That's some bizarre trolling

So over at Wonderland Alice has this post up about the (racist, sexist, sizeist, etc) limitations of a new website called Barbiegirls.com, which is apparently an online chat program aimed at girls:

Most of the body type options are caucasian-stereotype, and certainly the skin colour: the darkest you can go is .. hmm, sort of caffe latte colour. This is the curliest hair available (afro styles? Forget it). You have no nose options (mine is much more potato-like). Height and weight? No way. Everyone has to be skinny and knock-kneed.

Maybe more options will come post-beta, but I think it’s shameful that there aren’t more by launch.

And, well, only a few comments in they start getting the most bizarre trolling I’ve seen to date. Is it just some assholes trying to make a stink? Is it a weird kind of viral advertising? Were they attracted by the criticism of the site?

Comments were shut off, so I assume that they achieved their goal of shutting down any productive conversation. I would be interested in hosting a conversation over here, though, as one of the beauties of moderation is that bullying tactics like that won’t work.

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7 Responses to That's some bizarre trolling

  1. Betty says:

    Not the Barbie club per se, but it’s interesting to note how many online dollmakers offer colours from pinkish to nearly white, and two body shapes: one for boys, and one for girls. It took me shamefully long to notice this, as a person who was in no way inconvenienced by this.

  2. jfpbookworm says:

    I’m not sure that it’s trolling. I’ve seen this kind of confusion before, where someone thinks that an independent discussion forum is an “official” place to give feedback to developers. Wonderland is the #2 hit on Google for BarbieGirls.com, and the #1 hit also has comments like these.

    Now if they’re all coming from the same few IPs, that may indicate trolling.

  3. Godless Heathen says:

    Ok, first, what I think happened was that some girls thought the blog was a place for other young girls to talk about “Barbie Girl”. Most of them probably just followed a search link and posted in the comments without even bothering to read what the post was about. Happens a lot of the time. I don’t know if it’s trolling, I’d probably only rate it as high as spam, trolling always seems to me to be more malicious and deliberate.

    It could be a viral marketing team, I know a lot of companies “employ” younger people to go around plastering positive reviews of their products on boards and blogs. I think you call that a “street team”, they get perks like t-shirts and movie tickets for their efforts. Definitely rates as spam.

    It’s unfortunate that this happened, hopefully she can re-open commenting on the substance of the article soon. There’s a lot to discuss about the racial problems in Mattel’s Barbie line itself which definitely leads to these problems in a virtual Barbie branded environment.

  4. In addition to being a chat program, it’s an RMT-driven virtual world. I took a look at it a few posts back, and it’s likely that Mattel is going to make fistfuls of cash with it, given early indications.

    While it does suck that they don’t offer more options for virtual avatars (and it is in beta, as was mentioned), are you really surprised? The Barbie franchise isn’t really known for being inclusive, is it?

  5. Pingback: Jade Reporting » July 22

  6. Denise says:

    Wow. The promo video looks like the White fashion borg. I couldn’t bring myself to register for a site so… pink, even to find out more about the avatar creation process. I’m a very light-skinned Caucasian, but there the similarities between me and the avatars I see there end. While on one hand I understand that Barbie is there to sell products and an image, I was rather put off that two people can only be “best friends” on the site if they both buy the companion doll/mp3 player ($60).

    This site would not have spoken to me when I was younger (well, maybe at 5). I would further get the idea others thought girls are mostly interested in online content that comes in a sparkly pink wrapper, or that the other stuff might not be “meant for” girls. I was unusual, admittedly, but I was not alone in my chafing at the imposition of pink in all areas of my life.

  7. Alice says:

    Yeah, that’s not trolling, that’s just young kids. I shut down the comments because there was no real conversation, which is what happens if you have high google rank on a popular term: the noise drowns out the signal. Moderation becomes pointless if there’s no sense to moderate in the first place..

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