I’ve been blogging now for around five years. In that time I’ve published about 2500 posts and gathered 4000 or so comments. Prior to blogging I wrote freelance for magazines and the odd newspaper. I’ve also sent out around 26000 missives on Twitter in the past few years – so it’s safe to say I’ve commented on a lot of things – far and wide. While the majority of my posts or tweets gain little or no feedback, there have been a memorable few that have gained lots of feedback – some positive, some not so much.
Like I said, my topic list is wide, and if you look at what has garnered attention of late – you’ll see it spans such varied topics as the problem of teenage drinking, the debate around ultrafast broadband in New Zealand, and the benefits or otherwise to New Zealand of high profile exits. I’ve also commented extensively around the problems associated with moving manufacturing away from New Zealand.
My reasons for commenting on an issue fall into one of two categories. Firstly I might write about something because I have a particular opinion that I feel deserves some attention. Secondly I might write about an issue not from the perspective of one side or another, but merely to encourage discussion and debate.
Often I’ll write opinions that differ from the widely held view. This was certainly the situation in the case of my comments around UFB and the sale of Charlies orange juice. And it is after the latter comment that someone who I have a lot of respect for made a comment that I believe was unfair. Lance Wiggs made the following comment, recorded here in perpetuity as a workaround for Twitter’s lackluster data retention;
(Some background – after the founders of Charlies orange juice sold their company to Japanese brewing giant Asahi, I questioned the general though that sales like these create serial entrepreneurship and a flow on effect for New Zealand).
Anyway – I don’t consider that my comment was trolling. Yes it was a contentious comment that goes against the generally held view of the world. But this does not equal trolling in my mind. According to Wikipedia, a troll is someone who;
posts inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community, such as an online discussion forum, chat room, or blog, with the primary intent of provoking readers into an emotional response or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion.
That’s not my gig. While my views may sometimes be inflammatory to the establishment, they’re not extraneous nor off-topic (not that anything on Twitter is truly off topic). Further I don’t post to elicit an emotional response – rather to stimulate thought and discussion. The post that was published by NBR about ultrafast broadband was accompanied by one that Lance himself wrote taking the opposing view. I respect his right to put an opposing case, and wouldn’t accuse him of trolling (or perhaps reverse trolling) – he was simply expressing an opinion.
That’s the great thing about the internet, and something that I believe should be protected: the right of people to express an opinion and to engage in discussion around a topic. So no, contention!= trolling. Vive la difference!