New paper says what we always suspected – and climate Internet trolls are some of the worst…

From Psychology Today: Internet Trolls Are Narcissists, Psychopaths, and Sadists (h/t to John Goetz)

Troll_closet_scr

Above: the Josh rendition of the troll known as “andthentheresphysics” who may have a rude awakening very soon. Image not to scale.

 

[NOTE: I’ve always believed that people who taunt others while hiding behind fake names aren’t really contributing anything except their own bile and hatred. The two people that came to mind when I read this article were Dr. Joshua Halpern of Howard University aka “Eli Rabett” and Miriam O’Brien aka Sou Bundanga/Hotwhopper. These people are supposed to be professionals, yet they position themselves as childish cowards, spewing invective from the safety of anonymity while taunting people who have the integrity and courage to put their real names to their words. The best way to combat people like this is to call them out by their name every time they practice their dark art. To that end, and not just for these two losers, I’m stepping up moderation on WUWT. If you want to rant/spew from the comfort of anonymity, find someplace else to do it, because quite frankly I’m in a position in my life where I don’t have the time to deal with this sort of juvenile crap. Be on your best behavior, otherwise its the bit bucket for you. Moderators, take note.. – Anthony]


 

Psychology Today:  Internet Trolls Are Narcissists, Psychopaths, and Sadists

A new study shows that internet trolls really are just terrible human beings.
 

In this month’s issue of Personality and Individual Differences, a study was published that confirms what we all suspected: internet trolls are horrible people.Let’s start by getting our definitions straight. An internet troll is someone who comes into a discussion and posts comments designed to upset or disrupt the conversation. Often, it seems like there is no real purpose behind their comments except to upset everyone else involved. Trolls will lie, exaggerate, and offend to get a response. 

What kind of person would do this?

Canadian researchers decided to find out. They conducted two internet studies with over 1,200 people. They gave personality tests to each subject along with a survey about their internet commenting behavior. They were looking for evidence that linked trolling with the Dark Tetrad of personality: narcissism, Machiavellianism, psychopathy, and sadistic personality.

They found that Dark Tetrad scores were highest among people who said trolling was their favorite internet activity. To get an idea of how much more prevalent these traits were among internet trolls, check out this figure from the paper:

 

 

Look at how low the scores are for everyone except the internet trolls! Their scores for all four terrible personality traits soar on the chart. The relationship between this Dark Tetrad and trolling is so significant, that the authors write the following in their paper:

“… the associations between sadism and GAIT (Global Assessment of Internet Trolling) scores were so strong that it might be said that online trolls are prototypical everyday sadists.” [emphasis added]

Trolls truly enjoy making you feel bad. To quote the authors once more (because this is a truly quotable article):

“Both trolls and sadists feel sadistic glee at the distress of others. Sadists just want to have fun … and the Internet is their playground!”

Full article here: http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/your-online-secrets/201409/internet-trolls-are-narcissists-psychopaths-and-sadists?tr=MostViewed


 

The paper:

Trolls just want to have fun

  • Erin E. Buckels ,Paul D. Trapnell, Delroy L. Paulhus

Abstract

In two online studies (total N = 1215), respondents completed personality inventories and a survey of their Internet commenting styles. Overall, strong positive associations emerged among online commenting frequency, trolling enjoyment, and troll identity, pointing to a common construct underlying the measures. Both studies revealed similar patterns of relations between trolling and the Dark Tetrad of personality: trolling correlated positively with sadism, psychopathy, and Machiavellianism, using both enjoyment ratings and identity scores. Of all personality measures, sadism showed the most robust associations with trolling and, importantly, the relationship was specific to trolling behavior. Enjoyment of other online activities, such as chatting and debating, was unrelated to sadism. Thus cyber-trolling appears to be an Internet manifestation of everyday sadism.

 

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I have always said ‘don’t feed the trolls.’ I run several social media pages, when a troll shows up, the troll’s comment gets deleted, the troll gets banned, and I never say a word. Because what they want is that word… it’s yummy to them, makes them feel worthwhile.

Norman

Just came across my first major troll experience. Fits the definition to a “T”. 🙂
One expects to have a “discussion” but when the reply completely ignores the facts being presented and just goes off on a tangent it is tough to remain civil.

That’s why I don’t deal with trolls at all. Want a reasonable discussion? I love to talk about the posts on my pages, but some folks just want to spew trash and wait for attention. Those I delete.

