Above: An artist’s rendering of the men’s rights trolls who populate this feminist blog and others. The jewels in their bellies give them magical powers that blind them to their own privilege!

Regular readers have probably noticed that the comment threads have been overrun as of late with a serious influx of trolls. We’re not sure if it’s just the Palin-related traffic lately, the general election frenzy, or some special link-lovin’ from a men’s rights site. In any case, we’ve noticed. We’re on it.

What is a troll, you ask? A brief definition here.

More specifically, the breed of troll that’s been showing up here lately typically…

  • Has a username that’s something vaguely female with some numbers at the end
  • Makes racist/sexist/homophobic/generally ignorant comments
  • Has a tendency to ask things like, “what about the MENZ?!” and “won’t somebody think of the racism against white people?”

What to do if you spot a troll:

  • Do not engage. It’s a waste of your time, and the threads start looking very confusing after we delete the sexist/racist/otherwise ugly comments.
  • Let us know. Send us an email with the trolling commenter’s username, along with a link to the comment or thread in question. We are internet obsessives, so usually (sadly?) one of the editors is online at almost all times, but sometimes we leave to go eat dinner or interact with real, live humans or something. But we promise we’ll delete the offending comments and ban the trolls as soon as we notice they’re there.

We really value the comments threads as a place for everyone to engage and discuss and deepen our understanding of issues. Thanks so much for your patience while we work to resolve this. And double-thanks to our secret band of anti-troll vigilante commenters (you know who you are!) who have been so awesome about alerting us to trollishness on the site.

Join the Conversation

  • MissLinear

    Hmmm… The thing I don’t like about the definition of troll is that it includes “stating something controversial.” Which seems ridiculous, because I think we’re all entitled to our opinions. =S I mean, sometimes people here hate on a user just for not following with the crowd and saying something they might not like. It just sucks. Like someone who is down about something, and a user gives criticism instead of words of comfort and people get all mad and stuff. What the heck? >_

  • rileystclair

    thanks, ladies!
    an occasional troll can be entertaining, mostly to watch all the great commenters here smack ‘em down, but lately it’s just been overwhelming.

  • Jennifer

    MissLinear – Trolls are not here to express their opinions and have logical discussions. They are only here for the sake of being bigoted assholes, and to annoy the heck out of everyone.

  • Halo

    Edit the wiki article then, I guess.
    A controversial comment (in a trolling fashion) is meant to provoke. A differing opinion can be stated in a non-confrontational manner.

  • Ann

    It’s more than complicated than that, MissLinear. (Isn’t it always?) It often depends on how the criticism is stated. Obviously, it’s fair to disagree with my take on whether it’s a good thing the Obama campaign wants to cut an ad featuring a rape survivor. But to disagree by repeatedly bringing up bunk statistics about gender and rape? That’s not okay. That’s spreading misinformation that’s rooted in a sexist worldview.
    It’s very hard to make big, sweeping statements about which comments are “good” and which are “bad.” Ultimately, it comes down to the individual comment and its context. The editors of this site make judgment calls on a case-by-case basis, and have the final say. As the saying goes, this isn’t a democracy. It’s a blogocracy. We’re “all entitled to our opinions” but we’re not all entitled to express them on this particular blog.
    Yes, we want to foster discussion, and no, we don’t want to silence criticism just because it’s, well, critical. What we do want to do is to make sure these threads are a constructive space — one that is a feminist, anti-racist, gay-friendly, trans-friendly, anti-ablist. If commenters don’t like how we run things, they’re welcome to start their own blogs.

  • Ann

    Just saw Halo’s comment. I like that clarification.

  • leighbee

    I agree with the eradication of said trolls. In regard to above me: I see what you’re saying, but there’s a line of distinction between opposition and hateful argumentation. I really doubt that people leave negative comments on this thread because they’re “feeling down about something”, nor do I think our comments are used for comforting the writer. I believe the editors could be constructively questioned, but objectively. Calling someone ugly and using degrading, purposefully hateful speech isn’t skeptical or intelligent, it’s the use of heavy, dangerous words.

  • Persephone

    I do want to say that I hope the trolls in the picture aren’t offended…because they’re pretty cute.
    I do agree with the point of the post though. Disagreeing with others is one thing, disagreeing in a purposely inflammatory manner is another. It completely defeats the purpose of open discussion.

