Taxonomy of the haterboy

Human beings being what they are, famous people attract fans. Human beings being what they are, famous people also attract haters, the dark obverse of fans. If you are famous, normally your fans are going to be more visible to you than your haters because your fans will have more tendency to seek you out; but the Internet changes that by lowering the cost of hater behavior.

Here at Armed & Dangerous we’ve seen our share of fanboys (and, though with regrettably lower frequency, fangirls). We’ve also seen our share of haterboys (hatergirls are far more rare). I’ve now seen a large enough sample over the years that some interesting patterns have emerged. There follows, accordingly, a taxonomy of basic haterboy types.

If your first reaction to that lead-in is “Why not a taxonomy of fanboys first?”, congratulate yourself on having asked a good question. Because the first interesting thing about haterboys is that they hew much closer to a small set of identifiable stereotypes than fanboys do. Another way to put this is that I see more variation in the behavior of fanboys, more individuality. Fanboys may be annoying in their effusiveness sometimes and try to praise me in ways I don’t necessarily think I always deserve, but I seldom get from them the sense of monomoniacal and faintly robot-like narrowness that haterboys often exude.

While we’re on the subject of differences between fanboys and haterboys, one obvious one is that haterboys are far more likely to use handles that mask their actual identity. The reason may seem obvious; haterboy behavior is not generally considered a good thing, so the people who do it have social-status reasons for wanting it to be deniable. But I think that anonymization – that refusal to be known – reveals something else; a haterboy’s relationship to the subject of his fixation is less personal than a fanboy’s, less about who the subject of hate actually is and more a projection of the haterboy’s own interior dramas.

Another difference that goes with this: fanboys have a much easier breaking out of their normal behavioral pattern to criticize the subject of their veneration than haters do executing the reverse maneuver. Indeed, one of the diagnostic signs of haterboyness is an unvarying emotional tone and intensity. The haterboy’s hate is always on, like 60-cycle hum in a bad set of speakers.

Use of handles and this relentless flatness of affect are two aspects of haterboy behavior that make them easy to spot right off. Often, on this blog, they make themselves obvious on first comment.

Now let’s examine some of the common haterboy types…

First, the Peevish Adolescent. This is the most common and least interesting form of haterboy. There’s almost nothing there except a juvenile desire to fling feces. This is the type that is most likely to have indifferent-to-poor writing skills – crappy spelling, difficulty forming coherent sentences, run-on paragraphs – and most likely to use an anonymizing handle.

The Peevish Adolescent’s dominating emotions are all about primate posturing for status. One often gets the sense that any authority or high-status figure would do as a target for his feces-flinging and one has been chosen for the role almost at random. The Internet enables him to demonstrate belligerantly at a silverback male without fear of actual consequences; this thrills him and helps him feel marginally less inadequate.

The polar opposite of the Peevish Adolescent is the Embittered Old Fart. This type is much less common and much more interesting. Tends to be middling on the language-competency scale, and may have interesting things to say if you can mask out that 60-cycle hum.

The dominant emotions of the Embittered Old Fart are envy and resentment. The EOF fails to hide the fact that he thinks he could have been as famous and successful as you, or should have been; in order to live with his own comparative failure, he has to try to tear you down and trash your reputation. The amount of effort and intelligence an EOF may expend on this project is a very sad thing to see; one can’t help thinking he’d have much less resentment in him if he’d directed his energy more constructively in the past. Accordingly, where the Peevish Adolescent is mostly just ridiculous, the Embittered Old Fart is genuinely tragic.

Next we come to the Zealot. The Zealot thinks you are an articulate advocate of evil and must therefore be discredited at all costs. He doesn’t hate your success other than consequentially, and isn’t mainly concerned with posturing for status. No; his problem is that you have associated yourself with the wrong operating system, or the wrong political ideas, or the wrong religion, and that you commit the intolerable crime of persuading others to do likewise.

High-grade zealots are the most articulate variant of haterboy; indeed, they often run over with immaculately grammatical verbiage. Of all the haterboy types, they are most likely to try to pack a PhD thesis into a blog comment, complete with numerous hyperlinks. The thing about them, though, is that no matter what their particular idée fixe is, they all sound alike after awhile. The 60-cycle hum drowns out the idea content.

Zealots are also the least likely type to use an identity-concealing handle. Sadly, the appearance of honesty often deceives; their citations are apt to be thin and hyperpartisan, and their arguments to have gaps or even tactical falsehoods at crucial points. You are more likely to learn something useful from an Embittered Old Fart than from a Zealot.

Finally, the Iconoclast. The Iconoclast is, in his own mind, a fearless and principled speaker of truth to power. You are the idol with feet of clay, the pretender, the false god he must destroy. But note how he differs from the Peevish Adolescent; he is relatively unconcerned with his own status, and more like the Zealot in that he is mainly interested in protecting others from your baneful influence. The core of his complaint, though, is about social power and personal influence rather than ideas.

On this blog, the characteristic accusations of the Iconoclast are that (a) I’m a monster of ego, and (b) I claim a position of leadership in the hacker community that I don’t actually hold. I point these out because they’re issues that matter much less to the other haterboy types. The Peevish Adolescent and the Embittered Old Fart attack me exactly because they see me as a silverback alpha, and the Zealot is only upset by my social power insofar as it assists the infectiousness of my ideas.

As with the other types, what makes the Iconoclast a haterboy rather than a critic is the degree to which his emotional fixation drowns out and damages his critique. Where a refuted Zealot will generally shift to a different line of attack, Iconoclasts have a strong tendency to repeat old ones with metronomic regularity, seeming unable to retain the fact that nobody bought them the first time.

Of course, combinations of these types occur. What they all have in common is what I’ve been calling the “60-cycle-hum”, the tendency for anything substantive they have to say to be overwhelmed by their emotional fixation against the subject of their haterism. The result of this fixation is a kind of self-sabotage; haterboys fling random poo, or make transparently bogus and even dishonest arguments, then seem genuinely puzzled and indignant when their subject fails to be gravely wounded and others call them on these behaviors.

They don’t see, apparently cannot see, what sad clowns they are. As a commenter on this blog recently observed, most of the excrement they fling at their subject of vituperation lands on themselves. Consequently they stink, and they’re covered in shit, and they completely fail to notice that the sane people are laughing at them.

This points up the typical haterboy’s single most besetting flaw – a quasi-autistic inability to reflect on his own behavior and how it is read by others. One consequence of this is that he typically has a sense of humor that is stunted and tending towards the vicious (with an inability to laugh at himself). But, more basically, the haterboy radiates a sense of damage, of behavior that is negative and robotic and limited because he lacks the psychological resources to generate better options.

Again, the difference from fanboys is instructive. Only the most abject specimens of fanboy radiate that sense of damage. Most fanboys (well, at least, most of my fanboys, anyway) seem to be relatively healthy sorts for whom fanboyism is a sort of aspirational maneuver, an attempt to generate the psychological resources with which they can become more like the aspects of their subject of veneration that they admire. Learning by mimesis in that way is a reasonable goal, and I try to support it.

Haterboys, on the other hand, are dead-ended. Some, especially among the Peevish Adolescents, will grow out of this (I often think, on encountering one of this subtype, that his problems would be largely cured by more sex in his life). Others, sadly, will not. Anger, resentment, and envy are not helpful starting places from which to try to generate psychological resources and options; haterboys can change the focus of their ire but have much more difficulty breaking the pattern of fixation and self-sabotage.

Fanboys know they’re confirming their subject’s importance in the scheme of things when they act like fanboys, and they’re OK with that. Haterboys also confirm their subject’s importance every time they rant, but they don’t know this. Again, their inability to see how their behavior reads to others is their most serious blind spot. The result, if one is the subject, is that they’re funny — in a broken, desperate way that one feels a bit low and unclean about laughing at.

I don’t know how to fix these people. My usual policy towards them is this:

Peevish Adolescents I mostly ignore, unless they provide me with a springboard for something I wanted to say anyway. They drift in and out of my view frequently, and are fairly likely to just go away when ignored.

Embittered Old Farts sometimes know things I don’t. To them I lay down the law: be interesting or be banned. I am more likely to invest time in trying to housebreak one of these than any of the other types; sometimes they’re trainable, sometimes they’re not.

Zealots seldom surprise me – the density of meaningful information in their thickets of verbiage is low (as in, far lower than they themselves realize). I generally leave the task of keeping them in check to the more levelheaded of the regular commenters on this blog, and that works sufficiently well that I seldom have to censure one directly.

I treat Iconoclasts basically the way I treat Embittered Old Farts, except that I place a lower expected value on their output and am therefore less willing to spend effort trying to housebreak them.

Finally: Yes, I have multiple examples in mind for all these types, but no I am not going to name them nor respond to speculations about who I might have in mind. If you find that any of these descriptions makes you angry, that probably means you’re it. If you feel like an intended target of mockery, you probably are. Cope with it by changing your behavior.

158 thoughts on “Taxonomy of the haterboy

  1. I rather like the 60-cycle hum. Anyone who’s been on the Internet for a while has seen an awful lot of hate, and there are now entire online ideological groups more or less defined by it (but they hate in the name of compassion, of course). The general term the rest of us use has settled into something like ‘[unpleasant gerund] moonbat’, but I haven’t seen anything meme-worthy to describe the hate itself.

    That quality of hate that radiates off of someone that they just can’t seem to turn off, so even if you don’t have prior experience with them you can still identify them (as a howler or screecher)…. the 60-cycle hum is perfect.

  2. “emotional fixation against the subject of their haterism.” Shouldn’t it be “hatred”?

  3. The massively awesome thing about this is that from (say) Steve Jobs’ pov, Eric would fall into the Zealot category.

  4. Hell, I started checking myself to see if I have ever engaged in any of the described behavior anywhere online. My strongest tendency has been toward Zealot or Iconoclast, though less personified toward any given individual. So, not a haterboy toward anyone, just a weaker commenter.

  5. @Bryant:
    > The massively awesome thing about this is that from (say) Steve Jobs’ pov, Eric would fall into the Zealot category.

    Hrm… no, I don’t see it. Eric might fall into the appropriate symmetrical category of fanboyism at times, but he’s not a haterboy for two critical reasons.

