Looking back at a year of GMMaS: Trolls (Part 2)

Thought the first: on trolls and free speech

Writing this blog, I’ve learned a lot about trolls – how they operate, how they think, how to deal with them or not deal with them as the case may be. Despite my dyed-in-the-wool cynicism, I really thought at the outset that I would be able to maintain a policy of not moderating comments. One of the main goals, after all, of this blog was to reach out to gamers who maybe didn’t identify as feminists and illustrate just why the way gaming treats women is fucked up. I make a point of avoiding feminist theory past the ultra-basics and the tone I take here is decidedly non-academic. I was hoping that would make this blog an accessible place and that when trolls did pop up, people could ignore them and move on with their lives. Most of all, I was tired of anti-feminists claiming that “feminazis” who moderated other feminists blogs hated free speech and I wanted to see if I could counteract that.

…wow was that a huge mistake.

See, there were two things that I wasn’t prepared for: the level of vitriol that would be hurled at me and the sheer volume of troll comments I would come to get.

The level of vitriol was hardest to adjust to in the beginning. What helped me the most in dealing with bile-filled troll comments was when I started to see how similar they all are – like they were all reading from the same script. Despite the personal attacks they all resort to – saying that I’m fat, ugly, slutty, stupid, crazy, have a radical agenda, whatever – they weren’t attacking me. They were attacking the radical notion that women are people. That perspective was helpful for me in dealing with these attacks, but not so helpful for other people coming here to comment that had to see this shit as well.

Eventually, however, the volume proved to be even more overwhelming than the bile. For the first few months, I had relatively lower traffic and far fewer commenters. It was manageable at the beginning when I was averaging 100 views per day. By the time I got to the point where I was averaging 1,000 views a day things were getting rapidly unmanageable. It got to the point where I got emails from people who wanted to comment on something they’d seen on my blog but didn’t want to get dog-piled in the comments. That was when I started to question the wisdom of not moderating comments.

My friends, who are much smarter than I am, had reached this point well before me. They’d be all like OMG JUST MODERATE COMMENTS ALREADY WTF ARE YOU DOING TO YOURSELF? And I’d flail around guiltily with ARG BUT THEN IT’S LIKE I HATE FREEDOM OR SUMTHING WHAT DO I DOOOOOOO. And then they’d roll their eyes and say WE JUST TOLD YOU.

But the straw that broke the camel’s back was when I received my first comment saying that I should go kill myself. That was the moment when I said to myself, “you know what, fuck free speech”. And the difference since doing that has been wonderful. I didn’t really realize until after I started moderating comments just how much oxygen the trolls had been sucking out of the conversation. I can’t moderate 24/7, so I can’t promise that this will be a completely safe space, but it’s wonderful having my blog feel like my space again. (Though I will say that I appreciate the irony of the fact that the post that announced the new comment policy was one of the most aggressively trolled posts I’ve done in the last few months. You know, because saying I’m not going to tolerate people telling me to lie in front of a train is super-controversial. /eyeroll)

So lesson learned. Other feminist bloggers were smarter than me. Trolls don’t have an inalienable right to free speech in feminist spaces.

Thought the second: most trolls are reading from the same script

There’s a shocking lack of originality in most troll comments. (Well, that and attention to proper spelling and grammar.) The vast majority of them seem to fit into a few fixed categories:

  • hurr hurr you’re ugly
  • it’s just a game/it’s just fantasy
  • I’m a woman and I’m not bothered by it
  • It’s just a joke/satire you stupid humorless feminist
  • you aren’t qualified to criticize [whatever I happen to be criticizing]
  • you feminist bitches are so silly
  • you’re a fascist/nazi/pink commie
  • you’re making this all about you
  • the female body is art
  • nonsensical slurs
  • games are for men
  • talking about discrimination is stupid and makes people feel bad
  • omg ur biased for not showing that dudes in games are just as bad

A few times I’ve responded in a general sort of way to these sorts of things. Most of the time it’s just not worth the hassle. Occasionally a troll comment manages to rise above the masses to the point where it becomes humorous – or at least it does in retrospect once the initial rush of anger goes away. My personal favorite is a comment that started: “So, another interesting thought. Riddle me this, Aderp Titler, Furor[sic] of the feminazi’s…”

Of course there are also plenty of comments that still rankle well after the fact, like the person who found one of the few photos of me on the interbutts and said ‘well no wonder she’s a feminist’. (Ouch.) There’s far too many to quote here, but if you’re curious, the following posts are worth checking out:

discussions of trolling

unusually aggressive/offensive trolling in the comments

Thought the third: exercise caution when following trackback links

I have mixed feelings about trackback links. I’ve found some really interesting stuff thanks to them and have added a few blogs to my RSS feed that way. But just as often, I’ve encountered people saying really depressing and horrible stuff about me, my blog, my appearance, my politics, or my agenda. Over time, I’ve observed some patterns that have been useful in helping to avoid the worst bile out there:

1) Don’t ever follow links back to Reddit. OMG, just dont. The absolute worst comments do tend to get deleted by moderators after a while, but that doesn’t keep you from seeing them. Any place where I get called an “ignorant judgemental cunt” (on the /r/GirlGamers subreddit no less!!) is a place I don’t need to go to. I’ve washed my hands of Reddit and accepted that it’s a lost cause.

