Chris Tolles, Topix CEO, Doesn’t Get It

This is classic Chris Tolles, CEO of the infamous Topix comment boards. Rather than take heed of the shot fired over his bow, he accuses the attorneys general of two states — who are responding to the complaints of no doubt dozens of ordinary readers — of “grandstanding.”

I have spoken to Tolles on the subject of complaints about harmful and wrongful posts made on Topix boards hosted (no longer) by The Courant. I can tell you that his tactic is to talk, attack, rationalize and attack some more. Anything but display one iota of concern.

The fact is that this man could no more understand the hurt and anger his operation causes than a worm can grasp Shakespeare. (A worm tries harder, though.)

The root issue here, of course, is Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which protects Topix and similar sites from liability on the part of the anonymous coward racist whacko hate-mongers it allows to populate its servers. That and a company that lacks any moral or ethical standard.

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34 Responses to “Chris Tolles, Topix CEO, Doesn’t Get It”


  1. 1 Virginia Hoge

    No, Chris Tolles does not get it.

    I conducted a 9 month investigation into Topix. It was a forced investigation, I had 16 attack forums built there by trolls attacking me and my blog, a liberal who was supporting public education and writing about the media.

    I came back onto Topix 4 months ago, to blog in support of a parcel tax to help our public schools, and was sieged again by trolls.

    But I held on, and it was worth it. Look what I have discovered about Topix.

    http://tinyurl.com/y6zmtpq

    You are so right, the company does lack any moral or ethical standards. Spread the word.

    [Note:you will need to belong to Facebook to see her comments on the above link. If you understand how bad Topix is, there is no need. But if you need convincing, she is convincing. PS]

  2. 2 Paul Stern

    I guess I can only wonder why you went back there, knowing what was likely to be the case. I’m guessing you won’t go back again.

  3. 3 Virginia Hoge

    I went back there because the right was making their Topix comment manipulation a central part of their anti-public school initiative. Central. So few bloggers were willing to face the trolls, and a parcel tax needed to pass given the California budget cuts.

    Its no wonder they went there, they were using trolls to spread all the dirty stuff – condemnation of the poor, racism, trashing the kids and their families – other trolls acted more “professionally” and put out disinformation about the finances about the schools. They they had their bully trolls to beat away real-person commentators. Total manipulation of public opinion. (yikes!!)

    As tough as it is, this battle is ongoing, I learned so much there about Topix’s unethical practices and trolling, information I can now share and hopefully, get this problem addressed!

    here is just one of the threads, you can see a name-stealer troll is posting comments with my real name, also I am being sieged by trolls: http://www.topix.com/forum/source/pasadena-star-news/TNCFD0HCPAHHCRG10/p24

  4. 4 Virginia Hoge

    and guess what? I have been ranked the number one defender against Topix trolls in the entire country!

    http://www.topix.com/member/profile/virginiaolivehoge

    This means two things, one is that every comment I write on Topix is reaching a huge audience. Two is that this is this is why I am getting hit so hard by trolls there.

    Time to end trolling on Topix, unless we no longer care for having a civilized society.

  5. 5 Virginia Hoge

    The parcel tax I have been defending for the public schools,
    the reason I braved the alligator-swamps of Topix, was defeated and the trolls are adding a whole lot of new evidence to my lawsuit, but also, get this, a troll is openly using this user nic:
    “Pasadena Tea Party”

    What clearer evidence could there be of tea party political 
complicity on Topix.com? Take a look at this thread and see for yourself. The tea party and 
Topix are good friends.
    http://www.topix.net/forum/city/pasadena-ca/TS0ENE8TIT7O9UBB2/p11#las...

    Topix is practicing censorship, via shadow-banning and comment moderation. They are practicing extreme harassment via the use of bully trolls. They are forwarding a right-wing extremist agenda to the nation and the reason they are getting away with this, is that too many people are staying silent about it.

    It is time to start complaining, loudly, about this rotten company that is way too powerful in our contemporary media today, its time to call them out and to shut them off!

  6. 6 Pasadena observer

    Measure CC was an attempt to impose a tax that only half the population would have to pay.

