Posted by: kcgadiyar | January 19, 2009

A confederacy of dunces

There are plenty of trolls in message boards the world over, but how many message boards can claim that 100% of the conversations end up being religious debates that contain only completely mindless accusations and racist remarks. How many boards can claim that every topic ends up having more replies deleted for abuse than replies actually visible. How many boards can claim to have a clear north-south bias which rears its ugly head with each new topic.

Well, the answer is only one, the message boards.

If civilization was to collapse tomorrow and a thousand years later superintelligent aliens were able to recover the Rediff servers (lets assume that the servers are stored in an impregnable underground fortress), then they would be left with the impression that humans were a race who took pleasure in insulting each other and starting racial and religious feuds (not too far off the mark strangely enough).

Lets take an example, in the recent music review of Dev D (a very good album which i would recommend to anyone), a comment pops up praising Kannada music and denouncing everything else. This was a very very clear instance of a person trying to incite a flame war, maybe there is merit in the comment, but putting it as a comment to the review of Dev D?

My favorite example though is this one:

The context for this is that U.S. studios routinely make posters for their movies to cater to the local audiences as well as to convey that the scope of disaster in the movie is not limited to the United States. This has been done before by “The Day After Tomorrow” as well as “I am legend”

Now, “The day the earth stood still” decided to show the Taj Mahal in the local Indian posters (they showed other landmarks in the other International markets). This led to a flame war. Actually, this led to 2 seperate Flame wars in the comments

The first one is the completely deluded sort of Flame war started by this comment. And remember, i am not exaggerating, this is the actual comment

Western Double standards again: Why not have the poster of Pisa or white house or the pyramids? By showing Taj as aliean attack, these westerners are targetting Indian culture, esp Taj, which is a symbol of love and purity. Our leaders should act immediately and stop these kind of racist acts

In 2 sentences, the guy has put the tag of racism on filmmakers who made a poster for the local market. This is still a harmless kind of trolling because everyone realized that the guy was plain crazy.

The second type, and unfortunately, the more prevalent type on rediff is the religious flame war. A full blown discussion on whether the Taj Mahal is the Taj Mahal or the “Tejo temple” ensued, and the debate raged (actually, less of a debate, more of religious fanaticism). The few voices of reason were quickly hushed and brushed aside.
Before you think that i am taking a stray case and showing you, log onto, and click on ANY story, i mean it, any story. You will find a lot of comments reported for abuse, and even more comments permanently deleted for abuse. is not the best place to get advice on technology, but this article: makes a lot of sense, maybe rediff should look into this.

I am in no way saying that Freedom of speech should be taken away, but something definitely needs to be done before rediff has articles whose comment boards only have “The following comment was deleted following an abuse alert” written. Oh, wait, that has already happened :

From the cracked article: “And don’t start talking about free speech; the troll’s goal is to shut down speech, to either fill the channel with noise until no one can talk to each other, or to get everyone talking about him instead of the subject at hand. He’s a guy in a coffee shop screaming nonsense over a bullhorn” QFT
As the title says, the boards truly are a confederacy of dunces.



  1. […] 6. A confederacy of dunces: My rant about the messageboards. Sad to say that even 2 years later, things are still as bad in that corner of the internet […]

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