John West

Sometimes it’s a fine line between feeding a troll and keeping the record straight. As WUWT has become the most viewed website on global warming I think it’s important that the mainstream skeptical position is maintained, developed, and defended here if for no other reason than to accurately represent the mainstream skeptical position to those that may just be coming into the debate. If a comment isn’t deleted and it either 1) has the appearance of a legitimate criticism or 2) grossly misrepresents the mainstream skeptical position then it should be responded to with polite but devastating rebuttal.

kcom

It seems like it would be great if instead of banning people you could fix it so they were the only ones who can see their own posts. Then they would feel ignored and not get any of the desired psychic feedback.

Agree with, John West.

Yes, just because someone might disagree with the consensus of a site ( in the case of WUWT, scepticism) doesn’t automatically make them a troll.
Tonyb

Brute

And, besides, a troll is someone that for whatever reason is considered to be an outsider. Members of the in-group are generally far more delusional, violent and cruel. Eco-chamber effect, safety in numbers, etc, etc.

Clovis Marcus

Nice to have a definition of troll I can point to next time I am called one. I most see it used as “someone who disagreed with me.”

I know what you mean, and I agree with you.

Gamecock

The definition is morphing. It was, for a long time, someone who posts to tweak others into reflexive comment, just for sport. Now, it seems to include any bad forum behavior.

MarkW

I disagree with you. ;*)

Jim B

This “study” strikes a little too much like a certain 97% “study” we all know and love. It’s too clear cut and too much exactly what people would like to be a truthful study. It’s just too convenient.

Mark from the Midwest

I agree to some degree. It’s my understanding that respondents to personality inventories, who have anti-social and/or narcissistic tendencies, do answer honestly simply because they think they are “wonderful human beings.” Look at Obama, he compares himself to Einstein, Patton, and Mother Theresa, without batting an eyelash. Directionally I would agree with the study, but I’d be very cautious about making very specific conclusions.

Wally

I’ve had the joy of working with somebody who fits the definition of narcissistic to a tee. They though the sun shone out their backside, and had not the slightest idea of the distress of everyone around them.
In a workplace its common for there to be one or two people who don’t get on. When EVERYONE (every. single. person.) in that workplace says “X is a problem”, then you know it’s time to stop questioning yourself, and agree that X really is the problem. X leaving was so, so wonderful. X is now off creating havoc elsewhere. And my feedback from the people at that elsewhere place is “oh gee, X is a problem!”

Well, Mother Theresa and Patton were well known as being difficult to work with. Einstein spent his working life trying to prove Relativity wrong. I can’t see POTUS doing that with Obamacare, his response to ISIS, Benghazi, the EPA………

Daniel

Like Global Warming, they went looking for the result they wanted, and magically, it appeared. Gosh!

Robert W Turner

Being skeptical of results simply because they are too “clear cut”? Sometimes things are clear cut and given what we know about personality traits, this is exactly what you’d expect to find.

M Courtney

Yes, the conclusion is actually very obvious.
People who enjoy hurting others online have the personality traits of a sadist.
i.e.
People who enjoy hurting others online, enjoy hurting others.

Good point Jim
I can’t stand these pro AGW trolls and I think many of them are establishment trolls. fifteen years ago I got into some heavy 9-11 debating. I finally got one top admit he was with the secret police. Can’t say he wasn’t playing, can’t say he was… I think there is more of them around – Retired cops that plant Monsanto seeds on private farms trolling when it rains.

Rob Dawg

I for one applaud your positive steps to effect a pause in the growth of comment trolls. Something none of the models had predicted.

Latimer Alder

There’s gotta be something pretty weird about a guy who thinks he’s a rabbit and writes about himself in the third person….

Eh, what’s up doc?

DAV

OTOH, one on whom the carrot and stick model may work. One would hope anyway. Not sure it would on Eli.

Anarchist Hate Machine

Writing and speaking of yourself in third person is a classical red flag for narcissism.

Anarchist Hate Machine

Writing about and/or speaking about oneself in the third person is a classical red flag for narcissism. These people think so highly of themselves without doing or accomplishing anything of real substance.

Anarchist Hate Machine

Oops. Didn’t mean to double post. Thought the first one was lost.

njsnowfan

Hopefully since this WUWT post has to do with Trolls my post ok with you Anthony.
This is an iffy post so, moderators may want to pass this one by Anthony first..
Very Interesting timing of this..lol
I just created this new hash tag this morning… #ClimateTrollGate for @hellerexposed Troll Act that showed up on September 20 after M Mann’s Troll Tweets on September 17.
You all can have fun guessing who he is. Lost of Clues out there,Hints Great Blog writing skills, Expert Twitter user and Knows of M Mann according to him.

jjreuter

Steven Goddard?

peter

The Disney Cartoon “Wonder over Younder” did a marvelous little treatment on this in which a tiny troll grew bigger and bigger the more response he got from the people he was taunting.