  • nightingale

    Perhaps the idea isn’t that we’re opposed to different viewpoints, but that the different viewpoints have to be expressed where they belong. Most of the trolls I’ve seen bring up viewpoints completely unrelated, or mostly unrelated to the subject at hand.
    You can see it in the last post, when stronggirl begged us to consider men when we discuss rape. It was barely on topic, because the entire focus was on helping victims, and basically amounted to accusing us of blaming all men for rape, or considering all men potential rapists. The comment itself wasn’t overly inflammatory, but it was still trolling. It’d be a perfectly fine comment replying to one of those campus anti-rape campaigns where they use pictures of random guys with the tagline “This man could be a rapist”, but when it’s posted to a discussion on rape victims and victim rights, it definitely reads more like “Consider the rapists!” than “Consider the men!”
    tl;dr version: Feministing isn’t the place to soapbox your unrelated opinions. At least make a post to the community, if you think it’s something we should discuss (and, hey, my “Think of the maaans!” post got approved!).

  • Hope

    I believe what we have here at Feministing would be an infestation of “Concern Trolls.” According to the definition:
    “A concern troll is a false flag pseudonym created by a user whose actual point of view is opposed to the one that the user’s sockpuppet claims to hold. The concern troll posts in web forums devoted to its declared point of view and attempts to sway the group’s actions or opinions while claiming to share their goals, but with professed “concerns”. The goal is to sow fear, uncertainty and doubt within the group.”
    This seems to pretty much sum up the type of trolls I’ve seen lately.

  • ldshw

    As a relatively new reader and a brand new member of feministing I’m glad to see this kind of trolling is not 1.) a frequent occurrence, and 2.) tolerated. It really impedes good discussion when the train gets derailed so quickly. Pay no mind and the troll will take their ignorance elsewhere out of boredom alone.

  • AnUnfunnyFeminist

    Aw, I loved trolls when I was little. Don’t ruin the memories for me!

  • Zanashay

    Thank you SO much everyone at Feministing for the amazing work you do! This is my first comment but i consider myself a loyal reader.
    This might interest people and perhaps could be added to the site’s Sarah Palin Sexism Watch:,0,4944201.story

  • shen

    i am not a troll, nor a concern troll, i have only been a reader about 6 months, and i will likely never post again…..
    keep up the work.
    remember, if you are pissing off the kind of people you wouldn’t like anyway, you must be doing something right.

  • Chauvinist

    Though my username may be “Chauvinist”, the only reason I use it is to get the inevitable insult out of the way. And I don’t troll, I only give on-topic responses to articles.

  • AliCat

    It’s fantastic to hear the editors of this great site are on to this. It is always disappointing when a great thread is hi-jacked by a troll, whose whole purpose is to create a reaction, and then keep feeding off it, at the same time removing the chance for rational discussion on the topic.
    Speaking of the psychology of trolls, I find it interesting that the poster “Chauvinist” comes onto a posting about trolls with a random post defending him/herself as not being a troll. As nobody made any personal reference to this person and his/her eligibility for the title of “troll”, why the need to convince us all that s/he is not?
    Or is this yet another subtle form of trolling??? Remembering remarks made by this person on past threads, s/he is 100% troll.
    In writing this, I am questioning whether I am engaging with this troll… I don’t think so, as I am not addressing him/her personally, but using his/her post as an example of troll strategies.
    What do you think, fellow posters?


    First, that Chicago Palin article is a bit creepy. He used his daughter as a model?
    The trolls who come by my blog tend to be pretty straight up racist (in nickname and in post), and largely seem content to leave their droppings and disappear. I’ve been content to leave them as my blog is low traffic, and they provide such an argument against their point of view that I find it instructive. (At the moment I am considering banning such things altogether).
    I think with a community blog (shameless plug: Revolutionary Act) one does need to censor trolls if only to keep the things civil and safe for people to the express their opinions.
    AliCat, sometimes a troll will go to great lengths to convince you of his earnestness before diving back into trolling. It depends on what the person’s goal is. If its to express a knee-jerk anger reaction (what I see a lot), a single post is all it takes. If the motivation goes deeper than a single post, you might find commenters who have a real need to be validated by the very people they are attacking. Part of that comes as being seen as a credible person, even if there is a disagreement.

