7
   

"Don’t feed the trolls" really is good advice – here’s the evidence

 
 
nimh
 
Reply Thu 27 Oct, 2016 08:42 am
Why do trolls troll? Relevant advice, and based on research and everything:

‘Don’t feed the trolls’ really is good advice – here’s the evidence
 
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maxdancona
 
  -3  
Reply Thu 27 Oct, 2016 09:06 am
@nimh,
It is interesting the Research Paper cited in the article is about Cyberbullying and not about trolling. There is a big difference between trolling and cyberbullying, in fact people with dissenting opinions on the internet are often the victims of cyberbullying.

This article is dishonest when it relates being "provocative" to a paper on cyberbullying.

I am strongly opposed to cyberbullying. I strongly support people who are provocative or who promote and defend dissenting opinions.

I hope everyone can see the difference.


maxdancona
 
  -3  
Reply Thu 27 Oct, 2016 10:15 am
@nimh,
Alice Paul is one of my favorite Trolls.

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/1/12/Alice_paul.jpg/220px-Alice_paul.jpg

She was a Suffragette in the late 1800s early 1900s who was instrumental in winning the right of women to vote in the US (and in England). Her opinions, at the time, were upsetting to people. She was provocative. She offended people.

First they tried to ignore her. It didn't work. She got louder and louder. They jailed her for disturbing the peace. She refused to cooperate in prison. When female guards couldn't get her to change her clothing (because she refused to cooperate) male guards were called in. This caused an outrage.

Later she would use hunger strikes as a way to shame decent society. It was pretty brilliant, she refused to eat until they felt they had to feed her. Then she publicized the force feedings.

She ended up shaming Woodrow Wilson into supporting her. She cajoled, bullied, provoked and publicly shamed him until he relented. While writing this example, the phrase "don't feed the trolls" made me chuckle. It doesn't work metaphorically or literally.

The point is that society fares better when there are trolls to provoke, cajole and offend us into changing our way of thinking. Shutting them out won't work, and in hindsight that is a good thing.

If you like woman's suffrage, thank a troll.

0 Replies
 
nimh
 
  9  
Reply Thu 27 Oct, 2016 03:50 pm
@maxdancona,
I feel that this comment (I didn't read your other two comments yet) is largely a straw man argument.

First, you are mostly or exclusively assailing points that are never made in the article. Eg, the article doesn't criticize causing offense of any kind. It doesn't claim the need to avoid upsetting people in any way. It's quite a bit more specific than that.

Second, in order to make your argument that Socrates, Jesus etc were trolls of their times, you have to resort to a novel definition of trolling that you seem to have invented for the very purpose of being able to make your argument.

The article itself defines trolling pretty well, I thought:

Quote:
Trolling behaviours typically include deliberately posting inflammatory comments and argumentative messages in an attempt to provoke, disrupt and upset others. “Trolls” may pretend to be part of the group, but their real intent is to create conflict for their own amusement.


Note: it doesn't label "inflammatory comments and argumentative messages" of any kind "trolling". It labels posting such comments "trolling" if it's done specifically in order to "create conflict for [your] own amusement". And that's right in line with the most commonly embraced definition of a troll, per urbandictionary:

Quote:
One who posts a deliberately provocative message to a newsgroup or message board with the intention of causing maximum disruption and argument


Intent matters. If you're, I don't know, a Tea Party Republican or a revolutionary socialist, and you relentlessly push your sincerely held beliefs in public forums, you're not a troll, you're just a propagandist. Trolling is when you do it for the lolz.

It's true that there are people who misuse the word, and will call you a troll just because you disagree with them. But that's not what the article is about.

Finally, if your prediction is that we're heading for "clean, walled communities on the internet where everyone thinks alike and no one ever says something provocative or offensive", I've got to say, I'm not seeing much proof of that. Newspaper comments sections have only gotten more out of hand, and many sites have closed them for that reason; Twitter is notoriously infested with offensive, upsetting, bullying and provocative content of all kinds; even Facebook gives aggressive speech of all kinds great leeway, so long as you don't show any nipple, and a surprising amount of people don't seem to care a whit that their real name is attached to the hateful, ignorant, radical etc comments they post. To the extent that Facebook content did become more bland because it's where you can run into your boss, doctor or aunt, other social media sites (Reddit, Tumblr) grew where people post whatever edgier content they want anonymously instead.
maxdancona
 
  -1  
Reply Thu 27 Oct, 2016 04:04 pm
@nimh,
I did read the article. Note that I am making a big distinction between bullying and trolling. Bullying involves threats, insults and attacks made on a person. This is something that I don't like whether it is from a troll or not.

I am not sure if your argument about intent is a good one. Anyone who makes a post one social media sites that isn't for their own amusement is deluded. It is rare that you will change anyone's mind here. You can hope that someone will come up with a new way of seeing something (which has happened to me on a few occasions).

