StumbleUpon - No Place for Bullies

 

While some social media sites like Digg have become known for users with arrogant attitudes and sharp tongues, eager to belittle an author for content unworthy of their time, this seems to be a relatively new phenomenon on StumbleUpon and it should be nipped in the bud.

 

The Problem

 

I realize the internet is a rough and tumble place but the meanness and venom I have seen recently should be unacceptable. I have actually witnessed a StumbleUpon user wishing an author to "die painfully" because they didn't like the article.

 

Excuse me? You didn't like the blog post so you felt it was OK to wish it's author to "die painfully ... and don't forget to blog about it..." in a public forum? A public forum known to be used by children?

 

The History

 

There have always been bullies on the internet, hanging around chat rooms and trying to dominate forums. It only stands to reason their kind would gravitate to and flourish on the social media sites as well.

 

They use the anonymity of the internet to push people around in ways they never could in a face to face environment. People who get bullied warn one another privately, "Be careful, you don't know who or what you're dealing with."

 

The Solution

 

The first responsibility for policing behavior on a site always falls to the site owner and that should be the case here. StumbleUpon should not tolerate obnoxious and abusive behavior from its users and should have an easy method to report it along with a system of penalties for it.

 

Partial responsibility belongs, however, with the community as well. As long as we, the community, sit by and quietly ignore the behavior, we can be guaranteed it will continue to get worse.

 

If we point out the intolerable behavior and demand action, we will have, at least, done our part. It is then up to the powers that be to correct the situation.

 

Conclusion

 

StumbleUpon is a wonderful community and the Stumble Bar is a wonderful tool. Together they allow us to discover and share items online in ways we didn't even dream of only a few years ago.

 

It would be a shame for a disruptive minority of users to be allowed to create an environment where people were not comfortable participating.

 

 

* If you enjoyed this post you might be interested in this follow-up.

 

 

If you enjoyed your read, grab my feed!

 

31 comments:

Fred said...

Great post. I couldn't agree with you more. I have recently experienced some people being obnoxious in SU.

Maurice (TheCaymanHost) said...

I too was pretty amazed at some of the behavior of a number of Stumblers recently, hurling awfully abusive comments at a female user because they took exception to what she wrote. Difference of opinion is one thing, but this went way beyond acceptable to any reasonable person.

The world is full of such cowards and bullies and the perceived anonymity of the web makes them feel “brave”. Usually these type of losers hide behind avatars and do not publish much about themselves.

My advice for SU users who encounter problems is to report the user to SU, flag them and block them, and hope that SU will take some form of action against persistent abusers of their privileges.

pearl said...

funny this stumbler continues to check out my blog :) I hope he changed his mind and finds something useful there...

thanks for the support AdTracker - hope more and more people can start taking the initiative to report such behavior.. nipping it in the bud is the solutions because StumbleUpon is too good a place for such tactics!

Steven Snell said...

Yeah, I really hope that this doesn't become more common. I think that's one of the main reasons so many people enjoy SU is because this type of thing hasn't been the norm.

Ad Tracker said...

@ Fred - Thanks and thanks for the stumble :)


@ Maurice - I think if the community refuses to except the bad behavior, SU will work to elliminate it.


@ Pearl - Now that's funny! Maybe you picked up a new regular reader. I wonder if he ever figured out who's who ;)


@ Steven - The atmosphere is one of the things I like most about SU and one of the things I dislike most about Digg.

Madhur Kapoor said...

I agree with you. I have seen and experianced many such things with Digg thats why i dont like it very much. I have not faced any such thing with SU , its a nice and friendly place but exceptions are always there.

Ad Tracker said...

Madhur - Yeah, it sure would be nice if SU could stay nice but I have my doubts.

Laura said...

Sadly it happens when things get more popular. I'll thumb down things I dislike on Stumble so I don't see more of them. However, these tend to be things like pornography, racist/sexist/homophobic blogs or articles and internet meme's that have been around for too long already. I don't think there is ever a need to attack the blogger personally.

Ad Tracker said...

Laura - I agree. I guess the more popular something gets, the more likely an idiot finds it.

The thumb down is there for just that purpose and should be used but reviews should not be used to bully and attack the author.

Thanks for taking the time to comment :)

ジェイソン (Jason) said...

Bullies will be around so long as they think the internet is anonymous, so perhaps it's time site owners prove that it's not quite as anonymous as many think.

IPs can be blocked. User accounts can be deleted. Computers can have cookies written that mark them as "undesirable" which will take them to a different page.

There are always ways we can start to punish the more abusive members of an online community. But I agree, we should let the powers that be at SU know it's time to put an end to this kind of childish behaviour.

Pearl said...

