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Monday, July 03, 2006

Personal pronoun trouble and a stay of execution

See, this is why I failed statistics.  Twice.

I'm sure part of the problem can be attributed to the fact that yesterday's poll was hopelessly flawed and neither covered all the choices nor encouraged unbiased responses. 

But still... does anyone else find it strange that the poll results were extremely skewed towards 'outing' the troll, while the comments were almost unanimously in favor of showing restraint and simply deleting/ignoring the troll droppings?

And the thing that really has me shaking my head in wonder is the fact that 100% of you who were kind enough to offer your advice made the assumption that my troll is a man.*   If you reread my post, I was very careful to use gender-neutral personal pronouns (e.g. it, they, etc.).  I did this because in this specific case my troll is actually a woman.

Perhaps we tend to assume that such overtly aggressive behavior would be more typically attributable to a man.   But in my limited experience, troll-like behavior seems to span the gender divide pretty evenly.

I haven't yet decided what to do (or not do) about my present troll, but I am willing to take a 'wait and see' approach now that there has been an entire troll-free day (yesterday's comment from 'attempt3' was actually a copycat troll who lives in Cincinnati... not even on the same continent as my troll). 

Trolls willing, regular non-political journaling will resume tomorrow.

* Update:  One late commenter held out the possibility of a female troll by using 'he/she'.


Posted by David Bogner on July 3, 2006 | Permalink


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OOH!! I've never been update worthy before! I did note your gender neutral post and, knowing my own tendencies towards aggresive writing ( which I do attempt to hold in check!), couldn't rule out the possibility that your troll was female.

I didn't vote the first time, only commented. Perhaps there were others who failed to tick off a choice and wrote their response instead. That could account for the skewed results.

Posted by: nrg | Jul 3, 2006 11:40:27 AM

Ohio trolls are the worst.

Posted by: Jack | Jul 3, 2006 11:53:16 AM

Hee hee.

A she-troll.

For some reason I find that amusing.

Hee hee.

(Troubling, too - but also amusing. I wonder how Disney would animate a she-troll.)

Posted by: Sarah | Jul 3, 2006 12:09:31 PM

I did notice that the commenters, who mostly said to ignore the troll, were women. Perhaps our experience with miniature troll wannabees has given us some experience?

Posted by: westbankmama | Jul 3, 2006 1:06:16 PM

Is the proper form for a she troll "trollop?"

Posted by: Oceanguy | Jul 3, 2006 1:39:54 PM

I guess trolls and hackers are unified in my mind, therefore I assumed this individual was a man.

Posted by: Alice | Jul 3, 2006 3:12:01 PM

I had a troll once, some demented woman called Nancy Goldberg, I think. She breathed in Lisa's general direction as well. It bothered her that I was depressed bcs Uzi had been killed. Do you know, she actually cheered me up, there but for the grace of God and genes...

Trolls are mostly delete-worthy.If they truly were vile and nasty (i.e., past a level which I'm not sure of bcs I don't have trolls so never really think abt it) I would out them. People need to realise that actions do have consequences and that the ethernet is only very apparently impunity-free. No reason to do here what they're too cowardly to do IRL. If a troll is brave enough to correctly ID ITself, well, that's a bit different - but trolls hardly ever do do they. Now, if the were hysterical - my sarcasm and I would pretty ourselves up and go hunting, but that's simply my snarkonodes speaking.

Lionesses find trolls tasty - eh, and easy.

Posted by: Lioness | Jul 3, 2006 3:39:01 PM

That's funny David. I noticed that too in all the comments that everyone seemed to assume it's a man. But then it's just the way we assume genders to specific objects.

Posted by: jaime | Jul 3, 2006 3:48:41 PM

nrg... I've never seen anyone so excited about being an afterthought. ;-)

Jack... Mostly because they are accustomed to the toxins in the environment. :-)

Sarah... Happy to have amused you. :-)

Westbankmama... The kinder, gentler demographic of my readership? :-)

Oceanguy... No.. that would be what Annapolis plebes sought while out on liberty. My intel tells me that the area of Maryland immediately around the academy was considered a particularly target rich environment for trollop hunting. ;-)

Alice... In my limited experience I have met far more female hackers than males. In fact most of the guys I have met who claimed to be hackers couldn't reboot a computer without calling Microsoft tech support. :-)

Lioness... Your vocabulary seems to be much better suited to putting trolls in their place than mine. I need to work on my potty mouth. :-)

Jaime... Um, we are speaking in English here, aren't we. I have enough trouble keeping straight whether a door is feminine (it is) or if an eye is masculine (it's not)... so please don't imply that English nouns have gender. That's like my worst nightmare!

Posted by: treppenwitz | Jul 3, 2006 3:57:46 PM

I noticed that yesterday. My guess was going to be that those of us who are mean and lazy (like me) voted to out the troll but didn't have the time/energy/motivation to comment. Those who commented had more time for a thoughtful nuanced response.

You know how much I hate thoughtful nuance.

Posted by: Doctor Bean | Jul 3, 2006 4:24:03 PM

Now now.

*shakes head*

I never resort to foul language when trolling, the only F-word you'll find is "Frow", as in "Frow yourself in the river" when I'm imitating Becks. Sarcasm is so much more elegant.

You underestimate me! *sobs*

Posted by: Lioness | Jul 3, 2006 4:31:52 PM

"100% of you who were kind enough to offer your advice made the assumption that my troll is a man."

I did not.

Posted by: Yaakov | Jul 3, 2006 4:41:12 PM

Sorry, honey... Yaakov isn't the only non-gender-bender you overlooked!

