The New York Times has sort of a Readers Digest version along the lines of "The History of Trolling on the Internet" in today's Sunday Magazine. I'm familiar with much of the older history, but had mostly tuned-out recent doings. It's a fairly long piece, but I read the whole thing. I was mortified, but also stupefied and mesmerized.
Some of the examples of trolling these days are extreme. But in the end, I don't believe trolling is actually about the Internet - it's about the human condition. Otherwise how could it possibly be that two young siblings under the age of five years old already know completely what buttons to push to set each other off?
The author of the piece and one of the more proficient modern-day trolls suggest that there will be trolling until people don't react to it. I agree with this, but that's like saying, "there will be trolls until human nature changes." And like I always say, technology changes and improves rapidly. Human nature? Not so much.
Still, a world where everyone reacts and responds reasonably and accordingly and thinks everything through is fun to think about. In the meanwhile, trolling exists everywhere. Including, and perhaps especially in the media. Not just websites, though I can say for sure that posts like "The Hills Beats-Up on Gossip Girl...Again" are certainly troll-ish in nature and Bill has taken a sarcastic swipe at some shows' overzealous fans a time or two.
Probably the most troll-like thing on our site or at least the thing that brings out the most troll comments is the Bill O'Reilly vs. Keith Olbermann charts.
For all of those who think everything any website does is for the traffic and for the user engagement comments - it's not always so. The level of abusive trolling on the O'Reilly vs. Olbermann posts was so extreme that in the end we just blocked the comments on those posts altogether because it wasn't worth the trouble of worrying about moderating them.
For now, those posts themselves, like Bill are on vacation (and will return when Bill is back in late August). We're not leaving you high and dry though, we're still posting the daily cable news ratings so you can see the how KO is holding up against BO.
It seems that the very reason these shows exist to begin with is because to some degree we embrace trolling at the extremes. O'Reilly is an extremist on one end, and Olbermann an extremist on the other. I hear cries sometimes about "How come there is no show with a very balanced host, that provides very balanced coverage without trying to whip people into a froth?"
The answer, sadly, is very simple: hardly anyone would watch that show.