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The author Warren Ellis started his own message board about a year ago. It was called The Engine, and one of the underlying premises was no anonymity. Every person who had an account had to use their full name. No cute nicknames, no stupid puns – their real names. And what happened on this message board was that since everyone was actually accountable for their words, people acted civilized! It was a grand experiment, and I was sad to see it go when it got too big for him to maintain and he had to shut it down. But it makes me wonder – wouldn’t the Internet be a better place if people had accountability for their words?

Anyone who’s online for more than a day knows about trolls. Trolls are the lowest level of humanity on the web. They use anonymity as a shield, which makes them feel powerful and strong, and then they try to use that power to attack whomever they want. Since they have no accountability, they feel invincible, which spurs them to attack more and more. Usually they like to attack people who don’t hide behind anonymity, and the more personal the attack, the better the troll feels about him or herself. And the troll needs to feel good about him or herself – they’re usually filled with self-loathing. Whether they’re some biker trash in Bend, Oregon, trailer trash in California, welfare trash in Massachusetts, or redneck trash in the South, they’re always unhappy people with very few redeeming qualities. And they know that they’re shit, too, because they have no defense for using anonymity as a weapon.

Other than trolls, though, there are plenty of valid reasons to stay anonymous online. People want to write private thoughts without worrying about being found out, or they’re trying to avoid a stalker or angry ex-spouse. Or they just don’t want their work to see their opinions on everything from movies to sex to life in general. I will always respect those valid reasons – it just makes sense.

I feel, however, that the very second that anonymity is used to attack someone else without repercussion or accountability, it should be forfeit. Every time I read some little idiot’s personal attack on another person, it just infuriates me. It takes every effort for me not to spend the resources to find out exactly who and where they are (which can be done for the right price), then drive to their home and beat them severely with a rusty pipe. Then I’d take a picture of their broken and busted faces and post them online with all of their contact information, linking to each and every time they thought they were powerful by attacking someone anonymously. I bet they might actually learn a little maturity, responsibility, and accountability then!

Maybe I should start a company called Trollbusters. It would probably make millions!

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62 Replies to “Trollbusters”

  1. bluepaintred

    What I HATE the most? That stupid fucking anonymous email thing. Nothing pisses me off more than seeing one of those in my in box. Grow a fucking pair for fuck’s sake.

    I use BPR for two reasons,

    1. I like it. I was Da^Elephant for about six months (I mis IRC chat btw) before I discovered yahoo and their games and realized they do not accept the ^ in nicknames.


    2. If my mother in law ever found BPR I would close up shop without any notice whatsoever and I don’t really want that to happen.

    In personal emails, I use my real name. Online, I am simply BPR

  2. Sybil Law

    I am going to looove this series.
    Assuming you don’t hate me.
    I agree, though. The anonymous comments can be so freaking annoying. “Oooh – I have an opinion, and I am going to rip you to shreds about it, but God forbid I let you know who I am so you can return the favor!” Pussies.
    My blog is semi private – people can’t Google my name and find my blog, and that’s for reasons like, family, not finding it. But if they DID find it, they’d know it’s me, since there’s obviously pictures of me and the family on it.
    I’m an idiot.


  3. Mike

    I think saying that because people were using their real name they then act civilized is like saying people don’t speed because they’re afraid of getting caught by the cops.

    People should act civilized just because it’s the right thing to do, not because they’re afraid you’ll beat them with a rusty pipe if they don’t.

    Not that I wouldn’t watch that. πŸ˜‰

  4. Janna

    So, if my real name is Mortimer Buttsnuggler instead of Janna….
    And if I’m from Tasmania instead of Michigan…
    And if I secretly drew sketches of what you would all look like naked together bunched up in one big heap…

    The false identity would be totally ok with you as long as I didn’t attack anyone?

    Just making sure.

    My sketches are almost done.

