Troll Filter

By way of Gentle Reader Shane, we discover that the Internet boffins are attempting to invent a filter similar to a spam blocker, but aimed at Internet trolls.

Having been a staff member at a couple of on-line forums who prided themselves on their civility, I can say with some feeling: about bloody time. Sort of.

I am all for a troll filter — with two caveats.

1) It has to be voluntary. I have no problem with Joe Private downloading a troll filter for his bulletin board, or if A Mega Corp installs a troll filter on their homepage.

I do have a problem with folks insisting that the government start mandating this kind of thing (no doubt “for the good of the children”). Private, voluntary use — excellent! Government mandated use — sod off, do.

2) It has to be accurate. Any troll filter needs to be certain that it is, indeed, filtering out the cyber-chaff, and not the wheat. And Goddess only knows that every time you think you’ve made something stupid-proof, the Universe comes up with Stupid, MkII, Improved.

To this end, the people working on this thing are encouraging the public to help them in de-bugging the software — very, very cool idea.

If you want to help these guys put together a troll filter, go to their homepage at and click on “How you can help”.

And since I feel like five pounds of Alpo stuffed into a three-pound sack, I’m going to take my fever-ridden butt back to bed.



Okay, one more thing ...
In lieu of actually thinking ...

10 thoughts on “Troll Filter”

  1. Personally I’d like to see every bulletin board software project out there adopt something specifically tareted towards the notorious “GunKid.” It should be faily easy to build up a Bayesian profile on that guy.

    Then again, last I heard he was in the pen, so maybe we won’t be needing it for a few years.

  2. While a troll filter certainly sounds like a good idea, I think a good one (one that blocks all trolls without blocking any non-trollish messages) is going to be a lot more difficult than a spam filter with the same false positive and false negative rates. In fact, I would as far as saying that troll filtering is probably an AI-complete problem.

  3. Knowing how these kinds of things work, my prediction is that in forums that use this thing it will mean the end of irony and sarcasm because I doubt any automated anti troll countermeasures will ever be able to tell the difference between an irony or sarcasm and actual trolling.

    While we’re at it, lets invent a metal detector that only detects criminal guns.

  4. Not long ago I read something akin to what you said, Deputy. For the life of me I can’t remember where but it has the ring of a truth, like yours does:

    “You can make it foolproof, but you cannot make it damnfoolproof.”

  5. Sounds interesting, but as you said – on a voluntary basis. I tend to be a little concerned about filters. It’s not a stretch for some company like Google to plug all their websites (Blogger) into the filter – involuntarily.

    In a similar vein, someone – Dennis Prager, IIRC – recently advocated that websites publish the names and cities of all posters. (I disagree, for all sorts of obvious reasons. Imagine if all THR members had to post their names and cities. I could start planning my shopping list – excuse me, travel itinerary. Yikes!)

  6. Hope Y’all gets to feelin’ better, SOON!

    I know what it is like to feel kinda like five pounds of somewhat ‘used’ Alpo stuffed into a three-pound sack.

    How did the election for Sheriff come out in your locale?

    Randy in Arizona

  7. If spam filters can’t even filter out complete gibberish, how the heck is a troll filter going to work?

  8. Just to clarify, the troll filter is working to allow sarcasm and irony in while filtering out trolls. One of the ways it proposes to do that is by watching the writing style. From the article I saw:

    The stupid-filter team is trying to accommodate this behavior with a variety of rules of thumb. For instance, Ortiz, who studied linguistics as an undergrad, recently noticed a pattern in the way some writers use letter repetition. The clueless tend to repeat consonants: “This video is amazinggggg!!!” By comparison, says Ortiz, “when you repeat a vowel, you’re being sarcastic — ‘Yeaaaaaah.’ We’ll be using several different methods to try to mediate this.”

    As you can see, they are trying. Also, the filter will not just delete troll comments, but will instead tell the user to try rewriting, in case the writer just accidentally tripped something.

    It is not perfect, but even if it frustrates only the most asinine of the trolls, it will raise the intelligence of debate by some measure.

  9. The real danger I see with a serious attempt at a system like this is that the idiots will become indistinguishable from the “good” folk. Think shades of gunkid/gecko45.

  10. Sorry you’re feeling like the proverbial “blivet.” Take care of yourself. We don’t have near enough “lawdogs.”

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