Sunday, May 13, 2012

On blogging, trolls, and a weak heart

On Friday, I had an anti-wind troll show up to jerk everyone's chain with his "wisdom" about the futility of wind power.  To call his remarks moronic would be an insult to real morons.  He actually compared working wind turbines to the stone heads on Easter Island suggesting that both were useless monuments to the egos of fools.

I am not suggesting that folks who disagree with me are automatically wrong, so I attempted to debate the troll.  Of course, I forgot, these clowns only exist to piss you off so of course, he didn't respond to my points.  After several tries, I just deleted the whole mess.

Now I want to encourage comments and some around here are remarkably well written.  So I do not want to shut off comments—something I can do by simply clicking a box.  On the other hand, I work VERY hard on this blog and I do NOT want it trashed up with the comments of fools.  I addition, I have a weak heart so I can only tolerate so much annoying behavior.

I would like to explain why this particular troll enraged me so much.
  1. This is obviously a pro wind-power blog.  The first thing you see at the top of the page is a picture of a blade from a wind turbine.  Coming here as an anti-wind troll shows about as much class as telling homophobic jokes at an obviously gay blog.
  2. I have been a wind enthusiast since I was old enough to successfully fly kites.  I have learned to be an accomplished sailor.  But more importantly, I spent part of my youth in northwestern North Dakota where the wind blows constantly.  The wind is so ever-present, it has been known to drive people crazy.  Wind is such an obvious natural resource, it's hard not to speculate on doing something useful with it while you listen to it howl.  So I have been thinking about these problems for almost 50 years.
  3. In my life, I have been involved in the production of many complex and difficult things—and have enjoyed the experience.  But the downside is that over time, one grows impatient with the worldviews of those who could not build a birdhouse with a gun to their heads.  Converting a society built to run on premium fossil fuels to one running on wind is such a complex project, it literally makes shivers run up my spine.  It is a project so difficult, a 50-year learning curve is likely.  Wind power is NOT a hippie endeavor.  There is a reason why people who create don't allow the unwashed to see their work until it's done.  The only thing worse than the condescending "Well, it will probably look good when you're finished" is the ignorant "Doesn't look like it's going to work."  Unfortunately, it's hard to keep a project like wind power under wraps until its done so the absurd comments from the useless protoplasm is guaranteed.
  4. There are VERY few alternatives to wind.  Fossil fuels face both supply and waste sink problems.  Nuclear power—Fukushima.  So the only question is, "Can we do wind well?" NOT "will we do wind at all!"
Blogs like mine face a delicate balancing act between "casting your bread upon the water" and "do not cast your pearls before swine lest they turn on you."  Well a swine turned on me so I am afraid that in the interests of my seriously weakened heart, I am going to have to apply some strict rules about comments.
  1. Any comments that are trollish in nature will be deleted as soon as I see them.  I will have the final word on these matters.
  2. Anyone who trolls more than once will be banned from this blog—and there is no appeals process.
  3. If this doesn't solve the problem, I'll just turn off the comments.
This is a blog written in the interests of the Producer Classes.  I will turn 63 this summer.  I have been around Producers my whole life and so I can detect the manifestations of a real builder in parts per billion.  If you wish to be welcome in this community, you will exhibit the characteristics of a problem-solver.  I do not have the time or energy to debate mere problem-presenters and I utterly detest folks who think they have accomplished something by becoming a mere critic.  I am a huge fan of the composer Sibelius who once said, "I pay no attention to critics—after all, no one ever built a monument to a critic."  So the rule around here is, "If you want to criticize something—make sure you also offer at least ONE proposed solution for the problem you present."


  1. Excellent ground rules, Jonathan. I thank and support your decision (and I'll bet the vast majority of readers do, too). Stick to your guns.


    You should bear up to being trolled as a badge of honor for standing up against the great Petroleum Noise Machine. I believe there is already a term for being a paid Koch Sucker but it escapes me at the moment.

  3. I agree with your stance Jonathan. I know the ton of effect it takes to research and create postings to your high demands of quality and accuracy; the mental energy is huge...and then these range of critics from snarky timekillers to paid mis-informants kick in, and it erodes your sense of valus (not of your postings or self as much as) in the wasteland of the audience.

    But take heart, most of your true crowd is too busy producing value to comment. And so you are reaching other people and it is these other unwashed people who you truly do need to reach and awaken.

    A few trolls yea, but as David mentions above, take the trolls (expecially the paid ones) as a badge of honor that you are scaring them in their weakness and fear into commenting to try to slow you down.

    And then a few in your audience are like me, who will quietly read you for months until maybe daring to risk commenting even though my producer cred is next to zero, because you have created in me a much greater and well rounded appreciation for the producer class and the societal malaise and political harpooning within which they swim.

    However the majority of readers I imagine are like those idle churchgoers who arrive each Sunday to listen and go home, and it will only be years later when they reach enough awareness and begin their larger role in their family or community whereupon they will need to draw upon and apply these producer truths you write of into decisions in their lives.

    And now with your posting here, they will learn too the lack of value in careless criticism. That the easiest thing in the world is to be a critic, that spotting a weakness alone is not enough, any idiot watching a faucet drip can do that. The real skill is to ponder and discuss it, to evaluate solutions, to create devices and maybe even the tools needed to create these devices that actually resolve the problems.

    To revert to religion on this fine Mother's Day Sunday morning, I dare say these things you do--to produce and shine a light on valued production, they are God's work.

    To be a simpleton with snark is child's play, and to be paid troll is a sad business for which we can only pray for their immortal souls.

  4. Oops...1st line...'effect' should have been effort.

    My proofreading needs higher quality effort, eh?

  5. Thanks everyone. I would answer in more detail but am under strict orders from my partner to take the day off.

  6. Well, you know buddy, there IS one area of wind power that simply will never work: trying to harness the hot air spewed by a wrong-wing ditto-head.

  7. Jonathan,

    Very well put. I made the mistake of trying to 'debate' one of these trolls once, and came to the conclusion the only reasons they post are to make reasonable discussion impossible and to keep informed people from posting. My experience made me wonder whether there is a coordinated, paid campaign to influence opinion via the comments systems on major blogs, financed by the usual suspects?

  8. I definitely agree with the part about hearing the wind howl and thinking there has to be something useful that can be made from it. We don't have the wind there is out on the Plains, but when it blows here, it tears stuff up and drives me nuts. I really want to get back at the wind by making it work. Wind energy might not be as cheap as coal, but if climate change interrupts our food supply, energy cost isn't going to be our worst problem. Keep up the good work, and don't let the trolls give you a heart attack.