IMDb give up troll fight?

Movie database to shut down its message boards

Why IMDB's Message Board Shut Down Is Misguided

Now and then there are shortsighted decisions companies make that seem innocuous internally, but when announced, end up causing a massive ripple effect that can turn their customers away for good.

On Friday, the Internet Movie Database's (IMDB) statement on the decision to shut down their message boards might join Netflix's "Qwikster", Starbucks's "Race Together" cups, and Microsoft's "AI Twitter Bot" as another entrant on an ever growing list of business initiatives that totally misinterpret their audience's interests.

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What is an Internet troll?

Fairy tales become reality on the Internet with trolls prowling websites and message boards. Instead of the Billy Goat Gruffs, the Internet troll feasts on people. And like most fairy tales, it reflects the darkest side to humanity.

The mythological troll is known to be an "ugly, dirty, angry creature that lives in dark places" waiting to snatch up anything that passed by for a quick meal. The Internet troll, Lifewire argues, is very much the same.

The most honest definition comes from the Urban Dictionary, describing trolls as:

"Being a prick on the Internet because you can. Typically unleashing one or more cynical or sarcastic remarks on an innocent by-stander, because it's the Internet, and, hey, you can."

A survey by the Pew Research Center found that 70% of 18 to 20-year-olds have experienced abuse online. Women are significantly more likely to receive severe forms of harassment, with 26% in that age group saying they had been stalked or sexually harassed online.

Trolls range from those who do it from the 'lulz' (for the laughs) to doxxing (publishing personal data, such as bank accounts) and swatting (calling emergency services to a victim's house).

The Internet's personality has changed, argues Time Magazine. At the beginning, it was a "geek with lofty ideals about the free flow of information". Now, if you disclose that you are suffering from depression, it will try to goad you into killing yourself.

A 2014 study published in psychology journal Personality and Individual Differences found that 5% of trolls scored extremely high in dark personality traits such as narcissism, psychopathy, Machiavellianism and sadism.

It depends on what fairy tales you read, older, pessimistic warnings from the Brothers Grimm or happier resolutions from modern stories, but can good overcome adversity? Will the trolls consume their helpless victims, or will there be a song-and-dance at the end? With IMDb shutting down its message boards partly due to trolls, it seems that they have won the battle - but perhaps not the war.

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IMDb Shutting Down Online Discussion Boards

Folks who write about movies, and just movie fans in general, know how valuable a resource IMDb is. Having all that information in one place is incredibly handy, and without IMDb there, the process of research would undoubtedly be a lot more difficult. For some, IMDb is not just a place to look up information about movies both well-known and obscure, it's also a place to engage in discussion about movies via the site's many boards. Or at least, it used to be.

Unfortunately, these days the number of people using the boards is dwindling. And in many cases the discussions going on there are evidently not living up to basic standards of civility. Where does that leave the vaunted institution of IMDb’s message boards?

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