The Critics Respond, Part Forty

Sea lion woman, black dress on
For a thousand dollars, she wail and she moan
Sea lion woman
— “See-Line Woman”, traditional

The common name for disrupting or attacking someone under the guise of a legitimate concern or lack of knowledge is “concern trolling”, but I also like the neologism Sealioning. It’s a tactic that is currently enjoying a sort of Golden Age on the Internet because it’s hugely passive-aggressive and because it is generally supposed to be immune to a libel suit. You can’t go on a stock-trading website and post “WMT (or the stock of your choice) is headed for a big fall because they’re engaging in massive Social Security fraud,” because you will be the target of a civil suit before you get home that evenings. Seriously. Don’t do that, no matter how anonymous you are or think you are. People have lost everything they own, and more, doing that. You can, however, probably get away with posting, “I’m just really, really worried about all these rumors about Social Security fraud regarding WMT. What does that mean anyway? I’m just trying to understand these rumors I’ve heard.”

Yesterday, a commenter on something I wrote posted “What is a MILF? I don’t understand.” You’d have to be an utter fool, or suffering from recent head trauma, not to understand that the sole purpose of making that post is to “sealion”; after all, it’s literally three times as difficult as getting the definitive answer yourself. The easiest thing for me to do would have been simply not to respond, but instead I made fun of the troll character who posted. Now we’re in the middle of yet another civility discourse over at TTAC.

My purpose here, however, is not to comment on the rightness or wrongness of the original comment, my response, the responses that followed, or the subsequent site-wide convulsion. I’m no longer the E-I-C over there and I don’t set policy; I don’t even really want to comment on TTAC policy in public. It’s tough enough to run that site without having your predecessors second-guess your decisions. Instead, my purpose is to discuss why I treat some commenters with absolute respect, even when I disagree with them or they are personally offensive to me, and why I treat some commenters like they are utterly beneath contempt and completely deserving of the worst ridicule that can be heaped upon their heads. How do I determine who is “real” and who is not? The answer: fingerprinting.

In the Morse Code era, the phrase “fist” referred to the unique style that every telegraph operator brought to their communications. The phrase “recognized the fist” comes up again and again in various wartime and spy literature; it refers to hearing someone tapping out Morse Code and being able to distinguish the operator by their style. This was far from a trivial detail of the telegraph era; in more than one case lives were saved (or lost) because someone was able to differentiate between who an operator was supposed to be and who they actually were.

Fast-forward a hundred years, and it’s now possible to spy on what someone is typing by leaving a phone on their desk and having it pick up the vibrations from the physical activity of typing. (A laser mike pointed at your window works equally well, unfortunately.) Your typing style is like a fingerprint. It doesn’t even take a high-power microprocessor to determine what you’re doing on a computer. My first wife claimed to be able to tell, from a distance of across our house, whether I was programming, writing for a website, engaging in an Instant Messenger chat, or arguing with someone online on my old IBM Model M mechanical keyboard. Well, I shouldn’t say “claimed”. More like she just plain knew. Her accuracy rate was effectively 100%. Never once did she accuse me of not working when I was working, or vice versa.

Incidentally, this idea of being able to identify patterns in communications behavior is also how most cryptography is undone. There’s a brilliant scene in the novel Cryptonomicon where a highly complex cipher is broken because a cipher clerk doesn’t always close her eyes when she reaches into a bowl full of wooden balls — and although that scene is written right at the edge of the reader’s credulity, it has mathematical basis in fact. The whole difference between “128-bit” and “2048-bit” encryption is how effective the method is in reducing the “fist” or “fingerprint” of a conversation.

I could go on, and I’d really like to, because this sort of thing absolutely turns my crank, but before I make it all the way to Merkle-Hellman backpacking let’s return to the topic at hand. How do I “know” the difference between legitimate commenters with an axe to grind and people who are simply trolling for the proverbial lulz? It’s simple. I just read all of their comments. Every single one of them. And then I ask myself: “What is the ‘fist’ here?”

Let’s compare two commenters. We will call them “Commenter A” and “Commenter B”. We will look at the last 100 comments they’ve made on “Website T”. This information is all publicly available via Google Search.