2) Don’t ever follow links back to forums on major gaming sites or to forums specifically devoted to one particular fan community. ESPECIALLY never follow links back to the BioWare forums. There’s a few people who will link to my posts there actually appreciating what I’m saying, but they always get dogpiled by the legions of rabid BioWare fans who tell them to OMG SHUT UP THOSE FEMINIST BITCHES BE SO CRAZY. So much as I love BioWare’s games, their official fan community can go jump in a lake as far as I’m concerned.

3) Similar to number 2, but slightly different. On occasion there have been some columns on the really big gaming sites like IGN that have cited my blog. And those are great to read, so long as you never ever read the comments. Resist the temptation. All they’re good for is raising your blood pressure.

Of course, sometimes I do something stupid and follow a link to Reddit when I know I shouldn’t. But at least this way I can avoid most of the worst bile being said about me.

Thought the fourth: occasionally, positive things can come out of engaging with trolls

…but that’s the exception that proves the rule. I can only think of one instance where engaging with a troll led to a positive outcome, and one where it led to a neutral outcome. In the first instance, some podcaster found my blog and tweeted that I must be ugly. His podcasting buddies then had a “discussion of sexism” that was really just slamming me for half an hour without actually reading any of my blog. I took down their comments pretty harshly in a response here. But afterward I offered to come on their podcast if they wanted to talk to me and not about me, and we actually had a pretty positive conversation. I won’t say that I totally converted them, but I at least was able to present the feminist perspective in a rational and not crazy light. So that was a win.

The other was when I received a very long, very condescending comment from a publisher who makes 3rd party Pathfinder products. I responded with, um, a little bile. (Okay a lot of bile.) Because I was angry, there was a bit of splash damage onto Paizo as well and Erik Mona came and posted some surprisingly calm comments in the comment thread. Nothing really came of it: Erik Mona was still pretty entrenched in his position after our brief conversation in the comments. But I at least appreciated that he was polite about it after I said some harsh stuff about Paizo that was maybe a little unwarranted. Also, that comment thread gave me the phrase “leathery nipple trainwrecks”, which still amuses me.

Thought the last: there are always people who will try to judge your feminism

That’s one of the harder things to deal with. I was pretty new to feminism when I started this blog and I said some stuff that was wrong-headed. And I acknowledge that it was wrong-headed, and apologized and mostly mended fences with the people who rightly took me to task. But there are still people out there who view my early wrong-headed statements as proof that I Am Not and Will Never Be a Real Feminist. (There’s one former commenter in particular who has said nasty stuff about me Not Being A Real Feminist in a variety of places outside of this blog.)

Hell, there are people who have seen more recent stuff that I’ve wrote in which I bent over backwards to make sure I was on the correct side of social justice who came and told me that “MY FEMINISM IS RIGHT AND YOURS IS WRONG, WRONG, WRONG”. And other people might disagree, but I’m going to call this trolling as well. Feminism is a big movement, and contrary to popular belief we aren’t a hive mind. There’s going to be disagreements. But I think it’s dangerous to judge other people’s feminism as “wrong”, because who knows – maybe you’re the one who’s wrong and are too entrenched in your position to be open to that.

And that’s all I have to say about that

67 thoughts on “Looking back at a year of GMMaS: Trolls (Part 2)

  1. Reddit is a weird thing. Somehow I only have a positive experience, haven’t seen any harassment or whatever. But on all the blogs I see bad things about Reddit.

    Well, maybe it’s because I rarely read comments and when I do, it’s /r/atheism or something about programming. But it’s still weird.

    • No stupid comments on /r/atheism? I find that hard to believe! Between jackasses who are offended by the existence of religion and jackasses who are offended by the existence of atheism, boards that discuss stuff like that tend to become bogged down in wank really quick.

  2. The sad thing is that the viciousness you’ve seen here isn’t ‘that bad’ compared to some of the pure evil that gets spewed on the web.

    Just to be clear that doesnt clear those other assholes of being assholes.

    I *knew* Feminists weren’t a hive mind…the internets lied to me…..maybe y’all are just an evangelical hegemonizing swarm, maybe?

  3. Amazing effort – keep on wading through it. Your blog is one of the shining lights of sanity on this topic. I read every post.

  4. Just something about free speech. What it means is they have a right to say what they want. As long as you don’t prevent them from opening their own blogs, create their own podcasts, etc. so they literally CAN’T say whatever they want, you’re respecting their free speech. If this was the only blog on the Internet that they had access to, then there would be a problem. But it’s not the case.

    I hope we get to have more of this blog in years to come. Maker knows the industry needs you and the people this blog has inspired.

