Editorial: About Responsibility, Constructive Dialogue and Trolls

By Alan McNarie

Like many Web sites that serve as public forums, the Big Island Chronicle has a troll problem. We’ve pretty much allowed comments so long as they were on point with the topics of the articles they were commenting on and weren’t obvious spam. But some people have been posting comments under pseudonyms, and even faking their e-mail addresses, and some of the comments they’ve been posting have ranged from irresponsible to downright vicious. One recent poster, for instance, suggested that an anti-geothermal activist may be taking money from the petroleum industry. The author of that comment used only a first name, and gave an e-mail address at a Web site belonging to a Florida real estate company.
Trolls such as that are common on the Web. But no responsible newspaper allows them. If you submit a comment to the Hawaii Tribune-Herald, for instance, you have to use your real name and address.
There’s a reason for that. In order to make good decisions, the public needs solid, reliable information, and it needs to be able to do its own research about the sources of that information. For that reason, when we use information in a story, we attribute the source, and if we publish a press release or a public meeting announcement, we say who we got it from.  (And to avoid any confusion, Ms. Hunt and I will be posting our own by-lines with any stories that we do individually.) The only exception might be a whistle blower who’s going against the wishes of his or her boss in the public interest–and in those cases, we need to explain the situation in the article, and we’d better make every effort possible to corroborate the whistle blower’s information and check that person’s credentials. In fact, with Hawaii’s current lack of a whistle-blower law, it’s possible that we could end up in jail if we DON’T disclose our sources.
If we expect our sources to make their names known, then we should at least be able to tell them that they won’t be attacked by someone who’s unwilling to accept the same responsibility for his or her actions. So as of now, no more anonymous trolls at Big Island Chronicle. If you want to be part of the public dialogue, own up to your input, use your real name, and give us comments that you can be proud of.

And unreconstructed trolls: Don’t think that if you lie, we won’t catch you.  We are journalists, after all.


26 replies
  1. Damon
    Damon says:

    Does that mean user “Ken” will no longer be allowed to post here under a pseudonym either?

    He causes so much crap under so many nicknames… it’s hard to tell if he even lives in Puna at all!

  2. Handyman
    Handyman says:

    Aloha Alan McNarie,

    I understand and agree with the reasons BIC wanting to stop anonymous posters. However I prefer to keep my private life,…..private.

    To reveal my true identity, would have me discussing public concerns at inopportune times, like when I’m running errands on a quick break from work or other routines when I simply don’t want to talk to anyone. I already dread doing my grocery shopping for the simple reason that I know a lot of people and it seems almost everyone wants to chat while shopping for food and/or doing other tedious tasks regardless of whether you have time to chat or not.

    I prefer to chime in from time to time without worry of later explaining to joe public why I feel the way I feel about any given situation and or news item. I prefer to give my reasons here when I’m comfortable and have some time on my hands.

    But alas! All it took was a few rotten apples and one of the ways I would wind down from a hectic day is no longer available.

    Oh well, I humbly bow out and respect your decision.

    Aloha Everyone.

  3. Jay Turkovsky
    Jay Turkovsky says:

    Kudos to you Alan and Tiffany. It is the utmost of importance for you guys to maintain credibility. Myself, I don’t care if commenters agree with me or not, only if they are real and valid. On the other side of the coin, I don’t open my mouth about something unless I can do so from a position of knowledge and authority.

    Please do keep up the good work! Good reporting is becoming like classic cars; hard to find but truly valuable!

