressives are like born againers, Randroids and any other political true belief group.

There is always some mitigating reason why they are correct.

The true believer progressive has built up defense mechanisms around being correct by nature of being correct.

Posted by Matlock on Jul. 27, 2013 @ 12:38 pm

"I read the comments for their entertainment value."

You find dysfunctional, cut and paste arguing and bullying entertaining do you?

Posted by Guest on Jul. 27, 2013 @ 4:32 pm

You like diversity, right? This is San Francisco after all.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 27, 2013 @ 11:03 pm

Actually....yes.

I admit it.

Posted by pete moss on Jul. 28, 2013 @ 7:03 am

Yes!!

Posted by Guest on Jul. 28, 2013 @ 1:58 pm

Put this in your search engine and use it (because you need it):

bay area psychotherapy

Posted by Guest on Jul. 28, 2013 @ 4:05 pm

Yes, Progressives who are dysfunctional who cut and paste their arguing and bullying are extremely entertaining.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 29, 2013 @ 9:14 pm

Cmon now. Watching Lilli lose his shit and start cursing out people who disagree with him and seeing Greg calling everyone bigots all while hating on cops and Asians is high comedy.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 29, 2013 @ 9:17 pm

This page alone (ugh!) has turned into exactly why they're turning the comments off. It's the same "cut and paste troll material" one has read countless times before on this site from those whose hobby is arguing and trolling. Also, the bullying of Steven is really disgustingly low. I'm not sure what that's intended to accomplish? Since you don't like what he writes, you're not required to read it. But that's coming from an adult position and most of you have never reached adulthood regardless of your chronological age. You're pathetic and I hope they keep comments off permanently because all they do overall is degrade this site.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 27, 2013 @ 4:53 pm

it's appropriate for people to point that out, lest some more niave readers relieve it just because it is written in black and white.

Writers and editors except criticism and correction. Indeed, they welcome the opportunity to grow and learn from it.

Sounds like you prefer to be spoon-fed your information.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 27, 2013 @ 11:02 pm

Sounds like you don't know what the hell you're talking about as usual. And the word I think you were struggling for is "accept," but you wrote: "except"
They have different meanings (use your search engine).

Posted by Guest on Jul. 27, 2013 @ 11:32 pm

Steven wants people to accept his word as gospel, and dislikes being challenged or called out. As he matures into his new-found authority, there is hope he will broaden his sensibilities so that he embraces a diversity of viewpoints.

The comments. criticisms and corrections issued here will surely help him on that path, if only he could realize that.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 29, 2013 @ 1:44 am

What I'd like to see is a comment system where users can ignore other users or unreigstered users and where comments were hidden based on a the ability to ignore a user and to allow users to be ignored based on a metric of how many registered users I like have ignored someone.

Posted by anon on Jul. 27, 2013 @ 5:44 pm

The Hypocrisy in your comment!

Users can ignore other users now. Use willpower. A special comment system is not needed for ignoring other users. All that's required is a person having the willpower and ability to click off or scroll on by and ignore. Apparently you don't possess either. Sounds like that of a very weak person. And as one of the most obnoxious resident right-wing trolls responsible for the comments being closed, why would you want to ignore anyone's comments?---the hypocrisy involved in that statement is amazing---because then you would have less people to troll.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 27, 2013 @ 8:24 pm

like or agree with. In other words, he never wants to learn anything or be challenged.

As you say, easy to move on if you don't like some comment for any reason. We don't need a "system" for that - it's a basic human cognitive function.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 27, 2013 @ 10:59 pm

Oh but there's more hypocrisy from "anon." Someone wrote a very lengthy post in this thread titled, "Avoiding Flame Wars and Starving Trolls" and "anon" wrote this hypocritical post:

"You're thinking about this WAAAAAY too much. Just lighten up, ignore what you don't like, and don't take everything so damn seriously. Jeez."

Meanwhile, "anon" is calling for a comment system that allows users to ignore other users. ("Do as I say, not as I do.") Did anyone ever think that "anon" was all there?

Posted by Guest on Jul. 28, 2013 @ 3:26 am

Sometimes anon is not always anon, funny how that works. You all are really underthinking this.

All I want is a "squelch" knob so that the signal to noise ratio is bumped up. We all read the dominant ideology in the mainstream media. Like the proselytizing Christians, the right wingers fail to realize that we've heard their schtick over and again, have declined to buy it and would rather focus our attentions on what is interesting to us instead of theoclassical economics.

Posted by anon on Jul. 28, 2013 @ 9:13 am

It is trivially easy to be discriminating. Censorship is somebody other than you deciding what you will read or write - generally preferred only in communist and fascist regimes.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 29, 2013 @ 1:41 am

So you're suggesting that everyone make their private property available to anyone else without condition? You sound like you're a communist.

Posted by anon on Jul. 29, 2013 @ 5:37 am
Posted by anon on Jul. 30, 2013 @ 5:46 am

Most everything I read I disagree with. I'd like some space to read stuff I agree with and to discuss those matters with people with whom I agree.

Posted by anon on Jul. 28, 2013 @ 10:37 am
Posted by Guest on Jul. 28, 2013 @ 11:42 am

But then they couldn't troll, and this is about trolling and being an obnoxious asshole, not whether they agree with anyone political positions. That's just the smoke-screen distraction topic.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 28, 2013 @ 4:09 pm

Far ehalthier than reading only what you agree with, as that way narrow blinkered thinking lies.

But when you read differing viewpoints, you can also add a broader context through constructive criticism. More enlightened souls welcome such diversity.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 29, 2013 @ 1:40 am

That was not "anon as anon," that was "not anon" as anon.

Posted by anon on Jul. 28, 2013 @ 4:54 pm

They don't make hip waders big enough.

Posted by anon on Jul. 28, 2013 @ 10:36 am

Heading towards the merger of the SF Weekly Guardian!

Tim had occasional moments of comic genius - saying that housing in SF should be allocated by "seniority"; or devoting an SFBG cover story to a modestly famous filmmaker being thrown out of his rent-controlled apartment by an evil, heartless landlord, and then having it come out that the modestly famous filmmaker had owned a home in Portland for eight years.

I'm afraid that Steven won't be able to keep the lulz coming the way Tim did...

Posted by Guest on Jul. 27, 2013 @ 9:50 pm

Has Johnny Angel been invited to the pow-wow?

And what about Tim? Has he been invited? He could make one of those surprise appearances like Sammy Davis used to do at the Dean shows.

Or perhaps you have a Restraining Order against him? After all, it might be awkward.

Posted by Anony on Jul. 29, 2013 @ 11:16 am