Commenter A breakdown. Totals may not add because some posts have multiple topics:

  • Seven comments on automotive topics
  • Two of which are about specific cars
  • Thirty-six comments where Donald Trump is the primary topic
  • Fifty-four comments about homophobia, sexism, transphobia, or racism, usually identifying an instance of said behavior in another commenter or contributor.
  • Two comments that are a demand for a personal apology from a contributor for behavior that upset them.

Commenter B breakdown, same caveats apply:

  • Seventy-three comments on automotive topics
  • Forty-one of which reference Chrysler SRT products in general or the HELLCAT in particular
  • Nineteen political comments, about half of which refer to Donald Trump
  • Eleven posts about their financial success on YouTube
  • Five posts criticizing site management

Now, which commenter is legitimate, if annoying to some, and which one is the troll? Obviously, it is context-dependent. If “Website T” is a transgender activism forum, then “Commenter A” is on-message, straying towards the irrelvant topic of automobiles in just one of every nineteen posts. “Commenter B”, on the other hand, can’t seem to shut up about HELLCATS, which is absolutely inappropriate for a transgender discussion group.

I think most people would have no trouble banning “Commenter B” because he is shitposting, to use the current vernacular. He’s destroying a legitimate discussion about transgender rights by filling it full of shit about HELLCATS. Way back in the day, my brother and I were on a local music discussion forum where all sorts of trolling and drama took place. One day, five new commenters appeared. They were all pretending to be famous WWF wrestlers, like “Classy Fred Blassie” and that one guy from the Slim Jim ads. Ninety-five percent of their posts were about wrestling, but every once in a while somebody would forget to log out of their account before responding to a legitimate discussion (on a board that did not permit editing after the fact) and you’d get something like:

SpringsteenFan: I need a new solid-state performance amp that I can drag to small gigs like the one we having coming up at Oldfield’s. Anybody have any experience with the Fender Super Sonic?



Classy Fred Blassie: I think that Sam Ash on Morse has two of those in stock, I was in there recently and they were on sale for $499. You might want to see if it’s enough amp for your venue, though — that place is notorious for sucking up high frequencies in the curtains on both sides of the stage.

Five minutes later:


You get the idea. That stuff would have been interesting and/or funny on a message board that was wrestling-related but on a music message board it was literally background noise. After a couple of months, people pretended that the “wrestlers” didn’t exist and shortly after that they disappeared.

Let’s say, for the sake of argument, that “Website T” is neither a transgender activism board nor a pro-wrestling board nor a music-discussion board, but rather an automotive-topics website? What is the “fingerprint” of a poster who can only bring himself to mention cars one out of every nineteen posts? What purpose does that person have to be there?

There are really only three potential answers to that question:

Answer A: This person really likes reading about cars but they are also hugely sensitive to gender issues. So much so that eighteen out of every nineteen comments they make is on gender issues.

Answer B: This person is someone who thrives on conflict and the vicarious thrill that some folks get from being offended. He reads the site hoping that he will have a chance to be offended and to lash out.

Answer C: This person is just starting arguments for fun, or because they have a problem with the site, or because some men just want to watch the world burn.

What’s the real answer? I’ll give you a little hint: it ain’t Answer A, and I’ll tell you why. Despite the earnest sealion protests of various “character” commenters on TTAC and elsewhere, very few people will continue good-faith participation on a board where they don’t like the content or one where they are frequently offended. To use Mark Stevenson’s “dinner party” analogy — would you go back every night to a dinner party where the vast majority of the guests didn’t like you and didn’t want to converse on topics that interested you? Of course you wouldn’t — unless you were spoiling for a fight.

When I ran TTAC, we had plenty of trolls and fake posters and “character” posters on the site. I let them be. After all, a click from some mook pretending to be an oppressed transgender woman pays just as much as a click from a legitimate reader. I believed wholeheartedly in milking those people for cash. Oddly enough, we didn’t have nearly as much grievance trolling back then, but make no mistake: I welcomed every customer of the website (and its advertising) with open arms.

If “April” tried to post on this website, I’d treat “her” with every ounce of contempt at my disposal. I don’t make money here. The purpose of this site is to foster discussion between legitimate, authentic commenters and our contributors. That’s why BigTrucks, Alex Dykes, and Cameron Aubernon are all here and April is not, instead of the other way ’round.

