November 16, 2004

Dsmvwlng

The Great Disemvoweling Webform:

Dsmvwlng

Created by Novalis in response to Henry Farrell's plea:

Crooked Timber: Requests to the lazyweb : A request aimed at those out there with halfway decent coding skills - somebody, somewhere, should write an MT-Disemvowel plugin for Movable Type. For those not familiar with the concept, disemvowelling, pioneered by Teresa Nielsen Hayden, is the most effective troll-repellent yet invented. You leave the troll’s comment up, but remove all the vowels from it. It can still be read by anyone who has a bit of patience, but makes the troll look rather ridiculous. So far, on the very few occasions I’ve had to use it, it’s worked absolutely perfectly. The only problem is that it’s a bit of a nuisance - it takes a couple of minutes to remove the vowels manually from the longer harangues. Seems like something that a not-very-complicated .cgi script could accomplish in a flash - anyone out there up to the task?

Posted by DeLong at November 16, 2004 06:59 PM | TrackBack
Comments

Oh, come on, Brad - I really enjoy reading the comments of Patrick Sullivan, Adrian Spidle, and the other trolls. Why would anyone want to deny them their vowels - or their howls.

Posted by: Uncle Jeffy at November 16, 2004 07:34 PM

Wll, 'll gv y tn scnds t fgr t wht Prfssr DLng thnks f ths pst!

Posted by: Hrld at November 16, 2004 08:33 PM

Buh bye Adrian!

Posted by: Matthew Saroff at November 16, 2004 08:59 PM

On a GNU/Linux system or any similar,
the Dsmvwlng command is

tr -d aeiou < source > destination

Thus, you end up with this:

Crkd Tmbr: Rqsts t th lzywb : A rqst md t
ths t thr wth hlfwy dcnt cdng sklls - smbdy,
smwhr, shld wrt n MT-Dsmvwl plgn fr Mvbl
Typ. Fr ths nt fmlr wth th cncpt, dsmvwllng,
pnrd by Trs Nlsn Hydn, s th mst ffctv
trll-rpllnt yt nvntd. Y lv th trll?s cmmnt
p, bt rmv ll th vwls frm t. It cn stll b rd
by nyn wh hs bt f ptnc, bt mks th trll lk
rthr rdcls. S fr, n th vry fw ccsns I?v hd t
s t, t?s wrkd bsltly prfctly. Th nly prblm s
tht t?s bt f nsnc - t tks cpl f mnts t rmv
th vwls mnlly frm th lngr hrngs. Sms lk
smthng tht nt-vry-cmplctd .cg scrpt cld
ccmplsh n flsh - nyn t thr p t th tsk?

Th cmmnd hs bn vlbl fr mr thn 20 yrs.

Rbrt J. Chssll

Posted by: Robert J. Chassell at November 17, 2004 03:45 AM

"Oh, come on, Brad - I really enjoy reading the comments of Patrick Sullivan, Adrian Spidle, and the other trolls."

And what exactly is the definition of "troll", anyway? Henry Farrell and company seem to define it as anyone who isn't an academic and who dares to disagree with their opinions on a regular basis. It would seem yours is the same: one can disagree with Patrick Sullivan's views, even find them semi-detached from reality or based on faulty logic, but that still doesn't make him a "troll."

As far as I know, Sullivan doesn't come on here to post irrelevant news articles instead of getting his own blog, he doesn't fill the blog with ads for cut-rate suldenafil, and he doesn't come in and emit foul-mouthed rants about commie-liberals. What he *does* do is disagree regularly with the conventional wisdom, and that is what the likes of you and Farrell would seem to wish to relabel as "trolling."

The wish to reside in an echo chamber is hardly consonant with intellectual confidence or integrity in my humble opinion, and as the commenter Dan Hardie makes clear on the CT post Brad DeLong is referring to, what Farrell is asking for is a mighty fine way to make people whose arguments one can't refute look stupid.

Posted by: Abiola Lapite at November 17, 2004 05:03 AM

Vr xctng!

