Andrew Breitbart’s post, Online activists on the right, unite!, has called attention to a problem almost every conservative blogger experiences: Trolls who plant inflammatory comments to make the blog appear racist or sexist or some other “ist” or who post such long comments that they try to take over the blog and make it their own. Robert Stacy McCain has a good post on this as well, with plenty of links documenting how these trolls tried to set up Sarah Palin’s blog and others. Ann Althouse experienced this phenomenon when popular liberal blogger Ezra Klein smeared her based on a handful of supposedly anti-semitic comments on her blog
This is not surprising, since stifling open debate was the hallmark of the Obama campaign and is the hallmark of the Obama administration.
After several of my posts critical of Obama gained widespread attention on the blogosphere, a commenter appeared who posted lengthy Media Matters and MoveOn-style talking points within minutes of every one of my new posts. This commenter also would post hostile comments directed at other commenters. The commenter began to refer to his or her prior comments as “posts” indicating a clear attempt to usurp this blog. When I switched to a moderated comment policy, the comments stopped, although I never rejected any of the comments.
The internet trolling phenomenon is not entirely surprising, since liberals in general view freedom of speech as meaning the freedom to agree with liberals. I still do not reject comments based on political viewpoint, and use hostile comments as an opportunity to confront issues.
But I am very cognizant that even small conservative blogs are targeted, and there are people out there just waiting to jump at the first mistake I make.