  5. Your definition of “troll” sounds more like “dick” to me (as in, “That guy’s a dick”).

    I bring it up because I’ve thought often about the word “troll”. See, to me, “troll” means someone who is being a dick for the sake of being a dick (kinda along the lines of “some men just want to watch the world burn”). By that definition, I wouldn’t necessarily call the people you talk about above “trolls”, because, as misguided and asshole-ish as they may be, I think they are sincere in what they are saying; they’re not doing it “just for the lulz”. I could be wrong, of course, since I can never truly know their motives.

    So yeah, I agree with you moderating your comments and getting rid of really hateful stuff, and I agree that these people are dicks. I’m just kinda curious as to how other people use the word “troll”. Maybe I’ve kinda had the wrong definition all along? Or does anyone see where I’m coming from?

      • Well, Encyclopedia Dramatica does cite Socrates and Jesus as inspiration, but I just thought they were trolling.

        • Socrates was a magnificent troll. Even at the trial that lead to his death sentence (which he partially brought on himself by refusing exile and forcing the jury to choose between acquittal, a laughably small fine and execution) he continued in grand style, mocking and belittling his prosecutor at every turn. And let’s not forget that he stood accused of “corrupting the youth” by undermining the authority and status of political figures (and just plain humiliating them) with his interrogatory debating.

          But, I suppose that’s a bit of a stretch of the term “troll”. Trolls do it only for the lulz. Socrates had very important points to make about Athenian society and just happened to irritate his opponents immensely…which just so happened to entertain him greatly! From what I gather, it seems he just saw the irritation he caused as just deserts for evasive and dishonest opponents who needed to be taken down a peg.

          Sadly, good “trolls” like Socrates are vastly outnumbered by the kinds of self-serving hecklers people like Wundergeek have to put up with.

    • I recognize that I don’t have a clear definition of trolling that’s easy to explain.:/ But I didn’t mean this post to be addressing DERAILING, which is a separate phenomenon entirely. I’m willing to accept that a lot of people who derail are sincere and maybe have good intentions. But people who come here and say ITS JUST SATIRE YOU STUPID FEMINAZI BITCH or U R JUST UGLY or U ARE A STUPID LESBIAN GAMING IS FOR MEN – those are trolls.

  6. Thank you for your posts. I have to be honest and say I’ve never read any of the comments on your blog. I guess I was always just happy with what you wrote.

    Your blog made me that much more aware of the prevalence of bewbs in gaming, and made me feel a bit braver at calling foul whenever I see something offensive.

    • To be fair, some of the comments have really nice discussions that bring viewpoints that are different from Wundergeeks. There are people who challenge her ideas in an intellectual way. However, there also tends to be a lot of misrepresentation and name calling on both sides. It’s defiantly a mix.

      • I’d like to think it’s gotten better since I started moderating. Definitely I don’t get emails anymore from people saying “I don’t feel that your comments are a safe space”, which at least makes ME feel better.

  7. Hey finally found the spot where you talk about the whole only my feminism is true feminism thing, could you do a whole post on that issue?

    Also as far as I can tell the whole point of the idea of a hive mind applied to trans-humanism is to have different minds connected and also to keep a level of individuality in the people participating in the process as getting a single mind from many different ones or even the same ones is to destroy a piece of each of the components just so you could have the final product sooner rather then later.

  8. “So much as I love BioWare’s games, their official fan community can go jump in a lake as far as I’m concerned.”
    Oh my god, so true, so true. I once made the mistake of bringing up the whole ‘where are the female aliens?’ on the official forums, and the myriad of ways Bioware could have easily, cheaply and without it costing much disc space have some alien species present both males and females. You’d think I had suggested cutting every male gamer’s nuts off or something, judging by the reaction.
    And I agree that on your own blog, your safety and sanity are WAY more important than someone’s ‘right’ to troll you. If they really feel that strongly about it, let them open their own blog. Or, y’know, visit one of the five million sites where their opinion is unfortunately the norm.

  9. Please understand the difference between a troll and someone who disagrees with you. A troll is someone who is deliberately being a jackass to get a response from you or others. Abuse and death threats are never called for, and these are the people you should be moderating.

    However, I have seen a lot of commenters on your blog, that have challenged your opinion, whom you have simply brushed off as trolls, when they are really just voicing their own opinion.
    I don’t expect everyone to agree with me, but I’d rather discuss their views than dismiss them as trolls.

    • I suppose this is what I was trying to get at in my above comment.

      Also, in regards to this:

      “However, I have seen a lot of commenters on your blog, that have challenged your opinion, whom you have simply brushed off as trolls, when they are really just voicing their own opinion.”

      I’ve witnessed this too. Maybe not “a lot”, but I sometimes tend to skim through comments.

      • I haven’t actually witnessed this (and if I have, it wasn’t often enough for me to even remember). Wundergeek doesn’t answer comments often at all, but that doesn’t mean she dismisses them (also she’s more likely to answer disagreeing commenters). Only in a few instances I can probably count on the fingers of one hand did she actually tell people to actively ignore a ‘troll’ and all those instances were justified (the most notable of which was the only commenter to ever be banned: An Onymous. He just got everyone upset and added nothing to the discussion).

