Troll Policy

(Adapted from Rick Falkvinge’s Troll policy):

I place a very high value on open and honest discussion.

Unfortunately, I have also learned that there are individuals who are motivated by sabotaging the discussions and grabbing all attention for themselves by provoking me. While this kind of indiviudal fits badly into my ideal image of the human philosopher hungry for the exchange of ideas, part of the charm with humanity is that all people are different, and motivated by different things and aspects of life. Nothing is wrong or right, there is just natural variation.

However, this is my site. I invite people to be guests here in order to discuss ideas, concepts and aspects of information policy. When people are guests on my site, I expect people to behave like guests in my house. I try to entertain a fruitful exchange of ideas with large amounts of hospitality in return. However, I also expect guests to honor that hospitality. Sometimes I may be hostile to those who begin comments with direct attacks. Don’t come to my door drunk.

People who are rude to other guests at the party, or to me personally, will have this fact pointed out to them and asked to be friendly, once. If they continue to violate my hospitality, I will show them the way out so they will not ruin the party and discussion for all the other guests.

This does not mean that disagreement is bad. Quite to the contrary! Countering an opinion with reports saying the opposite stimulates discussion and the fostering of a sustainable, sensible information policy. But disagreeing rudely is another matter. The keyword is “rudely”, not “disagreeing”.

These disruptive people are trolls, but how do we identify trolls? I shall define a troll as anyone who includes either of the following in more than two comments:

  • Garbled nonsense that attacks me or someone else without any attempt at coherency; or
  • Logical fallacies, particularly:-
    • Strawman: misrepresenting someone’s argument to make it easier to attack. By exaggerating, misrepresenting, or just completely fabricating someone’s argument, it’s much easier to present your own position as being reasonable or valid, but this kind of dishonesty serves to undermine rational debate.
    • Black or white: where two alternative states are presented as the only possibilities, when in fact more possibilities exist. Also known as the false dilemma, this insidious tactic has the appearance of forming a logical argument, but under closer scrutiny it becomes evident that there are more possibilities than the either/or choice that is presented. A circular argument in which the conclusion is included in the premise.
    • False cause: Presuming that a real or perceived relationship between things means that one is the cause of the other. Many people confuse correlation (things happening together or in sequence) for causation (that one thing actually causes the other to happen). Sometimes correlation is coincidental, or it may be attributable to a common cause.
    • Ad hominem: Attacking your opponent’s character or personal traits instead of engaging with their argument. Ad hominem attacks can take the form of overtly attacking somebody, or more subtly casting doubt on their character. The result of an ad hominem attack can be to undermine someone without actually having to engage with their argument. Avoiding having to engage with criticism by turning it back on the accuser – answering criticism with criticism.

By moderating this sort of nonsense, I am not preventing you from starting your own outlet to criticise what I say. The power of the Internet, as I have discussed before, is that everyone has the opportunity to put forward opinions.

This is the space I have staked out and paid for, respect it, me and any other visitors.


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