  • meeneecat

    AliCat, I’m not going to accuse someone of being a troll until they’ve actually posted a trolling comment. I don’t think you should either. I’ve been a longtime reader, and I think I can recall Chauvinist posting here before, and if I’m not mistaken is a long time member here. Again, I’m not going to accuse someone of being a troll until I see the evidence.

  • meeneecat

    BTW, LOVED this line:
    “The jewels in their bellies give them magical powers that blind them to their own privilege!”

  • katemoore

    Hooray, an accurate definition of trolls!
    I’d like to add, as I’ve added before, that calling a troll a troll is never helpful. If somebody’s trolling, you better believe they know it. If someone *isn’t* trolling, you’ve just killed any chance of getting through to them.

  • Renee

    Trolls are one of the curses that comes with running a feminist blog. I personally wish I could hire an exterminator every few months so that I would not have to deal with them period. I certainly agree that engaging with a troll will get you nowhere. What they are looking to do in the first place his hijack a conversation and the minute we start reacting to them we are giving them power they would otherwise not have had.
    There is a fine line to be drawn as whether or not a person is spamming for the sake of spamming or is truly just an ignorant idiot who doesn’t know any better but is seeking to learn. Blogging is not a free space and therefore bloggers have no direct responsibility to allow someone to foul their space. I personally believe if someone really wants to have their say, instead of forcing themselves on others they should just start their own blogs, but most don’t want the work involved with blogging but they expect us to put up with their expression. Blogging is far too much work to allow your space to be fouled. Good for you ladies for standing up and demanding that people engage with respect.

  • JKayOh

    I love the link. Best acronym: DNFTT! Do not feed the trolls!
    It really is a fine line between someone who appears to be honestly commenting and (especially) a concern troll—but, if it hijacks the conversations or is off-topic, I agree with Renee, that the blog’s owner should make the final decision.
    I have to say, that I do like to see some of the negative comments sometimes–and see other feministers react, because it sharpens my debate skills. Your comebacks, debunking points, and factual responses go into my feminist mental rolodex for later use. :) However, I think that the “mailbag” feature is perfect for that purpose. (My all-time favorite troll episodes are when the goofballs use their actual school or work e-mail addresses.)

  • Brad

    Trolls are people too! Oh wait they’re trolls. Do trolls really prance around naked?
    Trolls are pretty much the bane of the internet. I’m guessing if you rub their hair you won’t get good luck, you’ll actually end up with the opposite.

  • MikeT

    JKayOh: Disagreement good, trolls bad.
    Looking at something like the “Afrika” thread and how that went, I think we can trust that honest disagreement will be handled differently than actual trolls. That fine line you talk about usually goes away at about the third post from a troll, which is when the spittle starts flying.
    Of course, that’s what trolls are trying to do.

  • FemmeJr

    I’m so glad that Feministing is taking a proactive approach to prevent trolling. I used to enjoy reading Broadsheet (the women’s corner of but I had to abandon it because each and every discussion was inevitably and utterly hijacked by the same group of trolls (Brightstar65, Parson Jim, if you ever read it you who these bozos are). After a while, all reasonable discourse ceased and it just got unbearable.
    Also, another habit of trolls (particularly of feminist sites) is that they submit multiple posts under different aliases so it looks like there are more people who agree with them then don’t and also to sucker people who haven’t seen the new alias into engaging them. These are pretty easy to spot simply from the writing style.

  • FemmeJr

    I’m so glad that Feministing is taking a proactive approach to prevent trolling. I used to enjoy reading Broadsheet (the women’s corner of but I had to abandon it because each and every discussion was inevitably and utterly hijacked by the same group of trolls (Brightstar65, Parson Jim, if you ever read it you who these bozos are). After a while, all reasonable discourse ceased and it just got unbearable.
    Also, another habit of trolls (particularly of feminist sites) is that they submit multiple posts under different aliases so it looks like there are more people who agree with them then don’t and also to sucker people who haven’t seen the new alias into engaging them. These are pretty easy to spot simply from the writing style.

  • Danyell

    “The jewels in their bellies give them magical powers that blind them to their own privilege!”

  • Zardoz

    Troll removal is good. Just be careful you don’t turn the site into a mutual appreciation society. The line is thinner than it appears.

