Friday, July 17, 2015

Do Entire Troll Websites Exist?

By Professor Doom

     For the most part, my blog has done pretty good service, and I’ve received much favorable commentary. Only one site has had anything truly negative to say.

     The site? Yes, there’s a whole website dedicated to discussing buying various online college degrees. This is a great idea, and apparently a popular site…but I can’t help be a little suspicious that this is a troll site—not exactly on the up-and-up. There aren’t nearly enough warnings about the many pitfalls of online and for-profit education, and overall, everyone is really enthusiastic about all the great degrees for sale.

      Anyway, Confessions of a College Professor came up…there was little vitriol poured on the many questionable schools discussed in the forums, but the posters had plenty for me.

      I tried to log into the site, to help them understand what’s really going on, but couldn’t do it. Even with two different e-mail addresses, I couldn’t get a confirmation e-mail (and yes I checked the ol’ spam folder) so I could post…as though the site didn’t want any dissenting input.

      So, allow me to address some of the criticisms of my blog (and, again, it’s curious, not a single poster there thought to post on my blog or even use my contact form):

As I was reading through his essay I started to pick apart his logical fallacies, then decided it wasn't worth my time.

     Darn, I would have liked to have seen these fallacies; there were certainly plenty from the posters. What’s interesting about this site is the posters consistently list the degrees they’ve bought in their signatures. It’s funny, I’ve been posting to forums for years and have made thousands of posts; it never occurred to me to list my credentials…every…single…post.

     I like the part where he claims that as soon as employers learn that an applicant has an online degree, they immediately throw that applicant's resume into the trash. Every single employer does that. 100%. No exceptions! Amazing!

      I never said 100%, no exceptions. But, the fact still remains that many employers do, and every hiring committee I’ve been on has tossed such applications right in the trash. I fully acknowledge someone, somewhere, takes online degrees seriously, and I’ve even mentioned how you can get an online degree taken seriously (namely, get employed first, let the employer know you, and THEN, maybe, your degree will count for something at your current place of employment). If I could log in, I could clarify that straw man fallacy.

     Of to another bizarre post:

A few truths . . .

First, bloggers are people who can’t be published elsewhere or who have lived out their usefulness in the writer’s marketplace. No one gives a crap about what they have to say except for others who don’t have a life. No exception.

     Neat! It’s good to know there are no exceptions, according to this expert.

     Of course, I’ve been published under my real name many times so…not much of a truth, and Drudge Report has done ok, I think, despite starting as a blog. The fallacy here is “appeal to authority,” as the poster is claiming he’s speaking from the authority of truth. The expert here continues:

Second, people who write or post anonymously have zero credibility. Zero.

      Interesting point of view. I’ve certainly demonstrated that publishing anonymously is about the only recourse a professor has now if he wants to say anything about higher education and keep his job. This is the fallacy of ad hominem—what I have to say is invalid because I’m saying it. That’s why I cite studies and articles. Are these studies still invalid because an anonymous person cites them?

     The expert continues:

There are a few exceptions to the above principle

    It’s tough to be taken seriously when you contradict your “truth” within a paragraph of stating your truth. Oh well.

     Off to another laughable post:

I have taught online for 11 years, on ground for 12. Roughly 50 courses in each format. I have studied the pedagogy and effectiveness of both, I've read some of the research into it, I've published in a journal that focuses exclusively on online pedagogy. I bet I know a great deal more about this than Professor Doom.

Professor Doom tries to make meaningful extrapolations from online high schools to online universities. That is a patently absurd position to take. Professor Doom should know this.

      Interesting. The poster here is referencing my Obvious Question About Online Education, wherein I ask why do high schoolers, when taking online courses in controlled environments, fail online courses, while 3 months after graduating high school, these very same students can do great in online courses…provided they get to take them at home with no supervision and access to ways to hire someone else to take the course for them. I think it’s fair to ask if maybe, possibly, they’re cheating.

