TED Conversations

John Moonstroller


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Are you bothered by Cyber Bully's and Trolls?

Are you bothered by Cyber Bully’s, Trolls --people with overly aggressive behavior that cause disruptions in social media locations on the Internet? Cyber Bullying is a sign of a mental disorder. It can be found in the most brilliant of minds as well as the simplest of personalities.

You’ve seen the video and you’ve posed the question or debate. Your ready to be further enlightened by you peers and fellow TEDsters and in comes this one character with an agenda that moderators can’t detect.

Cyber Bully’s or Trolls, insult our intelligence use canned phrases, innuendos, or the blunt force of their superior command of language to hurt our feelings or illicit anger from the group. It can leave you feeling helpless and abused.

Cyber Bullying, or Trolling, is a new form of eliciting personal pleasure by hurting other peoples feelings. Some Physiologists say it is a sign of a mental disorder, perhaps a new form, associated with the Internet. Some say it’s just an old mental malfunction that has found a new venue to elicit twisted pleasure. The more intelligent the disordered mind the more damage it can do. It doesn’t matter if they are a high profile celebrity or an Associate Professor at some University, they are all subject to the same array of mental conflicts as ordinary people.

Sometimes the Internet is not enough and they cross the line, allowing their problems to spill out into the real world where they cause real physical harm. The harm they cause to the feelings of others on the Internet is no less, emotionally painful. It demeans people on a human level hurting the mind and, sometimes, those minds are fragile, or childish or, in fact, children.

The question is, what should we do about Cyber Bullying and Trolls. How can we deal with them? If we stand by and do nothing are we just as guilty as a crowd of people standing by watching a mugger do their work without interfering for fear we will be next? What do you suggest?


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  • Sep 23 2012: Cyber-bullying probably springs out from anonymity that is associated with internet profiles. Hence, one can act unmannerly and irresponsible without sanction, that he or she would probably face in a real life situation.

    Trolling is by definition "fishing for conflict" in an internet discussion, deliberately causing a clash by expressing unpopular opinions, mainly with the intent of attracting attention. Sometimes it has a humorous function, but it often leads into an all-out conflict.

    People who are new to the whole concept of internet discussions might be shocked when facing these forms of behavior.

    However, the most important thing is not to take trolling and e-bullying seriously and not to further fuel it's presence. In internet slang: "Do not feed the troll", by getting hooked up into pointless debates.

    In my experience with TED, it is mostly troll-free, so discussions can be enjoyed without this form of primitivism.
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      Sep 23 2012: Thank you Stevan, you reiterate my thoughts on the issue in a more concise fashion.

      I''ve suggested an ignore button that could reset itself after the User signs off. Perhaps you could push this up the ladder for me(us).

      The tag, "don't feed the troll" is akin to just "say no" a popular phrase offed to combat drug use in the 80's that appears to had little effect. It used time, (some) capital and a modest infrastructure. It crashed. New comers would have to learn this idea and TED could, lose customers, so to speak, by not offering them a highly visible means of controlling the Chaos they may find here in these discussions. It's well within the scope of the IT people to implement this function. They already have Newest and oldest first which serves to add clarity. The code is similar.

      Thank you for your advice and observations Stevan S.
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      Sep 24 2012: Would you say, Stevan and John, that the attitude toward e-bullying on a site affects who will continue to participate on a site? That the extent of trolling or e-bullying affects who will be sharing ideas on the site and who will not stay?

      For example, do sites with lots of bullying tend to retain as active participants mostly aggressive people?
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        Sep 24 2012: Yes, and you could include turning normally calm, gently personalities into demeaning, subservient participants.

        And, Fritzie, don't forget the cheering section. :)

        Yes Fritzie. When you say, "For example, do sites with lots of bullying tend to retain as active participants mostly aggressive people?" There are some sites that come to mind.
      • Sep 25 2012: Dear Fritzie and John,

        Yes, the site's attitude towards trolls certainly shapes the attending crowd. Additionally, it can cause the transformation John mentioned, which is interesting when crossed with the psychological viewpoint you propose.

        However, when it comes to TED, I would not like "thumbs down/report spam/flag" buttons to be flashing all over the board.

        TED is aimed at "the intelligent general audience", and trust should be invested into TEDsters that we will maintain the quality of our posts (grammar and idea-wise).

        In case of obvious trolling/bullying moderators should manually remove threats.
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          Sep 25 2012: I agree, Stevan, with all you have said here. The less drama, the better.
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          Sep 25 2012: I don't see a thumbs down button. Where's mine?

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