The Kitten Setting


My friend Jenny Lawson
(aka The Bloggess) has a comment policy, in which she reserves the right to take the postings of the most obnoxious trolls in her comment threads and change the words to something else entirely, subverting the message of the troll. The troll usually returns, outraged that his golden prose has been changed; that comment gets changed too. This continues until the troll realizes that there is nothing he can say that won’t get subverted, and eventually the troll runs away.

I was reminded of this yesterday when, after posting about a racist sexist homophobic dipshit, one of the racist sexist homophobic dipshit’s craven lickspittles popped up in the thread. This particular craven lickspittle is already on my moderation list for being a contentless troll, and I usually end up deleting his posts, but this one seems honor-bound to continue trying to be an asshole on my site, deletions or no. So I tried Jenny’s technique on him. This is how it went, and bear in mind I am paraphrasing the lickspittle’s original comments:

Craven Lickspittle: WAAAAARGLEBAAARGLE LOTS OF SPITTLE AND JACKASSERY I THINK “LIBERAL” IS AN INSULT I MAY BE TWELVE SMELL MY MANLY ARMPITS

My edit: I love hearts and flowers and pretty bows! I could dance in sparkly showers all the day long! Fa la la la la la!

Craven Lickspittle: WHAAA WHY DID YOU CHANGE MY WORDS MORE WAAAAARGLEBAARGLE HATE STOMP FOAMY HISSY FIT

My edit: When I think about all the kittens in the world that need to be cuddled, I just break down into wee little sobs.

Craven Lickspittle: YOU ARE SO MEAN WITH YOUR MEAN MEANNESS AND NOW I WILL RUN OFF TO ALL THE OTHER RACIST SEXIST HOMOPHOBIC DIPSHITS OVER AT MY FAVORITE TURD-LADEN CUDDLEPILE OF HATE AND TELL THEM HOW MEAN YOU ARE

My edit: Sometimes all I do with my day is brush my hair and sing Gilbert and Sullivan tunes in as high a voice as I can possibly manage.

And off he went, not to return.

A commenter in the thread called this “Setting the Mallet to ‘Kitten,’” which delighted me, so now I think of this technique as “the kitten setting.” Other commenters voiced concern about changing anyone’s remarks, even those of trolls, without making it clear that editing had taken place. I thought this was an excellent point, as the object is to subvert the troll, not deceive the rest of the commenters. So the Craven Lickspittle’s converted posts now sport an asterisk, which links to another comment in the thread where I explain what I’m doing.

Having a night to think about “the kitten setting,” here are my thoughts about it and its use here.

1. I don’t think I will probably use it a lot; my standard Malleting method works just fine for 99% of people who get out of line, and it’s easier and simpler to use.

2. However, for a particularly pernicious sort of troll, the sort with neither no interest in genuine participation, nor capability for taking a hint, “kittening” their posts seems like an effective tactic. So I’ll be keeping the kitten setting for now, with appropriate signifiers for everyone else (probably a link back to this very entry) that the alternation has taken place. It’s not the tactic of first resort, but it’s a tactic.

3. For any commenter outraged that his post has been thus kittened: Good, you sad little smudge of a human. If you’ve been kittened, your only purpose in coming here, in my estimation, was to shit all over the carpets. I like my carpets shit-free. So you get what you deserve. As the comment policy makes clear, I both expect intelligent, considerate commenting here and reserve the right to deal with comments how I see fit — and how I see fit now includes the kitten setting. If you don’t like it, don’t post comments. If the fear of being kittened dissuades various sorts of shitbags from posting risible nonsense here, I think everyone wins.

Feel free to discuss in the comment thread.

(also, the picture above is of Ghlaghghee, the very first day we got her, back in 2003.)

259 thoughts on “The Kitten Setting

  1. I’m sure you’re familiar with disemvoweling over at Making Light. (I love that term.) They keep the troll’s words, but remove the vowels, making it very difficult to read.

    I expect someone will come along and make you a Word Press plugin for kitten setting. ;-)

  2. I’m sorry I don’t have anything particularly intelligent to add, but I would like to say that I love this with a love that is greater than squee. Thank you (again).

  3. Would this be an appropriate place to remark that the said troll is now ‘shitting little pink kittens’? As my son would say ‘Muahahahahaha’…..’ha’… ‘haha’.

  4. To me, Kittening just seems to be a more humorous version of replacing the text with [Comment deleted for x reason.] or deleting it altogether. I got a huge laugh out of the Kittened comments last night, and I think it’s a much better troll deterrent than just erasing their words.

  5. But what about those of us who like to dance in sparkly showers of kittens, and punctuate all our postings with asterisks? People will think we’re trolls!

  6. 1) I actually like your paraphrases better. They are more entertaining.

    2) The practice of “kittening” maligns kitties everywhere and, as a Kitty Advocate, I have commenced a search for an appropriate agency to report you to for this heinous practice which you have PUBLICLY stated your intention of beginning.

    3) pppht!

  7. I hasten to add that I do not dance in sparkly showers of kittens as the risk of injury to kittens is far too great. Also, little kitten claws as they slide down my skin. Ouch.

    I was wearing my unicorn costume when I typed that, though.

  8. As the catdaddy of 5.5 cats I approve. Why? Because I too enjoy hearts and flowers and pretty bows. Especially flowers (which my winter garden in this mild January insists on producing much to my amazement and delight).

    This troll policy pleases me. It’s a very feline policy since kittens fully believe everything in the world is a cat toy. Best way to deal with trolls is to play with them. They can be very amusing. And now that I have visited The Bloggess and was greeted with “Sometimes I think Facebook just exists for my sister and I to help explain our family to the rest of the world” it appears I’ll be a regular visitor.

  9. I’m afraid this makes me look forward to pernicious trolls, just to see some kittenings.

    I had a bulletin board years ago that included many English people. They used the word “trousers” a lot because “pants” means something else to them. We were all friends, so there was some good-natured ribbing between the Americans and the Brits about whose version of the English language was right. I set up a filter that changed each occurrence of the word “trousers” into “artichokes,” just to create a little chaos. Everyone got used to it, but newcomers were always a little befuddled at first.

    PS: “Pernicious Trolls” is the name of my next band, and I can’t wait for my first opportunity to play “kittening” in Wordfeud.

  10. [Racist Sexist Homophobic Dipshit] destroyed you.

  11. No one remembers that kittens have hypodermic needle like claws and don’t know how to control them. Be careful with those kittens, folks.

  12. Sound similar, in both approach and effect, to what another blogger I read started doing: replacing such barfgabble text with videos of cute little bunnies doing cute bunny things. This on a site known to be a bit more rough and tumble then here. But everyone has a limit.

  13. IBTPTHWBCWHSN:

    Oh, I’m quite sure he believes he has.

    Run back to that man hole now and tell them how you bravely told me what’s what. Go on! Run! Quick! Like a speedy chipmunk!

  14. 1) Cute kitten picture is CUTE.
    2) Anything that repels the trolls and keeps the civil conversations going is a good thing.
    3) Isn’t it telling that “kittening” can be more effective than deleting posts? Let’s all use psychology for good on the internet.

  15. [Racist Sexist Homophobic Dipshit] is a loser with multiple failed businesses and obscure, mediocre books no one will remember in two years. He desperately hopes he will produce something that reflects his “brilliance” but knows that won’t happen.

    So he resorts to begging his followers to post Amazon reviews on said books for him, talking about what a badass Alpha (sorry, “Sigma”) he is, and [see note below -- JS].

  16. Kongard and everyone else:

    One, let’s avoid naming that particular racist sexist homophobic dipshit by name (or nickname), because there is nothing he loves more than seeing his name here.

    Two, let’s leave his spouse/other family out of it, please.

  17. I’ve only had one troll so far (a holocaust denialist), and my response was to replace his posts with the result of a gibberish translator (takes standard text, and translates it into gibberish). I would then paraphrase what he said, keeping his message (well . . . mostly; perhaps I made him sound sillier), but removing the abuse.

    That was in the early days of blogging. These days I don’t have the time; I would delete and ban. Luckily, I don’t get many visitors, hence no trolls after that one. BTW . . . he was Canadian. And here I thought they were all nice people.

    It would seem the kitten approach would require an inordinate amount of time . . . must be nice to be young, and have that kind of time. But, as you say, it could be entertaining if judiciously used.

  18. This totally amuses me and I wish I had thought of “Kitten” setting a decade ago. Now if we could just invent a small handheld atomizer that could “Kitten” some of the Trollish vituperative rants in the real world too!

  19. You have essentially weaponized Calvin’s Transmogrifier Gun, and for that you deserve many kudos. Huzzahs are in order!

  20. Unfortunately I left to wonder, “What could I do to earn myself the “Kittened by Scalzi” merit badge?” Which, given that I generally limit myself to trolling a couple of people who trust me with their grandchildren, seems a little extreme.

  21. Okay, the picture of Ghlaghghee… That’s some military grade cuteness, there.

    I think I might eventually yoink the kittening method for my own blog, although I might modify it by using bad 80s cartoons…

  22. I’ve little useful to add, other than if it’s effective, then use it when needed.

    I would like to point out that in point 2. above, participation would make more sense than participate.

  23. [Deleted for stupid. Cheerlead for your pal somewhere else, dude -- JS]

  24. Sometimes trolls bring eyeballs. I’ve considered setting up a “Personalized Troll Provisioning Service” for those folks not as lucky as you to have done anything worthy of real trolls. Post lots of egregiously noxious material and get into a text-fight with the author, other commenters, etc. You know… lots of smoke, very little fire. And then, when site traffic is up, I can get banned. And paid.

    But trolling for free? Yeah that makes me want to play with the little mouse with the bell inside. And… Birds!

    PS: Love your work. Love the blog. Love teh kittenzing. That is all.

  25. Alternate strategies include running the text through a “Swedish Chef”-inator or a long google translate cycle (English to Arabic to Turkish to Japanese to English).

    Less labor intensive, too.

  26. It amuses the hell out of me that nobody here has linked to him or made it easy to Google him and yet he’s linked directly to you a bajillion times. Awesome. Also, maybe some of his readers will click over here and accidentally discover thoughtfulness and awesome SF writing. Everybody wins!

