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aol blogging: it's not the end of the world, folks

As AOL opens the world of weblogs to its users, the blogosphere suddenly behaves like a town that has heard a treacherous weather report and starts boarding up for impending calamity.

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.


Listed below are links to weblogs that reference aol blogging: it's not the end of the world, folks:

» aol blogging: it's not the end of the world, folks from Ks Weblog
 Doesn’t look like the blogosphere is ready for AOL blogs, does it? 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... [Read More]

» Blog Valley High from Too Much To Dream
[Yes I am still here. Actual moving out will be Wednesday or Thursday, due to the lack of availability of persons with the requisite upper body strength to help me drag certain large items into a U-haul before then.] Internet... [Read More]

» AOL user= troll? from Dodgeblogium
Dennis seems to think that the fact that AOL has discovered blogs will lead to an influx of trolls. He plans to ban all AOL users from his blog. He is being called "elitist" by his critics. Found via Bryan.... [Read More]

» AOL to offer blogging from PhillipCoons.com
The last few days I\'ve read here and there about \"impending doom\" as soon as AOL offers blogging to its many users. Get off it people!!! Blogging is NOT some exclusive club, and once again I\'ll say \"there are NO rules!!!\" Most of you sound as idi... [Read More]

» AOL groks blogs from fiddle2
Some people are bitching about how AOL journals are going to lead to the downfall of the blogosphere, and how the "Me too!" newbies are going to somehow infect the... [Read More]


Well said.

I'm not sure how banning AOL users from blog comments will keep them from using AOL blogging software anyway. Or... what AOL coming out with blogging software has to do with what trolls do. Unless this fellow is suggesting that somehow AOL users had no idea of the existence of blogs before now. I can tell you that when I had an AOL account I was able to get to the rest of the internet just like anyone else; and that lots of my trolls are AOL users. I used to tell them to get their own blogs instead of using up my comment space; now maybe they will.

I can't help but be a little wary. Being on AOL in 2003 is like having training wheels on your tricycle.


Never confuse the method of transport for the content being transported, nor should anyone write off the message solely because of the messenger.

For the wealth of noise, there will still be some signal. The blogopshere will naturally find ways of tuning that weak signal in and amplifying it.

The very nature of blogging is that good blogs get linked, bad blogs don't. That property pretty much makes the whole "They've got stupid blogs!" issue moot. The AOL blogs will be treated just as any other content provider's. The good stuff gets linked, the bad shit withers and dries up alone and unread.
As far as blocking AOL from commenting, if that were a plan to take, it should have been taken ages ago, as the event of AOL making a blogging tool has no bearing on whether or not AOL subscribers have the ability to comment on your site. True, AOL's new CMS might be the first exposure to blogging for many, and thus lead them to commenting, but as Michele plainly pointed out, they can't be much worse than the scum-sucking whackjobs that leave waste in comments already.

Damn I miss that MQT room. I was in it around 1992 or so. I bet it's still going strong. It's probably the only redeeming thing I ever found on AOL.

hey goddess
im an GASP
aol user
despite the fact that my AOL
is NOT compatible with my IMAC
oh im a MAC user too

but dont hold it against me
i cant ditch AOL
because i already printed up oh
10 years worth of business cards letterhead you name it
with my AOL address
i live on the web
and never use AOL to surf the web

but aside from that
theres good in everyone
im sure there will be awesome AOL blogs
and terrible ones
the more the merrier
i think

if you have to pick through a mountain of garbage to find a diamond
its worth it'
thats why diamonds are so valuable

thanks for the notice
and thanks for still liking me
even though i use


I've never been on AOL, but I don't understand why this is a big deal. I didn't start using the internet until about 1997 either - I'm from a farm in Saskatchewan and we didn't even have the opportunity for internet hook-up until then. My highschool had one computer with internet access for 500 kids. Just because somebody isn't a hacker in New York who's had a website for 10 years doesn't mean they're a drooling toothless hick who's going to clog up your comments with retarded messages and pictures of kittens riding bicycles (sorry for the run-on sentence).

Okay, I take it back. Didn't mean to cast aspersions on anyone's choice of IP.

(*blushes and vows next time to bite tongue*)


Well so far most trolls I have found use Hotmail to cover their pathetic arses. MSN a few too. AOL is major source of spam though. The best way still is to ban individual ips.