  5. Grant

    I’ve noticed that the trolls tend to attack the nicest people, whereas they ignore others like me who would relish the attention and fun of not caring a whit about their opinions. I think I’ve gotten two anonymous mean comments in over three years of blogging, and one turned out to be a friend just giving me a hard time. So, I’ve had one legitimate troll – a christian (big surprise).

  6. little_lj

    I have never had first-hand experience with trolls, as I think only my dad reads my blog (bless him).. but I certainly see it often on blogs I read regularly, and it sucks.

    That’s a really interesting social experiment that The Engine created. I wonder if it had carried on if the civility would have lasted?

  7. Willie G

    It doesn’t matter, it will never stop. The day the internet was born, the telephone, telegraph, radio, tv, whatever else distant communication device you want to mention was born, true anonymity was created. It is the new KKK, the new white hood. We can all spread our hate and nastiness at will, because you never know when someone is acting anonymously. Until we meet face to face and sit down like true people desiring a relationship you never really know who you are talking to. So good luck with that rusty pipe thing. You may hit the wrong person.

  8. penny

    Whenever I run across a troll I always think about what a sad, pathetic life they must have if that’s the behavior they have to resort to to make them feel better about themselves.

    It makes me feel better about my sad, pathetic life.

  9. Jay

    I’ve only had a few anon trolls comment on my blog. The last one was several months ago though. That person did call me a pig and told me they hoped I got cancer and died soon though.

    However I do get these anon emails from time to time. For the most part I just laugh at them because I know how pathetic their lives are.

    But, the trolls I hate the most are the concern trolls. The trolls that are just telling us these things for our own good. They’re just here to help. They don’t mean any harm at all and don’t know why it’s taken that way. God I want to just beat the living shit outta those people.

  10. hello haha narf

    what never fails to crack me up is when a troll engages in battle with you or jester or any other blogger much, much quicker and wittier than said troll. now that is some funny shit, watching them get annihilated when they thought they had the upper anonymous hand is downright hilarious. if any trolls show up at my place, i’m calling in backup! (with or without a fabulous rusty pipe.)

  11. golfwidow

    The information superhighway is loaded with drivers who think they can flip you the bird and drive off being better than you.

    They forget, of course, that you have eyes and can see their license plates, even track them down if you want. But you really have to want to give a damn about finding someone who’s got a load in his or her diaper.

  12. Turnbaby

    My perspective —people are gonna say what they want wherever…except on MY blog.

    I can’t control them–only myself.

    I think anonymous trolls are sad, sorry things and I learned early on in the Soul Patrol message boards the way to deal with them is delete and ignore.

  13. Been there Done that

    You might want to remain anonymous because you are a school teacher. The public wants the right to censor what they do in public, online, in the bedroom…this seriously needs to stop. Of course if your url is your name, and your students are in middle school…cheese and rice, I’m screwed.

  14. Fantastagirl

    I used to be real, and because of that, I almost lost my job, and more importantly my marriage. Now, I’m just a cartoon character. I’ve never been attacked by a troll, but I’d buy stock if you start the company, would be worth it.

  15. Janelle

    Adam, thank you for writing this post. I was just complaining the other day on my blog about another blogger and a post that just really pisssed me off and I wanted to just “go off” on said blogger. BUT I just couldn’t bring myself to do it because I choose not to be anonymous online- though after almost getting fired because of my blog I know why and understand why many must remain anonymous (amoung other reasons). I have thought long and hard about becoming anonymous because I love blogging and hate that I have to be somewhat censored because now my job knows about my blog and while I’m sure it’s not the first they read every morning, I know that they know and they know that I know- you know?. HOWEVER, this post reminded me why I didn’t want to be anonymous in the first place. Because I don’t have anything to hide. I am not some troll living under a bridge and if I should say something that pisses someone else off, they should have the same accountability that I have with my words- but that will never be the case- Trolls under the bridge will always be there. I will probably never ever really “lay into” another blogger because their point of view pisses me off – and I want to force them to see another side because I’m afraid of the trolls and all the hate emails, comments and aftermath. I know it’s stupid, I agree. I shouldn’t be scared of the trolls and what they have to say but I don’t have the backbone yet. Anyways, good post. It made me feel good about not speaking my mind the other day- it reminded me why I didn’t, because I do have to have accountability for my words.

