Kinds of Trolls
Typical trolls: These are people who troll for the fun of it. Perhaps they get their jollies out of contradicting others on social media. Perhaps they enjoy arguments with people they disagree with. Perhaps their personal ideology compels them to find people to contradict, like a vegan in a meat-eaters group (yes, I’ve seen this).
Spammers: Spammers are robots or people that leave messages in social media. They post click bait to spread malware or to bring traffic to a website or a product that they are trying to promote. Most often spammers never engage in the discussion, though their comments are designed to look like they are actually interacting with your content: “Hey great post! Thanks for the help.” Or, “Sorry you don’t know how to write. I could give you some pointers to make your website better.” Our spam filter discards hundreds of these messages everyday, but a few manage to get through
Condors: One type of troll is a real person who is dropping by to let people know that he’s got a book for sale or he’s available for business. At Isaac Brock we get compliance condors who are essentially fishing for business. We have had cases where readers here at Isaac Brock have engaged the services of such an expert, only to inform us later that they felt ill-served. So generally, we have mixed feelings about people from the compliance industry: in some cases, they may share arcane knowledge that might be useful for the purposes of this blog. On the other hand, we cannot vouch for their services, and we recognize in some cases these people are able to get what amounts to free advertising at Brock. We have never received a penny from a condor in the form of payment, commission or kickback. The same was not true at the Expat Forum, where compliance condors had to pay to play. At the Expat Forum, however, the condors began to control the agenda, and the forum moderators removed several threads with thousands of comments. Isaac Brock, by contrast, has never received any funding from advertisers, and we only rarely censor comments, and we almost never remove posts.
Astroturfers: The main distinction between the typical troll and the astroturfer is the lack of transparency. Astroturfers troll with a hidden agenda. So for example, a pharmaceutical company may pay an astroturfer to visit social media to defend their products. At Isaac Brock Society we have had cases of astroturfers–one confirmed case, but only because the condor who posted with a second identity lacked the sophistication to use a second IP address for his alter ego. The alter ego of this compliance condor came on to reprimand Petros for his hostility against the condor in an attempt to generate sympathy for himself. Those were in the early days of the Isaac Brock Society. From that day forward, we have been suspicious about astroturfing and have tried to learn more about the phenomenon.
Modus Operandi of trolls especially astroturfers
The astroturfer doesn’t have to use anything approaching a real argument and it is perhaps counter-productive to engage the main points of the original post. It suffices to sow discord and doubt. Sometimes, an astroturfer can take a know-it-all approach while always resting on conventional opinion, attempting to discredit the author through accusations of extremism, lack of knowledge or expertise, or mental instability (such as accusing the author of anger). Because the astroturfer sometimes relies on conventional wisdom, an air of paternalism will replace actual rational debate.
Astroturfers also use multiple identities because one of their main goals is to make it look like their views arise from the grass roots. Hence the name astroturf–it is a fake grass roots movement. Indeed, Adam Bienkov writes:
As reported by the Guardian, some big companies now use sophisticated “persona management software” to create armies of virtual astroturfers, complete with fake IP addresses, non-political interests and online histories. Authentic-looking profiles are generated automatically and developed for months or years before being brought into use for a political or corporate campaign. As the software improves, these astroturf armies will become increasingly difficult to spot, and the future of open debate online could become increasingly perilous.
Who might be astroturfing at Isaac Brock?
Since we do not require that people provide a real name or even a real e-mail address, it is absurdly easy for an astroturfer to assume an alias, create a persona, and begin to post comments. We allow this because it permits people who are intimidated by the IRS to feel the courage to comment. But it isn’t paranoid to believe that astroturfers are also coming to Isaac Brock to sow discord and doubt. We are a true grass roots movement which is challenging the triumvirate of government, finance, and compliance industries. In my own posts in particular, especially by setting down Petros Principles, I have questioned the legitimacy of the triumvirate. Hence, it is in their financial interests to monitor and even astroturf at Isaac Brock Society. We are talking about industries with very deep pockets.
We must always be on our guard. Astroturfers do not reveal their conflicts of interest. Since astroturfers may go to elaborate lengths to create fake identities, we must be suspicious of those who challenge the core of our approach–especially when it is a first time poster (though there may even be some who have been with us for a long time). We should be sophisticated when using social media and never allow astroturfers to sway our opinions.
In my view the burden of proof is on the person who has the alias. I am suspicious of anyone who comes onto this blog for the first time just to contradict me. Therefore, if someone talks like a condor, the burden of proof is on them to prove that they are not one–at least for me. Obviously others have shown that they think that they can trust anyone who comes onto Isaac Brock to contradict Petros–and that Petros shouldn’t expect such people to have to prove themselves. However, anyone who wishes to attack me should at least be as transparent as I am–my blogging alias is a thin veneer over a real person.
@BlackKat, Fallows was being typical paternalistic Homelander. We knew back then that we had not chance of changing mainstream American opinion. http://isaacbrocksociety.ca/2012/01/02/my-correspondence-with-james-fallows/
There were many recent migrants to Canada from USA who fought on the side of Isaac Brock to repel the invasion in 1812.
Petros who cares about Fallows?
Who cares about condescending Paternalistic Homelanders?
yes Petros, Canada is a nation of immigrants. Not sure what your point is.
My point is that Isaac Brock is the perfect name, notwithstanding your objections.
I meant what does Fallows have to do with our debate over whether or not the name of this website fits it’s mission. Was he Canadian? Does he have an opinion of what sir Brock represents to Canadians?
