It was with interest that I read this article today:

Can You Get Addicted to Trolling? (Motherboard)


"There's a high in getting to be right, and trolls chase that rush," says Dave "But there was no 'enjoyment' in feeling a responsibility to make sure people were educated and corrected."

The concern I have is that even when the questions are closed they are left as stubs in the database that can be found by Google. I've often found the answers I was looking for that way (before they get closed) -- So to close them too quickly can deprive people of the answers to their questions by following Google's guidance of where they might exist.

I am curious if others have noticed this happening? Is it a simple tunnel-vision about their own ideas of what their corner of the web is for, (building a portion of a global knowledgebase), or is it something else entirely?

My question is in the title: Do some of the SE moderators get addicted to trolling?

  • 11
    It is a major leap of logic to go from "moderator did their job efficiently and effectively" to "moderator is trolling people because trolls do it because they vet to feel right". Questions of this kind are closed on SE because they don't belong here. The fact that someone either didn't know or didn't agree with that closure, or got an answer in anyway, is irrelevant.
    – Nij
    Sep 17 '17 at 5:06
  • 7
    I'm not sure you understand how this system works. A question gets closed if it doesn't belong on the site, therefore it shouldn't be allowed to just collect answers. Also, mods cannot cast close votes, even if they wanted to (it's even been suggested before).
    – Jamal
    Sep 17 '17 at 5:23
  • I'm more concerned about myself being addicted to the close vote queue ...
    – rene
    Sep 17 '17 at 7:04
  • 6
    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it's just a rant. Sep 17 '17 at 7:26
  • Dear downvoters: voting the question down, you say, "the question is not useful". If you want to say, "no, the mods are not trolls", then vote the answer up saying the same. If you think, yes it is important to make clear, that the mods are not trolls, then you had to vote the question up.
    – peterh
    Sep 17 '17 at 8:04
  • 1
    Never forget that you can flag the mod to get the question reopened to post your answer if you think it's a valuable question that can be salvaged. As I already did it in the past for a badly worded question, and it finished a good q/a.
    – yagmoth555
    Sep 17 '17 at 9:05
  • 16
    @peterh - This question isn't helpful. What is your point?
    – Ramhound
    Sep 17 '17 at 9:32
  • @Ramhound This question is helpful to make it clear, that the mods are not trolls. This threat is coming mainly from community members.
    – peterh
    Sep 17 '17 at 11:08
  • 3
    You may not know this, but most SE questions get indexed by search engines within minutes. So "long enough to get on Google" is a pretty meaningless measurement. Sep 17 '17 at 12:54
  • 10
    I've found the opposite to be true on occasion - trolls being addicted to Stack Exchange and trolling users, moderators and staff.
    – Oded
    Sep 17 '17 at 14:55

I've seen many instances where a single moderator will close a question unilaterally

There's literally no other option for us to close a question, short of getting a sock with enough reputation to close questions. Which might potentially be against the spirit of general policies on socks - since we aren't supposed to use them to do anything our main accounts can't.

A good chunk of new mods actually find this... pretty scary, and someone who apparently is a slightly more experienced moderator, I mainly use the closehammer on already cved or egregariously bad questions only.

rather than allow it to collect some answers first or even allow it to be voted on by more than one moderator.

If it's a question that needs to be closed, it should be closed. Closed questions are often deleted and it's a waste of time and effort.

But the remaining stub will inevitably waste the time of others

Roomba's meant to help with that.

Historically though, there's checks and balances against it, both above and below moderators.

If a moderator uses his powers excessively - they might have a CM look in on them (and this is very rare), and if things are counterproductive, they might get removed. It happened on Server Fault once.

Below the moderator level, 5 users can reopen a question. Editing and fixing a question throws it back into the reopening queue, and before I was a moderator (and to this day), least on my site, there's a tradition of reopening requests on meta.su - there's even a tag. It works well.

Closure isn't trolling at all, we're pruning the weak and sickly so healthy, on topic questions can grow. While we do not cut the grass with nail scissors, we also do not set entire forests on fire to kill a single weed.