Not every commenter here at Riverside Green agrees with me or even likes me. Here’s an example: “JimZ”. Over the past year or so, Jim has decided that he really dislikes me. To the point where he suggested on TTAC that I should “suck off a shotgun”. But he’s welcome to post and comment here, because I believe that he is operating from a heartfelt and authentic place. He’s a real person, with a real name, and genuine opinions. He’s not here to troll. He doesn’t have to agree with me, or even be all that courteous to me, in order to have a place here. I’ll always treat him with respect and as much courtesy as I can muster.

But a fake account from someone who pretends to be an oppressed transgender woman? Not only is that contemptible on the face of things, it is also genuinely offensive to real transgender people who are trying to make their way in the world. When I hired Cameron Aubernon as the industry’s first (and, four years later, only) transgender contributor, I did so based on the quality of Cameron’s work, not some politically-correct attempt to kiss the feet of people with an imaginary grievance. And when I saw what Cameron has gone through to live life as a woman, it touched my heart and my honest sympathies. I’m proud to support the rights of real people who are facing real problems in the real world. But a 95% troll account? A basement-dwelling jerkoff who thinks he’s being funny? A sealion? No way. Concern trolling isn’t welcome here. Particularly not when it makes light of genuine struggles by using those struggles as a way to “score points” on a website. I believe in a “big tent” approach at Riverside Green. But there’s no room under the tent for sea lions.

89 Replies to “The Critics Respond, Part Forty”

  1. AvatarMax Hoffman

    I had no idea Cameron was trans. Nice to see that while incel cucks like JimZ deride you as some bro-Buchanan troglodyte, you hired a (very capable) trans individual and didn’t feel the need to virtue signal about it.

    • Avatarhank chinaski

      Albeit one without a driver’s license (at the time).

      As a bro-Buchanan troglodyte, I suppose I should take offense.

      • AvatarNickoo

        Let’s not forget that in the land of the free, men aren’t free to legally pay a consenting woman for sex…

        • Avatarronnie schreiber

          It’s not just about cash for sex. Every heterosexual woman has her terms for intimacy. For some it’s a professional degree and a 5000 square foot house. For others it’s $150/he. To be fair, for some it’s about being a man with integrity and values. I’m general societies get the men with whom women will have sex. Guys will jump through a lot of hoops for jellyroll. If women have high standards we get better men.

          Instead we have single moms texting half nude selfies with their three year old in the background.

          • AvatarPanzer

            Not sure I agree with the notion that it’s up to the women to ‘improve’ the men, every man should understand that it’s up to himself alone to make himself a better man.
            But yeah, single motherhood is something that should be discouraged if at all possible, the only women i’ve ever seen make it work are a small extraordinarily strong willed minority that just seem to be able to brute force their way through whatever life throws at them.

    • AvatarE. Bryant

      Yeah, Jack’s point was driven home with authority when I came to the description of Commenter B… and I haven’t even been a what one would consider to be a regular reader of TTAC since a few years ago.

      Excellent post all-around, Jack!

  2. Avatarsilentsod

    The idea of the “fist” or fingerprint had not been articulated to me before (I think I just said patterns in my own comment in that thread). Interesting to know there are better terms for it and now I am resisting buying Cryptonomicon for a read.

    I do think it’s insulting how many people will defend trollish behavior as if, for once, the poster is being honest and earnest.

  3. AvatarMental

    I am sure that’s sure that’s well and good, but has anyone heard about the MX-5 Playcup car and it’s inability to keep its shocks from leaking?

  4. AvatarTedward

    Huh. Now you’ve got me wondering what my comment trail looks like. I’ve been on ttac since the vagina article, and I’ve definitely gotten older.

    This explains your animosity to April. I never really paid attention to get comment history before I noticed you guys sniping at each other.

    • AvatarCJinSD

      What was the vagina article? Please don’t consider this sealioning. I doubt using the truth about cars vagina article as search terms would take me there.

      • Avatarrpn453

        You’d be surprised, CJ; as was I. I just performed that exact search on Google: “the truth about cars vagina article”. The first link shows a Wikipedia explanation of the vagina article, the second the article itself, and the third is a TTAC article with the headline “Subaru’s ‘Flying Vagina’ Has Been Shot Down”.

  5. Avatareverybodyhatesscott

    TTAC doesn’t have long before it’s fully SJW converged. I don’t even bother with the main page anymore. BTSR could be a little annoying but at least he talked about something. His hellcat post here made his hellcat love a little more understandable.