    First, Eric doesn’t go and post his anti-iPhone message on Steve Job’s blog, or any other Apple or iPhone oriented blogs. Instead of trumpeting his opinion in all the places he knows it won’t be appreciated, he’s quite content to let those who want to hear his message come to him.

    Second, consider the description given for the Zealot argument: “citations are apt to be thin and hyperpartisan, and their arguments to have gaps or even tactical falsehoods at crucial points.” While I will agree that there is a very difficult balance to make in how and were to cite evidence, I think Eric shows one perfectly valid way to do so: put all your hyperlinks up front (first few paragraphs) and then reference them with quotations (direct or indirect) later in your text.

    I’m curious to know what actionsm, from your perspective, mark Eric as a Zealot haterboy. He’s a fanboy, but fanboys are not automatically haters.

  6. Regarding the Embittered Old Fart, whenever I see the letters ‘EOF’, I naturally think ‘End of File’. I’m guessing this choice of acronym was intentional and poetic? :)

    ESR says: Say rather a happy accident that I found enjoyable.

  7. I think I’m a haterboy of various authorities (mainly political) within the blog comments of my mind. This is a problem.

    Yours,
    Tom

  8. @hari – HA! I had *exactly* the same site in mind! Thanks for reminding me of the URL :)

    ESR’s analysis is far more focused and rich, however…which is understandable, given his particular experiences.

    50,000 WATTS OF FUNK^H^H^H^H HATIN’ ;)

  9. Your method of treatment seems pretty smart. For the adolescent howlers, telling them to just LURK MOAR works miracles when they actually do it. The same advice would work on the zealots/iconoclasts, save for the fact that their mind is closed up tight. Of course, we can assume the oldsters have already lurked plenty, and it just isn’t getting through.

    In all of these cases, the closed/openmindedness of the hater seems the most relevant aspect. The kids are usually easily fixed, since their minds are usually pretty open (until they hit college, then they’re usually transforming into zealots/iconoclasts). Interesting that the most powerfully closed minded folks I have seen are products of universities…which are supposed to be places of learning. Of course, not everyone comes out that way, and it’s not the only place this happens; most military programs have a similar effect.

    Eventually these zealots/iconoclasts, if they don’t pick up a flock of followers, become the old embittered dude. At some level, I think they realize their actions have not been fulfilling their desires, and are willing to open their minds again in an attempt to participate in a fulfilling discussion. This is why you can even attempt to question their beliefs in order to get an interesting discussion.

  10. “…I’m guessing this choice of acronym was intentional and poetic?…”

    T’was my first thought too ;) Very apt.

  11. I’m curious to know what actionsm, from your perspective, mark Eric as a Zealot haterboy.

    You didn’t read my comment carefully enough.

  12. # Bryant Says:
    > The massively awesome thing about this is that from (say) Steve Jobs’ pov, Eric would fall into the Zealot category.

    No, you are mistaken. The subject is not “a taxonomy of hate” it is “a taxonomy of haterboy.” There are many things I hate: slavery, rape, communism, the american drug laws, but that doesn’t make me a hatergirl of these things. The defining characteristic of a haterboy/hatergirl is an immunity to reasonable contrary argument.

    I read James Carville and Dick Morris. I have read Marx and Hayek. I take pleasure in listening to arguments I don’t agree with. The echo chamber is a learning free zone.

  13. @Tom: These do make a decent checklist for an online health self-evaluation. :)

    Closest I’ve come to being a haterboy was in the comments of a blog I used to read, occasionally some thing would come up where the blogger had arrived at a position by emotion not reason and I’d try to point that out. Once it was (or I felt it was) bad enough that I bordered on Iconoclast, more or less saying that his lack of reason on this topic was bordering on bigotry, making him look bad and please reconsider.

    Then his wife came on into the comments and said how dare I say bad things about her husband, on his property. No response to that, it WAS his property. On your own property, you set the rules- open discussion or echo chamber, your choice. Or your wife’s choice.

    More credit to ESR for running this place in such a way that you *can* study the haterboys. Another characteristic of haterboys is that, on their own turf, they run an echo chamber.

  14. The defining characteristic of a haterboy/hatergirl is an immunity to reasonable contrary argument.

    That and the 60-cycle hum, which has to got to down as the….Best. Analogy. Evar!!~11!eleventyone!

    BTW–minor nit: 60-cycle hum isn’t caused by the speakers, but by the amplifier. We can’t fault Eric for not knowing that, though, since he is, by his own admission, a software guy. :)

  15. “I take pleasure in listening to arguments I don’t agree with. The echo chamber is a learning free zone.”

    And that is why I am here.

    I think it’s funny that ESR would choose to mock Iconoclasm when it’s a core value of the hacker tribe.

    If he finds his readers are a bunch of unappreciative cantankerous whiners it’s partly his own damn fault.

  16. >>>I think it’s funny that ESR would choose to mock Iconoclasm when it’s a core value of the hacker tribe.

    If he finds his readers are a bunch of unappreciative cantankerous whiners it’s partly his own damn fault.<<<
    You just saw a favorite word of yours and didn't read the context. Reread that section – it's describing a specific behavior, not iconoclasm in general – and try again.

    And reread the last paragraph of the blog post too. ;-)

  17. @Bryant:

    You didn’t read my comment carefully enough.

    Your comment was one line, with no evidence. There was effectively nothing for me to read!

  18. @Alex “While I will agree that there is a very difficult balance to make in how and were to cite evidence, I think Eric shows one perfectly valid way to do so: put all your hyperlinks up front (first few paragraphs) and then reference them with quotations (direct or indirect) later in your text.”

    That assumes that the links are to a reasonable source. You’ll find that it is possible to
    a) link to utter nonsense as if it was the most sensible thing, because you agree with it
    b) treat sensible sources like nonsense if you don’t agree with them
    So no, your example is not valid.

  19. Sean C. Says:
    > I think it’s funny that ESR would choose to mock Iconoclasm when it’s a core value of the hacker tribe.

    He didn’t, he idenfitifed the iconoclastic haterboy.

  20. >If he finds his readers are a bunch of unappreciative cantankerous whiners it’s partly his own damn fault.

    I don’t feel this way at all. The haterboys are a small minority. Loud, but small.

  21. >He didn’t, he idenfitifed the iconoclastic haterboy.

    That’s right. The rational iconoclastic attitude can be a very useful and important stance – but when it hardens into an emotional fixation or a compulsion, it can become a problem.

  22. Jessica – thank you!

    One thing I loathe about the fixated, obsessive “haterboy/girl” style of person as I run across them – other than what Eric pointed out – is also the perfect willingness to treat those/that which they hate with a level of focused derision and contempt that they would never allow towards their pet ideology or people in even the faintest degree. They often reply to these perceived attacks with: “stop being a hater! Hating is bad!” (somewhat simplified) – with a complete inability to both perceive the viscousness and personal nature of their own comments and body language coupled with an utter unwillingness to even consider that the statements they call “hate” might be, objectively fairly neutral or at least have a point.

    Worse, like you – I reject the premise that hatred is inherently bad, and that we shouldn’t judge people, situations, outcomes, actions, or responsibility. If _that_ gets brought up it usually ticks them off more. The reaction I got after replying to “no one is better than anyone else” with “are you seriously telling me Hitler was just as good as Mother Theresa?” was… enlightening. And I wasted no further time there.

  23. @David Krider:

    I wish I had a millionth of a cent for every one of these pointless arguments on the internet.

    It’s only pointless if you continue to “argue” with the dialectic equivalent of “are too / are not”: that’s just feeding trolls. Replying to the first post or two can still be useful: for instance, you can reveal the emptiness of their argument.

  24. It’s not necessary for a haterboy/girl to act on the ‘property’ of the person they hate; a while ago I found the blog of this person who had an odd fixation on Joss Whedon, believing that every single aspect of everything he wrote betrayed a deep and personal hatred of women. This person had written several long, involved critiques with lots of links of individual episodes of Firefly, of course taking each individual line as evidence of the author’s horribly ingrained sexism, et cetera, et cetera. What I noticed was that both this person, and every individual on their list of links, had it written in their comment section “We do not accept comments from a non-radical-feminist perspective” or similar. It makes one wonder what they’re afraid of.

  25. Tom Said: >> This person had written several long, involved critiques with lots of links of individual episodes of Firefly, of course taking each individual line as evidence of the author’s horribly ingrained sexism, et cetera, et cetera

    Heh, I wonder what they thought of “Dollhouse.”

  26. @Adriano:

    That assumes that the links are to a reasonable source.

    I didn’t intend to make any argument about validity of source, only presentation. I agree that an argument constructed on falsehoods will be false no matter how perfect your reasoning or presentation, but fail to see how this applies to the discussion at hand.

  27. > I reject the premise that hatred is inherently bad, and that we shouldn’t judge people, situations, outcomes, actions, or responsibility.

    For example, I hate Communism. It is good to hate Communism.

    Yours,
    Tom

  28. @Alex the overall tone of your post was, to me, about validity, not form.

    consider the description given for the Zealot argument: “citations are apt to be thin and hyperpartisan, and their arguments to have gaps or even tactical falsehoods at crucial points. citations are apt to be thin and hyperpartisan

    Your example didn’t quite follow from that phrase. But I accept your correction, and grant you that the method suggested does remove bias by impeding the zealot from quoting out of context.

  29. @Alex K:

    I agree that an argument constructed on falsehoods will be false no matter how perfect your reasoning or presentation, but fail to see how this applies to the discussion at hand.

    Years ago, I worked with a most interesting fellow. He was quite intelligent, with excellent reasoning skills. However, for some unknown reason, he quite often started with bad assumptions, which would lead him to suboptimal solutions. But he was more than willing to put aside his assumptions in conversation, which made him a great resource. I would often say “Hey, Sam! Assume x, y, and z. Now tell me which would be better to do, a or b, or something else, and why.” Even though Sam (not his real name) knew in his heart of hearts that x, y, and z were false, instead of wasting time arguing about it, he would give me the information I was looking for. Usually, this agreed with my conclusions on the right course of action, but quite often, he would bring up issues that I had not yet considered.