     Scholars, when asked questions, respond with answers. Trolls respond with insults. This person has taken pains to claim he’s an expert and a scholar in online teaching, so how does this self-proclaimed scholar respond to the question?

It is one thing to be ignorant. I am ignorant of many things. It is another thing to be stupid. Stupid is when you are ignorant, yet think you can strive forward and make definitive statements about things of which you are ignorant.

Ergo, Professor Doom is stupid.

     The expert above doesn’t indicate his precise field, though it’s clear it’s a discipline where neither reading comprehension nor logic is particularly relevant. A question isn’t a definitive statement, after all.

      Another expert, again listing all the degrees he’s purchased, chimes in with another train wreck post: 

The anonymity really causes me to question the guy)

      Again with the ad hominem. I, and others, have written of the culture of fear in higher education which causes so many faculty to write anonymously now. This is such a weird fixation they have, considering they are on a forum where most every poster uses a pseudonym. Hmm, which class of people in higher education is notable for hypocrisy?

. So this guy (or gal?) is a) full of crap and isn't a professor at all b) is an adjunct who is angry about being an adjunct c) is a complete coward or possibly some combination of the three.

     Goodness, again with the ad hominem. Please note, while I’m attacked pretty heavily here, what I actually say in my blog isn’t.

…, it's also a ludicrous statement that CCs are worthless and no self respecting university accepts their credits (Doom's words)…..

     I’ve never said this. In fact, one my most popular and accessible posts details the optimal way to get your community college (CC) credits accepted at a university (see The Community College Secret, right on the front page). I do, however, cite studies that show many students have difficulty transferring their credits and that many community colleges practice fraud and that most community colleges violate Federal law regularly by offering sub-9th grade level coursework…should all this research by others be discounted just because I anonymously point it out? If only I could log in and correct the lies being told at this troll site.

     The train wreck continues:

…. Lobbing insults from behind a computer screen anonymously isn't intellectual discourse ….

     What, pray tell, does this anonymous poster think he’s doing in his post? He says he’s using his real name but…it’s a forum, I’ll never know. He could easily post on my blog if he was truly interested in a discussion.

      The train wreck somehow manages to continue:

and if Professor Doom IS simply angry about not getting tenure I'd say it likely has more to do with a pissy attitude and poor judgment than the state of higher ed in the US.

     Again, I’ve posted about tenure, and I’m pretty ambivalent on it, because there are some inherent problems with “job for life”—it’s really an irrelevant issue, because tenure is basically dead anyway. The fallacy here is simple ignorance, he thoroughly doesn’t know what he’s talking about.

     The train wreck continues:

Oh, and "Professor Doom?" That's too hokey to even be a good Bond Villain name. All signs point to "living in parents basement teaching English Comp 1 on a per semester basis." 

     Again, more ignorance. I don’t live in a basement (and, again, where I live in no way relates to the validity of what I say), and any reader that’s spent some time on my site would know I don’t teach English Comp. It would take, what, four posts to figure out my discipline? That’s closing in on willful ignorance on this expert’s part.

       It is funny that this person chooses to disrespect writing teachers in this way; I’ve written before that these are perhaps the most abused faculty in higher education right now…and that writing is probably the most important skill of human civilization.

      Why does this poster have such disdain for such important teachers? I conjecture this “expert” is an education administrator or something similar (note: I present this as a guess, rather than ignorantly state authoritatively, as the poster does).

      The previous poster is only too happy to boast of his graduate degree from the “University of Management and Technology,” which is on the list of scam schools for Consumer Fraud Reporting. There are reports of paid trolls that go online to post in support of various agendas, but the gentle reader needs to consider the possibility that entire websites can also be trolls.

      I could continue with the things being said in this forum, but why bother? If it is a legitimate forum, someone would have pointed out the wild lies and blatant factual errors of the posters there; it would only take a few minutes’ reading on my blog to figure it out. I would make the corrections, myself, but registration seems to be pretty restricted…which leads me to believe this is a troll site, set up to mislead and trick people into various bogus institutions.

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