  6. AvatarBigtruckseriesreview

    I stopped by TTAC earlier today and saw the new Comment Guidelines and reminders…

    Every now and then I come through to see what’s new.


    I could EASILY start a troll account from my job using a new IP address and then carry it onto my mobile device, but IT’S JUST NOT WORTH IT. It’s boring there.

    So now I get to find out what happened.

    JACK BARUTH: One thing I’d ask is that you mirror some of the more interesting topic questions TTAC does manage to have from time to time. I saw “What exactly is a Crossover” and “what Killed the Accord”.

    I was nearly moved to try to comment under a guest name…

  7. TmkreutzerTmkreutzer

    The center of gravity at TTAC has always been the Best and Brightest. Early on, Robert Farago’s highly charged articles attracted a slew of insiders and their comments offered real insight into the auto industry at a time when domestic companies were struggling. That made the site mandatory reading for a lot of people and, with their added insights, the site flourished.

    Over the years that followed, commenters and contributors came and went and the site’s focus expanded to include people from all across the car hobby. TTAC was a vibrant community, but its expanded focus, I think, caused it to drop off the mandatory reading list and many of the industry insiders fell away. That was OK, though. The site retained its controversial “edge” and the conversation kept on rollicking along.

    A few years ago, however, the site’s “edge” began to be blunted. It began with legitimate requests to limit images that included soft-core shibari porn and severed limbs and eventually language that would cause people problems if the viewed the site at work. From there, step by step it has evolved into what we have today. Articles that a few years ago would have stirred the readers’ emotions, solicited disagreement and caused spirited – but genuine – discussion are virtually forbidden.

    I understand that in these politically contentious times no one wants to read page after page of political screeds but, it is part and parcel with the times in which we live. But rather than exorcise every trace of personal opinion in the hopes of becoming some sort of bland safe-space, I think TTAC needs to celebrate its irreverent roots. It should be a place where contributors and commenters speak from the heart on the important issues that affect the auto manufacturing industry, the sales industry and the hobby in general and a place where people are free to have a bit of fun. The only time the site admin should get involved is when people are legitimately being abusive to one another.

    Right now, the site is seriously lacking in “fun” and as BTSR so aptly put it, “it’s boring.” That’s unfortunate.

    • AvatarBigtruckseriesreview

      I wrote a few articles for TTAC.

      I wrote one about “using HELOC to buy cars” under the name Flashpoint.

      I made a couple SRT contributions.

      I was going to offer Stevenson Hellcat stuff, Jeep stuff, Hyundai stuff and Tesla Model X stuff.
      He turned me down.

      His new moderators quickly silenced and rejected me.

      That’s old news now.

      My Youtube is on FIRE.

      When the Demon, Trackhawk and Durango SRT get here, I’m going to put out enough content within a single season to earn ridiculous royalties and profit.

      I can overlook “myself”, but for Stevenson and his morons to be so short-sighted that they misuse an asset like me – is simply unforgivable. I’m looking at it purely from the business-profit-Ferenghi aspect.

      Stupid. Just plain stupid.

      But that’s fine. I’m doing my own thing.

      I expect to DOUBLE my subscribers to 50,000 once I get the Trackhawk.

      • TmkreutzerTmkreutzer

        It’s unfortunate that TTAC didn’t pick up more of your material. You are just what the site needs, a real character.

        People either love you or they love to hate you. I think everything you wrote would be read again and again and, as people all weighed in, the comments would almost always be in the triple digits.

    • AvatarKevin Jaeger

      I have no idea what the current EIC thinks he’s doing with the site. I can only guess he thinks he needs to ensure it’s a safe space to preserve his future employment possibilities in Canada, so anything that has the slightest risk of triggering the outrage mob has to go.

      Frankly, it makes the place boring and I only check it if I have a particularly unpleasant task I’m trying to avoid at work.

      • Avatararbuckle

        I think you’ve pretty much nailed it.

        MarkS seems like a nice enough guy and I think he wants TTAC to be an “edgy” place that doesn’t just stick to cars, that is why he is willing to publish the stiff Jack and Bark write. Still, it is fairly obvious that his dream is to be a big-shot newspaper writer and having his record scarred by “supporting” some of the more controversial Baruthian articles puts that in jeopardy.