Posted by: tg at November 17, 2004 07:02 AM

If anyone's interested in why Abiola Lapite got banned, it was for the following comment at http://www.crookedtimber.org/archives/002651.html (I told him that I was banning him until he learned how to behave himself in public). Brad - sorry for introducing this to your comment thread - feel free to delete if you feel it's off topic or off colour. I think it's fairly self-evident that he wasn't banned for disagreeing with me, as he'd like to claim.

{Lapite's comment begins here}

Yet more of the same cheap ad hominem, coupled with repeated deliberate misspellings of my name in lowercase, and a virtuoso displaying of mind-reading abilities. You’re such a class act, aren’t you? Brad DeLong gets the point I’m trying to make just fine, and all you’ve shown is that you’re a classless asshole who resorts to pathetic stabs at hauteur when he can’t argue his way out of the cul de sac he’s talked himself into.

Pardon the likes of us for daring to challenge high and mighties like yourself; I forgot that our lot was to be that of hewers of wood and drawers of water for “serious” people like you. Would you have responded in such a contemptuous fashion to someone you thought was from the “right” (i.e. left-wing academic) circles? Fuck you, you smug, snooty, bigoted prick.

Posted by: Henry Farrell at November 17, 2004 07:07 AM

If anyone is wondering why I banned Abiola Lapite, I enclose the relevant comment below (hint: it wasn't because he disagrees with me on a regular basis). Full context is at http://www.crookedtimber.org/archives/002651.html

{Lapite's comment begins}

Yet more of the same cheap ad hominem, coupled with repeated deliberate misspellings of my name in lowercase, and a virtuoso displaying of mind-reading abilities. You’re such a class act, aren’t you? Brad DeLong gets the point I’m trying to make just fine, and all you’ve shown is that you’re a classless asshole who resorts to pathetic stabs at hauteur when he can’t argue his way out of the cul de sac he’s talked himself into.

Pardon the likes of us for daring to challenge high and mighties like yourself; I forgot that our lot was to be that of hewers of wood and drawers of water for “serious” people like you. Would you have responded in such a contemptuous fashion to someone you thought was from the “right” (i.e. left-wing academic) circles? Fuck you, you smug, snooty, bigoted prick.

Posted by: Henry Farrell at November 17, 2004 07:10 AM

W0nt th3y m0v3 t0 "l33t sp34k"?

Posted by: Jeff at November 17, 2004 07:31 AM

These are questions that a lot of people think about, but they should be made clear on the website, especially if you are looking for some fresh opinions to add to your comments sections. When the regular comments section people make a statement, it is almost always predictable.

A lot of people would probably like to make comments, but they are shy and fearful of the ridicule and derision that goes with the commenting sometimes. They may not have time to monitor the posts and respond to attacks and criticisms. Some people simply do not have the time to monitor posts, and can contribute only the one comment occasionally.

Some commenters behave in a very scary fashion and that is also a deterrent to getting new posters. Another thing I have notices is the responding back and forth, using the commenters names, in the comments sections. Is that polite behavior? I would not have done that, except that some commenters consider you "chicken" if you do not respond. You would think that the back and forth comments should be done over private email, not in the comments section, and that if the email address is fake, that person does not want to add that to his/her private correspondence, and that wish should be respected.

The main two questions are:

1. What exactly do you consider troll behavior, and what do you do to that person?

2. What is you policy regarding the f-word, and other swear words? I have noticed that people who use the f-word profusely when they are in agreement with the author are tolerated, while those who are in disagreement are not. Consider the member Daniel Davies, who uses the f-word an awful lot, and he is still a revered Crooked Timber participant, is he not? Seems like a double standard to me. Daniel Davies could be a lot better, if he washed his mouth out with apple flavored shampoo.

Consider the Abiola Lapite reference. I don't see anything particularly offensive about it except that his anger got away with him and he used swear words at the end of his post that detracted rather than added to it.

Because yes, I do agree with him that the "high and mighties" do not really want to be challenged. They would really like us to be their slaves, because their brains are so much bigger than theirs and they are so worthy of our free labor.

