Thursday, 14 August 2014

Back from the Grave 3

At the end of 2012 I was still allowing unrestricted commenting on my blog. This meant that all and sundry could pitch in, including those who wanted to conceal their identity. Some unnamed people did have interesting and supportive things to say. Others seemed to be playing a rather nasty game. This post was published to vent my displeasure at Anonymous.

It was called The rules of the game, and was dated 17 December 2012.

Recently I've noticed some comments, on this blog and others, from persons called 'Anonymous'. One anonymous comment actually came from a friend who didn't blog - that was perfectly all right. But who are the rest? I have no idea whether it's one person commenting, or a dozen persons working in a team. How can you tell? They don't say who they are. Even when you ask. It wouldn't matter, except that often these comments from 'Anonymous' have an edge to them, and may be downright provocative - making you wonder why they have been made.

It's never explained how they are qualified to express an opinion that you should take seriously. I'd be quite happy to engage with someone who identified themselves and said, 'I'm Dr So-and-so, with eighteen years experience working with trans people who have made failed suicide attempts, and my own case notes, research and experience suggest that...' because that's a real person who has evidence. I can look at his evidence, especially if he has published it for me to read in full, and tells me how to access it. I don't promise to agree with his conclusions, because I might interpret the evidence differently. But I won't dismiss him as an uninformed, troublemaking idiot either.

Is 'idiot' the right word to use? Well, if you do take these unnamed people at face value, and answer their points intelligently, they seem to ignore what you said. They just come back to you, spouting another set of standard comments, as if working from a script. I conclude that two-way communication is not the name of the game here. They are not going to accept a word I say, and in fact it wouldn't matter what I said. I must be dealing with a troll.

It's so easy to be a troll. Here are the rules I think they play by, when the target is the trans community:

1. Find any trans blog, and make a comment that will upset the author and most of the other commentators. You want to stir them up and watch the fun. Any comment will do, so long as it will needle and irritate.

2. If possible, pretend to be sincere. Then they may try to reason with you. And that gives you plenty of ways to prolong the game.

3. There are lots of ready-made clich├ęs to hand that will push a tranny into an anguished response. Hackneyed phrases like 'men in dresses', for instance. Pronoun misuse will always inflame the trannies. Keep the pot boiling by constantly using these trigger phrases and trigger words.

4. Play hard and long. See how wound-up they get. If they lose interest, reignite the argument.

5. You win when someone loses their cool big-time.

6. Keep a score on a spreadsheet - how many comments it took till a tranny started to cry. Share it with friends. Copy and save their distressed and angry comments, to laugh at later.

7. Remember: they're not proper human beings, just deluded saddos, so it doesn't matter one little bit who gets upset or why.

8. The Big Rule: never, never, never say who you really are. They can't get at you then.

So, in future, I want no more 'anonymous' comments, please. I simply can't tell who is genuine and who is a troll. Genuine people can email me, and enjoy free speech that way. Trolls will be deleted. That's my rules.

Posted by Lucy Melford at 18:05

There were actually more than seven comments, but I felt compelled to delete one or two:

1. Shirley Anne 17 December 2012 20:05

The answer is really simple Lucy. All you need to do is vet such comments before you allow them to be published. I don't know how it works with Blogger although I should do because I have a blogger account too but with Wordpress I can set first-time comments to be vetted before they reach the page. Established comment makers are automatically allowed through but even so I still have the power to delete nasty or provocative comments. I don't like to place a wall making it awkward for anyone to post by making them prove they are not a machine either, the excellent spam filter does that for me. Of the two platforms I use I have to say Wordpress is the better.

Shirley Anne x

2. Carolyn Ann Grant 17 December 2012 20:10

I'm not a fan of vetting comments, but I do use Blogger's "no anonymous comments" setting. It's easier than trying to argue with idiots. (Yes, "idiot" is the right term for such trolls.) There are more than a few folk who will criticize without admitting they're behind the criticism. I've come to the conclusion that they want to be perceived as reasonable and nice, while allowing themselves the room to be stupid and inane. It is, as you note, easy to be nasty when no one knows who you are! So, I stop them from hiding and hope they feel very frustrated. :-)

3. Lucy Melford 17 December 2012 21:18

Thanks both. For now I'll keep it so that anyone can comment - except of course whomever Blogger automatically filters out for me as a probable spammer. That way I can deal with anonymous comments on a case-by-case basis. Some of them may have a good point to make, which I would certainly allow to be seen. But I won't tolerate my blog becoming an easy platform for making spiteful or prejudicial comments.

But of course I've always been able to delete any comment I think is irrelevant or perverse. I haven't done it much: I think I've made deletions only three times in nearly four years. The persons concerned were either begging for money or advertising a tacky service I didn't think appropriate.