  30. Alex K. Says:
    > I didn’t intend to make any argument about validity of source, only presentation. I agree that an argument constructed on falsehoods will be false

    Just to be nit picky, this is not correct. A (binary) argument is true or false regardless of the evidence used to support it. For example:

    “I think the Easter bunny is not real, because there is not such thing as a white rabbit.”

    The Easter bunny is not real (sorry if that disappoints anyone), the premise is correct, even though the argument offered to support it is plainly false.

  31. @Tom Dickson-Hunt:

    It’s not necessary for a haterboy/girl to act on the ‘property’ of the person they hate;

    Indeed, no, but I think esr’s particular taxonomy is referring to people who comment on his blog and maybe other sites he is likely to read. In your case, I doubt Joss Whedon will ever even read that stuff. The comment about not accepting comments from anything other than a radical-feminist perspective is rather telling, however. :)

  32. # Patrick Maupin Says:
    > However, for some unknown reason, he quite often started with bad assumptions, which would lead him to suboptimal solutions.

    Every now and then I will take take on an anonymous identity online (not here, other places), and argue the case for something that is exactly the opposite of what I believe. I do this very occasionally in the real world too — unfortunately arguments tend to stick to you.

    It is an extremely educational process to give the full force of your intellect to arguing the contrary case. I am rarely convinced to change my point of view, but I certainly learn a great deal about my underlying assumptions, the weak points in my own case, and the mind set of those I disagree with.

    If you are brave enough, I recommend it to all. It is quite refreshing.

    I’d love to hear Eric make a full throated case for closed source software. If he does, I promise to make a passionate argument in favor of socialism. :-)

  33. For several decades now, the public education system has been in steep decline and now mostly serves to indoctrinate rather than educate. One important manifestation of this trend is the growing number of people who are unable to reason and competently express themselves. Typically, haterboys are attempting to self-validate by joining the fray of blog discussion and then deluding themselves that they are making important contributions. I sometimes wonder whether we can measure the extent of this social malady by comparing the percentage of haterboys and fanboys.

  34. @Patrick:

    Years ago, I worked with a most interesting fellow. He was quite intelligent, with excellent reasoning skills…. Even though Sam (not his real name) knew in his heart of hearts that x, y, and z were false, instead of wasting time arguing about it, he would give me the information I was looking for.

    @Jessica:

    Just to be nit picky, this is not correct. A (binary) argument is true or false regardless of the evidence used to support it.

    Yikes! Two people objecting to my conflation of non-factual basis (“false facts”) with invalid logic (“false reasoning”). I know these are technically two categories of error, but in this discussion’s context of haters and their citations, I for one can’t separate the two and discuss them individually until somebody can give us a reasonable definition of “hyperpartisan sources”. I don’t know of how to construct one, but then again I’m not all that strong of an epistemological scholar, either.

  35. >I’d love to hear Eric make a full throated case for closed source software.

    Oh, hell, try posing me a hard one next time. (1) Open source can’t capture enough revenue to fund development at scale, (2) Open source inevitably melts down and fails when it faces non-technical end users, (3) Open source leads to higher security defect rates because many-eyeballs is ineffective for that kind of fault analysis.

    There are, of course, strong factual counterexamples to falsify all three of these claims, but you damn betcha I could make a superficially plausible argument by characterizing all these counterexamples as outliers brought on by exceptional circumstances that open-source hackers can’t replicate. I’ve seen stuff like this this done often enough, usually by people much weaker at forensics than I am.

  36. @Alex K.:

    > Yikes! Two people objecting to my conflation…

    I wasn’t objecting, by any means. Your post simply reminded me of fond memories of workplaces past. In fact, I agree with this conflation — we need to cultivate people who can distinguish the difference between truth and falsity for both facts and arguments. Fortunately, assuming we care to do so, these tools generally can be taught together quite easily.

    > I for one can’t separate the two and discuss them individually until somebody can give us a reasonable definition of “hyperpartisan sources”.

    I think you need a working definition that simply assumes all original sources are hyperpartisan. This is why the scientific method, open source, and other techniques that attempt to develop knowledge and culture in the open are paramount, and why wikileaks, cellphone cameras, and other tools that help make government actions public are so incredibly useful.

  37. Hyperpartisan sources means just what it says. For example, citing the Netcraft study Microsoft paid for which purports to prove that Linux servers cost more than Windows servers. Likewise, a MacWorld article criticizing products that directly compete with Apple’s offerings may be a wee bit biased.

  38. Just thinking out loud:

    I wonder what the next level of organization would be? I.e., how do haterboys assemble into groups? (Or do they?) Do Z-haterboys combine with I-haterboys, and PA-haterboys with EOF-haterboys, or does each form a monoculture?

    Are haterboys mob prone, or only certain types of haterboys? If they form into dangerous mobs (certainly something you can see in politics), is the mob leader the same type haterboy as the mob members?

  39. @Jessica

    In my small high school, most students would take American History their junior year, and American Government in their senior year. Both were taught by the same teacher, and each one also required the student to write a term paper. I took both classes my junior year, and asked the teacher if I could write both papers on the same topic, but taking opposite sides. He agreed. He gave me an A on the first paper. In the second paper I actually quoted from my first paper and refuted it. He gave me another A and said it was better than the first.

    That was fun, you betcha.

  40. @Peter Porcupine:

    If they form into dangerous mobs (certainly something you can see in politics), is the mob leader the same type haterboy as the mob members?

    If you look at the taxonomy, the peevish adolescents might form mobs occasionally, but those probably aren’t that dangerous, and won’t have any real leaders. The only haterboys that can actually be led are the zealots, and, no, the most effective leader of these will not suffer the same personality disorder as his troops (although he may very well be a psychopath). Osama bin Laden isn’t going to blow himself up.

  41. @Patrick Maupin:

    I wasn’t objecting, by any means. Your post simply reminded me of fond memories of workplaces past. In fact, I agree with this conflation — we need to cultivate people who can distinguish the difference between truth and falsity for both facts and arguments.

    Sorry for the misunderstanding, but I couldn’t tell why your story was included; you didn’t mark it as any sort of digression, and the part of my post you quoted (“…I fail to see how this applies to the discussion at hand”) made it look like you were trying to raise an objection, if very inarticulately. Sadly, when discussing things on the internet I am constantly aware of the issue raised by @TomA:

    … the public education system has been in steep decline and now mostly serves to indoctrinate rather than educate. One important manifestation of this trend is the growing number of people who are unable to reason and competently express themselves.

    TomA, I wish you hadn’t mentioned this; it’s a sore point for me! My mother was a math teacher, and her mother was a grammar teacher; I ended up getting taught strict logic starting before I was in public schools from both of them. I guess that’s why I think we should be teaching the classical trivium (“grammar, logic, & rhetoric”) in middle schools, but I know it won’t happen. After all, the government says we need to teach more science, even if we only present it as a collection of trivia….

  42. # The Monster Says:
    > In the second paper I actually quoted from my first paper and refuted it. He gave me another A and said it was better than the first.

    I bow to the master.

    # Morgan Greywolf Says:
    > The only time you have worry when you get into an argument with yourself is when you lose.

    Not worry, enjoy the fact you have grown.

  43. esr Says:
    > Oh, hell, try posing me a hard one next time.

    Modern capitalism is based on two frauds. First of all, it is based on the concept of ownership and property. But a careful analysis of the origins of property shows that it is all based, ultimately on theft. With few exceptions everything we make, and in fact our very bodies and minds, are made out of the earth. But who owns the earth? Originally, people with weapons and brute strength declared certain parts of the earth belonged to them. This is true, even if someone else might have made that claim prior. Here in the United States the original claimants to the land were various tribes of animals. Then humans, later called Indians, claimed the land and took it by force from the animals. Then European invaders took the land from the Indians again by force (and often treaties that they later violated wholesale.) And finally, a bunch of upstart farmers and slave holders took this same land in a bloody war from the Europeans.

    This land, originally stolen by governments was given by various arbitrary, and often corrupt practices to the politically favored, a the expense of others.

    Everything we call property is ultimately derived from stolen goods. Why not rather, hold the land in trust for all people? Why not stop stealing the property and hold it it trust for all people to enjoy and use? Managed by a set of technical experts that ensure that maximum utility is produced?

    Second, Capitalism is based on the belief that the collective judgment of millions of people, with very little training, is better than the wise judgment of experts with careful research teams, good data, and experienced judgment. This is called “the marketplace.”

    Yet, we don’t apply this same idea in many other areas of life. If you were having a kidney transplant, which would you rather have: ten thousand members of the general public giving their uneducated opinions, or one, highly trained doctor, with experience, a a full understanding of the scientific literature, and a fully functional hospital staffed with experts in various other medical disciplines?

    If we believe that the corporate judgment is better that the judgment of experts, why do we run companies the way we do? Instead of the expert CEO, CFO, CTO and board of directors, advised by a team of experts, and informed with accurate, carefully collected data, why not just divide up the company’s money amongst all the employees and tell them to use their best judgment?

    If you are accused of a crime, and have to present a criminal defense, which is better: go on a message board and get the advice of hundreds of inexperts, or consult a highly trained lawyer, who represents your case with all the training and experience he has.

    So if the mob is not a good judge in matters of law, or corporate governance or medicine, why do we think that something much more complex: management of a national economy, should be left to the untrained, inexpert, masses, informed with the thin gruel of Fox News and National Enquirer?

    No rather, much better to have the best of the best, the most highly trained and informed, assisted by scientific experts in each field, providing the best quality data, and have them run the economy in the most efficient manner possible.

    On these two prongs: private property and the governance by the mob, rests the whole of capitalism. Socialism provides a much more reasonable and realistic alternative to making the world better for us all.

  44. Hate is a very strong emotion and I wonder whether “haterboys” is useful slang. It carries a connotation of intention aggression and harm. I suspect that most of the folks that ESR characterizes as haterboys are, in actuality, just lazy, habitual, and insecure. Their conduct is pitiable and time-wasting, but more than anything else they represent societal entropy. When their mass becomes excessive, then we may something to worry about.

