22.Oct.2011 Addressing Pettibonehead & “Troll” Policy
While Santa is away, the elves come out and play.
Did not expect to wake up to all this anti-Petibonehead talk this morning. Anti-Angry talk I am used to, but not this.
So I thought about the complaints this morning, and the sentiment bothers me. People are saying, "I donated to this site, and I dislike Pettibonehead, so you should ban him."
This is one of the reasons I fear taking donations, advertising dollars, or linking blog rolls. It makes readers believe they have a say in how the site should be run. Almost like a board of directors or shareholders in a corporation. That is low to make threats like that. You donated to the site because you see it's hard work, good information, and you want to see it continue. Don't stoop to threats like that.
When the site opened in 2009, there was a pest named Humongous Organ who showed telling me he banged my mother behind a Flying J, but nobody came to my defense then. Nobody asked for him to be banned. I came back with some good quips, ignored his subsequent responses, and the troll eventually left. That's how you handle a troll. You make a comeback that cuts to the bone and makes him fear your next response will cut through the bone, and then you ignore all subsequent responses. Trolls feed off attention.
Now, if we had a troll who was a real issue…say…giving out JackBeav's personal information, address, etc, then he would be banned immediately. Pettibonehead shows up once every three or four days, and he makes funny quips and actually provides history and insight to people who didn't live through the Pettibone era. I'm not even sure I view him as a troll…I view him as a quirky, funny, historian. So, there is a snowball's chance in hell I ban him. I actually hope he posts more and shares more history. Hell, give me a Kragthorpe "troll", too.
If my not banning the troll causes you to stop reading the site, so be it. You'll lose out on unique insight and commentary. I view it as a you problem, not a site problem. Stop with the threats and just leave if that's how you feel. I manage this site fairly, and we basically have zero trolls because they respect the analytical, intellectual tone and management of the site. There are hundreds of Duck fans who read this site, and instead of trolling it, they respect it. Can you say that about any other (public) Oregon State website that doesn't have a single moderator? I doubt it.
If WordPress ever develops a plugin that allows readers to ban other readers, I'll install it and you can individually block anyone you want. In the meantime, no censorship unless it's harmful to a reader's personal well-being or privacy. The only exception is voluminous and pointless links/spam/blathering (e.g. Beaver Byte teeters that line…I actually wanted to ban him, yet you guys voted "no"). Anyway, that's the policy. If Pettibonehead starts posting every hour and really detracting then I'll ban him, but right now he doesn't do that.
I'd recommend learning to laugh or ignore. Both are wonderful skills.