        This has been an issue with all of the younger editors on the site. Ed, Derek, and now Mark all see TTAC as the stepping stone to greater things while Farago, Bertel, and Jack all had the combination of age, autism, and syphilis-driven insanity to foster an IDGAF attitude.

        • AvatarKevin Jaeger

          Whatever else there is to be said about autism and syphilis-driven insanity, it makes for more entertaining writing.

        • AvatarMax Hoffman

          Ed and Derek were being offered consulting gigs by Wall Street firms when they were running TTAC. How could you expect them to stay at a $50k/year job when you are getting offers like that just a few years out of school?

          • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

            To the best of my knowledge, Ed is still living on his dad’s goodwill. I don’t think he had any tangible prospects out of TTAC.

  8. Avatararbuckle

    In all seriousness, why do you still write for TTAC? Do you just like the cash right now?

    Is it some mis-guided loyalty? Because there is nothing to be loyal to anymore. The TTAC that exists in 2017 has as much to do with RF’s original vision for the site as the Cadillac of 2017 has to do with the Cadillac of the 1920s. TTAC is just going to get more pandering and more sponsored and more affiliated until is totally swallowed up becoming a bizarre mix of Jalopnik and Autoguide.

    The end result of all this is only going to go down two ways:

    1. You get “fired” from TTAC and leave on bad terms. Either VS tells you to buzz off, MarkS tells you to buzz off because certain commenters complain loudly enough, or you get pi$sed over an editorial decision and leave in a sea of sour grapes. This will cause a HUGE sh*tshow.

    2. Your writing gets watered down and the easily offended commenters hold you up as their castrated trophy. I already see this hope in some of the condescending comments that go “Hey Jack, you write pretty good when you aren’t being a terrible racist that wants to kill and rape all immigrants”.

    Why not just tell MarkS and VS that you want your writing to occasionally drift into controversial topics that have the potential to passionately rile people up and if that isn’t something they think has a place on TTAC right now then it’s best to amicably part ways?

    • AvatarBigtruckseriesreview

      Either Jack or his brother is going to get into a fight with an SJW on TTAC and it may prompt one or both to quit them.

      I’m actually amazed Jack’s still there after the Karesh Incident.

      I told Stevenson in an email that I’m going to wait for my turn to be Editor-in-Chief because he was running the site into the ground and I wanted to make TTAC GREAT AGAIN.

    • Avatar98horn

      I’d be willing to bet that “Jack’s writing gets watered down” is not the way things will go. Which is fine. I followed Jack to Road & Track, and I’ll likely follow him wherever he writes. I’m sure many others feel the same way.

  9. AvatarDave L

    What surprised me was how fast the comments went nuclear…against you. I enjoy the comments section almost as must as the actual content and for the most part look at it as opposition research.

    • AvatarBigtruckseriesreview

      The HATE and ANGER is always present.

      It’s just suppressed by the Moderators.

      I, myself want to tap into the hate like how they open a portal to Hell in DOOM to steal their energy.

      The comments against Jack were made by people who wanted to make them before, but couldn’t.

  10. Avatarronnie schreiber

    With the exception of btsr, just about every ttac commenter who has been banned was someone about whom I’d already complained to management.

  11. AvatarEconomist

    It always makes me chuckle when you treat the trolls with contempt, Jack. It is rare and refreshing to see bullshit called in so public a fashion. I wonder what brings the concern trolls to TTAC?

  12. AvatarWill

    Ha! The “identity” thing is so totally bogus. I’m amazed at how sensitive people are by someone they don’t know saying something about them. Yeesh.

  13. AvatarMrGreenMan

    Isn’t it time for Stevenson to resign based on his own words last time around? He’s failed, over and over and over again. He cannot make TTAC into The Truth About Canada.

  14. AvatarMrGreenMan

    They’ve only got 106 comments on the article about tone policing Mao would be proud of – and 20-30 of those are stupid pun games – that place is dead. It should have 200 comments if it was one of the first few dozen such articles. At least the victim bully over there isn’t getting much action, but nobody cares anymore. These things happen so often. They take the old girl’s corpse out, stick it in the front seat, try to straighten her into the semblance of sitting there, but she’s been dead a while, and the flesh is definitely off the bone.

  15. Avatarrpn453

    Your initial reply to that April dude was the second most entertaining thing I read yesterday, behind the article itself. Trolling the trolls. Apparently even trolls are now worthy of the SJW brigade.

