Dealing with Anti-Linux Trolls - OP/ED
with Anti-Linux Trolls
by Walter V. Koenning
for the Linux Community, OP/ED
It's my desire to
help the Linux community deal with a growing issue of trolls packing
new Linux user forums with bad advice and sometimes down right lies.
In the past few years this issue has gone from being a one-off to
such a common occurrence today that it's getting out of hand. For
many good user articles, there's some troll salivating at the
chance to speak negatively about the article, Linux, compatibility
issues, the author, the author's mamma, and so on.
This happens every day
now on many Linux sites. In a recent response to an article
published on a Linux site, a troll declared the article useless and
pointless. Now mind you, the article was some user's personal
experiences helping his friend move to Linux.
How can such an
article be useless and pointless -- it's a personal reflection and
experience. More importantly, the troll referred to the author as a:
"fanatic linux religious zealot freak."
Oh, yes of course, if
we convey our personal experiences helping a friend switch to Linux,
we are somehow nut cases. But if we stay with Windows we are sane.
"if we help a friend switch to Linux, we are somehow nut cases"
The troll went on to
ridicule how migrating a new user to Linux will force the user to
lose access to essential files and software. The troll then pointed
to the hot button names like Photoshop. We all know that you have a
choice of good graphical editors. The other hot words are things
like recompile and untar. This even though today every major Linux
flavor works perfectly well with package managers to install new
software with a few mouse clicks.
The troll continued by
ranking on the source, the author, etc. And after all this, the
comment ended with one of those nonsensical "but I think Linux is a
good OS" conclusive remark. As if some new Linux user would read
that last line and go, "this guy's respectful and dignified, even
after spending thirty lines ranking on Linux in the comments section
of a Linux website." Funny how the trolls consider new Linux users
ignorant -- boy are they wrong.
Best of all, I enjoy
clicking on the "other posts" button to see what else this
particular troll has written regarding articles. What a shock
(tongue-planted-in-cheek) to find out that the troll has posted over
20 responses with not one single positive remark about a Linux
article. And an even greater shock (not), almost every reply posted
by this troll says the same thing. In fact sometimes with even the
same words... kind of a cut-and-paste "because I'm too lazy to
think of new BS" trolling technique. My favorite anti-linux troll
cut-and-paste replies from this week: "religious linux zealot",
"with Windows you just...", "in the real world."
"kind of a cut-and-paste because I'm too lazy to
think of new BS technique"
Okay, so I said to the
editor of another popular Linux user site, we can address this troll
issue once and for all. It's the Internet we're using to
publish! This is the world of fast information, and fast action. A
story appears in Australia and we can publish a response before most
people in America are sipping their morning coffee. We work late
nights, we watch reactions to our articles, so we can have a ball
The idea you ask? If a
troll comments on some article then I go back, do some research,
revise my article and add clarifying statements. Sometimes I add new
insights, or links to verify a point the troll attempted to show is
wrong. In fact, one editor I spoke with decided to begin using troll
responses as a basis for new content articles to help clear up overt
myths and confusion.
In other words, the
troll now becomes my friendly neighborhood editor. My personal
critic to help shape the article.
This helps me to 1. put
an end to some BS and lies and 2. to clarify issues that may very
well be of confusion in the minds of some readers.
The result is that
today I can update and improve my articles live as people provide
feedback. Kind of a community based HOWTO, except this is real time,
and hits all the facets and necessary points one single person could
never have thought of -- even with the help of great site editors.
Best of all, when I
fail to include a clarifying statement in an article or to prove a
point regarding Linux, the trolls find them for me and report them!
If I catch the troll comment fast enough, the next 5,000 readers of
my article end up gaining the benefit of the troll's feedback with
improved information. It's not only a great way to improve
articles, having a competitive and rather intensive critic, it also
does wonders for escorting some of the trolls out of our community.
What's that you say,
I left what out of this article? Great let me fix the point.
Walter V. Koenning is a technology and trends writer and contributes occasionaly to the Opinions section.
This brief opinion piece should not be construed as factual information, and only contains the opinions and personal experiences of the author at the time of publication. It does not necessarily convey the views of reallylinux.com. Linux is a registered trademark of Linus Torvalds. Microsoft, Microsoft Windows and WindowsXP are trademarks or registered trademarks of Microsoft Corporation both in the United States and Internationally. MS and XP are included and refer to Microsoft Corporation and Windows XP. All other trademarks or registered trademarks in this opinion piece belong to their respective owners.