There has been a spate of bad behavior around the blogosphere of late. Flame wars have been around since literally before the invention of the World Wide Web, and trolling (in the sense of making nasty comments to stir up vituperation rather than in the sense of shamelessly seeking linkage) has been around as long as blogging. But there have been a few rather ugly incidents of late that go beyond even the rather loose set of conventions that have evolved. Kate‘s situation is the most notable given the potential negative consequences of the actions involved. Dean Esmay and John Lemon have recently experienced rather troubling incidents as well.

Interestingly, given the combination of relative anonymity (which encourages cowards to act boldly) and the large numbers of people reading and commenting on blogs, it’s amazing how little of this really goes on. As Justene notes in Dean’s comment section on the above-linked post, “This is the Wild West and there’s no marshall.” Mischief-making is incredibly easy and it would be difficult to get caught; yet almost everyone behaves according to the “rules” anyway. That’s actually rather encouraging.

(Hat tip: Steven Taylor)

FILED UNDER: Blogosphere, , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Steven says:

    Excellent point.

    Thankfully the Blogosphere tends to be more Lockean than Hobbesian.

  2. John Lemon says:

    And don’t forget to thank us cowards for boldly going where only the Internet has gone before!

  3. Tom says:

    I think that those miscreants that would creative mischief for the sake of causing trouble are not going to take the effort to visit (dare I say) intellectually challenging sites.
    The blog world tends to be self selecting. If you just want to vent, FreeRepublic or DemocraticUnderground will be the channel that you will enter the internet. If you are a jerk and younger, the direction you will go on is a 17 year old girls blog. You are guaranteed she will give you a response.
    The political blog is the last place someone who is trying to stir the pot maliciously will end up. The odds of getting a fiery response are slim. If you do succeed on raising their ire, typically the person who has the page has the ability to destroy your attempt because the authors tend to be a wee bit better communicators then the common folk.
    Jerks tend to follow the rule of electricity, follow the path of least resistance. Politcal blogs have a great deal of resistance…


  4. James Joyner says:

    Makes sense.

    I try to stay away from blogs run by 17-year-old girls, personally. 😉

  5. Tom says:

    A very safe bet, staying away from kiddie blogs. I went out there once after I think I read a post on this site or Glenn mentioned a drink company advertising through blogs. It reminded me of Times Square in the 70’s and 80’s. Interesting to look at, yet I was glad to get out as quickly as possible.

  6. Roger Sweeny says:

    You know, there were a lot of 17-year-olds in Times Square in the ’70s and ’80s. Always alone but always VERY friendly.

  7. John Lemon says:

    “I think that those miscreants that would creative mischief for the sake of causing trouble are not going to take the effort to visit (dare I say) intellectually challenging sites. ”

    That’s my problem. I’m not intellectually challenging. Just a jerk who knows how to type and read a few books on politics and economics. 🙂

  8. Personally, I’ve been pretty shocked at some of what’s happened. (I know some details on Kate’s situation; I’m trying not to know details on Prof. Lemon, since the whole thing makes me sick.)

    It just makes me anxious to stay as anonymous as possible, so the malicious folk out there will leave me alone (or, rather, won’t have much to work with).