        Also, there’s a difference between disagreement exampled by: “I don’t like your x and y arguments because…”

        And trolling (or raging) exampled by: “STFU you crazy feminazi bitch!”

        Do you see the difference?

    • Voicing an opinion and having a discussion is one thing. Voicing an opinion without having an open mind to consider the alternative and then arguing your point to the death is entirely different. It is not Wondergeek’s place, nor is it any woman’s, to educate people in feminism basics when resources are readily available. That’s why when multiple people come in and sound like they’re reading off a script, it almost counts as derailing because sure, these attitudes are prevalent in today’s society, but if wundergeek took time to calmly and rationally explain everything to each person, she wouldn’t have time to keep this blog running with new ideas. The conversation would be stuck in spoon feeding mode, and that’s not the purpose of this blog.

      If people want to challenge an opinion and open the discussion on it, they need to first educate themselves before coming in here and blindly using an argument that has already been debunked a million times before (I.e. The “it’s just fantasy!” line). That is our responsibility as commenters, and as people who exist in a society with never ending differences in points of view.

      • It is not Wondergeek’s place, nor is it any woman’s, to educate people in feminism basics when resources are readily available. That’s why when multiple people come in and sound like they’re reading off a script, it almost counts as derailing because sure, these attitudes are prevalent in today’s society, but if wundergeek took time to calmly and rationally explain everything to each person, she wouldn’t have time to keep this blog running with new ideas. The conversation would be stuck in spoon feeding mode, and that’s not the purpose of this blog.

        Honestly, if the people making those arguments were actually willing to learn, Wundergeek probably wouldn’t have been so staunchly against them.

        It doesn’t take that much effort to tell someone who thinks “it’s just fantasy” or “the female body is art” or “games are made for men because men are the ones who buy them” why those arguments aren’t good enough. But most of the people who make those arguments aren’t interested in understanding anything; they just want to gain some ego points by “winning.”

        People who see debates as a competition rather than a learning opportunity aren’t necessarily trolls, but they sure are frustrating to have around. =/

      • It is not Wondergeek’s place, nor is it any woman’s, to educate people in feminism basics when resources are readily available. That’s why when multiple people come in and sound like they’re reading off a script, it almost counts as derailing because sure, these attitudes are prevalent in today’s society, but if wundergeek took time to calmly and rationally explain everything to each person, she wouldn’t have time to keep this blog running with new ideas. The conversation would be stuck in spoon feeding mode, and that’s not the purpose of this blog.

        This. OH MY GOD THIS. See, you’ll notice that when someone comes in and says “it’s just a game” or “it’s just fantasy” or “games are for men” or “sex sells”, I don’t delete their comments as long as they’re respectful. For fuck’s sake, there’s a difference between trolling and disagreement AND I ACKNOWLEDGE THAT. So stfu that OMG ANYONE WHO DISAGREES WITH WUNDERGEEK IS A TROLL WHAT A FUCKING HYPOCRITICAL BITCH. It’s not my job to educate people. This IS NOT a Feminism 101 blog and if they can’t be bothered to educate themselves on the absolute basics of feminism before they come here, then fuck yes I’m going be dismissive, because:

        Honestly, if the people making those arguments were actually willing to learn, Wundergeek probably wouldn’t have been so staunchly against them.

        It doesn’t take that much effort to tell someone who thinks “it’s just fantasy” or “the female body is art” or “games are made for men because men are the ones who buy them” why those arguments aren’t good enough. But most of the people who make those arguments aren’t interested in understanding anything; they just want to gain some ego points by “winning.”

        THIS.

        The whole point of this post, all 1700 words of it, is that I started out giving people the benefit of the doubt and trying to educate people. And I wound up wasting everyone’s time by having the SAME DAMN CONVERSATIONS over and over AND OVER AGAIN. And you know what? I’m done with that. If people want to have a dialogue, they at least have to be willing to meet me halfway or they’re not worth my fucking time.

        • “So stfu that OMG ANYONE WHO DISAGREES WITH WUNDERGEEK IS A TROLL WHAT A FUCKING HYPOCRITICAL BITCH.”

          Please don’t shout at me. I never called you a “hypocritical bitch”.

          “This IS NOT a Feminism 101 blog and if they can’t be bothered to educate themselves on the absolute basics of feminism before they come here, then fuck yes I’m going be dismissive”

          I never considered this a feminism blog, I considered it a gamer’s blog. The only reason why I have taken your caps lock and swearing with a pinch of salt is because I want to sell games to girls. I’m listening to what you want to see in video games, I’d just rather not get shouted at in the process.