    The local tea bagger group paid it no attention, as they are an astro turf group with no local interests. After the voters rightly voted down the boondoggle, the tea baggers swooped in like carpet baggers after the fact to steal credit.

    The previous poster seems to think they are in League with topix. They just happen to post comments there.

  7. 7 Virginia Hoge

    I see a Topix troll has followed me here. What this troll is saying is defense for Topix, they use their trolls to do this all the time. I have seen the trolls there attempt to defend shadow-banning, moderated commenting and the other censorship, troll-encouraging practices Topix performs on a daily basis. Its always funny to me how the trolls defend their “host”, well why not? Their host gives them so many advantages.

    Here are two recent articles I have written on Open Salon about Topix:

    Topix is the bubonic plague of the internet, spread the word
    http://open.salon.com/blog/virginia888/2010/05/12/topix_is_the_bubonic_plague_of_the_internet_spread_the_word

    A mosh-pit is not “the local watering hole” Topix.com!
    http://open.salon.com/blog/virginia888/2010/05/17/bully-trolling_on_topixcom_needs_to_end_spread_the_word

    More to come soon.

  8. 8 Virginia Hoge

    my comment to Chris Tolle’s Topix post:

    The data you want Chris Tolles, is well-provided for by your own Topix threads, which are loaded with bad behavior data, and I mean loaded. Evidence of bad behavior is stuck like flies to fly-paper on these Topix threads, its everywhere.

    “Data” means nothing anyway, we are talking about human being here on Topix, not data.

    Human beings and their thoughts and opinions, are supposed to be what Topix.com is all about. And yet, by facilitating bully-trolling and open racism and condemnation of the poor and abusive behavior…

    Topix.com is practicing abuse of human beings and this is a human right’s violation.

    I ask for Topix to amend their troll-encouraging practices, and restore these threads to the “local watering hole” – places for civic discourse and debate – you claim to be.

    Bullying and hatred would not be allowed to be displayed at a real local watering hole, no way, civic discourse would not be allowed to be inhibited and shut down.

    Ethical behavior is a must for civic discourse to function.

    http://www.topix.net/forum/news/topix/T6LPP0OCV23HVKUPK/p2#lastPost

  9. 9 Virginia Hoge

    Paul: thank you for publishing my comments, unlike TechCrunch, Wired or Local Media Watch (who published 3 before censoring me).

    Why is everyone protecting Topix? they admit to being the “bathroom wall of the internet”, they admit to seeking their money “in the muck”, they admit to wanting to “kill” off newspapers!

    I have confronted Chris Tolles, CEO of Topix.com, on 3 of his own threads:

    How about less bad behavior on Topix Chris Tolles? a whole lot less!
    http://www.topix.net/forum/news/topix/TRNK6QM6P80GCFA0T#lastPost

    The bad guys lose! calling out Chris Tolles of Topix.com.
    http://www.topix.net/forum/news/topix/TMCUFVSGMQML6UJ4D#lastPost

    Chris Tolles calls in the trolls, on his post supporting anonymous blogging
    http://www.topix.net/forum/news/topix/T6LPP0OCV23HVKUPK/p3#lastPost

    Commentators are welcome to join in.

  10. 10 WEL

    Note the above name
    You will not see it on TOPIX
    I have been banned for telling the verifiable TRUTH

  11. 11 moyra blackie

    I am on Cyprus News topix forum.You have opened my eyes.
    I had no idea this goes on.I am being bullied constantly.
    Every time I put an interesting article on, one of about four”regulars” starts personal attacks.
    I made a mistake and gave to much personal info, and now suffer for it.
    I try and fight back, but it becomes depressing.
    This is not what a news forum should be like.
    I was looking forward to decent conversation about local issues.
    |Names are changed all the time, and people do not register,although from what you say, it makes no difference.I have had posts disappear,and other who are vulgar get away with it.Is there anyway the Editor who i know is kominos can be taken to account for allowing this on his Cyprus Topix Forum?
    I am determined to stay on, I will not let them win over decent people like myself.This should be a warning for many people.
    Thank you for your article.

  12. 12 Paul Stern

    Anyone who uses a Topix forum is asking for trouble. My advice is to avoid that environment in favor of one that has standards and deserves the traffic. Why patronize a forum that has no respect for its participants?

