CNS adds ‘troll’ button to comments
(CNS): In addition to the ‘thumbs up’ and ‘thumbs down’ and ‘LOL’ voting buttons under each comment posted on CNS, we have now added a ‘troll’ button so that readers can help the moderator and other readers to identify internet trolls. These are people who post comments not to voice their personal opinion but in order to change or inflame the discussion or produce a particular emotional response. An internet troll will often assume a false identity, for example pretending to be a Caymanian when they clearly are not, and may post the same opinion multiple times to give the impression that many people hold a certain point of view when it is in fact just one person.
“Trolls are an issue on any website where anonymous comments are allowed and, since it is a subjective decision, they are very difficult to weed out,” said CNS moderator Nicky Watson. “A troll is a commenter who uses deception of some kind or another to sway opinions or divert the conversation, which can be for fun or malice, or for political or financial gain – for themselves or their paymasters -- or to discredit a particular entity.
"As the political situation in the Cayman Islands heats up, especially as we get closer to election time, I am sure there will be an increase in comments by political operatives and public relations experts repeating the messages that politicians want to get out over and over. Some of these messages may be true and some may be outright lies, but politicians know that if they are repeated often enough, a certain section of the voting public will believe them anyway,” Watson said. "And the way the current political discourse is headed, I suspect there will be as many trolls out to discredit the media as to bash political opponents."
Anyone who frequently visits a variety of websites will be familiar with the term ‘internet troll’ but there may be some readers for whom this is a new concept. So, for the purposes of the CNS comments, we have defined a troll as a commenter who falls into one or more of the following categories:
- Someone who fakes an identity or pretends to be what they are clearly not. If the vernacular or vocabulary does not fit with their claimed identity, they are probably a troll.
- A person whose sole aim appears to be to inflame readers or misdirect the discussion.
- A commenter you suspect is a politician or a political operative or a PR professional whose aim is to garner support for a particular project or political message, rather than present a genuine personal viewpoint.
- Someone who posts multiple times as if they are different people. This does not include people who post multiple times using the same handle or pseudonym, but if there are numerous postings under “Anonymous” with the same message and in the same style, or someone who uses a variety of names but is clearly the same person, this is a troll.
- A liar – not someone who you think has made a genuine mistake or believes something that you know to be wrong (in which case other readers will hopefully react by correcting them) but when a false statement is made deliberately to achieve a particular reaction.
Some of the points above overlap but are set out separately for the sake of clarity. And some of these troll definitions might be known by other terms elsewhere on the internet but we want to limit the number of buttons and have generalized them under ‘troll’.
“A commenter is not a troll just because their postings are controversial,” Watson explained. “Whodatis, one of our frequent commenters, often irritates other commenters with his postings but I am always left with the impression that he genuinely believes what he writes. Therefore, I personally would not click the troll button on his comments but may click the thumbs up or the thumbs down.
“We have another regular commenter who calls himself ‘UDP Supporter’, who often posts extreme views. Now, some genuine UDP supporters may give him a ‘thumbs up’ vote, others may identify his comments as deliberately inflammatory and click the ‘troll’ button, while other readers see his comments as clever satire and may well click the ‘LOL’ button,” Watson said.
“If someone claims to be a high flying player in the financial services industry but is only semi-literate, they are probably a troll. If they claim not to be a supporter of a political party but then make a number of points firmly supporting one party while trashing the other, you may want to click the ‘troll’ button. If a commenter on another website (Sir Turtle) claims to have seen unpublished comments on CNS, he/she is a troll and a liar.”
However, Watson noted, “This does not mean that I will not delete obvious troll comments, since they are often malicious or repetitive. However, with the new ‘troll’ button I will be leaving it to our readers much more often to decide who are the trolls on our site.”
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