It’s interesting who else has a troll problem

As Vox Day has been increasingly distancing himself from the world of science fiction and dedicating more of his time to tilting at the windmills of large tech-platforms, I’ve been taking less of an interest in his antics. However, as I was writing about trolls yesterday it is appropriate to write about a different troll problem today.

It seems Vox is beset by a troll problem. Having spent a bit of mind-numbing time looking at various Reddit threads and some incoherent You Tube videos, it is fair to use the term ‘troll’. We aren’t talking about argued responses to Vox Day’s behaviour but rather people clearly trying to wind the guy up. Politically the stuff is coming from the same cess-pit of anti-Semitism and conspiracy theories as Vox’s base. However, the dank-meme subculture was a ready recruiting ground for Vox Day’s brand of extreme white nationalism for years, so attacks from this direction are interesting politically.

The substantive complaint is around Day’s “Unauthorised TV”: a subscription video service that is part of his alternative tech platform plan. The scenario is a familiar one to readers here: Day announced a big bold plan that will a numerous features (like the buttons of the Open-Office Mouse) and will end up as a rival to mainstream equivalents (just as Castalia House was supposed to surpass Tor). There is a flurry of activity and recruitment and money raising (again, think of Voxopedia). An actual, tangible minimum viable product genuinely is delivered (again, Voxopedia) but it is substantially less than the original vision. Don’t worry! All those other features are on the way, the true believers are told and maybe there is more money raised. The amazing features never eventuate and again, consider Voxopedia remains jut a clumsy, vandalised copy of Wikipedia that a tiny number of editors struggle to stop drifting further out of date — none of the amazing capabilities (such as different versions of articles based on you political position) have ever eventuated and they never will.

The same seems to be true of Unauthorised TV. I say ‘seems’ because obviously I’m not subscribing and also I didn’t track what was originally promised. Defenders of Vox Day can correctly point out that the basic promise is delivered (e.g. Castalia House genuinely did publish actual books, with covers and a modicum of copy-editing) and detractors can point out the gulf between the reality and the fever-dream ambitions. [Speaking of which, I wonder what happened to that comic book movie…]

The broader context is the deeper divisions within the alt-right. In particular the current strength around the so called “groypers”, the latest iteration of extreme nationalists with a cartoon frog obsession who are associated with the latest white nationalist leader Nick Fuentes (https://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Nick_Fuentes ). The other element is Vox Day’s alliance with the increasingly unstable Owen Benjamin (see here for earlier coverage https://camestrosfelapton.wordpress.com/2019/10/25/vox-day-sort-of-denies-he-is-a-flat-earther/ ).

Alt-right figures follow what I call a dark-wizards rule. Being territorial and ideologically anti-social (not the same as personally anti-social) and dogmatically committed to clear social hierarchies, you can’t have two of them in the same general space unless it is in a lord-vassal* (or if you prefer, master-apprentice) arrangement. Where somebody like Vox Day maintains patterns of allies it is where those allies have their own environmental niches and where they can offer each other things transactionally (e.g. Milo Yiannopolous, Mike Cernovich or Stephan Molyneaux) and where they may even ostensibly have marginally less similar politics.

So Fuentes rise in popularity was going to lead to a feud with Vox Day, which is what happened but slowly and with an intermediate feud between Owen Benjamin and Fuentes first. The details of the feuding don’t really matter as they weren’t questions of substance and Owen Benjamin is incoherent even by the standards of a whole subculture of incoherence.

Skipping forward in time. Reddit (particularly sections dedicated to Owen Benjamin) and various YouTube channels (the people concerned hop around accounts a LOT because of repeated bans and rule violations) have got it in for Vox Day big time. I’ve seen nothing new here** (these aren’t people doing original research) and there’s no deep ideological difference, it is just a mish-mash of stuff (I even saw a screen-gab of a page from here included) and stupid nicknames and homophobic insults (and random anti-Semitism). In short: trolls…but trolls aiming their trolling at a guy who tried to weaponise trolling.

