The science of trolling



University of Manitoba? Ya sure, some bloody Canadians are going to lecture us about being nice in comment sections – talk about the blind leading the blind.


I’ve always consider trolling a form of masochism: people who are desperate enough for people to pay attention to them, and who don’t know how to attract attention in any other way, that they’d rather be disliked than ignored.

Which is one reason “don’t feed the trolls” works so well. Ignoring them, or at least not getting drawn into playing their game, avoids giving them the acknowledgement they’re seeking and they go elsewhere in search of it.

Unfortunately that’s a hard rule for some folks to hold to.


“Dark Tetrad”? Are they trying to glamorize being an asshole?


I think trolls are “people hackers” who have discovered people have knee-jerk reactions to a wide variety of subjects, and that saying the right words in an internet forum can cause a reaction that is interesting in the same way as a rapid chemical reaction.

That said, doing so is definitely antisocial, and I think this research will be useful in identifying people with “dark tetrad” traits. Once identified, internet trolls could be sterilized - not necessarily forcibly, maybe paying them would work - in order to take “dark tetrad” genes out of society’s gene pool so future generations can be safer and saner.


I imagine that experienced online moderators are establishing that Mega-Narcissio-Machiavio-psychopathic-sadistic polemics tend to subdue discussion and therefore kill page views … and hence … are evil and should be labeled as such with the vocabulary of authority.

I think of internet trolls as the intrusive thoughts of our collective digital psychology. With them life is uncomfortable and reveals things that aren’t true or are divisive for no sake at all above rebarbativity.

And sometimes shit-heel aphorisms can ascribe more truth to a subject than any hyper-educated expert, fame-addict or star-fucker dare draw near to.


To effect said sterilization, perhaps a Co-60 source in the front edge of laptops could be unshielded in response to trolling, increasing the dose with repeated behavior.

However, wouldn’t the ultimate troll be to see that one’s dark triad genes spread far and wide in the gene pool?


Dear Scientists,
Normally I support research and the acquisition of knowledge for its own sake, but, dammit, didn’t anyone tell you not to feed those things?


“Ultimately, the allure of trolling may be too strong for sadists, who presumably have limited opportunities to express their sadistic interests in a socially-desirable manner.”

So is malicious trolling online an expression done in ‘a socially-desirable manner’? Who desires to be trolled? Or are sadists less likely to troll in real life because it is less desirable for them? If the writer is arguing for the second, I’d have to disagree. I have known real life malicious trolls, and I think they quite enjoy seeing the faces of their victims after their fuckery. They may be doing the trolling behind the scenes, but trolls love a good response,. Actually in real life, I’d call them borderlines. Maybe the scientists should study the subjects further to see if trolling online is therapeutic and limits damage in the real world. Then I’d almost be okay with it.

On the other side, there are benign trolls who are in it for the lolz, who can be quite funny and who fall into jokester or prankster category.


Good thing our society doesn’t glamorize and overpay people who aren’t total meatheads about channeling these traits… That might be a bad thing.


I think the implication was that they don’t like being punched in the face, so the Internet is a much safer place to act on their desires.


ESPN and several other high profile discussion forums have switched to requiring real names and it hasn’t done much to eliminate the trolls. It’s amazing the things people will post with their real name, photo, and employer attached to it. It has been assumed the trolling is fueled by anonymity but it is now starting to look like that’s not the case, or at least much less important than we thought. Being known by one’s true identity but not having a personal connection to those in the community might be the bigger factor. Or maybe some people are simply jerks no matter where they are.


No. It’s that sitting in mom’s basement covered in cheeto dust at 4 am and crapping in the cornflakes of well-intentioned strangers is just about the perfect definition of anti-social behavior.


An interesting video for anyone wanting to look at responses to the different kinds of trolls:
It’s about the doctrine of “Don’t Feed the Trolls” and how it’s a problematic response to modern trolling.

I think the worst of the trolling is from the same set of urges as vandalism in the physical world. People want to change the world around them in a way that other people notice, and it is much easier to destroy than it is to build.


Jardine: Fuck you; you’re gay.
crenquis: Fuck you; you’re gay.
technogeek again: Fuck you; you’re gay.
PhasmaFelis: Fuck you; you’re gay.
exception: Fuck you; you’re gay.
BackToYouJim: Fuck you; you’re gay.
silkox1: Fuck you; you’re gay.
SpunkyTWS: Fuck you; you’re gay.
IMB: Your initals are gay.
fuzzyfungus: Fuck you; you’re gay.
jandrese: Fuck you; you’re gay.
Engineer: Fuck you; you’re gay.
AcerPlatanoides: Fuck you; you’re gay.
Scaevola: Fuck you; you’re gay.
scratcheee: Fuck you; you’re gay.


I thought it was funny until the very end.


Dark Tetrad is my new dubstep name.


“Empathy” is a deeply problematic term here, as everywhere.

It equates recognizing other people’s feelings with caring about other people’s feelings, and it is used to dehumanize autistic people… there is an irony in that, in that we often care what other people feel, we just can’t recognize what allistic people [and some other autistic people] are feeling, while the quacksperts don’t seem to recognize what autistic people are feeling and often don’t seem to care.