  • gopher

    A troll isnt simply someone who uses negative and hateful spew in their writing. Many MRAs come onto this site and deceivingly attempt to omit obvious inflammatory or openly negative posts so theyll pass without being noticed. If they are deleted they think they have built a convenient accusation against feminists of censorship or not being able to defend their theories. It allows them to build a ficticious argument against the editors and claim that they simply had a different opinion and this sites “groupthink” didnt want to hear it.
    The offensive aspect is when they claim outlandish crap. I remember a while back either SarahMC or lesbianlama and I were arguing with an outlandish MRA. He claimed that he had to worry about being raped by women! He also refused to answer any of our questions or tie his claims to any point of lucid argument. Clearly, he was simply intent on insulating himself with his own BS rather than having a substantial debate.
    I think there ought to be a rule that says that anyone who claims to be an MRA should be automatically deleted from this site. There is no way that they can add anything to the debate or discussion topics. Just as a KKK wouldnt add anything but their own lies and distortions to the subject about race, MRAs add nothing to discussion topics that deal with feminism. It might also have the public affect of falsely insinuating that there is two sides to this feminism debate and there isnt.
    (BTW, if my spelling is crap its cuz I only had one hour of sleep!)

  • Genevieve PlusCourageuse

    And double-thanks to our secret band of anti-troll vigilante commenters (you know who you are!) who have been so awesome about alerting us to trollishness on the site.
    Bitte schoen. I will continue to do this.
    What really annoys me are the trolls who add absolutely nothing to the discussion except ‘this was boring.’ Or ‘tl;dr.’ If it’s too long for your Idiot Brain and you didn’t read it, then commenting on it is not okay in my book.

  • Georgia Girl

    My first comment on feministing and I’m happy to be among those I’ve admired for quite some time.
    I post regularly on an MRA site and have never been censored or banned — not that I don’t hold my breath from time to time, because some of my opinions are blunt harsh and tactless. Their favorite pet names for me are “moron, stupid, idiot, man-hating feminist, etc. However, they all know my story and seem to tolerate my ignorance on men’s issues in general.
    Speaking of men who fear being raped by a women, this is the most ludicrous thing I’ve ever heard — a subject the MRA’s bring up often and I go through the roof every time. I can certainly understand banning an intentional trouble-making troll on this site, but to ban an individual just because he’s an MRA would be extreme, don’t you think?

  • rhowan

    “the breed of troll that’s been showing up here lately typically…Has a username that’s something vaguely female with some numbers at the end”
    Well dammit. I tacked that number on the end of my name because I couldn’t use my old username after the site update. *sigh* Ah well.
    Seriously though, thanks for letting us know where to report suspected trolls, I’ve been uncertain what action to take when I’ve spotted offensive posting behaviour.

  • gopher

    Ooooh! Georgia “Girl” sounds like an MRA based on the fact that A. “she” tolerates being berated by sexist pigs whom everyone knows if she were a feminist would understand that they have no philosophy but pure bullshit en mass they reinforce to each other via the cover of a “movement.” Do you think a anti-racist goes on a KKK blog? NO, because they know there is no point. Second, “she” gives credence to MRA beliefs by claiming that shes ignorant of “mens issues.” No feminist believes that an MRA has any substance to their claims of mens issues. The only ones who care about mens issues is feminists because they want to change traditional roles of masculinity. And lastly, “her” whole story sounds made up simply to illicit sympathy, i.e. MRAs do this, then we should do it as well type of positioning. She either erroneously has sympathy for them, or thinks that because they “tolerate” her, that we should tolerate them. NO, NO, NO!

  • gopher

    ….at the very least, NO SYMPATHY FOR MRAS! Feminists cant keep the substance of their beliefs solid, nor the unity of their movement by allowing fools to barge in. Anti-racist blogs dont allow KKK to go ranting on their blogs, so why should we? MRAs are the same thing. Its almost like Georgia Girl gives their values credence or something.

  • Georgia Girl

    No, I am not an MRA.
    Yes, I am pretty much ignorant when it comes to the issue of parental alienation. I never comment on those threads.
    No, my story is not contrived, and no, I am not trying to illicit sympathy.
    No, I’m not saying you should tolerate them.
    All I did was offer an opinion
    In no way was it meant to be offensive.

