On Tuesday in our Independent Media class, blogger and founder of Legal Insurrection, William Jacobson spoke about the quiet danger the comments section of a blog could hold. Blog visitors are enabled to use their words freely on the discussion boards and comments section of blogposts and while most of the time a beneficial discussion can take place, internet “trolls” creep in the dark corners of the internet waiting to wreck havoc. And these trolls could be more dangerous than the average blogger may think.
In a Psychology Today article, Dr. Jennifer Gobleck writes flat out that people who are trolls on the internet are terrible people. She continues with research from a study that had found internet trolls typically displayed the “Dark Tetrad” of personality traits: narcissism, Machiavellianism, psychopathy and sadism. It is because of these personality traits that trolls tend to sit on comment threads and wait to annoy other actual users.
This phenomenon has made it difficult for bloggers, as Jacobson said, to leave the comment sections open and anonymous. While many want to see readers actively engaged in their material, they usually don’t wish to have to moderate the comments section like it’s a second grade playground. To be able to leave the section open, I think more and more bloggers will have to use accountability with their users; users will have to log in and give personal information to the blogs so that inappropriate behavior does not ensue, but this also creates an obstacle. Will readers continue to want to engage if it can easily be found out who they are?