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"When is a troll a troll?" Topic

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4,580 hits since 11 Aug 2019
©1994-2020 Bill Armintrout
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Personal logo Editor in Chief Bill The Editor of TMP Fezian12 Aug 2019 8:27 p.m. PST

I don't claim to be perfect. I just run a website. grin

I removed some posts from the forum that I judged were trolling. Let me share some of my thought process.

If someone jumps into one of our joyful discussions, and the account is brand-new or hasn't been used in several months, then I begin to 'detect troll'. This is not to say that a new or inactive member might not have something to contribute, but that there is more of a question concerning their motivation – what causes them to jump back into TMP at this precise moment?

The next thing I look for is the way the poster presents himself. Does he see himself as part of the TMP community, making constructive comments? Or does he see himself as an outsider, telling us as TMPers what's wrong with us or what we need to change? Do they respect the TMP community?

So I nuked a few posts which I felt were trollish. I've tried to explain why to them. They've informed me of what they think are my moral failings. grin

Life goes on.

toofatlardies12 Aug 2019 10:11 p.m. PST

Bill. You nuked a few posts on a different thread because they were telling you that this site is not the perfect place you seem to want to be told it is. If you recall, I approached you privately, as an advertiser, expressing concerns that, from time to time, TMP could be rather confrontational. This meant that some members were uncomfortable posting for fear of being drawn into an argument. You chose to make that discussion pubic by starting a thread on the subject. In our discussions you made it very clear that you believed that there were no issues whatsoever with TMP and that it could not be improved.

What has now happened is that a number of people have posted to agree with my comments. In response you have deleted those posts and even banned some users who have expressed views that were measured in their content but were simply disagreeing with you.

I must say that this does seem like a rather extreme position to take. At all times my discussions with you were polite. Because someone suggests changes does not mean they are making a personal attack on you. More often than not, suggestions made to improve things are simply people attempting to build on what you have achieved here to make the experience even better. That is how most businesses try to interact with their customers.

You do put a lot of emphasis on the importance of the TMP community. It's a term you use a lot and a very positive approach to take. Surely in a true community there is room for debate and discussion? Surely there must be an opportunity for members of that community to stand up and express opinions that differ from your own, even if sometimes those opinions run counter to your own beliefs. In such a situation robust but polite debate is how things are done in any community.

As I say, I applaud you for the emphasis you place on the community. However, I cannot applaud your removing people from that community for the sole crime of disagreeing with you. I sincerely believe that you should consider how many people who have made hugely positive contributions on TMP over the years are no longer present and, equally, consider why they are no longer here.


Gods Own scale 6mm13 Aug 2019 12:41 a.m. PST

A measured, erudite response from TFL.

TPM has a reputation in 'some' areas as being a pretty nasty place to be. From the confrontational nature of some responses to an innocent post to the derailing of a post within minutes of putting it up.

The strength of TMP lies not in its forums but as a news outlet. Its often the first page that I click on when I want to see what's going on on the hobby.

But the message boards have become of less interest. The seemingly endless polls, for me, add little to a discussion, so I ignore them. Now, this isn't to say I want Bill to stop posting them, as others clearly enjoy them and engage with them. I choose not to.

This whole shebang with TFL is unseemly. Rich has been labelled with some pretty unkind words but has refused to steep to lower levels in response choosing to conduct himself with dignity. How others who support Rich (I'm one of them…) respond is down to them.

Censorship of posts that are in disagreement with Bill is an odd step. Yes this is Bill's place. But it's the advertisers that keep the lights on. If this was a forum that cost nothing to run and Bill was the sole admin, then I guess he could do whatever the hell he likes.

From what I can see this isn't the case and TMP is a business. Now I appreciate that Bill has to do what he perceived is best in the interest of his business. But the public manner in which this is being done, where both sides of the argument have access to what really should have remained a private matter, is I suspect only harmful for the image of TMP.

With modern technology removal of posts does little to stop the posts being seen. Screenshots and other technological wizzbangs soon preserve the words before they can be erased from the books.

So why not let these posts of dissent remain? Why not let the discussi9n run it's course? Let the people decide where their sympathies lie? The cat is out of the bag I'm afraid, old boy. The curtain has been pulled back to reveal the inner workings.

The constant talk of snowflake, encouraged by Bill, with his dictionary corner definitions, is unseemly. It wouldnt be tolerated on the playing fields of Eaton, and it shouldn't be tolerated here. Bad show.

Bill, this is a plea from a humble bystander and consumer of your product. Please stop removing posts just because they are not in agreement with your view point. Threatening, abusive, harassing posts that are likely to cause harassment alarm or distress have no place here, but otherwise, let it run old boy!