  • Judith Jewcakes

    Well, it’s one thing to stay away from an issue you’re not well aware of…except parental alienation isn’t a men’s issue. It’s a family issue that can affect both genders. If the MRAs have convinced you that it’s a men’s issue, that’s a problem.

  • Georgia Girl

    When you stress “no sympathy for MRA’s”, and that I shouldn’t give them credence for their values, does that mean that I am supposed to literally hate ALL of them without listening to their individual stories? I just cannot do that! I have to weigh the credibility of each person, regardless of group affiliation.

  • Qwerty

    “No feminist believes that an MRA has any substance to their claims of mens issues. ”
    Incredible arrogance. You’re generalizing all MRA’s, and pretending to speak on behalf of all feminists.
    Also, stop with the ad hitlerum “KKK analogies”. Its ridiculous. Make decent arguments. This isn’t the first time you’ve used that analogy.

  • Georgia Girl

    When I registered a few days ago, I had the best intentions …. to share my own opinions with other women. When the word “MRA” popped up, I finally commented. My response was met hostility. Did I misjudge the feminist movement?
    Once again, I am not an MRA and I do not post under alias handles.

  • fatsweatybetty

    This is a feminist space. There are plenty of other spaces for anti-feminism/MRA rhetoric. MRAs are here to distract from the topics at hand and rehash the same shit, hindering the discussions of regular feminist commenters. Trolling doesn’t require flaming. It is enough to slowly muck up each thread. They should be banned and I fully support the mods for doing it.

  • MikeT

    I’m not an MRA, but there are areas where their issues and feminist issues intersect. For instance, as a parent who tries to do his fair share and stay informed, I end up getting a lot of email newsletters that start off with things like “Moms like us know that …”, and I’ve come to terms with the fact that products for kids are marketed to Moms, regardless of who the custodial parent actually is.
    As a man, I find it offensive because it ignores men’s nurturing instincts. As a feminist, I find it offensive because it locks both genders into boxes and encourages a mindset that women are supposed to handle childcare, which has all sorts of negative effects for both men and women.
    Caveat: I haven’t really dealt with Men’s Rights since the days of Iron John and drum circles in the woods, which I was never to my taste, but most of those men that I knew were both MRAs and feminists. If they’ve since been drummed out of the movement (sorry for the pun), and it’s become nothing but a figleaf for anti-feminism, then please educate me.

  • khw

    My two cents
    Well put! Don’t post if you don’t read the entire article.
    Feministing is one of the few sites where I bother to read the comments. I generally don’t due to how off-point or insulting or aggressive they can be. I do feel that the blog’s owners have the right to remove comments, but sometimes a public warning might be useful.
    Still, if MRAs are trolling, I think in a weirdly backhanded way it reflects on the popularity of Feministing and the quality of the debates in the comments. And for that I thank the Feministing team and all of you fellow readers.

  • MikeT

    It seems like the MRA issue might be worth exploring in a separate space, so I posted in the Community about it. Not sure when it will show up, but it should be there soon.

  • j316

    “Has a username that’s something vaguely female with some numbers at the end”
    why do I get the feeling this is directed at ME. J316, vaguely female? ok, my name is JODY….and I am MALE. happy?
    Look, I stumbled across this site through a link that someone sent me. I thought some of the rants/discussions/arguments were excellent conversation, and that maybe my 2cents would be apriciated. If i was wrong, please let me know and i will leave. No kicking, screaming, parting sexist remarks. If I do ot challenge or add to your comments or views, just let me know.

  • gopher

    Georgia Girl,
    It seems a bit odd that you seem to sympathize with some of their views. And for the record, youre not the ignorant one when it comes to mens issues. They simply like to toss that at you to deflect from the fact that they have no idea what theyre talking about.
    Take a breath! I’m not claiming to speak for ALL feminists. You as well as I know that it would be impossible to do that because, happily, feminists are not the type to be spoken over, especially if they have a different opinion than whats offered. Qwerty, all MRAs ARE shit, so its not generalizing. Your defense of them is questionable. I will continue to use the KKK comparison because it makes it crisper to discern the irrationality of MRAs and has the effect of lucidly defining the type of movement that they are. KKK = MRA, except MRAs hate women, where KKK hate non-whites.

  • blissinflux

    Hmmm. Those trolls remind anyone else of “Star Bellied Boy”?

