User Input

User Input: Script Kiddies

On the internets, he’s 21 and drives a BMW M3 with 900 HP.

“Script Kiddies” is, of course, a pejorative term that arose amongst the “oldbie” community when the sudden onslaught of “newbies” arrived on the Internets with the rise of AOL. While it has since been redefined to refer to amateur hackers who think they’re all badass because they can download a piece of malware and use it to join in on a mass hack-attack, originally it referred to the simple act of connecting to the internet. When I first joined the Internets, you had to open a TTY Terminal window, and actually type in your commands. Some of you likely remember this, and let’s see how many commands you still remember. Remember having to type “ATDT 2503640042” or whatever the number would have been? Manually issuing handshake commands, mucking about in Unix terminals. It was all great fun, even if most of us had no idea what we were doing. Then, along came AOL, with automated dialing software, scripts for almost everything, polished interfaces, and no exposure to the command-lines behind the scenes. “There goes the neighbourhood”, we thought.

If only we had known how right we were. I’ve spent the last few days on various enthusiast forums, looking for guidance and tech support for the various projects I’m putting off working on. It has been absolutely amazing, the levels of incompetence that can be found on these boards. You generally will find a half-dozen genuinely helpful, knowledgeable people, another dozen or so who may not have the knowledge base, but will try and help in whatever way they can.

Then there are the rest. Hundreds upon hundreds of useless “script kiddies” who are lucky that breathing is an involuntary reflex. Wrecking sites is almost a hobby for them, and it breaks my heart to see how awful they can make a site become.

So what’s your opinion? Where — apart from the most obvious candidates: AtomicToasters, Hooniverse, Redacted, 4Chan, MarthaStewart.com — would you find the worst offenders? What sites have the worst communities… in the world?

  • MrHowser

    YouTube.

    • acarr260

      It would be difficult to find a place with worse commenting than Youtube.

    • skitter

      Game, set, match.

    • Alff

      omg get a life u probly got nothin better to do then pickin on youtube cooments.

      • PowerTryp

        And your spelling is still better than 90% of the comments on there.

    • The Professor

      Yes, it is very bad. I've had to spend a lot of time there recently, doing research for my tool making posts. It's very tiring, and you soon learn to avoid the comments.

    • BlackIce_GTS

      Speaking of script kiddies (the newer definition), I thought it would be funny (hypothetically) to make a bot post "OMG!" to every single video on youtube. I wonder if anyone would notice.
      (Mandatory xkcd)

  • P161911

    My local paper, AJC.com. There is always a "First" comment and within the first ten comments it either degrades into political name calling or college rivalry name calling or or racist name calling or all of the above.

    • Same here in Olympia…probably in most towns as well.

  • OA5599

    Try to remember the last time you visited a Myspace page that didn't have numerous animated gifs or self-playing songs.

    • MrHowser

      I can't remember the last time I visited a MySpace page… period.

    • MySpace is still around?

      • OA5599

        Exactly. How many other sites have had a market cap the size of the GDP of a small country get washed away by the cluelessness of noobs? Clueless management, sure, but users?

  • tonyola

    TMZ. Racism, idiocy, bashing, illiteracy, ignorance, knee-jerk judging, blind hatred, envy – it's all there and more.

    • craigsu

      And that's before you even get to the Comments section!

      • Alff

        In another world, that would earn you a heartclicky.

        • craigsu

          Thank you! Of course, that world has long been redacted.

          • TX_Stig

            Speaking of that once glorious, now redacted world, their comment section really went downhill. I don't know what criteria they used to star the commenters, but it really let the inmates have the run of the asylum. Oh, and the quality of the writing went into the crapper as well.

          • craigsu

            I think the way they handled the whole Roberto G./Dr. Homer Bowtie situation was a watershed moment in the disemvoweling of redacted.

          • TX_Stig

            I don't mean to bring up bad blood or anything, but how did that go down. I was heading out the door several months before the redesign, and became a pretty confirmed lurker by the time the redesign came along.

          • craigsu

            Well, when they (finally) banned Roberto for numerous infractions, it was less than 2 weeks before he wandered back in as Dr. Homer Bowtie. All of the regular starred commenters (and a good many of the non-starred ones) knew it was Roberto from the first few comments under his new persona, yet the editors did absolutely nothing about it. I'm guessing they decided to let him stay just for the inflammation he caused. Unfortunately, it seemed to be picked up as the new standard for commenting by several of the non-starred and the descent only accelerated after that.

          • After complaining to Wert, in detail and with specific examples, yet seeing no effect over the following weeks, I count myself among the non-starred who picked up on that person's behavior as the new standard for commenting there.

            I responded by leaving.