Vintage Wargaming13 Aug 2019 1:03 a.m. PST

If they live under a bridge they're a troll

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP13 Aug 2019 1:49 a.m. PST

Or if they turn to stone in daylight, Vintage.

The last two people in the TMP community will be VERY polite.They'll probably post about once a quarter.

john snelling13 Aug 2019 3:46 a.m. PST

Bill, thank you. I think you are doing good.

Dynaman878913 Aug 2019 3:48 a.m. PST

Or if they can't make toys since they are not potty trained. (At least I think that was the Trolls and not the other non-elf creature I can't remember the name of)

Personal logo Editor in Chief Bill The Editor of TMP Fezian13 Aug 2019 5:12 a.m. PST

People can express their opinions, if they do so within forum rules.

Personal attacks, group attacks, not allowed.

Rich, I've talked to your supporter about how he can post his opinion on TMP within forum rules, but I have not heard back from him.

HMS Exeter Supporting Member of TMP13 Aug 2019 5:12 a.m. PST

Curses! Vintage Wargaming, you beat me to it.

Actually , mine was going to be "when Billy Goats are scared."

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP13 Aug 2019 5:25 a.m. PST

Sadly, "troll" has no more actual meaning these days than "bully." They both denote someone doing the same thing as an "activist" except that the person speaking approves of the "activist."

Personal logo Editor in Chief Bill The Editor of TMP Fezian13 Aug 2019 5:28 a.m. PST

The constant talk of snowflake, encouraged by Bill, with his dictionary corner definitions, is unseemly. It wouldnt be tolerated on the playing fields of Eaton, and it shouldn't be tolerated here. Bad show.

We have forum rules. They may not be perfect, but they have evolved over the years with input from the TMP community.

There are words which are considered 'over the line' and if you call someone that, you will be Dawghoused for a personal attack (at least).

There are words which are considered too mild to be worth punishment. This falls into the category of 'rude but tolerated'. For example, by long TMP tradition, it is allowable to call somebody an 'arse'.

Does that mean that I am encouraging that behavior? Of course not.

'Snowflake' currently falls in the 'too mild' category.

If you disagree with this policy, then you can go to the TMP Poll Suggestions board and suggest a policy change, and it will in time be put to a vote.

Personal logo Editor in Chief Bill The Editor of TMP Fezian13 Aug 2019 5:30 a.m. PST

But it's the advertisers that keep the lights on. If this was a forum that cost nothing to run and Bill was the sole admin, then I guess he could do whatever the hell he likes.

You forget that we also have paying members (Supporting Members).

toofatlardies13 Aug 2019 5:32 a.m. PST

Robert. I am not convinced of that. Surely a troll is someone who dismisses issues with a casual and insulting remark. And activist is, one would hope, someone who actively campaigns for a cause they believe in whilst employing legitimate and democratic methods to further that cause.

Sure, some trolls believe that they are activists when in fact they are just idiots. However, I don't think anyone fitting the above definition of activism could be described as a troll. Definitions of words have nothing to do with approval of disapproval.

HMS Exeter Supporting Member of TMP13 Aug 2019 6:16 a.m. PST

"Snowflake" does seem to have become "code" for people of one group to insult and denigrate others. The originator of "Pepe" The Frog killed off his creation because it had been co-opted by some of the less wholesome influencers in society. There are other terms, to be sure, a shortened version of a term describing a man with an unfaithful wife, for example.

In an effort to keep the playing field level, and to minimize the baiting, if not trolling, it might be useful, from time to time, to have a poll on this or that specific term, and let The Community decide.

Boy, do I love commas, or what?

For my tuppence, "Snowflake" has become an unduly loaded term and should be considered "over the line."

Unless, of course, if someone is trying to find a way to effectively model snowflakes on the windows of a 28mm wargame structure. In that case, I'd personally love to hear our ideas.

toofatlardies13 Aug 2019 6:29 a.m. PST

Oh. And now, Bill, you have locked out veteran game designer Dave Brown. I don't know if you know Dave, he's something of an elder statesman of the hobby with rules to his name such a General de Brigade, Battlegroup panzer Grenadier, Guns at Gettysburg, Pickett's Charge and General d'Armee.

What I think is deeply sad is that an elderly pensioner such as Dave is now locked off a wargaming site for the crime of voicing agreement for what I am saying. Is this treatment going to apply to anyone who disagrees with you?

