Getting tired of this guy trolling Worm

As some of you may have noticed that read the story, Worm has a troll. Not only has he tried to bring Worm down on TVTropes and flamed the comments with assertions that have no basis in reality, but apparently he also wants to come here and hurt Worm this way. Y'all probably know who I'm talking about at this point, the fellow named Wendigo who showed up solely to review Worm and supposedly had 3 people claim it was helpful. I have no problem if the person actually put some serious reading into the story and just came away not liking it, but it's obvious that he's just trying to screw things up. Also, serious reviewers don't have to start using sockpuppets in the comments. His comments show either a lack of reading ability/comprehension or a desire solely to agitate.

I'm just making it clear that his review shouldn't be taken as any sort of actual attempt to review the story. I'm not saying that as some sort of Worm fanatic that hates free speech or anything. I just think the guy's trying to do whatever ha can to troll us.

I was surprised by the review, but it didn't seem particularly trollish. I wasn't familiar with everything else, though. That said, go over to and look at the one star reviews for The Lord of the Rings. Having non-fans can be seen as a mark of credibility...

Not that Wildbow needs it. Since, as we all know, he is an inhuman, soulless, writing machine. ;D

I was just going to ignore it and hope that other reviews balance it out in the end. Such comes as part and parcel of getting more attention. I'm puzzled that it went on the front page, given the lack of helpfulness rating and the general quality of the review, but that's Chris's prerogative.

In regards to the trolling: Worm recently got mentioned on some Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality (HPMoR) fanfic circles, and picked up steam there. HPMoR is essentially a hypercritical analysis/reworking of Harry Potter, attempting to identify and close plot holes and inject heaps of logic and strategy into the storyline, and with that comes a (fairly extensive) fanbase that's very focused on that sort of thing - looking for any gaps in logic, finding stuff to criticize, and nitpicking. In HPMoR circles, a flaw or possible subplot or fan theories or whatever else that gets identified in Harry Potter becomes something awesome in HPMoR (Voldemort putting one of his Horcruxes on a satellite, for example).

With that kind of fanbase, you also get the extremes of an already somewhat extreme mentality. People who want to be noticed or have their voices heard in that crowd need to go above and beyond in being critical. When these people join a non-HPMoR population, though, there's a fair bit of confusion and conflict. They come from a community where people prize criticism, where identifying a possible flaw in a work is better than being accurate in identifying flaws. They like and enjoy arguing about whether that possible flaw is real or not.

So you get a few people skimming through the Worm comments with their sensors set to 'look for stuff to criticize', posting hundreds of 'in depth' comments that argue points or question strategy or question logic. Maybe one in ten comments actually end up on target, while others get addressed elsewhere in the text (and were ignored/skimmed over) or are based on flawed reasoning. For example, posting whole tracts (thousands of words) of criticism relating to the population of the city, proportion of capes to regular people, extrapolating to the world at large, all based on the population estimate of the city provided after it's been 75% evacuated (and assuming that's the city at its peak). The criticism stops being useful because it's such a huge volume of stuff to go through, and the stuff that's relevant either gets buried in reams of stuff that's off-target, or it's stuff that's been stated already.

Except my regular fans, like Psycho Gecko, above, get pretty exhausted with these guys, who appear to be brimming with negativity and begging for argument, some barely reading in their haste to find stuff to complain about. It grinds on you as an author too (one of these guys posted 300 comments in three weeks), draining your enthusiasm and taking up way too much time in terms of responses and/or comment moderation.

In truth, a lot of the comments being labeled 'trolls' probably fit in this category. People from a different community with a different standard for review and analysis.

But, in any group, you do get the trolls. And there is one guy who has been making sockpuppets (that is, making multiple accounts to agree with himself/get around moderation) and trying to stir up vitriol based around iffy reasoning. If I remember right, it's primarily the one guy who's been pushing the idea that Worm's protagonist raped someone. In reality, she had bugs stinging/biting/rubbing pepper spray on every bit of skin and every sensitive area she could find, primarily the face but also including areas below the belt - nobody gave it a mention when it was posted in November 2012. I ended up moderating his comments because he was just flooding the comment section with negativity and vitriol, taking away far more than he gave, and hurting the experience for readers.

I don't know if it's just immaturity and feeling powerful in attacking me, or if I slighted him when I replied to a comment, but he's apparently decided to go after me. Since I stopped allowing his comments, it seems he's taken to visiting forums to try and convince others to hate the story, and posting this negative review. I can't say as far as writing style, but the focus on the 'rape' is telling. He's either the same guy or he's friends/in communication with the guy.