    The original April troll post was removed but the replies remain. Somebody’s making it look like you initiated the whole thing.

  16. Avatarjz78817


    I don’t dislike you.

    I don’t hate you.

    I honestly don’t wish any ill whatsoever upon you.

    I wouldn’t read what you write if I hated you.

    Hell, if you were standing on the shoulder of the road with your bike, I’d stop and help you.

    I’ve met a few automotive journalists. You’re the only one of those few I respect.

    I’m just disliking more and more of the things you’ve said recently, and the increasingly strident tone of them. pretty much all about one particular topic.

    But I have a shit-ton of respect for you in how you referred to me in your post above. No, I don’t like being called out, but what I said was worth calling out and you treated me with an amazing amount of restraint.

    I was way out of line with what I said on TTAC. I’m sorry for even thinking it, much less writing it. Especially since I’ve done it once before (to someone else on RG.) And for sure, it’s something I admittedly would never say to anyone’s face (yay Internet Tough Guys.) But it’s up there, and I own it. Can’t take it back.

    So it seems I’ve missed some cues or something; I’m guessing you know or have a good idea who “April” actually is, while I took “her” at “her” word. I know you hired Cameron when you were EIC so I couldn’t figure out why you were going so hard after “April.” See, I dislike “political correctness” as much as the next person in that I consider “political correctness” as having to walk on eggshells to avoid the merest possibility of offending or “triggering” anyone. e.g. the Seinfeld episode where Jerry is dating a Native American woman and panics about saying the word “reservation” at all. The problem I have with it in the real world is that some people seem to think it means they can be absolute dicks to anyone they want, and any backlash is “political correctness.”

    and honestly, I don’t think that’s all on you and Bark; thinking back I’d wager around half of your “TRIGGERED” references were in jest.

    So yeah, there it is. I still agree with you and Bark more than I disagree with you. but for some reason, our disagreements have pissed me off way more lately. I own up to that too. if there’s one thing this election season has done, it’s normalized us all being ugly to each other, and I’ve been caught up in that myself.

    and yes, I’ve typically used some variant of my name for my online handles. It’s who I am. But sometimes I fly off the handle which can hurt me more than you might think.

    So… yeah. I don’t dislike you at all. I’ll continue to read what you write at TTAC and Road & Track. I guess I’ll just either hold my tongue or step back and come up with a measured response if I disagree with you. but having some people here dismiss me as an “incel cuck” isn’t good for anyone.

    • AvatarWill

      You seem to apologize a lot for being “way out of line”; you’ve done it here a few times, maybe not have such a short “trigger” over an opinion?

  17. AvatarDirty Dingus McGee

    Before typing your comment, many folks would do well to ask themselves the following;

    Would I say the same face to face to a patch holder of a 1% motorcycle club?

  18. AvatarJDN

    To be fair your exwife probably could clearly hear the differences in typing from across the house with a model m. Your neighbors probably could as well.

    • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

      I’ve got Danger Girl on a Unicomp right now… sometimes it sounds like somebody’s dropping rocks in a woodchipper!

      • AvatarJDN

        Glorious – despite repeated offers my wife won’t use one.

        It is one made in America product I wholeheartedly support. Too bad for unicomp they’re damn near indestructible and not much of a repeat purchase

        • Avatarsilentsod

          I hadn’t heard of Unicomp before now, I may need one as part of my endless search for the perfect peripheral set.

  19. AvatarAoletsgo

    I read your dealership article yesterday and thought it was a fine short story. I started reading all the comments but after a while I got bored and it made my head hurt so I clicked the site off and went on to other things.
    Carry on.

  20. AvatarNickoo

    I miss Bertel Schmitt as EIC. TTAC has gotten that bad. I don’t know where the fuck the current comentariat came from, but holy shit, I’ve never seen a shittier group of regulars on a blog. Mark, I hope you’re reading this…

  21. Avatar1A

    TTAC, The Truth About Canada. I just recently read that it actually is part of a Canadian company. Here I thought it was a running joke (no one really cares about Canada, what can I say, eh?).

    The place is a drag. The one guy always talking about how close he’s getting to buy this car or that car (used, in 10 years); the one guy who always has to be the first to comment (and if he doesn’t make it, he’ll comment on the first comment!); the one guy who buys lots and lots of Audis and VWs and his grandma got a Kia; the perpetually offended; ET CETERA! The same 12 stories hashed and rehashed.