It's worth remembering for most part

Now that we've handled that... let's talk about trolling, with respect to your article.

The very term "troll," in fact, has been rendered meaningless due to overuse

And you might be contributing to this

The article suggests trolls 'have a compulsion to argue online'

The SE way of doing things, ideally discourages that. Comment arguments are deleted. Mod messages are mostly standard. We build tooling and mechanisms to deal with things.

and, while I don't want to go point by point

"includes following people online and communicating and responding to them in a disruptive, hostile, and at times vengeful manner, often intending to upset or cause a negative reaction or response in the other."

Amusingly, this is something mods often have to deal with. This is definitely not what a good mod is. We do want to get positive reactions from users, and I'd much rather use education and positive reinforcement to get things better.

If we close or delete something, we don't really expect a negative reaction - the ideal is OP fixes it, it gets reopened and life goes on. At volume, I don't even think I care who posts something.

And yanno what makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside? When someone turns around a closed post into something awesome. As someone who helps run a community, while I have bad days, I want to see folk build themselves up - to learn new things, to find a sense of community, rather than tear each other down.

So there could be. It's unlikely a moderator who's a troll would last long though.

  • I like this answer, @Journeyman. Upvote. I like doing that myself - if I get warned that my question is in danger then I will put in double the effort to turn it around. Meanwhile, since this one can't be improved, I have flagged this question for moderator intervention: to be closed by OP request because there is no need for it to be visible in the database.
    – SDsolar
    Sep 19 '17 at 7:51

In short: the mods are not troll.

The reason: on the Internet, our communication context has typically these parameters:

  1. We are typically not, or only a very little bit endangered by what we write to others;
  2. However, we have very little possibility to "punish" others for their deeds.

This results that many among us developed various techniques to pressurize/harm others in these limitations. It means mainly psychological pressurizing. This is trolling.

Both (1) and (2) is the opposite for the mods:

  1. Mods are closely watched by the SE, and if they behave badly, their diamond flies away. With it, they would lose the tremendous work what they invested to become a mod and they never get it back.
  2. Mods can punish you on much more harmful ways, as writing to you annoying, pressurizing or mentally destabilizing posts. They can suspend you.

The result is that if a mod wants to harm you, then the "best" what he can do is that he watches you carefully, and if you commit something what may deserve a suspension, then he suspends you. But this works only in questionable cases.

If you don't do any bad, the only what a mod can do against you is that he votes most of your posts down. Like an ordinary, hostile commoner. But the ordinary, hostile commoners can insult/annoy you in comments, the mod can't do even this.

The most wounds I've got here came from irrational, antagonistic community members and from their downvoting/close voting herds.

Although now also I am currently in suspension somewhere for something which was at least questionable. I think it was such a case, as the mod closely watched for any way to suspend me, and when he found one, he did it on the spot. But I have no way to prove it, and the SE ignores the whole case. Had I behaved to not commit even any risky, I would be invulnerable now.

Not the mods are voting down and closing your posts. The community closes your ontopic questions, and the community votes your posts down. Fortunately, not on all sites.

P.s. check very carefully, if the downs/vtc-s aren't rational in their view. It is not enough if you think, your posts are okay in your view, they need to be okay in their view.

