Attention…Musing About Comments and Community

Danah Boyd had an interesting comment on her blog today…

In an attention economy, it’s better to ignore than to critique. This drives me absolutely bloody batty. Anyone who’s been online for too darn long knows has heard the expression, “don’t feed the trolls.” This stems from the general belief that trolls engaging in trolling for attention. Giving them attention by telling them off feeds into their goals. Thus, the best way to deal with a troll is to ignore them. We know this pattern from offline examples too. Schoolyard bullies are one example and if you stretch it far enough, you can see this concept in “turn the other cheek.” Still, trying to convince everyone out there to ignore a troll isn’t easy and being silent ain’t all it’s cracked up to be.

apophenia: feeding quasi-“legitimate” trolls in an attention economy

What I’ve noticed is that for a blogger with few readers, the attention of a reader/commenter is welcome. The back and forth of true discussion of differing views is fun…Until, that is, the commenter decides to start using slurs and name calling to make their point. Then the community nature of the conversation goes away and the pointed differences between real life, porch sitting conversation over a beer or glass of couthern comfort (ice tea) gives way to the reality of drive-by commenting. Anonymous profiling, lumping of great swaths of people into a few hateful designations.

I can’t even imagine what it must be like to moderate discussion treads on large sites…

Any thoughts out there?

3 thoughts on “Attention…Musing About Comments and Community”

  1. Hi, Gary… Just touching base with you and hoping that you’re doing well these days. I’ve been absent from reading and writing blogs for a few months, but jumping back in the water today. Glad to see you’re still posting — wishing you all that’s good.

  2. I agree that engaging them only gives them a further forum. One response should be enough. After that, no one’s mind is changed and I see no good outcome to fanning the flame.

  3. Hi Cynthia, it’s good to see you getting back in the “swing”.

    Colleen, I am going to take to approving comments and letting them stand on their own merit without comment when they engage in “sniping”.

    Thanks to you both for stopping by.

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