Marta's Mathoms

Being a Collection of Fanfic, Political Musings, Memeage and Asundry Goodies

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angry blog commenters vs. fanfic comments
Slate has an interesting article on the rise of the angry commenter on the Internet:

This made me think: do you guys see fandom as having more, less, or about the same angry commenters than the internet in general? Are there differences between the two types? Why do you think that is?

(Originally posted to DW; the crosspost thing failed again. Am emailing their support right now...)

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Maybe it's to do with me not being very active in fandom anymore ... otoh, I've run several fandom discussions this year at The Castle ... and I have to say, I can't say I have encountered any angry commenters this year at all. So I think it must depend on what you look at and where ...

I suspect it depends on some things: which fandom? and which corner of the fandom do you generally inhabit? and what fannish things do you participate in?

LotR fandom seems more reasonable than some other fandoms, for example HP or Twilight, and the hobbit-centric corner I inhabit for the most part is downright cozy and friendly with very little wankery.

And I think creative fannish activities tend to draw (for the most part) less anger than more meta-ish sorts of things. I once hung out on usenet, and the flame wars there were truly flaming and very nasty! But generally most fic comments or fanart comments tend to be fairly pleasant or benign. This is not always true, but often the occasional wankery is triggered not by the story itself but by a writer's interpretation of the canon/fanon, or by plagiarism: either actual plagiarism by the writer, or perceived plagiarism by the reader.

But one thing that the article failed to address about the "angry commenter", and which surprised me, is the existence of the long-standing internet inhabitant known as a "troll", who very well may not be angry at all in reality, but simply gets sick kicks out of stirring everyone up to either disagree or agree, and then sits back and watches the fur fly.

I see a lot of this sort of thing in comments. It's clear that regular inhabitants of any forum know who among them is a troll, as you can tell from the responses. (At and rec.arts.books.tolkien I can recall one person who could usually get indignant responses from newcomers, while the old hands would calmly reply "Do not feed the troll" to any such respnses.)

OTOH, opinion pieces,news articles, politics and religious posts on blogs, by their very nature, are going to draw both real ire (when the author steps on someone's favorite toes) and more trolls.

I think HP got much more reasonable once canon was closed and the 'shipping wars were over -- which is when I entered HP fandom ... and found it much more peaceful and open-minded than LotR fandom.

Very good point about the trolls. What would be the difference between an "angry commenter" and a "troll"?

Also, I guess "angry commenter" is probably aimed more at average commenters in online magazines or newspapers or TV websites etc ... so maybe just people fed up with offline situations who need to vent?

And dunno, but offline it's often difficult to vent about stuff like that because you just don't talk about it ... must. not. antagonise. anyone. So online venues offer opportunities not present offline?


It's good to know HP fandom is getting more reasonable--perhaps also factored in by its fans maturing? I've always found LotR fandom fairly peaceful and open-minded (except on usenet) but that may be in part because of the little hobbit-centric corner I hang out in.

The difference between a "troll" and an "angry commenter" is a matter of intent. All a troll wants to do is stir up trouble; they may or may not even believe in whatever outrageous vitriol they post-- they are simply interested in stirring up trouble and making OTHER people angry; an "angry commenter" OTOH is someone who really is outraged by something, to the extent that the mere mention of their pet peeve is enough to trigger a rant. They may be indistinguishable on their first appearance, but the troll may often be found in various forums, while the angry commenter tends to focus on the bee in his bonnet. (And both trolls and angry commenters tend to be mostly male.)

Definitely it's easier to vent online!!

Edited at 2011-12-04 03:39 pm (UTC)

Fandom(s) have their own breed of angry, different from what Slate described (speaking of which, since nobody tied me down to read the whole thing, I found it sadly shallow with accidental embellishments). There's more inherent dialog and resulting argument in fandom.

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