  16. RW

    In defense of trolls, it is part of the internet culture and NO ONE had as weird a one-person troll infestation as I had on my first blog, which was a political team blog. This guy was a Latin Catholic fascist (seriously, as in the actual fascISM, admitted) drug user who viciously attacked all the women on the blogteam, forced us to go to Haloscan and was eventually banned.

    And you know what? We all started to miss the guy after a while; vile and low and mean and vicious as he was.

    So I think people should stop all this suburban butthurt bawing about mean old trolls. Welcome to the internet.

  17. Not Clown

    You are such a baby. Boo hoo hoo hoo. W’ahhhh, I don’t like trolls. You eat shit and die you stupid mother fucker. What gives you the right to pass judgment on others when you have a picture of Adolf Hitler on your website. People like to cry and whine about hearing the truth or being reminded who post FIRST on a blog. Grow up and get a life. We don’t do those things anonymously because we are hiding our identity, we do them anonymously because it’s not worth our time to deal with people who don’t like hearing the truth. Peace out piss head.

  18. NYCWD

    I don’t think you are defining the features of trolls accurately. The truth is that trolls attack through vulgarity, pretentiuous name calling, long complex diatribes and through messages that are usually off topic and meant to disrupt the conversation.

    Recently, I was in a relatively heated debate over at an EMS blog over using the term, bus versus ambulance. In the middle of those comments, I was labelled a Troll myself. Granted, a few of my comments were longer than usual, but they were in response to just as long comments or multiple comments directed at me. I kept the conversation on-topic, called no names, and did not use vulgarity. Admittedly, a few times, I was a sarcastic son of a bitch. I don’t consider myself a troll, although others did.

    The best advice in dealing with trolls is not to feed into them. The more you feed into them both directly and indirectly, the more they will come around.

    With that said, if a blogger named TOTWTYTR contacts you… well you already know where I live… but be sure to tell him, “No problem… I’ll beat him into a pulp so bad the bus is going to need a spatula to get him off the pavement.”


  19. Kathy

    I don’t get that many trolls. I’ve had more experience with nastiness on message boards and forums than I’ve had on my blog. I think there’s a general sense of “don’t track mud on the carpet,” at least in the blogging circles I’m in. The nastiness is a bit more covert.

  20. Gina

    Two things…

    1) I have had a share of trolls who used their actual names and/or e-mail addresses, but their lack of civility and cruelty was just as difficult for me to deal with…

    2) Princess of the Universe: You have an AWESOME gravatar image! I wish I had one as awesome. Did you draw it or where did you find it? πŸ™‚

    :thumbsup: to Avitable for speaking up!

  21. BlondeBlogger

    I think I love you even more now, if that’s even possible. :heartbeat: Very well said, especially the distinction you made between good reasons for being anonymous vs. the nasty reasons.

    Mean, hateful people suck ass, but you’re spot on in your theory for their hatefulness. I myself have switched from anger to pity over it just because of that.

    And how ironic is the nasty, anonymous, clown comment you got on this post? I clicked on the name and there are two other identities associated with it. If you needed anything else to prove your point (which you didn’t), they certainly helped you along.

  22. Summer

    I’ve had trolls visit me on my other blog and ended up closing it down when I got death threats. You’d think it was a blog about killing puppies. Anyway while they can be mean and hurtful I ignore them. But if you start your company I’d hire you.

  23. Karl

    Not Clown – You’re full of shit. If you don’t want to deal with the people in the first place, you should just ignore the posts, stop reading the blogs you despise, CERTAINLY stop leaving your troll comments, and go off and do something “worth your time.” You know, where the people don’t mind hearing “the truth.”