Personal logo Andrew Walters Supporting Member of TMP13 Aug 2019 7:01 a.m. PST

The internet age requires good ignoring skills. You must be adept at ignoring things. Ads, diatribe, uninformed opinion, people convinced their own righteousness justifies hatred, willful ignorance, bitterness, and trolls. If you don't have the capacity to just skip right over it, you get dragged into the muck.

The internet is like a garage sale, flea market, or thrift shop. Or Amazon Prime Video. There is some great stuff in there, really excellent, life-enriching, amazing, inspiring, valuable stuff. This great stuff composes less than 1% of what is out there, and you need to be able to quickly move past the unworthy material. If you stop to get angry that someone is asking too high a price for an item, if you stop to be annoyed that awful merchandise somehow got to the marketplace, your cheerful mood is in danger.

Of course there are people critical of the things you love. How could it not be? Whatever ideals you hold dear, someone is blaspheming them as we speak. Whatever book/movie/game you love someone is despising and dismissing it right now.

It's good to have someone watching over any given forum to make sure the whole thing doesn't get dragged down, to make sure that those who just want to sow confusion, division, disinformation, and bitterness don't take over. But it needs to be done with a pretty light hand. You'll never get rid of all the garbage, and in trying to you could stifle legitimate conversation and promote self-censorship.

Legion 413 Aug 2019 7:09 a.m. PST

I know one when I see one ! evil grin

Troll = troll

Teppsta13 Aug 2019 7:15 a.m. PST

I know Dave Brown and like Rich he is an extremely reasonable chap and could in no way ever be classified as a troll. He often offers great insight into his game design process and jumps in to help people out when they ask questions.

If the site is banning people like him then it will be a much poorer place for it.

Redcurrant13 Aug 2019 7:18 a.m. PST

You forget that we also have paying members (Supporting Members).

But would there be so many of them if the advertisers were not on board?

Personal logo Editor in Chief Bill The Editor of TMP Fezian13 Aug 2019 8:04 a.m. PST

I know Dave Brown and like Rich he is an extremely reasonable chap…

…who thinks he can come here and disrespect the moderator. I won't stand for it. I don't care who he is, I've never coddled hobby celebrities.

Personal logo Editor in Chief Bill The Editor of TMP Fezian13 Aug 2019 8:05 a.m. PST

But would there be so many of them if the advertisers were not on board?

I'm not sure the two are even related.

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP13 Aug 2019 8:06 a.m. PST

TFL, if you actually believe what you just wrote about activists, e-mail me and we can discuss it. This is as far as I'll go on a non-political forum.

kevin Major13 Aug 2019 8:34 a.m. PST

If Dave Browns comments were "disrespecting the moderator" then I think the non insulting word Snowflake has found a new home

Pyrrhic Victory13 Aug 2019 9:32 a.m. PST

One of the issues we are dealing with is that application of punishment is uneven and dependent both on who the poster is and who the poster is responding to. This makes it very difficult to know, prior to hitting "submit", whether the post is fine, will be deleted, will result in dawghouse time or will cause you to get banned. Since offending messages get deleted it's even difficult to draw lessons about what the standards really are unless you read the messages prior to the hammer coming down. In this particular case I did manage to read them and find it difficult to draw a lesson other than any disagreement with the editor may be construed as disrespect and result in banning. Both "trolling" and " disrespecting the moderator" seem to have very flexible definitions.

The distinction the editor is drawing between those members he considers the "TMP community" and those members he deems "outsiders" is troubling and will result in an ever smaller echo chamber being formed if current trends continue. For example, I'm a long time member, occasional poster, and sometime, but not current, supporting member. However, the forums are becoming places that I'm not sure I want to visit, much less support. Maybe I'm the only one in that boat but I really doubt that. Take that for whatever it's worth.

I will say that the current combination of rules, enforcement mechanism, and deference to loudest/most active voices here have the effect, intended or not, of creating a comfortable space for the editor and an established group of users at the cost of being welcoming & positive environment for those outside that core group. One might even say the editor is, in effect, creating a space for himself that is "safe" as opposed to that scary Twitter place.

I have tried very hard to keep all criticism here constructive. Your mileage may vary.


Aethelflaeda was framed13 Aug 2019 9:45 a.m. PST

I feel that Bill is copping out on his responsibility as a good host by deferring to some sort of public plebiscite regarding what is okay to use as an insult or not. If someone is invited to my game room and utters ***anything*** that makes another feel unwelcome or uncomfortable, it would be my job as the host to correct the boor, I don't look for a majority vote. It's just proper manners to curtail the insults.

