aol blogging: it's not the end of the world, folks
Once the AOLers learn about blogs, look for comment sections to attract even more trolls than we already have.
Personally, I plan to use IP banning to block all AOL customers. If I lose regulars, fine. That should be another incentive to switch to a real ISP.
The comments on that post are interesting, to say the least. Class warfare, indeed.
When I started using the internet in 1997 (yes, I was a latecomer), I used AOL. In fact, I used AOL right up until the summer of 2000, when I could finally afford to pay the king's ransom my cable provider charges for their internet services.
So I can speak from experience when I say sure, AOL is filled with trolls and miscreants and losers.
However, I also speak from experience when I say that the blogging world as it stands now is filled with trolls, miscreants and losers.
Case in point: When I hung around the bowels of AOL, I often spent time in one of two chat rooms - one where we played movie quote trivia and one where we played song lyrics trivia. Both rooms were often filled with people who knew each other. The chat extended to things beyond what the room was made for. Friendships were forged, couples created, many a political discussion was had.
And yes, there were the trolls. Evil, hideous creatures that would enter a room with the sole intention of baiting everyone into an argument. They would throw out ad hominen attacks, stray from the subject at hand in order to hurl insults at everyone within typing distance, shout you down if you dared disagreed with them and tell you that you were engaging in oppression and crushing dissent if you tried to weed them out of the room. They would be kicked out or banned or just ignored, yet they would come back again and again, sometimes under different names (but their M.O. made them always recognizable), just to engage you in the same ridiculous antics they started the day before.
Sound familiar? It should. Blogs suffer pretty much the same version of trolls. Perhaps the people who are claiming that AOL would bring in an army of these comment creatures like we have never seen before didn't have problems with trolls to begin with. Trust me, I've had my share and most of them make the AOL chat room idiots look like geniuses.
So what's the harm in letting AOL bloggers into this world? Sure, we might get a few more gene pool victims clogging up our comments, but think what we may also get. Perhaps there is someone as funny as Bill, as charming as Rossi, as prolific and informative as Ian waiting for a chance to start their own weblog.
We've seen what the collective voice of weblogs can do. Witness Trent Lott, Harold Raines and Iran. We've seen what blogs can do for the world at large - witness the Blogathon and many other charitable efforts that have come and gone.
What's wrong with adding thousands of voices to the already existing ones? Wouldn't it be a good thing to have more people blogging about the things you are passionate about, more people to speak out on issues, to lend a voice to your cause, or - heavens forbid - to disagree with you and open debate? How can you be sure you won't find a witty writer, an intelligent thinker, a poet or fellow book lover among them? By shutting out and dismissing all AOL blogs prematurely as insignificant, you are not only engaging in a stunning display of elitism, you are going to close yourself out to new reading experiences.
The trolls are already here, people. They have cable modems and DSL. Just check my comments any day of the week and you'll see they have already landed among and infest the blogosphere like multiplying roaches. It's part and parcel of having open forums. To think that you can keep away trolls by blocking AOL users from your blog is closing the comment door when the bugs have already nested in your domain.
I, for one, welcome AOL users to blogging. I'm looking forward to finding new reads, getting new readers and yes, even discovering new trolls amidst my comments. Hey, maybe I'll even find some of my old chat room buddies among the new bloggers.