  13. 13 Virginia Hoge

    The problem is Paul, many small cities across America have only Topix to go to. These small town forums have, however, been subverted into mosh-pits where slander, harassment and persecution are happening daily. I am hearing from more and more victims. The scope of what is happening on Topix is horrendous.

  14. 14 Virginia Hoge

    My latest article from my Topix investigation:

    How Corporate Media Fascism Works – How Profit is Created with Abuse and Dirty Tricks To Silence Critics

    http://open.salon.com/blog/virginia888/2010/06/24/fascism_is_being_practiced_on_topixcom

  15. 15 Virginia Hoge

    Paul, in the time since I published my April comments here, I have been on Topix 5 months since then and learned a lot. One thing I have learned is very positive, and that is that most of the trolls on Topix are not paid, they are simply there to enjoy the live theater, characterization and escape that Topix makes possible.

    The Topix community has been self-moderating to an extent I did not realize last April, and so in this way, Tolles assertion that Topix is “our” community, has happened.

    ALL agree for the most part, that the bullies are over-riding Topix, and when Topix is used as a tool for disinformation or human harm, this is just not acceptable, but I do not feel anymore, that the baby should be swept out with the bath water on Topix, not at all.

    I feel that with help from the company with much better consideration of the people who are Topix’s participants and audience, Topix could reach the potential initially sought for it. Remember, the internet is relatively new, no one knew what it would breed, especially without regulation. The excesses of this media “baby” need to be reigned in, a balance needs to be found and a place made for Topix as is could be.

  16. 16 Jimmy

    My computer has been prevented from posting by Topix. In fact, it’s now two computers. I never said anything threatening or anything like that, just some comments that I guess the people at Topix didn’t care for. It’s censorship plain and simple. Is there any way, other than get or use another computer, to post my comments? Some way to overcome their blocking?

  17. 17 Paul Stern

    Two things: Why would you want to post anything there at all? And, yes, it is censorship — but censorship even Topix has a right to exercise. I don’t know how to put this any plainer: It is their freaking site to do with as they wish.

  18. 18 Jimmy

    I never said they didn’t have that right. I also have the right to try and beat their blocking if I can. But you make a good point. Why would I want to post on a site with a bunch of a-holes deciding what is OK and what is not? Well, if I could beat their blocking, those pricks at Topix wouldn’t like what they were reading…

  19. 19 Paul Stern

    I was unaware of the “right to beat blocking.”

  20. 20 Jimmy

    It’s in the United States Constitution. Somewhere between the right to own slaves and the right to arm oneself with powerful automatic weapons.

  21. 21 The Debil

    Very funny, Jimmmy, but you forgot the right to stone your wife if she boffs the pool boy. The questions raised by the notion of intenet censorship are daunting. I was lured into the game when I discovered that conservative groups and even churches were e-mailing each other propaganda – horrible stuff – and then spamming internet forums with it. I discovered this because my former father-in-law was a devout Catholic and would sometimes slip and send the posts to his daughter, my wife.

    As I looked incredulously at the contents I began to realize the conservative movement had given rise to an entire new business culture (in case you’re wondering where the telemarketers went.)

    Initially I would seek these folks out to argue or debate with but that’s a waste of time, they’re zealots. So then I adopted more… productive means of disrupting their inane and dangerous communication. I became… A TROLL! I don’t actually know what that word means as it’s tossed around in these places, but in my case, I just find forum threads with lots of religious and political zealots and begin telling (original) fetus-in-the-dumpster jokes. Or, perhaps, two fetuses walked into a bar…

    Yes, it’s horrid I know, but I felt I had to do something and this seems to work pretty well. The trick is to make them funny not completely mean, though it is a deeply fuzzy line I admit. In my case I do not consider a fetus a human life, or, if it is, I consider it is certainly not of any critical import at this stage of its development given that they are as common as dirt so I am not offended by my own jokes. But a certain segment of the population certainly is and fortunately they align as right-wing conservatives – my initial quarry as I explained.