          • You’re right. I’m sorry. That was uncalled for. I had a really awful day yesterday and then I came home and checked comments.
            Lesson, kids. Internet rage happens to everyone.:/

            • That’s ok, everyone has bad days. I’m sorry I wasn’t paying proper attention to the post or previous comments. I’ll be more mindful in future =)

        • The only things that get me going are the tone argument and the bingos that occur during any conversation concerning the -isms. It’s like walking into a bank and objecting to their practices that you only scarcely know about, then crying about your feelings when someone loses their patience because you’re the thirtieth person to parrot the same thing in the past thirty minutes. These people do not take into the account other people’s feelings. Sure, they may not be cussing or yelling or stamping their foot to be heard, but their words, and to some extent their ignorance, HURTS. Then that leads into the intent argument and Jesus we would be here for the next million years just circle jerking andnot getting anything done.

          Needless to say, I am 100% behind you moderating comments, especially if it means we can go back to the actual discussion at hand.😀

          • “then crying about your feelings when someone loses their patience because you’re the thirtieth person to parrot the same thing in the past thirty minutes.”

            If I lost my patience at work every time I had to explain the same thing to different customers over and over, I’d be fired by now.

            • Bank analogy failed, but let’s use this: You step on someone’s toes. Whether or not you meant to, whether or not you knew someone else has already stepped on the exact same toes before, that does not take away from the fact that you caused someone pain. This is rolling the intent and tone arguments into one. You may not have intended to hurt the other person, but they are not responsible for making YOU feel better about stepping on their toes. Consequently, they are entirely within their rights to take whatever tone they please with you, especially since the same toes have been stepped on multiple times before and for the exact same reasons.

              • Yes, yes, I’ve read that one too. If we’re going to speak metaphorically, consider what type of footwear the perpetrator was wearing. Steal caps or slippers? Anyway, IRL, I don’t know of anyone that would go ballistic over a simple accident =P Unless they’re a jerk…

              • Actually, if the person whose toes were stepped on previously isn’t able to realize that a new person who steps on his or her toes by accident doesn’t deserve to be shouted at, then there’s a problem. The most you can do is make the person aware of what they’ve done, and see if they apologize. If they don’t apologize or they respond like a dick, then you can be mad. There’s no reason not to be civil, at least initially, in the case of an accident.

                Basically I don’t think your analogy holds up.

              • The “steps on toes” thing suggests you can treat someone who steps on your toes any way you want cos it hurt. If they were wearing slippers, it wouldn’t hurt so much, so a polite “would you get off my foot please” should do the trick. If they were wearing steal caps it would hurt a lot, therefore, shout at this person for stepping on you.
                It’s a stupid analogy I know, but so is the “steps on toes” thing anyway, considering the analogy itself is an incredibly loose one. Can we stop talking about this now? =P

              • Actually, it does. Because we are coming into Wundergeek’s place, where she is voicing HER opinion, which is a result of something that is inherent in the “system”, as it were, and people are arguing WITH HER, saying things to counter her points, then respond to her frustration with “but WHY are you mad? *I* didn’t do this to you!”. The analogy doesn’t fail because she, and every single other woman gamer out there, has a freaking RIGHT to be mad, and we have a right to voice our frustrations with an industry that not only choses to ignore us, but takes our entire gender and makes into something solely for entertainment. Policing the tone of a blog, saying that someone is in the wrong for responding angrily to comments that continue to be the EXACT. SAME. ARGUMENT. Time after time after time is problematic because it’s akin to sweeping it under the rug.

                Sorry, but it doesn’t fly.

            • And seriously, this is why the tone argument is considered derailing. If you don’t like Wundergeek’s tone, go read a blog that caters to you. You’ll be happier, and we can get back to discussing, y’know, feminism. Not whining about the poor dissenting opinion’s feelings.

              • I would disagree that this is derailing, since we’re all discussing “trolling” and this easily falls under that category, but if wundergeek says it’s derailing then I’ll stop as per her pre-stated guidelines in a previous post.

                “The analogy doesn’t fail because she, and every single other woman gamer out there, has a freaking RIGHT to be mad, and we have a right to voice our frustrations with an industry that not only choses to ignore us, but takes our entire gender and makes into something solely for entertainment.”

                You most certainly have a right to be mad, but be mad at the right people. Be mad at the companies that are making things worse, be mad at hateful commenters, but don’t be mad at a commenter who may just be civilly voicing a different opinion, even if it’s wrong in your eyes.

                Well, ok, I guess one can be mad at that person; I can’t tell people how to feel. But I think that one shouldn’t, by default, react with hostility toward someone not projecting hostility, even if it’s something brought up time and again by different people.

              • I’m here because I want to make games for girls. I’m here despite receiving verbal abuse for an innocent mistake and despite being slotted under internet terms under femiwiki or whatever. (That is irritating by the way but at least I’m keeping my cool about it =P)
                wundergeek doesn’t want to be dismissed as a “crazy feminazi” just I don’t want to be dismissed as a troll or concern troll or whatever.

          • I’ll be the first person to admit patience isn’t my strong suit, especially when it comes to people coming in and proclaiming things like “games are for men” like they’re the first person ever to proclaim this and then getting angry when I refuse to have that conversation for the eleventy billionth time ever.

      • “Voicing an opinion without having an open mind to consider the alternative and then arguing your point to the death is entirely different.”

