Troll patrol

Byline: | Category: Blogging, Media, TN Politics | Posted at: Thursday, 26 July 2007

One of the downsides of the internet is that any random nobody can make unsubstantiated accusations and they’re out there for everyone to see.

For example, over on Volunteer Voters an anonymous commenter left this stink bomb:

. . . [Mayoral candidate X] is now paying African Americans to put his signs in their yards.

Any proof of such allegation would surely be a most newsworthy event.  My guess is that there is no such proof, and that this isn’t happening.  I may be wrong, but absent a source, this is crap, and should be regarded as such. 

I screen my comments.  Sometimes, I even edit them.  Kleinheider gets more commenters than I do–especially since I’ve been posting so infrequently of late, so screening might be too difficult a task.  But this is the kind of explosive comment that, had I seen it on my website, I would have deleted the reference to the individual candidate in question and would have rewritten it as I did above until the commenter could provide substantiation.

In fact, I’d raise the stakes even higher.  I would email the commenter and demand substantiation, and if he couldn’t provide it, I would publish his IP address and link to any previous comments the individual might have left on my site.  That could be newsworthy too, if perhaps, said “anonymous” individual had connections to any of the other campaigns.


Also crap is the knee jerk reaction by a recently-arrived anonymous Nashville blogger that the unsourced accusation is the work of an individual whom he names.  Where’s your source? (see comment #3)


The unsubstatiated comment accusing one of the mayoral candidates of paying black Nashvillians to put his signs in their yards has now been pulled.  I truly hope that WKRN will now expose either that the accusation is true, or if it’s not, the identity of the accuser.

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3 Responses to “Troll patrol”

  1. GoldnI Says:

    Somebody left a comment like that on my blog too, I guess because they know I support the Candidate X in question. I wasn’t sure if I should delete it or not, since they put it in question form, but you’re right, I should be screening stuff like this too.

  2. Kay Brooks Says:

    There are no comments at that link, Bob. So it’s hard to follow this incident.

    I can highly recommend Snippy to easily capture those stink bombs for posterity. Works well in XP and I think Vista already has a version included.

    Folks like that ought to be outed.

  3. Smantix Says:

    I missed this little tempest earlier this week but had a few thoughts on it nonetheless.

    Does it make anyone feel better if the mysterious “Commenter X” leaves a fake real name? If he/she calls themselves “John Smith” or “Gertrude Finkelstein”?

    Making baseless accusations is what politics is all about. If no one can produce in evidence that a candidate paid someone to put in there yard signs, then this is was just a whispering meme that got more attention than it deserved by people getting worked up about it.

    You can’t treat every comment on the internet like a federal case. Historically, election day equals pay day in some communities. Especially for poll workers. If this was that big of a deal, someone could go to the people with signs in their yard, give them the pitch for their candidate and then ask them if they would switch their sign if they offered them some stipend or “what did candidate X offer you?”

    If you want to bait someone, have someone write a sympathetic entry to what they said and link to them. If they respond, socially engineer the info out of them thinking they’ve found an ideological soulmate. Forming a lynch mob because of a random comment is overkill IMHO.