Gary

Trolling predates the HTML internet, that’s for sure. The term is older than that. Back to the days of Unix bulletin boards even. And has been previously noted, the #1 attack is to treat the troll as if they are beneath contempt. Ignore them utterly and completely, as if their posts were lost in the posting. On smaller forums this is easily done, but in larger audiences it’s impossible. Most people are simply too thin skinned and cannot resist temptation, and that in of itself would make a great paper. To feed a troll is to express weakness or ignorance. And there is another (lesser) animal loose upon the internet: the fanboy who offers nothing but empty props and endless surface accolades for another party, often to a party that’s being criticized. Fanboys outnumber trolls 20-to-1.

Tom T

I dont know I find that belittling a troll is the most effective method. They are narcissists. I go right after the ego and they tend to run.

Robert B

Do you have any examples of your superior skills?

TomT

Of course this is high level judo. You have to have a very good understanding of the pathology and how to attack the ego in such a way as not to feed it. If you aren’t a black belt best to leave that to the experts.

Brute

Funny nonsense.

Jim G

“They gave personality tests” From which school of psychology were these tests derived? Behavioral theory, pschoanalitical, learning theory or whatever? Having taken over 27 semester hours of psychology/behavioral studies (they were easy electives compared to the engineering curriculum), I would take any results from such tests with a large lump of salt. I am fairly confident that if one asked a practitioner from one of the other schools of thought on psychology, they would trash the study. You think climate science is a soft science, it is rock solid compared to psychology. I did kind of like the course in psychoanalysis, as with clinical psychology, one must first have an MD to go on in that field. Key finding in all of my studies in this field, there is one factor that allows an individual to improve when they do have a problem, irrespective of any “sessions” with a shrink, it is personal awareness that they have a problem. That would leave out some of the ego-maniacal posters who sometimes appear on this site.

Jim G

Psychoanalytical-Spelling

A subtlety of this study is that they seems to classify the “trolls” as those who are self-aware that they are trolls.

among people who said trolling was their favorite internet activity.

Therefore, there is another class of people, unexamined in this study, who are trolls, but are unaware of their behavior.

Jim G

The issue is not necessarily whether one is aware of their behaviour but rather if one is aware of the pathological nature of their behaviour.

Matthew R Marler

Either that or they are lying about themselves (play acting) and trying to give trolls a bad reputation. I have never been able to tell whether anyone who was called a “troll” by another commenter was actually a “troll”. As far as I can tell, a “troll” or a “concern troll” is most likely just a persistent minority voice.

Andrew

This is known as the Johari Window.
However, it is unsurprising that those who self-identify as trolls are narcissistic.

Michael 2

The report is essentially a tautology. People that like to offend others in person also enjoy doing so online. What a surprise. The New Book says “don’t feed the trolls” the Old Book said “don’t cast your pearls before swine” so the social phenomenon is obviously ancient.

Roderic Fabian

For civility on an internet board moderation is essential. Even then there are those who try to push the limits.

Mike Maguire

Good points raised. If somebody is accused of being a troll on a forum, I can’t recall them acknowledging and it seems like, if anything it results in a denial.
This study, however suggests that trolls readily admit to purposely being trolls. Maybe it’s just because you can’t be effective as a troll on the internet if you admit that you are there as a troll. This would only cause others to ignore you.
Maybe trolls have more self awareness of the intent of their actions when analyzing their behavior in the setting of a questionnaire/survey……..probably not to the extend shown here.
Maybe this type of study/researcher(s), has an innate bias or those answering are responding in a way that intentionally effects the results.
For instance, a psychopathic personality is skilled at manipulation in all realms. Would we expect a psychopath to be honest and admit to having these personality flaws which categorize them as horrible people?
A distorted view of their importance may be perceptible by somebody that understands this type of behavior and is able to observe them in action.
However, this research only conducts a survey. It seems to be saying that psychopaths, readily identify themselves as psychopaths with answers to most questions they know suggest they are horrible people and that includes, being honest about enjoying behaving as a troll………..which we know from the real world, they hide from everybody else when they are trolling.
To me, this points towards the strong possibility of researchers with cognitive/confirmation bias, which has caused expected trait(s) to show up in the results of their research.

