The Blogging Justice League

07/28/2008 By Shawn Burns

Some days I want to punch people in the face. I can get myself worked up really well over little internet nothings, and some days I can spend a lot of time just going around hunting trolls because I can’t let things stand unanswered.

Trolls: Those little asshats who populate message boards, spouting horror and hiding behind masked IP addresses.

Not all trolls are anonymous. Some are bloggers themselves who write stupid posts about people I know and read.

Maybe it’s my philosophical training: I’m not supposed to let stupid reasoning and bad argumentation go unnoticed and un-addressed. I have an almost professional obligation to make the world a better place by leaving traces of reasoning wherever I can, even if I’m not nice about about (and honestly, a lot times I don’t want to be nice about it).

I have a new badge, because although Loralee is quite right that we need to remember that we aren’t the blog police, to stand up and fight every little insignificant battle that faces us, we are, and ought to be Blog Vigilantes.

A vigilante has some spare time, and takes the opportunity to leave a little trace of order where there was chaos, reason where there is abuse, and mockery where it is earned (because seriously, sometimes the troll just needs to be mocked for sheer stupidity).

This isn’t a call to arms, because the blog world would probably be a worse place if everyone started feeding the trolls all the time. But it is a call to vigilance: if a troll attacks someone you care about and responding would make your friend feel better, then do it. Don’t worry about provoking the troll: your concern ought to be for your friend. If a troll is sliming through your community and you have an opportunity, you can get your digital billy club out and do a verbal number on his head, because part of what makes a community is the defense of the community. You don’t need to do it all the time; you can be opportunistic in your vigilantism.

Some days I’m more vigilant than others. And on those days I always remember the best XKCD ever drawn:

This is my Blog Vigilante badge. It reminds me both that there are stupid people on the internet and that it can be an unjustifiable timesuck to try to stave off the flood of ass-hattery that can come washing down on you. So, don’t take your vigilance too seriously, but don’t let trolls, whether they are anonymous or noted bloggers themselves, control your community or your friends.

Join me, and Loralee, in The Blogging Justice League!!! You will get your tights when we get your initiation fee.