    Please keep your border wide open, Canada!

  22. AvatarJeff Zekas

    Hey Jack, the only articles I read on TTAC are the articles written by you and your brother. I never read the comments (or rarely do) so I miss out on most of the drama. But yeah, TTAC seems so totally bland, like advertising brochures from GM, with the exception of the Baruth brothers.

  23. AvatarOrenwolf


    As both a frequent commenter here and on TTAC, *and* as a moderator of a forum that, by itself, gets almost 5 million page views/month, I have to say that your insights here are spot-on, and extremely insightful. They do you justice and I have a great deal of respect for anyone with *that* level of focus regarding trends and personality archetypes in online forums.

    May I humbly suggest that one of the reasons you are able to do this is the fact that you have access to poster information (an easy way to look at past posts or otherwise itemize a posters history), and that providing those tools *to your commenters* would go a long way to rooting out *all* kinds of trolls?

    I’ve been advocating for a long time that sites like TTAC migrate to a commenting system like Discourse, which gives you all of these features and more. The software is free, comes in a dirt simple socket container that beads a measly 1G of ram on-server, and has deep-levels of integration with WordPress. I’d *love* to convince you to consider it for riverside green and help make this place a *real* community. Ping me if you’d like to chat about it.

    (No affiliation with them other than being a fan, and user of their software).


    The only way to defeat SEALIONS and SEALIONING is aggressive troll tactics.

    Basically you just need to make wild accusations and statements- and then back away from the conversation/argument when they demand facts or evidence.

    But you also need to be able to parry with Sealioning of your own.

    Especially when dealing with LGBTQIA and anyone else who wants to add their own acronyms…

    I passed the Sealioning course when I got my degree from the Donald J Trump School of Trolling.

  25. AvatarDale

    “There’s a brilliant scene in the novel Cryptonomicon where a highly complex cipher is broken because a cipher clerk doesn’t always close her eyes when she reaches into a bowl full of wooden balls”

    Not unheard of. In “Between Silk and Cyanide”, SOE Cryptographer Leo Marks relates a similar story.

  26. AvatarFrank Williams

    Mark contacted last year about coming back to TTAC (I was the Managing Editor during most of the Farago years, for those who may not remember me). One thing he specifically wanted me to do was resurrect the “Ten Worst” award and inject some attitude back into the site. When I broached the subject of what they would pay me for my time, the discussions abruptly ended. Apparently they still expect their writers to work for next-to-nothing. And, as we can see from the comments above, they get what they pay for.

  27. AvatarCrancast

    I do not think you will even find 100 comments from me on TTAC. I read, enjoy, move on. Well not so much over there lately. Enjoyed this one enough to finally post a comment here. Very happy you have this little site, thank you. Good stuff. Great read.

    On the topic at hand, the only problem – and for the record I personally enjoy it – with going over the top to battle/callout these losers is when the regulars and the EIC have that big ‘ole hook in their mouth having been reeled in by said losers. Clearly outrage-rules-more outrage-restate rules is more ‘fun’, and when that pattern is rewarded and reinforced, we have the wreck that is TTAC with no Bark and the QOTD as content.

    As a .01% commenter, I have an ask and totally understand you ignoring it as $$ talks. But please stop contributing to the QOTD. The format, the click-bait, the lame ass comments it feeds is a fucking embarrassment that perfectly shows where the TTAC is right now. Better to be the band in Titanic ….

  28. AvatarTony LaHood

    Jack, I’m glad you started this site. I regard you as the best writer at TTAC, and once commented that you were slumming there, rather like Heifetz playing a bowling alley lounge. The current TTAC is a mismanaged and unrecognizable version of the original. I still skim through it for the rare useful article, but usually skip the comments. Frankly, I don’t know how or why some people manage to find offensive subtext in virtually everything, but suddenly it’s become a whole cottage industry.

    When did mere disagreement become hate speech, and why the demand for silencing opposing views instead of debating or simply ignoring them? No one has the right not to be offended, and when freedom of speech does not belong to everyone, it belongs to no one.

    I encourage you to exercise said freedom with exuberance, Jack.