On Friday matters must have come to a head for Vox Day and he announced an ultimatum:

“I’m giving Davey Crocko, RealOwenBenjamin, ultrafuzzyforeigner, and the rest of the Unauthorized-hating gamma trolls on Reddit and YouTube 24 hours to come clean, declare their real identities, admit their actions, and thereby avoid having the wrath of the VFM and the Legal Legion of Evil crash down upon their heads.”

http://voxday.blogspot.com/2019/12/24-hours-trolls.html [link for reference – not recommended to follow it]

Whether that is an idle threat or has some substance I don’t know but the reaction from the trolls was derisive. Day is also claiming that there have been some sort of cyber attacks on some of the tech services. I’ve no way of ascertaining whether there is any truth in those claims and there are zero people involved in this fuss who could be regarded as a reliable source.

In a substantial dose of even more unwitting irony, Day himself is now bemoaning the quality of online discourse these days:

“In what is a crushing refutation of libertarian theory, the Internet and the devolution of what were once civilized anonymous discussion spaces on bulletin boards and CompuServe have clearly demonstrated that Man cannot handle the freedom of a perceived lack of accountability.”

http://voxday.blogspot.com/2019/12/the-troll-wars.html

He’s also concerned about how there’s no way forward other than legalistic means:

“No matter how we react – and notice that we did ignore it for months until events yesterday rendered that impossible – there has never been anything to it. By this bizarrely twisted illogic, people only react to true accusations, against which stands the entire history of written and case law dealing with defamation, slander, and libel.”

http://voxday.blogspot.com/2019/12/an-interesting-perspective.html

Which takes me back to a point I have made before. The SFWA and later the WSFS membership absolutely did the right thing in the end by taking an uncompromising response to Vox Day’s antics. Following his OWN advice on how to handle those whose only aim is to act in bad-faith and disrupt an organisation and the discourse within an organisation, is to not attempt to reason or become further embroiled in a bad-faith discussion.

tl;dr obnoxious people are shouting at each other.

*[See also the distinct pecking order within the Sad Puppies]

**[Aside from one point: there is a claim that the video service Day is promoting is actually using Vimeo’s infrastructure. Which is a bit ‘so what?’ However, the argument is that this disproves that Day is spending the money on a tech platform independent of the mainstream tech platforms.]

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17 responses to “It’s interesting who else has a troll problem”

  1. “In what is a crushing refutation of libertarian theory, the Internet and the devolution of what were once civilized anonymous discussion spaces on bulletin boards and CompuServe have clearly demonstrated that Man cannot handle the freedom of a perceived lack of accountability.”

    Oh gee, if only someone had foreseen the problem and warned us all about it!

    Liked by 3 people

      • @Cam —

        “And it’s a very rose-tinted view of the past to think bulletin boards and CompuServe were civilized.”

        As a former mod of both bbs and CS forums myself, I’ll say they at least had mechanisms in place to maintain minimum standards of civility.

        Liked by 2 people

        • True – and I think a key element was exactly that. These places had people trying to enforce and establish community rules. Those rules often had issues (often systemic ones) like the rules of any community but there were people involved.
          Facebook, Amazon, twitter, Goodreads etc have tried to manage content at a scale that makes human intervention a line of last resort and it just doesn’t work.

          Liked by 3 people

          • “Facebook, Amazon, twitter, Goodreads etc have tried to manage content at a scale that makes human intervention a line of last resort and it just doesn’t work.”

            Exactly.

            Liked by 3 people

    • It is obvious that this guy has never visited FidoNet or its smaller siblings on the BBS era of late 80s-early 90s.
      Discussions, yes. Anonymous, partially. Civilized, mostly never.

      Liked by 1 person

    • I know it’s a typo, but “screen-gab” strikes me as an incredibly apposite term for a huge fraction of the Actually Existing Internet.

      Liked by 5 people

      • I thought at first Cam had done that on purpose until I looked at the context a little more carefully. Driving 9+ hours in the pouring rain may admittedly have affected my judgement.