My guess would be that he didn't make sockpuppets to agree that the review was helpful, but that casual visitors simply took the review as gospel and marked it as helpful regardless. 'If this is true, then this is one story to stay away from. Helpful? Yes.'

Anyways, that's my analysis of the situation. First world writer problems for you. You gotta take the bad with the good.

God forbid, a story that touches dark subjects such as death? What is this craziness!

I have a problem with people who review things of which they are not the intended audience and don't take this into consideration.

I could, by all means, write a review on "The Hungry Caterpillar" pointing out it's two dimensional characters, simple juvenile plot and lack of substance and length. I mean, I like big meaty high-fantasy like Lord of the Rings. 10 pages, with barely a few sentences on each? Terrible!

But that would be silly, because it's intended for 4 year olds... If I was writing a review for it, I'd have to take that into account. I wouldn't give it 1 star because I didn't enjoy it. I'd give it 4 stars because I believe a child would enjoy it. It's intended audience.

This guy clearly doesn't want to read any books involving tough gray/dark moral choices, characters that aren't upholding morals or anything that is dark, involves death or destruction. Or apparently in any way, investigates hopelessness. (Which incidentally excludes a LOT of literature...)

Yet, apparently, he does read it - unsurprisingly doesn't enjoy it (if he is not just blatantly trolling) and then decides to tell everyone that the things he doesn't like in the story he knew contained those things.

I can understand the frustration Wildbow... Let's just hope he sticks to more suitable reading material in the future. The Hungry Caterpillar perhaps.

Incidentally, on the tiny thread on mine in that Harry Potter Forum the 3rd post down was a snide comment about Worm. So.. yeah. Ignore them, it comes with success! Be happy that you are successful enough to get enough of a readership you have a wide selection of trolls :D

He must hate Breaking Bad lol

Now that I have toddler children I can see where trollish behavior comes from and ignoring it is the best strategy. What can you do when someone's throwing around trigger words like rape and misleading readers though? Ugh.

You have such a great attitude about it all, Wildbow. I really admire that.

And thanks for pointing it out Psycho!

Well *I* hate Breaking Bad. I don't hate Worm, far from it.

However -- and this is the reason I didn't realize it was a troll until this post -- I can totally see someone having a problem with Worm and honestly reviewing it from that perspective. It *is* dark, and for some people it *will* be unpleasant, and more than unpleasant. I don't think people who have that reaction should be obliged not to write reviews. But it is hard to differentiate between people who are honestly having a negative reaction to your work and people who are on a warpath.

I thought that review was a little bit fishy o.o Trolls....can't they take up knitting or something? Keep their hands busy ><

It was fascinating and a bit scary to read this. I'll probably have to deal with trollish behavior at some point too, because Safe as Houses explores dark (and light!) places in the human psyche, including sexual ones.

Wildbow, I respect and admire the way you are holding the unpleasantness. I know how draining it is dealing with negative people and unfairness or outright lies. On the other hand, reading this thread reminded me that I checked out Worm a couple of weeks ago and liked what I saw. It's now on my radar to get over there and read some more. So there's one happy outcome from all the trolling!

It went to the home page because it seemed an honest personal reaction that the reviewer actually put some effort into writing. That's the standard I apply to everything that goes to the home page. Do I think it was a particularly reasonable opinion? No. I think the fact that the reviewer doesn't seem to have much of a grasp of English grammar and punctuation speaks for itself. But what's the point of a review site if everybody has the same opinion of all the stories.

I don't know what this person's behaviour is like elsewhere. I judge the reviews on their own merit.


I'm with Chris on this. I am one of the people who Liked the review; I usually Like reviews that it seems the reviewer has put some effort into, including explaining in detail why they liked/didn't like the story and backing it up with factual references from the story itself. From what I've read of Worm, I agree that the conflict that the reviewer has an issue with, that is, people doing bad things while theoretically trying to accomplish something good, is something other readers might also have a problem with. In that sense, this is probably a helpful review in that it points that out. That way, readers who might also have a problem with that will read something else more to their liking, and readers who see this review and are interested in stories delving into this type of conflict will probably run over to read Worm. I wasn't aware that this person has been trolling Worm, but I didn't go back and un-Like the review because of that. Even if people express themselves in jerk-like ways sometimes, it doesn't automatically mean they don't have a valid point.


