Jan 27 2012

Troll Alert: Do Not Engage

Those of you who read a number of blogs here at Freethought Blogs have probably noticed that we’ve had an ongoing infestation. It’s gone by a lot of names, but the commonality is that it can’t stand us talking about equality. I know that this sort of troll is a favorite food for commenters here, but after doing a bit of digging and seeing this guy in several places, I’m going to recommend that people stop engaging and simply report sightings to the blogger in question. Reasons why below the fold.

The first time we saw this guy here was at Pharyngula, where his programmed spam comments full of German song lyrics led PZ to shut commenting down to all but registered users. There, he went by the following:

[email protected]

Using that same email address, he was listed elsewhere on the web a:

emporsteigend (a German word meaning “ascending”)

“emporsteigend” is also the screen name he used at Skepchick while playing oppression Olympics regarding his mental illness and in a long derail about how privilege wasn’t a “scientific” concept. He did something similar later on sister-site Queereka as “Wotan.”

He came back to FtB in between to complain more about “pomo/critical theory” in skepticism at Crommunist’s place and Greg’s, where he was banned after morphing to avoid moderation and acting generally like a misogynist. He griped about “censorship” at Jason’s and took over an unrelated thread at Greta’s to do the same. Then he tried to do the same again. He returned to his “pomo/critical theory” whining at Jen’s and here, both in unrelated threads. After having it pointed out to him in the thread here that he had no idea how privilege was actually understood, he came up with a new theory that would allow him to dismiss women and dumped all over the nearest feminist thread he could find on a blog where he wasn’t banned. Then he did it again at More Than Men.

He specifically targeted threads about sexism and racism. While doing all this, he tried to talk about “Jewish privilege” in the sciences and told us he was scared of Arabs.

He repeatedly noted that he was psychotic, which is confirmed by other sources under the email addresses he’s left. He was abusive toward other commenters and apparently unaware of the fact that he was revealing his identity through both his obsessions and the names and email addresses he was leaving behind. Here are a number of the names he’s used either as handles or in fake email addresses:

Horsa (a Germanic conqueror of parts of England)
Sjurður (a Germanic ruler of parts of Scotland)
Regin Smiður (a folk ballad of the region Sjurður ruled)
Geyer (a German folk hero, a noble who championed a peasants’ rebellion)
KvdH (an abbreviation for Kristoff van der Hever)
Pisstoff vdH (a play on Kristoff van der Hever)
Wodan, id est furor (“Odin, which means ‘fury’”)
Der Gegner (a German word meaning “adversary”)
Des Gegners Hand
Des Gegners Fuß (“adversary’s foot”)
dingansich (a German phrase meaning the unknowable reality of a thing)
nifelhel (the Norse equivalent of purgatory)
[email protected]

That last email address is either his (he denies this, though at least one comment has come from an IP that resolved to the University at Buffalo) or is possibly the identity of another person (Chris Hever, a student in linguistics) that he has adopted and morphed for various online activities. The rest of the names may demonstrate an interest in Germanic music–or they may demonstrate an attitude toward his relationship with the feminist atheist/skeptic blogosphere that is not entirely healthy.

In either case, discussions in which this person take part tend to spiral out of control. They don’t produce anything of value for the people who do engage him. There is also a very good chance that those threads are feeding a manic or paranoid obsession that isn’t going to be at all good for him.

Given all that, if you see a commenter behaving this way, please don’t engage. Squashing the trolls is one thing; messing around with psychosis is entirely different. Nothing good can come of it. Just let the blog owner know what’s going on.

And if you’ve got a blog of your own, the above information in block quotes makes for a handy moderation list. Feel free to use it as such.


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  1. 1

    Geyer means hawk in German. It was also the name of composer Richard Wagner’s foster (and probably biological) father.

  2. 2
    Natalie Reed

    In the Sacrificing Privilege derail, he noted that he was a student of linguistics, so that would be another bread crumb validating that identity.