        Yes this is true. I have little patience for people who insist their opinion is the “right” one. I do enjoy a healthy debate though as long as the other person isn’t bullying me into changing my mind to what they think.

        “calmly and rationally” was never wundergeek’s forte in this blog. Perhaps she would attract more positive attention if she rethought her strategy. But do I understand her frustration at the end of it all.

        • I’m starting to find the tone argument annoying:/ (so THIS is why people just link to Derailing for Dummies, Feminism 101 or Geek Feminism Wiki…) Yes, a dispassioned ‘rational’ argument seems more professional and easier to swallow, but I don’t think it would attract any less rage. I’ve seen perfectly reasonable dispassioned arguments get flooded by rage-filled comments (sorry, can’t provide examples at the moment, I don’t bookmark everything I read). In fact, I haven’t seen nearly as much rage in wundergeek’s comments sections (even before her new comments policy), perhaps because wundergeek looks like she can give as good as she gets.

          As I’ve said before, her tone is what I like most about the blog. It doesn’t have that “‘let’s sit back with a cup of tea and discuss the theoretical construct of feminism’ ‘quite!'” feel to it. It feels real and meaningful. At least to me, you’re welcome to disagree.

          However, again, if you want the laid back cup-of-tea approach there are plenty other blogs out there (yes, this was said before, but so was the tone argument so we may as well continue circling). I’d personally recomend The Border House because you can ‘sample’ many different bloggers in it to see which style you prefer and there’s no rage in the comments section.

          Sorry if I came off a little snappy, I just hope we can give this argument a rest and move on. Of course, you’re always welcome to disagree and I’ll get off your back about it🙂

          • For the most part it’s not the worst. I just don’t appreciate being told to “stfu”, for whatever reason.

            • Oh, I agree! But we do have to be mindful of what we say in order to not get such a negative response🙂

              “So stfu that OMG ANYONE WHO DISAGREES WITH WUNDERGEEK IS A TROLL WHAT A FUCKING HYPOCRITICAL BITCH.”

              It wasn’t right for her to tell you to stfu, but this was following up on your comment saying:

              “Please understand the difference between a troll and someone who disagrees with you. A troll is someone who is deliberately being a jackass to get a response from you or others. Abuse and death threats are never called for, and these are the people you should be moderating.
              However, I have seen a lot of commenters on your blog, that have challenged your opinion, whom you have simply brushed off as trolls, when they are really just voicing their own opinion.”

              That’s a completely unfounded criticism that wundergeek gets very often and is obviously sick to death with. She does know the difference between disagreement and trolling, exampled by (citing myself):

              “Also, there’s a difference between disagreement exampled by: “I don’t like your x and y arguments because…”
              And trolling (or raging) exampled by: “STFU you crazy feminazi bitch!””

              One is not like the other. It may be that wundergeek dismissed people who were merely disagreeing (I can’t recall any such instance, but it’s a possibility), but that’s more than likely because they mixed their disagreement with personal insults, and that I’m afraid is grounds for dismissal in my opinion.

              • “Also, there’s a difference between disagreement exampled by: “I don’t like your x and y arguments because…”
                And trolling (or raging) exampled by: “STFU you crazy feminazi bitch!””

                I’ll admit I may have missed or skimmed that part before making my statement, and that was a mistake on my part. She never gave me a chance to apologize, she just jumped down my throat about it =P I was being mindful about what I was saying. I tried to be as polite as I could be over text. And yet: “stfu”.

              • Well, I guess we can only control our own behaviour🙂 Being dismissed, shouted at and/or told to stfu is never pleasant… I’m sorry that happened to you.

                I wouldn’t bring up “you can’t tell the difference between trolling and disagreement” unless you have an actual example in hand you want to discuss. It understandably trips the rage switch and I side with wundergeek on that one. It’s upsetting to be accused of not accepting dissenting opinions and being a hypocrite, especially since she has always made an effort to allow dialogue and opposing views to happen (with her very relaxed comment moderating until recently (which, I might add, is a great change. I for one feel bolder for it), and having banned only one commenter who was undeniably trolling) and has accepted criticism and changed where necessary (e.g. on using the term ‘slut’ when criticising female character design). I feel it also comes off as a cheap shot.

  10. A couple years ago, when I was a teenager, I made a dumb comment that “I hate feminism” on a friend’s LJ, which at the time I was critical of because I was going through a phase where I was extremely rankled by righteous indignation of any sort. I’m much more socially conscious now, (though I still don’t identify as a feminist because I’m really uncomfortable with the dogmatism and transphobia that still gets associated with feminism… I’m a transgendered mtf.)

    Anyway, another follower of this friend’s LJ proceeded to rip into me, mocking me for my somewhat privileged naivete and derisively pointing out a spelling error I’d made. She closed her comment by calling me a misogynist (a word that really stings if you’re mtf) and telling me to “die in a fire.”