In summary, I think that people enjoy reading the posting comments, but you have to monitor them more carefully to see that you are encouraging lively difference of opinion, rather than spending your energy searching for ways to get rid of "trolls." That's an awful word, troll.

Posted by: msk08 at November 17, 2004 08:03 AM

"Henry Farrell and company seem to define [troll] as anyone who isn't an academic and who dares to disagree with their opinions on a regular basis."

Despite being a non-academic (indeed, a high-school dropout) who has disagreed with several Crooked Timberites over time--sometimes rudely, even--I don't recall being called a "troll" by any of them. Maybe our experience differs. Or maybe Abiola Lapite just making shit up.

I do have to wonder at both Brad and Henry missing the fact that "Disenvowelment" has been in the Movable Type Plugin Directory (http://mt-plugins.org/) for months. Isn't that the first place anybody looks for plugins to MT? Or maybe Henry was tripped up by searching for "disemvowel" rather than "disenvowel"? Treacherous, these nonce words.

Posted by: Patrick Nielsen Hayden at November 17, 2004 08:39 AM

"If anyone's interested in why Abiola Lapite got banned, it was for the following comment at http://www.crookedtimber.org/archives/002651.html"

But you didn't have the guts or the decency to quote the remarks by yourself which precipitated the response from me, did you? I made a point that would later be made by others, but instead of challenging it head on, you preferred to first insult me by telling me to think "for once in your life", and then labelling me a "troll" - cheap ad hominem under any definition of the term. What is more, you DID misspell my name in lower case letters, and I know it was deliberate because you didn't make the same "mistake" with anyone else you referred to. When I was being insulted by other commenters on your blog and wrote to you about it, you failed to respond for more than a month, and only then to say you didn't want to "censor" your blog by removing the insults to myself - and yet here you are wishing to disemvowel comments far milder than the one I complained to you about.

The fact is that you are an individual with no intellectual integrity whatsoever, and you don't like to be called on it when you spout BS. You are not one iota any better than Charles Johnson at LGF, however much you like to snear at him for his one-sided moderation of his comments section.

Posted by: Abiola Lapite at November 17, 2004 08:44 AM

"Or maybe Abiola Lapite just making shit up."

Or maybe you ought to actually take the time to read the comment thread in question before accusing others of "making shit up"? That you are treated well by your personal friends and political allies doesn't mean that others who aren't in your shoes get the same treatment.

Posted by: Abiola Lapite at November 17, 2004 08:46 AM

"Or maybe Abiola Lapite just making shit up."

Based on comments above, that seems an entirely credible proposition.

Posted by: zaoem at November 17, 2004 08:50 AM

Patrick - you're quite right, I'd run the wrong search.

Posted by: Henry at November 17, 2004 10:04 AM

I like the "tr" idea -- it presents lots of possibilities besides just vowel deletion. You could replace all s's with c's, or swap all i's with e's.

There are web pages that will l33t-ify (http://www.albinoblacksheep.com/text/leet.php) or rap-ify (http://www.mackers.com/alig/) text.
And maybe the best way to just make a message look silly would be to run it through a couple of language translator pages.

Posted by: Murray Bowles at November 17, 2004 10:06 AM

"Or maybe you ought to actually take the time to read the comment thread in question before accusing others of "making shit up"?"

I have no idea who you or these other folks are, but I just read it; and I was agreeing with you in that thread until you went off on that bizarre tirade. I saw no evidence that you were being dismissed due to lack of qualification or clique-membership or what have you, the guy was dismissing your *argument* because he considered it off-topic. The fact that I (and you, I'd presume) think it was ON-topic doesn't lead to the weird conclusions that you came up with.

Perhaps there's a history between you 2 that suggests this conclusion but I'm not familiar with either of you. So from where I sit, either you flew off without good reason; or you just got played by someone taking advantage of your assumptions.

