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Trolls Suck. Anonymity's Fate & the Rise of Accountability

2010 SXSWi Core Conversation with J.R. Johnson and Thomas Knoll

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Can't we all just get along?

  • Mar 16, 2010

The panel between J.R. Johnson from and Thomas Knoll, Community Manager was a discussion about "Trolls" contributing both anonymously and publicly, and how to deal with them as a members of the same global online community.

  • What is a troll?

Someone who participates in an online community and disrupts (sometimes unintentionally) the conversation.

  • What negative effects do trolls have on a community?

Tolerance for others (within the community) drastically declines when troll comments disrupts the nature of a conversation. When the environment shifts from postive to negative people get turned off and participation is directly affected. The result is a decline in community participation. 

  • Is it possible for trolls to have a positive effects on a community?

The concensus: About 30% of the room have learned something from a troll online.

  • As a community manager, how do you moderate disruptive comments (ethnic slurs, threats, etc.) without alienating the trolls completely?
Pay attention! When you pay attention to people who have the tendency to disrupt the community, giving them positive reinforcement when they are "behaving" might lead to a decrease in negative interactions. 

Implement technologies that hide comments generated by trolls without them knowing (drupal, "anti-'N' word-technology")

Geo-tagging comments to remote a layer of anonymity to repel trolls might be a future solution.

  • Next steps (action items when interacting online)?

We have to teach this new culture of online participants about how to deal with trolls in order to encourage responsible online participation.

Best / Worst Quotes

"If somone bullies you, pay them no mind."

"To anger someone is to own them."

"Freedom of speech is not speaking out on anyone's blog in any way you want." --JR Lunch

"This is going to be a keynote conversation at SXSW in two years (this is a conversation that more people are going to want to hear about)."

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March 16, 2010
Interesting review. I'm learning more about trolls since joining Lunch. It's good to be aware of everything that goes into making an online community a successful and safe place for all types of people.
March 16, 2010
I caught all the action of this on twitter, but nothing beats a full on recap like this! Definitely an interesting and thought-provoking conversation. Thanks for sharing, Aunny! :)
More Accountability's Hot, Anonymit... reviews
Quick Tip by . March 16, 2010
posted in SXSW on Lunch
Loved the conversation that the panelists encouraged, but wish the room set-up had been better for hearing.
Quick Tip by . March 16, 2010
posted in SXSW on Lunch
Love the form with a conversation rather than panel
Quick Tip by . March 16, 2010
posted in SXSW on Lunch
A core Conversation that sets up nicely for town-hall-esque enviro. Best troll story/insight wins!
Quick Tip by . March 10, 2010
posted in SXSW on Lunch
sadly missed this, but for good cause, as I was on @cathybrooks show. sounds like the topic really resonated tho!
Quick Tip by . March 09, 2010
posted in SXSW on Lunch
This topic is very important to me and so core to everything we are doing at Lunch. looking forward to hearing what others have to say!!
About the reviewer
Aunny ()
Ranked #4
Hi, my name is Aunny D. I was born and raised in the city that Mixmaster Mike made famous in the song 'So Wat'cha Want.' I have an obsession with my Boston Terrier, Sancho. "Sancho" … more
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2010 SXSWi Core Conversation with J.R. Johnson (, Founder & CEO of (@JRJohnson), to be held at the 2010 South by Southwest Interactive conference in Austin, TX.

SXSWi Event Description:
There’s an ocean of untapped value in the 90% of people who don’t contribute content online, and merely consume. They’ll never participate with snarky trolls intimidating them and degenerating UGC quality. Quality skyrockets when there’s more accountability and less anonymity. Explore how online contribution will evolve to balance this dynamic.

Panelists include J.R. Johnson and Thomas Knoll ( & @ThomasKnoll)

Location: Hilton Ballroom J
Tuesday, March 16 at 12:30 PM
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