Noah Meyerhans

The weblog

Starving Trolls

“Netiquette” is an ancient term, dating back to the earliest days on the internet. These days, one might argue that it’s no longer relevant, or that there are so many different definitions that it’s been rendered meaningless. However, one particular aspect of it endures: “Don’t feed the trolls!” A recent thread on the debian-security mailing list provided an amazingly effective demonstration of the effectiveness of this approach. A certain pseudonymous individual made multiple posts in this thread that exhibited classic troll behavior (no meaningful contribution to the discussion, inflamatory comments, etc). On multiple occasions, I was tempted to reply to some of these posts (After all, someone was wrong on the internet!), but I held off. It would do no good to engage this person, and would likely only serve to devolve into a flame war. I expected the flames to fly anyway, since surely somebody would respond to this guy. It was only a matter of time. But the time never came. The discussion remained civil and productive, and troll was left to starve.