        Like

  2. Well, now I’ve heard of Fuentes, which isn’t something that improves my life tbh.

    I’m going to guess that VD is upset that this baby alt-righter has managed to outflank his old “cuckservative” shtick.

    Liked by 6 people

  3. Beale tried to use the Sad Puppies to get to a higher position with the Gamergate crew and right wing media, supposedly extending the right wing mediasphere control/disruption to written fiction. But the Sad Puppies started whining as soon as the negative media coverage of their antics came out and centered on Beale as their supposed leader. Gamergate fell apart after having done chaotic damage, with its main organizing agents (Breibart.com) moving on to other areas. And the people running the Dragon Awards were sympathetic to Beale and Puppies, but not wanting another run of Castalia House titles in their nominations, like what happened with the Hugo voting block.

    So Beale moved on to comics to try to raise his profile and latched on to Comicsgate. Comicsgate, as we know, was a lucrative scam for crowd fundraising money for a few right-wing indie comic books by those on the edges of the comics industry and more importantly, a video streaming money maker for both a few comics people and folks who had benefited from and organized Gamergate. It continued the cry of rage that women were working and having major roles in comics and other areas, and claiming that they were destroying the comics industry. And the gaming industry. And anime. And Star Wars, and so forth.

    But Beale did a major misstep because he tried to claim the title of Comicsgate for his own operations. He tried to take it over just as he’d taken over the Puppies. And those who had made themselves major figures in Comicsgate and used it for lucrative videos did not like this. In particular, the most successful of them Ethan Van Scriver did not like this, and Beale was under a lot of attack from those who had just before been inclined to include him. So Beale moved on to media/tech/streaming to boost his profile instead, but there are a lot of You Tube streamers who are still going to swipe at him for the Comicsgate debacle.

    And tech/net/streaming is the big money, highest profile area. Beale’s had some influence there, but he’s still small fry. His current inability to enter the U.S. means he can’t do the lucrative right wing U.S. speaking circuit or be much involved in disruption efforts at U.S. universities, which limits profile raising in the biggest arena. Beale being highly critical of Jordan Peterson, declared the soulful philosopher of the “Intellectual Dark Web” — the real money makers, also didn’t help him since he then alienated Peterson’s sector, just as Peterson is building his own Glen Beck-like web empire through his daughter (despite his whole schtick being that women are inferior.)

    Fuentes is like 21 years old and already a major figure in the right wing mediasphere. There are a number of these guys, aged 20-25, who are leading violent white nationalist groups and have picked up various fragmented followers after Charlottesville, the ones itching to get into violent actions and nasty harassment campaigns. And Fuentes has set his people not simply against the left but against the “old guard” of the not even a decade old alt right contingent and their “respectability” politics trying to mainstream bigotry. So if Beale is allying with someone Fuentes is using for target practice — and who seems to be losing media platforms — and whining about civility, he’s already labelled himself an old man of the right wing, not important, good for trolling.

    Liked by 5 people

  4. I think the phrase that fits here is “live by the sword, die by the sword”, except you can replace the word sword with “trolling”.

    Like

  5. “he buttons of the Open-Office Mouse” Surely you mean the WarMouse Meta ™, the most terrifying accessory for PC or Mac ever created!

    Although personally I’m holding out for the WarMouse Zeta, which will have a miniature keyboard on top of the buttons, so you can type while you click.

    Liked by 3 people

    • What we need is a keyboadr, on a mouse, on a keyboard, so we can type while we mouse, while we type. Maybe there should be a fully-featured joystick-and-throttle integrated, so we can pretend to be hot-shot pilots while we type-mouse-type.

      Liked by 2 people

  6. Christ it’s so hard to take anything Teddy does seriously since he absolutely insists on his ridiculous acronyms and names for things. They’d be stupid in one of his terrible novels; in real life they’re just utterly pathetic.

    Liked by 2 people

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