Trans Media Watch might get some referrals if I think any unnamed person making the wrong kind of comment could have a media-industry connection.


4. Sophie 18 December 2012 14:00

I've always vetted comments, and usually go for private replies anyway. Don't get guys like the anonymous 'translator' here, maybe because they think their comments won't make it through, or, in my case, because of the replies that they're liable to get.

5. Lucy Melford 18 December 2012 18:07

Just deleted a long comment parodying my post from Anonymous - it wasn't pleasant reading so it got the bullet.


6. Lucy Melford 18 December 2012 22:25

[To Anonymous, threatening to repeat their nasty message somewhere else on the net] That's fine, if it's elsewhere. MKIA [i.e. Miz-Know-It-All, a blogger last heard of in March 2013] can deal with your post as she sees fit. If she allows it, and gives you a platform, then so be it.


7. Martin 19 December 2012 01:47

My worst 'troll' was an actual bona fide Scottish Anglican Priest. Who I met, close to four years ago, in Africa. He relentlessly left taunting messages on my then bcuk blog, which I couldn't block, as he was then a member of that site. Have you heard the phrase 'indifference is the best revenge'? Bullies tend to thrive on admissions of hurt or annoyance from those they choose to torment. 'Just delete and ignore' is the obvious advice. But which I know isn't easy if they are waging a sustained war of words against you.

Post-mortem in 2014
I soon had to restrict comments to those with blogs of their own, blocking out Anonymous. This didn't stop people registering with Blogger (or another recognised platform) simply as a way to get past the 'no anonymous comments' restriction. But even this is not a big problem nowadays. Perhaps they know that I am very quick to delete, and have no qualms about being ruthless.


  1. I can't handle these drawn out posts about gender I'm afraid Lucy. I appreciate the work that has gone into your posts and commend you on that but I can't or don't wish to reflect on the subject of transition and women's tribulations in life. I transitioned, end of. I may or may not agree with everything said as you might guess but I simply don't want to get involved. Just thinking out loud, love

    Shirley Anne x

  2. Well, you don't have to read the posts that have no appeal. Ignore them, and just glance at the ones that mean something to you.

    This republishing exercise matters to me. In a general way it might matter to anyone who publishes stuff. Should one ever retract a post? If yes, what are the principles involved? I think it's important to think about it.


  3. It just seems pointless to me, especially digging out seven in a row. What are you trying to achieve and does it really matter? Well of course you will say yes but I see the exercise as futile myself. Retracting a post is like trying to erase the past but what is done, what was said were part of how we felt then. All that may have changed, I know my outlook on life has changed over the years. Unless our outlook changes by looking into the past we remain as we were.

    Shirley Anne x

  4. It's not pointless. I did want to correct what I saw as needless self-censorship, and make all my posts available. Also, these posts serve as fine examples of how not to blog, for anyone thinking of trying their hand at blogging and wanting to avoid the pitfalls. In other words, they have some educational value.

    Their content is out of date, of course, but then anything more than a few months old will also be out of date. I find that one's outlook and attitudes never stay fixed. Fresh experience alters one's point of view. I'd expect a normal reader to assume that, having republished these posts with my own critical comments, I had learned from my mistakes and now thought differently.

    I do believe it's worth mulling over past events and past errors, in order to get things right in the future, and not repeat mistakes.


  5. We will all continue to make mistakes Lucy even if we go over what we have written in the past. This is why I think the exercise is futile. Probably most of these posts have been forgotten by those who read them initially so what does it matter that we attempt to alter things? Yes I agree we MAY learn how not to do things but at the same time we have to write what is on our hearts and be faithful to that. Most usually we will be corrected after writing something that others disagree with but so be it, we can't all think the same way. Having re-posted these nine articles what have you gained from them? If it was for your benefit only there was no need to post them again. You say it was for the education of others, ok but do you seriously think anyone will take any notice? Time will answer that question but I think you already know the answer.

    Shirley Anne x

  6. You speak with a loftiness you may not be aware of. Bottom line: it's my blog, not yours, and my point of view and my decisions are not your concern unless they affect your life, and I am sure they do not. Same to anyone else who wants to be judge and jury. Reflect: do I ever tell you not to do something?

    Now do let me have the last word on my own post.



This blog is public, and I expect comments from many sources and points of view. They will be welcome if sincere, well-expressed and add something worthwhile to the post. If not, they face removal.

Ideally I want to hear from bloggers, who, like myself, are knowable as real people and can be contacted. Anyone whose identity is questionable or impossible to verify may have their comments removed. Commercially-inspired comments will certainly be deleted - I do not allow free advertising.

Whoever you are, if you wish to make a private comment, rather than a public one, then do consider emailing me - see my Blogger Profile for the address.

Lucy Melford