  27. You know you’re in a strange corner of the Internet when the trolls compete to see who’s using the *weakest* trollsauce…

  28. Quick awareness note:

    I have errands to run today and will be away from the site for a significant amount of time, but there seems to be a higher than average forecast for trolls, so Kate Baker will be around for malleting purposes. Please respect her authority.

  29. Well, with any luck the manosphere is on self-destruct; I suspect that the racist, sexist, homophopic dipshit in question was frantically trying to find a diversion from his latest outbreak of hysteria over the non-existent prohibition of sexbots which do not exist in the first place.

    I take particular joy in the fact that he’s jumped out of the frying pan into the fire…

  30. Well done, sir, on clarifying your policies whilst simultaneously appeasing the Ghollowers of Ghlaghghee, who have suffered lean Ghlaghghee ghoto pickings of late.

  31. I am sad that the tiniest minds in the world think it is worthwhile to try to destroy a major bastion of civility and reason in the vast wasteland that is the internet. The rest of us greatly appreciate your efforts to hold the fort against the forces of negative intlligence.

  32. I”ve been a lurker on this site a long time and never felt the need or the nerve to comment. I suspect this will be the only time I do. However, I feel obliged to say that the actual content of your edits seemed a little over the top girly to me, and that, in turn, made me uncomfortable because equating girly with mockery comes across as just a mite sexist. Maybe if you’d stuck with the kittens….

  33. As an aging ‘mo I say John can go over the top and call the trolls totally gay. I have a thick skin and know that the funnest thing in the world is calling a homophobe gay. Nothing fries their fury finer in my opinion.

  34. As Thomas More wrote, “And when the devil hath seen that they have set so little by him, after certain essays, made in such times as he thought most fitting, he hath given that temptation quite over. … The proud spirit cannot endure to be mocked.”

    Though trolls in general and RSHD in particular are not the devil, they still cannot abide the opprobrium due them, payable as mockery of their RSHian beliefs.

  35. Loved the kittening yesterday (and how much better would “Highlander” been if it had been kittening instead of quickening?).
    What never ceases to amaze me is when adults devolve into pre-school behavior a la the “He destroyed you!” comment above. As though simply saying it makes it true. I end up thinking “someone needs a nap” and I can’t imagine I am the only one who feels that way. Which leads me to wonder if they realize that is the reaction, by and large, they are creating.
    And yes, that is a ridiculously cute kitten (who turned into a ridiculously gorgeous cat).

  36. It is a great system. I have seen it used elsewhere (I believe around the FtB network) with kitten and bunny pictures and movies instead of text. But the principle is the same, remove the offensively stupid and introduce cute.

  37. PamG:

    I definitely angled the comments for the Craven Lickspittle toward the girly, because I knew there was little that could enrage someone engaging in hyper-masculine chest-thumping than that. Personally kitten cuddling and Gilbert and Sullivan are all right by me. And I don’t have enough hair to brush, sadly. And in a general sense I don’t see “girly” attributes as negatives. I know, however, that the Craven Lickspittle would. I don’t mind using his own stupidity against him.

    It’s the case that kittening would have to be individually handcrafted for each person deserving a kittening.

  38. Well, I’ll only repeat the comment I made to previous post: do unto others as you would teach others to do unto you. As long as you’re ok with the concept “I don’t mind if people I disagree with write things that they find hilarious and attribute these to me,” there’s no problem.

  39. @Natalie: I thought so too. IDK, I’m all for mocking dipshit trolls, but mocking dipshit trolls by going “ha ha you do girly things” is :\ Even if part of the “joke” is that they would especially hate being associated with femininity or homosexuality. It’s especially ehhhhhhhhhh when the jokester in question is himself straight, cis, and not markedly feminine. Surely there’s a way to take the piss without reinforcing societal derision for GSM. ASCII cats! Dramatic odes to the one and only Scalzi! Photographs of double rainbows! Actual Gilbert & Sullivan opera lyrics! (Or something from a Broadway musical, possibly.)

  40. Why women aren’t in charge of the world will always confound me. Briliant. You must do this more often. You must. Just add it to policy for your blog and let the kitties of war fly off into the meadows of foofooness. It is perfection. Think of it as something Dumbledore would do, gracing some breathing-through-the-teeth irritant with obscure tongues in an elvish lilt. Long live Jenny.

  41. Meh. I have faith that Scalzi can mock people without buying into the annoying “heterosexist == secretly gay” meme. That’s really just a subset of the more general myth that bullies and jerks make other people miserable out of low self-esteem. That doesn’t actually appear to be the case, and even if it was, it’d be a pretty paltry excuse for bad behavior.

    Treating gay as an insult always reflects poorly on the person doing so–whether they’re insulted or trying to insult. Hollywood/popular media aside, I haven’t seen much evidence that most heterosexist jerks are anything other than what they present themselves to be: heterosexual people with flawed critical thinking skills and an inflated sense of their value relative to that of other people.

  42. @sojournerstrange – I love what an “ode to Scalzi” edit would be! I’m a horrible poet, is anyone else up to the challenge?

    That might be even more vexing to the RSHD.

  43. Would it really be so schmaltzy
    to write an ode to John Scalzi?

    Yes? No? Hmmm… Maybe someone else should take a shot at it.

  44. I just want to say thank you to Mr. Scalzi for bringing ” The blogess” Jenny Lawson, to our attention! I did not know her blog existed ! This is one very funny blog, and I bookmarked it. I now have two blogs to read every day! Whatever, And Jenny Lawson! Thank you very much!

  45. I would never be so ballsy
    As to try to rhyme John Scalzi
    Though I fear it makes me stuffy
    I prefer the wrath of Ghlaghghee

  46. PamG & Natalie – And your comments imply that kittens and such are only favored by females. I know plenty of men who would be insulted by your insinuations.

    Alternatively, you could see it as suggesting that the trolls are being extremely childish (or child-like?) which is what I think of when it comes to kittens and rainbows.

  47. I thank the dipshit for making yesterday so funny (credit to John too). I haven’t laughed that hard in a long time. I wonder if Colbert will pick up “kittening” on his show?

  48. I personally appreciated the substitution of kittens and rainbows because I get the sense that if I’d seen the unedited comment, I would have needed some serious kitten therapy to restore my hope in humanity. Thank you for that, Mr. Scalzi.

  49. I’m concerned that the echo chamber just got a little bit bigger. Without examples of said rshd diatribes, at what point do you get kittened?
    If I said the Obama administration’s policies are …………. does that make me racist?
    If I said that Nancy Pelosi’s tactics are ………………… does that make me misogynist?
    If I said that the Boy Scouts are ok, would that make me homophobic?

    The way I see it, unless you’re a PCCC, (politically correct cool cat), you are going to end up a kitten.

    Kittening is just another way of sticking your fingers in your ears and going La, La, La, I can’t hear you.

  50. Jimbot, I probably skew to the right of a lot of commenters here, and of John Scalzi for that matter, and I love the site in part because a) JS is always, and his commenters are usually, thoughtful and thought provoking, whether or not I agree with a given argument, and b) people can and do disagree on politics, literature, culture and values without getting corrected all the time.
    His ‘self-made man’ column refined my thinking greatly. I started visiting the blog because I loved his novels, but come back more often now for the non-SF discussions.

  51. Ah, Jimbot. So a person should just sit there and be shouted at with ridiculous and truly racist, mysoginistic and homophobic rants?

    Why should they.

    The examples you gave aren’t quite adequate.

  52. Perhaps not enough hair on your head to brush, but the thick, luxurious locks curling from your knuckles could be used to sell hair conditioner.

    As to the folks objecting to kittening or other hands-on moderation practices, to my mind it’s just an extension of ” my house, my rules”. If you don’t like the rules, there are plenty of other Internets to go to.

  53. I’ve been reading this blog for about a year now, and it’s my opinion that Scalzi doesn’t run it as an echo chamber. If he did, I’m pretty sure he wouldn’t have the number and quality of comments that he does, and he would have the readers because there wouldn’t be the interesting discussions. Echo chambers don’t make for scintillating conversation.

  54. I wonder if folks who crow about ‘echo chambers’ and Scalzi ‘not tolerating dissent’ realize that they’re either admitting to not actually reading the comments, or saying something terribly unflattering about their reading comprehension skills.

    The very post to which these comments are attached narrates an example of Scalzi listening to commenters who disagreed with him about something and changing his behavior accordingly.

  55. I had an interesting experience this week of posting a negative comment on a YouTube video. I found the sentiment in the video inane, but I didn’t use any words as forceful as inane, and no “bad” words at all. By expressing the least negativity in that setting, I was called a troll. It turns out that it is an unstated membership requirement of their group to love that video. On YouTube, they just vote your comment out of existence.

  56. Replacing hateful comments with love for small animals is fine by me, but I agree with PamG, Natalie and soujournerstrange that your comments about hair brushing and Gilbert and Sullivan came across as sexist/homophobic/transphobic. Yes, it makes the macho posturing airheads angry, but it also makes you part of the societal problem of disparaging feminine interests and actions. Please, think about the implications of your insults, even if they are insults through kindness.

  57. ach, conflict: on the one hand ‘being kittened’ sounds brilliant, ‘being kittened by Scalzi’ even more awesome – it’s something I could imagine Warren Ellis writing about (not really); is there an ‘I was kittened by Scalzi’ t-shirt on offer?
    on the other hand the entry price of being a racist, homophobic dipshit, does seem a little too high…

  58. Annalee:

    Indeed, as I am listening to the criticisms in how the kittening was done here in the thread. I know why I did it the way I did it, but it’s fair criticism to say “hey, maybe you didn’t think about this.” I am committed to improving kittening so it does what it’s supposed to do (enrage the trolls) without pinching anyone else in the process.

    Jimbot:

    You’ve been here long enough to know whether or not I unfairly delete comments where the commenter disagrees with my politics and personal morals. I think it’s useful to have a diversity of views; I don’t think it’s useful to have assholes banging about on the thread. As I’ve noted before, assholes often post political comments here; they get deleted because they’re assholes, not because of their politics. Who gets to make the call of who is being an asshole? I do.

