This is a short story based around a grumpy comment I made about how some idiot should be arrested for “Attempted N00bery in a Private Web Forum”.
The walls of the street glowed their usual neon blue as the moderators continued their regular patrol through their local patch of the Interwebz. Things were quiet, for once, as the chattering hordes returned to Meatspace for whatever obscure purpose. No sniping over grammar or spelling, no retorting accusations of the other poster resembling Megalomaniac Dictator X, and no complaints of freedom of speech being suppressed by the rules of a privately-run server. That last one was downright frustrating, especially when people insisted that the American Constitution applied to a server in Ireland, or Italy or Canada or Bloopristan…
Mod_Patricia patted the head of her banhammer. It was slung over her shoulder, not feeling heavy, but reassuringly deadly. The head contained the programming needed to delete an account’s username and password, leaving the offending user unable to enter Webspace. Unfortunately, that didn’t stop people creating a new account after or even before the fact. The latter were particularly pathetic, requiring imaginary friends to support their points. Couldn’t they just learn to accept that they had been beaten by better arguments?
“It’s a bit quiet, don’t you think?” the other one rumbled. Mod_Jimmy was new to the job, and he showed it. He had been holding the banhammer ever since they logged in a few hours ago on his first patrol, and the enthusiasm on his face had disappeared after a few hours of plodding around the site.
“Be grateful it is quiet. Having a flame war on your hands is no picnic. And wait until you hear the accusations of suppressing freedom of speech when you stop them getting out of hand. That’s one way to identify a troll or a n00b. Neither care for rules, although with n00bs it’s because they just cannot comprehend them. Don’t bother trying to reason with them, just ban them.”
“Just ban them?” Jimmy echoed. “Don’t they deserve a chance?”
She shook her head. “Your goggles will allow you to see their profile, IP addresses and previous posts. Take a good look at the previous posts: if it’s just pointless, stupid questions and answers, and they accuse other people of being stupid for answering correctly, they’re probably trolling or just n00bs. Case in point: a few months ago there was a scammer here who – oh, back to work!” she finished as a beeping noise interrupted. She unslung the banhammer and read the glowing red lines that scrolled across her vision:
ALERT: POST REPORTED IN SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY FORUM. POST BY: 1337SN1P3R20120!. REPORTED BY: SNARKNIGHT11. REPORT MESSAGE: ANOTHER N00B HAS MUTATED INTO A SPAMMER. MESSAGE ENDS
The moderators looked at each other, resignation on one face meeting adrenaline-fuelled enthusiasm on the other. Patricia hefted her banhammer, just as somebody came around the corner. Floating in the air above their head was their username: 1337SN1P3R20120!, supposedly telling the world that this was a highly-skilled marksman – maybe against cardboard targets at point-blank range. For some reason, they were dressed in green armour that covered everything, with a reflective yellow faceplate on their helmet, and a keyboard in one hand.
1337SN1P3R20120! waddled up to a nearby wall and began slapping the keyboard. Even as he or she or conceivably it typed out an appallingly-spelt message, they screamed “How many licks do you need to finish a lollipop? LOL!” The moderators covered their ears for a moment until the n00b had finished screaming, and only then did they dare look at the post.
oMg HOW mANY liX dO u NEEED 2 fInISH a LOLIPoP??????!? OmG LOl 😀
Patricia sighed with exasperation as the n00b waddled over to another wall, plastering another pointless message that asked if it were possible to get free energy with magnets – or at least, that’s what it looked like despite the appalling spelling. The message had been all too accurate, the n00b had mutated into a spammer. And not even a commercial one either, but the pointless variety.
Another person came around the corner and stopped to read the spam. This person looked like a sour, grumpy old man in black with a username of “SnarKnight11” floating above their head. Patricia knew his posts quite well. They were cutting and acidic towards everything, including himself, the result of a highly intelligent commenter who was just sick of the rubbish he came across. He stepped up to the second post and began, with malicious afterthought and icily-correct English, to type out a reply that the n00b should have read THIS post, which explained in detail why free energy is not possible. And by the way, posting the same thing repeatedly was considered spam on this board and against the rules.
1337SN1P3R20120! must have been alerted to the post, because he/she/it came back and stared at it as though baffled by the fact that it wasn’t written in leet-speak. Jimmy didn’t know this, but the n00b was about to explode at the subtle request to please follow the rules of the site.
1337SN1P3R20120 began banging the keyboard in a frenzy, churning out pointless messages of outrage that accused SnarKnight11 of being the n00b, that rules were for “FAGOTs” and “loSARS“, not him or herself because “I\m A GEEek!!11!! LOL I r 1337!1!!!!!!! N00b “. And above all, “FReeEDOM OF SpEEECH RUlES1!1!!”
SnarKnight11 calmly read the torrent of abuse and, living up to his name, began to sarcastically reply to each point in turn. Jimmy was at first disgusted by the cool, acidic manner in which the Netizen replied to somebody he knew would be banned shortly, but when he actually read the messages, he just had to smile.
“You appear to have mistaken me for a member of your original species.”
“For the record, I am actually asexual, not that it makes any difference to your argument’s exquisite lack of validity.”
“Ah yes, a leet geek. Protip: even geeks need to know how to use proper English. Are you even out of primary school yet?”
“Oh noes! I’m oppressing freedom of speech. Take a hint, n00b: Freedom of speech laws apply to public spaces, but this is a private site. Their house, their rules.”
Patricia grunted and raised the banhammer. It was good for the new moderator to see what people could be like, but now they had to move in and end this before it got out of hand. She keyed a button on her wrist-guard, opening a direct channel to the n00b, and took a deep breath.
“ATTENTION! You are under request for spamming, insulting a fellow member of the site, and extreme N00bery. Your account will be deleted. You may appeal to a moderator via email-”
“HALE M3 PLZ!!11!11! LOL!” 1337SN1P3R20120 wailed, waddling towards her and waving the keyboard frantically. She ignored the screams as best as she could, side-stepping the pathetic lunge from the keyboard, just as Jimmy slammed his hammer down into the side of the n00b’s helmet with a bouncing, rubbery thud. Before 1337SN1P3R20120 could even scream and accuse them of another heinous crime, they started to disintegrate in front of everyone’s eyes.
“Good work on your first banning, Jimmy,” Patricia remarked as they slung their hammers. She looked up at the spam on the walls and grimaced. “Now, we need to clean up this crap. You did bring the cleaning gear, didn’t you?”
“I did, but what about him?” the junior moderator asked, pointing towards the other poster. “He basically trolled the other poster.”
Patricia shook her head. “SnarKnight has been around for a while and knows damn well his posts replying to the spammer will be deleted. His problem is that he can’t resist replying to abject stupidity, and he actually does post useful information a lot of the time. Besides, I saw you trying not to laugh at his posts. Now, let’s get to work.“