  45. I’m on a mailing list with someone whose instinctive response when any intellectual figure is praised is to look up some example of a bad position they took on some issue, which supposedly discredits their entire body of work. Or to point out that some other thinker had hinted in some way at the idea they were famous for — although the other person didn’t actually develop the idea into a complete system — so they’re just derivative.

    So Mises’ whole elaboration of praxeology in Human Action is worthless because he endorsed conscription and war and at one time praised Mussolini. And Einstein is worthless because he had some flaky social and political ideas and somebody had vaguely suggested something that sounded like a layman’s description of some of the principles in the Theory of Relativity (albeit without actually doing any math).

  46. > I suspect that most of the folks that ESR characterizes as haterboys are, in actuality, just lazy, habitual, and insecure.

    I suspect that most of the folks that ESR characterizes as haterboys are, in actuality, just having fun trying to take him down a notch. That most, if not all of the EOFs are really Iconoclasts, flinging dog shit back into the monkey cage.

  47. > Tends to be middling on the language-competency scale

    I suspect that, as others have pointed out, being able to edit one’s own posts on this blog would improve the situation.

  48. Hate is a very strong emotion and I wonder whether “haterboys” is useful slang.

    It’s critical when you’re trying to create a sense of tribal unity. If you’d prefer that people don’t pay attention to your ideological opponents, you can get a lot of mileage out of mocking them in a forum that’s generally friendly to you. Don’t kneejerk: I didn’t say that was Eric’s intention. It’s quite possibly just a coincidence that he’s using a technique that gets that particular effect.

  49. >It’s quite possibly just a coincidence that he’s using a technique that gets that particular effect.

    Ideological opponents? Heh. Haterboys ain’t that – only certain subvarieties of the Zealot come anywhere near it.

    No, the actual etymology of the term is a portmanteau of hater + fanboy. None of this has anything to do with tribal unity, it’s a phenomenon I’ve observed both inside and out of hacker culture and one which afflicts both people I agree with and people I disagree with.

  50. Eric’s high volume of haterboys (I probably qualify) is probably due to the fact that he pretends to know more than he does. He can deny this as much as he wants, but the fact that he hasn’t deleted ‘deheader’ from the Internet proves that he often has a hard time understanding his own limitations.

  51. Maybe it has just been the recent influx, but it seems like a lot of the “zealot” types on this blog aren’t necessarily political or ideological, but entirely devoted to proving that spending most of their working time on code optimization is actually worth it.

  52. I suppose that there may come a day when the volume of haterboys transitions from annoyance to societal cancer, and consequently the problems associated with this mindset will have to be confronted seriously. For now, I choose not to engage in the pissing matches. Some find good sport in laughing at them, but even that is a little too haughty for my taste.

  53. I was going to try to say something about Mike Reed’s art page, but I am way to late arriving here.

    I won’t say I’m a fanboy – but I will say you’ve done a lot of good, no, a lot of *great* things with regard to computing.

    On balance, were all simply human with our own shortcomings. The Internet’s citizens *somehow – it seems – I haven’t thought this out as to why* appear, on the whole, to place a magnification upon small portions of individual personalities in their mind’s eye, however far removed. Inevitably people make mistakes, but they ought not be attacked by a swarming mob as a result. And when the “mistakes” are a matter of opinion, the attacks are unjustified in the extreme.

    I do hope that the balance of feedback you receive in your life is overwhelmingly positive. Because that is what you have given your community, overwhelmingly positive help.

  54. @Roger Phillips:

    (I probably qualify)

    Hmmm….you’d be one of the Iconoclasts, I think.

    BTW–I wouldn’t run any global source modification tool on code I didn’t fully understand. That’s one of the major problem in corporate software development, as opposed to what happens out in open source land: on average, most corporate coders understand little or nothing about most the code they touch because the corporate machine replaces them every 3 years or so and the developers that wrote the original code provided inadequate documentation. and failed to sufficiently modularize the code and create adequate APIs between the pieces because there was no budget for it. Oh, they’ve either been promoted, moved somewhere else, or they quit or got fired in the last round of layoffs. Then management scratches their heads wondering why they can’t meet deadlines and why changes seem to be so hard to make. The cluelessness never ceases to amuse me.

  55. >but the fact that he hasn’t deleted ‘deheader’ from the Internet proves that he often has a hard time understanding his own limitations.

    Deleting deheader would, I fear, disappoint the three projects that have already let me know that they plan to use it as a code-auditing tool. If you have any code-auditing tools in use by multiple projects, I’m sure we’d all be fascinated to hear about them.

  56. I won’t say I’m a fanboy

    I would, but that would probably get me reclassified in turn.

  57. [quote]The thing about them, though, is that no matter what their particular idée fixe is, they all sound alike after awhile. The 60-cycle hum drowns out the idea content.[/quote]

    [i]Thank you! [/i] I have encountered Zealots frequently (you can find a lot of them on Econlog whenever Bryan Caplan posts on immigration) and always wondered why it was that their posts felt so horrible and mean spirited, while other people on the same thread who held the exact same views sounded like reasonable human beings. Now I’ve realized that the 60-cycle hum you described is what’s causing that.

  58. # Morgan Greywolf Says:
    > BTW–I wouldn’t run any global source modification tool on code I didn’t fully understand.

    Have you heard of refactoring tools? I use them every day to modify great swaths of source code based on the compiler’s extremely detailed understanding of the code I write.

    There is an assumption in that statement that I find interesting, that is the assumption that you can fully understand code. For some small programs that might be true, but for anything of substantial size it just plain isn’t. Even code that I have written entirely myself, some of the subtleties are lost within a couple of weeks of writing it. This isn’t due to lack of documentation, I just can’t hold that much stuff in my head.

    Your contention that somehow this is a problem of corporate code monkeys alone is ridiculous. What percentage of contributors to Linux do you think have a deep understanding of even 10% of the code? What percentage of contributors to GCC have a deep understanding if 50% of the code.

    You have a very skewed view of corporate code development. You seem to extrapolate the worst cases to be the general case. It just isn’t like that in my experience.

  59. Deleting deheader would, I fear, disappoint the three projects that have already let me know that they plan to use it as a code-auditing tool. If you have any code-auditing tools in use by multiple projects, I’m sure we’d all be fascinated to hear about them.

    Once again, you set yourself up for attacks by bringing your ego and supposed position of superiority into the discussion. If that’s your way then fine, but you’re kidding yourself if you can’t see that you invite harsh criticisms.

  60. BTW–I wouldn’t run any global source modification tool on code I didn’t fully understand.

    But you’re happy to run a global source-target translator? GCC is full of semantics-altering bugs.

  61. Once again, you set yourself up for attacks by bringing your ego and supposed position of superiority into the discussion. If that’s your way then fine, but you’re kidding yourself if you can’t see that you invite harsh criticisms.

    I consciously try to avoid being a fanboy, but…in this area, ESR does have a ‘position of superiority’, by many objective measures. How many years of experience do you have in computing? How many projects have you led? How many of your projects are used by others? How much code do you have in any near-universal tool? It’s true that argument screens off authority, but I haven’t seen any argument from you, just lots of assertion and whining about argumentum ad verecundium whenever ESR calls you on it.

  62. @Roger, but are the criticisms reasonable?

    @Jessica, I can’t STAND to read bad economics. It just makes me want to throttle the author. It doesn’t teach me anything or help me to appreciate good economics. Perhaps my problem is that I used to argue in favor of socialism, and now when I see people making those arguments I want to shake them and say “NO, NO, NO, you IDIOT, can’t you see???”

  63. “Your mother is so fat …”
    “… when she distributes blocks around the disk, she really distributes blocks AROUND the disk!”
    “… she once sat on of a B-tree and flattened it to an array – in linear time.”
    “… the number of drives in the RAID array required to hold her exceeded the Chandrasekhar limit.”
    “… her secondary storage is in the garage.”
    “… she invented FAT64.”
    “… she makes Windows Vista look slim.”
    “… she will never have a pop under.”
    “… she has DS3 to McDonalds.
    “… she has her own tile server on google maps.”
    “… her page size is 16MB.”
    “… she only buys cakeboxes of CDRs.”
    “… her LONGJUMP() is 256 bytes.”
    “… she ate the SPARCstation1 pizza box.”
    “… her hash tables are linked lists.”
    “… she created an algorithm that was O(FAT).”

  64. It’s true that argument screens off authority, but I haven’t seen any argument from you, just lots of assertion and whining about argumentum ad verecundium whenever ESR calls you on it.

    I’m sorry if you confuse pointing out the fact that this is a broken argument with ‘whining’. Of course, I am not obliged to provide any positive counter-claim about my own authority, since my arguments are entirely independent of it. deheader is unsafe for the very use cases the manpage recommends that it be used in. There is plenty of as-yet-unrefuted argument in the relevant thread explaining why.

  65. The last time i pop’ed your moms stack, she core-dumped all over me… not doing that again.

    BTW, if anyone wonders the text editor on the monitor behind dmr, it’s Acme text editor which was written by Rob Pike.

    (and then there was the famous incident involving esr, dmr and FIrth about the origins of ‘C’ ending ‘strings’ with a NULL.)

  66. Oh that’s nothing.

    My wife runs a major climate skeptic blog (http://joannenova.com.au). Draws lots of zealots and iconoclasts who are very intense, desperate to contradict or expose any real or imagined flaw. And often very rude…Joanne kicks off anyone who starts throwing the term “denier” around or is too rude, which keeps things more or less civil. The supporters are pretty intense too, and if a single troll ventures on they can cop an earful if they say something too impolite or dopey.

    There are whole websites, funded by the likes of Greenpeace and David Suzuki, dedicated to disparaging us (eg desmogblog, exxon secrets, sourcewatch). They have web pages for each public skeptic, dedicated to discrediting each of us in any possible way (most having no relation to climate). Truth and evidence are no constraints. Drag up conversations and remarks allegedly made from 15 years ago. Dream up the most obscure and outlandish connections to prove to themselves that you are just pointing out the flaws in their religion because you are paid by someone, have severe personality flaws, etc. Pages and pages of defamatory remarks scattered around the web.