          • Alff

            Quality of writing be damned, it's the editorial focus that first jumped the shark. I found that site several years ago when I Googled "Hoon" and was rewarded with a glorious video from the early '70s of amateurs shunting street cars on a particular corner of the 'ring. "This is for me" I thought. They totally lost that vibe in an effort to make money. Now, there's very little there that interests me.

          • No, it's okay, they've got an Awesomeness Manifesto for that.

          • Same here.

            I understand what Wert is doing. Denton gave him a directive to grow Jalopnik. In order to do that he had to go more mainstream. It's a business and the focus of the business changed from being a niche blog to being a more mainstream blog with a wider readership. I understand it is working fairly well. So, while I'm sad that the Jalopnik I began reading several years ago no longer exists, I understand.

            Just as they have every freedom to run their business how they wish, I have every freedom to not partake in it anymore. I've actually talked to Wert a bit about this and I think he understands. I think he wishes he could do both, but he doesn't have the resources to support a staff running mainstream content *and* the niche stuff we love, so he's had to focus on what his boss wants him to focus on.

          • Praise be brother Murilee.

          • pj134

            As someone who regulared there a bit longer then the first wave of Hooniverse onlys, when Sam, Ben and Wes all jumped ship within a month or so it was an "Oh, shit…" moment. This was shortly followed by the "Awesomeness Manifesto" which was a "bullshit…" moment which was followed by the Ray having interns approve every single pink that commented which led to the "this website is now shit" moment I had this spring which led me to comment only in the forum and regular over here instead. Matt is still doing his thing, although very much falling in line with Ray, Mr. Orosz is way too damn good for that website and Senor Emisle (if I have graverobber and him mixed up, and they aren't one in the same, oops) is the only one who really displays a knowledge of cars anymore.

            Who cares, I started there for the commenters, and outside of pauljones and ScandinavianFlick most of them are over here anyway.

        • pj134

          There still is follow button clicky…

  • skitter

    Moderation may be a touchy and complicated subject, but it has a fascinating history. Coding Horror has good discussions and links here: Suspension, Ban, or Hellban? As much as I recoil from invisible filtering, I can savor the elegance of the hellban, especially if the damned soul is gradually reduced to only seeing other hellbanned users.

    • The Professor

      My, that is a creative solution to trolling that I've never heard of before. I don't envy the job of moderators, it's a no-win position.

    • Alff

      I love the Drupal Cave module.

  • Well, today the comments on Lieberman's Motor Trend article are pretty pathetic. Especially from the 'Vette crowd.
    http://www.motortrend.com/features/performance/11

    • I have the feeling the "crowd" all has a single IP address.

  • SSurfer321

    It pains me to say it but Mike Levine's <a href="http://www.Pickuptrucks.com/news” target=”_blank”>www.Pickuptrucks.com/news has a pretty horrible community. Mike's post could be about how to clean your truck and within 5 comments, it's a flame war about which manufacture is best.

    Well it was Mike Levine's site. He retired from the site on Friday to accept a PR job for Ford Trucks.

  • Alff

    crossfireforum.org

  • PowerTryp

    Actually there's an automotive forum centered here in Calgary called Beyond.ca which has some of the least insightful commenting I have ever seen on an auto forum.

  • Wow, I didn't say this initially because I thought it was low hanging fruit someone else might want to grab, but there's a place with the most repulsive, inane comments in the history of ever.
    http://jezebel.com/

    Don't go there.

    • "click" …

      …GAH!

      • I said don't go there!

        • Kinda like "Do not delete the main page".

          or http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Don%27t_st

          • Alff

            Witnessed this firsthand in a situation involving our two year old, her 7 year old brother and sister and three dried blueberries. Most expensive blueberries ever.

          • My younger brother: Lite Brite peg.

            A green one (yes, even before).

          • Alff

            Did you, like my daughter's older siblings, do something to encourage that behavior. Our little one is a "pleaser", so when the others told her to stick them in her nose she did without hesitation. The ensuing trip the the ENT specialist was both heart-rending and costly.

    • Alff

      You are so right. I had forgotten about Jezebel, having banished them from my consciousness moments after they banished me for telling the truth.

      • The Professor

        Oh my, that's not a good place to tell the truth, from what I've seen. A place better avoided.

      • PowerTryp

        I had totally forgotten that you were one of the Jezebaned.

      • Were you involved in the pantie-raid/ban-hammer/disemvowelling fiasco?

        • Alff

          Nope, that happened during Alfisted's first Gawker boycott (my second one has been more successful). In an article discussing whether a severely undernourished model's photo had been 'shopped to make her look less undernourished, I pointed out that the poor girl needed a sammich, regardless of postproduction. I was called out for something called "bodysnarking".