Anyone who wants to do anything more meaningful than amusement should go elsewhere. You are not going to get meaningful social change by posting on Able2know (sorry if anyone is disappointed by this). And if you are looking for people to agree with you on everything, there are walled communities on the internet that do just that.

Now let's look at the key words in the definition of trolling.

- Infammatory
- Argumentative
- Provocative
- Disruptive
- Creating Conflict
- Amusement

Three of these words are positive (as I see it). Provocative, Disruption and Amusement are all things that can be good (Socrates and Jesus et. al were certainly provocative and disruptive).

Argumentative and Conflict are neutral. They can be bad, but you don't have any meaningful conversation without them.

Inflammatory is the most extreme word. The question is when someone get's inflamed whose is responsible, the person who expressed an opinion, or the person who was upset by it. I think in terms of a personal attack (i.e. bullying) it is the response of an aggressor. And I suppose there is crossing a line by offending someone for sport... although most adults should be mature enough to just ignore this by this point.

We live in an age where people are inflamed by any differing opinion. There isn't disagreement any more without offense. This is not a good thing. I have a knee-jerk reaction to push back against this.

This is maybe the most important role of the internet troll.


nimh
 
  3  
Reply Thu 27 Oct, 2016 04:07 pm
@maxdancona,
Quote:
It is interesting the Research Paper cited in the article is about Cyberbullying and not about trolling. There is a big difference between trolling and cyberbullying [..]. This article is dishonest when it relates being "provocative" to a paper on cyberbullying.


I don't think you read that right. The article mentions that "the problem of cyberbullying has received considerable research attention" - and it includes a link in that sentence, yes. But it proceeds to point out that anonymous online trolling is a separate phenomenon, just like you say. And the rest of the article is about trolling, specifically, not about cyberbullying -- and it relies on research about trolling, not about cyberbullying.

The author spends two sections of the article - "What’s the ultimate motivation?" and "Personality vs motivation" - presenting her own research, and again, that research is about trolling, specifically. She includes a link to the publication, though it's behind a paywall (but again, she summarizes her findings in the article): "The dark side of Facebook: The Dark Tetrad, negative social potency, and trolling behaviours".

I have no idea how good her research is. But it is about trolling, specifically, so I don't get this objection.
0 Replies
 
nimh
 
  4  
Reply Thu 27 Oct, 2016 04:32 pm
@maxdancona,
maxdancona wrote:
Now let's look at the key words in the definition of trolling.

- Infammatory
- Argumentative
- Provocative
- Disruptive
- Creating Conflict
- Amusement

Three of these words are positive (as I see it). Provocative, Disruption and Amusement are all things that can be good (Socrates and Jesus et. al were certainly provocative and disruptive).


But the article defines trolling as a combination of those things. It doesn't say that everything that's infammatory, argumentative, provocative etc or posted just to create conflict or posted just for amusement is trolling. It defines trolling as the specific act of posting stuff that's inflammatory etc, in order to create conflict/disruption, for your own amusement. And in defining trolling this way, the article is right in line with common practice.

If you're posting provocative stuff but you're doing it out of, say, zeal/conviction, not just to create disruption as aim in itself, for your own amusement, it's not trolling. Not according to this article and not according to the traditional definition of trolling. So I do think you're building a straw man argument here - or, at least, reading sloppily - by pretending that the author argued that any kind of provocative, disruptive posts and comments = trolling.

***

Now, taking a step away from this article, the definition of trolls and trolling has gotten a bit more ambivalent over time, that much is true, as journalists etc who didn't spend their earlier years on message boards have picked up the word "troll" and run with it, often giving it wholly new meanings. Mother Jones once ran a really dumb story where they claimed to have looked up their "biggest troll" to find out why he did it ... But it wasn't a troll at all. The guy was just an ardent conservative who posted a lot of comments. More recently, we've seen a lot of reporting about paid Russian "trolls" and "troll factories" infesting comments sections etc. This again takes us a bit away from the original meaning of the word, since those Russians are hardly just doing it for their personal gratification. They're doing it because they're paid to. But unlike with the Mother Jones example, I can kind of see an argument that the label applies, because their work is part of a broader strategy that's aimed at causing maximum disruption, distrust and disorder in Western societies as end in itself ... which I guess is a kind of trolling writ large ... but it still doesn't sit well with my purist sensibilities.