    I was really young and really stupid at the time, but that comment really stung me, because eventually I did realize that factually and logically she was right about everything she said to me, but even though she was in the right she still decided to be kind of horrible at the end and tell me I should promptly die in a painful fashion. And she was immediately backed up by a couple friends (turns out she was a relatively popular blogger or something) who also said some really mean things, and since nobody was backing me up I just felt like a really awful person. And all I’d said was that I hated feminism. A friend’s LJ wasn’t the place to say it, in hindsight, but I wasn’t trying to be a jerk.

    Reading this post just reminded me of that, and while I’m sure I’m not saying anything groundbreaking here I wanted to mention that the trolls that show up here and at other feminist blogs are ideologically horrible, but on the surface, at least, there’s not much difference between a troll telling a feminist to kill herself and a feminist telling a misguided 16-year-old to die in a fire. If you’re ideologically and morally in the right, there’s really no need to throw in cruelty.

    I guess what I’m saying is that what I learned from all this is to never dehumanize somebody who disagrees with me, even if they’re wrong beyond belief, and I think that lesson made me a better person, and I think that it really is important to look at the trolls and learn from them how NOT to behave, even if you might think it’s obvious.

    Okay, idiotic ramble over.

    • Haha, I really liked your ‘idiotic ramble’😛 I agree with you, there are people behind the comments who may not actually be malicious and that is something that I always try to keep in mind when I address someone. Sometimes it’s hard when they’re being complete assholes, but there’s always the chance they are merely misunderstanding something. On the internet its hard to tell who is being a jerk and who is merely saying jerk-like things.

      Throwing around comments like ‘I hate feminism’ is a sure-fire way to upset people, although I sympathise with your experience. I’m not surprised people reacted negatively (keep in mind that activitsts such as feminists are used to heated arguments, so they tend to jump on the offensive quicker — I’m not criticising them for it, it’s just something I’ve observed). I wish there was a lock on comments that forced you to lurk ‘x’ amount of time before commenting to avoid these sorts of situations. Unfortunately all I can say is if you’re brave enough to make upsetting statements, you’re brave enough to deal with the consequences😦 I’d rather people not have bad experiences, but sometimes (not always) it’s the quickest way to learn. I know I’ve learned a great deal making mistakes and getting called out for them🙂

      Finally, I don’t care what you said, telling you to go “die in a fire” is never ok. Death threats or any threats of any kind should never appear in a discussion. And I totally agree with you that the worst thing anyone can do (especially if they are in the right) is dehumanise someone over a comment they made on the internet. That surely does more bad than (if any) good.

      Also, if you want to call yourself a feminist you’re perfectly in your right to do so, and personally I think feminism would certainly benefit from more trans perspectives😀

      • Agreed. In an environment where death threats can be an occupational hazard of feminist blogging, using that kind of language is never okay.

        (Also, I do try to be trans-friendly here. I recognize I don’t always succeed, but I’m still learning.)

    • I did something like that to someone once. I never actually wished harm on other posters, but, when I used to frequently post on an LGBT news site that attracted a lot of heated debates, I had a tendency towards viciousness in dealing with people who I deemed to be hateful.

      This one time, some guy was deriding camp, effeminate men, just saying how much they irritated him. This is something of a berserk button for me, because there’s a lot of effeminophobia directed at camp gay men even from other gay men, and it gets pretty sickening seeing these kind, friendly souls used as humanity’s doormats.

      So, I layed into him in my usual fashion. I was particularly nasty here, telling him what a scumbag he was. And then then I got the most horrifying reply I’ve ever gotten in an argument. Basically, he said I was right, he’s a scumbag, he doesn’t even know why he says these things, he’s just so tired of the flak camp guys attract onto the gay community (a common form of internalised homophobia), he’s tired of speaking his mind and getting verbally assaulted for it and he’s through with the site now. I never even got to apologise to him – the thread was locked due to it being a massive flamewar. Never saw him again, either.

      I do think he was a jackass for saying the things he did. But here was a jackass who was just confused and still sorting his head out. Someone who needed to be admonished for what he’d said, but who could also have been allowed to grow and learn the error of his ways. I hope he did, eventually. But I sure as hell didn’t help.

      I’m still a pretty fiery interlocutor. I’ll always be a passionate and opinionated sort of person, but that doesn’t mean I have to be an asshole. Nowadays, I try to be more mellow. If someone needs taking to task, I’ll still do it, but without the personal attacks. I’ll bash the comments, but not the person. And if I ever do come across someone who blatantly really is a scumbag, I respond with humour rather than anger. Teasing and satirising trolls makes for an infinitely more pleasant discussion than just shouting at them.

    • This is an ongoing issue with social justice on the Internet. Plenty of people are happy to be extremely abusive when someone screws up. It becomes a cool thing to dog-pile and vent. On the one hand, a woman responding to misogyny has a right to be angry, doesn’t have to explain feminism, doesn’t have to accept any apologies, etc. On the other, your name is now mud. No amount of educating yourself will ever matter, no remorse, no mercy.