Oh NOO his kinds cannot ever put 2 and 2 together 'coz he thumbed this post up and couldnt tell we were talking about him LOL I'm sorry but this is pure moronic behavior :D

funny thing is theres another one of the same kinds on there.... huge message full of fluff ;) did you see? he is talking about avatars and I don't think he even has a blog :D

Ad Tracker said...

@ Jason - You're absolutely correct. The technology is there, it's just a matter of using it.


@ Pearl - Yeah, I saw the other one. I think there are more of these type trolling around than most people realize. Fortunately they aren't very smart :)

Anonymous said...

I'm a 2-year member of SU. Not long ago I was attacked by one of the SU "haters" and when I called him out, all his sycophantic friends, fellow bullies and hangers-on jumped right on his bandwagon. Some of these narcissistic bloggers who trash others for what they choose to post, instead of perhaps thumbing down whatever ITEM they disagree with, often have blogs full of nothing but rants, negativity and jokes about highly inappropriate subject matter (shredding babies and setting kittens on fire, holocaust jokes, etc.). They get off on being offensive.

However, I was chastised by some for not just "ignoring it" but I was tired of my friends having to undergo the bullying en-masse to the point that they left SU or had to leave their blogs and return with a new, anonymous ID to escape the constant abuse.

Others said it was great that I took it upon myself to defend myself, and I took so much abuse from the bullies for a while it was unreal.

Yet despite the very PUBLIC fray going on and not just my, but other people's outrage and requests that these people not be allowed to personally attack other stumblers (per the "terms of service), SU developers did NOTHING to a single one of the bullies.

This is why they continue, and those of us who have been here a while (generally the more popular we get, the higher the chances we will be singled out for attack at some point), we know all the "nasties" and we do issue warnings to others because we know SU seldom does anything about such rampant abuse.

If a high-profile SU blogger such as myself, with all my speaking out and numerous posts calling out this kind of behavior, cannot get SU to take action, I am at a loss for words. The longer this goes on and the larger and more impersonal SU becomes, the worse this behavior will become.

SU's lack of concern for its users will prove to be its eventual downfall as far as "quality" users who will end up going elsewhere and leaving SU to all the marketers' spamming garbage and the hatemongers.

Sincerely,
caile
http://caile-girl.stumbleupon.com

Ad Tracker said...

Calie-Girl - First of all, thanks for taking the time to leave such a well thought out comment!

I had assumed this was a larger issue than most people realized and, unfortunately, you have verified it. I also find your experience with SU not dealing with abuse to be disheartening.

I will not, however, stop calling it out when I see it.

The internet is changing. With increased corporate ownership, there are fewer and fewer places for the free-for-all atmosphere that attracts the hooligans.

I believe the more noise people make about these type issues, the powers that be will eventually have to deal with them to make the environment more atractive for a possible corporate buyout, which seems to be the objective of every successful online venture.

No big corporate entity like Google, Yahoo, AOL, etc. will want to have anything to do with a site known to have abusers running rampant and undealt with.

It may take time but I think it will eventually calm down.

The Wild Wild West took a while to tame. I think the WWW will eventually be tamed as well.

Not that I believe that to be a completely good thing ;)

Jay a.k.a. 'Dat' said...

well, there are a lot of people that just want attention, whether it's good or bad. but i hope stumble doesn't become horrible.

Jay
DatMoney.com
DatCurious.com

Ad Tracker said...

Jay - I hope so too :)

Anonymous said...

I envy your lack of real problems.

Also, using the welfare of children as an excuse to suppress free speech is an enduring strategy, but a bit passé. Why don't you use 9/11 or something? I hear that's what politicians are doing nowadays.

P.S. Who forgot to fill Caile's dish?

Ad Tracker said...

Anonny Mouse - I think the welfare of children is a perfectly good reason to supress vulgar speach.

Who or what is Caile?

Ad Tracker said...

This message is in response to a comment that was deleted.

GoatBoy - Your knowledge and understanding of the constitution is unimpressive and uninformed. The first ammendmant right to free speech does not give you the right to say anything and everything your heart desires anywhere you choose just because the spirit moves you.

You are mistaken when you say your R rating protects children. The R rating sheilds your profile page but not the comments and reviews you leave in public forums.

You say you will not deal with people who are childish or shallow. Are you kidding? What do you call the review you left of this article if not childish and shallow?

You ended your monologue with, "This is life. Adjust or check out."

What is this another silly little "My Way or the Highway" boast from another StumbleTroll?

Why should I allow you to use the forum of my blog to argue your point? As far as I'm concerned, you gave up all rights to a civil conversation when you left that filthy review.

No, GoatBoy, you don't get to spew on my blog.

Ad Tracker said...

Yes, GoatBoy, your copy/paste skills are remarkable.

Tyfus said...

I love how you guys remove any dissenting opinions. Makes it look like everybody agrees with your puritan prissyness.

Ad Tracker said...

Typhus - Do you mean comments like yours?

