Friday, 6 December 2013

How to Kill a Troll

I was recently watching a Let's Play video wherein, during one of the duller moments of the game in question, the two commentators started talking about trivial things, until they came across the topic of language. In this discussion, both of the fellows expressed a dislike for the term "trolling". Trolling is the practice of saying or doing something in anonymity that you don't actual believe in for the purposes of upsetting, confusing, annoying or pranking someone else, usually on the internet.
For these Let's Players, they felt the term was equivalent to "lol" when said in person, as both words are less intuitive than their original counterparts - in the case of saying "lol", actually laughing out loud and in the case of "trolling" they preferred the term "fucking with people" (i.e. messing with people). They felt these "new terms" were lesser in comparison to their original counterparts, but what they both failed to realize is that "trolling" is not a new term. The Word of the Day is: 'TROLLING'

Trolling /trōling/ v. 1. The act of singing or uttering in a full, rolling voice. 2. Singing a song whereby one part of the song is sung after another, in the manner of a round. 3. The act of fishing with a moving line, working the line up or down with a rod, as in fishing for pike, or trailing the line behind a slow-moving boat. 4. The act of moving (the line or bait) in doing this. 5. Causing to turn round and round; rolling.

Although its etymology is contested, I wholeheartedly believe the term for comes from the fishing terminology. After all, trolling while one fishes is about fishing with bait, or a lure, in such a way as to imitate a fish, pretending that the dead bait is alive so that the fish will try to eat it.
It's using something fake and pretending that it's real in order to catch something by preying on its natural instincts - that sounds like internet trolling to me.

But the reason why I am talking about trolling is because, quite recently, YouTube.com, the popular video hosting site, changed its commenting system. Rather than commenting via your YouTube profile, users now have to have a Google+ profile to comment.
Because of this, there was a backlash from over 500,000 users, including the co-founder of Youtube.com, all of whom preferred the old system. This sounds like a really big problem, so I felt the need to now weigh in on the subject, as I am a proud user of Google+ and Youtube, and I have this to say about the controversy:

It's not controversial.

If you are one of the people that prefer the old system, you're the minority. 500,000 people seems like a lot, but there are over 1 billion unique Youtube users: that's 1,000,000,000. Do the maths kids, that's less than 0.00005% of Youtube users. Even if only 1 in 100 people that disliked the new Youtube system actually bothered to complain about it (a very generous overestimation), then that's still less than one percent - Your opinion is negligible.

However, this minority is a loud minority and some of this minority (the minority within the minority) does have a few interesting points, which are worth addressing. For the sake of doing as little research as possible, I believe that most of these points were covered by Boogie2988 in his video "Actual Thoughts: Youtube Comment Changes, Google+, and more", so check that out if you want to hear his views on this in his own words (the first 30 seconds are a character that he plays - don't worry, his real voice is very pleasant). I'll be responding to the points he made in his video, as I feel like they are fair points to make, although I respectfully disagree he's really awesome. so here we go, let's do this swiftly.

Some people are complaining because Google+ is not a popular social networking site and so they don't want to use it. To this I say . . . don't. What these people aren't understanding is that having an account via the site does not mean that you have to use the site itself. For one thing, after logging on via this new system, nothing changes. You can continue to comment, watch your videos, check out your favourite channels, "Like", "Favourite" and "Share" to your heart's content. I already had a Google+ account, so I don't know if you even have to sign on, but for me nothing has really changed.
So why would it for other users? You're not being forced to use the site, just to log on via its systems - where's the problem here?

Well, to this, some complain that logging on might make it harder to use Youtube, it might turn people away from YouTube because they don't like the system. This is ridiculous, because I know that people aren't going to stop using YouTube. They'll bitch and moan like people did when Facebook changed it's template, but they'll come back to it anyway because it's YouTube for goodness' sake.
However, the main conceit here is saying that Google, as a company, changed the system without getting any feedback from YouTube users, and people feel like they're being forced to do something they didn't want to. They feel like this is a "dick move" on Google's part, doing this without consulting its users. To that I say, yeah, this was kind of a dick move. However, it's insignificant. As I mentioned before, this changes very little about the site in general - but more importantly this was done to stop the bullying, harassment and abuse that was the YouTube comment section.
You think it was a dick move? Fine, but YouTube was being pressured to fix its system, so it did. I agree with Mickeleh on this one, I think they did the best with that they had. You don't like it? Tough cookies, it's not your website. You're a user, but that's all, you don't get to make the decisions in time of crisis.

