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Do you have it?  I have it.

How did I get it?  How long will I keep it?  What does it mean, really?

From what I can tell, it means I have two circles to pick from after people's comments and others have only one.  I can also see all those hidden comments if I choose, but I'm not entirely clear on how they get to be hidden.

The system is interesting, that's for sure.  Ever click on the "Scoop" link at the bottom of the page?  I did and it opens up a whole world that quite frankly overwhelms and intimidates the crap out of me.  How did these people come up with this stuff?  How do they keep it working?

Anyway, all the discussion about troll rating, and who does, and who doesn't, and why can't I, and you shouldn't, blah, blah, blah...got me thinking about what is really at stake here.

Is it "the community"?  Probably not.  It is the future of Dkos?  Maybe, but most likely not.

Maybe it comes down to ego.  Mine, yours, anyone who does or doesn't have TU status.

Now, I know that there are many people who couldn't care less about TU status.  They probably stopped reading long ago, or never even clicked on this diary.  They come here to lurk, comment, post diaries, but they just don't get into the whole deal of judging other people's shit.  That's cool, actually.  Sometimes I wish I could be more like that.

But then there are those of us that really dig judging other people's shit.  For a variety of reasons, but still dig it for sure.  I'm a teacher, and I dig judging other people's shit.  (Wow - I'm channeling George Carlin.  Cool.)

Can we admit that it takes a certain amount of ego to stand in judgment of others?  I have to believe that I am worthy of the task.  I have to believe that I am well enough informed to make a reasoned judgment and respond in a responsible manner that will cause improvement, reflection upon, or reinforcement of my intended target's shit.

I tend to use my Recommend button to encourage others.  Whether I agree or disagree, I click that old Recommend because I think the person said something that contributed to the discussion in a way that kept it going - or provided necessary relief, in the case of well timed and placed humor.  I can hide behind the guise of "encouragement," but the reality is that my ego is still very involved.

Yeah, the Recommend button is our friend.  We're comfortable with it.  Everyone has one.  When you click it, no one gets hurt, or offended, or hidden away.  Click, click, click.  Happy people.

Then there's the Troll button.  Not so happy.  Scary.  Ominous.  Those who have it seem to avoid it all together, get off on clicking it, or sometimes even feel that they use it wisely to help keep the site up-to-snuff.  I've done all three in my short tenure as a TU.

But clearly, this is where things get dicey.  When you have TU status and use the troll rating, people start to question how you got your status.  (Please avoid any and all discussion about "qualifications" at this time.  The mystery people who set up the programming for this site do it.  Just play along, or write your own software and sell it.)  People start to be afraid to comment because they might get Troll rated by someone, fairly or unfairly.

It is this Troll button that strikes fear in the hearts of diarist and commenters, alike.

Since I tend toward benevolence, I don't think the Founding Father meant this to be such a big deal, folks.  Since I got TU status and don't feel that I frankly did anything beyond commenting thoughtfully to diaries, is it really such critical acclaim?  Sometimes it feels like it - when you've been given the "Power of the Troll."  Yikes.

Honestly, I haven't made friends with my Troll button yet.  Yeah, it's there for every comment, but using it is something I don't take lightly.  I don't want to be the cause of someone getting banned when all they did was innocently ask a question.

However, I can see that name-calling, hijacking threads, and doing things to completely annoy others can be totally disruptive and change the tenor of the site.  That's when the Troll button smiles at me and I want to enter into a relationship with it, no matter how unnerving the thought might be.

As a teacher, there are times when I have to send kids out of the classroom for a while.  It's almost always after having used humor to try and re-direct them, chatting with them after class about the offending behavior, or just telling them straight out to stop it.  I send them out for a lap around the library and tell them to come back when they can play nice.  Or I recruit the assistant principal to arrange a little "walk with Jesus."

Sometimes they get an in school suspension and sometimes - rarely - kids get expelled.

I don't know.  Ramblings of mine always end in some kind of tie to education.

I'll finish with this thought:  TU status or not, we all evaluate and judge constantly.  Perhaps how we wield those judgments says more about us than about those we are judging.

Or maybe I should just start handing out recipes in my classes.

Originally posted to sick of it all on Wed Mar 29, 2006 at 04:13 PM PST.

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