  29. AvatarJames

    Bertel was a good writer when he chose to be. I was hoping he would write more, after he left TTAC, but that didn’t happen. I hope Jack and Bark continue to write after leaving TTAC.

    Mark S. really is too easy to concern-troll.

    There’s too much of this neo-impostor syndrome on the Internet, now, where people believe they aren’t qualified, and are right about that. What they write isn’t fun to read.

  30. Avatararbuckle

    FWIW, April got banned from TTAC today. And VoGo got banned a couple weeks ago.

    I really think Mark S’s heart is in the right place, but he needs to be willing to stand up to the mob more often.

  31. Avatarlzaffuto

    I don’t know if it was Jack or Bark, but someone here wrote an article on the topic of “There is only one correct opinion on any given subject today”. Not only is there only one correct opinion, but if you hold a different opinion, you are offensive, and therefore a terrible person and every opinion you hold is wrong and invalid by extension. You should be banned and shunned by society at large. It used to be we could argue about differences in opinion and still be friends. If you disagree on one of today’s “hot button issues” (abortion, LGBT rights, race relations, politics, immunizations, immigration, climate change, religion, I could go on forever…) you are immediately declared a traitor and completely ignored by half the country. Even worse there are people like “April” hanging out just waiting to be offended and call you out on these topics.

    • AvatarBobR

      I agre that TTAC has become boring. The SJW gang have driven out the reral people. IfI had a magic wand, Id make Milo the EIC!

      • AvatarMrGreenMan

        I am interested in knowing which cars go best with a $15,000 pearl bracelet. Maybe we’d also get a throwback reference to Bertel’s desire to feature pink and purple vehicles?

        “Darling, this Chrysler is a turd. They can’t even sell this to people in Iowa. Sorry, no offense, but it’s true.”

      • AvatarRonnie Schreiber

        I’d be seriously interested in writing about cars for the new media business that Milo is starting. I think there’s a market for car enthusiasts who aren’t left wingers particularly because cars and freedom (and capitalism) go together.

        I don’t have to give you examples of how Jalopnik tilts left, that’s obvious. Wait, I will give you an example because of how egregious it was. Raphael Orlove, whom I personally like and respect for his passion for cars and skills as a writer, wrote a piece on the economic meltdown of Venezuela, blaming it all of basing a country’s economy solely on oil, without ever mentioning the word “socialism” once.

        However, one of the editors at Jalopnik told me that (this was before Hogan/Thiel bankrupted Gawker) that they were regarded as troglodytes by the other people in the Gawker organization, simply because they liked cars.

        Years ago, before they became notoriously famous, after Andrew Breitbart died, I pitched Joel Pollack on “Big Cars” to go with their Big Hollywood and Big Government subsites. He said he was interested but that their plate was full at the time.

        Man, if I had a budget to work with, I think I could put together a pretty cool automotive publication.

        BTW, when Milo was in Ann Arbor to debate Julie Binder, a radical lesbian feminist, Jack told me to give Milo a kiss for him. Melania Trump would kill to have Milo’s skin.

  32. Avatarrtr

    True, we might have to suffer through some gayness, on the other hand Milo is a master at crushing Social Justice Warriors and Liberals – something Mark fails at. The Baruth brothers on the other hand, are pretty good at dealing with those sorts of trolls.

  33. AvatarRobbieAZ

    I still like the articles over on TTAC, especially yours Jack. But the commenters over there have become increasingly hostile to anyone who espouses a non-left-wing view about anything. I routinely censor myself over there when considering whether to respond to these attacks. Many is the time I’ve written out a comment, changed it multiple times, and finally just deleted it and didn’t comment at all. I find it’s usually not worth arguing with people who believe their opinions to be indisputable facts.

  34. AvatarDjarum

    I have no problem with articles being overly political on an automotive forum. The problem I have is that people troll hard over there and in the discussion of something specifically automotive, somehow politics or social agendas derail the comments section. Just like April’s comment completely derailed Jacks article and comments over there.

    I kind of feel like the comments section/B&B has pretty much turned into reddit.

  35. AvatarDirtRoads

    Too bad the comments were closed on that article as I just felt the urge to toss in my two cents. But I knew there’d be something here about it.

    Now that I’ve read through 80-odd comments, I’ve forgotten what my witty comment was about.

    Damned old age anyway.

    GET OFF MY LAWN! *shaking fist*


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