Rahel, Marjorie, Tanya, and Liorah assigned NO pronouns what-so-ever. Snoopy-the-Goon, Lisoosh, Jack, Helene, Jersey Boy, Val, Lachlan, and I all used the third-person-plural work-around. And Tracey used the all inclusive he/she.

Even so... your point -- assigned gender value tended to be male if named as one-or-the-ther -- is well taken. However, I think it is simply the way people discuss UNKNOWNs in English. Think about it -- with few exceptions (ships, cars, etc.) most unknown entities are ascribed a masculine value until otherwise corrected -- not just aggressive ones....

Dugma: most people approach you in the park with "Hey! Cute dog! What's his name?" or "Hey! Heard you got a new job! Mazal Tov! What's your new boss like? Is he nice?"

Posted by: zahava | Jul 3, 2006 6:23:34 PM

Hey, now, I leave comments, and let me just say, OUT THE TROLL!!

Posted by: Evan | Jul 3, 2006 6:48:07 PM

This whole discussion reminds me of the tale of the Three Billy Goats Gruff and their troll.

Posted by: Jack | Jul 3, 2006 6:56:05 PM

"Copycat troll"????

Now I've heard everything!

Posted by: RR | Jul 3, 2006 7:02:08 PM

Thanks Zahava - that's exactly what I am referring to. In fact we just got a kitten, and almost everyone, upon meeting her, refers to her as a HE.

(*And isn't it funny about men and their cars - why do they refer to them as she or give them a girl's name? Then again, nevermind, I don't want to know the answer.)

Posted by: jaime | Jul 3, 2006 8:25:20 PM

well I voted but didn't comment so I guess I partially responsible for the confusion,

Posted by: Jonah | Jul 3, 2006 9:05:44 PM

Doctor Bean... I disagree. Subtlety and nuance are not necessarily synonyms. You are not subtle, but I find you perfectly capable of nuanced reasoning.

Lioness... Congratulations! My monitor now has diet 7up on it.

Yaakov... Allow me to rephrase myself: Everyone who used a gender specific personal pronoun chose the masculine form.

Zahava... It's not bad enough that I get fisked by my own wife... but you honestly think ships are given masculine pronouns?! Has being married to an old sailor all these years taught you nothing???

Evan... It would appear that there is a delicate truce in place so for the time being that post will remain in my drafts folder.

Jack... Did you not see my bridge reference earlier? :-)

RR... I was going to use 'attention whore' but I thought it might be a bit vulgar. :-)

Jaime... You really don't want to go there.

Jonah... There is also the possibility that the same anonymity that emboldens people to become trolls is what made some readers choose a much harsher punishment in the poll.

Posted by: treppenwitz | Jul 3, 2006 9:40:03 PM

I'm torn so I didn't vote. I would love for you to out the troll because I am a confrontational person. About half the time it has a good result, which isn't a great average.

Posted by: Alice | Jul 3, 2006 9:51:06 PM

Heh. I thought most of the people were saying "troll", not he or she, but I wasn't paying close enough attention... In my mind, I didn't assign gender though if I had to guess I generally assume "he". I'm not sure why, though - that would be an interesting discussion.

Posted by: Ezzie | Jul 3, 2006 10:07:25 PM

Yes, sailor, being married to a seaman has taught me a thing or two about pronouns! GO BACK AND READ WHAT I WROTE!

I said WITH FEW EXCEPTIONS most unknown entities are attributed a masculine pronoun -- I then listed TWO exceptions -- CARS and SHIPS in parantheses to make my point.... which you MISSED.....


Posted by: zahava | Jul 3, 2006 10:27:54 PM

Oceanuy is right, just ask Robert Aspirin. Female Troll is a Trollop.
We, on our side of the comment section all used the proper gender.

Posted by: JoeSettler | Jul 4, 2006 12:01:14 AM

Seldom has so much been written about so little. Can we get back to solving the world's problems now?

Posted by: Scott | Jul 4, 2006 1:35:38 AM

Hmm. I cheated a bit and noticed that in the comments to the previous ports you specifically wrote "she". I also remembered previous troll-related posts, and just in case you were talking about the same troll as before, I decided to keep it gender-inclusive "he/she".

(I'm a late commenter)

As far as the poll goes, as I wrote in my comment to the previous post, my first instinct was to "out" the troll immediately and completely, and so I voted accordingly. However, as I was reading through the comments, I thought that logistically, it may not be the most effective STRATEGY (the well-being of the troll herself being the last thing on my mind!!!), and thus, my answer in the comments came out to be a bit more... nuanced, shall we say?

Posted by: Irina | Jul 4, 2006 7:05:25 AM

Alice... You're probably right about the odds of a satisfactory outcome.

Ezzie... As I corrected myself; those who used a gender specific personal pronoun seemed to assume it was a man.

Zahava... Does this mean I'll be peeling potatoes and swabbing decks for the foreseeable future? :->

Joe Settler... You must be suitably proud. :-)

Scott... Oh sorry, I thought it was your turn. :-)

Irina... No problem. It's not very important. I just thought it was worth mentioning that so many people (men and women) automatically attributed bad behavior to a man. Thanks for your nuanced answer.

Posted by: treppenwitz | Jul 4, 2006 11:24:09 AM

You seem to be fairly successful, so it gives me great hope for my own future when I read that you failed statistics twice. I barely passed the second time round. I feel your pain...

Posted by: aliza | Jul 6, 2006 12:14:08 PM

This should cover the ussue:



Posted by: SnoopyTheGoon | Jul 6, 2006 11:35:36 PM

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