      The degree of the offense doesn’t even matter. If you don’t come from the womb as a paragon of whatever issue (sex, race, class), you should suffer and die. If you say that they are being abusive, you are derailing. If they use ablist terms to insult you for not knowing better and you call them on that, you are derailing. If you ask what you did wrong, you will again be told to suffer and die.

      Like wundergeek pointed out, plenty of very vocal people are still holding grudges against her for not being “the right kind of feminist.” Her introspection and change of behavior mean nothing. She wasn’t perfect, and she is therefore worthless.

  11. One stock reply you didn’t mention but that I got a lot when discussing some of your early blog posts was “Of course it’s all sexist, men are the ones who pay for these games so developers are just chasing the money. There’s no point in talking about it, until women start buying games this won’t change.” And it’s like HELLOOOOO, I’M A GAMER, I HAVE MONEY, I WANT THEM TO MAKE GAMES I WANT TO BUY AND THAT’S WHY I’M MAKING NOISE.

    Anyway keep up the good work. Love the blog, it was really a breath of fresh air for me when I discovered it.

    • Oh, oh, oh! I totally know what you mean! I’ve read a lot of stuff on this sort of phenomenon. For instance, the circular reasoning for why voting with your wallet doesn’t work with films (and games and other media, I suppose).

      A) If you elect not to watch mainstream, woman-ignoring films, the film execs won’t bother listening to you because now you’re not part of their “target audience”!
      B) If you do decide to watch these films, they won’t ever bother catering to you because now they realise that you’ll watch their films regardless!

      I guess the only real way to make progress is to actually complain, lobby and campaign, even if it makes people think we’re just “whiners”.

      Also, I can’t remember which TV show this was, but apparently, despite its good audience figures, the execs got worried because it was starting to become popular with women. Seriously. Apparently, that worries the advertisers, so the execs focus on pleasing only their male audience, unless they’re making a show that *specifically* targets women.

      • You make a lot of valid points. The “customer is always right” thing got sort of lost somewhere in the last decade or so. The problem is trying to get the right people behind the scenes in films and games and such. That’s what we really need.

      • “Also, I can’t remember which TV show this was, but apparently, despite its good audience figures, the execs got worried because it was starting to become popular with women. Seriously. Apparently, that worries the advertisers, so the execs focus on pleasing only their male audience, unless they’re making a show that *specifically* targets women.”

        I’ve heard that was the reasoning behind Firefly’s cancellation. FOX wanted a hit show from Whedon, but didn’t want another Buffy with its heavily female fanbase. So when Firefly proved to have a relatively equal share of male and female audiences, instead of the heavily male audience they wanted for their sci-fi western shoot-em up, it got canceled.

        • Really? I heard different. It was shown the same time as some other huge prime time show and the episodes were played out of order so no one could properly follow it.

          • I should’ve said one of the reasons, not *the* reasoning. There have been multiple reasons stated as to why Firefly didn’t make it past its first season, some are pretty self-evident and some seem more like rumors than facts.

  12. Has it been a year already? Wow.

    I know when you started, I often thought you were rather harsh about the sexualization of women in games (and actually perceived it as slut-shaming to some degree). And while I still don’t think that sexualized fantasy armor is necessarily a bad thing, you’ve definitely made me see that the disparity of depiction is a lot bigger than I’d realized. Especially in things such as Dungeons and Dragons game guides, which I’d thought were rather cool for their inclusion of women in the illustrations. The fact that nearly all of them show impractical cleavage while the men don’t just sort of blended into the background.

    Anyway, I good luck with the trolls, and here’s to another year!

  13. I think it was an interesting experiment, and you shouldn’t blame yourself for trying.

    Thanks for doing this entire project – I’m a person who would not have otherwise been reached by this kind of commentary and appreciate that there is a feminist out there who thinks that the gaming community is worth saving.

    And, finally, don’t feel like moderating comments to prevent trolling shuts people out – like someone said earlier, trolls aren’t looking to engage and have their opinions changed, there’s a reason why we call them “trolls” and not “dialogue-impaired people”. The label “person” is thoughtfully withheld in this case. You do reach lots of people who wouldn’t normally think through these issues this way, and the ones that straight up see your point and agree with you don’t feel the need to comment because they AGREE.

    Thanks wundergeek! Here’s to many more productive years/months (I don’t know how long you actually want to keep this going) of thoughtful, important commentary and helping to make gaming something everyone can enjoy without feeling weird.

  14. Reddit has an image section called “Jailbait” where they post pictures of children they want to fuck.

    Yeah.

    Don’t go to Reddit

    • What an absurd argument. Reddit is a huge online community where people talk about just about everything in existence. Making new subreddits is easy and thousands exist. Saying you shouldn’t go there because of one section is like saying “Some people in country X are violent murderers. Yeah. Don’t go to X.”

      Also, the jailbait subreddit was deleted. Rightfully, I would say.

  15. […] – they weren’t attacking me. They were attacking the radical notion that women are people.Looking back at a year of GMMaS: Trolls (Part 2) « Go Make Me a Sandwich. EFF out on deck in a flight suit… Add a CommentAdd a CommentCancel reply. […]

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