No More Anonymous Comments on Slashdot

Photo by Jaroslav Devia on Unsplash

A viewer posted this comment on my YouTube channel in August 2019:

“I don’t know who you are, but why is there an insane amount of photoshopped gay porn on several image sharing sites with your face, name, and contact info?”

I considered carefully whether to answer or delete the comment. The viewer may or may not have been trolling me.

The subject matter, however, was a good enough reason to delete the comment. Neither “gay” nor “porn” are advertiser friendly words (not that my channel qualifies for ad revenues — not then, not now). Content creators are responsible for managing the comment sections of their videos. If the comment section becomes a dumpster fire, YouTube may disable comments for the video and/or take action against the channel.

I gave the viewer the benefit of the doubt by responding with this comment.

“My dedicated band of trolls thought it was funny to paste my publicly available image and contact info on to gay and child porn images.”

I left out the reference to Slashdot, a tech news commentary website founded in 1997 and the Reddit of its day prior to the Dot Com Bust in 2001. I’ve read and commented on the website for over 20 years. The new owners since 2016 made long needed changes to modernized the website. (The previous owners milked the website for its advertising revenues.) I’ve stopped associating Slashdot with my trolls over two years ago. The new owners didn’t need the negativity and my trolls deserved the quiet obscurity.

The viewer responded with a rambling comment that had every talking point that my trolls used to justify their abuse towards me on Slashdot. I suspected that this particular viewer may quite possibly be the same troll responsible for pasting my contact info and posting the aforementioned porn on Russian image sharing websites in 2017.

That stunt took me six weeks and 200+ DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998) takedown notices to clean up 95% of that mess. That I was able to do anything about it infuriated the troll. Russia was beyond my reach, as I didn’t know the Russian language, and American copyright law didn’t apply to Russia. Thanks to modern technology, several things worked out in my favor.

  • Google Chrome does an excellent job in translating web pages from Russian to English (right-click on a Russian web page, select “Translate to English” from the context menu, and Russian transforms into English).
  • Most of the Russian image sharing websites had a drop-down option on their contact form or a special email address for takedown notices.
  • Because the troll kept posting new links to the same half-dozen websites in anonymous comments on Slashdot, it took me five minutes to send out takedown notices when it took the troll 45 minutes to post new images.

I replied to the viewer with a shorter comment that asserted a few facts to see where the next comment would go. And, not surprisingly, I got another rambling comment with more of the same talking points. I deleted the entire thread — and vented on Twitter.

“Dear Slashdot trolls: Do not come on to my YouTube channel to rehash in comments everything that happened in recent years. Want me to disappear from Slashdot? Stop accusing users of being me and stop assuming every AC is me. If you need someone to troll, go after APK. Thx!”

Someone tweeted back that Slashdot “disabled AC posting”. I stared at that tweet in amazement and wonder. If it wasn’t a technical glitch, it was a radical and almost unthinkable change for Slashdot.

Read the rest of the essay on Medium