Monday, March 15, 2010

A weasel in dog's clothing:online communities, trolls and sockpuppets

It looks like I will be helping a small firm with their online social media presence a bit. I have been blogging since around 2004/2005 (and involved in all kinds of usenet/listserv communities since long before that.)

I like this presentation on the "power of artifacts." Kim mentions that online conversation always produces an artifact.(i.e. a "thing" - a blog post, a discussion thread) and he discusses how powerful this can be.

I don't like the fact that the presentation dies before the end and asks you to fill out a form to see the rest.  Annoying. Like a slap in the face with a wet sock. And speaking of socks...

Kim also does not discuss what I consider to be THE big issue with building online community - Trust. On the internet no one knows you're a dog.  You could be a trolling sockpuppet - a weasel in dog's clothing.
Building a community when participants are anonymous is difficult because one bad weasel can upset the applecart.   EG: Kathy Sierra death threats --very violent/sexual  and graphically illustrated threats  were made to a prominent professional blogger.  I remember the blogosphere discussion. Some bloggers fervently dissed Sierra's fearful reaction, and supported the "right to free speech" of the anonymous poster.

The troll or sockpuppet can hit and run or  quietly insinuate -- engage in guerrilla warfare.  The anonymous troll wields asymmetric destructive power. He knows a lot about you. You don't know anything about him.

Online communities are groovy but  also risky.

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