  • Well, maybe the "community is evil" statement makes the downs reasonable. :-) But I had got them even if I had left them out of the post.
    – peterh
    Sep 17 '17 at 8:12
  • 4
    But look the score of this answer. There is no harmful, no insulting in this answer for anybody, only the pure facts. Despite that, this answer may get even 10 downs and more. Why? Right now it has 0 score, so that is nonsense and you don't think the community is evil is not insulting people, really? Everyday you are posting this same rubbish looking for an argument, just leave if you hate it so much, you have that right. It is you who keeps antagonizing people, not them who are picking on you, you make these posts with thinly vailed insults in them and then cry about it afterwards.
    – Mark Kirby
    Sep 17 '17 at 8:15
  • 3
    But I had got them even if I had left them out of the post Bolloks, you posted an answer yesterday that has a + score and you have rep so how exactly are yopue being targeted? Get over your self.
    – Mark Kirby
    Sep 17 '17 at 8:16
  • Or, just a crazy idea here, they don't like being insulted, so when you insult they they vote you down? and rightly so, that is what votes are for. That query is 404 but if it is the one you posted the other day, then that does not prove what you say it does.
    – Mark Kirby
    Sep 17 '17 at 8:24
  • @MarkKirby The "community is evil" statement is my well-thought, very clear opinion, after many, many, many experience. I consider to at least not communicating it, but there is no way for me to think it differently. I think, some irrational antagonism drives most of the voters, and so is it.
    – peterh
    Sep 17 '17 at 8:27
  • @MarkKirby Sometimes the community behaves rationally, and sometimes they vote the questions up which supports them. But it is rare. Check this query. Now the Meta SE community reached the point where questions get more downvotes as ups. It is a new development, and if the tendency continues, the site will become unusable, because nobody will be able to ask questions.
    – peterh
    Sep 17 '17 at 8:32
  • @MarkKirby Sorry it was a buggy copy-paste, I fixed the link.
    – peterh
    Sep 17 '17 at 8:33
  • 3
    It is not irrational aggresssion is you provoke people but you seem to see the community as one big thing but an SE site is a very loose community, with only a single intrest holding it together, not one big blob but lots of indeviduals, with diffrent opinions. Sorry but you just need to get over it if you had a bad time, ignore the people who annoy you or aggrevate you and just interact with the ones who don't.
    – Mark Kirby
    Sep 17 '17 at 8:34
  • @MarkKirby Also I've thought on it a lot. I think, somehow an unexpected social filtering mechanism could work in the background, which results that many sites tend to become more and more antagonistic with the years. I have no idea, what the SE could do against it, I can only hope that they are at least conscient in the problem. Please check that stat, the downs given to questions are really extreme, and particularly their worsening tendency. That red line, on the bottom, this is the historical timeline of the mean downs for questions. It is on 5.82 now, while their mean up is 5.4 .
    – peterh
    Sep 17 '17 at 8:37
  • @MarkKirby Furthermore, I think that my post got only -1 until now, is because it is weekend. But the question got already -10. If the community wouldn't be evil, the question would be now at 0 or in a small positive score, and the answers saying that "the mods are not trolls" would be strongly upvoted.
    – peterh
    Sep 17 '17 at 8:55
  • @MarkKirby I commented out the problematic parts, although I am sure, this will happen. Check this post tomorrow afternoon... and you will see, this post will be deeply voted down, with the problematic parts of my post or without it, it doesn't matter. I am sure. I knew this before, I write my most posts here knowing very well that it will be deeply downvoted, practically indepently from its content, and the reason for me to post this text is that I think, this is the right thing to do and that it is more important as my reputation.
    – peterh
    Sep 17 '17 at 9:11
  • 1
    "The community closes your ontopic questions, and the community votes your posts down." - In this case the question the author talks about was closed because it wasn't ontopic, so the question wasn't ontopic like you claim, otherwise it wouldn't have been closed.
    – Ramhound
    Sep 17 '17 at 9:36
  • 5
    this post will be deeply downvoted well of course it will, just like you planned. Your entire input to this site consists of content designed to bait people into arguing with you, while insulting them in your signature passive aggressive manner. No one's falling for it, and if anyone does, they'll soon leave you to it as your true intentions become more and more obvious with every single post.
    – Clive
    Sep 17 '17 at 10:40
  • 3
    Not biting, troll. Enjoy the pitiful hole you're continually digging for yourself.
    – Clive
    Sep 17 '17 at 10:56
  • 3
    Like I said, not biting. My original comment was just a warning for people who haven't come across you before, and might otherwise make the mistake of thinking you had anything legitimate to add to the conversation. I'd tell you not to reply but I know how important it is for you to get the last word in, so if it brightens your day, give it your absolute passive-aggressive insulting best. Bye now!
    – Clive
    Sep 17 '17 at 11:10

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