October 10, 2007

Comments and Trolls

Posted in Uncategorized at 5:19 pm by nevavegan

I have changed the commenting policy on this blog to moderated. I apologize if it causes any of you who normally read and comment here difficulty.

For the past two days I got a flurry of anonymous comments coming from a single ISP.

This commenter did point out that I got some of my numbers wrong when talking about the UN report regarding the impact of animal agriculture. I did double check that and in fact as I had rushed off my blog entry I had misremembered some of the details.

For what it’s worth, I still think the basic idea of my blog entry is accurate, though I regret the flummoxed details. The idea is that being vegan is good for the environment and it’s relatively simple to do.

In the past I’ve tried to allow dissenting comments here. In fact I’ve left quite a few in place that I considered exceedingly rude, even calling me “stupid.” But I left those comments because they were few and far between and because my blog doesn’t get a whole lot of traffic so things rarely got out of hand here.

This particular commenter over the past few days seemed to me to cross some lines. First I had asked several times that the person attach any kind of name to the comments, and he (henceforth referred to as he, not because I know, but to be concise) would not do that but kept commenting as anonymous. The tone of the comments was not only rude but seemed incredibly intrusive. This person took an entry of mine where I said I don’t drive a hybrid, even though I’d like to, because I can’t afford one right now, as an opportunity to repeatedly demand to know exactly what vehicle I drive, what gas mileage it gets, how far I drive every day, and what my energy bills for my home are. All this while he refused to leave any name, even a fake one, or give any information about his habits, like did this commenter drive a hybrid, was he vegetarian, does he live in a very energy efficient home, etc.

This is just personal interpretation on my part, but I kind of feel like if someone wants their own privacy, but wants to know details of my life, they can give some information without compromising themselves. This encourages dialogue, like “You might think that hybrids are too expensive, but I just got one, and here’s what I found.” Or even “I’m not vegan, because I don’t think it’s important, my issue is cars.” You know because otherwise it’s just this relentless disembodied voice demanding information from me.

Incidentally, when I say that I feel giving out details of my vehicle or my driving habits might compromise my personal security, I’m actually more concerned about some people reading here who don’t ever comment. Part of our motivation for changing my vehicle recently had to do with a stalking incident where the person in question discovered what car I drove and began to follow me on errands and when coming home from work. It might be because of the history of other problems, but I cannot describe to you the panic I felt when driving in circles and going on odd streets and behind churches trying to lose this person. Our first action was to change my plates. Later we had the opportunity to switch to a different used vehicle, it suited our needs, and was unknown to my stalker. That seemed an excellent solution.

Back to blog comments: the comments got up to around thirty. Again this bothered me because I really felt like “ok, you think I’m a moron and don’t like my blog entry, but if you can’t convey that about two to three comments just give it up.” When I checked my site stats I was shocked to find that this person was checking my blog almost obsessively, anywhere from every twenty minutes to a few times when there was a gap of a couple hours between hits. This person continuously checked my blog throughout the night as well as if he wouldn’t even sleep for the overwhelming desire to leave rude comments. This troubled me because it didn’t seem to be normal behavior. When I ran afoul of Francionites because I criticized the rape analogy a couple people came back two or three times, delivered a few zingers then got bored and left. Someone that obsessed with my blog just seemed not right.

Also, while this person continuously accused me of being too lazy to read the entire 400 page UN report, he seemed not able to read my entry or my comments as he kept insisting that the point of my entry was about laziness and here I was being lazy. The point of the entry was never laziness, and I repeated that in my comments: the point was and continues to be that it’s not hard to be vegan and as such I’m surprised by the hostility to vegansim expressed by some environmentalists.

Though this anonymous commenter did seem to prove a couple of my points, 1) re: hostility, and 2) when I talk about veganism some people keep trying to change the subject to cars.

I changed my comment policy to only allow those with blogger accounts to comment here. I regretted doing that because I know some of my pals who read here don’t want to register with blogger. The person immediately either created (or had ready) an essentially anonymous blogger account, with a three letter (maybe initials, maybe not) title and made all the details of that account private. While I realize anyone can create a blogger account under any fake name and can make up a whole identity on their blogger profile, I had not been aware that someone could create a blogger account and hide all the details. That along with a blogger id that was not a name made me feel this person had just come up with a sneaky way to keep commenting anonymously and as the numbers of comments grew there just seemed no end in sight.

These comments were also quite rude and disrespectful in tone. And yes, I’ve left disrespectful comments before, it was just like, eeek, this person seems to not have a job, only wants to comment on my blog all day, and on top of it is incredibly nasty.

When my husband pointed out that the number of comments and the number of live hits was troubling and making this commenter seem like a stalker he accused my husband of stalking through checking the site stats.

Um, crazy much?

For the record, the site stats are public; you can all view them and then pity me for my very small readership.

At my husband’s urging I deleted all the comments from this person on that one entry and have begun screening comments so hopefully this weirdo will go somewhere else once he finds no platform here. Giving him any voice will only encourage his obsession.

I am sorry if I put inaccurate information in my post and I hope to do more careful research in the future. However, you know, just for the record, the title of this blog is “Neva Vegan” so anyone reading here should expect to find content related to and promoting veganism.

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1 Comment »

  1. Jul said,

    Good for you for taking control. On my blog, rude + anonymous is all it takes to get a commenter banned. There are too many wackjobs out there who will suck your time and energy if you let them. It is your prerogative to decide who deserves your time and attention.


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