  59. To my eternal regret, I found what I think is the rshd blog in question. If I didn’t have it on good authority that it is not parody, I would have sworn it was satirical. It’s like a whole buffet of right-wing paranoia all wrapped up in a disgusting bite-sized serving of crap. That he has some sort of personal beef against our host and is clearly attempting (and failing) to punch way above his weight class is be kind of amusing, in a “listen to the three-year-old who thinks calling somebody a “chicken head” is the height of amusing debate” kind of way, but I can see how it would wear thin quickly.

    I’m off to scrub my browser history and clear my cookies. Bleah. I got crazy all over my laptop.

  60. jimbot – I’m pretty sure, based on past history, that merely expressing an opinion with with Scalzi is not in agreement is insufficient to get a malleting or kittening. One has to be actively obnoxious or, perhaps, grammatically incoherent.

    See, for example, the people who are taking issue with his use of hair brushing and G&S. Their posts remain, because they aren’t arguing like three year olds (not that I have anything against three year olds. Or G&S. Or kittens. Hair brushing is a sore spot with me).

  61. The kitten setting has me wishing this site had more ugly trolls.
    Most important take away for me? Thanks to Andrew Hackard’s ode, I now know I’ve been mispronouncing “Ghlaghghee” in my head for all this time.

  62. My only complaint is that I’d rather you’d use Andrew Rice Weber for your musical referent. I -like- singing along to Gilbert & Sullivan.

  63. I’m all for a Kitten Setting if it means more pictures of cats…er, more thoughtful discussions of books and issues of deep significance. Uh huh. I’m all about the redeeming social value stuff. Absolutely…
    Oh, Ghlaghghee was just a wee ball of fluff. How could you name her anything else? :-)

  64. Assholes gonna poop. Mad props to Scalzi for keeping his Internet front porch poop-free and transmuting particularly smelly poops into soft clean kitties.

    Please, folks, don’t poop on someone else’s porch. Poop on your own all you like, but don’t be surprised at the people who come visit afterwards.

    Sooooo embarrassed that I didn’t figure out how to pronounce Ghlaghghee earlier.

  65. So now that you can’t shame away bad behavior you’ve moved on to ignoring it rather than showing retreat as usual?

  66. Spectator:

    The individual words in your sentence are just fine; it’s when they are strung together that they lose any semblance of meaning. You want to try again?

  67. For what it’s worth, I agree that the hair brushing Gilbert & Sullivan in a high voice comment didn’t come off the way you meant it to, Scalzi. I appreciate that you’re listening to criticism on that point.

  68. Yay! Kitties! I don’t know which I like better, the kitten picture of Her Felinity, or the idea of transmogrifying wharrgarbl hatred into sparkly unicorns and rainbows.
    You could also use quotes from Ralph Wiggum: “The doctor says that my nose would stop bleeding if I just kept my finger out of there.”

  69. I admit, curiosity finally got the better of me and I went googling for RSHD…

    Not sure what the Royal Stewart Highland Dancers did to offend, John, but I’m sure they would apologize if asked nicely….

  70. “I know what you’re thinking. “Did he post six asterisks or only five?” Well, to tell you the truth, in all this excitement I kind of lost track myself. But being as this is a Troll to Kitten Translator, the most powerful mocking edit in the world, and would blow your argument clean off, you’ve got to ask yourself one question: Do I feel lucky? Well, do ya, punk?”

  71. Oh gee, I can’t sing G & S, and whenever I try to sing in a high voice, it cracks. My cats (all 4 of them) run and hide. There is significantly more cat fur on my head than my real hair, and of course, I get more than my daily minimum requirement of protein in the form of cat hair in my food, too. There is no reason for anyone to be thin-skinned here, just think of RSHD and what he says, and think, “I’ve been called worse by better people than RSHD.”
    John, thanks for the laughs. Joe in Sidney

  72. Have to agree about the high voice/long hair/G&S kittening not coming across as it was intended. The problem is that even though you don’t consider traditional markers of femininity and/or gayness to signify that those who hold them are inherently Less Than, and don’t consider the implication that one might be gay/femme/trans to be insulting… when you turn those tropes on this particular troll in a way that you know, because he’s a RSHD, he will be insulted by, you still end up reinforcing the idea that “hey UR gay!” or “hey UR a LADY!” are in fact things that can be meaningfully, legitimately deployed as insults. Kittening with kitten-cuddling, however, is both gender/sex-neutral enough to avoid this problem, while also being soft & fluffy enough to enrage and repel RSHD trolls.

  73. I laughed so hard at all of this. I thought you handled him well. (Then again, I’m very much for aggressive moderation policies.)

  74. I love the concept. Thank you, Jenny Lawson. Now I need to find someone to develop an app that will :
    A. Change posting to the boards I moderate, for any given poster, to either Swedish Chef, Twilight Fan Fic, Klingon, Scottish ramblings or kitten fetish.
    B. Change any posting by that same person on any sights I read to the above.
    C. Send a copy of the changes back to the poster for proper notification.

    The concept reminds me very much of what Aaron WIlliams has done to a character in PS238. This is a comic dealing with a elementary school for superpowered children. One of the children is the son of a supervillian and swears quite a bit, but the school has placed an inhibitor on him that randomly changes his swearing to more appropriate words.

    John, you seem to show restraint for poor behavior on your comment board. Glad to see that you draw the line and send people on their way, too.

  75. Great.
    A couple of years ago the maintainer of a German forum got sued by a company to remove some comments about them. But instead of taking down the posts, he changed them exactly into the opposite, and told the readers what he did.

  76. I would only underscore what a few other commenters have said: it seems worthwhile to find or politely ask someone to write a clever algorithm for autosubvertrification of trollish comments.

    In addition to Reasons of Time, it seems useful to have a mechanism for letting determined trolls know that: “Rather than spending my own time, I have engaged a labor-saving device to make sport of you.”

  77. For some reason, while I was catching up on the new Kittening Policy, all of my cats decided to come watch me read. Hmmm…

    Also, I was briefly tempted to go seek Seekrit Admirer’s latest screed, then I remembered how depressed I got the last time, and decided I’d rather play with my kittens. (Well, three kittens and an old Queen.)

  78. I for one was alarmed at the amount of hair Scalzi had last weekend. I’m pretty sure that’s the most Scalzi hair I’ve ever seen (Krissy’s beautiful hair notwithstanding.) That’s nearly enough to need to brush.

  79. The thing is it doesn’t have to be anything offensive, just nonsensical. Having a discussion on trees and someone trolls? Alter his/her comment to something like favorite types of butter. Or lard. Or dirt. Or asphalt. See? Easy.

  80. I know you said not to look, but I had to go look.

    …and man. It’s like Pat Robertson dropped acid and decided that the Holy Trinity was Jesus, Ayn Rand, and Nietzsche, except that he also confused Jesus with Lemmy from Motorhead.

    I feel sorry for the guy. It’s hard to get that kinda rage out of your system. Seems like he aspires to one day be a more notable trainwreck. .

    ..it’s a good thing he’s directing it at somebody he can’t hurt, I suppose.

  81. This post has convinced me to dedicate this day to singing Gilbert & Sullivan songs in as high a voice as I can manage.

  82. gleonguerrero: But we non-trollish-types have favorite types of butter too! (Mine is currently Plugra European-style cultured butter, salted.) Then again, I have actually used “Stop doing X, or I will eat butter at you” as a threat. Successfully.

  83. So does this mean posting comments proclaiming the virtues of kittens while using the noble asterisk as an elegant decoration is now forbidden? Alternately, will such posts be transformed into idiotic rants?

    Incidentally, I’ve somehow missed this particular ongoing drama til now, despite being a loyal reader, so I had to figure out what search terms to use to find out who RSHD was. My first attempt, Scalzi sucks, was way too full of people saying such playfully. So I decided to get into the mindset of a RSHD, and thus googled Scalzi combined with the worst slur you can use against a gay person (which I consider the third worst word in the English language, right behind the corresponding words for women and black people). Sadly, it led me right to RSHD’s little tree fort.

  84. I have to admit that when I first read this, I laughed and thought it was a creative way to deal with a troll. As the day went on, however, I began to feel a little differently. I don’t know who the “racist sexist homophobic dipshit” is or what they said so I’m just taking your word that they are, but regardless I don’t think anyone should have words attributed to them that they did not speak/write. I get that this is your website and you feel you have the right to do what you want but having a disclaimer does not necessarily make something ethical. From the comments I’ve read I understand that the “racist sexist homophobic dipshit” has a couple books out and his own website. Can he attribute words to you that you didn’t say? Maybe post a message stating that you endorse his book?

  85. As someone about to go sing Gilbert and Sullivan tonight, albeit as a baritone, I’m not entirely sure what to think either…..

  86. O.K. Now I understand the reasoning behind The Kitten Setting’s premier use, and I appreciate that John addressed concerns raised by me and by others. Just wanted to add that a lot of the reason I follow Whatever is the proactive moderation policy. Conversation is civil on these threads, and comments express a wide range of viewpoints. Compared to some of the toxic ranting out in the aether, the discourse here gives me hope for humanity. So, thank you.

  87. I MUST protest, good sir…the verb “to kitten” has been defined already, for decades…it means “the act of spewing Pepsi (or drink of your choice) across the room when being tickled by verbage presented on one’s computer screen.” (see alt.callahans circa the early 90′s) However, as spewing sticky beverages on small furry cats can create a sticky mess, and since to be kittened by Salzi has a certain cachet, and since I would never argue with The Bloggess, may her name be ever worshiped, I guess that I would be honored to share the term and its alternate definition with you. *hugs* the original kitten.

  88. I’m not into kittens but this is seriously good. Makes a person think a bit and churns out some “turn the other cheek” but with a heap goodness twist.

  89. @kittent
    Good point, but I think Mr. Scalzi’s commenter actually coined the phrase “set the mallet to kitten” rather than redifined the verb.