          • mr. mzs zsm msz esq

            I went and requested them to remove my account I got so fed-up with them recently. Of course the link to delete an account did not work, but I emailed them and it should be gone for good sometime in the "next several weeks." At least I can't log in anymore, my will power was not strong enough.

          • Alff

            I go back sometimes, in the vain hope that it will get better. I also used to be a regular at Gizmodo, since they do a fair job breaking news in my industry. I've stopped though, due to an unfortunate combination of yellow journalism, heavy-handed moderation and rampant fanboism amongst columnist and commenter alike.

            Plus, all of their sites kowtow to the owner's political and social perspectives. I have no issue with his values, but don't go looking for them in automotive or tech blogs. It's the same reason that I eschew all of Murdoch's holdings, except for WSJ. Their perspective has been finely honed over generations.

  • The Professor

    The unwashed horde at 4chan is the worst I've come across, and at the same time, some of the most interesting dialogs, and some absolutely wonderful hires photography can be found there. If you go there, you have to be prepared to take the bad with the good, and it can get incredibly bad. I don't go there much, and I never comment, as it can be actively dangerous.

  • The comments section on pretty much any mainstream news source: NYT, WP, CNN, etc. The ratio of the strength of an opinion to how well-founded/researched it is is truly terrifying. Combined with the huge volume of comments they receive within about 4 hours and it just becomes a random posterboard for mental vomit, rather than anything germane to the article…let alone any real discussion.

    • highmileage_v1

      The inane, uninformed and vitriolic comments on news sights is a sad commentary on the state of mind of the certain person. It seems a lot of the comments are by political operatives or special interests (CBC?). Rational discussion gets lost in the noise. The various news outlets contribute to the problem with incomplete (deadlines, pressure to publish) or biased stories. Murdoch anybody?

      • Deartháir

        CBC is a special interest group?

        I had the exact opposite experience today. There was one of the stupidest most inane articles I've ever read on the utilization of governmental social programs during a recession and the counterproductivity of spending your way out of a financial downturn. There were about 75 comments on the article, all universally picking his article apart for flaws in logic, reasoning, factuality, intelligence and understanding. The comments were about 30 times better than the actual article. I think my only comment was, "Dear Globe and Mail. Have you considered hiring these commenters, and firing this worthless hack instead?"

        It's still pending approval.

        • highmileage_v1

          I should have phrased that better ("certain person" err?). I was speaking of the CBC commentariat. I was reading comments on their site one day and decided to thumbs up a particularly good response. To my surprise the thumbs down icon was activated along with the thumbs down icon on all the individuals other comments. That's when I realized the site had serious issues.

          But you are quite correct. There are some commenters who should be writing articles judging by their well thought out statements. The few media folks I've known over the years were dedicated and bright, but also overworked and usually underpaid. They also usually muttered under their breath about deadlines and editors.

  • While I'm at it…Since I'm in the comments on a site I don't officially run, I'll go ahead to point out TTAC, as well.

    For a site that claims to be the know it all about cars, their commentariat isn't quite there in the knowledge department. Some are, but but many are not. Regardless, they'll definitely offer a full serving of opinion about fiscal and environmental policy given the slightest excuse to do so.

    I truly despise talking politics on the internet (b/c it's too easy to just parrot talking points back and forth), but I have less of a problem if it's done in a more open minded "I think the following should be prioritized because ______…" or "I don't think _____ policy will work because_____" "…but I'm prepared to recognize a well-thought out counterpoint" kind of voice. They do not do this.

    • That's where Jalopnik was headed. Nowadays I usually go to Autoblog and read the articles on new stuff, and TTAC for Murilee's articles. That's about it for the "mainstream" guys. Hooniverse and AT have by far the cream of the crop of the commenting world, and so I come here to hang out.

    • There's a reply in here somewhere, so I'm poofing it and replying…

      In addition to being profoundly disappointing (I avoid total depression by telling myself the hyper-polarized idiots are overrepresented in forums of opinion), I find these rants rather baffling.

      What is the end goal of going on and on about "when will we finally realize and wake up that the ______ are using us! Until we stand up and take back our country from the ____" ?

      Has anyone ever changed their mind because they've been railed against? If the goal is to get people to agree with you and see your point, why not try to be…you know…persuasive? If the goal is to rally the base…well, chances are you're already speaking to the choir if they read down to comment 347 and agree with you.

      • SSurfer321

        The people of Egypt would like to have a word with you.
        Their peaceful protest that eventually overthrew the existing government was organized mostly by online forums and Facebook.

        • Interesting point, but I'm not sure it's the same. For one, the magnitude and legitimacy of greivance against the government was certainly greater than here.