Who would "you guys" be?

I don't believe anyone who read my response to GoatBoy thought he agreed with me.

What is truly amazing is how StumbleTrolls, like yourself, refuse to comment here unless you can do it anonymously. Why is that? Are you afraid someone might do the same thing to you?

You StumbleTrolls seem to think you have some kind of right to use my platform for your vitriol. You couldn't be more wrong.

This is MY house. Anything you say here, you say only because I am gracious enough to allow you to say it. Period.

Those are the rules. Get it?

You want to spew your filth freely? Get your own blog.

Tyfus said...

Ok, so maybe "you guys" was not the best choice of words. Sorry about that.

But still, the comment I left yesterday (under the same name, the name I use for everything on the internet, the name that is almost, but not quite my real name (which is Titus, by the way) wasn't in any way filth. It was a constructive criticism of peoples' inability to take any criticism. Yes, I called some people pussies, but since when does a cute fluffy mewly kitten constitute filth?

Also, thank you for calling me a StumbleTroll. I take it you've checked out my pages at tyfus.stumbleupon.com. If you'd read those pages with an open mind you'd have seen that I'm not a troll at all, I'm just a guy that enjoys the freedom to speak my mind. And yes, I do like to use some words that might not be appropriate around some starry-eyed babes in the wood, but do you really think the whole world should be restricted to using forms of expression that are tolerable for even the faintest of heart?

Does the way I choose to express myself invalidate whatever I have to say? Does my liberal use of some words that I shall not repeat in your neck of the woods make me a troll?

And as for spewing my filth freely on my own blog, that's exactly what what you seem to take such issue with when I do it on my own SU pages.

I have the feeling that there are some double standards at work here.

Ad Tracker said...

Tyfus - First let me thank you for tempering your language and adhering to my rules of civil behavior. It is appreciated.

Man, you guys have got some serious time on your hands. It's all I can do to squeeze in time to write a response.

I'll take your points one by one.

1) Your comment two days ago may not qualify as filthy by your standards but it did by mine. You said, "...when does a cute fluffy mewly kitten constitute filth?" Give me a break. Do I even need to address this?

2) No, I haven't. I don't have the time or inclination to check the profile page of everyone who comments. I don't care who you are at home. The only thing that matters to me is who you are here.

3) You asked, "...do you really think the whole world should be restricted to using forms of expression that are tolerable for even the faintest of heart?"

The whole world? No, but I ask you, should porn be shown to 7 year olds?

If you answer yes, this conversation is over.

If you answer no, then you agree there should be limits and restrictions. We are just haggling over where to draw the lines.

4) You asked, "Does the way I choose to express myself invalidate whatever I have to say?"

That depends.

If you are describing the new band at the party last week; probably not.

If you are making a comment on this blog; very possibly.

5) You asked, "Does my liberal use of some words...make me a troll?"

When used in the context of the deleted comment; yes.

6) We have a disagreement on terminology. This is a blog. I don't care what SU calls it, the user profile page is not a blog.

When I make a post here, it is here and here only. When I review a page on SU, it is there, on a public forum. What SU calls a blog is merely a collection of forum posts.

Those were your questions. Now my issues.

I have two primary issues with StumbleTrolls.

1) Many Stumblers seem to be under the impression that because they have given themselves and R or X rating, what they write can't be viewed by the general public.

This is not true. I can't view any R or X profile pages because I haven't changed my settings to allow it. Yet, I see all of the filthy garbage you people write on the review pages.

Your profiles are not public. I commend you for restricting access to them. However, the comments you leave in reviews are completely public. Therein lies the rub.


2) An author publishes an article on their blog. One of their readers finds the article interesting and Stumbles it because they think other like minded readers will enjoy it as well.

As you know, from time to time, the well meaning Stumbler submits the article to the wrong catagory and someone who isn't interested in the topic is taken to it when they click their Stumble button.

Why should they then attack the author?

What justifies the vile spewing of hate and violence?

I think it's highly likely the people who do this, do it for the rush. The problem is they've been doing it so long, the old "The colors make my eyes bleed!" comments just don't get them excited anymore.

So, like any addict, they increase the dosage to get their high and the attacks become more personal, violent and vicious.

I don't know if this is an outlet because they live in a pent-up world and need to blow off steam or if this is the way they live their daily lives. In the case of the latter, my concern becomes, where does the escalation end?

Things to think about.

Sorry, but I have already devoted more time to this response than I had available.

Tyfus said...

Thank you for your thoughtful reply.

I still think that using the old "Why won't they think of the children" routine is a weak bid. 7 year olds should never be on the internet without parental supervision. There's filters that ban pornography, and I imagine you could configure them to filter out pages that contain 'foul' language.

If it is truly the children you're concerned about, protect them. Don't limit the way adults can act towards one another.