I can assure you that we have no intention of making nor would we ever contemplate a name change.
Like I really thought you would.
Petros, your opinions are the gospel.
Since the inception of our website, the only people I know who have objected to the name are you and Fallows.
Any Canadian who would view me, a Canadian citizen at birth, as someone “abiding in Canada” (the Gerald Keddy’s of the world) should not be welcome here. It might seem obvious to some, but the fact that someone would refer to me as an American abiding in Canada warrants it: being US citizen doesn’t make me any less a Canadian. We have a lawsuit defending that premise.
In a way I’m lucky because I know who I am (a Canadian and US citizen) and don’t have to compensate for a situation that might not exist were it not for CBT.
Petros, I could say a lot to rebut your last comment, but instead I will simply suggest that to attack someone else’s viewpoint on the basis that one has not heard of it before is low level discourse.
That’s not to say that I believe that accidental Americans do not exist. Had I not voted in US elections or registered my son after I took the oath of Canadian citizenship, I could have made that claim too. I felt American enough to do those things – accidentals don’t.
Lard knows my opinion is insignificant but I really connected with the name Brock … maybe because my ancestors on my father’s side were United Empire Loyalists. (My mother’s parents were Scandinavian immigrants who embraced Canada as their own). When I dug into Sir Isaac’s story a bit more I thought his fighting spirit was inspirational. I took this to symbolize the struggle to retain at least a modicum of Canada’s dwindling sovereignty against the constant assaults of the USA (FATCA being the latest; TPP being the next in line). I guess I’d hoped people who joined in from other countries would just see the symbolism and not get too hung up on it being “a Canadian thingy”. I’ve been grateful for the support and contributions of each and every person outside the borders of Canada. And that includes the USA. For one thing, the ADCS lawsuit would likely never have been completely funded without worldwide help. Hope this doesn’t inflame anyone. I’m finding it hard to stay mum.
My fear is that this website will more and more be used as a source of information for fellow Canadians as to what the fuss is all about with regard to the Canadian FATCA IGA. In my opinion the Canadian lawsuit does not exist in a vacuum. I believe it is important that as this lawsuit becomes more upfront in Canadian courts and media that Canadians see this as an issue for Canadians rather than as an issue for ‘Americans living in Canada.’ There is an undercurrent of dis sympathy for ‘Americans living in Canada’ whether we all like it or not. In my opinion
this website promotes that image of ‘Americans living in Canada’ rather than dissuades from it. Let’s hope the Canadian courts get it
because the Canadian lawsuit may be the last hope for Canadians living in Canada to be seen as just Canadians.
Well AMEN to your last sentence. And I hope the lawsuit is very soon upfront in Canadian courts but I wonder if it will ever be very much in the media which seems to carry water for the government. The current government now only regrets the lack of discussion before the FATCA implementation bill was passed and conveniently forgets its objections while sitting on the opposition side of parliament.
And amen to your first and last sentence too! See my latest post under a different topic ( unless the mods move it) to the effect that the three plaintiffs and the committee are still here in the hot temps slugging along…..
We could use a cheery word too, as it sometimes feels as though we are lost and forgotten during the current discussions surrounding american politics etc. At least, that’s how I feel these days anyway. But that’s understandable too. I know many are waiting for the day when we can give a litigation update. That day is coming. Could someone donate their spare patience genes to me? My DNA is sorely lacking in them.
Barclay and I both usually love the heat, but not so much this week. Wowsers is it hot in the southern most city in Canada!
And as an aside but of some interest to me: Windsor and Tecumseh ( a suburb town) are currently soliciting funds to erect a bronze monument to no other than Sir Isaac Brock and Chief Tecumseh to commemorate their achievements in our area. This makes me smile as they did capture Fort Detroit.
@ Canadian Ginny
Alas I have precious few patience genes too. Guess that’s why I nose around in so many political arenas … always hoping to sniff out something hopeful. Oddly these distractions keep my mind busy enough to compensate a bit for my lack of patience.
It’s been coolish in the Rockies lately. We seldom get a double digit low temp here (only 3 so far this summer). I’ll try blowing to the east to see if I can ease your heat situation in Ontario. Poor dear Barclay — fur coats aren’t helpful when it’s hot, are they.
Lovely idea about the Brock-Tecumseh monument.
If sufficient conniptions were ever to bring on abandonment of the moniker Isaac Brock Society, consideration could then be given to George Armstrong Custer Society as replacement appellation?
One bright morning in the middle of the night
Two dead boys …
Please,no name change.You have been shooting straight arrows all along.Keep it up.
Agree with you a 1000%.The issue is about Canadians and the government and not about amercans living in Canada and should stay that way.
It’s nice to have dual citzenshop voluntarily, as long as you are married to partners that are congenial but ,what happens when one of them becomes the 800 pound gorilla in the room ?
Accidentals don’t have that choice.Multiple citzenship can be hazardous to one’s health.The novelty
Isaac Brock Society is about much more than Canadians.
Take a look at the sidebar offering resources on how Americans can renounce, comply, and all kinds of matters pertaining specifically to Americans living in Canada, including submissions from Americans abroad to US lawmakers re tax reform.
Thank you for your supportive comment. It feels wonderful to know someone, somewhere, agrees with my concerns “1000 percent.” It is extremely frustrating to see something so clearly and yet have people attack you, sometime mercilessly, for your insights – something I have been dealing with for years at this site dominated by people who identify (on some level at least) as ‘Americans living in Canada.’ You made my day.
Interesting choice of alias by the way.