Oh good grief I think your painting with a brush that’s far too wide, as long as it’s not character assination, what’s the harm? It’s frowned on here but there are a sites that are far more “wild-west” and that’s fine for them. I spend a lot of time on slashdot, which is a user moderated forum, there trolling used to be a fine art-form,

Randomly selected moderators are assigned points (typically 5) which they can use to rate a comment. Moderation applies either −1 or +1 to the current rating, based on whether the comment is perceived as either normal, offtopic, insightful, redundant, interesting, or troll (among others). Slashdot

, but these youngster now-a-days are just lame at trolling.
The contents of Slashdot#Culture lists many of the trolling memes that have been on slashdot and is not recomended for the faint of heart.
I often have comments on /. modderated as both insightfull and troll, and sometimes a few flamebaits are thown in for good measure; usually on a thread about climate change.
Also I don’t think trollong is strictly an internet thing, Howard Stern’s whole radio show is one big troll-fest and look at how popular he is.

GaelanClark

Okay, so whenever I read something that I find that I disagree with I usually comment on it either within the comments section or I find the author on twitter and comment directly. I always use my real name and never hide behind some other name.
Am I a troll?

M Courtney

Depends if you address the issue you disagree with or just distract from that issue.
And if the distraction is designed to excite the passions of the person you are debiting with and not their mind… then you are probably a troll.

Michael 2

“Am I a troll?”
Results reveal intention. Trolls do not require agreement or disagreement; they might in fact agree with you but will start an argument for the fun of it.
I never do it just for fun but sometimes a particular hypocrisy is too acute to let pass unremarked and the results can be unexpectedly rewarding (or annoying). For instance over on ATTP the regulars were commenting intensely on the conspiracy of Koch brothers, paid disinformers and this great big scary thing called “denial”.
So I wrote a single sentence (if I remember right), “Looks like a bit of conspiracy ideation”.
Talk about starting a food fight. Really all I wanted was to suggest removing the beams (slivers?) from their own eyes before suggesting I remove the mote from mine.
I could probably start many such food fights if I wanted to but it seems a bit sleazy.

Michael D

Anthony, this is a very interesting article. Thanks.
As I did not pay the $35 to read the whole paper, I am relying on your insights, so I’d like some clarification on your comment: They found that Dark Tetrad scores were highest among people who said trolling was their favorite internet activity. To get an idea of how much more prevalent these traits were among internet trolls, check out this figure from the paper:
Your first sentence says “trolls are more likely to be tetrads” but the figure (which describes only members of the Dark Tetrad) says “tetraders like to troll.” I’m guessing (I’m hoping) that the Bayesian prior for “Dark Tetrad” (a term that is new to me, but very fun to use!) is relatively low, so we would need to see a different plot to infer that trolls are more likely to be tetrads.
The above sounds confusing even to me, so let me try again: Does the paper suggest, given that someone is a frequent troll, what the probability is that the person is a member of the Dark Tetrad?

@Michael D. 8:07 am
The paper suggests (going by the PR trailer for the paper) that self-aware trolls, i.e. trolls who know they are acting as trolls, are very likely to have a personality that measures in the Dark Tetrad. It is the self-aware part of the observation that makes the Dark Tetrad characteristic not surprising.
I do not think the paper even considered the population of people who engage in trollish behavior but think their hearts are pure.

George A

The fact that “Debating issues” gets a positive DT score suggest to me that there is a spectrum between debate and trolling, at least in the mind of the respondents.

M Courtney

The difference between debaters and trolls is in the narcissism category.
Debaters lack the self-love to disregard any alternative views. That is how they can debate.
Trolls debate without listening.

latecommer2014

I agree George, and doesn’t that then make it a subjective, not an objective view?

manicbeancounter

I think that a difference between “debating” and “trolling” is that in debate you have to recognize that the other person has a point of view. It becomes a combat of arguments where the victor is assessed by others. Trolls never can recognize that those they are attacking have anything useful to say, nor that what they say can ever be wrong. There might be a spectrum of debating, but the true Troll is at the extreme end.
The one who properly debates will use debate as a means of sparring. It is not to destroy the opponent, but to learn.
I have taken on a couple of Trolls, as a means of understanding arguments. In August last year it was someone who went by the name of “Michael the Realist”. It helped sharpen my own arguments, such as here. This year I took on a troll who does blogs under his real name – William Connolley – the one who undermined the credibility of Wikipedia. Both had taken to plaguing the comments of Joanne Nova’s blog. Neither do so now.

mpainter

Machiavellianism? That’s a new one for me. I have read Machiavelli, who wrote on statecraft.

N. Machiavelli was a realist. I don’t understand what psychology imputes to him. I’ve read his works, and I personally find nothing objectionable. He just tells it like it is.