  90. Found RSHD’s blog, now pass me the trephine and the bleach, please. Err.

    Let’s just say this is wrong on so many levels. And sadly not in the Hentai way of things. BTW, I object to the idea his trinity is Jesus/Lemmy, Rand and Nietzsche. Err, except Rand, of course…

    Let’s see, babbling about genetic determinatism while calling himself a Christian, well, OK, he is one of these heretics’w, err, Baptists, but anybody explained to him why denying free will makes for even MORE paradoxes in Christianity?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/On_the_Bondage_of_the_Will

    Bonus points for doing this while being the son of a convicted felon who didn’t give Caesar what was Caesar’s. Err, not that the latter says anything about RSHD in person, just about his cognitive dissonances. Speck and plank, e.g. redwood trunk, anyone?

    As already mentioned, now pass me the trephine and the bleach, please.

  91. I also found RSHD’s soapbox and now know precisely how curiosity killed the kitteh. All I could think in the 5 minutes I could stand to spend there was, “Is this clown a refugee from Gor? Somebody please send him back.”

  92. I would suggest that you include a line in your policy stating that people can be UNkittened if they start off a post with some comment like “I am deeply and humbly sorry for the behaviour which you felt deserved kittening, and i wish to participate in a meaningful fashion” – and then post. Require them to include that phrase before each post for a week or so – and, needless to say, kitten heavily if they do not actually change their ways.

  93. Yes, now that I look for it, the RSHD shows a level of dumbfuckery seldom matched, a room full of insane ranters all screaming at each other.

    I love especially how they’ve labelled Scalzi as the paragon “gamma”, which apparently means someone unable to get female attention – despite his lovely wife and child. Reality just doesn’t have a foothold in their tightly closed little epistemic world.

    Shit, the blog’s like the Church of Scientology without the money or social respect.

  94. Ghlaghghee! Wow do I feel stupid, especially since I’ve run into ghoti before. I’ve been doing an excellent imitation of someone choking, every time I tried to pronounce that name.

  95. Possibly the best way to kitten-mallet someone might be to replace their post with cat noises? That would avoid the whole question of whether one is continuing with the stereotyping of particular behaviours as “belonging” to certain non-powerful and institutionally despised groups within society.

    It also (for me) gives the lovely image of a chest-thumping manly-man flame warrior suddenly replaced with this tiny little ball of fluff which is squeaking because it can’t see the keyboard from the chair.

  96. Perhaps to deal with the concerns that kitten mode is insulting to any particular subset of human beings, John could ask us to write some for him, thus avoiding any accusation of bias on his part, and allowing us to vent our inner kittens. What do you think, John? That way, you’d have a stash on hand when the next troll comes by and you are short on time.

  97. I love especially how they’ve labelled Scalzi as the paragon “gamma”, which apparently means someone unable to get able to hold female attention….

    FTFY.

  98. So now I have to go back and look at the comment thread on that previous thread, just to see the Kitten Setting in its native habitat. Is this where I complain about being “forced” to go to a thread from an earlier day?

  99. FTFY.

    Ah, right. So their contempt is for Scalzi holding on to a women after using her, like you’d hold on to a used tissue, instead of discarding the disgusting thing after you’ve contaminated it with your excretions and moving on to the next one.

    Well, that makes sense.

  100. Phoenician: I was more aiming at “holding a woman’s interest (to the extent that she’s interested in spending the rest of her life with you) is a higher-difficulty skill than getting her (possibly annoyed) attention”, but your interpretation is also possible.

  101. I don’t see the kittening style as being insulting to women (and I am female and always have been). I see it as “changing the words to something acceptable to post, which happens to be harmlessly silly.” Brushing your hair, for instance, is not silly, but I think doing it all day would be. Brushing hair, singing, caring about unwanted kittens and even weeping about it, liking hearts and pretty bows, etc, are also not sexually defining behaviors, though I think dancing in sparkly showers would not be done by anyone outside a cartoon or an over-the-top advertisement for shower cleaners. Would the assumption that such behavior must be defined as female be in itself sexist? I am old enough to have seen the late singer, Tiny Tim.

  102. I was ridiculously excited when this came up in my Reader list and thought “Is that Kitten Ghlaghghee? It must be! Squee!”

    Oh, the policy is good too.

  103. Kitten claws?
    IME kittens claws do not slide.
    Slide is a continuous thing. — !Water! !Slide! Yee Haa!
    The claws of a frightened kitten cause a set of wounds.
    The claws do not _slide_ through the skin.
    They needle go in, and rip out, and needle go in….
    -
    And do note that the kitten doesn’t keep it’s claws clean.
    Wound care required.

  104. Semi-off-tangent (what, this comment thread has an “on-topic”?) thought off of what Jimbot said — frankly, I find that deleting the obnoxious trollery tends to decrease the “echo chamber” effect, not increase it. It’s easy to dismiss the arguments of people who are obnoxiously trolling as being mere obnoxiousity, and likewise easy to find oneself dismissing valid ideas along with the discarded bathwater. Whereas if a place is filtered for only coherent polite conversation, one may find coherent polite conversation about differing opinions and thereby be encouraged to pay attention to them.

  105. Maybe the best compromise for The Kitten Setting would be to transform the trollposts into “Meow meow meow. Meow meow meow. Meow meow MEOW meow meow…” a’la the old Meow Mix commercial…

  106. Kitten herding.
    The Firefox spell check doesn’t warn about repeated repeated words words.
    Oh, nice of it.

  107. The main thing I got from this is that if one tries harder one can be given dialog by Scalzi… I’m half tempted to try it

  108. Thank you for posting that recap of the paraphrased original posts and the kittening. I was feeling a little blue today. Now a good laugh has me me feel much better. :)

  109. Now I’m kinda wondering what the original, name-obscured RSHD person is, and if I’ve heard of him … but enough people have ventured to find out, and reported back, that first-hand knowledge is probably not actually useful.

    Also, I wonder what will happen if this method is applied to a poster in a cat picture thread. Will anyone be able to tell the difference?!

    And, @mintwitch: I’m sure any self-respecting Feminist is strong and self-empowered enough to find Her own trolls to feed on.

  110. I think john’s solution to the mega-trollers is brilliant. And he has taken everyone’s concerns and criticisms to heart and has said he would amend it as needed, I don’t think anyone should still be complaining. As we all know it’s his blog= his rules. He’s come up with a truly funny way to deal with these people so I think some people should just back off a little and let the man have at it. It’s also something that’s obviously not going to be used much because it takes time and John’s a busy man. He doesn’t demand or expect that all agree with him as anyone who reads this blog knows. And regarding the problem people have with the comment being changed, as long as it’s noted there is nothing unethical about it. Thats how I see it anyway. Oh and could someone please tell me just how do you pronounce ghlaghghee’s name? Thank you in advance.

  111. I too made the mistake of tracking down the racist sexist homophobic dipshit’s blog. (Yeeeesh! The stupid, it burnsssss!!!!) And even though I fully understand why Mssr. Scalzi refuses to give links/names/details and I wholeheartedly approve, I still wish there was some way I could have avoided wasting the several minutes it took me to find the RSHD.

    I know, I know – my own fool fault for being so morbidly curious.

    Anyway… Anyone else think that Ghlaghghee looks cute and all, but she also looks like she’s getting ready to EAT MY FACE!!!!?

  112. Now wait, so if by calling investing into long-term relationships as gamma behaviour and thus UNMANLY, doesn’t RSHD imply MANLY behaviour as he engages in is at the r extreme, e.g. lots of low quality offspring, of the R/K continuum,

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/R/K_selection_theory

    while gamma behaviour is closer to the k extreme?

    Oh, the sweet irony…

    On another note, arguing against the kitten imagery as anti-feminist is anti-feminist itself, since this comes with some implications:

    a) it implies women are innately more into fluffy/furry things (essentialism).

    b) being into fluffy/furry things is implied to be weak, and thus necessiting a duck-and-cover lifestyle for people into fluffy/furry things (rape culture).
    Explain this to a fur-clad Viking, explicitly including the shildmaiden variety…

    c) it implies women have to feel threatened by even tangential verbal, err, ideosyncrasies. See above for reasons to not implement that.

    Implying somebody adverse to something is secretly into the same thing always has the problem of implying this is bad and thus reinforcing the underlying ideology, see mancrush = homophobia, mixed ethnic heritage = racism, but, well, it’s not so much “they pull you down to their level and beat you with experience” as most alternatives…

    Now if you excuse me, I guess our gender equality deputy is back from her Viking reenactment weekend…

    SCNR

  113. D’awwwww…baby Ghlaghghee! Makes me seriously consider an eruption of trollishness just so I could be Kitten-Malleted :D

  114. Based on the spelling of Ghlaghghee, would it be a stretch to assume that our host was a fan of ghoti as well?

  115. Thanks for the link, Sooz (“I’m fine, thank you, Susan.”)
    What’s most amusing about that post from 2003 is that there are about 15 comments and two of them are Scalzi’s. From small acorns, eh?

  116. This practice is evil, pure evil. It’s so horrible and despicable that patent attorneys and Nigerian princes are sending their minions to bask in the malicious beauty of it. I hear the European Union is looking at an Evil Value Added tax just for you. Vilely played, sir.

  117. I’m the only one thinking how this will end with somebody, at some point, making either a call that this is censorship (not very original, as that would be the same with deleting the post), and then … infringement of copyright? “I posted <insert depressing stuff that makes you look forward to the end of human life on earth" and that post is copyright Internet Asshole (TM), you altered my text without my permission I will sue you!"

  118. Very effective.

    Although it’s not precisely on-topic, I have found that I get lovely results with the usual sorts of casually-anti-gay stuff one occasionally sees in video games simply by taking it positively. ” is gay!” they cry. “Ooh!” sez me. “I hadn’t realized. How do I get me some of that?”

    The more you make it clear that you think they mean “has gay sex” and think it’s a positive thing, the more freaked out they get. If you call them out on homophobia, they get defensive. If you merely take it as a given that they are expressing desires for gay sex, they think about that, it squicks them something fierce (because they are actually homophobic, denials or no), and they end up running away and start avoiding the behavior that triggers that response. Victory!

  119. Thanks to the commentors above who educated me on the pronunciation of “Ghlaghghee.” I too had been saying it wrong, in my head. Clearly I have not consulted the same sources as many of you!