    Threats. Calls that we should be imprisoned or worse, called “denier” etc, by public figures up to and including the Prime Minister of Australia. Trolls with IPs from government departments, in work time, leaving hundreds of comments on Joanne’s site. (And they accuse us of being funded, when we do it in our spare time on no-one’s dime but our own…what a classic case of projection.) These people scour the web to use anything to discredit us — I’ll bet they find this comment and they take it out of context it or twist it!

    Dare to publicly point out the gaping flaws in their theory (e.g. done pictorially with a minimum of text for politicians and journalists at http://jonova.s3.amazonaws.com/corruption/climate-corruption.pdf :)) and the level of bile and hate directed at you is alarming (though the support from fellow skeptics is pretty huge too, and growing). Many public figures agree with us but are afraid to say anything publicly for fear of the bollocking they would receive. There is a massive “shut-up” campaign against us, not like anything in tech, presumably because the stakes are so high.

    Haterboys are nothing.

  67. >(I probably qualify)

    Roger Phillips brings up an important definitional issue here.

    No, Roger, I don’t actually consider you a haterboy. You’re not the dark obverse of a fanboy because your spleen is not focused on me or any other single individual. Near as I can tell you’re an equal-opportunity pain in the ass towards everyone.

  68. @dan,

    ESR’s analysis is far more focused and rich, however…which is understandable, given his particular experiences.

    Yes, but I think the creator of that site was more tongue-in-cheek and wanted to have fun with the cartoons. This article is of an analytical nature. However, as you point it, there is something here which triggered my memory of that site. :-)

    I know ESR doesn’t want to name anybody, but I wonder if everybody here falls into either of the two categories or there are neutrals.

  69. >argumentum ad verecundium

    I don’t think this is the right category, exactly, and I wonder if anyone can find or invent a better term. What I said wasn’t “Your attacks on deheader are wrong because respect my authority!“, it was “Your assertion that deheader is unfit for purpose appears to be falsified by the judgment of others (experienced software developers) who do consider it fit for purpose.”

    The implied challenge to Roger is that he should explain why we should accept him as an authority on what constitutes brokenness in a software tool, contrary to other people actually using the tool. The forensics of the argument are complicated by the fact that Roger is genuinely an authority in areas of computer science which are not too distant from the question. To put it plainly, there are related topics on which I would willingly accept his authority despite the fact that he’s an obstreperous asshole about waving it around.

    Is it really “argument from authority” to point out that deheader seems to pass the practical test of utility even though – as I readily concede – it is theoretically inadequate and can bite you hard if not used carefully? I don’t think so, but I don’t have a better term for it. I do think it is important to distinguish among arguments of the form “you should believe X over Y on topic Z because X is a famous authority”, “you should believe X over Y on topic Z because X is a recognized expert on topic Z”, and “you should believe X over Y on topic Z because X has a better record of having been right about topic Z in the past”.

  70. I wrote “there are related topics on which I would willingly accept [Roger Phillips's] authority despite the fact that he’s an obstreperous asshole about waving it around.”

    In case it’s not blindingly clear, Roger is nearly a perfect type case for why I never ban people merely for being obnoxious. As a human being he seems seriously damaged, unwilling – and, I suspect, nearly unable – to interact with others in a mode other than hostile one-upmanship. But he’s not stupid and I expect that within the limits imposed by his personality he’s quite competent at what he does. Competence is scarce enough that it easily trumps obnoxiousness in my mind.

    Another reason not to bin him as a haterboy is that haterboys are generally much less competent than I judge him to be.

  71. I’m a friend of Eric’s, but not a fanboy.

    Indeed, Eric was introduced to ME as “Hey Ken, your target demographic just showed up.”

    The reason I laugh at people who think Eric’s an egotist is this: If you catch Eric in a mistake, he acknowledges it. Quickly. And often publicly. However, it has to be an actual mistake, not just a “I don’t agree with your interpretation of events or utilities.”

    I have parallel experiences with fanboys (and the occasional fangirl) in my field of obsessive competence. My fanboys tend to be, in Eric’s words, “high functioning autistics”.

    I also experience a handful of haterboys; mostly they tend to be Zealots. Most of the Iconoclasts have given up. There’s not enough of a ‘history’ in my field for there to be many Embittered Old Farts, though there are people who’ve become wedded to a given set of design assumptions and refuse to change as the field progresses. Poo Slinging Adolescents are more common on the RPG side of the fence than what I traditionally make, but they do exist.

  72. >My wife runs a major climate skeptic blog (http://joannenova.com.au).

    Wait…David Evans? Australia? You must be that former-carbon-audit guy who pointed out that the atmosphere temperature profiles stubbornly refuse to match AGW theory. Good on you, mate. You’re welcome here.

    >Haterboys are nothing.

    Well, they’re not nothing. But compared to an organized campaign of public vilification, I agree that individual haterboys aren’t much.

    Scrupulous accuracy requires me to note that there is some fragmentary but suggestive evidence that I have been the target of covertly organized mudslinging campaigns. In one well-known incident, slander was dripped into my Wikipedia entry by someone with a Microsoft IP address; I learned of this when it made a list of the fifty sleaziest Wikipedia edits of all time. At other times, I have noted that people attacking me in public fora like Slashdot often seem like they’re reading from a script. I, too, have been perceived as a threat to vested interests with billions of dollars at stake by people with a demonstrated willingness to use lies and smear campaigns as propaganda tools.

    So our cases may not be quite as different as you imagine. It is even possible, though I judge it quite unlikely, that some of the haterboys who have shown up regularly on this blog are Tentacles of a Conspiracy. I judge it unlikely because I judge the window in which the open-source movement could be seriously impeded by discrediting me is well past now, but it could be that plain malice and resentment has continued a tactic that rational cost/benefit calculation would have abandoned some time ago. It may also be that enemies of the movement have a different estimate of my present centrality than I do.

  73. Fair points. No doubt you *have* been systematically attacked on the web.

    And the scripted nature of many attackers is something we can relate to. They are getting their material from a couple of website that encourage them to go and suppress skeptics.

    We think these systematic suppression campaigns especially appeal to the few percent of the population who are natural psychopaths and bullies. They are sanctioned to be bullies (by the company or the cause), the cost to them is essentially zero (and yes, they are more often than not anonymous).

  74. >The reason I laugh at people who think Eric’s an egotist is this: If you catch Eric in a mistake, he acknowledges it. Quickly. And often publicly.

    I wish to point out that there is a plausible reading of “egotist” with which Ken’s observed fact about my behavior is consistent.

    Suppose you have been, for as long as you can remember, an obsessive rationalist. I mean this in Eliezer Yudkowsky’s sense that you aggressively seek ways to think more clearly and correctly, and Alfred Korzybski’s sense that you regard the practice of semantic hygiene and consciousness of abstracting as tantamount to a moral duty. You have a huge portion of your ego invested in the proposition “I am a master-class rationalist”; that belief is more definitive of your self-image than anything, anything else you can say about yourself. In that case, “egotism” may manifest as a determination to self-correct on error as rapidly as humanly possible, and to do so in public both as a form of social penance and as a signal of your adherence to rationality.

    Yes, I’m saying I’m that guy. If I’m an egotist, that’s the kind of egotist I am.

  75. >Indeed, Eric was introduced to ME as “Hey Ken [Burnside], your target demographic just showed up”

    For the record, I burst out laughing because this was so obviously true once pointed out. Friendship sealed in like fifteen minutes from T=0.

  76. I’m always curious about how I come across to others, but in any other context I’d consider it too self-indulgent to ask.

    I didn’t feel angry or mocked, but that could be a result of my flat emotional tone. My own assesment of my motivations is xkcd.org/386.

  77. >We think these systematic suppression campaigns especially appeal to the few percent of the population who are natural psychopaths and bullies. They are sanctioned to be bullies (by the company or the cause), the cost to them is essentially zero (and yes, they are more often than not anonymous).

    While that is perfectly consistent with my experience, it’s not quite the phenomenon I was writing about in the original post. Your classic haterboy as I have encountered him is self-motivated because there’s something broken about him as an individual, not a thug in someone else’s army.

    OTOH, this may just reflect a psychological difference in the base populations you and I are sampling from. Hackers, even psychologically damaged hackers, tend to be very individualistic sorts – more so, I think, than the larger population you are sampling by being involved in the AGW debate. The sort of people who are most likely to attack me from within my own community (as opposed, say, to trolls paid by Microsoft) would be uncomfortable with the idea that they were doing it at anyone else’s behest.

  78. >I didn’t feel angry or mocked, but that could be a result of my flat emotional tone.

    While I will stick to my policy of not naming names, I will say that your ability to seriously reflect on the possibility that you might come across as a haterboy adds weight to the odds that you’re not one. The reflexive haterboy response, which we’ve actually seen on this thread, is that my taxonomy is an evasion maneuver, nothing more than a way to discredit brave and truth-telling critics of my overinflated ego.

  79. I think I wanted to add more to this topic than my earlier comments, but somehow never got around to doing it.

    I myself have classified haters into two general groups (which I guess can be subjected to further classification): trolls and bullies.

    While trolls are those who seek to rile up the target of their hatred emotionally and hence make them look ridiculous in the process, bullies are far more invidious. They attack with deliberate malice, they are usually supported by others who share their outlook and they seek to cow down the target of their hate to submission and are far more persistent than the average troll.

    Bullies online are rare, but I think they’re more capable and unpleasant to deal with. I’ve seen bullies wreak havoc on online communities before and there are some popular bloggers who are frequently targetted by bullies though their effects are much weaker when posting in a blog-like environment.

  80. determination to self-correct on error as rapidly as humanly possible, and to do so in public both as a form of social penance and as a signal of your adherence to rationality.

    I have had people say to me “You just want to be RIGHT all the time!” in response to me pointing out some flaw in their position.

    My response is “Of course I do. It would be silly to want to be wrong. So, yes, I try to be right. Most of the time I succeed at it, but sometimes I’m not. When that happens, I want to know what ‘right’ is so I can be that instead of wrong.”

    I am also often accused of being a smartass. To confirm that diagnosis, I consistently point out that it is better to be a smartass than a dumbass.