Just to clear things up folks:

I used to use AOL. It's how I first got on the Internet. One day, a friend opened Netscape on my PC and showed me how to surf the real internet. I stayed with AOL because I was adicted to certain chatrooms . But the number of trolls got out of hand and I stopped visiting. So, I dumped AOL and got a real ISP and never looked back.

AOL users are not a "class" of people. They are simply people who have chosen to use a specific service. There is nothing elitist about criticizing AOL for being a lousy way to get on the Internet. I know no one who used an ISP who returned to AOL.

It is a statement about our society of victimization that so many people are determined to believe any criticism of the company called AOL is an insult to AOL users. Fine. If anyone believes they have scored pity points because of my post, well goody for you. Pathetic.

For all the bleating about how elitist I am or how unfair it is to label all AOLers as trolls (which I have never said), I have heard nothing to refute my contention that bringing more AOLers into blogging will lead to more trolling in our comments section.

AOL is designed to be a gateway to the internet for novices who do not know much of about computers -- including the generally accepted rules of behavior.

History is on my side folks.

Me too!


... the king's ransom my cable provider charges for their internet services.

Heh. I don't care how fast the connection speed is, Cablevision gets quite enough money from me already, TYVM.

Bill, you're a snob.

A significant portion of my readers are on AOL.

AOL has users that range from as clueless as my mother, who can't figure out how to use email, to people who are perfectly knowledgeable about the Internet but prefer the AOL service for their family.

It reflects rather poorly on you to lump them all in the same category as my mother.

And picking on an old woman. You ought to be ashamed of yourself.

Meryl: Did you even READ my post? I did not lump them all together. The people who have quoted PARTS of my several posts on this topic have written that I lumped them together.

Look, I am willing to conceed that 98.6 percent of all AOLers are loveable grandparents who bake cookies for little orphan children. Still, AOL has a greater percentage of trolls as members than any other ISP. It has to do with the COMPANY attracting trolls because it makes it easier to get on the Internet than anything else. That's all I'm saying.

Bill, this is what you said:

"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.

I am not saying all AOLers are idiots and that they canít operate nice blogs. I am saying that those who want to, already have the power to do so, through Blogger, and it doesnít cost them a dime.

But as soon as AOL starts linking to blogs on its own content screens, the troll level in the blogosphere will double or triple. Count on it. "

By banning all AOLers, you ARE lumping them all together. Also, making the reference that AOL isn't a "real" ISP is inflammatory. Some people use AOL because it's all they can get in their area. Some use it because of the parental guidance features. Some use it because it's pricing is cheaper than getting DSL or cable.

The fact that you are willing to lose current readers who are on AOL because you want to keep the sudden influx of AOL-inspired trolls off of your blog is cutting of your nose to spite your face.

If you get several trolls from Verizon, are you going to ban all those from that ISP as well?

This smacks of the same issues that happened when I first started blogging, when a very popular fixture in the blogging community started a portal, but excluded anyone who was on a Geocities or other free server site. You can't judge content or character by a person's ISP or website host.

You haven't left yourself much wiggle room here, Bill.


I am going to store this graph on my clipboard:

The ONLY reason AOL has more tolls than other ISPs is because it is the first choice many people who do not have developed Internet and compiter skillls.

The fact that YOU are still using AOL does not disprove that.

The fact that there are many, many NICE people who still use AOL does not disprove that.

HOWEVER, I will concede to one point. It would be foolish to ban all AOLers simply out of fear of trolls.

I still believe that once AOL starts linking to AOL Journals on AOL content pages, many AOL members will enter the blogosphere for the first time. Many will engage in trollish behavior.

I will, however, reserve the right to ban individual trolls.

There, happy now?

Please read the post again.

I don't use AOL. I use Cablevision.

Thus, my defense of AOL users has nothing to do with me, personally. It's just the whole issue of lumping people together.

Michele, you rock.

AOL is a great training ground for people that don't have a clue about the internet. It is sort of like www.blogger.com for access to the blogs.

When you are first going to school; you don't start out with advance math... you have to learn what the numbers mean first.

AOL serves that purpose... now for those of you that don't GROW UP and move on... you are missing a world out there at your fingertips....

but to block a person because of their provider is like blocking a person because of their race... STUPID!


I had no idea that choice of IP was so socially stratified. Some people need to get lives.