  120. With cat-like tread,
    Upon the trolls we steal,
    In silence dread,
    Our cautious way we feel.
    No sound at all,
    They dare not speak a word.
    A fly’s footfall would be distinctly heard.

    Come friends to blog Scalzi,
    Truce to good discussion,
    Or end with a concussion.
    Let’s vary malleting,
    With a little kittening!

    As sung in my lowest manliest voice. :)

  121. This is so freaking brilliant that the next step has to be a WordPress Plugin for “Kittening”, you know, just a little pink “Kitten” button in the Comment Admin section, right next to “Trash”.

  122. Come to think of it, the paraphrasing was freaking brilliant, too. I read the post again and I think I laughed just as hard at the WargleBargle as the Kittening. I’m thinking that the Kittening Plugin should have a WargleBargle option. It’s probably even legally in the clear without the asterix, since you’re paraphrasing while maintaining the original tone of the note, if not the actual content. Maybe instead of an asterix, you could just surround the WargleBargled text in square brackets?

  123. As a trained scientist, I believe that reasoning and a well-supported argument is superior to all else. Except kittens. Kittens are clearly better when your opponent is beyond reason. Besides, KITTENS!

  124. Is this thing on? : The main thing I got from this is that if one tries harder one can be given dialog by Scalzi… I’m half tempted to try it

    ITTO didn’t know if he could spam his way into a major authorial intervention. But he was ready to find out…

  125. Wow. I remember clearly the incident some years ago that I believe first spawned RHSD’s distaste for our host, but I hadn’t realized just how… fascinated he had become. I will now have to scrub down my browser history with Clorox after checking his website for the first time in a long time.

    Kittening is a lovely idea; it really should be encoded as a macro, perhaps drawing from a variety of appropriate stock phrases.

  126. I’m not a writer, but I was turned onto this thread via my sister who is currently an author and sarcastic smartty pants in the best of ways… I gotta say that for my first exposure to a thread loved and commented on by writers, I’ve never seen a deck spraying of such magnitude filled with yard stick measured jousting of sarcasm, dry humor or words that cause me groaning to the dictionary as the comments herein. You all have me both laughing and blowing raspberries at my phone.

  127. Whilst it is true that I am a large glass of wine down, I truly believe that this is what the internet has been MISSING FOR ALL THESE YEARS!

  128. Latro says: “January 22, 2013 at 11:39 am
    I’m the only one thinking how this will end with somebody, at some point, making either a call that this is censorship (not very original, as that would be the same with deleting the post), and then … infringement of copyright? “I posted <insert depressing stuff that makes you look forward to the end of human life on earth" and that post is copyright Internet Asshole (TM), you altered my text without my permission I will sue you!"

    It doesn't seem to make sense that deletion would be an infringment of copyright. Replacing the text entirely is deleting the original text (so, that wouldn't be a infringment of copyright either).

  129. Funkula wrote: “I decided to get into the mindset of a RSHD, and thus googled Scalzi combined with the worst slur you can use against a gay person ”

    Funkula, GMTA!

    When I read Mr. Scalzi’s account of his weekend in the previous post, including the nasty internet commentary, I was curious enough to want to have a look. Not having any idea whom he was referring to, I decided to try a search for the blog in question by entering Scalzi’s name attached to some common attack words used by bigots… and, yep, voila, a link popped up front and center for the blog site in question.

    Quite a sad distinction. Ex.: “How do I find your blog if I forget your name or lose the URL?” “Oh, that’s easy. Just type into your search engine some common attack words used by bigots, then add the name of a bestselling sf writer who I am negatively obsessed with, and you’ll find me easily.”

  130. BTW, I see that since Sunday, that individual has written two more angry blog posts about Mr. Scalzi. I think John is sensible to ignore this individual in hopes of leaving him to the obscurity he so richly deserves… But I by now suspect it would also be sensible of John to think about this individual j-u-s-t enough to decide at what point or with what action this person’s behavior could reasonably be seen as crossing into cyberstalking, which is no joke, and perhaps warrant a discussion with law enforcement. It may well never become a problem; this individual may not escalate and/or may move onto other obsessions. But given three attacks on this person’s blog posted in two days (and I gather this isn’t the first time?), it’s probably better to recognize the possible danger and have a plan for it, in case this person does escalate.

  131. Hmm, I’d thought that the Bloggess’ kitten setting was some kind of blogging tool app and the nonsense statements were automatically added rather than had to be crafted each time. I can see where the latter would take a lot of time. Perhaps someone with the skills can create the app as a spam handling tool.

    It is quite amazing to me in the world of the Internet and blogs, the beliefs many people have that people should be forced to interact with folks who see them as sub-human and who they don’t want to interact with, and if not, that this is a vile act of tyranny and censorship, instead of viewing their attempt to force people to talk to them as, well, a vile act.

    I don’t need to look at that other blog, not because I want to live in an echo chamber but because the history of comments and beliefs like that is well ingrained in society. I have to listen to it already from Congressmen. And because people like that don’t actually believe half of what they say to make an attack, since their main goal is money. The kittening, or for that matter Scalzi telling a minion to run off like a chipmunk, is funny because we already know what that person said without having to read it. We’ve all heard those statements before, growing up. Sometimes we hear them here, in slightly more polite tones, but the meaning is the same. Of course, sometimes hearing the rantings is fun, in the same way a horror movie is fun, but I enjoyed the kittening more, I think.

  132. “It is quite amazing to me in the world of the Internet and blogs, the beliefs many people have that people should be forced to interact with folks who see them as sub-human and who they don’t want to interact with, and if not, that this is a vile act of tyranny and censorship, instead of viewing their attempt to force people to talk to them as, well, a vile act. ”

    Well said!

    If I dislike someone or find them repellant, in don’t go to their home and I don’t invite them into mine. I don’t make plans to see them socially. If this is someone I encounter at social events, I ignore or avoid them; I opt out of a dinner or engagement if I find out they’re included (or, if their name is suggested to me for the occasion, I ask that they not be included). If an obnoxious person intrudes on me, my conversation, or a group I’m with, I ask them to go away if it’s clear they’re also annoying others–but if they seem to be welcome, then I make my exit rather than be around someone I find obnoxious and detestable.

    Without turning it into a stress-filled obsession, I make a reasonable and mostly-successful effort in my life to avoid contact with people I find obnoxious and abrasive.

    Why on earth is the INTERNET therefore a place where you, or I, or John Scalzi, or anyone else is supposed to be required to interact with the loathed and loathsome of the planet?

    Yes, I have been called a “stuck-up bitch,” a “slut,” a “whore,” etc., etc. specifically due to declining the company of various obnoxious men in real life. (So have most women I know.) It’s disappointing but not at all surprising that women are also called these same names on the internet. But when I ask someone to leave me alone in real life, or decline to invite someone to my home, or ask someone to shut up and go away because their behavior is objectionable, among the names I get called at that juncture, no one–no matter how angry, obnoxious, or drunk–has ever claimed I was committing “censorship” or “opposing free speech” because I choose not to interact with assholes in real life. How did making the same choice on the internet become (erroneously and absurdly) labelled “censorship” and “anti-free speech?”

    In real life AND on the internet, it’s the same thing: just a choice NOT to host, make time and space for, acknowledge, hang out with, listen to, or interact with someone who behaves like an obnoxious jackass… And, actually, THAT’S evidently how it got twisted into an attack on free speech. Even an asshole probably doesn’t want to admit, “I got booted because I was an asshole.” It’s MUCH more self-aggrandizing to say, “I have been CENSORED and my FREEDOM OF SPEECH is under ATTACK!”

  133. @Laura Resnick – I completely agree with you. There is absolutely nothing wrong with choosing not to interact with or allow comments by loathsome creeps. By all means, delete any vile comment they might make, don’t let the world know they exist. This is a hosts right. My problem is falsely attributing words (no matter how cute or funny) to someone else. Do I think “I love Kittens” will harm the RSHD? No. But who should get to decide what words we can put into someone else’s mouth?

  134. My problem is falsely attributing words (no matter how cute or funny) to someone else.

    Given that the emendments are clearly marked with asterisks, there is no “false attribution”. Instead, there is a very clear statement that random snippets of nonsense are both more intelligent and more acceptable than whatever sewage had spewed from the poster’s cloaca.

  135. Dear John,
    Thanks for giving me a place to speak and listen to people who I might not ever get to communicate with. I enjoy the civility of this site, and won’t pollute it with crude trollishness. I like reading opinions that differ from mine because I understand that I am not the center of the universe. If I don’t give a response to an opinion that I disagree with, well, both of my parents told me not to argue politics or religion with others. Trolls, in my opinion, belong under their bridges of imagined superiority and as our fellow readers found out, if you go over their bridge, (website) you have to pay the troll. I don’t have that much time, so I’ll respect the civil people I find here.

  136. Kevin Riley, clearly John Scalzi decides what words get published in what form on his own blog. That’s also a host’s right. As I understand his intention, he is highly unlikely to do this sort of thing often or with the posts of the vast majority of people who post here. It’s being reserved for certain individuals as a way of persuading them that posting in their usual fashion won’t be possible and they might therefore spend their time in a more satisfying way elsewhere. I can understand not approving of it, but it’s nobody’s place to tell John what to do on his own blog. I suspect that if someone doesn’t like what appears under his or her screen name, that person can appeal to John to delete it and John is likely to respond reasonably. Or one can choose not to post comments here because one doesn’t care for John’s way of managing his blog. I think that the occasional kittening is highly unlikely to have a chilling effect on commenting here.

    The problem I have with people who bitch about censorship and constraints on their freedom of speech on the Internet (this has nothing to do with your post, Kevin, but goes back to Laura’s) is that almost without exception, they have cartoonish misconceptions about what those terms mean and the situation in which rights of freedom apply and in which something can be accurately considered censorship. They only advertise their ignorance when they complain about something that is, in fact, not being done. Yet they want to be taken seriously and to have their complaints redressed. Most of them don’t want to discuss what freedom of speech is and what guarantees there are or are not, which would be a useful discussion to have but tends to get in the way of their righteous indignation. However, there was a rather interesting discussion in a comment thread on Whatever a few months ago in which someone clearly understood that there was no legal protection of freedom of speech in the situation under discussion but he had strong opinions about the philosophical concept of freedom of speech, not claiming that it was guaranteed, and he wrote quite articulately about it, if I recall correctly. But he was the exception.