  81. Interesting distinction between trolls and bullies– I draw a distinction between trolls (people who just show up to spread misery) and people with bad habits. The bad habit category may have people with less emotional damage than the 60-cycle crew. I’m talking about people who seem to think that insults add flavor, but who think it’s worth giving up insults if they can get social contact better without them.

    I’ve turned a couple or three people in the latter category around by only engaging with their content. It’s hard work– you have to keep passing the Turing test while engaging with someone who’s less interested in doing so, but possible. I think all the times I’ve managed this have been on usenet. It’s possible that the smaller communities of newsgroups make it easier.

    More recently, I’ve seen a few people’s behavior improved at Less Wrong– it’s group which actively encourages courtesy, both by having an upvote/downvote system for comments and by explaining how to be polite.

  82. Have you seen Gource? It does really impressive visualizations of commits to a source code repository, making the evolution of a project almost look like life evolving. What struck me in this discussion was that some similar visualization could be made, colorizing the rays of attention by keying off the semantic content of your commenters, and who responds to what, how.

    I just tried gource against my commit logs for my blog. It was pretty neat, but would work better against a bigger commenting db such as yours…. (I have no idea how wordpress does things, however)

  83. I’ve turned a couple or three people in the latter category around by only engaging with their content. It’s hard work– you have to keep passing the Turing test while engaging with someone who’s less interested in doing so, but possible. I think all the times I’ve managed this have been on usenet. It’s possible that the smaller communities of newsgroups make it easier.

    I’ve made a couple of great friends online with whom I was in flame wars right at the beginning. It’s actually easier to reason with sincere but hot-headed folk who lose their temper online occasionally and thus give the impression of being deliberately unpleasant than with people who are cold and calculatingly (seemingly) logical or reserved and seldom express themselves beyond the topic of the discussion.

    On bullies, I can state with confidence that these people seldom battle alone. They have a gang mentality and they have their own set of fanboys to engage their egos and they are very unpleasant folk driving away milder online debaters. Bullies also tend to try to assert moral and/or intellectual superiority over their target of hate while trolls seem to enjoy simply the process of being unpleasantly rude and getting reactions.

    I guess Eric is talking about one form of (attempted) bullying tactic when he talks about people who persistently attack him and seem to have a pattern to their attacks. Of course, some people are inherently hard to bully so the bully has to step down in the end.

  84. Russell Nelson Says:
    > I can’t STAND to read bad economics. It just makes me want to throttle the author. It doesn’t teach me anything or help me to appreciate good economics.

    You know Russell, I read your blog and really enjoy it. I find you extremely insightful. However, I find the general tone of belligerence off putting. It reminds me a lot of Ann Coulter, who I also read as a kind of guilty pleasure. (Just to be clear, I don’t remember a time I disagreed with you Russell, but I frequently disagree with Ms. Coulter. However, her bombastic style is frequently extremely funny.)

    No doubt you don’t learn much from bad economics, but you are an expert, so that isn’t surprising. However, I bet there are many people who are passionate advocates of the free market that would find it quite hard to formulate a good defense against the two arguments I made, namely the dubious origins of legal title and the superiority of experts over mass judgment. Prompting people to think about these things is surely a good thing.

  85. >I guess Eric is talking about one form of (attempted) bullying tactic when he talks about people who persistently attack him and seem to have a pattern to their attacks.

    Well, if you’re talking about the days when I suspected an organized anti-ESR smear campaign was going on, I didn’t read that possibility as bullying because the goal would not have primarily been to injure me – it would have been to damage the open-source movement by (a) discrediting me as a public spokesperson, and (b) hindering my ability to exercise leadership within the community. Bullying isn’t really the right label for this sort of thing; social sabotage, maybe?

    I don’t read the incidence of haterboys on this blog as bullying, either. They don’t have enough power to harm me, on any level, for it to be “bullying”. It’s more like…hmmm. Imagine a bunch of little yappy chihuahuas trying to “bully” an elephant. They can generate as much sound and fury as they like, but the elephant is unlikely to be impressed. I like elephants.

    >Of course, some people are inherently hard to bully so the bully has to step down in the end.

    I was bullied as a child. (High IQ, physically smaller than average, visible physical impairment…inevitable as sunrise.) I decided to become the kind of person who can’t be bullied, and I think I’ve pretty much succeeded. I’m a twenty-year martial artist in several styles, which means anybody who tries it on me physically is likely to end up in a world of hurt. On other levels…really, what can they do to me? Insult me? Belittle me? *snort* I’m like that elephant; I’m too big and too self-sufficient for the chihuahuas to actually bother me. Futile little things.

    The ancients called it ‘stoicism’, which had a larger and subtler meaning then than the word’s modern connotations of indifference to physical pain and hardship.

  86. The reflexive haterboy response, which we’ve actually seen on this thread, is that my taxonomy is an evasion maneuver, nothing more than a way to discredit brave and truth-telling critics of my overinflated ego.

    Note that I haven’t said that. I can’t read your mind; I don’t know why you’re putting forth a taxonomy. I’m merely noting that there’s an anti-rational side effect to such taxonomies. The taxonomy discredits idiots and brave critics alike. The best Yudkowsky post on this is, I think, The Halo Effect. The flip side, of course, is this post on stereotypes, which is likewise important, but it does not encourage reinforcing the stereotype.

  87. >Note that I haven’t said that.

    Acknowledged. You did not say that, and you are not the person I was thinking of.

  88. Haters and trolls can ruin anything. Of course everybody is familiar with the scenario:

    1.) A group of talented people with common interests congregate somewhere online.
    2.) Great content and information exchange occurs.
    3.) One by one the trolls and haters are drawn like vinegar flies to a fermenting must.
    4.) The damaged, underdeveloped, and mentally ill gradually drive off everybody worthwhile
    5.) A sort of blind leading the blind/Lord of the Flies dynamic takes over.
    6.) Rinse and repeat……

    Fortunately if there is a good moderator this doesn’t happen. Occasionally the moderator is a bully/troll and you get a sort of hater and their merry band of sycophants dynamic. Fresh meat wanders in occasionally and provides entertainment for the cannibals.

    I’m sure there is a PhD in psychology in there for somebody…..that and people’s behavior while driving…..

  89. >I’d like to point out that being an “Embittered Old Fart” doesn’t necessarily make one a haterboy.

    No, nor does being an Iconoclast or a Zealot. So?

  90. Wow, pretty dense read.
    Shows nicely how difficult it is to stay on the level of ideas without letting self emotions speak.
    Must stay really focused, so I think that is one of the main reason people are getting paid in a competitive environment, being capable of staying focused and try to redirect their emotions.

  91. The EOF really resonates with me. Well, not me personally. Yet. :-)

    In discussions with another coder-employed-as-engineer we coined the term Bitter Angry Troll to describe the inevitable result of continued employment within our organization. The experience and knowledge are valuable, but getting to it is a bit like getting to the heart of an artichoke. For some the prickliness just isn’t worth it. For others, there’s value to be had in peeling away the defensive layers and dipping them in butter. OK, enough flogging of that analogy.

    Eric, your postings (occasionally) and your comments (frequently) do come off as egotistical. But then I suppose anyone who has the degree of self-confidence you portray and writes from that viewpoint will seem egotistical to me. As someone who probably falls to the left of you on just about any competency bell curve you can imagine (perhaps excepting geophysical sciences), I find that degree of projecting of self-confidence to be unseemly. I recognize for others it just seems right. Your accomplishments and notoriety certainly excuse, if not justify, a large degree of egotism.

    Aaaaanyways, I’m reminded of the timeless wisdom of Mr. Wizard, “Be vat you is and not vat you isn’t.” It’s no small coincidence that ESR also stands for that egotistical smartass Raymond.

    I also suppose that this posting proves I’m incapable of fanboy or haterboy exteremism. Too damned many qualifiers and caveats in my words. It’s a problem I’m working to overcome. ;-)

    Have a Merry Christmas one and all!
    Earle

  92. Its not like /b/ is showing up.

    here is a program I’ve considered writing more than once.

    Essentially, it would be a multi-personality comment bot, using, for example, JFRED.

    Hosted on one or more linode or ec2 instances.

    It would, over a period of months, ‘invent’ 50-100 ‘personalities’, and, using the semantic response built-in to JFRED, would ‘participate’ in the comment stream of a blog. Then, at some moment chosen at-will, these personalities would slowly get ‘louder’ and more shrill, adapting new
    response rules, perhaps taking on personality characteristics of canonic ‘haterboys’ and iconoclasts.

    At some point, the posting volume would be sufficient to occlude any rational conversation in the comments for a given blog.

    Thus, human voices would be effectively shut-out, and the comments on any given blog could come to resemble slashdot. 1,000 voices with nothing to say other than attempting to shout above each other.

    It’s something like spam, only it’s not attempting to sell a good or service. Rather it constipates the discourse.

    How does one defend against this type of ‘attack’?

    Reputation filters (chain of trust) are a good way, but difficult to scale. What does any given blog with a community of commenters resemble when new entrants have too high a bar to clear for their comments to be viewable by others? When only people who know people who know Eric can post here?

  93. >On other levels…really, what can they do to me? Insult me? Belittle me? *snort* I’m like that elephant; I’m too big and too self-sufficient for the chihuahuas to actually bother me. Futile little things.

    I actually envy you for this. One of the things I’ve come to realize about myself recently is that I get very angry when I meet with someone espousing ideas I find stupid or immoral, and dwell on it for hours at a time, giving myself headaches and stress. I must admit that I always glad to see you take some people down a notch that I think deserves it, even when I’m incapable of mounting an argument myself.

  94. Another distinction about Eric (and to some extent, me).

    Many people make the assumption that Eric is talking through his hat on his abilities.

    And, to a very small sigma, they are right. Sometimes, Eric is talking about capabilities he doesn’t have.

    Eric does not lie about his own perception of his abilities. Sometimes those perceptions are in excess of the reality, but that’s mostly Eric working from the baseline of his experiences. Sometimes, he will try something that he’s unprepared for; enough times at this, he succeeds.

    Reaching for things you’re not prepared for is, all in all, good. You’ll either learn something, learn something about yourself, or do something that was considered impractical-to-impossible before.

