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I miss killfiles
December 22 2011
Usenet and killfiles
Once upon a time, before the world wide web, the primary way people
communicated was via a technology called Usenet
which, while far from perfect, had the ability to do something that
often isn't possible on today's web discussion boards: It had killfiles.
What killfiles did was make it possible to never see the posts of
an obnoxious person again; the computer program used to read comments
would filter out any posts from obnoxious people.
Facebook has killfiles
Thankfully, Facebook has similar functionality. If someone is acting
annoying or obnoxious, it is possible to block that user so you will
never have to read their drivel again. Just yesterday, there was a
thread about global warming which an obnoxious global
was hijacking, going on and on about his pet theory
and completely ignoring our refutations of his arguments.
So, I killfiled him. Very simple; I went to his user page blocked the
user. Instantly, it was no longer necessary for me to read this person's
drivel on this thread, making said thread far more pleasant to read.
Huffpost.com doesn't have killfiles
It would be nice if other sites had similar functionality. For example,
every time the Huffington Post posts an article about Latino human
rights, such as one
where women are shackled during childbirth
for the crime of being born
in the wrong country, all of the bigots come out of the woodwork and
go on and on about how these people do not deserve basic human rights
because they are illegal
and how they are stealing tax money and
blah blah blah.
Since any argument these trolls make has long since been refuted years
ago, there is no point in arguing with them. The best way to
handle these kinds of people is to have a filter hide their postings
and turn ones back on them.
Unfortunately, the Huffington post does not appear to have a handy way
of letting people do this.
My college roommate
Before I left college to work in the dot-com industry, I had a very bigoted
roommate. He was a very angry and bitter person; when I took his picture, he
flipped off the camera for the pose. He would go on and on about how
non-whites never accomplished anything in society. I finally put him
to task and called him a bigot to his face. We stopped talking after that.
When I later on accidentally left the door locked and had to knock on the
door to get in, he jumped out and practically assaulted me. He was not
a very pleasant person to be around.
Bigots use sockpuppets
After the dot-com bubble popped, I went back to college, majoring in
linguistics. One of
my classes was with Gerald McMenamin, the expert who recently got
national press in his role showing
that someone may have forged email supposedly from Facebook's
. One thing we did in his class was look at a number
of rejected letters to the editor to see if one person was using multiple
names to make his ideas appear to have more support.
The content of the letters was the same kind of bigoted nonsense that
now gets published in the comments section of web discussion boards.
I remember all of us being really offended by the comments, and using
McMenamin's methods to demonstrate that there were only one or two
bigots using multiple "sockpuppet" names to make their bigoted
views appear more popular than they really were.
I'm sure it's the same with these anonymous identities on web discussion
boards: A very small number of people with a large number of sockpuppet
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