What to do about obvious trolls? Is this what the "report" button is for?

I don't want to single anyone out, because, in my opinion, the problem is endemic, but here is but a couple of examples:


Anyone even remotely familiar with Soviet history knows that Stalin grew up in Georgia. BBC even had a documentary that mocked his accent, when he spoke Russian. This person not only lied about it, but made up a fake fact that he was from Moscow. The 4 people who upvoted this were probably sock puppets.

Another example:

"Are Americans More Obsessed With the Military Aspect of History? If so, why?"

Are Americans More Obsessed With the Military Aspect of History? If so, why?

This was at +11 until recently. The question is unsourced, silly, perpetuates a negative stereotype about an ethnic group, and completely off-topic. Clicking on the poster's profile, I see he's a self-proclaimed communist/socialist/Maxist (Which I find hard to believe, in this day and age, given how dystopian all of the many Marxist countries got, so I'm thinking it's a toll account too).

Should we do anything about the troll problem?

P.S. My point is that this SE section has very unreliable content. If you read it, you might be learning something new, but more often than not, you are just reading some made up facts that got upvoted either by sock puppets, trolls, or people who didn't know very much. The fact that you chose to downvote me to try to sweep this under the rug instead of acknowledging and addressing the problem speaks volumes.

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As a lower-level user, if you see a post that falls short of our Help Center guidelines for that kind of post, you can certainly flag it for moderator attention.

Here's the kind of things a moderator can do with a problematic post:

  • Close an answer/question. I will usually only do this only in extreme and obvious cases of malfeasance (usually involving Nazis, or the post being utter gibberish, sometimes if an answer is clearly only a comment on another answer).
  • Delete a post. See above.
  • Address offensive or abusive content. Note that these flags are prioritized
  • Address repeated problem behavior from a single user. Typically I'll notice this myself before you report it, but we mods can warn and in repeated cases temporarily ban problem users. For new unregistered users who post something bad enough for me to delete, I may just flat out destroy their entire account rather than bothering with it. Usually again these are Nazis.
  • Delete a comment. Any comment that isn't productively trying to improve the post its attached to or its question is fair game for deletion. Actually any comment is fair game for deletion.
  • Move comments to chat (a slightly gentler version of the previous item)
  • "Protect" a post from rando new users. Useful if we're getting repeated horrible answers from <100 rep users on a "hot" question.
  • Add/remove a post notice of either "Citation Needed, "Current Event" (probably not applicable here), or "Insufficient Explanation".
  • Merge the question's answers with another question. (The questions had better be identical.)
  • Lock the post so no votes, edits, comment, or answers can be added. This is useful if some serious shenanigans seem to be happening.
  • Historical Lock. This is a lock with a post notice saying basically, "We're keeping this post because its old and interesting, but this would not today be considered a valid post on this site". Your second link might be a good candidate for this. I wouldn't feel comfortable closing/deleting it due to the high number of votes and the vintage, but if asked today I highly suspect it would be closed (and deleted).
  • Convert an answer to a comment (answer only). I don't like to do this if the poster didn't have the rep to create a comment themselves, because the moderation system should not be (ab)used as a way to get around the reputation limits on commenting. It should also be a comment of at least some value.
  • Migrate an otherwise good off-topic question to another SE site where it should be on-topic.

Things normal users such as yourself can (and should) do, once they gain the required reputation:

  • Vote on questions and answers. If you think an answer is "wrong", this is what you do about it. I generally prefer to upvote right answers and leave the wrong ones alone unless they are really irredeemably atrocious, but your voting strategy is entirely your choice.
  • Leave comments explaining things an answer may have gotten wrong (eg: Stalin wasn't born in Moscow), so that it may be improved, or worst case voted on accordingly by others.
  • Vote to close off-topic posts.
  • Vote to delete closed off-topic posts that are not being fixed by the author.
  • Edit posts to fix easily fixable issues. Particularly spelling and grammar issues, missing/broken links, etc.
  • Protect a post (see section above).
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  • Why was my previous comment here deleted? Censorship. – MaxB Sep 28 '17 at 20:28

I'm not sure that I'd describe either of the examples you quoted as "obvious trolls". Nor am I convinced that trolling is endemic on this site.

In the first example, yes they have certainly made a mistake about Stalin. He correctly states that Stalin's father was from Georgia, but claimed Stalin was from "Moscow's district". You claim this was a lie (implying intent), but I don't see evidence of that. However, the main thrust of the answer is about Khrushchev, and that seems to be broadly correct (I'm not sure how well it answers the actual question, but that's a different point). Where Stalin was born seems largely irrelevant in context.

Reading the comments attached to the answer, at least one of those who upvoted the answer is an experienced, high-reputation user who is definitely NOT a sock-puppet.

The answer was posted over three years ago, and the user hasn't been active on SE since. I certainly can't find any other posts by this user on SE that support your contention that it is a troll account.

The second question has been put on hold as off-topic because it is primarily opinion-based. The OP is based in Florida, and the question is - presumably - based on their experience. Reading the answers, I notice that nobody seriously challenged the OP's observations about the US school history curriculum (and I think we've all noticed the decline in the quality of program content on the History Channel!).

[As to whether someone can be a socialist in this day and age, you may want to Google the leader of the opposition here in the UK, Jeremy Corbyn. It's not as unusual as you seem to think.]

I've looked at the OP's other posts on this site, and at his network profile. Once again, I cannot see any evidence to support your conclusion that this is a troll account.

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  • I think my answer challenged the notion that the USA is any more into it than any other country (although perhaps not directly enough to count as "seriously"). However, I'm about as American as a person comes, and not only did I not find the assertion offensive, but I wouldn't be shocked to find its correct. My problem was just that it was completely unsupported. – T.E.D. Sep 21 '17 at 5:13
  • @T.E.D. I thought the question was based on the OP's personal experience. From my personal experience of being on the receiving end of history teaching in the UK in the late 1960's and early 1970's (I missed the mid 1970's - I was living in southern Africa), Sellar and Yeatman's 1066 and All That would probably have been a good preparatory text! – sempaiscuba Sep 21 '17 at 17:02
  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – T.E.D. Sep 28 '17 at 19:41

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