  95. Fine to see our experiences put into words. What bugs me most about haterboys (an some fanboys) is a lack of reflection and humor.

    However, I have experienced that the Internet is full of altruists.
    If you are unable to laugh at yourself, plenty of people will step up to do it for you.

  96. >It’s no small coincidence that ESR also stands for that egotistical smartass Raymond.

    ROFL. “Egotistical Smartass Raymond”. I think I may have to adopt this as my expansion of “ESR”.

  97. Brian Scott Says:
    > One of the things I’ve come to realize about myself recently is that I get very angry when I meet with someone espousing ideas I find stupid or immoral,

    I recommend you consider what I had suggested earlier. In a place where you can protect your identity, actually try to advocate the idea you feel so repugnant. I did it earlier here espousing socialism, an idea I believe is both stupid and immoral (though I’m not a fan of the word “immoral”.)

    Go ahead and try it. I think you will find it cathartic.

  98. >I get very angry when I meet with someone espousing ideas I find stupid or immoral

    I have the same tendency; that affects me in a way personal attacks seldom do. I think it’s because people espousing stupid or immoral ideas can make the world and my future a worse place in ways that personal attacks on me cannot.

  99. I was trolled a bit recently, and I was distracted by it for two or three days. I kept thinking that I should be able to come up with some rejoinder that would flatten that piece of shit completely, and then I’d imagine the troll brushing off whatever I could come up with in some trollish fashion.

    I didn’t reply and now I can think about the trolling having happened without getting hooked. I apparently can’t manage that if I think about my reaction sequence.

    If this situation comes up again, I’ll try the chihuahua vs. elephant visualization.

    Not replying to trolls in newsgroups (not aimed at me) became pretty easy once I thought of them as troll dolls pathetically pressing their helpless little hands and noses up against the plate glass window of my inattention.

  100. OK, you guys finally got me to come out of lurking.

    I would judge that ESR > egotistical smartass Raymond is quite accurate.
    The expansion does not exclude competent, articulate nor his being quite aware of the benefits of enlightened self interest — so I will be quite willing to accept it.

    Most of the time I don’t comment because someone else has already made a post that comes close to what I might have said, or it has been long enough since the post was made that it seems futile.

    Jim

  101. Anger is never a good way to react to something. One time two years ago I was so angry I worked myself up into psychosis and set fire to things. God has helped me to control my feelings.

  102. Two minor clarifications:

    Arguments have premises and a structure. The premises can be true or false, but the structure must be “valid” or “invalid”; arguments with invalid structure are called “formally unsound”, those with one or more false premises “informally unsound”.

    And while I can’t speak to what blogs Joss follows, he is known to track (and occasionally comment on) Whedonesque, and he is aware of (and amused by) those opinions that he’s sexist, and anti-woman.

  103. > ROFL. “Egotistical Smartass Raymond”. I think I may have to adopt this as my expansion of “ESR”.

    C’mon, Eric, that was just a JEDR.

  104. I read esr’s posts with great interest. Even when I disagree with him (which is frequently in the case of politics) I find it refreshing to challenge myself with his always forcefully argued ideas.

    When it comes to some issues (such as climate science, where I think esr is dangerously wrong) it seems to me to be important to at least attempt to engage in the debate.

    Not sure whether this makes me a haterboy …

  105. >Not sure whether this makes me a haterboy …

    Whether you have different beliefs and ideas from me is not the right criterion. The right criterion is whether you have an emotional fixation on opposing me that you can’t turn off.

  106. The emotional part is what is hard to control.

    Once I realize that the people who comment are sorely lacking in personal knowledge and simply do it out of spite, it becomes easier to handle. Actually I think this classification of trolls or haterboys is actually one process of rationalizing this and setting up a defence against future attacks.

    Of course, there are a few who make assumptions about one’s character based on some writings and then start a vicious but indirect campaign to demoralize or demotivate the object of hate. I think most people who are experienced at online forums or discussion groups slowly develop a thick skin to emotional abuse. It becomes an occasional occupational hazard of championing any cause.

  107. # El Capitan Mongulo Says:
    > Anger is never a good way to react to something.

    Nonsense, anger is frequently a good way to react to some things.

    > One time two years ago I was so angry I worked myself up into
    > psychosis and set fire to things.

    Burning things (that don’t belong to you) is rarely a good way to react to things, getting a psychosis is rarely a good thing. Anger only rarely leads to psychoses.

    > God has helped me to control my feelings.

    You are aware that, according to the Bible, God gets angry all the time. He was really ticked off when Saul’s army didn’t kill all the babies in 1Samuel 15. Jesus was pretty pissed at those guys buying and selling in the temple. (I wonder what it would think of Joyce Myer flogging her books at the back of the church?)

  108. # esr Says:
    >I think it’s because people espousing stupid or immoral ideas can make the world and my future a worse place

    Does getting mad fix the problem? Or does presenting a different, rational perspective more likely to effect change. (Not, btw, to the zealot, but to the undecided middle.)

  109. >Does getting mad fix the problem? Or does presenting a different, rational perspective more likely to effect change.

    Both have their places, I think. Anger can be motivating and useful, but unless you have other psychological resources to draw on it’s a dead end.

  110. Corporate Code Monkey Says:

    Does getting mad fix the problem?

    I think this is the stage where we have to rationalize:

    1. Whether the cause we champion is worthy enough (relatively speaking from our own POV) of getting mad about.
    2. Whether the anger is directed and channelized correctly.
    3. Whether the anger will eventually lead to action that can have some positive impact.
    4. What are the negative consequences of uncontrolled or prolonged anger on the same subject?

    In short do a cost-benefit analysis of the anger?

    I know that it’s hard to see everything from this view, as some topics are too emotional to be evaluated on that scale, but at some point we have to realize that our own life is as important to you as bigger causes and unless you’re an activist or political leader by profession your anger alone is unlikely to lead to action at some point.

    You can strongly disapprove of anything without getting too worked up over it.

  111. I strongly disapprove of the incessant navel gazing in this thread.

    (And the stench of Eric’s feet, but I don’t have to endure that nearly as often, or for as long.)

  112. I was an iconoclast hater as a young teenager. I was indeed very unsuccesful in life at that point, very angry, and very anti-authoritarian (that I still am, which is quite useful with a more mature mindset) but a little too smart to be a poo slinger.

    At any rate, I find your description spot on. Well said.

  113. Ha. I actually just remembered around 2003, at the peak of my haterosity, getting in a huge flame war with Kevin Rose from the now long gone TechTV channel on a web forum he ran back then. The forum was filled with fanboy script kiddies, and it was the perfect example of me trying to play the iconoclast role. Ahhhhh memories.

  114. >I strongly disapprove of the incessant navel gazing in this thread.

    I don’t believe anyone here requires your approval. You know where the door is.

  115. I was going to mention that I left a link to this post in the comments there, too. I think the two go together reasonably well, though some of the comments here are more to the point for Robin’s post than the main post itself. Which is why I quoted one of The Monster’s comments along with the link.

  116. >I have the same tendency; that affects me in a way personal attacks seldom do. I think it’s because people espousing stupid or immoral ideas can make the world and my future a worse place in ways that personal attacks on me cannot.

    These days, being a recent deconvert, I have an interminable impulse to roll my eyes at religious comments (and I have to be a self-flagellant given that I continually hang out in a forum dominated by Christians, but I suppose the utility of being around rather decent people outweigh indulging their predilections).

    The reason I’m annoyed at my own tendency is that, even if I hold those beliefs to be wrong and dangerous, I don’t think I should be getting angry at someone who has done me no personal harm. I’m not very capable of separating the idea from the person espousing it, which is troublesome since their actual actions leave me to reason to be angry with them.

  117. The reason I’m annoyed at my own tendency is that, even if I hold those beliefs to be wrong and dangerous, I don’t think I should be getting angry at someone who has done me no personal harm.

    Why not? It’s perfectly justifiable to get angry at someone who is, for example, spreading false facts about important subjects, or who is spreading ideas that lead other people to damaging behavior. Of course, one doesn’t (and usually shouldn’t) respond by setting fire to things. It is possible to be angry and still control one’s behavior. It’s even possible to be angry but still polite.

  118. A lot of people become angry from reading blogs and internet forums. A solution needs to be found for this.

  119. >A lot of people become angry from reading blogs and internet forums. A solution needs to be found for this.

    No, because you’ve misidentified the problem. Anger is not a problem in itself; incivility and violence are problems.

  120. >Why not? It’s perfectly justifiable to get angry at someone who is, for example, spreading false facts about important subjects, or who is spreading ideas that lead other people to damaging behavior. Of course, one doesn’t (and usually shouldn’t) respond by setting fire to things. It is possible to be angry and still control one’s behavior. It’s even possible to be angry but still polite.

    Perhaps I’m just still mired in the deconversion haze, but one of the processes I had to go through was not condemning others for their beliefs, but for their actions. On one hand, I do understand what you’re saying since beliefs and ideas induce action, so someone espousing one particular belief or idea could be said to be culpable when is spurs an immoral action. On the other hand, when someone is, despite said belief, otherwise very pleasant and upstanding – and especially when they espouse for ideas and beliefs you agree with, even if you find it contradictory with their other beliefs and ideas – it’s a rather harsh disincentive to remain angry with them.

    That being said, I do try to remain polite when discussing it, or if it’s something just in passing I just tend to ignore it.

  121. Perhaps I’m just still mired in the deconversion haze, but one of the processes I had to go through was not condemning others for their beliefs, but for their actions.

    I’m a bit confused about what your problem was and/or is. If you’re saying, “I used to get angry with people because of their beliefs,” I suppose I can understand that, if you were concerned that their beliefs are so wrong as to be damaging. That gets into the line between being angry with the idea versus being angry with the behavior (e.g., their promulgation of a damaging idea).

  122. Maybe I’m misinterpreting what he’s saying, but I think what Brian Scott experienced (or is experiencing) is a phenomenon that occurs frequently among newbie neopagans: being appaled t everything related to the subject’s former religion (Christianity) because the subject has recently rejected it. (A favorite pastime of newbie neopagans is to sit around and Christian bash.) A good example of this phenomenon in action for a Christian-to-atheist “conversion” is the movie The God Who Wasn’t There, which, while it has lots of good information and rational thought contained in it, also comes across a bitter anti-Christian diatribe. Which, for some, is part of its entertainment value. ;)

  123. Have you developed a taxonomy, or discovered any recurring patterns, which would correspond to your respectful and well-intentioned critics?