  3. 3
    Stephanie Zvan

    He’s also claimed elsewhere (findable through a search on one of those email addresses) that he has a “friend” who is linguistics student who was looking for some information on computational linguistics. Could be him. Could be him using someone else’s identity. I’m not going to try to predict from irrationality.

  4. 4

    #1. slc1 : ´Geier´ means vulture in German.
    Sorry to nitpick, but I´m german, and we tend to be pedantic ;)

  5. 5
    Ace of Sevens

    They see me trollin’
    They hatin’

  6. 6
    Jason Thibeault

    Considering the copious amounts of personal information he’s bled all over the ‘net, I have every intention of restoring his comments on that thread where I nuked him from orbit. It just, as it turns out, will take a lot of time, and tonight I’m far more busy with socializing with epic people, including Ben and Stephanie Zvan. This takes precedence. I hope you understand.

    If anyone wants the comments in advance, I’ll email it to them if they email me asking for it. Link’s over on my blog.

  7. 7
    Philip L

    Yes, having observed many of these threads (and participating in several) I think he would be a grade A asshole in spite of also very probably needing professional help for his issues. I hope he seeks help. Thanks Stephanie for tracking all of these appearances; it’s rather like the process of establishing the orbit of an asteroid after observations rapidly traversing various constellations in the night sky, over a period of months. :-)

  8. 8
    'Tis Himself

    At Pharyngula “Chris” claimed to be some sort of computer techie. He bragged about his programming skills, although his knowledge of html was weak.

  9. 9
    F [i'm not here, i'm gone]

    Oh, that guy.

  10. 10
    Avo, also nigelTheBold

    ‘Tis Himself:

    At Pharyngula “Chris” claimed to be some sort of computer techie. He bragged about his programming skills, although his knowledge of html was weak.

    Yeah. His Python wasn’t that great, either. It’s like he thought he was programming in Perl, or something. Maybe even PHP (shudder).

    Not that there’s anything wrong with Perl or PHP. Just not when you’re writing in Python. And it wouldn’t’ve been so bad, but he bragged about it.

    I’m embarrassed to admit I helped provoke him the first time around. I didn’t realize how bad off he was until far too late.

  11. 11
    Jason Thibeault

    I actually know exactly what you mean, nigelTheBold. My Python skillz suffer greatly when I’ve been doing a good deal of PHP recently and haven’t had enough time (or simple enough projects) to switch gears mentally.

  12. 12
    Greg Laden

    There may be a second linguistic student at buffalo who is not him but also a troll

  13. 13
    WMDKitty -- Survivor

    Oh. I remember that guy.

    Yeah, I’m perfectly happy NOT to engage with him.

  14. 14
    Skeptic Hamster

    I feel the need to defend Linguists, Sme of us are rather sane,you know!

  15. 15

    On the etymology front, his first email likely corresponds to this guy

    Per Yngve Ohlin

    Not the healthiest of figures to identify with, perhaps…

  16. 16
    Michael Brew

    In addition to being a linguistics student and a computer tech, don’t forget that he’s got a deep command of psychology. I guess it’s not surprising that he’s so multitalented, since his psychoticism inevitably endows him with genius level creative powers.

  17. 17
    Lou Doench

    Oh, that guy… yeah, that guy is a little weird. Classic derailer.

  18. 18
    Philip L

    Another troll sighting in the wild, this time as “Ich bin der Gegner”:

    Nerds and Male Privilege Part 2 – Deconstructing the Arguments.

    It strongly suggests Chris was googling blog articles that referenced the word “privilege” to find somewhere to attack; his first comment in the thread appears nearly three weeks (January 24) after the original blog post (January 6).

  19. 19
    Philip L

    And as Donnereiche (“thunder oak”) over at Pandagon:

    At least we’re not debating the C-word, because I like keeping the British excuse off the table.

    Again plugging Eysenck’s Genius: The Natural History of Creativity. No one took the bait there, and one of the regulars informed Amanda on his trollish ways.

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