"but to block a person because of their provider is like blocking a person because of their race... STUPID!"

Now THAT statement is stupid.

Sorry, Michelle. I didn't mean to accuse you of using AOL ;-)

I was intended to use the word "YOU" in a general sense. My error.

"socially stratified"

Good lord.

Folks, we have to stop looking for things to be insulted over. I criticized AOL not all AOLers. It's not like I accused all irish people of beign drunks or all Italian people of being gansters. It's a simple fact that because AOL is what it is (the first Internet experience for many) it has more trolls.

Bill, you wrote what you wrote. Read your own post. Michele even quoted the whole bloody thing for you. You said you would ban all AOL users. You tossed a backhanded "some of them are nice people"-type compliment at the sifted few AOL journalers that might make it into your lofty standards. All your backsliding and "good lord people what are you thinking!" bs isn't goiing to hide the fact that you have already revealed yourself. You. Are. An. Elitist. Snob. You outed yourself, and now you must deal with the consequences.

To this day, AOL is the only service I can get that is not a long distance access number. The cable company should have TV service in the next year or so, followed, eventually, by internet access.
I, realise that everyone is smarter than I am and you have all kinds of neat stuff in the cities. I live without them, I don't know what kind of music my neighbors listen to. I can't see the public road from my house.
I guess I shall just have to learn to live with the crushing disappointment that Mr. Dennis disapproves. I hope to be able to go on.

If anyone is interested in actually seeing one of these AOL Journal blog thingies, come on over to my place, linked above.


And what consequences would that be Andrea? ;-)

I will never surrender! Never!

OK. I surrender. I was being a prick.

It sounds like I m the only one who still has an AOL account. I don't use it any more but I still kep it active because if I am on the road it is the only service I know I can connect to almost any where.
If I recall this whole problem goes back to when AOL first opened up to the internet. There was a vital part of the internet called Usenet (it still exists by the way) and it was inundated with AOL'ers that hadn't a clue about all the procedures that people using Usenet had built up. There were huge flame wars but eventually things calmed down. Now the biggest problem with Usenet is spammers.
There will be some growing pains but I think we should all look at this as Michele does, an oppportunity to expand our community.
My wife ,by the way, still uses AOL and assures me that there are still plenty of Trolls in the chat rooms which is what she uses the service for.

Here's the part I don't get: how does banning AOL give the legitimate users more of an incentive to switch to new IPs than it gives to the trolls to do the same?

Back in 1994, I started with AOL as it was all I could get at the time. In 1997, I got a better PC, Windows 95, a faster modem, and got a real ISP, still kept AOL as one or the other wouldn't let me connect. Sides, I have a kid who is clueless, she still uses AOL. It also comes in handy when you have a static IP cause when you log on AOL, it gives you a different IP. Used to wreck havoc with a firewall I used too cause I shouldn't have 2 IP's. But if you want to hide your IP, AOL is good for that. I know people that use it cause of it's archiving function. AOL never throws out an email and you can always go back to them to get the original to prove it wasn't tampered with. And yes, you can connect from anywhere and read your email.

As to AOL bloggers, why should it be any different from Live Journal or Blogspot? It's just another bit of software to blog with. I don't intend to block AOL IP's, they are not static anyway. I welcome AOL bloggers and if the material is good, I'll link a blog irregardless of software used. I think that most reasoned bloggers will do the same.

This is a cool blog, and if i may I want to share this Payday Loan site with everyone.

People that bait anyone online are no good! I hate them. What in the heck is wrong with them anyway?

Love, Peace, Happiness and Harmony that is my motto, and I'm glad it's yours too! :-)

Ooo, Andrea, now don't I feel like a large heel. I had no idea that you actually did live in a rural area. Well, I think that's great youíre hobnobbing with city folk! As a matter of fact, I'd be happy to take you on a real sightseeing tour of the big Apple. I hear LIPS may be getting a Judy impersonator, but of course that's just a rumor at this point. It must be hell getting attached to the animals only to have eventually to bring them to market. How does one deal with that wrenching heartbreak?

By the way, what was that original and, oh, so, clever term of endearment/neologism you had for me? I seem to remember it was tart or something, or something tart.

Peace, Love & Happiness to you, dearest!

Nice trailer park you got here. I guess this is where they come to recruit prison guards for Abu Ghraib.