  • gopher

    Maybe you didnt know that one of their leaders (Warren Farrel) was actually quoted as saying that ‘genital caressing’ of a duaghter is an appropriate way for a father to bond with his kid (Hustler 1977), or that rape is something feminists simply made up. They write books like this that are complete distortions of reality or plainly sexist:
    “Spreading Misandry: The Teaching of Contempt for Men in Popular Culture,” “The Rantings of a Single Male: Losing Patience with Feminism, Political Correctness… and Basically Everything,” “The War Against Men,” “That Bitch: Protect Yourself Against Women With Malicious Intent,” “The Myth of Male Power,” “Heterophobia: Sexual Harassment and the Future of Feminism,”(ha ha – my favorite), ” When She Was Bad…: Violent Women and the Myth of Innocence,” “The Woman Racket: The New Science Explaining How the Sexes Relate at Work, at Play and in Society.”
    Its nothing but sexist crap. If you go on, you’ll see hundreds of crap MRA tomes. It doesnt make sense to spend all day on their idiot sites. They have a crippling mental disorder that inhibits them from enlightening themselves because they are so very dependant on misogyny and severely in denial about it.

  • j316

    Now, I am just going to get BLASTED for this….but why are THOSE books “sexist crap” and this site and books promoted here not? I am not picking a side, i am just so curious how you can so easily say their opinion is invalid. “their idiot sites”, but this site is not? I am not saying it is …i am just really curious how you can so quickly dismiss evrything from….”the opposition”?
    “They have a crippling mental disorder”? why? because they have an opinion which is the direct opposite of yours?
    …damn, and i had to pick THIS EXACT post to decide to pose this question. Ironic anyone?

  • Judith Jewcakes

    @ j316: Well, look at that list of titles and replace “man” and “male” with “white,” and “female” and “woman” and “feminist” with “black” and “civil rights activist.”
    We are, undeniably, living in a patriarchy–our society was developed by men, for men, it is overwhelmingly run by men, men earn more…this is called privilege. Yes, there are a handful of women in powerful political positions. Just like there are a handful of people of color in powerful political positions, but that doesn’t mean racism is gone, or that we aren’t living in a nation with white privilege.
    It becomes clear once you familiarize yourself with the actual issues at hand. Sometimes it’s hard for us to see the sexism in our daily lives, when we’ve been surrounded with it since birth. But you must understand why those of us who do see it, and not only see it, but EXPERIENCE it every day, can go pretty apeshit when those with the privilege call US the enemy.
    (For the record, I don’t think you’re a troll. You could yet prove me wrong, but so far at least you’ve been straightforward, and this post was directed mostly at other people who’ve been banned. Multiple times.)

  • j316

    ok, i see what you mean. I have been living in the bubble, therefor it is hard for me to see the bubble from the outside. Makes sense.
    I guess the reason I am so sensitive about the whole….man=evil mentality, is far too many times i have seen men get the short end of the stick. Yes, i know “feminist website”, but i have had friends accused of rape, when the woman was concenting at the time, but changed her mind later and found it easier to call “rape” (she later admited to lying, but only after he had been arrested). I have seen men lose custody of thier children ONLY because the wife wanted her X “to pay, emotionaly for cheating on her”. I have been yelled at for askin a woman to “move out of the way please”, not becauyse i am a man and she must bend to my will, but she was blocking the exit!!! dammit! Now, i have seen the other end as well. A woman no being hired because the person in charge knows full well she is trying to get pregnant and needs “someone more stable”. I have seen a woman make less than a man at the same job. But, What i try to challenge, and maybe (just maybe) get the perspective on is how in the 9 hells a woman in a commercial can be sexist. How a fictional story or book, opresses women and must be banned. What another woman decides to wear, adversly effects YOU! If jane decided to wear a short skirt, read maxim and likes being called names durring sex, please tell me, how does THAT degrade all women? I just have an issue with creating a mountain out of a molehill, but then maybe, i am on the wrong sie of the bubble. But if i am ready to admit that, then you must consider, in some cases, your side of the bubble might distort the picture ;)
    ..damn, i am long winded….
    Anyway, thank you for the oportunity to vent MY opinions and not just ban me outright. I like the challenges and arguments some of you present.
    (as always, just ignore the spelling mistakes, i am not stupid, just a little lazy)