A sad tale of two wrecked newsgroups

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<stuff snipped> (and shame on you for not prepending OT before replying! Two nun-knucklewhacks.)

Actually, one of the nicest things about the OT stuff is that some people here are quite capable of having an intelligent discussion about important issues of the day without veiled death threats and total disrespect of the opinions of others (mostly). I am always happy to learn what other people think and why, and if I think it's horribly wrong to try to work through what I see as errors. I expect to be corrected in equal fashion.
I actually see it as a natural part of the way people interact with each other and that's why I have never seen a single newsgroup successfully suppress OT posts. It's hard to overcome human nature.
The OT stuff represents a discussion I might have with guys that came over to help me build a deck, demolish a shed or figure out the safest way to rat out a neighbor to the zoning board. (-: Maybe the OT code should be changed to BEERTALK.
If it isn't allowed to happen here, within constraints agreeable to both sides, where will it happen? It won't happen at all and a little bit of the world will suffer as a result. AHR is a very accurate microcosm of what's happening in society at large. How we get along in AHR mirrors very closely how we get along with others in the real world. It's an opportunity to make things better by setting good examples.
I don't ever mind looking up something for a new poster in Google because I always learn something new myself when I do it. That makes me smarter and that's good. Maybe the third or fourth time I would indicate a little impatience. Obviously, not everyone feels that way and get some sense of satisfaction chastising people they've just met. So be it. I just apologize for them when I see it happen and hope that I can teach that "lazy poster" (not really) to Google and not think this newsgroup is net-nanny central. Googling is an art, and experienced searcher can find stuff way faster than a novice.

That is certainly one mode of newsgroup demise. Mine went that way - a TV show that went off the air and into reruns got repurposed to follow another, unrelated show that already had several of its own groups. Many bitter flame wars followed. Should it have stayed true to a no-longer produced but 'rediscovered daily in reruns' TV show? I don't know how to resolve such situations but I do know it drove a lot of people with a great human knowledgebase away for good.
The warning signs are here. I've seen a favorite newsgroup die not from trolling - it's never trolling, really - it's mortal combat between two or more participants that spirals totally out of hand, often because no one steps in and says: "Foul!" They go postal, create sock puppets, cross-post into hate groups and generally try to be as destructive as they can.
Why? For some of the same reasons there are so many other problems in the world. When people have no stake, they have nothing to lose. They become determined to destroy whatever it is they feel they *should* have a stake in. Think of how many real world situations that applies to.

Mama always said of the endless fights between me and my Satan-taloned sister <g>: "It takes two to tango." Anyone responding to an obvious troll is disrespecting the group and all its members because they think they are scoring "coolness points" by showing the alleged troll "who runs Bartertown." There are many, many people here who know not to feed trolls but when it comes time to ignoring them, they lose control and push send. All it takes is someone coming across one of their own "hot button" issues. Then even the most anti-OT newsgrouper will ignore the rules. It's just human nature.

filter ng messages.
There's got to be a way. Have you Googled it? (-:
http://www.google.com/search?q=Thunderbird+filter+ng+messages

something
And how hard is that, right? If the OT posters put OT in the subject line religiously, much of the issue of OT goes away because there isn't a newsreader I know of that can't filter for those letters. Since there seems to be a strong correlation between plonkers and those who dislike OT posts, it's a win-win. They obviously know how to use killfiles and filters, so it CAN'T be any *real* big deal to them.

That, IMHO, is a far greater "offense" and threat to the health of the group, which like any other needs constant replenishment to account for attrition. "Google that you dumbass" isn't a very nice way to say hello and it doesn't say very good things about the poster's social skills. People have feelings and they won't stick around where they are insulted or belittled. And that hurts the group. Why can't people just take a few seconds to lead by good example?
-- Bobby G.
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clipped

Lead by good example? That would change the world! :o) That is pretty much how I see life, but I've encountered some strong, well-armed enemies....being a good example brings out the flaws in the bad examples. Whew! Mama was tough and I'm tryin'.
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Metspitzer wrote:

Kill filters have never been a solution past a certain point, when people first arriving for legitimate purposes see a newsgroup that's 95% garbage and turn around on their heels, leaving the legitimate usership of the newsgroup a closed one that dwindles through natural attrition until it is no more.
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Disagree. When trolls are ignored, they go away quickly. They will not hang around in places where nobody feeds them. So while the problem you describe is real, it's very short-lived.
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I don't know about that. I just KF anyone who responds to the particularly annoying trolls. I just don't want to see it at all.
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h wrote:

If that was the case, I would have just KF'd you. :)
Jon
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news:hvtrs8short-lived.

