President Obama learned a very valuable lesson, one that every blogger, no matter how big or small has learned the hard way: No matter how well you manage your online forum it's nearly impossible to keep out the trolls.
President Obama's pledge to open the White House up to the public through online forums faces an irksome challenge: a plague of Internet "trolls" -- troublemakers who work to derail cyber-conversations through harassing and inflammatory posts.
The problem became immediately apparent last month when Obama held an online "town hall" forum on the economy and invited the public to post questions on the hite House Web site.
Those questions, in turn, were voted on by users to determine which ones the president would answer.
Three and a half million people participated in the event, but the "trolls" had their way: Following a coordinated campaign by marijuana advocates to vote their topic to the top of the list, questions on the future of the U.S. dollar and the rising unemployment rate were superseded by questions about legalizing pot as an economic remedy.
Ok, so we PSU bloggers have to deal with angry Pitt fans and Obama and his staff have to deal with a bunch of spaced out potheads waiting for their Pizza to be delivered, it's still a similar problem and unlike bloggers, the White House has to be careful not to sensor free speech. I can delete any lame-ass comment I wish (although I don't). The government is limited to censoring only hateful or bad language, if the comment is on topic there's little they can do and you better believe the ACLU will be watching very carefully.
Oh, and what was Obama's response about legalized Mary Jane?
The president himself had a good laugh about the volume of marijuana-related questions, saying, "I don't know what this says about the online audience -- we want to make sure that it was answered. The answer is, no, I don't think that is a good strategy to grow our economy."
Online audience? Oh you have no idea Mr. President, this just scratches the surface.