  124. >Have you developed a taxonomy, or discovered any recurring patterns, which would correspond to your respectful and well-intentioned critics?

    What, you mean other than that they can actually think? No, not really. Now that you mention it, though, the comments I made about haterboys vs. fanboys can be extended in that direction. Just as fanboys display more individuality and variation in behavior than haterboys do, the respectful and well-intentioned critics are even more individual and resistant to stereotype than the fanboys.

  125. Suppose you have been, for as long as you can remember, an obsessive rationalist. I mean this in Eliezer Yudkowsky’s sense that you aggressively seek ways to think more clearly and correctly, and Alfred Korzybski’s sense that you regard the practice of semantic hygiene and consciousness of abstracting as tantamount to a moral duty. You have a huge portion of your ego invested in the proposition “I am a master-class rationalist”; that belief is more definitive of your self-image than anything, anything else you can say about yourself. In that case, “egotism” may manifest as a determination to self-correct on error as rapidly as humanly possible, and to do so in public both as a form of social penance and as a signal of your adherence to rationality.

    I like this paragraph:)

    On many blogs that seriously attempt to carry on an intelligent conversation, there are a significant minority of commenters who fall somewhere between fanboy and haterboy. ‘Nitpicker’ might be a good term.

    Often they are a variation of the description above; they are so mired in the minutiae of being right that any phrase not rendered perfectly causes any number of replies, all meant to demonstrate the truth and subtlety of their thoughts, and all equally contrarian and only of passing value in advancing the discussion.

    Many of them are academics, which raises the inevitable question regarding their cultural milieu. For we real-worlders have long harbored the suspicion that most of the billions in pubic research is being spent on the little things.

    I find it is the Nitpicker more than the Haterboy that reduces my fun on most websites. As you said, Haterboys are so easily ignored.

  126. >Maybe I’m misinterpreting what he’s saying, but I think what Brian Scott experienced (or is experiencing) is a phenomenon that occurs frequently among newbie neopagans: being appaled t everything related to the subject’s former religion (Christianity) because the subject has recently rejected it.

    Mr. Greywolf has the right of it. That’s why I said I envy ESR: while I’m appalled at it now (and I hope I’m legitimately appalled, rather than just being a rebellious twit :P ), it really isn’t hurting me any more than it already has before, so to speak. It’s why I don’t think I should be so angry with it.

  127. @Brian Scott:

    Being angry at actual dangerous thinking, regardless of what religion that thinking is attached to, is probably justified. Being angry at a line of thinking just because it’s associated with a particular religion is probably not. This is a very fine line sometimes, and it’s always important to re-evaluate your thinking from time-to-time.

  128. The proposed taxonomy suffers imho from a fundamental weakness: haters/critics are mainly being classified according to their supposed psychological state, to their beliefs and intentions – especially to intentions they do not make explicit. Although it’s perfectly valid and even necessary in any conversation to create a model of the other persons state of mind, in the end this is still an interpretation of whats being said aloud. And of course this interpretation depends as much on our own worldview (and experience, intelligence, mood,…) as on the others statements. Examples:
    EOF: “…he thinks he could have been as famous and successful as you, or should have been…”
    Iconoclast: “..unable to retain the fact that nobody bought them the first time..”, “emotional fixation”
    peevish adolescent: “helps him feel marginally less inadequate”
    zealot: “posturing for status”
    The other criteria in this taxonomy are more objective: it’s the actual stated content of the argument the “hater” (another interpretation) makes. The attack is usually that he questions ESRs self-ascribed status or his accomplishments, the same contested points come up again and again, this would, in my opinion, make a much better taxonomy. As an alternative, one could use the actual style in which the attack is being made, but without making the jump from style to intention. Since ESR clearly has an emotional stake in every argument, his guessing of intentions could only be used to classify the ways he can react to each kind of attack.

    There are common taxonomies of trolls and troublemakes on the internet, however, the attacks in this forum are (usually) not of this type.

  129. @Morgan Greywolf:

    I do understand that. I don’t plan on throwing everything away just because I no longer believe. There are, I think, useful ideas in the Judeo-Christian line of thought, it’s just that they’re attached to quite a bit of unjustifiable premises (some of which, ironically enough, are immoral).

  130. >>Have you developed a taxonomy, or discovered any recurring patterns, which would correspond to your respectful and well-intentioned critics?

    >What, you mean other than that they can actually think?

    And communicate clearly and rationally???

  131. David Evans > Fair points. No doubt you *have* been systematically attacked on the web.

    > And the scripted nature of many attackers is something we can relate to. They are getting
    > their material from a couple of website that encourage them to go and suppress skeptics.

    A bit late to return to this, but one thing I also notice re: those working from an apparent set of talking points is that when you reply, the first they accuse you of is…. working from “talking points.”

    Aside from the lack of received talking points from authority (while being forwarded the same *for them* by those accusing me of it…) – apparently, they can’t imagine you’ve looked at various sides of the issue and decided on that perspective for yourself.

  132. > Not replying to trolls in newsgroups (not aimed at me) became pretty easy once I thought of them as troll dolls
    > pathetically pressing their helpless little hands and noses up against the plate glass window of my inattention.

    I love that visual. Thank you.

  133. @Jessica So .. you think grabbing people and shaking them is belligerence? Hmmmm…. Let me think about that one. It’s possible that you’re correct.

  134. You might also be interested in the Hatedom and Hate Dumb articles on TV Tropes.

    It seems that fanboyism and haterboyism are two sides of the same coin: unrealistic views of the target. In the case of fanboyism, it’s unrealistic idealization, and in the case of fanboyism, unrealistic demonization.

    (As an aside, why does this phenomenon seem to be more prevalent in males, hence the “-boy” suffix?)

  135. Sign me up as a fanboy. I think you (esr) are smarter than I am, and know lots of things about which I don’t know jack.
    I do sympathize with you, as far as wanting the State to leave me alone, and thinking that it’s only prudent for a grownup to arm hisself.

  136. I wonder if this post will cause anyone to realize that they’re producing the 60 cycle hum, and that it’s a problem.

    As for talking points (also known as [filling in] bingo cards), I think they’re just an inevitable result of humans chewing over disputes that have been around for a while. It’s hard to come up with something new to say, so everyone repeats themselves a lot in the hopes of being convincing. It’s much easier to notice how repetitious the other side is.

    Once in a while, a new node gets added to the flowchart.

  137. Hey, can’t I be both an Embittered Old Fart and also a fanboy? I’ll be sixty in a few months, I’ll have you know. When people ask me what my profession is, I answer “educator.” If they inquire further, I say “There ain’t nuthin so educational as an horrible bad example!”

  138. >Hey, can’t I be both an Embittered Old Fart and also a fanboy? I’ll be sixty in a few months, I’ll have you know. When people ask me what my profession is, I answer “educator.” If they inquire further, I say “There ain’t nuthin so educational as an horrible bad example!”

    Heh. I suspect you’re failing the “embittered” requirement, actually, but I won’t tell anyone if you won’t.

  139. (As an aside, why does this phenomenon seem to be more prevalent in males, hence the “-boy” suffix?)

    Back in the 1970s when the term was coined, it was vastly more prevalent in males. These days, fangirls and hatergirls are prevalent enough to form a market segment in their own right: without them, Stephenie Meyer would be another dowdy housewife posting garbage fiction to the internet somewhere.

  140. Been away from this thread for a few days and had a really great xmas weekend. I’m somewhat surprised to see that many of the ongoing posts have gotten more biting and chaotic. Perhaps this was inevitable, but sad nonetheless.

  141. “There ain’t nuthin so educational as an horrible bad example!”

    The difference between “education” and “experience”: “education” is learning from someone else’s mistakes.”

  142. Brian Scott:
    > Perhaps I’m just still mired in the deconversion haze, but one of the processes I had to go through was not condemning others for their beliefs, but for their actions. On one hand, I do understand what you’re saying since beliefs and ideas induce action, so someone espousing one particular belief or idea could be said to be culpable when is spurs an immoral action

    *Espousing* a belief… is an action.

    Preach the gospel daily… using words when necessary. (Note that I’m a militant agnostic, not a religionist.)

  143. Declaring opponents as being emotional, irrational fanboys crippled by hate is a classic tactic of marginalization.

  144. Ken Burnside: The reason I laugh at people who think Eric’s an egotist is this: If you catch Eric in a mistake, he acknowledges it. Quickly. And often publicly. However, it has to be an actual mistake, not just a “I don’t agree with your interpretation of events or utilities.”

    I was going to disagree strongly with this, but on further consideration… I think Eric applies an undue amount of skepticism to claims that clash with his own (I remember a needlessly involved back-and-forth about the origin of device-independent raster formats in which he seemed loathe to update on the information provided), but, well, everyone does that, and I can’t think of a situation in which he’s been unconvincible on plain matters of fact–the fingers-in-ears, head-in-sand sort of thing.

    But I don’t think that doesn’t mean his ego doesn’t cause him to double down on matters where he’s made a mistake. (I still wonder what he’d do if, on arriving at the airport, a gaggle of angry men informed him that their sniffers had gone off and he should display his underwear immediately or be shot. Was this situation even considered when he proposed that everyone carry explosive-sniffers to the airport?) I think it predisposes him to overreach in his claims–he’ll take something true, like the fact that he worked on a very important graphics library which was instrumental in the adoption of GIF, and expand that into personal responsibility, at least in part, for the fact that we have device-independent raster image formats today at all.

    I’m guessing that he sees me as the Iconoclastic type.

  145. Declaring opponents as being emotional, irrational fanboys crippled by hate is a classic tactic of marginalization.

    What if your opponents actually ARE emotional, irrational fanboys crippled by hate? Are you still not allowed to say so?

  146. While I enjoy the actual analysis part of your smart phone market posts, you often sound like an Embittered Old Fart Apple haterboy. :)

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