Info-graphic review about the ongoing menace of Internet trolls. Rich with illustrations, case studies, survey stats, maps, and cases of celebrity trolling. Also includes tips to handle online trolls.

Category: Digital Media, Web/Tech

Please use the comments to demonstrate your own ignorance, unfamiliarity with empirical data and lack of respect for scientific knowledge. Be sure to create straw men and argue against things I have neither said nor implied. If you could repeat previously discredited memes or steer the conversation into irrelevant, off topic discussions, it would be appreciated. Lastly, kindly forgo all civility in your discourse . . . you are, after all, anonymous.

21 Responses to “Restricting Internet Trolls”

  1. I am aware some of them will scream censorship, and to you folks, I state: GYOFB. Nothing is preventing you from blogging on your own. I mean nothing other than your own laziness, lack of original thought and poor work ethic. Start your own blog, tediously build it into something filled with whatever sort of BenSteinery you care to vomit onto the page . . . Just do not expect to see it published here.

    While you are free to start your own blog where you may express your unrecognized genius fully, you have precisely zero right to comment here. Going forward, your comments will be deleted with extreme prejudice. (To repeat myself, GYOFB).

  2. davebarnes says:

    Lost me at slide 17.
    “Who trolls who?”
    Should be Who Trolls Whom?

  3. Marc P says:

    Trolls must make it a pain to run a site such as The Big Picture. However, who benefits from eliminating anonymous expression? There were 32 slides in that deck. Only the last two touched on freedom of expression, with both slides quoting business executives advocating the elimination of anonymous expression. Who were they? Facebook, Google, and the Huffington Post, all companies that have a business model dependent upon surveillance of their users. All sell this data to advertisers and the government. As the saying goes, “if you are not the paying customer, you are the product.”

    It seems we citizens have a choice: we can accept the inconvenience of a few trolls, or we can accept the inconvenience of the government tracking every expression and the inevitable chilling effect, harassment, and other downstream consequences.

    • I have come to the conclusion that anyone has the unequivocal right to set up a blog (elsewhere) and speak freely — write whatever they want — yay 1st amendment!

      However, they have precisely zero rights to express themselves here.

      Indeed, the plethora of trolls and eejits is what led to our extensive explanation of TBP comment policy:

      • Marc P says:

        Ban ‘em, Danno.

        They deserve all the scorn, opprobrium and penalty that you can muster. As long as it is you, Barry, who is doing the banning.

        Some of us object to the idea that the government might use trolls as a pretext for eliminating anonymous posting and then track political speech in some massive database.

  4. Frilton Miedman says:

    I think a better definition is someone who intentionally misleads discussion for the sole purpose of disruption, without merit or empirical backing.

    I like the BR school. “show me”, if you make a statement, you should include the source, lest ye be a “Troll”.

    The definition of Troll takes an interesting spin when you consider an individual wanting to present factual counterpoints in a developing echo-chamber of confirmation bias, groupthink based on misinformation.

    I’ve been on the receiving end of accusations for correcting self titled “Libertarians” that want to abolish the Fed, support a gold standard, or angrily lash out about “big government” – a distraction that ignores the concentrated power of corporate special interests controlling the government. (Austrian beliefs, not Libertarian)

    Friedman was a pro-Fed monetarist that believed in regulating/stabilizing money supply, opposed a gold standard for that reason (though he applauded the attempt at fiscal discipline), and opposed any concentration of power that undermined free market Democracy or was conducive to minority rule, not just government only.

    I have been called a “troll” for stating all the above, despite providing links & sources.

    By definition, I’m a “troll” for posting such “heretical” statements in certain circles, regardless of sourced information.

    • RW says:

      Agreed, yes: The difference between a troll and a gadfly is not trivial, it may very well be central.

      The origin of the word troll as I learned it was not WRT the mythological figure but a contraction of “trolling” in the context of someone fishing for (re)action; i.e., someone who trolls for trouble.

      A troll is typically either engaged in harassment or agnotology — the purposeful production of doubt and ignorance — and the outcome, whatever the intent, is either a hijacked conversation or one reduced to picayune points in contradiction illuminating nothing; e.g., concern trolling.