  4. tia
    tia says:

    I agree with Handy about the need for privacy. Govt paid trolls are real as I’ve seen the same handles stirring up trouble come up frequently. One sure way of detecting them is that they will target and relentlessly attack posters whose opinions differ from their agenda instead of discussing the issue at hand. Of course, there are some unpaid ignoramuses who are control freaks and disallow open discussions that doesn’t fit their agenda. Rob Tucker and Punaweb comes to mind. He had silenced many people because he “feels” they are spreading “paranoia”, although he has no evidence.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bYqyDiB3EYM&feature=youtu.be BUSTED! Governments Hire Web Trolls to Sway Public Opinion

    https://firstlook.org/theintercept/2014/02/24/jtrig-manipulation/ Glenn Greenwald Exposes Government-Trained and -Paid Trolls on the Internet


    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LofScCiJT4c Israel is paying internet workers to manipulate online content

  5. Hawaiino
    Hawaiino says:

    Editor (s)
    Wow, this is a sea change, joining the Civil Beats of Hawaii Internet journalism. By refusing to accept ‘nomme de plume’ submissions you join that rarified air at the top of the online communities. You separate yourselves from those bottom dwellers; the Star-Advertisers, the Ian Linds, and most importantly, the Punaweb(sters).
    ( A brief note, those just mentioned have visible or referred to Moderation, which I believe is what I believe they rely on to keep “trolls” at bay)

    Timing seems a bit odd, and he example you provide, the egregious quote reads;
    “…Considering the existence of Ormats increased output has put two fossil fuel burning plants out of business, I would not be surprised if the oil industry is also sliding Bob some scratch….”
    Not a lot of slander in “I would not be surprised”…maybe a little snarky though! If that’s a Troll it’s a cute little one, more of a lawn ornament than a goat eating, under the bridge, terror.

    So … The high road it is! Journalistic integrity, old school style!!! Honoring the participants, maintaining confidentility of sources, privacy as sacrosanct. No unattributed quotes, no requoting from other forums or publications without disclosure, attribution, or permission.
    A new day!

    Details please…first name alone okay? How about just the middle name ?
    Or a commonly used nickname ?
    Or do you want our Facebook reality, full name with verification ?
    (Your declaration was a bit ambiguous)

    Given the lack of contributions on this forum the past few months is this the lashing out by a wounded bird of prey in a death spiral or the first glimmer of a Phoenix, rising from the ashes?


    Is this Troll scat? Or am I participating in an online forum where citizens gather to express themselves in a manner that is unique to the technology?

  6. Russell Ruderman
    Russell Ruderman says:

    Thanks Alan. What would be the ideal whistleblower law or press protection law that could be introduced at State level? Please send it to me, we have a new opportunity at the Leg to protect the press this year.
    I use my own name. Still if it were up to me, I would have allowed anonymous posting. To prevent this problem I would have long since blocked those who attack others personally instead of discussing ideas. Simple, doable, and effective. I guess that ship has sailed, but I am surprised by the tolerance of such viciousness both here and elsewhere. Thank you for insisting on some solution to allow discussion with civility.

  7. Hawaiino
    Hawaiino says:


    “….… trolls with pseudonyms comment on no more trolls with pseudonyms…”

    Are you really referring to me as a “Troll”? Do you know of what you speak when using that term? I can understand the publisher/editors concern with “Trolls”, to wit:
    “One who purposely and deliberately (that purpose usually being self-amusement) starts an argument in a manner which attacks others on a forum without in any way listening to the arguments proposed by his or her peers. He will spark of such an argument via the use of ad hominem attacks (i.e. ‘you’re nothing but a fanboy’ is a popular phrase) with no substance or relevence to back them up as well as straw man arguments, which he uses to simply avoid addressing the essence of the issue.” Urban Dictionary

    There are many posters using pseudonyms that don’t engage in troll like behaviors. I believe I engage with the subject at hand on each thread, this one included, and provide a viewpoint that is both logical and supported by facts or experience. On the other hand, methinks you have just engaged in an ‘ad hominem’ attack ? And using a “real name” too! Notice the Urban Dictionary definition doesn’t refer to the practice of utilizing pen names ? It’s not required to be a Troll. All that takes is a bad attitude.

  8. Handyman
    Handyman says:

    Aloha Alan McNarie……again,

    What exactly is it that you require for people like myself to continue to respond to postings on here?

    A legitimate email?
    One that you could make contact with the authors of any given postings and/ or responses?

    A phone number that you could call to varify legitimacy?