  24. Evil Genius

    Ooooh, ooooh, can I be one of the Troll Busters with you????? I’m not a real big person at 5’0″, but I’m SCRAPPY. Hell yeah, I’ll bite their ankles until they NEVER come back to sit at the computer again!!!

  25. Sheila (Charm School Reject)

    I’ve never had an anonymous troll but I’ve seen them on many, many blogs. Makes me wanna punch something….like their face if they’d ever grow a pair and show it.

    @ Grant : Where are all these terrible Christians that everyone is always speaking of. Seriously. I should probably stick my candle under a freakin’ bushel or something. I’m liable to get lambasted for simply being one. FYI : Those people aren’t like that because they are “Christians”…they are like that because they think they are better than everyone. They’d be like that regardless. They just forget that throwing rocks outside of your glass house doesn’t make it any less susceptible to shatter.

  26. Coal Miner's Granddaughter

    Granted, trolls are upsetting. For me, especially since I inherited the “take everything under the sun personally” gene from my mother. Soooo much fun. The trolls that get me are the people who know you, who have inside info not posted on your blog, and who use that information to call you horrible names and cut you to the quick behind the anonymity of a computer screen. THAT is what upsets me the most. :crazywife:

    Did I spell anonymity right? Where’s my fucking dictionary…

  27. Bec

    It was a troll that got me upset and then a non-troll that actually made me shut down my old blog. I was going to be totally anonymous on ‘Tree but then it just took up too much energy and I am more open now than ever before.

    If people are mean to me I try and answer them in a perfectly calm way even though 90% of the time I just want to tell them to go fuck themselves. But that would just be giving them what they are looking for. All the crap email I get as a result of the posts I put out (yeah, my haters like to send me email) get a nice answer… and then tossed in the trash. Wankers.

  28. Charlene in Arkansas

    thanks for your thoughts for peace and comfort~~please keep them up
    ~~i can’t believe i got to come back to your site~~the hospital is finding most of the sites i visit to be questionable and objectiable content
    i can still read your blog~~at least for now

  29. Charlene in Arkansas

    please remember to keep us in your thoughts and prayers~~we are asking for peace and comfort~~
    and thanks to all who have left comments and sent email~~ i can get them in the unit upstairs in the hours that i am with dad~~and something always comes in at the darkest times~~and laughter always has chased away my tears~~~
    i can only post with my laptop, and most sites are blocked by the internet nazis~~i’m able to read blogs with my phone~~but i can’t comment unless i can get the blog on my laptop~~thanks avi, for not having a questionable objectable blog where i can let my strangerfriends know i’m reading your blogs on my phone and can’t comment
    my strangerfriends have become my lifeline and what props me up~~i couldn’t do this if it wasn’t for ya’ll

  30. gemini

    Yeah um… can you give us some more information about these troll things… I don’t want to be driving around and have one jump out and scare me… oooh no not nasty words and lame comebacks! Here is the thing Trolls are lonley solitary creatures that can’t to relate to the real world… and that is why they lash out at it.

    They know if they were to truly show the people they really are no one would really like them.

    It is sad really… Adam Sign me up for Duty… I have been trained in combat and am an expert with a Rifle.. πŸ˜‰

  31. Willie G

    Sheila (charm school reject) love the line, that’s awesome:

    “They just forget that throwing rocks outside of your glass house doesn’t make it any less susceptible to shatter.”


  32. Avitable

    Amanda, exactly! And being brave enough to post pictures of yourself is a big plus, too.

    BPR, your reasons for anonymity make perfect sense. And I hope your MIL never finds your blog.

    RW, fucking rickroller.

    Stephanie, alright, investors!

    Sybil Law, but it’s finding it that would be the issue, since you don’t put your name on it. Putting your picture in a bathing suit is okay and preferred.

    Karl, yeah, exactly. It’s the lack of accountability that is the most frustrating.

    Janna, sounds kosher to me.

    Grant, I don’t get trolls coming to my actual blog – they’re too frightened to do that. Instead, they just create separate websites to write about me.