Huh? You've killfiled Doug?
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On Jun 21, 4:46pm, Harlan Messinger

No, but the point was well-made by STEVE B that trolls only stay where they can feed, and if enough of us in this group employ filtering and kill tactics and most people do not respond to the trolls, the trolling should dwindle to background noise and keep this group for its purpose that many of us value so highly.
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wrote:

Also don't forget the other half of the equation. The on topic posts and threads need to always outumber the garbage posts and threads. The good stuff needs to always be crowding out the noise. What drives people away is when the ratio of noise to real content becomes too high.
Healthy groups always have multiple interesting ON TOPIC threads going at all times.
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<stuff snipped>

Good analysis. It's the way I've seen many a newsgroup fail. Kill-filing often leaves the worst offenders around to great new members which never seemed to be a good idea. Plonking seems to be a power trip wherein a person tries to project an authority to make judgements about who can belong to the "in" crowd. It seems to be equal parts: "Look at how bad and weak YOU are and how good and powerful I am."
Similarly, I don't see plonkers as contributing very much to making any group a better place to be. Every time I see a plonk I think of a little girl in pigtails, hands on hips, saying "You can't play with my dollies anymore because I don't like you. Nah, nah!" or even worse as Tweety Bird "Ooh, ooh, you hurt my wittle eyes!" Mostly it's an attempt to portray oneself as a "power" in the group with the right to exclude members. The only problem is - the plonkees are still there after plonking so it rarely had any positive effect. It's just a public announcement of a newly formed hostility towards another poster whom they've adjudged (often quite wrongly) a troll. In fact, I rather think many trolls consider their accumulated plonks as indicators of their success at disruption.
I wish I had a nickel for every plonker who ends up arguing with his plonkee shortly after the plonking occurs. But, hell, it's a free country and people are free to project any image of themselves that they want to the public at large. I just don't see the point of wanted to be seen as an angry Pippi Longstocking or a canary with a lisp. Doesn't seem to be the image of power that a rational person would seek.
Undoubtedly someone will plonk me for expressing this view, to which I say "I've been plonked by far better people than YOU!"
-- Bobby G.
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I don't think of it that way at all. I plonk all the time, simply because I just don't want to hear from a particular person anymore. I just don't have time to filter out the crap. I will also plonk people who respond to the truly obnoxious like speed and the monkey. I just don't want to see it.
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I think PUBLIC plonking is power trip. If I just plonk somebody because he or she doesn't interest me or has proved annoying (I have a couple plonked because every response was largely cuss words or suggesting that I do somethings that appears (at least at my age) to be anatomically impossible), then it is just me deciding that I don't want to socialize with them. If I found them next to me at a bar, I would move down a couple of seats. Same idea. Public plonking, though is saying pretty much what Robert suggests. A little bit of a power trip saying "I don't like you, so no one else should, either." The other annoying thing is when people publicly leave a news group in a Huff (r).
--
I want to find a voracious, small-minded predator
and name it after the IRS.
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I view public plonking as polite. You're telling the plonkee not to waste his or her time replying to you or waiting for a response from you.
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I still don't see the point. If you are still at the polite stage, then why plonk?
--
I want to find a voracious, small-minded predator
and name it after the IRS.
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wrote:

No, the solution is to never respond to them. Killfiling them makes that easier, as you don't see them, but still, you may see a post from someone you don't have killfiled, and they post the KF'd person.
The best thing is to remember that it takes two people to have a conversation, and when one of them stops talking, the conversation stops, too.
I think that the type of people who are trolls and attention getters here are the kind that used to pester the shit out of animals as a child, and now have a new medium. Sad sad people with no real lives.
HTH
Steve
visit my blog at http://cabgbypasssurgery.com
A fool shows his annoyance at once, but a prudent man overlooks an insult.
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On 6/21/2010 4:01 PM, Steve B wrote:

Hey Steve, sniff, trolls need love too. 8-)
TDD
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It's a pity, in a way, that responding to OT topics is so destructive. Yes, there are groups where these political postings would be welcome, but not many neutral ones (AFAIK) where there's a free exchange of views. Too many political chatrooms and such have a definite political slant: posting to them with a different point of view invites flaming; posting with the same slant is not just preaching to the choir but the beginning of a transformation from discussion group to echo chamber, the mindless parroting of slogans and sound bites, and demonization of the opposition.
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You sound like a very bright guy, Ivan. That was a very good capsule summary of what's been happening to Usenet lately. Indirectly I believe it's also why OT threads continue to evolve here and why it may not be such a bad thing.
I've never seen a group completely ban OT posts without a moderator and those groups are just as troubled in their own way. It's unstoppable human nature to want to discuss things like the big oil spill among people whose opinions on home repair you've come to know and respect. How hard is it to add OT to the subject line or filter on it with your newsreader or you index finger? Not very.
As I've said elsewhere, the OT topics parallel the kind of discussions that might take place if a bunch of us were working together on a home improvement project. Not very harmful, at least compared to whacking on newbies for not following the rules that are not posted anywhere and not even agreed upon to BE rules.
-- Bobby G.
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On 6/21/2010 2:43 PM, Metspitzer wrote:

I reserve a killfile for only the most horribly obnoxious and foul posters. I haven't really come across anyone like that in this group. A thread can easily be killed by pressing K in my newsreader which is Thunderbird and I will do that when some idiot decides to advertise gold watches, etc. Most OT threads will eventually fade unless it's kept going by jousting trolls. It's easier to kill a thread without a second thought than to configure a killfile. Perhaps more folks should try that instead.
TDD
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On Jun 22, 12:42am, The Daring Dufas <the-daring-

Yeah but you are a Dufas so what do you know.
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