Sunday, November 19, 2017

L!AS!

That will be my new shorthand for people who change the subject when the argument is going against them. Look! A Squirrel! There is a guy over at Maggie's who is masterful at it, because he changes the subject by only 10-15 degrees, so you don't notice, and think you are still in the same argument you started with. He eats up a lot of energy of conservatives who could use their time better. Including me, sometimes. I try to be one refutation and out with him.

I will also seem to change the subject in the face of difficult information at times.  Maybe it is more than seeming.  Maybe I do much the same thing.  Yet I do try to tie things back into the original topic with some explanation. When I notice it, anyway.  Some people use that change of topic as an intentional tactic, and I think there is something dishonest about that. I suspect that the people who do it best do it naturally, though.  When they just can't bear to even think a thing they've just been confronted with, their mind slides naturally to something more congenial they'd rather talk about.

8 comments:

Aggie - said...

I've always thought that this particular archangel, if it's the same person we're talking about at Maggies, is part of the progressive-funded internet army that spend their salaried hours trying to refute, foment, subvert, corrupt, and mis-direct every conservative opinion that is aired, as a disinformation campaign and also as a way (as you point out) of sending political energy to ground. Sometimes the return comments on a given subject vary subtly by style, which seems to indicate shift change. Too bad we don't have investigative reporters anymore.

james said...

I wonder how much time it requires to work at Maggies. Unless the army is provided with a database of factoids, the research involved would seem to demand at least an hour or so per day. The comments are tailored, not canned--even drawing from a list of standard replies and tweaking them would take non-negligible time.

How many sites of the size and political bent of Maggies does the web have? It might be interesting to sample a number of them and see how many have their own fallen angels. Distinguishing the special visitors from ordinary trolls might be a bit of an art, unless you spent a long time with each site.

Of course, commenters using canned replies are going to look a lot like your L!AS! types--not because they're trying to distract but because they aren't actually thinking.

james said...

"maggiesfarm.anotherdotcom.com receives about 850 unique visitors and 935 (1.10 per visitor) page views per day which should earn about $10.15/day from advertising revenue. Estimated site value is $4,974.28. According to Alexa Traffic Rank maggiesfarm.anotherdotcom.com is ranked number 431,497 in the world and 0.00017% of global Internet users visit it. Site is hosted in Ashburn, VA, 20149, United States and links to network IP address 52.7.220.168. This server doesn't support HTTPS and doesn't support HTTP/2." (Updated 35 days ago)


For comparison:
assistantvillageidiot.blogspot.com receives about 10 unique visitors and 10 (1.00 per visitor) page views per day which should earn about $0.04/day from advertising revenue. Estimated site value is $19.53. According to Alexa Traffic Rank assistantvillageidiot.blogspot.com is ranked number 12,327,782 in the world and 2.0E-6% of global Internet users visit it. Site is hosted in Mountain View, CA, 94043, United States and links to network IP address 172.217.8.161. This server supports HTTPS and HTTP/2. [[ I suspect this does not match the information you get from blogger. You can scale the number for maggies upwards accordingly. ]]

and
idontknowbut.blogspot.com receives about n/a unique visitors and n/a page views per day which should earn about n/a/day from advertising revenue. Estimated site value is n/a. According to Alexa Traffic Rank idontknowbut.blogspot.com is ranked number 0 in the world and 0% of global Internet users visit it. [[ Not very useful for cross-checking :-) ]]



Anyhow, if Maggie's Farm takes 1 hour/day, and if there are O(400000) similarly trafficked sites, and if O(10%) of them lean conservative and have moderately active commenting--that's about 5000 man-days to troll all of them. That's a heck of a budget--but within the capacity of several nations I can think of. I wonder where you'd site an operation like that. Probably put HQ and research in one place, and distribute the teams in a number of countries, to mix up the IP address space.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

I was thinking more along the lines of throwing some money to a person who might do a lot of it on his own anyway, to keep them encouraged and working. Never likely enough to live on, but something to sweeten the pot. Any money at all also helps you feel part of the team.

Christopher B said...

I think AVI is closer to correct on this. The comment pattern makes it appear that the person(s) is working from a kind of talking points list. There are a fair number of posts at Maggie's that make me think 'red meat for Z' but don't get any attention. The link farm in the morning almost always generates attention so it could be instructions to comment on links to particular articles. That it's simply a predictable post to find is not out of the question. There are a lot of people with jobs that give them plenty of free time. I keep reasonable busy at work but still find time to read and comment a number of places. If you've assembled a semi-organized group via a mailing list of 1500 people then you're only talking about 3 hours per person per day. That's more like a serious hobby than a full time job.

Sam L. said...

Ah, the Gang of Z! I see them with a much greater shift of 90-180 degrees. (Who seem to comment at Coyote blog, too. MUCH less frequently, and not post upon post upon post.)

jaed said...

I used to joke at Megan McArdle's about needing to pay extra for a better grade of troll. I wasn't entirely joking, because (particularly on certain topics) it felt very much like the place was being targeted. No hard evidence, just a feeling.

Christopher B said...

jaed - I read McMegan, too, and think the presence of various trolls is more related to them drifting over from the other articles on the site. Related to AVI's L!AS! theory, some people just seem to like the drama and pot-stirring. I'm also sure that in their own minds they think they are confounding and upsetting the people they engage.