MikeB

There’s more to him than that. Try to find an article by Harvey Mansfield on Machiavelli’s “effectual truth”. Effectual truth, promoted by Machiavelli, is basically what we call today, “the ends justifying the means.” Machiavelli believed that if you thought you could do a better job at running things, and you lied and deceived to get yourself in that position, and you succeeded, you didn’t really lie or deceive. Effectually, you told the truth. I see this in two clear areas today: climate change and Obamacare. Lies, lies and lies are okay with those pushing the agenda, because it’s doing the right thing, and effectually, that is the truth. Ask someone about Obamacare, how the premiums have gone up, not down, how you do lose your doctor and/or your insurance company, and you’re greeted with, “so what, in the end it will be better.”
Dangerous stuff. It justifies any behavior. This is why politicians act as they wish, regardless of morals or laws.

PiperPaul

I’ve always wondered if certain people (leftist leaders, specifically) aren’t chosen based on personality types.

Chris4692

It amounts to self selection.

This is why I appreciate the direction of the OAS–getting past the hype, hyperbole, saracasm and vitriole so commmonplace on the interwebz… and the trolls that perpetuate it.

Todd

This has always been a favorite of mine…and it’s so dead on, in so many ways.
http://www.flamewarriorsguide.com/
Just browse and laugh.

Dave in Canmore

HAHA! Brilliant. Thanks!

Duster

That is a brilliant link. Thanks for posting it.

M Courtney

This is sadly so true it ought to be a linked reference page on the sidebar.
Marvellous, thank you.

Konrad

Brilliant list, great pics. A must see 😉

klem

Its unsafe to use your real name on the internet.
At my old place of employment, had my employer known that I was a climate skeptic she would have summarily fired me. I had no choice but to use a pseudonym.

Sleepalot

I use a pseudonym, not because I’m a psychopath, but because I’ve talked to a few on the internet. There are some sick people out there, and if you annoy them, they can turn up
on your doorstep.

ozspeaksup

exactly, I started using a nom de plume after some seriously nasty trolls continued to hassle me.
so while I understand the real name preference for many, a web page that demanded that was what brought so much grief n stress I halted use of what was a great social webpage with a lot on it I found of worth n interest. I was not the only one who left. the pages owners refused to ban the trolls.

Wally

I”ve had the experience of being shunned,shut out, publicly treated as a fool because of my views (which I might add have been carefully considered and built over a long period – I’m an ex-believer & still a pale-greenie). There are many cases now where if my name were public I’d have a few problems.
The worst one was blogging where I had to pull the account down (and pay extra to kill the domain name quickly) because I rattled the cage of some very nasty people who made threats against me and my family. The also posted grossly defamatory material on many many web sites and it took ages to contact each and ask that the offending material be taken down.
That experience means that my real name does not get out much any more. It’s better for the safety of the family.

Geckko

I wonder how Joshua “Eli Rabbett” Halpern would have fared in that test.
His student ratings seem to place him down the scale on social and communication skills, earning him the bottom ranking of all chemistry teachers at Howard, with an awesome 2.3/5:
http://www.ratemyprofessors.com/ShowRatings.jsp?tid=543236

Wow. The more you scroll down, the worse he gets.

LeeHarvey

Curious… One certain Distinguished Professor of Meteorology at Penn State doesn’t seem to have a listing.

LeeHarvey

MM’s ratings are very curious. Rather odd that the bear a strong similarity to reviews of his book on Amazon. Which might explain the top & bottom scoring double bell.
Twenty five points grading curve, oof.

Sleepalot

A minus? Who’re they kidding?

To be honest I’ve always been suspicious of spychological studies that seek to categorize human behavior. And, in fact, no one truly has their act together. I’ve known quite a few therapists in my time (none of which have been through court order – honest), and they would readily admit that they themselves don’t have their acts together. And life would probably be pretty bland if everybody did. Humans are far too fluid, and unpredictable to attempt to predict. (A little like the climate?)
Having said that I would simply describe a troll as an ‘annoying person.’
– Thomas Judd

J

Obligatory xkcd
http://xkcd.com/386/

u.k.(us)

A classic.

Matthew R Marler

too funny! He looks exactly like me!

Michael D

May I add that I “hide” behind not a fake name, but an incomplete name, because I live in a totalitarian country (Canada) where people holding dissenting views (for example on Climate Change) can be severely punished. I would like to be part of the discussion, but I fear my ability to work as a scientist could be compromised if people could Google my name and find these comments.

klem

So you are a scientist and also a climate skeptic.
But, but.. what about the 97%?!!

Alan Robertson

Just what I’d expect from a 3%er.
/s

Reminds me of a Simpsons episode, Lisa the Vegetarian. Lisa held a dissenting view about meat. So to try to dissuade her, Principle Skinner comes in and says “A certain agitator, lets call her Lisa S. No, that is too obvious, lets call her L Simpson.” And then the class proceeds to watch a film by the meat company with Troy McClure.

mmmmmmm, tripe

Oh, and BTW, I did attend Bovine University.