  137. I didn’t realize that when something is “clearly marked with asterisks” it makes it okay.

    When the host’s clearly stated rules say that he reserves the right to replace your words with nonsense and mark it with asterisks so that everyone will know that he has done so, then yes it is alright. If you don’t like the rules, then you don’t have to visit.

    As your original charge was that there was “false attribution” and that is clearly not the case, I’m not sure what you are complaining about. Your non-existent right to make a mess in someone else’s home, perhaps?

  138. @Luna… No, femphobia isn’t a female-exclusive thing. The fact that kittens and sparkles and rainbows are CULTURALLY coded “feminine” has nothing to do with a women/men. Men can also express femininity. And femphobia (the attitude that femininity is ridiculous, weak, silly, contemptible, superfluous, artificial, etc.) is applied to men and people-designated-male with even more hatred, and often violence, than it is towards cis women. Scalzi’s femphobia (and trans-misogyny) in these examples of “kittening” exemplifies that point, as a matter of fact. Please learn more about what femphobia and trans-misogyny are, and how they work, before making such dismissals.

  139. @BW – “clearly John Scalzi decides what words get published in what form on his own blog”. Yes I understand this and I don’t believe that John will be doing that sort of thing very often but that’s not the point. The point is: who gets to decide when putting words into another person’s mouth is okay?

    @JohnD – “When the host’s clearly stated rules say that he reserves the right to replace your words with nonsense and mark it with asterisks so that everyone will know that he has done so, then yes it is alright.”

    So if on RSHD’s website he has clearly stated rules that say he can attribute any words to any person at any time it is then okay for him to post statements from John endorsing RSHD’s book or endorsing RSHD for SFWA president or POTUS as long as he puts an asterisk after it?

  140. I found the hairbrushing/singing G&S one over the top myself, and I believe other women commented and John has taken their comments on board. With further thought, I came to the understanding (though I could be wrong, obviously) that John replaced the original words of certain people with words that *those specific people* would find repellent because *those specific people* buy very heavily into that cultural code. Seeing their original words replaced by things that they would rather drink battery acid than say was the point–not that John himself finds those activities silly or contemptible.

    I’m surprised that you consider John to be femphobic or trans-mysogynistic. Is that assessment based just on the kittening comments or have you been a reader here for long?

  141. Kevin, does the RSHD have those words on his web site? I’ve not spent much time there and have no knowledge of his posting rules. I’m sure the libel rules would still apply, but IANAL.

  142. Kewvin Riley, you clearly don’t get that the asterisk indicates that the person didn’t say that. So Scalzi is not “attribut{ing} any words to any person at any time”.

    Let me put this as simply as possible. If I say that Napoleon Bonapart never said “Oogie-boogie, let’s go watch Doogie!”, then I am not attributing those words to him. If you do not agree with that statement, then perhaps you should go study logic for a bit before posting again.

  143. It’s not that he puts an asterisk on it, Kevin, it’s that he puts a disclaimer on it, which can be seen by clicking on the asterisk, which (at least on my browser) is clearly a clickable link. This is not different from a print publication in which a disclaimer is provided in a footnote, which is found at the bottom of a page and the asterisk in the main text signals to the reader that there is a footnote.

  144. BW – I have no idea if he does or doesn’t. I don’t know who RSHD is or what his website is. The point of my question has less to do about the specific people involved and more to do with making it appear as if someone said something they didn’t. I get the fact that the asterisk leads back to a disclaimer that says “this person was an ass and didn’t really say these things” but that requires the reader of the comment to click on the asterisk and then read the statement it links to. If RSHD posts a “quote” from Scalzi saying “I endorse RSHD’s book” and then puts an asterisk next to it that links to a statement that says “I just made this up because the thought of Scalzi endorsing my book is hilarious”, does it make it alright? His website, his rules?

  145. I’m puzzled about what you’re actually trying to get people to talk about here, Kevin. What do you mean by “alright”? Are you asking whether people think it’s legal? Moral? Whether or not it makes them/us/me uncomfortable? I’m not trying to be a jerk, I just would like to understand your question. If I don’t understand it, it’s not possible to give you any kind of meaningful answer.

  146. Kevin: The key point I see here is that when some troll posts here and gets their trolling kittened, they have presumably read the comment policy and are aware of the possible consequences of their actions. That is, they made a choice to post here, knowing that Scalzi reserves the right to delete or modify their post, and thus tacitly consented to it – as we all do, when we post here. If RSHD posts something totally made-up and wrongly attributes it to Scalzi, it’s done so without Scalzi’s consent, tacit or otherwise, and is thus a different situation.

  147. @Kevin Riley:

    Given the choice between a hypothetical evil and a real evil, it’s generally best to prevent the real evil and risk the hypothetical. I see a real evil that John is preventing: trolls genuinely do blow up conversations, and there are certainly people who have tried to do it here. And the particular character of those trolls is such that mockery is a better response than deletion or confrontation. (Also, someone who fights trolls deserves a laugh every now and then. It’s tiresome work.)

    Meanwhile, there is a whole bunch hypothetical evil that John could do to comments. None of it is stuff he’s proposing to do, but the concept of kittening seems to have raised it from nothingness into deep concern in your mind. He could alter them without an asterisk (except that he says that he’ll use an asterisk). He could alter them subtly and plausibly (except that’s not what he’s doing). You know what? He could also sockpuppet his own site, post IP information, sell email addresses to spammers, add links to scandalous accusations, or give people pictures of ugly internet memes as user avatars.

    If you think that he could, or would do any of these things — if you think that he’s that kind of guy — then I would urge you to cease commenting here immediately. But if you already don’t think he’s that kind of guy (which I suspect, considering your presence here), then why are you putting so much energy into worrying about it?

    There’s a term for what you’re doing. It’s concern trolling. Another word for it is tiresome. Why are you doing this?

  148. “He could alter them without an asterisk (except that he says that he’ll use an asterisk). He could alter them subtly and plausibly (except that’s not what he’s doing). You know what? He could also sockpuppet his own site, post IP information, sell email addresses to spammers, add links to scandalous accusations, or give people pictures of ugly internet memes as user avatars”. Yes he could, but does that make it right (ethical, moral, proper, virtuous, etc…)?

    “Why are you doing this?” – I didn’t mean to throw ice water on the “Kitteh”. This is a comment section. I left a comment about the topic at hand. I responded to others who chose to leave comments about the same topic, all but one of which specifically addressed me. I thought that was the point of a comment section. I didn’t realize that stating my concern for a particular behavior would be considered trolling. I was merely stating that having a disclaimer does not necessarily make something ethical, and looking for a response from our illustrious host.

  149. Kevin Riley,

    I’m interested in what you consider acceptable, since “kittening” bothers you. Leaving a bigoted comment in place so that it can cause a conversational snarl-up that leaves a thread toxic, which is what a troll usually wants? Deleting the comment with notations with a brief note as to what was removed in the past and why, as John had done in the past? Disemvoweling a comment so that it can be read with effort, so the info is there if needed but the majority of the thread readers aren’t offended? (i.e. “Dsmvwlng cmmnt s tht t cn b rd wth ffrt, s th nf s thr f ndd bt th mjrt f th thrd rdrs arn’t ffndd?”) ChAnGiNg ThE rEpLy To PsYcHo ChIcKeN? I’d really like to know…

  150. Reading over the Scalzi guidelines again for using the kittening option makes clear that a) this option will be used only with particularly noxious commenters and b) this option will not be used to promote Scalzi or otherwise attribute ideas contrary to the troll’s obviously stated views. If you need a fantasy metaphor for (b), it’s the moment when the bad guy tries zapping the hero with a death ray and the hero uses magic to turn the death ray into a floral bouquet.

    A re-read of the guidelines also gives an excuse to melt again at the sight of a fluffy kitteh.

  151. My dad had a saying: Sometimes you need the big hammer. Kittening = the big hammer. Well done Sir, well done!

  152. Bruce,

    I posted earlier “There is absolutely nothing wrong with choosing not to interact with or allow comments by loathsome creeps. By all means, delete any vile comment they might make, don’t let the world know they exist.”, so no, I don’t find “Leaving a bigoted comment in place so that it can cause a conversational snarl-up that leaves a thread toxic” acceptable.

    I usually don’t spend much time on comment threads and think I’ve only commented on about 4 Scalzi posts and a handful of other sites, so I am not acquainted with proper comment thread etiquette. Maybe kittening and Disemvoweling is quite acceptable but my opinion is that if a comment is offensive, get rid of it otherwise leave it alone. Again, this is just my opinion and no I am not trying to tell John how to run his site, I’m just adding my 2 cents.

  153. Natalie wrote:

    Scalzi’s femphobia (and trans-misogyny) in these examples of “kittening” exemplifies that point, as a matter of fact.

    BW wrote:

    I’m surprised that you consider John to be femphobic or trans-mysogynistic.

    Natalie quite clearly wrote that she believes “these examples” of behaviours from John to be examples of femphobia and trans-misogyny in action.

    BW has transformed criticism of specific actions to be a judgement on character.

    I make a point of noting this because I see it all the time, both online and off – Person X writes/says something, Person Y says “gee, what you just said/did was kinda racist” and Person X comes back with “how dare you call me a racist” (or Person Z butts in with “how dare you call X a racist”) .

    But behaviour is never a fully accurate reflection of character. None of us is perfectly enlightened. We all have unexamined and not fully examined attitudes.

    Every one of us has internalised a whole bunch of toxic judgmental attitudes from our toxic judgmental culture which privileges certain behaviours/ identities/conventions/associations above others as part of the mechanisms for maintaining the status quo. Every one of us has absorbed bigoted tropes via sociocultural osmosis, because we wade through a world saturated by bigoted tropes, and those tropes are still floating around in our heads, no matter how much we might wish it to be otherwise and no matter how hard we work on suppressing them because we’re working towards improving the status quo.

