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Now that we’ve discussed the reputation ruiner, let’s move on to another type of online troll.
If you frequent news sites, particularly those with unmoderated comments, chances are you’ve come across this one. I refer to them as “the heartless jerk.”

These are the people who leave crude comments on stories about death, place blame on the victims of random house fires, and otherwise exhibit a complete lack of empathy when everyone else is doling it out in droves. They may say that a cancer patient deserved to die or even wish death on others.

This is not about seeing a situation differently, offering a different perspective or playing devil’s advocate. These types of trolls are just mean.

Timothy Marshall of Duzo Design recounts one such incident:

A high school classmate of mine died tragically, and when I read the news about it on a local news website there were a number of commenter’s leaving the most absurd and tasteless messages.

Trolls tend to exist on websites where users can remain anonymous. In this case people say things they wouldn’t normally say, just to get a response. It is so easy for them to just change identities, personalities and names online.

On pages where usernames stick and identities are clear trolls are less frequent. And when they are they can not hide from their actions. It really comes down to whether or not users will be held accountable for their actions. If you don’t hold them accountable they will do just about anything. Hold them accountable and they will be more rational.

What do you think? Do you agree with Timothy?

Would these heartless jerks, be so heartless if they were held accountable?


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March 2009
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This is a personal blog. The opinions expressed here represent my own and not those of my employer. Feel free to challenge me, disagree with me, or tell me I’m completely nuts in the comments section of each blog entry.


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