M Courtney

Understood, so do I.
And when changing jobs recently I stopped posting on WUWT for a while to make sure my LinkedIn presence was internet searched, only. You can’t be too careful.
It’s not that safe out there.

rabbit

Anthony:
I think you should also instruct your moderators to go out of their way to be viewpoint impartial when judging whether someone is a troll. There is a strong tendency to assume that someone who disagrees with your opinions can not possibly be sincere.
[Reply: Moderators should err on the side of free speech. Too many blogs censor comments just because they disagree with them. WUWT tries to be an exception to that. ~ mod.]

Daniel

Being a Troll is like being a Racist. You can’t be a racist unless you’re white and you can’t be a troll unless you’re criticizing CAGW. No matter how lame your comments, or how much ad hominem you spew, it’s all fine in the defense of the planet and the Watermelon agenda. Skeptics are automatically trolls for being disagreeable. This paper is just more Left Wing academic garbage for the True Believers to wield in an attempt to shut the opposition down.

There is another reason I don’t put my name willingly out there. The CAGW people have stated almost from the beginning that anybody that doubts CAGW are criminals. Point in fact that was recently made by Robert Kennedy Jr. The term denial is a direct reference to people that deny the holocaust happened and by extension that by arguing the science and political agenda of CAGW puts me directly at causing potential millions of deaths and untold suffering. CAGW is well organized and funded. Additionally it seems to have the unofficial backing of the US government. Combine those two and it becomes dicey to say, “I think you are wrong, and here’s why”.
By the way, substantial arguments are ignored, misdirected, parameters changed, or often out right lied about.

The trolls will not recognize themselves. It is the nature of the beast.
But the problem is wider than that, because the Internet and democracy are the ideal environments for sociopaths and psychopaths. While struggling to be democratic, the majority have to be undemocratic to deal with them. They are unwilling to do that and so the trolls, sociopaths and psychopaths succeed.

more soylent green!

I don’t use my real name for two very important reasons:
1) I’m at the office and supposed to be working.
2) I don’t want to be harassed by the climate crazies.
I try to keep my politics out of the office, too. My vehicles are neutral — no bumper stickers to incite vandalism from occupy-type punks who disagree.

Chris4692

Similar. In consulting, my controversial opinions can affect my employer adversely. If you knew my name you wouldn’t know who I am anyway.

more soylent green!

Exactly. I don’t want anything controversial to show up on an internet search. Some people have very strong feelings about AGW/Climate Change/Climate Disruption/whatever with zero tolerance of those who disagree. I don’t want my non-work related activities, opinions or beliefs to cost me a job.

Alan Robertson

There is a class of trolls who are paid to do their dirty work.

mpaul

Nick Stokes, perhaps?

Watchman

I always wonder who would think it was worth paying people to leave pointless commments on the internet that will not persuade anyone of anything, and may even alienate sympathetic people (the one way to get me to think Michael Mann is not that far wrong is to sprout some non-sensical half-baked conspiracy theory in defiance of the evidence about him…). I can’t see ‘Big Oil’ or ‘Big Green’ really thinking this is worthwhile.use of funds.
It’s easier to admit that on both sides of any debate there are those so sure of their ideology (and so unrelated to the facts) that about all they can offer is trolling. Some of them may graduate to running websites or even trying to justify their position ‘scientifically’, but at heart they are still trolls, who are shouting that their side is best and have no interest in thinking or debating. I suppose that once you have the tools to do your trolling through a website or ‘science’ then payment is possible, but for the normal keyboard ecowarrior or rabid skydragon then if someone is investing in them, they are wasting their money in a really impressive way.

chrisyu

I like money, how can I get such work?

What if a troll steals your identity, your photos, your artwork, your business logo, your blog posts and defaces all of it into anti-Semitic, racist hate memes? Then what if the cyber bullies, under their cloak of anonymity, begin spreading this hate material on Facebook, Twitter, Reddit and troll sites such as 4chan? What if your reputation on the internet gets so trashed that it makes it impossible to attract new clients or make a living? What if such ‘trolling’ goes on every day, month after month, year after year for five years? What would you do if someone types in your name and the first search suggestion that pops up on a Google search was ‘racist’ next to your name? Would the advice, ‘ignore the trolls,’ still hold firm?

sadbutmadlad

That’s not trolling, that’s stalking and abusive behaviour. Trolling is winding someone up and getting them to react.

“call them out by their name every time they practice their dark art.”
On that note, the troll featured in the Josh cartoon claims on his latest blog that
“To be fair to Steven, my understanding of his paper has changed a great deal since I made most of the comments he’s highlighted”.
Apparently his detailed study of Stephen McIntyre’s paper has not yet reached the level of spelling his name correctly.