    Little LJ, I think it would have. When people have accountability for their words and actions, they’ll think about how they want to represent themselves and wouldn’t say half the shit that they can say behind the shield of anonymity.

    Maria, thief!

    Willie G, there is no true anonymity. With the right resources, I can track down anyone. And a rusty pipe gives them some more accountability then they’re likely to give themselves.

    Penny, that is true. They clearly are sad individuals.

    BE Earl, yeah, he got me too. Bastard.

    Jay, the self-righteous trolls? Those are pretty bad, too.

    Dave, if they provide you with a real name and contact information, at least they’re being accountable for their words. The anonymity gives cowards a chance to say things that they’d never say in public. Because they’re just too frightened.

    Sarah, usually – but what happens that one time you don’t?

    Charlene, I hope things get better for them.

    Lexi, so you’d hire Trollbusters? Actually, my new idea is to hire a private detective to go to their house, take high-res photos of the troll in question, and then post them with all of their personal information and funny captions. I’d call them LOLTrolls.

    Hello, they like to delude themselves into thinking they’re awesome.

    Karen, I don’t delete non-spam comments. Ever.

    Manager Mom, wait until they dedicate a whole website to you!

    Golfwidow, sometimes I really want to give a damn enough to show up at their house and beat them for a while. I have no morals when it comes to those types of things.

    Turnbaby, I refuse to censor people on my blog, even if they’re not fans. They’re all too fucking scared, though, because a few of them know that someday I am going to show up on their doorstep.

    Todd, those are goblins.

    Britt, that’s true, but it also just absolves them of being responsible for their own words. Every time I say anything, people know it’s me saying it. I have my photo on here, my address, my cell phone – if you want to yell at me about something I said, you can call me and yell at me or email me or whatever. I am accountable for every word I say.

    BTDT, cheese and rice indeed.

    Fantastagirl, I can definitely respect that need for anonymity. You almost lost your marriage because of it?

    Janelle, you shouldn’t censor your speech, either. If you have a problem, you should feel free to state that problem – just be willing to defend your opinion. That’s what being accountable means.

    RW, so your answer is to be complacent? Scientologist are always going to be there and there will always be cults, so why would you get all butthurt about crazy old Scientologists? Welcome to the world of freedom of religion.

    Princess, I am lucky in the sense that trolls are too scared to comment on my blog.

    Not Clown, I will saw your arm off.

    Nat, yup! People would have to be adults. It would be amazing.

    NYCWD, trolls have many distinctions – some of them do drive-by commenting, that’s true. I also choose to consider anonymous bashing of any kind to be a troll-like activity.

    Kathy, I think it’s okay if people don’t like each other. That happens. It’s people who have severely flawed lives and are too afraid to even show what they look like who then pass judgment while anonymous on those who aren’t afraid to expose their personal life to the internet. Those ones are the scum of the earth.

    Gina, real names and email addresses do make their statements more real, that is true.

    BB, I know I already emailed you this, but just for those who didn’t get it, Not Clown is my friend Clown, fucking with me.

    Summer, they made you shut your blog down? Wow.

    Karl, if he comes over tonight when you’re here, you have my permission to punch him in the face.

    Jason, because they’re pathetic.

    Evil Genius, you can handle the taser.

    Jennifer, do any of them live under bridges?

    Kris, exactly. There is no true anonymity.

    Sheila, Grant just blames everything on Christians. He’s a cranky fucker.

    Diesel, I know after your last few posts, you know exactly what I mean, too.

    Heather, any time someone uses anonymity to do something like that, I reserve the right to burn their house down.

    Bec, you get hate mail?

    Robin, nope – they’re probably someone you considered a friend – but only if you have any insane friends named Jane.

    Charlene, not sure how my blog doesn’t fit in the objectionable content category!

    Gemini, we can use people who know how to shoot!

    Poppy, oh, I think I’d know who you consider to be a troll.

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