    They have me banned from various forums regularly but I have literally thousands of ISP and Mac addresses now so it’s not much of an inconvenience. I don’t do what I do because I hate children, little tykes and all that, I do what I do because it feels like an art of some kind? And also to control what I view as a scourge. Reason doesn’t seem to have much impact on zealots but their ability to react to a few words on the screen is astounding.

    I just thought you should hear it from the horse’s mouth – either end really. I have a delightful sense of humour and many people find what I do extremely entertaining, but a few don’t (Ginny up there hates me and yet I’ve told her I’d do her at the drop of a hat and for a man like me that’s quite a commitment.) Oh well, what’s a war based on error and greed compared to cute little fetuses being squished on the pavement by the Mercedes. It’s a mystery to me. Oh well, back to work. And please remember that only idiots vote Republican.

  22. 22 Jimmy

    Thanks, Debil. so we’re united in our distaste for those who would like to decide what’s OK and what’s not OK to say. Of course, must be limits. There are certain things that you just can’t say. But Topix has no idea of how to correctly weed out those comments. They’re taking a meat cleaver to a job where a scalpel is needed. Anyway, I’m a computer idiot, so help me out. They’ve disabled my ability to post on their site with my computer. How do I get around it?

  23. 23 Jimmy

    People, PLEASE, one at a time!!! Theyr’ll be time for everyone who wants to help me to post an answer!!!

  24. 24 Jimmy

    My name’s not really Jimmy.

  25. 25 Jimmy

    There’s no rush. I’ve got the rest of my life. Dumm…dee…dumm…

  26. 26 Paul Stern

    As far as I know, Jimmy, the only way to exercise your right to avoid the Topix blockade is the work from a new IP address. When that one is blocked, you must move to another.

  27. 27 Jimmy

    Thanks, Paul. Now, at the risk of sounding stupid, how do move to another IP address? Can I do that on the computer that’s been blocked? Thanks again.

  28. 28 Paul Stern

    If so, I don’t know how. I think you need to use a computer not associated with your existing online account. … like at the public library or something.

  29. 29 McGee

    Use the Firefox browser set it up to use a proxy.
    their tons of free proxies list on the net,some of which don’t work
    pick a site that has a proxy checker in it. Use the ones that are highly anonymous this may help you and may not don’t know.
    You can also buy a proxy that suppose to work 100% of the time.
    The free one times out after a certain amount of time.

  30. 30 Tim S

    I just came across this site by accident. It seems ironic that liberals are wanting to silence a website. I agree that hate mongering and slander shouldnt be tolerated–but should people be able to speak their opinions? For years, the gay agenda of the left has lobbied Washington and the courts to get their way. They still do today. They do not stop even after their requests are voted down by taxpayers. Yet society continues to tolerate their activities. There was a day and time when the GLBT community was considered immoral at the least by a majority of people. Thanks to the hard work of the left, being gay is now considered a good thing that one should aspire to. And you say that the right doesnt have the right to speak their thoughts against this? Are you serious…? Wait until the Muslims and Sharia law get their way in this country. Do a little research and see what Sharia law thinks of the liberal GLBT agenda,,,

  31. 31 Paul Stern

    Question: What if the comments and opinions are hateful and slanderous? How do you allow them this free speech without, as you put it, “tolerating” them?

    Another question: Do you really think that free speech can make someone gay? I have heard of instances in which very persuasive speech has made someone black, but never gay. (I think it takes a court ruling to make you gay.)

  32. 32 Debil's Master

    Jimmy it is very easy. Google IP hiders. If you want one that is idiot proof just google GO TRUSTED.

    Easy to set up and gives you many IP’s

    You’ll be back on Topix in no time.

    FYI you know those things you just CAN’T say even with free speech. Debil says those all the time.

  33. 33 Jonny D

    I wonder how Tolles would like it if some sicko posted that he is a pedophile when he isn’t or what if someone called his wife disgusting names or threatened his life the way that a stalker has been doing to me and my family. Tolles ignores emails and reports of abuse. He is an enemy of our country and our way of life.

  34. 34 Curly

    Remember when posting on topix…you have to have thick skin…and a sense of humor. Even with that …there are far too many hateful people on Topix….I have witnessed it on many occasions and I had to quit after awhile.

    Even if I was THE DEBILS #1 fan!

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