Aren’t you referring to ‘and then there’s physics’ instead of Eli rarebit? I thought I read that comment on the ATTP web site after Steve pointed out that ATTP still hasn’t corrected the original post before ATTP achieved better reading comprehension.
Shame ATTP has yet to achieve full reading comprehension or to demonstrate the humility to identify and then correct his errors rather than leave his (ATTP’s) prior reading disability documentation to continue confusing the climateballers. Trying to discuss posts with ATTP is a trying experience against blind deaf circular reasoning.

I can’t beat what George Harrison once wrote:
Its easier to tell a lie than it is to tell the truth
Its easier to kill a fly than it is to turn it loose
Its easier to criticize somebody else
Than to see yourself
Its easier to give a sigh and be like all the rest
Who stand around and crucify you while you do your best
Its easier to see the books upon the shelf
Than to see yourself
Its easier to hurt someone and make them cry
Than it is to dry their eyes
I got tired of fooling around with other peoples lies
Rather I’d find someone that’s true
Its easier to say you wont than it is to feel you can
Its easier to drag your feet than it is to be a man
Its easier to look at someone eless wealth
Than to see yourself

Mark Bofill

OT, but Dark Tetrad sounds like a cool name for a video game.

A Black Hole of a Soul.

Andrew Russell

Or a rock band….

A “troll” seems to be anyone who leaves more than one comment the majority of website users (and usually the moderator) disagree with.
.
It doesn’t matter if the post is correct, and well supported by logic, facts and data — it just has to contradict the beliefs of the majority of website users.
.
Most people, including scientists, have many beliefs they can’t prove to be true.
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If you question beliefs online you may be character attacked in response (leftists do that frequently, and have been character attackers for decades, while right wingers usually try to debate with people having different beliefs).
.
Question beliefs more than once and you are called a “troll”.
.
Calling someone a “troll” is just a shallow character attack, and a first step toward banning them from making more comments on a website.
.
People with beliefs, such as the belief in a coming global warming catastrophe, won’t debate their beliefs simply because even the best words they could choose only add up to: “Because I say so, that’s why”.
.
Posting under your own name has risks.
.
Expressing an honest opinion is difficult for many people if there are risks.
.
I prefer to live “dangerously”.
ECONOMIC LOGIC newsletter
Richard Greene, Editor

rabbit

Rather than banning trolls, I prefer moderation policies which have very specific criteria for banning, such as making off-topic comments, insults and ad hominem attacks (no matter what the viewpoint), and so on. As you say, the definition of “troll” is disturbingly relative.

Owen in GA

I’ve always referred to it as trolling when the poster attacks the person rather than the idea, or when attacking the idea the poster does not support the attack with facts as understood but just with derision. If there is good substance, I may think the poster is wrong, but not a troll.

Michael Wassil

Richard Greene October 2, 2014 at 8:42 am
– “A “troll” seems to be anyone who leaves more than one comment the majority of website users (and usually the moderator) disagree with.”
1. WUWT is an example of just the opposite. We get plenty of disagreement here and the simply fact of disagreement does not a troll make.
– “It doesn’t matter if the post is correct, and well supported by logic, facts and data — it just has to contradict the beliefs of the majority of website users.”
2. What DOES make a troll is exactly the lack of ‘well supported by logic, facts and data’. The troll does not address the issue but instead attacks and attempts to derail the discussion. The troll ignores all responses and instead of replying specifically to whatever rebuttals are offered, forges ahead with ad hominems and continued attempts to derail or hijack the conversation.
– “Most people, including scientists, have many beliefs they can’t prove to be true.”
3. Irrelevant. I don’t care one whit what you believe. But if you assert something as scientific fact, you better be able to produce some evidence.
– “If you question beliefs online you may be character attacked in response …”
4. Agreed. Again irrelevant.
– “Question beliefs more than once and you are called a “troll”.”
5. Possibly. Again irrelevant.
– “Calling someone a “troll” is just a shallow character attack, and a first step toward banning them from making more comments on a website.”
6. A troll offers only ad hominems, tries to hijack the discussion, fails to address the issue(s) under discussion and refuses to read and reply to specific responses/rebuttals. I think it’s quite justified after a few back and forths in a thread where an individual acts like a troll, to call that person a troll.
– “People with beliefs, such as the belief in a coming global warming catastrophe, won’t debate their beliefs simply because even the best words they could choose only add up to: ‘Because I say so, that’s why’.”
7. Your point?
– “Posting under your own name has risks.”
8. Agreed,
– “Expressing an honest opinion is difficult for many people if there are risks.”
9. Agreed. But then why say anything at all? Is it not better to remain silent than to increase the useless noise?
– “I prefer to live ‘dangerously’.”
10. Good for you. I hope it works out well.