And let's be clear here, this was a crisis. Trolling was rampant, arguments were escalating out of control. The number of times I've seen people bully others, call them names or stigmatize them; the number of times I've seen people prejudiced, inconsiderate, racist, sexist, prejudiced, homophobic or vile; the number of times I've seen people threaten others or tell people to kill themselves & the number of times I've seen people get treated like filth - it's disgusting. Trolls are disgusting.
With this new system, users are given more control. If someone is being annoying or trolling anyone, you can Mute them & If someone is being abusive or hateful, you can report them and have their comment removed. Also, with the new form of replies, that stack as opposed to branching out, replies become a conversation that anyone can join; and even if you leave the page and watch another video, you can still recieve notifications when someone responds to you, so you can keep the conversation going - this system encourages social behaviour.

If you have a problem with the new system, I don't want to hear about it. The old system was a despicable cesspool of hate, abuse & trolls. There were some kind users, quite a few actually, that would offer attaboys to the video-makers and some people that would be friendly to others in the comments; but it was that loud, horrid minority that kept dragging it all down. I was once addicted to YouTube and I loved it, but I stopped using it a year or so ago. So, despite the fun and joy I got from WheezyWaiters, Nerdfighters & Mickelehs of the site, I got sick of the crap. I then only ever watched videos from YouTube if they'd been embedded in other sites.
But now, this new system is a beacon of hope which brought me back to YouTube. I'm now excited for what communities could exist now, because we're slowly but surely worming out the trolls and making YouTube a fun place to watch videos and talk to people.

So if you think the last system was better, fuck you. You're either ignorant, a troll or some hipster that hates Google+ because it's not Facebook or Twitter.

Okay, I admit I'm being a bit rude here. I'm defensive of Google+ because I'm a proud user of the site, I love all of its features, I share all of my blogs on there (you probably found this post via a link on the site) and it's where I met my girlfriend. There's a lot to like about the site and I don't appreciate people badmouthing it, just because it's different.

But whether you like the system or not, it can't be denied that YouTube is changing. It's nicer now, I feel like I have more control and some of the YouTube Partners are using the features of Google+ to expand their YouTubing potential. Also the trolls are dying out, as are the people they are imitating - the genuinely prejudiced anti-socialites. (and, just as the definition says, trolling is both the act of trolling, and the act of moving like you're trolling. so these trolls too are being disinfected via sunlight)
Trolls are horrible people. They exist because they feel insecure and powerless in their own lives, so they transfer a bit of that powerlessness, anger & frustration onto you so that they feel a bit better about their own lives. They would be pitiable if they weren't so vile, so I have no mercy for these rat bastards.

YouTube is purging itself for the better, they merged a social networking site and a video hosting site to create a social video networking host (which some have taken to calling YoogleTube+). No matter how much the little buggers whine, it isn't changing back; because to do so would only feed the trolls. Because this is how you kill a troll. Not by arguing with them, not by fighting them, but instead by creating an environment where they can't prosper. By being social and friendly and ignoring or reporting the negative commenters, trolls have no audience for their stupidity.

I'm the Absurd Word Nerd, and until next time feel free to leave a comment . . .

5 comments:

  1. After watching a video I just don't like reading "Hello my Google+ followers, check out this video!" Obviously the basic idea has potential, but at the moment I'm moderately disappointed.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's the problem with potential - there is always the chance you'll be disappointed.

      Delete
  2. With the new Google+ setting, it's more that I can't figure out how to use it properly, to bump up the comments that I like. That's my only consternation with it, being an old-fashioned writer who prefers regular books to the Kindle.

    I didn't know "Troll" was a term for "rolling," or for baiting a fish; I can see how it became popular slang. Fascinating.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I never thought about that. I'm well-versed in technology as my Dad was using a computer "before it was cool" and both of my brothers have built their own computers, piecemeal; so I've always been exposed to technology and been left to my own devices (puns, haha) to figure it out. Perhaps its harder for others. Then again, I may just be giving Google+ a lot of slack because of what it means to me.
      But there's nothing wrong with being an old-fashioned writer, I too prefer printed books to e-books.

      Delete
  3. You might appreciate George Takei's take on the subject: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DebItPs3GtM

    ReplyDelete

Feel free to make suggestions, ask questions & comment . . .
I would love to read your words.