This posting was pretty much written as a follow-on to the Billy Goat Gruff piece, also posted here. When I wrote that in late 2004, it would have been fairly clear to most folks about exactly whom I wrote if I had said 'the ARBR TROLL'. But the next year, an even more obnoxious new quasi-anonymous persona appeared, initially to tout the wonders of the VeloKraft NoCom lowracer, then apparently to do his dead-level best to offend everyone who dared to read the newsgroup.

There was a really embarrassing period with messages posted using false names, vulgar one-liners, and... well, if you've ever seen other Usenet newsgroups at their worst, you know how bad it can get. Viewing this one as an outsider, it was hard not to feel like you'd bumbled into a neighborhood spat for which someone's backyard or a local beerbar would have been a much more appropriate venue. It was like the internet equivalent of a marathon of Jerry Springer's worst dysfunctional family reruns. I suppose it's inevitable that some obscure cable channel will sooner or later host such a horrible event, but I'm sure that the folks here at ARBR have had enough.

Thankfully, that first ugly episode ended in just a few weeks. Just before it did, the original TROLL, however, who had gotten more and more apoplectic day after day, announced that he hated the group, was leaving and would never return. Oddly enough, most folks who offered an opinion were torn between resenting all that icky stupidity of a flame war and feeling at least a bit compensated that we might have a few weeks without our classic TROLL. He came back – all too soon, of course!

But we had to somehow get over a big name-calling flap, where the guy that several folks have directly accused of perpetrating the chaos – most of it in the name of 'Johnny NoCom' – was Ed Gin, who's fairly well known in recumbent cycling circles, at least in the midwest, an active member of WISIL,and who was also on our VCRR mailing list, for whatever reason, as well. Anyway, in one message, presumably (but of course not absolutely as far as anyone could ever prove) from Ed Gin, we find this fairly silly proposition (that word chosen for its slightly less formal connotation than proposal):

      > Prove conclusively I am the author of posts as Johnny
      > NoCom and I'll happily hand you $10,000 in USA Dollars.

My somewhat frivolous reaction – in iambic quadrameter, of course:

Someone (who may or may not be
Ed Gin?
) has told us he (or she?)
Will pay for 'proof' of his misdeeds,
A tidy sum in fact, which leads
To nagging doubts that he's sincere.
At least I think it's pretty clear:
It MIGHT be Ed and he MIGHT pay;
But "happily"? NO FRIGGIN' WAY!

Since someone (maybe Mr. Gin?)
Laid down that challenge, I have been
Immersed in thought from time to time
Of how to sum this up in rhyme.

By late last year, one single TROLL
Had ARBR under his control;
It raved and ranted, on and on.
Though battle lines were sharply drawn,
With most folks on the other side,
It didn't care; it hit its stride,
It took exception ev'ry day
To something that someone would say.

Then Johny NoCom came along,
To sing his stupid one-note song,
His shrill and grating nasal twang
Contrasting with the TROLL's harangue...

In February things got rough,
Way past the point of 'Hold, enough!'
We're talking UGLY, shameful scene,
With postings snippy, bitchy, mean.
By then this Johnny NoCom chap
Was blitzing us with monkey crap;
Most readers got a tad confused,
And ARBR's TROLL felt quite misused...

Protesting just a bit too much,
Like Britain battling the Dutch –
"The Boers are evil; kill them all!" –
It shrieked its lonely battle call.

And then the TROLL got even more
Prolific than it was before,
Until at last it saw the truth.
(It hardly took a skillful sleuth...)
No one controls these Usenet groups,
And even if you mass your troops,
There's very little you can do.
It's sad to say, but folks, it's true.

This forum's open; no patrols
Will make arrests – not even TROLLS!
You vilify and curse the boors,
But they just sneer and say, "UP YOURS!"

And so the TROLL at last said 'BYE',
Convinced somehow that we would cry;
We'd see how lonely things would get.
(It seemed to me an empty threat).
Some fifteen postings, more or less,
It took to say goodbye, then YES!
A tad dramatic, overblown,
But hey – at last the TROLL was gone.

(Well... five or six reminders, sure,
That it was ARBR's true allure,
And things would never be the same
Until we called it back by name...)

Six weeks or so of quiet peace...
If message traffic did decrease,
Nobody griped, no one complained;
Sheer blissful, boring calm maintained...
Until last month. The TROLL came back,
Still angry – JNC's attack
Its major topic. Once again,
This forum's like a lion's den.

Someone insists – he's sure! – Ed Gin
Is Johnny NoCom, who had been
A rude, annoying jerk (or jerks?)
Ashamed to claim his (their?) own works.

And then we saw the quote above,
With blatant 'holes' you gotta love.
When asked his standards for the 'proof'
Ed(?) seems to be a bit aloof.
If someone traced a message back
To one PC in Ed Gin's shack
(Or mansion, mobile home or yacht?),
Would that suffice? I'd take bets: NOT!

Whose fingers fluttered on the keys
That typed out Johnny NoCom's sleaze?
It could have been a monkey, guys;
The author didn't seem too wise...

Plus what if Ed(?) somehow enlists
Some other goober who insists
That it was he (or she or they?)
Who did the deed? Would that outweigh
All other 'proof'? Ed(?) might say: YES!
But I'm inclined to second guess.
Some folks, like me, most surely thought:
'That testimony could be bought!'

Is there a newsgroup (alt dot scams?)
Where if you offered fifty clams
For someone who would claim to be
Old Johnny, you'd get two or three?

The British won the Boer war,
But still, it left an ugly scar.
Might isn't right; it's often wrong.
Why can't we all just get along?
Well... anyhow and anyway,
I guess that's all I have to say.
Enough of Boers and bores and boors;
I think I'm gonna have a Coors.

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Last updated Jan 13 2007