Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Don't Feed the Trolls?

Scott Sumner has been an amazingly successful blogger.  How successful?  He blogged his way on to Foreign Policy's top 100 global thinkers list.  Besides writing insightful posts on a timely topic (post financial crisis monetary/fiscal policy), one of the amazing things about his blog is that he responds to an amazingly large number of comments.  For quite awhile, he responded to virtually every comment.

While this was amazingly successful at propelling his blog in popularity, it had a side effect.  These extra bits of engagement and insight also turn out to be tasty morsels of troll food.  So much so that to some extent has become a bit of a troll underworld.  I swear several trolls think his comments section is their blog.  Lately, it seems Scott has become a bit exasperated with this situation with some choice quotes:

Greg, The “principle of charity” suggests you might want to read what I actually said:i.e. “I’m not quite sure why”, before setting off on one of your typical mindless rants. It seems that you are agreeing with me, i.e. I was not quite sure why, if what you say is correct. BTW, If you and your fellow Austrians want to go through life with your own private language that no one else understands, you’ll have about as much success as language purists who insist on calling happy people “gay.” Good luck.
Greg Ransom, I really can’t figure out if it’s all an act on your part, a big joke, or if you are just completely delusional. Sincerity? Charitable reading? I don’t think I’ve ever come across a less charitable commenter in my life, except for MF of course. I’m just going to assume you are joking and leave it at that. The alternative is too depressing.

This is from someone so patient he answers virtually all his thousands and thousand of commenters!  I imagine the only counter-tactic is ignoring the troll, which I noticed seems to be the strategy of this latest post.  Yet, there seem trolls he's already ignoring, and they are still trolling strong. Sometimes the trolls troll each other.  I am no expert on troll behavior or troll avoidance, but I'd bet my co-blogger has more insight into troll dynamics.

PS. - Scott's comments are still an excellent source of information.  I find an excellent way to skim them is just looking for his (ssumner) responses.  If he says something interesting, you can go back and check the original comment.

PPS - At least 50% of our commenters so far are top economists.

PPPS. - This PPPS. and the previous PPS. and PS. are homages to Scott.

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