About the rest of your points: we'll just have to agree to disagree. You think I'm a bad guy for swearing, I think people like you, that only seem to be on SU to bring traffic to their 'real' blog, are the rot that's seeping into the community.
You think that people that use Blogger are real bloggers, with a real blog, while the 1500 pages of SU-blog I've filled are nothing but a glorified myspace-profile. I appreciate you taking the time to react to me, but I don't think we have much more to say to eachother.

One last thing: you could lighten up a bit. For most of us this internet thing is a hobby.

Ad Tracker said...

Tyfus - Well, well. This is telling.

All of those points and you come back to one issue and then accept absolutely no personal responsibility. You only demand that the rest of humanity take precautions to protect themselves from your 'free speech'.

You try to trivialize the subject by referring to "foul language" while ignoring the issue of hateful, violent, personal attacks.

I addressed your issues point by point. You complain about not having a debate and then run from it by grouping everything into one "We'll just have to agree to disagree" catagory.

No, no, no. You don't get to change the meaning of my words. My point was about the deffinition of a blog. You don't get to feign being offended because I said you weren't a real blogger. That's just looking for childish cover because you have lost an arguement.

How, exactly, do you see me as being 'on' SU? The article was submitted by a reader. Why would I care about traffic? I have NO ADS.

You seem to have a prejudice against bloggers. You seem to have some kind of preconception that all bloggers want to use SU to increase traffic.

Answer me this. How does an author keep their articles from being submitted and subsequently stumbled?

And, why would they want to?

I mean, you're the 'expert' with 1500 SU pages. Tell me.

You see, the only time I'm 'on' SU is when I am Stumbling, just like you. Where we are different is, when I come across a page I don't like, I either click the Stumble button or, if it is very bad (affilliate links, pop-ups, etc.) I will thumb it down and maybe explain why. I do not, however, lob a firebomb out the window and speed away.

Tyfus said...

See, this is why I thought agreeing to disagree would be a good idea. I can't fathom your arguments, and they all seem to boil down to 'stop being mean.' While I don't feel I'm being mean at all. How can you say an attack over the internet is violent? Do people hit you through your monitor or something? A vicious personal attack might be a shitty thing, and I do not condone attacking people just to attack them, but if I don't like a page I like to explain why I hated it enough to thumb it down. And if the reason why I hated it lies with the person who made the page (e.g. White Power types) I might go for a bit of ad hominem.

If, as you say (and I have no reason not to believe you) you're not using SU as a personal marketing tool, I'll take back the mean words about you being the rot that's seeping into the community.

Could you please explain to me what a blog is? (by the way, definition. Sorry, that was way too pedantic, I'll give you a useful correction too: ...seems to be a relatively new phenomenon on StumbleUpon...)

I liked your firebomb metaphor.

Ad Tracker said...

Tyfus - You said,

"A vicious personal attack might be a shitty thing, and I do not condone attacking people just to attack them..."

WE AGREE!!!

I need to make a clarification. I think both of us may have gotten carried away in our generalities.

This article was not about you.

I think the SU review you left of this article is a little crude but well within your rights and I have no problem with it.

The only thing you have written that I had a problem with was the original comment I deleted because of the foul language.

In fairness to you, I do not have a posted comment policy therefore you did not, technically, know it would be deleted. It's understandable that you might get angry upon seeing it gone.

I ask you to go back and reread the article. It talks about the exact kind of personal attacks you just decried.

I think we kind of intermingled the arguments about personal attacks in reviews and my comment policy. I should have caught that earlier, my mistake.

Thank you for the (rot) retraction.

Wikipedia describes a blog like this;

"...a website where entries are written in chronological order and commonly displayed in reverse chronological order."

In this sense, your SU blog is technically a blog, however, it goes on to say;

"A typical blog combines text, images, and links to other blogs, web pages, and other media related to its topic. The ability for readers to leave comments in an interactive format is an important part of many blogs."

Does that better explain my meaning?

Thanks for the spelling catch. Don't know what I was thinking. Duh!

Tyfus said...

It does, but note the word many. A blog without a comment possibility is still a blog. Look at what boingboing did for years.

We agree on the 'people shouldn't be pricks' angle, but I think people that go running to the site owners over what amounts to 3 seconds of (questionable) brain activity from someone you'll in all probability never meet is also a prickish thing to do.

My excuses for over-reacting, and let's agree to disagree now, ok?

Tyfus said...

please ignore the major grammar flub. English is not my first language.

Ad Tracker said...

Tyfus - Agree to disagree?

We seem to be straining to find something to truly disagree about.

But, if you wish to say we disagree, I'll agree to that ;)

You are to be commended. I would have never known you were not just an ex-pat living abroad.

Thank you for the thoughtful interaction. I have enjoyed it. Even though I seem to have gotten little else done today.