    How about a full name that only you and or Tiffany would have access to?

    I feel that I should have a right to a sense of privacy while participating on here as in voting at an election……?

    Just a thought.


  9. Ken
    Ken says:


    I see you are here posting more general disinformation.

    Seems to be your trademark!

    Now, I only post as “Ken.”

    And other than defending Tiffany against some pretty horrible, jealous, shallow minded and quite frankly really obnoxious people, along with a complete and total disdain of drunk drivers and those who stand by and defend the drunk driver, such as yourself, I can’t understand what other possible “crap” you think it is I cause.

    And yes, I do live in Puna.

  10. Hawaiino
    Hawaiino says:

    Mahalo Tiff

    You don’t have a disorderly or nasty “house” populated by Trolls or even Gremlins. It’s actually been a very quiet “house” lately. I don’t understand the necessity for the new policy. I believe a systematic application of Moderation is sufficient.

    Good luck.

  11. tia
    tia says:

    My suggestion is to eliminate those who constantly attack posters to discredit, rather than engaging in discussion, regardless of their anonymity.

  12. Tiffany Edwards Hunt
    Tiffany Edwards Hunt says:


    Alan is BIC’s guest editor and publishing more on the website. The more time he spends on the website, the more comments he approves. I have traditionally taken a liberal approach to comments, but Alan prefers to be more conservative. Together we can find a balance. I think, as long as we know who you are, or as long as you can provide a valid email and aren’t writing libelous comments that will land me in court, pseudonyms are fine. In this day and age and with the amount of viciousness and vindictiveness that exists online and offline, I am starting to appreciate the nom de plume.

  13. Handyman
    Handyman says:

    Aloha Tiffany,

    Thank you very much for your validation.

    As a sincere Puna community member, it is a privilege for me to be able to converse with my fellow members over matters that concerns us,….(on here), a privilege that I intend to maintain. It is also important for me to maintain my identity from the general public for my valued sense of privacy. I don’t seek recognition, but merely to be part of the solutions to the woes our community faces from time to time.

    I’m not exactly sure what a (Troll) is, but it sounds like the first cousin (once removed) to an (Ogre)? If that be the case, then allow me to assure you that there’s no relations here. I’m more like a cowboy on a tall jackass with a short rope, if you can imagine that.

    I do agree with Alan, wanting to curb back the nastiness that can occur here, there is much wisdom and integrity at play here.

    There is also much wisdom and integrity in your validation of those who are part of a solution and not those who are the problems.


  14. James Weatherford
    James Weatherford says:

    True enough, my relation to this blog or forum or discussion or whatever is about my interest in the community and what people have to say about what is going on, or not going on.
    Certainly no “attacks” intended.
    I just like to know who I am getting information from.
    It seems to me basic for good communication.
    Blog with Aloha.

  15. Damon
    Damon says:

    I get it…

    Only the trolls that are supporters of BIC will be able to use fake names.

    Sigh… I’m out of here.

    I’d rather communicate and talk amongst folks that don’t have things to hide… like “Ken”.

    Go ahead “Ken” tell us again why you don’t use your own name? Cause folks found out who you were and nearly tore your head off or something to that effect when you started posting things under your real name?

    Go ahead “Ken” threaten me w/ a lawsuit… seems to be your game… LOL!

  16. Kelly
    Kelly says:

    For those wanting an example of trollish posting;
    August 26th, 2014 at 1:32 pm by Jay T.;

    “Perhaps some better questions would be asked of you, Bob, rather than accusing the people that bring us power, security, and safety.
    Here are some of my questions…
    Why do some Puna residents who know nothing about power and the Grid operation think they know more than the professionals?
    Why do some Puna residents do so little in trying to understand how our Grid works?
    Why do some Puna residents totally disregard the opinions of others in our district?
    Why do some Puna residents not flee and live somewhere else if they are so afraid of their stated fears?
    Why do some Puna residents disregard the concept of democracy when well aware the majority of Puna is in favor of having PGV?
    Why does Bob choose to stroke his ego by inciting fear into a mob mentality?