None of the above paragraph, however, relates to the link we're discussing here, since the author's pretty precise about what she means, and she does stick with the commonly/traditionally accepted meaning, and she's not making any of the arguments you're putting in her mouth.
dlowan
 
  2  
Reply Fri 28 Oct, 2016 12:42 am
@nimh,
Yep

The trolling is not really what drove me from here It was the constant screeds of reaction
0 Replies
 
maxdancona
 
  1  
Reply Fri 28 Oct, 2016 05:29 am
@nimh,
A question Nimh.

I am here for intelligent discussion with people who disagree with me. I am doing because I enjoy it (i.e. my own amusement) although there is an education aspect to it. The interactions I have here allow me to push my own ideas and to see where my arguments have weaknesses or where I need to explain things better. I certainly have no illusions that anything I say here will bring about social change or even change any minds.

To do this, I often push people, particularly when I feel they have an ideological narrative. Ideology causes us humans to focus on our beliefs in spite of the fact that any set of ideological beliefs conflicts with facts and evidence at some point. When this happens I push on the facts and the evidence... whether the ideology is my own, or someone else's. When I see a sacred cow, my instinct is to tip it over. I call this "sacred cow tipping".

To me, this is the only way to meaningful intelligent discussion. If everyone just forms closed groups with people who share their own intellectual biases, then there is no conflict. And, I don't like the way that a popular group has formed here with a "correct" set of ideological beliefs who insult anyone who disagrees. So in that sense, I am certainly looking for provocation and conflict for my own amusement (where the ultimate amusement is an intellectual exchange of ideas with someone who disagrees with me).

I have been labeled a Troll, and I have decided to own that label. I like the term.

So, Am I a Troll?
Leadfoot
 
  1  
Reply Fri 28 Oct, 2016 06:19 am
Another sign this place is getting too PC for me.
0 Replies
 
nimh
 
  4  
Reply Fri 28 Oct, 2016 10:15 am
@maxdancona,
Quote:
I have decided to own that label. I like the term.


Okay.
maxdancona
 
  1  
Reply Fri 28 Oct, 2016 11:41 am
@nimh,
You didn't answer my question.
nimh
 
  5  
Reply Fri 28 Oct, 2016 04:41 pm
@maxdancona,
Not in the habit of sitting in judgement of the identities people claim. You proudly declare yourself a troll? More power to you, not gonna argue you over it.
maxdancona
 
  0  
Reply Fri 28 Oct, 2016 04:49 pm
@nimh,
Thanks Nimh. Then you understand my reaction to the phrase "Don't feed the Trolls" in the title.


0 Replies
 
dlowan
 
  3  
Reply Fri 28 Oct, 2016 05:09 pm
@nimh,
Interesting analysis of troll personality.
maxdancona
 
  -1  
Reply Fri 28 Oct, 2016 05:24 pm
@dlowan,
Are you trolling me Dlowan? Because that would be funny.
0 Replies
 
maxdancona
 
  1  
Reply Fri 28 Oct, 2016 05:39 pm
@nimh,
The big intellectual problem with the argument being made in the argument is that there isn't a consistent definition of what "trolling" means. The author claims that "25% of Americans admit to trolling"... if you click this article it seems to say that disagreeing with a public opinion is trolling (tell me if you see this as different).

Then of course, as you pointed out, the author defines trolling by judging the intent of a poster.

The issue, for many of us, is freedom of expression. A lot of accusations of "trolling" on Able2Know start when someone expresses an opinion, and someone else publicly disagrees.

The author is talking about the rewards. At least when I am involved, the reward is being able to express my opinion. I don't need a response. Often, when people are responding to what they believe is "trolling" they feel compelled to respond because their opinion is being questioned.

As a scientist, there are several things that make me question the validity of the "science" here. The metric is not well-defined, the experiments are ambiguous, and she references the "psycopathy" metric; its use this way has been debunked even by its creator.

But the main thing is, as long as there is a place where people can express, and argue differing opinions... people will be accusing each other of trolling. To me the bad thing is cyber-bullying.

Trolling can spark respectful discussion between differing ideas. Bullying is designed to shut down discussion and stamp out differing opinions. Accusations of trolling often justifies bullying. That, to me, is the real problem.

maxdancona
 
  -1  
Reply Fri 28 Oct, 2016 06:12 pm
@maxdancona,
One way to give negative reinforcement to troll is to downthumb them (did you see the -8 I got up there!). Did anyone even read the article... or are they just dropping in to show disapproval of the troll? Maybe they just can't help themselves.

I am just saying. Wink

I wish someone would give an intelligent response to my point about making a clear distinction between trolling and bullying.
ossobucotemp
 
  3  
Reply Fri 28 Oct, 2016 06:43 pm
@maxdancona,
I and some others know Nimh from way back. I am hugely pleased he is back, it killed me when he left for a while.

People who thumb you down are most often people who fundamentally disagree and are annoyed by your posts.
I try not to thumb down, myself, but I have done it, and usually when I do it's not about intellectual disagreements but misuse of a2k.

I will thumb down re complete assholeness, which takes a bit of doing. I use ignore for you, but peek on occasion.
 

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