I had a slightly disconcerting message the other week. Another blogger whose blog I occasionally followed seems to have upped and deleted his entire blog. He said in an e-mail (it was linked to a page that disappeared with his blog so I never got the full picture) that he seems to have had a rather bad encounter with another blogger (don’t ask me who) after making a comment on his page. Now I would consider his decision to delete his entire blog a bit of an extreme reaction (then again I dont know the full story) but certainly given that Ive had a few bruising encounters with people before online (never much on Blog.co.uk mind) I can certainly sympathise with his position.
Not only do I blog here, but also I keep an energy blog, and am an occasional contributor to a number of other blogs, as well as a regular commenter on various blog strings around the internet, so I do get around and unfortunately there are some people for whom the term troll doesnt quite do it justice.
My problems largely occur due to my habit of pointing out pesky little facts to people, notably right winger types, in particular US Tea Party or UK Tea Party (otherwise known as UKIP) types. Reality it seems has, as they see it, something of a liberal bias so they prefer to wallow in fantasy and get quite upset with people who come along and burst their bubble. Just look at Nigel Farages meltdown on in Scotland over a bit of heckling from some rowdy students. As Ive learnt (the hard way!) these guys do not understand the concept of irony, humour or context, nor can they absorb any fact that contradicts their position. As you can imagine this has led me into quite a few nasty encounters online.
For example in one post on my energy blog I was doing a critique of various nuclear reactor designs and I included a quib (i.e. an amusing comment) at one point. One pro-nuclear fanatic immediately took exception to this quib (even though Id labelled it as a quib) and promptly began running up vast blog strings on my site and his over it…then again, Im sure Gollum in Lord of the Rings wouldnt be happy if I made a joke about his precious.
Some seem to have an attitude not out of place with the Spanish Inquisition, that if they burn the heretic, the heresy dies with him (you know, pesky little facts like the Earth revolving around the Sun). I blame Fox News and the Murdoch tabloids for this attitude, as this is essentially how they operate, so its no surprise to see the people who read/watch them using the same tactics.
For example I was on a blog with a discussion with a scientist who was critiquing (via a peer reviewed paper) a number of ideas close to the heart of libertarians (nuclear power and the limitations of mineral resource supplies, notably those of Uranium). Their response was to resort to the good old fashioned gish gallop where they would posse many irrelevant and quite frankly silly questions to the guy one after the other. When inevitably he got sick of answering the same question (phrased slightly differently) over and over again and stopped replying, they declared victory on the basis that theyd managed to shut him up even thought they had not contradicted a shred of the evidence he had presented!
After a number of encounters with libertarians (notably on Reddit, my advice, stay away from there!) Ive seen sudden increases in the level of spam into my various page accounts. My e-mail address (the one I published on one page) was actually hacked and I lost access to it (fortunately its not the one I control that website with). In another unrelated encounter one blogger even put up a page on his blog wishing Id get cancer or something.
So all in all I think we can conclude there are some genuine crazies out there in the blogsphere and one has to be careful where you threat…or simply develop a thick skin…or dont learn the hard way what Ive learnt, let right wing freaks putter in their sandbox and dont annoy them with a lot of pesky little facts. If they wanted to base their opinions on facts theyd have gone to university rather than bible school!