On not buying into the LULZer playbook

Someone (handle: tigtog) left a good comment here and then made a blog post out of it for more visibility, so I’ll make a blog post out of it too for more visibility again.

On not buying into the LULZer playbook at FtB (or anywhere) #WeLoveFTB

(This will be teaching many of you to suck eggs, I know – this is mainly for lurkers and newbies, especially newbie lurkers. Apologies in advance for the tl;dr)

The idea that each pocket of cyberspace should be a clean slate for somebody with no reference to what they are known to do elsewhere is a page dusted off from the old USENet alt.syntax.tactical playbook, as is the uber-purist semantic-hacktivist stance that objecting to having one’s argument misrepresented by poo-flinging howler monkeys *really* means that one knows one’s position will not withstand a “rigorous logical challenge”. These faux-purists in fact know very well that it’s not only possible but appallingly easy to rhetorically sandbag *any* line of argument no matter how rigorously supported it may actually be.

This is achieved largely by exploiting the phenomenon summed up as “a lie can get halfway around the world before the truth can get its boots on” e.g. their new spin on the meaning of “slimepit”, the year-long lie that “RW cried Rape on EG” etc etc etc. They combine these lies with their other favourite tactic (from the old alt.tasteless playbook) that *nothing should be exempt from being “joked” about*, aiming to provoke an emotional response that buys into their lie instead of scorning it as it deserves. Once someone takes their bait they deploy a hyper-skeptical pose of Just Asking Questions and Just Wanting Evidence to a double-standard far beyond that which they apply to Bigfoot or UFOs.

Repeating the lies and slurs derails any progress in the discussion by diverting the targets’ resources and time to yet again countering the lie/challenging the slur instead of moving the conversation forward, and *that’s exactly what it’s designed to do* (allegedly just for the LULZ of watching yet another thread erupt into a flamewar, which is actually just re-framing getting one’s jollies from bullying and vandalism – disruption for the sake of disruption).

One of the reasons they hate Pharyngula so much is that there are a lot of ‘net veterans there amongst the regulars (largely because PZ is also an old ‘net vet), and the vets see very clearly what is happening when the lies start being told and spoil the LULZ-fun by flatly identifying a comment as a lie without getting sucked into a derailing defence. Denied their jollies there, the LULZers have decided to target the rest of FtB because many of the other blog-owners and their commentariats have not yet become sufficiently acquainted with the LULZ playbook to cut the thread-derails off at the knees i.e. the LULZers are *relying* on their behaviour elsewhere not being known on the target blog, and thus being given more leeway than they deserve.

Ophelia’s Rules spoil the LULZ-fun, thus they’ve added her to their special extra-shitpiling list. Accusing her of “intellectual dishonesty” for refusing to let them fling shit all over her cybersalon is just the cherry on the top of the LULZers’ cake of pointless bile.

Anyone who comes onto an FtB blog and starts repeating the LULZer lies and slurs as part of their oh-so-noble groupthink challenge has already identified themselves as intellectually dishonest. Checking to see whether they’ve misbehaved using the same nym elsewhere before banhammering is actually extending them a benefit of the doubt that is IMO excessively generous.


There’s more on the post, so check it out.



  1. karmakin says

    Yup. I agree. As another net-vet, there’s a reason why I use the same ‘nym everywhere. It’s that I expect for people to look at I say at one venue and to be able to get a good handle of who I am. I actually like that. I stand behind the things I say, for the most part (even when they’re outside the mainstream..probably especially then).

    (The reason I use a ‘nym, is that my name, Glenn, always seems to have really annoying people who I disagree with use that name in big fields that I’m interested in, namely politics. Reynolds, Beck, Greenwald..it’s simply too annoying to use my real name)

  2. David says

    It was a really good comment. Much better than this one. I think I have comment envy…again

  3. says

    Thanks for spotting the borked link, Pteryxx – Ophelia ported that over from my joint!

    Nice to see more net-vets outing themselves 🙂

    Seriously, the swarming that I first saw on USENet all those years ago is why I started the Feminism 101 blog in the first place.

  4. says

    Argh – I keep looking at the comment above, and at my extended version at my joint, and thinking of things I wish I’d emphasised more.

    * the idea that the 4chan/LULZer ethos as highlighted by Justin Griffith is something recent/Web2.0 and thus some sort of unknown territory, which it simply isn’t, although new technologies have obviously seen it evolve new exploits.

    * that just because the attacks are often deeply personal doesn’t mean that the swarmers truly hold a personal grudge. Most of them won’t, it’s just part of their kit for silencing a voice they’ve decided needs to be ‘schooled’. This is why focussing too hard on any one particular slur they’ve attacked with can be counterproductive on the blogface, although it’s also useful administratively for sorting out who’s who.

    * the above point doesn’t mean that the slurs being slung should be _ignored_, just that dispassionate deconstruction is the most effective method of countering the bile.

  5. earwig says

    Great post, thanks. This needed saying. Must be exhausting batting away the swarm, though. Props to Ophelia.

  6. says

    …the uber-purist semantic-hacktivist stance that objecting to having one’s argument misrepresented by poo-flinging howler monkeys *really* means that one knows one’s position will not withstand a “rigorous logical challenge”.

    I know it’s supposed to apply to the slimepitters, but every time I read this part I can’t help but think of conservatives (including the skeptics that are fans of libertarianism) in general.

  7. dirigible says

    “So, the tl;dr is “Just say ‘Fuck off’”?”

    And that you know they’re lying little net.trolls.

  8. says

    So, the tl;dr is “Just say ‘Fuck off’”?

    As I amended in my later comment, that’s only one of the defensible choices.

    As will all choices, the better informed one’s choice is, the better one recognises the full array of available options, and the better one may evaluate the consequences of exercising said choice.

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