When Trolls Get Really Nasty

trollIn my life, I’ve gotten into many heated debates. The majority were intelligent, but some were painfully stupid. In the former case, many were face to face, civil, and almost always resulted in some kind of resolution. In the latter, they all took place over the internet, were quite pointless, and generally resulted in me losing that much more faith in the human race.

Might sound harsh, but consider this most recent example. Over at Goodreads, I joined with a number of people in debating the merits of the Ender’s Game boycott. Without getting into the details too much, let me just say that these people and I were of the same mind and we successfully and intelligently debated against numerous people who’s point of view ran contrary to our own.

troll3Then came along a man named… let’s call him Igor! Igor began by debating with us and telling us we didn’t know what we were talking about, even though we routinely backed up what we said with direct quotations and citations. After awhile, i chose to call him on his unwillingness or inability to acknowledge what we were saying, and that’s when things got personal.

This coincided with him engaging in name-calling to a number of people in the thread. His words of choice were stupid, dishonest, trolls, and the like. For this, we called him petty, childish, and hypocritical, since he routinely would make insults in one breath and then claim we were the bad guys in the next. In no time at all, he chose to get really personal, and started attacking me on my author’s page.

troll6Yes, as if insulting my colleagues and I in an open forum was not enough, he chose to begin rating every book I’ve listed on Goodreads with one star. He even started a shelf especially for them, entitled “Sci-fi authors who hate science.” Naturally, we all wondered just how stupid he was, seeing as how any review can be flagged for abuse, much like posts.

At this point, I cut the lines of communication, but he continued to rail on in the forum against everyone. And when my colleagues all came to my defense, good people that they are, he claimed he was merely criticizing my books because of scientific inaccuracies he saw in them. Naturally, everyone called BS on that and told him he was just doing it out of spite.

troll2Not only was it abundantly clear he hadn’t read a single book in my list, the reviews were all made within a day of his opening salvo of insults. Nevertheless, he kept coming back to the forum claiming that he was a scientist and that he’s taking a stand on ethics, and even claimed my attempts to have his reviews flagged was some kind of censorship.

At this point, I just have to wonder, who does this? What kind of person decides to get back at a person who’s debating them by giving their work terrible ratings? What kind of person then has the nads to show their face again and make incredibly transparent excuses for doing it? What kind of person persists in claiming they are somehow the victim when they are the one constantly on the offensive?

troll4But of course, Goodread’s moderators have been slow to respond. Apparently, this individual has flagged every member of our group as well for abuse, and seems to think he’s in the right and will be vindicated. Worse yet, we know for a fact he trolled by the profiles of the other members in the group. But since they do not have original material posted there, he had nothing to work with.

An upside to this spiteful episode is that it made my colleagues in the group realize I was a writer. Somehow, it just never came up, and my friends were not one to troll my profile looking for something to use against me. Now, however, they’ve all taken an interest, and one was even sure to start reading my books and gave them all very high ratings (5 stars each!)

Facebook Reece ElliottBreaking my communications embargo just long enough to thank him, I let Igor know that his little explosion of pettiness actually did me good. I was also sure to let him know that as soon as his trollish one-star reviews were removed, I shall have several five star reviews to take it place. I hoped he could appreciate the irony, or at least incredibly foolish. That will be our last communication, as I have no interest in indulging this individual further.

One thing is for sure, though – Goodreads needs to seriously consider its terms of use! It’s getting like YouTube over there, with the people at the shallowest end of the gene pool setting the tone and ruining it for the rest of us. Wasn’t it supposed to be a site dedicated to literature and intellectual pursuits? Yeah, and they said that the internet would bring the world together and create a “Global Village”. Look how that turned out!

In the meantime, if you’ve got any interesting troll stories you want to share, please feel free to share them. Nothing beats the misanthropic blues like knowing that there are other people out there who can’t stand pettiness, stupidity, and general jackassery, the very stuff that trolls are made of. And in the meantime, remember…


8 thoughts on “When Trolls Get Really Nasty

  1. Kudos to yo Matt. This is an awesome post. Hopefully he will be exposed and eliminated from GR. Isn’t there a rule that its only for adults anyway? At the least there should be a rule that the site is only for the sane and reasonable human being. Uh. That !might be a tall order. Keep the faith and keep up the awesome writing.

  2. Remember the woman who thought George Zimmerman was an innocent babe? That and a woman who thought I was suggesting she needed psychiatric care when her Freshly Pressed post and commented on it are the only incidents of trolling I’ve had the misfortune to be a part of.
    By the way, I need to get more involved on Goodreads. Got any advice on that?

    1. Well sure, you can set up an author page as part of your profile. Then you should join some indie groups, like Writer’s Worth (with me!) and Modern Good Reads, and the James Mason Community Book Club. There are also numerous genre specific groups you can find just by doing a general search.

  3. Love this post. I am, by nature, not a particularly nice person. But as an adult I’ve had to pretend to be nice and act at least sort of like a grown up. I always assume that other people do the same; when I’m at work or in most social situations, religious and political arguments rarely take shape and when they do someone typically quells it fairly simply if it gets aggressive or abusive.

    Earlier today (not long after I read this post) I read an article about a teenaged boy near Pittsburgh who had just ruined his own life by shooting three other teenagers near his school in what appears to have been retaliation for getting beat up and robbed a month ago for drugs. Against my better judgement, I began to scroll through the comments. There are valid arguments one could make that this could be prevented by better parenting or by preventing weapons from entering the hands of minors, criminals or the incompetent and I think most people are in favor of both of those. But the comment thread pretty quickly degraded to blaming the shooting on President Obama and the ACA and degraded from there to basically just racist and classist diatribes.

    I’ll have to look for you on GoodReads so I can up the ratings of your books (at least, the one I’ve read).

    1. Well thank you for reading my books, and then rating them based on your genuine impressions. And I can certainly see how a comment thread would degenerate that way. I’ve been around Youtube, Facebook, and Goodreads long enough to know that it’s only a matter of time…

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