No Kidding?



Patrick is a mid-40 year old geek with an undergraduate degree in mathematics and a master's degree in Information Systems. Nothing he says here has anything to do with the official position of his employer or any other institution.

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31 Responses

  1. Avatar Jaybird says:

    I’m just thankful that the trolls decided to answer the questions honestly.Report

    • Avatar Patrick in reply to Jaybird says:

      That’s very meta.

      Good point though. Although that just changes trolls from “sociopaths” to… hm. Well, if you’re trolling someone to try and convince them that you’re a sociopath, at what point does your investment in this project become, and and of itself, a sign of sociopathy?Report

      • Avatar Gabriel Conroy in reply to Patrick says:

        I read the link and the study it refers to, as far as I can tell, was about internet commenters and not necessarily those identified as “trolls,” unless I’m missing something or spent too few seconds skimming the article. Maybe the real takeaway is that internet commenters as a whole are, for example, narcissisti, or perhaps the web encourages narcissism. As much as I resent some of what Mr. Williams has said (and more important, done) about internet commenters, maybe he’s actually right.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Patrick says:

        I know a troll. He is a bonafide sociopath (He’s also intelligent enough to mitigate some of the disadvantages of that personality type).Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Patrick says:

        It’s about all commenters, but the really negative stuff is most highly associated with trolling:


        So we’re all here likely to be a bit more sadistic than normal, but the trolls are particularly so.

        I admit that I don’t know what to think of the studies. I’m not sure how, uh, rigorous the authors were. For example, the mean daily commenting time is 1.07 hours/day in the first study, but when they break it down by gender, the male average is 0.88 hours and the female average is 0.49 hours. Either a lot of people didn’t report gender (something they should report in the paper, but don’t), and those people comment a lot more than those who did (also something they should report, but don’t), or I’m missing something (given that 42.4% of the respondents were female, and they averaged .49 hours of commenting a day, in order to get the 1.07 hours per day for all respondents, males would have to comment about 1.5 hours per day).

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Patrick says:

        they did two studies, but summed the two when reporting their N at the beginning (which seems to me to be downright misleading — although who just reads the abstract anyhow?)

        The more FUN stats to pull are that Debating is positively correlated with Vicarious Sadism and Narcissism.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Patrick says:

        Kim, the abstract says “In two online studies (total N=…).” That’s hardly misleading.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Patrick says:


      • Avatar Gabriel Conroy in reply to Patrick says:

        Thanks for answering, Chris.Report

      • Avatar Glyph in reply to Patrick says:

        “So we’re all here likely to be a bit more sadistic than normal”

        Huh. I woulda figured us for a bunch of masochists.Report

  2. Avatar Kim says:

    “Would you do brain surgery on someone for a joke?”
    “well, not if I liked them. Also, the joke would have to be pretty funny.”

    … trolls are scary people. trolls with enough money/time/energy to actually hire brain surgeons are worse.Report

  3. Avatar Kim says:

    This definition of trolling seems… a bit whacked, too, by the way. Quintessential trolling (when not being done by polling firms, or PR agencies) is about creating a big kerfluffle, that you can post about on 4chan or another message board. It doesn’t have to be about annoying people.

    In fact, annoying people is rarely as productive as you’d think (that whole blinking Epilepsy website thing aside). A troll would rather post a handdrawn picture of a new pokemon… (oh, my lord, did that one create a 3 day firestorm, trawling across multiple message boards, and getting official denials which Of Course weren’t believed).

    Not saying that the survey’s wrong, mind.Report

    • Avatar Kim in reply to Kim says:

      yes, give a troll enough money, and he will build his own PR agency. So useful to get away with things — just intimate that they’re being done at the behest of someone Very Important (think google or amazon)… “What are you doing?” “PR Stunt.” It explains so much!Report

    • Avatar dragonfrog in reply to Kim says:

      Well exactly – harassing people isn’t trolling, it’s harassment. Threatening them isn’t trolling, it’s uttering threats.

      A beautifully executed rick-rolling, or getting someone to accept and use an incorrect definition of a word that leads to a strange and confusing conversation later – that’s trolling.Report

  4. Avatar Saul Degraw says:

    I don’t know if it was from the same study but I remember reading a few weeks ago that trolls respond highly to negative commentary and it encourages them to be more trollish and bullying. Meanwhile people who write thoughtful things do respond to positive commentary but not in a way that encourages them to post more.

    So tell a troll that they are horrible and vile and said troll will post more.

    Tell a thoughtful person that they write really cool things and said person will probably not post more frequently.Report

  5. Avatar Michael Cain says:

    At the risk of being troll-like, Gifts of Gab has stopped loading in both Firefox and Chrome on my Mac (still works on Safari).Report

  6. Avatar Doctor Jay says:

    The piece says, “Don’t feed the trolls”, but I’d add something.

    If you have a banhammer, use it. The best method, especially for new identities, is to delete the comment, and then give an explanation why. Do not, however, be drawn into a debate. They sometimes will try. This will be the evidence that you needed to just ban them without comment.Report

  7. Avatar Damon says:

    Most of the “trolls” I knew frequented a certain game community forum. They were, for the most part, kids. And by kids I mean below 25. That said, I did occasionally participate in being a troll. It was fun to push folks buttons on hot topics. Then the damn mods got involved 🙂Report