    Having electric power is freedom. Without it we could be taken over by any other nation that chooses. They, then, would build power plants!

    Puna Pono, ie. Bob Petricci, is Pau! Your demands are improperly placed and ultimately going nowhere. Take your ego somewhere else and leave the majority in Puna to live in Aloha!”

    Trolling uses personal and community ridicule and putdowns instead of addressing issues directly on their merit.
    It can involve unproved assertions, unfounded speculation, and, often, claims of moral/intellectual authority.

    The poster quoted above then claims;
    “I don’t open my mouth about something unless I can do so from a position of knowledge and authority.”

  17. Handyman
    Handyman says:

    Aloha Damon & Ken,

    Obviously the both of you have a “thing” for each other. And I got nothing against it,…..to each his own,…..but could the both of you find a private chat room, maybe? and settle this passion you seem to have for each other in private and let the rest of us continue to find our compromises regarding the issue at hand?

    Seriously, with all the parks Puna has to offer, there’s gotta be at least one with a sandbox that the both of you can play nicely in?

    Come on, what do you say?


  18. Ken
    Ken says:

    @Handyman & @Damon:

    I will tell you the story. Once yet again.

    Several years ago – heck over a decade ago, I wrote a letter to HTH about my feeling that a woman’s right to an abortion is a matter solely between her and her doctor. Used my real name.

    The next morning, at 6AM the good catholics started their preaching with bullhorns at the end of my driveway. They got my address from the property tax records on line since they had my name.

    Cops to impotent to do anything. Every law on “their” side. After 2 weeks and after we came home with 2 adopted Rottweilers, the good catholics finally left.

    So – from that point on, I became “Ken.”

    Now, Damon on the other hand – just does not like that.

    And he has for like 250 times now used the “I am out of here” line – only to be back to post yet one more time!

    Then he goes into his rant about “Only the trolls that are supporters of BIC will be able to use fake names.”

    Funny thing is – Big Island Chronicle is the only Puna blog TO NOT BLOCK most posters – unless there are some totally whacked out comments made – and yes there have been posters blocked.

    But to see the courage and commitment someone like Tiffany has – who has always allowed a guy like Damon to always post on her blog here – even after he consistently trashes her on his own websites – speaks volumes for just what kind a person Tiffany is.

    Other blogs have blocked posters – whom the administrator does not agree with. Even Damon, when he was the “Global Moderator” of a now defunct blog site, enjoyed changing the words of posters he did not agree with. On that site, I challenged a certain drunken cartoonist. Damon stood up for that drunken cartoonist. In every way. And still does to this very day!

    Damon Tucker is a hypocrite. Every word he speaks is bullshit.

    He is bullshit. He thinks he is a big fish in a very little pond, when in reality; he is a very little fish in a very huge pond.

    He lives and thrives on “gangland mentality.”

    He is only concerned about who I really am – so he – and his drunken buddies – can come to my house and hand out some real “jungle justice” because of the viewpoints I hold. About him and his gang of drunken buddies.

    I have happened to have challenged Damon in the past. He just hates that.

    So, Damon, in order to try and prove a point, has to make even more bullshit comments, like I post under a bunch of other names, or I may threaten him with a lawsuit.

    More bullshit for him to play his egotistical game that he is a “power” here in Puna.

    And Handyman, there is no park big enough to handle Damon’s ego! Besides, he most likely would use the park, leave his trash and them come home and post what a waste of taxpayer money the park is.

    Quite frankly, about the only use Damon Tucker is good for would be for him to continue to “pray” for enough rain to put out the lava flow!

    The real question is – Am I a “troll” because I post as “Ken” – or is Damon the real “troll” who has absolutely no convictions, thrives on a “gangland” mentality, trashes over and over the owner of BIC on his own website and them comes here like he is best friends with the BIC owner?

    Like nailing Jell-O to the wall!