Since this space is supposed to be free from politics and it is fairly well established that only the right are using snowflake as a political insult,or a dog whistle to others on the right, you can't justdefer to the public here in a vote…too many of the left may have already departed.

Free speech is one thing but being free to be a boor on a privately published website is not the same as being a boor in the public square or Hyde park corner. You make the rules, and therefore it is tacit approval of all the permitted speech. You own it.

Shagnasty Supporting Member of TMP13 Aug 2019 9:47 a.m. PST

I miss many of those who no longer post here and hope all disagreements could be cordially and quietly resolved.

Cerdic13 Aug 2019 10:11 a.m. PST

Pyrrhic, that's a good point about deleted posts.

I've been away for a couple of days and have just got back. I am now wondering what on earth did someone like Dave Brown say to get themselves locked out!

Ed Mohrmann Supporting Member of TMP13 Aug 2019 10:37 a.m. PST

Dave Brown banned ? Wow. I've bought copies of almost
all his Nap and ACW rules. I've quit playing GdB
because my sole FTF opponent for that set beat my
tail every time we played it !

However, I will cheerfully admit to plundering through
Dave's rules (especially Guns at Gettysburg) for scenario

Thanks, Mr. Brown.

Teppsta13 Aug 2019 10:38 a.m. PST

Dave has had no word of explanation from Bill or anyone else. He has just been blocked from the message board.

This happened after Bill decided to share the contents of a private communication and then in the follow up post he wrote about it he deleted all the posts on one side of the discussion. Dave just questioned that approach to running the forum.

Pyrrhic Victory13 Aug 2019 10:48 a.m. PST

@Cerdic – Dave quoted some text from the original post in this thread (the disrespecting the TMP community part) then asked whether the editor was disrespecting the TMP community. That doesn't seem egregiously disrespectful to me, but Bill took it as a personal attack and banning offense.


HMS Exeter Supporting Member of TMP13 Aug 2019 10:48 a.m. PST

This is all moving way too fast for me to even try to follow, especially as I didn't read the original thread about TMP being an Harmonious Environment.

If someone were to post Dave Brown's TMP handle, I suspect it'd be of no value as his posts are probably now gone.

I can form no meaningful thought without context.

victor0leto13 Aug 2019 11:07 a.m. PST

Moderating on-line forums is a job nobody wants to do willingly, and yet, everybody knows how to do it the right way.

Aethelflaeda was framed13 Aug 2019 11:30 a.m. PST

Oh, I think there are many out there who would be willing to moderate folders if given the power. Consimworld gives that power to folder owners there, plus some very powerful ignore tools. (And the power to subscribe to folders, something I love). Much more robust then here.

USAFpilot13 Aug 2019 12:36 p.m. PST

Why moderate anything?

Let it be a free for all. Just ignore what you don't like.

Pyrrhic Victory13 Aug 2019 1:16 p.m. PST

So why did the post from Gods Own scale 6mm get nuked?

Gods Own scale 6mm13 Aug 2019 1:34 p.m. PST

Did it myself. To be honest, I've withdrawn from the discussion as on the one hand you're accused of being a troll, and on the other a snowflake and on the 3rd hand I just want to talk toy soldiers.

Toy soldiers wins.

Ciao! :-)

Aethelflaeda was framed13 Aug 2019 1:44 p.m. PST

I guess USAFpilot would tolerate being associated with sexist/racist/alt-right diatribes here on the basis he could ignore them, but how would a mother of the thirteen year old see it when she checks what her boy is up to?

Oberlindes Sol LIC Supporting Member of TMP13 Aug 2019 1:58 p.m. PST

I think the term "troll" is being deprecated in favor of "sub-ponsian", at least in the USA.

That being said, it's worth noting that merely living under a bridge does not make one a sub-ponsian. In the Silicon Valley, many young people starting out in the tech sector live under bridges until they have saved enough money to exercise enough stock options to buy a decent car to live in.

That doesn't make them sub-ponsians. Real sub-ponsians jump out from under the bridge and demand payment when you try to cross. That's the origin of the word "toll". It's either a mis-spelling or mis-pronunciation of "troll".

The tech youngsters are too busy playing video games and trading cryptocurrencies on their smart phones to come out from under the bridge before it's time to go to work

USAFpilot13 Aug 2019 2:27 p.m. PST

@Athel… Why the personal attack?

Aethelflaeda was framed13 Aug 2019 2:48 p.m. PST

Nothing personal about it, it is the ramifications of a laissez -faire approach to speech you might not have considered, granted coursely presented for which I apologize. I personally don't think you are one who would tolerate such speech in your presence at say the O club even if you weren't participating in the conversation personally. The honor of the organization would demand you chastise the boors.

