Media Matters - On Trolling

Greetings fellow Bronco fanatics. As a long time "MHRer" and even longer-time Bronco fan, I’ve decided to pour some of the passion and my "real world" into a blog.

A brief intro: I’ve been a sports junkie since I was a kid. I played various sports all through high school, continued probably more seriously than was truly necessary into college intramurals and clubs and then a few years beyond. I’ve earned a B.A. and an M.A. in Journalism, though with different focus for each and a twenty-year gap that provided an interesting look into the changes in media and how we use them pre and post-Internet. By trade I’m a filmmaker (you can see one of my works here, for free, if you’re interested) and a teacher of all things filmmaking.

On to today’s blog: on trolling.

With the heated blog-battle leading up to the Broncos smacking down the previously unbeaten Chiefs, the question of who or what is a troll played out here on MHR loudly. There were a few definitions thrown around, usually boiling down to territory, the trespassing upon said territory by a non-member and the behavior of the trespasser. The behavior, it seems to me, is where the troll meets the bridge. I had several discussions leading up to the game on the boards with trespassers (Chiefs fans) that I considered enjoyable. That doesn’t mean we agreed – in fact, disagreement was, at times, part of the enjoyment. Part of the reason for that was the disagreements had respect and boundaries (no name calling, no repeating points infinitum without new data to support and no broad baseless claims clearly stated to incite). These latter disagreements that I found quite annoying fit the troll status in my opinion because of their poor behavior in our territory. Statement of personal bias: I don't like trolls.

The funny thing to me is that the nature of the disagreements (right and wrong valuation, statistic defining, trend extrapolation) I got into with the trolls were not unlike the disagreements I have had here with my own fellow fans. That begs the question: are trolls limited to outsiders?

According to University of Central Lancashire lecturer Claire Hardaker, a troll is an individual "who constructs the identity of sincerely wishing to be part of the group in question, including professing or conveying pseudo-sincere intentions, but whose real intention(s) is/are to cause disruption and/or to trigger or exacerbate conflict for the purposes of their own amusement." This, more linear definition, limits the troll label considerably, leaving the answer to yes – trolls, by definition, are outsiders. Apparently amongst true Bronco fans, such as ourselves, sometimes we can all just be a-holes.

So how to ID a troll? According to Hardaker, here are seven sure signs:

1: "Digressing from the topic at hand, especially onto sensitive topics."

2: "Being hypocritical, especially for a fault that the critic then displays themselves."

3: "Displaying antipathy, by taking up an alienating position, asking pseudo-naïve questions."

4: "Endangering others by giving dangerous advice, encouraging risky [behavior]."

5: "Shocking others by being insensitive about sensitive topics, explicit about taboo topics."

6: "Being aggresive by insulting, threatening, or otherwise plainly attacking them without provocation."

7: "Crossposting – sending the same offensive or provocative message to multiple groups then waiting for the response."

Nothing shocking there, but nice to have a list to look at - and debate, which I hope you all will do below. The deeper question I will explore in the next column is why some troll. This will include a look at "grievers", "internet tough guys" and "memers". They're an entrenched part of the internet culture, but what do they seem to get out of it and how disruptive are they?

Go Broncos. Die trolls.

This is a Fan-Created Comment on The opinion here is not necessarily shared by the editorial staff of MHR

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