Super: Sci-fi/Suspense/Adventure, with Superheroes

I'd say he put only as much effort as copying what he wrote on the TVTropes review page and his comments. The guy showed up here, hid who he was, and posted the same thing he dropped elsewhere because he only cared about hurting the story instead of honestly critiquing it.

I have no problem with a good, honest review where someone just doesn't like it, but this guy just used your site as part of his trolling vendetta with a review that could easily have been directly copied and pasted from anything else he's written.

Such is the life of a writer. :(

Let me put it this way: -- the guy who wrote that posted that review of my (then ongoing) story the day after I spent 3 hours helping him get his website fixed up and listed on WFG. 3 years later, it's still on the site.

You may not like the guy's opinion, but he has a right to it, and he has a right to join the site and post it here. If he were to start trolling Wildbow here in the forums, he'd lose his forum access, *but the review would remain*. It contains no personal attacks on Wildbow. It talks about the story, and the reviewer's reaction to it. That's what WFG is for.


Chris: I haven't thought about that review in years. I had no idea you'd helped him with his site. I'd thought I he'd been randomly rude. Of course, if I remember correctly he didn't leave any reviews that weren't needlessly harsh.

You know the review that pissed me off more? The five star review of Worm that eduardo just left. Not because he likes Worm -- I can get behind him on that -- but because he MOCKS people who might prefer happier stories with happier endings, and by extension mocks the idea that those kind of stories can even be GOOD. That's the kind of postmodern bullshit I will never, ever be able to get behind, and it made me think less of the reviewer for saying it.

Yeah, also the whole worshipping 'realism' thing bugs me. Some of us like our fiction as escapism, whether that means happy endings or just simple entertainment. I read a lot of fiction to get away from reality, because reality can be pretty fucking shitty. If I want realism I can just walk out my front door or turn on the news. I'll personally take My Little Pony over Game of Thrones any day of the week. But that's just me.

I believe I recognize Eduardo from my comment section. He's a university professor, but he's also a second language English speaker, so that might lead to tone maybe not translating 100%.

To clarify, I pretty much share Chris' stance, as opposed to PG's, regarding the review that spurred this thread. Bad reviews happen. But that review (especially as a review that seems to be aimed at provoking a response) is going to spur responses like Eduardo's. Worm is getting a lot of attention, and that means that any response towards it that is extreme in any way is going to mean others feel compelled to chime in. Equal and opposite reactions.

I'm just going to cross my fingers and trust that the overall reader response is positive in the end, and that the people who passionately love my work outnumber the people who passionately loathe it, with the reviews reflecting that.

Honestly, I've found this whole thread fascinating. I've been following the Goodreads Bullies fiasco, which has blown way out of proportion on both sides but the appearance of this subject on forums for web fiction was surprising. I made a dismissive comment about trolls earlier because I don't understand them. It feels like stirring up trouble for entertainment, like internet hooligans rather than soccer hooligans. However I liked the dialogue the subject sparked. One of the first lessons my professors taught me was if I planned to go into writing, develop a thick skin because no matter how good your story is, somewhere, someone is going to tear it down. You can't please everyone, it's a fact of life, and while a good review or praise of your work can give you a euphoric feeling, you have to take the good with the bad. I think it's something lost in the changing landscape of the publishing world, but I admire your stance on the whole issue Wildbow and respect the editors for their responses. Trolls aside, people are funny. Sometimes a bad review sparks as much interest in a piece as a good review. Whether or not this gentleman was trying to damage the reputation of "Worm", his review had me go back and reread Worm again to see what the hell he was talking about and rediscover how much I enjoy the story. No matter what a reviewer throws at a piece, a story stands on its own merits to its fans. They are the people who strengthen a writer's armor.

And I'm done babbling now.

Well, I'm not trying to be an ass about the entire thing. I'm also a fan of free speech. I haven't seen Eduardo's thing, so I'd probably dislike the idea that you can't have happier endings either (being a fan of escapism myself).

I got defensive because Worm's a great story and this guy wasn't trying to help or review it, just hurt it, and I feel that perhaps someone shouldn't be able to attack solely under the guise of pretending to review something. Wildbow has a shot at getting this thing published, and internet buzz may help sell it, but I'll bet there would be someone willing to go "Wait a minute, what's all this about rape?" and stop the whole process.

That said, I'm not going to sit around here all the time and yell about it forever. Yes, even despite this post. Not my site to make the decision and I'm glad that I haven't elicited more vehement responses to what some might see as an attempt to stifle criticism, even unthinking criticism.