    Denying that toxic tropes could possibly be lurking in the corners of our consciousness only gives them more power to undermine our best intentions.

  154. tigtog, point taken, though Natalie did say “Scalzi’s femphobia (and trans-misogyny),” which may be read to suggest that he has such traits, which goes a little further than pointing out a couple of posts that appear to Natalie to be femphobic and trans-mysogynistic. However, that might be splitting hairs. My larger point was that it is quite possible to interpret those posts in another way than Natalie does. I have also been reading John’s posts and comments for quite some time, and before I would interpret his posts to be femphobic or trans-misogynistic, or at least after my first knee-jerk reaction based on my own beliefs, I would compare his post with what I know of John and would consider what other interpretations might exist. This is not to say that he’s not capable of showing his ass or being insensitive, just that it is not at all the first place I would go in thinking about one of his posts, whereas someone newer to the blog might have less information to go by.

  155. At the risk of being OT — having read the Ghlaghghee-related posts from Long Ago, how long did it take before you found out she was female?

  156. Kevin: The point is: who gets to decide when putting words into another person’s mouth is okay?

    Well, there was Hustler v. Falwell, where the criteria was that no “reasonable person” would confuse the writing as real on not parody. Granted, that decision involved a public figure, but I think the principle could be applied to kittening random internet trolls. At least as far as to assuage your free speech concerns. I mean, do you really think anyone would take the wildly off-topic and frankly bizarre kittened version of those posts as what that person had originally said, especially with the notation John added?

  157. Your blog, your storage, your bandwith. So your rules. *I* have an ethics peoblem with the idea that an ‘edit’ can be used to completely change intent. It just smacks of something nasty.

    OTOH, that is my problem, not yours. And I realize that the practcal matter of how to make trolls go away is a hard problem.

    The signifier idea may be huge, as trolls are a problem for many people, and could make some ethics concerns go away. I hope you are keeping good notes on how well this works out, and are willing to post your thoughts on it when you have enough data.

    If it works out, please solve the comment spam problem in your copious spare time.

  158. If RSHD posts a “quote” from Scalzi saying “I endorse RSHD’s book” and then puts an asterisk next to it that links to a statement that says “I just made this up because the thought of Scalzi endorsing my book is hilarious”, does it make it alright? His website, his rules?

    If Scalzi went to RSHD’s website and if Scalzi left a comment there that was in violation of RSHD’s stated policy and if the RSHD had a stated policy of kittening, then RSHD would have the right to change Scalzi’s words.

    But your hypothetical example meets none of those criteria. In your example, the RSHD just makes things up out of thin air and attributes them to Scalzi just for the pure joy of being an RSHD. If you cannot see the difference between the two examples then I truly worry about your socialization skills.

  159. Kevin Riley, I wonder what you think of The Onion? They’re always attributing things to people who didn’t say them.

    I think “obvious parody” is the dividing line. IANAL but I think there’s a “reasonable person” test here…would a reasonable person think the commenter actually said that? In the case of the kittened comments here, I think the answer is “obviously not.”

    If you’re NOT applying a test of reasonableness, then you get complaints about the fact that the commenter didn’t say “[Deleted for being a dick.]”

    If you think the kittened comments are on the wrong side of the line…where exactly are you drawing it?

  160. Kevin Riley: “But who should get to decide what words we can put into someone else’s mouth?”

    John Scalzi has clearly, explicitly, and repeatedly said on this site, over and over and over (see: repeatedly) that on -this- particular site, Whatever, which is -his- site, -he- decides.

    John has also said clearly, explicitly, and repeatedly in the years I have been reading Whatever that (I paraphase) this isn’t a group blog or a collective or a democracy, this is -his- blog, and there is not voting or consensus-seeking about rules and decisions here. His rules and decisions are the only ones that count here, period, full stop.

    He has also said clearly, explicitly, repeatedly on this site (for example, in the course of this particular post and the previous one) that anyone who doesn’t like the above facts about this site is free to stop posting here and is free to stop visiting Whatever.

    I’m not going argue about kittening precisely because of the above. I, for example, don’t visit or follow unmoderated blogs (precisely because of the frequency, dominance, and unmitigated ignorant vitriol of so many obnoxious assholes on so many unmoderated blogs). Not moderating a blog is a choice that any blog-owner is free to make; not reading or posting on such a blog is a choice that I am free to make.

    John’s policies about how he runs -his- site are clear. He DOES moderate–and he’s clear about how he moderates. I am free to accept these as the rules of the house (i.e. Whatever), and I am equally free to decide this isn’t the kind of blog I want to spend my hard-won free-time (or, more often, my playing-hookey-when-I-should-be-writing time) visiting.

    I am -also- free to argue and argue and argue about whether John should or shouldn’t “kitten” on his own blog site… But since I can read and understand rules and guidelines, including this essay about his new kittening policy, I don’t see the POINT of arguing with John about it. As he says clearly, explicitly, and repeatedly, over and over and over (see: repeatedly), his house, his rules.

    John does not, after all, propose to run all over the internet interfering on other sites by kittening people there. John proposes to kitten people who he finds willfully obnoxious on -his- site, and -only- on -his- site–and the point of kittening them is, as I understand it, to encourage them to buzz off and stop posting obnoxious nonsense here. There are various ways to do this on a moderated blog; he has decided to try this way. His house, his choice. The realm of my choice is to decide whether or not that makes this blog one which I do or don’t want to visit. John doesn’t get to choose which sites I visit, just as I don’t get to choose how he runs his own site.

    This all seems clear enough to me.

    As for my opinion about kittening–well, since it’s not my site, who cares? (But I don’t have John’s stamina or patience. I would be far more inclined to block people permanently from the site (and also from my email account) for being obnoxious assholes rather than to kitten them. But that would be my rules in my house. In John’s house, he gets to make the rules.)

  161. That whole “so banjo” thing? That was so first-week-of-2013. The meme of the year is clearly going to be the use of “kitten” as a verb.

  162. @Natalie, I see where you’re coming from, but I saw two of Norseman’s posts pre-kittenified. They were over-the-top aggressive, comically masculine chest-beating… in other words, exactly what you would expect from a [RSHD] expat. I’d also imagine that, almost by definition, anyone else who gets kittenified will have to be behaving in a similarly obnoxious, aggressive manner. So the joke in in the subversion, plus also the non-sequitur… not in the fact that kittens are feminine. At least that’s how I see it.

  163. Or, sorry, I’ve seen two of his posts pre-deletion… not in that thread specifically. But I’m assuming they were similar.

  164. @Xopher:

    “would a reasonable person think the commenter actually said that? In the case of the kittened comments here, I think the answer is “obviously not.””

    ARE YOU CALLING ME UNREASONABLE FOR TALKING ABOUT MY LOVE OF KITTENS AND SINGING TO THEM AND FROLICING WITH THEM IN THE MEADOWS?

    I’M NOT SURE IF FROLICING IS SPELLED WITH A K OR NOT. I THINK IT MIGHT BE.

  165. I just realized I used Voldemort’s name.

    Off on a tangent – how much more amusing would it have been for everyone to substitute something rude for Voldemort’s name in the Harry Potter series? Can you imagine kindergarten children skipping rope to “Moldy wart, moldy wart, Voldy is a silly sort”?

  166. AAAAAAHAHAHAHAHAAAAA! I love this! Be a bitch? Get kittened! *Resumes laughing from a horizontal position.*

  167. Trottelreiner?
    >Now wait, so if by calling investing into long-term relationships as gamma behaviour
    >and thus UNMANLY, doesn’t RSHD imply MANLY behaviour as he engages in is at the
    >r extreme, e.g. lots of low quality offspring, of the R/K continuum,

    If I understand that correctly no.
    “The dude likes doing it and she was stupid/horny/lonely” summarizes the behavior.

    >a) it implies women are innately more into fluffy/furry things

    Yes, and clean curtains.
    And lace.
    And some people have a name for that thing that they wrap around the bed springs that
    hides the parts of the bed that are under the mattress.

    >(essentialism).
    Huh?

    It is my experiencing that men and woman and Abigail the dachshund are people, and
    that when we look for fleas we experience so very much angst.
    c) it implies women have to feel threatened by even tangential verbal, err, ideosyncrasies.

    Dude, face it.
    You shouldn’t have said that.
    Live (if you are lucky) and learn (if you aren’t me) to just fucking not say that.
    Dude, just tell her how stupid u wuz.
    Just fucking apologize, explain to her where your head was, psychologically.
    Of course, if you are pretty, and she is bored, she may accept that maybe you had your
    head up your ….

  168. I have to admit, I’m late to the party, but I’m fascinated. Why hasn’t Craven Lickspittle / RSHD been booted out of the SFWA? Aren’t there any codes of conduct? I mean the guy harrassed and attempted to blackmail a woman who left him a negatiev review and is crowing about it as if this makes him the second coming. (Which, considering his blasphemous pen name, he probably already thinks he is.)

  169. Justin Observer:

    There’s nothing in SFWA’s bylaws against being a racist, sexist, homophobic dipshit. Nor should there be; SFWA, and I say this with all due love and respect as its current president, is not an organization you want as morality police. That’s pretty much all I’m going to say about that topic here; I prefer not to delve too deeply into SFWA business on this blog.

  170. @Rob Meyer > no Twilight fanfic, please. Idea is to reduce the level of brano needed, I think.

    @John > kittening. Awesome. You are still the master of humor.

  171. Yeah, I dont understand the drama over this [RSHD] thing. Is he not entitled to his opinion? I do not think it is right to say someone is a hater or someother childish name because they do not agree with how someone else chooses to live their life.

  172. The racist sexist homophobic dipshit in question is perfectly entitled to his own opinion and to live his life as he chooses. Just not here, because I don’t want his racist sexist homophobic dipshittery on my site.

    I can additionally assure you that should the racist sexist homophobic dipshit in question find a different object for his adorable mancrush, I wouldn’t give him another thought. Tragically for me, however, he appears to be fixated.

  173. Linked here from Sarah P & T. To this life-long cat slave, Kittening sounds like an unexpected event results in mauled up feet. Sounds like you’ve hit on something that has the same effect on the Trollish ego.