      The outcome of unproductive drift is probably the key indicator and, if tendentiously repeated, the essential distinction necessary for a site owner to banish the troll but let the gadfly be. JMO

  5. [...] Restricting Internet Trolls | The Big Picture [...]

  6. subscriptionblocker says:

    Dunno, while I’m sure your perspectives with such individuals are hardened by now (know what they say about old cops and old lawyers) – that slide describing the British reality just scares the hell out of me.

    I’m leery of giving governments any power over this subject – especially now. *Any* power.

    As hard a road as free speech is – there really are no alternatives. So much of today has become simply: “Right thinking will be rewarded and wrong thinking is to be punished”. Can only imagine how some of the more “colorful” characters within America’s history would be treated today. A lot of those people were pretty rough.

    Bloomberg would probably mark them for continuous frisking……As would the creeps at Heathrow airport. Some would be thrown into modern dungeons -simply for the way they thought.

    • Anyone is free to set up a blog on Blogger — it costs nothing, no one will censor you, you are free to speak/write whatever you want!

      This is about something else entirely — traffic. Its about free-riding on someone else’s hard work and audience.

      Anyone who wants to freely express their views has lots of options. This place ain’t one of them

      • V says:

        Then why let people opinionate in the first place?

      • Frilton Miedman says:

        I would note the quality of comments here.

        A simple glance at ZH’s comments puts my point in perspective, my favorites folder is replete with links posted by your members, I regularly learn things from observing exchanges between members.

      • subscriptionblocker says:

        (shrug) GYOFB is perfectly appropriate ….Thought you might be arguing in favor of “more rules” in the slide show. Sorry – guess those slide lost me.

  7. dss says:

    People sometimes confuse the purpose of a blog; it’s content is provided free of charge and it is not the property of those who are allowed to comment. Posting comments is a privilege, not a right. The old fashioned newspaper or magazines allow even less freedom for readers to be allowed to comment on the content. Why should this be any different? You may disagree with the content provided here, or even abhor the views of the authors, but it doesn’t give you the right to crap all over the place and the other posters – who actually have the ability and self control to have intelligent thoughts and disagreements.

    Thanks for all that you do, Barry.

  8. Mattw says:

    I’m waiting for you to shut down comments on this blog. I had to do it on my blog due to trolls. I found that some people were systematically trying to undercut the message of my blog. Disagreeing is fine, but systemic disagreeing is not fine. Those people need to go elsewhere.

    Who has the time to deal with this nonsense?

    • Robi-1-Kenobi says:

      I want to thank you, too, Barry for all you do. Hopefully excising the worthless trolling comments does not take up too much of your time per Mattw. I hate wading through that crap on other sites.

      But I do think outside comments can be a stopgap against the potential confirmation bias. So hopefully you can keep it up, but understand if you can’t.

      My own experience was that finding you and your blog helped broaden my perspective after ~2 years of reading politically motivated gloom and doomers with 2 years of opportunity cost with flat investment growth. I am back on track now thanks to you. Keep up the good work and the good fight.

  9. catman says:

    It is interesting and helpful to hear people talking their book, and responding to BR, but as MattW has opined – Time is Tight.

  10. Mal Williams says:

    Thanks for publishing this. I did not know it was so bad. I note that you screen your posts — great!! A good defense is the better part of valor. Love your invitation to comment. Plan to use some thing similar with the following added sentence; “Comments expressing insults (to anyone) anger, violence or profanity will be automatically filtered out. Sorry if this means that your mindless comments will not be seen by anybody.”


  11. howardoark says:

    I’ve always thought the best way to handle trolls is to give 10 people the blog owner trusts the ability to move posts from the main comment threads into threads labeled “off topic”, “offensive”, “jerkweed” et cetera . It would save the blog operator a lot of time, discourage trolls, and give future sociologists a lot of raw material to contemplate. If moving isn’t possible, deleting the posts would at least accomplish 2 out of 3 of those goals.

  12. mapsofworld says:

    Hi Barry, Thanks for posting our slidedeck on Internet Trolls. We did an extensive Infographic on this subject last week. Every week we publish an Infographic and graphic-rich slide-deck on global issues at We’re delighted to see your blog post :)

    Have a wonderful day

    Ash – (