Happy Anti-Trolling Day!

If you’ve been anywhere on blogs today, you may have noticed an increase in nice comments. That’s because today is Anti-Trolling Day, the creation of Mike Mei. According to him, anti-trolling is counter-acting the effects of trolling (or similar behaviors) by commenting or tweeting positive things in response to good work, or to bloggers or activists you appreciate. Mike also took some time to answer some questions about the reasoning behind this event.

Image by Evan Clark

Why are you doing Anti-Trolling Day (ATD)?

I am doing ATD because I realized how much of a difference positive feedback makes. One of the best feelings in the world comes from realizing that the work you do is appreciated. Unfortunately, much of everyday life, both online and offline, involves conflict, argument, stress, loneliness, or general negativity. I admit that there is a time and a purpose for thoughtful and passionate disagreements, but I argue that there is also a time for open appreciation and positivity.

I came to this realization through my interactions with the secular community. Many times, I have been writing on my blog, or posting things on Facebook, thinking that I’m only doing this because I’m bored and that nobody will care. After all, the world and the internet is a huge place. Who cares about my dreams and aspirations for a more liberal, secular, and humanistic world?

But after all the usual criticisms and comments come and go, the ones you really remember are from the people who tell you that you’re making a difference. The people who comment and say, “This is a beautiful post!” or “Super awesome!” The people who message you privately and tell you how much you’ve impacted his/her journey towards atheism. The people who thank you for your hard work and dedication, right when you are stressed out and about to crash. The people worth remembering.

I’m doing ATD because I feel it is important to take some time to acknowledge the goodness in other people, even people we disagree with or don’t particularly like. So today, go around and post supportive comments. It’s that simple. There’s nothing really complicated or revolutionary about it.

What’s been the reaction?

The reaction has been overwhelmingly positive. Many have expressed their support. I initially thought it was just going to be a circle of Facebook friends, but it has grown to be much larger than that. There have been troll posts and some confusion about the purpose of this event on the Facebook page, but I have not yet received any explicit expressions of disapproval.  I hope everything remains positive.

Will the trolls take notice, do you think?

I don’t know if the “trolls” will take notice, and I’m not concerned about it. That’s because our audience is not trolls. Our audience is people. We want to make people feel appreciated and supported. We want to counteract the raging, impersonal behemoth that is the internet with genuine expressions of gratitude. We want to be a juggernaut of secular awesome.

So, what bloggers will you be thanking on this ATD?

I’m 600+ posts behind on Google Reader, so I’m still deciding. But I think I’ll definitely at least thank the bloggers I read most often, like Hemant on the Friendly Atheist (to be fair, I forgot to tell Mike where this interview would be appearing — Kate). Also, I’m praising local secular friends, as well as some Christians I’ve enjoyed having discussions with online. But shhhh… don’t ruin the surprise.

Will you be anti-trolling?

About Kate Donovan

Kate is a junior studying psychology and human development at Northwestern University. She is the president of Northwestern's Secular Student Alliance and a writer at Teen Skepchick, Heresy Club, and various other places around the internet. Sometimes she sleeps.

  • http://www.themerelyreal.wordpress.com/ Chana Messinger

    Yay!!! This is so great!

  • http://miriammogilevsky.wordpress.com Miriam Mogilevsky

    I’m so glad I got to be a part of this!

  • Levon Mkrtchyan

    Thank you for letting us know about this! This is such a great idea, I wish I had known about it sooner!

  • http://www.travismamone.net/ Travis Mamone

    Oh, I try to anti-troll all the time.

    Okay, except for that one time, but that was years ago.

    Okay, actually it was just last week.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1491147076 Emily Dietle
  • http://dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

    You’re just telling us this because you’re a woman, and it’s a big deal to you because your tendency towards hysterical and irrational behavior, as well as your fragile emotions and monthly loss of self control make dealing with trolls so exceptionally difficult.

  • holeydood3

     You; I like you.

  • AxeGrrl

    Shouldn’t every day being anti-trolling day? :)

    How about we try that and make August 22 2013 ‘Trolling Day’!

  • Ben Bradley

    “our audience is not t****s” – I love it! I’m late hearing of this, but I see I’m not the first to think EVERY day should be anti-t**** day.

  • http://miriammogilevsky.wordpress.com Miriam Mogilevsky

     Oh, you again.

    Since this is after all a blog about atheism and skeptical thinking, here’s some research for you.

    Men are more likely to be negatively emotionally affected by relationships: http://www.torontosun.com/life/2010/06/08/14308846.html

    Men and women have about the same levels of emotions, but women are more likely to express them (possibly because of gender roles): http://www.vanderbilt.edu/News/news/june98/nr4.html

    Women may, however, be more likely to experience empathy towards the emotions of OTHERS: http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/women_more_empathic_than_men/

    BUT! In infants there’s no difference: http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/women_more_empathic_than_men/

    And in fact, women may be better than men at handling anger: http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/story?id=97882&page=1#.UDWbn0R9k1A

    (Anger is an emotion, by the way, in case you weren’t aware.)