  174. ‘effing awesome solution!
    The ultimate troll-ban!

    How about a word replacement script that does the heavy lifting? You’d highlight the troll comment, click the ‘Kitten’ button and deal a does of automatic troll humiliation:

    Libs, libtards, liberals = kittens
    O’Bummer, O’Blamer, etc = President of the United States of America. Commander in Chief & Leader of the Free World (yes, the whole thing)
    Fuck, fuck you, etc = flowers
    AK-47, AR-15, Glock, etc. = death
    gun, guns, weapons = death
    Republican, GOP = trolls

  175. If I may add to theravenspoke’s list, I would like to suggest:

    John Scalzi, John, or Mr. Scalzi = Master; alternately: O, Wise One Whom I Revere
    feminists = quick-witted action queens of the universe
    I’m only pointing out/asking… = I imagine my penis to be enormous
    gays = handsome well-groomed men to whom I am unconsciously attracted
    lesbians = women I would give anything to sleep with
    your problem is = I’m dying for you to notice my enormous penis
    Laura Resnick, Laura, Ms./Miss Resnick: the goddess before whom I tremble in awe
    fascist, socialist, Marxist, Stalinist, rights, Constitution, amendment, freedom = I really have no idea what I’m talking about

  176. The goddess before whom I tremble in awe, if another quick-witted action queen of the universe may be so bold as to add to your addition:

    The full phrase for #3 should be “I imagine my penis to be enormous, although it is microscopic”.
    Similarly #6 should be “I’m dying for you to notice my penis and mistakenly think it’s enormous”.

    Thank you.

  177. @ Shawn T:
    > If I understand that correctly no.
    > “The dude likes doing it and she was stupid/horny/lonely” summarizes the behavior.

    Err, at least with the “stupid” demographic, we’re quite comfortable into the r continuum.
    As for “horny/lonely”, well, there is no clear relation, though, with some meanings of “horny”, e.g. “fucks anything that moves and quite a few things that don’t” as opposed to “fucks whom (s)he always wanted to”, there is a certain indication of her going for quantity over quality, though, as one Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin is said to have remarked “Quantity has a quality all its own”. I leave the “lonely” demographic as an exercise to the reader.

    > And lace.

    Err, like this one?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gros_point_de_venise

    A tendency towards lace is a primary example of a culturally constructed marker, since there was a time is was a major factor in clothing for all sexes.E.g. naval uniforms, for godess’ sake.

    http://www.militaryheritage.com/militarybraid.htm

    >>(essentialism).
    > Huh?

    To quote

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Essentialism

    “In philosophy, essentialism is the view that, for any specific entity (such as a group of people), there
    is a set of incidental attributes all of which are necessary to its identity and function.”

    As in attribution of fluffy/furry things to women.

    Though anybody explaining to me why a “social constructivist” theory of homosexuality helps with gay rights, compared to, say, an “essentialist” biological explanation is welcome. Err.

    > Just fucking apologize, explain to her where your head was, psychologically.
    > Of course, if you are pretty, and she is bored, she may accept that maybe you had your
    > head up your ….

    Or just sit it out; I know quite some relationships that, barring the existence of a class IV destiny-entanglement generator, seem to mainly run on misattribution of arousal from arguments:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Misattribution_of_arousal

    Saved my desk from quite some headdesks…

  178. Can there be a “Kitten Setting” hall-of-fame/shame? (Basically just a gallery of kittenized comments.) I find these extremely entertaining but given how rare you intend on using it, I expect it would be easy to miss with diligently monitoring all of the comments pages.

    I realize, however, that something like that might just encourage or promote even more douchebaggery and obscenity from certain trolls and attention-whores, but still… just a thought.

  179. Since discovering John Scalzi’s blog, I come back as often as I can for the blog AND the comments, and today really paid off!

    Thanks to the link to the Wiki list of logical fallacies linked somewhere above, I have discovered Noah S. “Soggy” Sweat, Jr.’s fabulous 1952 “if-by-whisky” fallacy. The man must have been a formidable politician, to be “all things to all people” so fluently. He was truly at the top of his game with that speech. I am reminded of the last letter I received from my own designated Congressional representative in reply to my appeal for some lawmaking on a particular issue, that misquoted my own words back at me, with embellishments and the insertion of assertions that I never made, and ended by agreeing with me in mutual support of the very thing I never said. I had to put the letter away for a while because reading it made me a bit frothy at the mouth. It was somewhat Soggy-esque, but not nearly so eloquent.

    Also, I think “The Kitten Mallet” might be the name of my next hit single love ballad…

  180. Yeah, there’s probably a simple set of algorithms that would auto-kittenify 90% of the most offensive comments. I bet substituting things like “unicorns” and “rainbows” and “My Little Pony” for the usual hate-speech would drive ‘em wild too. Something like “[offensive epithet] needs to be [violent verb] until they [verb involving serious injury]” could easily be modified with an algorithm like “[unicorns] nees to be [decorated with rainbows] until they [look like My Little Pony].”

    There’s a solid reason to kitten-ify these kinds of troll comments. That kind of person mainly wants to create heartburn in the community, not contribute anything worthwhile. (I mean, seriously…why would some ueber-macho anti-feminist guy hang around a site like Scalzi’s instead of heading over for someplace like Roissy’s heartiste blog? It’s pretty clear that someone like that hangs out at Scalzi’s blog solely in order to cause everyone grief.) Just banning someone like that doesn’t provide the satisfying sense of tit-for-tat that kitten-ifying their comments does. Oops! Suddenly the troll discovers what it’s like to get some of that heartburn. Maybe it’ll teach ‘em a lesson.

  181. The fine folks at Fark used to have (and may still) a comment filter that automatically changed certain banned terms to something else. One particular slur was always rendered as “attractive and successful African-American”. I like that approach in addition to yours.

  182. Racist comments should be run through the ebonics translator. But kittehs is brilliant. I still think slashdot should have kept the OMG Pink Ponies april fool as a real setting. Or at least have karma voting for such for the inappropriate comments. http://www.flickr.com/photos/soopahviv/121120624/

    The Scientific American blog about comment moderation that sent me here has a correct attitude, though I see far too many blogs/moderated email lists and whatall in my (technical) field where the moderators just become a cabal. The idea that anyone can make their blog as popular as one they don’t like through sheer hard work is a nice All-American pipe dream, but the reality is if you aren’t mainstream in whatever social group you are working with, you fail popularity contests. That’s fine for blogs in general, but for technically oriented blogs, popularity really shouldn’t be the driving force. This problem gets magnified in vote up/down scenarios, as the unqualified do the voting and become karma whores. Some places wind up with silly spam blocking that blocks legitimate posts – the best was a goof on the Oracle forums that banned the letter “C.” And some bloggers just plain have a stick up their ass about what is appropriate, banning posts like this because of a sentence like this.

    I try to keep a sense of humor about places that have banned me or otherwise whacked my peepee when I didn’t think I deserved it, but it still ticks me off there is no control feedback about such things.

    Duty calls!

  183. I definitely love kittens and puppies and pretty bows! I could hug them all the day long! Fa la la la la la!

  184. I can’t stop reading this, if only because I can’t stop looking at that picture of Kitten!Ghlaghghee.

  185. I actually have a stock photo of a kitten pile on my desktop, waiting to be posted in response to trolls.

  186. I love this idea! I never get trolls (I’m too small to be noticed) but I am going to file this idea away in case I should ever need it.

    I am also going to post the idea and link interested parties here, with permission, if you will allow it please.

  187. Once JS pointed out that he set up his kitten translations as something that he felt the troll would hate, I can see his translations not as something derogatory but as just opposite. If a troll spewed aggressive unicorn droppings all over the comment section, I can see JS kittening it to “I am a big strong lumberjack.”

    Having the kittening be turning comments into the opposite of how a troll presents themselves, then I don’t get the feeling that singing G&S is bad or that liking rainbows and unicorns is girly/gay and derogatory. I can see how it would look that way if those are the only examples and without JS’ explanation since other people use them as put downs.

    Thank you JS for this concept.

  188. “neither no” is a double negative. You’re a good writer. I would have thought you would catch that. Take out the “no”. Then the sentence is perfect. This is in the paragraph on your thoughts about the kitten setting. It’s in the #2 thought.

  189. Uh, a bit of concern here. All the examples you gave of your kittening involve you changing the troll’s words to something that sounds a lot like something a little girl would say. The mention of pretty bows and hearts and flowers and singing songs in a high pitched voice… very very feminine-coded. Since the intent is to make fun of the troll, “demeaning” them by making them sound like a feminine little girl, when there’s nothing wrong with feminine little girls, is kind of not good, IMO, and uncomfortably close to “don’t be such a girl” type of “insults”. I love the idea of kittening but could you please stick with things that aren’t gender-coded?

  190. Hekateras: Well, I suppose the fact that I personally know a little boy who says EXACTLY that kind of thing (in fact I had to be stern to get him to stop singing his “I love kitties” song) isn’t very relevant.

    But the point is, these guys are typically the misogynist macho dudebros to whom anything “girly” is anathema. While I take your point, there is nothing that will annoy them more, and I frankly can’t think of anything non-gendered that would be in the same ballpark.

    Cool name btw. (I have been a devotee of Hekate since at least 1977, which I know for sure because I have a souvenir coin from my HS senior trip that says “Hail Hekate Queen of Darkness.”)

  191. Hmm, on second thought: I think such things aren’t terribly gendered among toddlers, which is what JS is comparing them to.

  192. In my experience all young children sing in high pitched voices, that being the way the human body works, and I see no reason why we should assume that only little girls like kittens, bunnies, ribbons and so forth.

    Of course, the sort of MRA trolls who attempt the drive by dump on Whatever don’t actually have any experience of small children, that being one of their grievances; evil wimmen conspire together to reject them in favour of guys with brains, thus cruelly excluding them from the gene pool.

    Having seen some of the garbage posted on occasions before Scalzi cleans it up I’m delighted by his replacement texts; a quick laugh is some compensation for having to get out the brain bleach…

  193. Hekateras:

    In fact objections similar to your were noted earlier in the thread and I took them on board a while back. You’ll see that in effect, should you see the kitten setting in use.

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