Posted by: Ken at November 17, 2004 10:45 AM

So let me try this thing out on the Abiola Lapite comment in question:

Yt mr f th sm chp d hmnm, cpld wth rptd dlbrt msspllngs f m nm n lwrcs, nd vrts dsplyng f mnd-rdng blts. Yr sch clss ct, rnt y? Brd DLng gts th pnt m tryng t mk jst fn, nd ll yv shwn s tht yr clsslss sshl wh rsrts t pthtc stbs t htr whn h cnt rg hs w t f th cl d sc hs tlkd hmslf nt. Prdn th lks f s fr drng t chllng hgh nd mghts lk yrslf; frgt tht r lt ws t b tht f hwrs f wd nd drwrs f wtr fr srs ppl lk y. Wld y hv rspndd n sch cntmpts fshn t smn y thght ws frm th rght (.. lft-wng cdmc) crcls? Fck y, y smg, snt, bgtd prck.

Posted by: fling93 at November 17, 2004 11:52 AM

"And maybe the best way to just make a message look silly would be to run it through a couple of language translator pages."

But then, if it's a troll won't it look silliest if you don't do anything to it at all?

If it looks like a serious rational comment until you degrade it, maybe it isn't a troll after all.

Of course it could be off-topic. Or utterly uninformed. Or maliciously disinforming. Etc. It could be something you just don't want to deal with.

Posted by: J Thomas at November 17, 2004 01:58 PM

If Abiola Lapite had made those remarks to anyone in my weblog, he'd have been disemvowelled so fast his head would spin. In the normal course of things, this would be his cue to pop up and tell me:

1. I'm a member of the same Evil Elite that's already been oppressing him.

2. I just can't deal with the Vast Swoop and Power of his arguments.

3. Unfair! Look at what the other guy did!

4. I suck.

5. Some or all of the above.

I'd disemvowel his reply. He'd come back and announce that I Can't Stop Him. I'd disemvowel that bit too, explain that it's not his arguments, and suggest that he take it personally. It would take unusual persistence for him to continue beyond that point, while the dead vowels piled up around my feet.

If he's really being annoying, I have it within my power to demonstrate to him that his comments can also lose their punctuation -- and, in extremis, lose their wordbreaks and turn into five-character code groups. You could still read his comments, but it would be a great deal of work, and amuse only word-puzzle junkies.

The usefulness of this is beyond my power to describe.

Posted by: Teresa Nielsen Hayden at November 17, 2004 06:41 PM

Why isn't it disvowel; then you don't have to worry about disENvowel or disEMvowel (although the latter is a nice pun)?

Posted by: cc at November 18, 2004 07:15 AM

msk08 - spotting trolls doesn't take much energy, and getting them to go away doesn't take much either. Disemvowelling (I like the pun) is good precisely because it is both public and shaming.

We haven't had to use it yet where I write, but I'm glad to have the option, rather than a straight out ban or disappearing the posts (which we reserve for comment spam).

And I don't really see the need for policies, posted or otherwise. Blog comments are not public spaces. I think they're there to enhance the discussion in the blog. People who think otherwise are free to express their views - somewhere else. Lotta room on the web.

Judging when commeters detract from the discussion is part of what running a blog is about. If someone doesn't like my judgement on that issue, they probably won't like the blog either. Which is fine by me.

Posted by: Doug at November 18, 2004 07:56 AM

Smpl Trll Pst: Y lbrls r ll th sm! lwys htng Grg W. Bsh!! nd h's grt mn wh srvd hs cntr hnrbl n th Txs r Ntnl Grd. Nt lk tht sss Jhn Krr wh sht Vt Cng n th bck t tr t stl mdls frm th Nv. trgs!!!

BTW: Lighten up Abiola.

Posted by: pinson at November 18, 2004 08:46 PM

The ONLY shame in all this banter is that ANY of you would seek to silence or alter a voice in this democracy that you would normally fight so hard to protect, particularly the right to free speech. Are you all that afraid of hearing someone else's opinion? Isn't the phenomenon of blogging helping you to achieve what we all so strongly support?

Posted by: John at November 19, 2004 04:14 AM