          I've come to recognize most people's political enthusiasm to be sociologically/psychologically the same as being a fan of a sports team. Most fans suck at the sport they root for, and despite the fervor of their opinions, they really to little to effect the outcome. I think many/most politicos get all worked up over a need to construct an identity, fit in with a crowd, and have something to make a big deal over. If you took their talk radio and blogs away, they'd slowly simmer down and find something better to do with their time.

    • craigsu

      I followed Murilee over to TTAC thinking what was good for him was good for me. Now I can't even go there for Murilee's LeMons coverage. Once the Saab-bashing escalated (from BS in particular), I decided I'd had enough and haven't been back since.

      • MrHowser
        • craigsu

          Hmmm, didn't think about parsing it that way. Maybe I can get my Murilee back on after all.

          • skitter

            Bookmark it. The Impala Hell Project is becoming some of my favorite writing, anywhere.

          • MrHowser

            I agree. I love that series.

        • Also

          http://murileemartin.com/wordpress/

          which is a good read that attracts almost no comments these days.

          • craigsu

            I've been at Murilee's own site for awhile now, but I find him posting more photos than prose (not that there's anything wrong with LeMons mega-galleries). It has gotten better of late though with his Impala Hell Project reminiscences.

            I'm hoping he'll be at the Charlotte race in a couple of weeks. I've been wanting to meet him for awhile now.

          • skitter

            Maybe that's what we need in order to thoughtfully consider politics: a place where other commenters stay away in droves.

          • I call such a place "at home ranting at my cat."

          • skitter

            So your cat is the level headed one?

          • NO! He's COMPLETELY unreasonable and refuses even to consider the most BASIC….

            Sigh. Yes. Yes, he is.

          • The Professor
          • MrHowser

            Were I a cat, and had I one of those to play with, I probably wouldn't care about politics either.

          • MrHowser

            I think it would work here. Judging by the level of class around here (when not deliberately appealing to the LCD, mind you) I suspect the commentariat could have a discussion about most any subject. The difficulty comes in the inherent lack of text to convey nuances and body language that would be obvious in person.

            I know that lots of y'all have political opinions quite dissimilar to mine, but that doesn't keep me from enjoying what we have in common. I'd be interested in hearing what other folks have to say.

          • skitter

            As an aside: In addition to taking two steps back, I've found that discussions are much more pleasant when all parties compose multiple drafts before posting. Otherwise, we're cursing each other and the IM or e-mail interface.

          • The Professor

            I really, really, hope that we don't start talking politics here. This site is one of my very few refuges where I can avoid reading or talking politics, and I treasure it. Let us all stay friends and not talk politics or religion, please?

          • mr. mzs zsm msz esq

            I second this, every time I have ever discussed politics or religion with anyone other than very very close friends, I have regretted it, strongly so, after the fact.

          • Deartháir

            I very briefly considered creating a political blog as our next spin-off in the Half-Assed Intergalactic Hypermedia Hegemony of Hooniverse and AtomicToasters.

            Then I realized that, with engineerd being a mouth-breathing redneck, and myself being a filthy socialist hippy, we'd probably just kill each other in the first week.

            Still, it'd be an awesome first week!

          • Hmmm. How much would you want for, say, one week of sponsorship?

  • Low hanging fruit: I know which community has had the largest fall [redacted]. It did however spurn the creation of my two favorite websites, so in hindsight I am thankful… I suppose…

    • My first thought was that you meant to write either "spur" or "spawn" but, from what I've gathered, "spurn" works at least as well in this context.

  • ptschett

    Autoblog comment threads were fun, once. That ended sometime around 2007.

    • I go there to reverse-troll.

      Basically to give really well thought out, short, witty responses to bullshit, then run away.

      • But… that's what I do here, just without the part about thought, brevity, and wit.

        • Deartháir

          Pfft. That's how I write my articles. Also without the thought, brevity or wit.

          • The Professor

            You should take pride in your work, as a job well done.

          • Perhaps it's better to say "with all goals met."

  • Redacted has fallen the hardest in the places I frequent. The last weeks post about a female fighter pilot who was willing to knock out a passenger airliner on 9-11……Holy hell. The stupidity of the comment section sealed redacteds fate. They have fallen so hard so fast it makes me sad. I really miss the old place. I really do. Now, it is just a bash fest of hate.

    I don't even care to lurk because the content even seems to try and bring the evil out. Some days they nail it, but man. So sad.

    • highmileage_v1

      I hadn't been to redacted in a while, then I cruised through the other day. The commentary wasn't just infantile and obnoxious, it was painful to read. I have to agree that lately, the content is designed to provoke the lowest level of response.

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