  19. NeighborWatch
    NeighborWatch says:

    LOL Damon says I’m outta here, LOL yea isn’t that a wish. I guess I don’t have to worry, every one knows all my names, LOL
    This reminds me of a quote Abraham Lincoln said,
    “If it’s on the web it has to be true.”
    There are multiple reasons not to use your whole identifiable name on the web unless you are a public person and your name is part of your sales identity.
    You make comments that may provide information to identity thieves or other crooks who will feed off any information you provide in casual conversation.

    You use your own in if you are promoting yourself.
    Be it politics or a surf shop. If you are a commercial artist you sign your name, you make your name a trademark, it’s for sale.
    If you are a fine artist you do not seek fame nor fortune, you seek only to create for it’s own sake.
    If Peke wants my 36 kine wood parquet floors she can have them, she gave them to me. She’s allowed me to live in this paradise I’ve sculpted from her virgin forests.
    Detachment from personal possessions is something you end up doing like it or not, you don’t take it with you when you die. Your name isn’t as important as your actions. You are what you do, not what you call yourself.

    Besides the fact you don’t want some kid just flown in from the mainland, Colma, Calif. was the one I got, carpetbaggin through the sub-division preying on people’s fresh disaster fears, telling them that they are giving back to the community by GIVING people FREE keypads and little orange signs. But you have to pay someone something to have it connected to someone else. Who isn’t going to get the police or any other response to you fast than they do now!
    The kid though he was pretty slick going to the police station and reading all kinds of police blotter information and gossiping up and down the street so by the time he gets to your gate he’s calling you by your first name like he’s you buddy. Funny this kid tried so hard to sell me. But he wouldn’t come in the gate to talk while my alarms were already barking.

    PRIVACY on line is a smart thing to do, especially on ‘blogs’. People are stupid and ugly, they don’t like something you say online then they’ll key your car or smash you window if they see your car (Lava boat tour truck??) The Brit gossip. on and on.

    This isn’t a ships ledger, this isn’t recorded history all the time, there is a hella lot of gossip. It’s what blogs are. Hello? remember chatrooms?
    This is not much more than a time delayed Facebook.
    Remember Hunter Bishop’s blog? The Tucker’s are just Fa Fa Fa Fa Fame seekers. Rob trying to sell Castleblock homes and DT himself. Huffpost’s Johnny on the spot,lol Census taker, that really helped us for FEMA huh? Serously Damon’s a troll and he uses his own name. wtf?

    You’ll just throw the baby out with the bath water and it will a narrower minded conversation for sure.
    Calling people trolls is like calling someone a terrorist and killing them with a drone without due process. (except in DT case).
    You’ll want your kids to have CORE next.

    There are a lot of very conservative “church people” for a lack of a better term who feel it’s their god given right to dictate how everyone else should act.
    Those who believe self righteously that only the way they play is the right way. People who have never been anywhere, or experienced much more than here and this.
    The missionaries really messed up these islands, as they do everywhere. (that’s right burning women as witches was done by religious people).

    The storm and 10 days with no power, 2 weeks with no internet, was a good reminder of what we did before Facebook, before youtube and Twitter. Well for those of us who did other things beside sit around, drink beer and watch tv.

    Tif if you win you won’t have time for this anyway. Ask Hunter. And as fun a ride as this has been, except for the Phucktards like that idiot Greg, Mr. I’m outta here for the 257th time DT and that lousy redneck cartoon drunk. LOL There are so many local FB groups now like Puna Happenings and a host of others, that if you thin your reader/commentators this site will read like Nixtel.
    Yea the blogs come and go.
    If you’re still wasting time on the Punaweb you’re probably stagnant.

    It wouldn’t matter if you use your “real” name or not, how the hell you going to tell? Gonna check ID? Make people register, want a finger print? First born?
    And what is a fake email address? If you’re in Florida and you work in a Real Estate office you can’t comment from work? You have to use your full name on your email address, what fool does that. You have to live in Hawaii? The BI? Just Puna? hey I got an idea, make some more rules. Web nievate is all i can say.

    Past my bedtime for I’m before the sun, to watch it rise, that’s my mass.


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