USAFpilot13 Aug 2019 3:02 p.m. PST

Fair enough, thanks for keeping it civil. I'm a little bit of a libertarian; I think censorship can be a slippery slope; just saying.

Personal logo ochoin Supporting Member of TMP13 Aug 2019 3:20 p.m. PST

Dave Brown banned ? Wow. I've bought copies of almost
all his Nap and ACW rules. I've quit playing GdB
because my sole FTF opponent for that set beat my
tail every time we played it !

However, I will cheerfully admit to plundering through
Dave's rules (especially Guns at Gettysburg) for scenario

Thanks, Mr. Brown.

Double wow! Dave Brown's 'General d'Armee' are our Napoleonic rules & his 'Pickett's Charge' are just being implemented for our ACW gaming.

He is, IMO, amongst the best rule writers out there.

Now this is a sad, sad loss.

Personal logo Editor in Chief Bill The Editor of TMP Fezian13 Aug 2019 5:00 p.m. PST

This happened after Bill decided to share the contents of a private communication…

When Rich wrote the email to me, I responded:

I will bring this up for discussion with the TMP community, without mentioning your name or company of course, and see what our members think.

I then sent Rich links to both discussions.

Rich had no objections at the time, and in fact thanked me for my consideration.

I understand that Rich now says he did not expect me to quote from his email, and that he thinks I cherrypicked the quotes. However, if he had objections, he could easily have brought them up at the time, and I would have accommodated him with any changes he thought necessary.

Thresher01 Supporting Member of TMP13 Aug 2019 5:13 p.m. PST

Is there a full moon tonight?

I think it's close……….

Personal logo Editor in Chief Bill The Editor of TMP Fezian13 Aug 2019 5:17 p.m. PST

If Dave Browns comments were "disrespecting the moderator" then I think the non insulting word Snowflake has found a new home

I have learned from experience to require a certain level of respect from those who use our forum. If you do not do this, people think they can walk all over you.

Imagine what would happen if Dave went into a restaurant, and publicly told the proprietor that he didn't respect his customers? He'd be tossed out on his ear.

There is some irony in the fact that Dave posted the exact type of negative attack which Rich has complained about.

Fingerspitzengefuhl13 Aug 2019 9:16 p.m. PST


Actually you can demand respect. Of course we have seen others do it and we have all had a boss in the past that demanded respect. Respect however is not handed out based on someone's demand or desire, but it must be earned through proper words and deeds. Therefore, although you can demand respect, you will not get it unless deserved.

roundie13 Aug 2019 10:13 p.m. PST

banned Dave Brown lol
time to take a break from this site

kevin Major13 Aug 2019 10:41 p.m. PST

To continue your restaurant analogy. Would a smart owner not ask why the customer made the remark? To simply throw them out is just intolerant.
What growing business rejects feedback?

toofatlardies13 Aug 2019 10:42 p.m. PST

Bill, I do feel that I need to ask for some clarification. When I first approached you with my suggestion that some polls could be worded in a less confrontational manner, you were very robust in stating that people should be allowed to say what they didn't like as well as what they liked. Debate was important and that was part of respecting the community.

Sadly now Dave Brown has been banned for asking whether, when you ask people to respect the community, you are showing the same consideration. Indeed, when you asked 'Do they respect the TMP community" Dave asked "Perhaps the more pertinent point here is – do you?".

Using your own guidelines that the TMP community should be allowed robust debate within a respectful context, I think it is not unfair for Dave to question whether, in banning people and removing messages from posters who showed support for my initial request, you are living up to your own goals.

Personally I wish this spat had never happened and that you had not made it a matter for public consumption and, more to the point, comment. However, now the cat is rather out of the bag, I think it would only be fair for you to tell us whether posters are breaking the rules and insulting the community if they make any comment on this matter? Certainly nobody who has supported your position has been banned or censured, no matter how vociferous. Yet people asking the simplest of questions have been removed from the site. That does seem like respect is not being spread very evenly across the community? I am sure that is not intentional, it's just the way it seems to some commentators who probably don't fully understand the internal machinations and by-laws of this site.

So, to try to defuse the situation so that there is no further need to eject people from TMP, could you please clarify what people can and cannot say, specifically, so as to avoid being censured. The problem as I see it is that people are not sure where respecting the community begins and ends. I'm sure you'll understand how difficult that makes it for people to comment.

Many thanks


22ndFoot14 Aug 2019 5:50 a.m. PST


I second Richard's request, we would then all be able confidently to say, "we all now know every reason Bill takes these discussions this way."



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