    So seriously. Do your research or GTFO.

  • http://www.themerelyreal.wordpress.com/ Chana Messinger

    Well, sometimes there’s room for having impassioned arguments, for intense discussion, for the kind of discourse that isn’t just light and sweet. So not every day will be dedicated to this kind of commenting, but you’re right that every day should be a day when we support and thank each other for those things people do that make us happy and do good.

  • http://miriammogilevsky.wordpress.com Miriam Mogilevsky

     Just out of curiosity, why do you use those asterisks?

  • awgeez

     You’re just telling us this because the institution of male privilege forces privileged men to do mental gymnastics trying to justify gender hierarchies and the subjugation of women; also because atheism doesn’t mean that one can’t be completely taken in by pseudoscience. Wooo

  • holeydood3

    I’m 100% sure he was trolling, because of the content of the post. It was not meant to be taken seriously.

  • http://miriammogilevsky.wordpress.com Miriam Mogilevsky

    First of all, I’ve seen his comments elsewhere on this blog and that’s pretty typical.

    Second, I don’t care. I look up research like that for fun. If another reader goes through this thread and learns something, I’ll be a happy activist.

    Third, even if C Peterson was kidding, that view is still quite prevalant in our society. That makes his comment worth responding to, if only so that, as I mentioned, others may learn.

  • Ben Bradley

     Because some words are just too shitty, too fucking dirty for me to type.

  • holeydood3

     Fair enough. I take my *whoosh* back, to take out on another day :)

  • http://dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

    I guess some people’s skulls are so thick, no hammer can pound through them. I knew I should have called Kate a girl, not a woman. Maybe suggested she shouldn’t worry her pretty little head over those old trolls…

  • AxeGrrl

    sometimes there’s room for having impassioned arguments, for intense discussion, for the kind of discourse that isn’t just light and sweet.

    But all of that is possible without trolling being involved :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/AnonymousBoy Larry Meredith

    That’s because our audience is not trolls. Our audience is people.

    Trolls aren’t people? I’d understand calling them unpleasant, but claiming they aren’t even human beings? That’s just inflammatory and provocative as if to intentionally cause grief… hey wait a minute.

  • Tainda

    Trolls bore me.  Coming from the world of online gaming forums, I’m used to it lol

  • Moosebites

    I’m going to the bakery, to get a bread ****.

  • RebeccaSparks

    I thought this was cute:
    What’s been the reaction [to Anti-Trolling Day]?
    The reaction has been overwhelmingly positive.

    You ask people to say nice things and they do?  Shocking XD
    But really I think this is kinda sweet.  I know I really enjoy when someone “likes” my post, and it makes my day when someone puts the effort in to actually comment that they liked what I said.  I need to make more of an effort to be positive back, you know?

  • http://brutereason.net/ Miriam Mogilevsky

     I’m pretty sure he meant that as “people in general.”

  • Coyotenose

     You do understand why that sounds like a rationalization?

  • Coyotenose

     Oh god, they’re so predictable, aren’t they? I still find them fun though. I play a lot of MMOs also, and have had *counts* five trolls now start screaming at me because my auction house prices were better than theirs. In every case, I made them so mad in return that, while telling me how special they were, they accidentally put their items up for 10% or less of the intended price… at which point I bought all their stuff and turned a huge profit in front of them. :P

    Sorry, unimportant anecdote. It’s just so amusing! Especially when you take screenshots and post them on the forums…

  • Coyotenose


  • Tainda

    Bitching about auction house pricing is priceless rofl

    I used to feed the trolls a lot on the MMO boards but they aren’t as fun anymore lol

  • http://www.themerelyreal.wordpress.com/ Chana Messinger

    Really now?

  • http://www.themerelyreal.wordpress.com/ Chana Messinger

    Because you don’t agree with it?

    It was a shitty thing to say, whether he was intentionally trolling or not. It deserved the judicious, well researched calling out she gave it.

  • http://www.themerelyreal.wordpress.com/ Chana Messinger

    There will be others!

  • http://www.themerelyreal.wordpress.com/ Chana Messinger


  • http://dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

    I didn’t take it as a calling out at all, but rather as the sort of uptight response a humorless feminist in a Woody Allen movie might produce.

    I have to wonder at anybody who would consider taking my comments seriously, given the subject of this post (not to mention that I’ve never said anything in many posts here that was even remotely sexist, nor troll-like).

  • Neuron

    Ah, Poe’s Law, how I love you.

  • J.Y

    Hi Kate I think that your support for anti trolling day is inspirational and that your effort and time you spend for this cause is admirable.

    I was wondering though, beyond the efforts you and your fellow blogmates put into Anti-trolling day, do you think that tougher measures need to be implemented by government? What is your take on a legislative or a policing policy in regards to trolls?

    Also I struggle to find how to measure success in initiatives on special ‘ days’ like Anti-trolling day , how would you quantify whether initiatives like this actually work? Really curious.

    *I am a Australian University student who also runs a on-campus anti trolling blog, Check it out if you have time!!!! * http://inatrolltrollworld.wordpress.com./