Michael Wassil

PS: my comments are specifically about WUWT. I realize that other websites, forums, etc may very well define and ban ‘trolls’ much in the manner described by Richard Greene.

I was speaking about the internet in general, not about this website.
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You seem too defensive about this website: I wouldn’t waste time here if I thought people were being character attacked, called “trolls”, and banned from commenting (not that the moderation is always obvious to an outsider).
.
I speak from experience on an unrelated website where “true believers” did not accept my common sense and requests to prove their beliefs. Not only was I banned from the website, but then a post criticizing me was posted by the moderator, to which i could not reply, and I was character attacked in print in a national audio magazine. All this for asking for proof that different brands of wires, some extremely expensive, actually sounded different to audiophile ears!
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My comments refer to typical websites where “troll” can be used to describe someone who says nothing, or character attacks, or someone who simply expresses opinions different than the majority opinions at that website (most common on leftist-biased websites).
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Michael Wassil

Richard Greene October 3, 2014 at 9:11 am
Thanks for clarifying. I suspected that might be the case which is why I added my ‘PS’ afterwards.
As for being “too defensive”, I guess that’s subjective. I don’t know you and this is the first post of yours I’ve ever read. WUWT gets plenty of trolls defined as people who try to hijack comment threads, ignore specific rebuttals to whatever points they’ve tried to make and/or resort to ad hominems instead of logical arguments. In my experience, no one has been silenced simply for being contrary or expounding an unpopular position. Hence my comments to your points. In my mind, I was simply replying specifically to your points.

mpaul

There’s a segment of the political left (certainly not all people on the left, but a non-trivial segment) who are motivated principally to “stick it to the man”. “The man” being anyone who they perceive to be more successful in life than they. Its a sort of pathological jealousy of success.
I think this personality type is highly correlated to troll behavior. Furthermore, for many of these folks, CAGW is the ultimate ‘stick it to the man’ weapon. Successful people tend to enjoy more individual sovereignty — they are more independent. By controlling CO2, you can limit individual freedom and independence and make everyone dependent on the decisions of the collective. So if my house is bigger than yours, the best way to stick it to me is to pass legislation that says that the carbon footprint of my house is too large, therefore I must pay.

Duster

Trolling is independent of politics and economics. We tend to be more sympathetic with trolls that fly our colours than those that lift others. A troll however will turn on anyone if they perceive themselves to be challenged – that narcissism in the tetrad is the key. The viciousness with which they respond is dependent upon their perception rather than conviction.
If you look to the “Machiavellianism” component, the arbitrariness of trollish allegiance becomes more clear, especially if you firmly hold in mind that for trolls all issues are in reality personal, not ideological. Machiavelli was writing as the Nation State was reemerging in western Europe after the collapse of the Roman Empire and as the societies dominated by chieftainships (that is effectively all aristocracy and nobility are) during Medieval era became more socially and economically complex. His text is an attempt to systematically describe how a “Chieftain” – e.g. Ceasare Borgia – could maintain and expand personal power, even as societies became larger, more affluent and fractious. In effect, Machiavelli is writing to Narcissists about how to stay in power.

TomT

In my experience most “conservative” trolls are of the racist type and dont last long on any type of discussion forum. Liberal trolls are able to get away with the practice far longer which leads to a much larger number of liberal to conservative trolls.

M Courtney

TomT, you make a very good point.
But not all right-wingers are racist or for that matter nationalist.
You do get a lot of free-market ideologues who survive online
They are the ones who think any form of Government is the root of all evil and all left-wingers are vampires (if I understand them correctly).
The Flame Warriors website calls them Capitalista

DirkH

M Courtney
October 2, 2014 at 11:38 am
“TomT, you make a very good point.”
No; TomT is a liberal troll.

Duke C.

From the Usenet days. Author unknown:
“I cannot believe how incredibly stupid you are. I mean rock-hard stupid.
Dehydrated-rock-hard stupid. Stupid so stupid that it goes way beyond the
stupid we know into a whole different dimension of stupid.
You are trans-stupid stupid. Meta-stupid. Stupid collapsed on itself so
far that even the neutrons have collapsed. Singularity stupid. E=mc2 stupid.
Blazing hot mid-day sun on Mercury stupid. You emit more stupid in one
second than our entire galaxy emits in a year. Quasar stupid. Perhaps this
is some primordial fragment from the original big bang of stupid.
Some pure essence of a stupid so uncontaminated by anything else as to be
beyond the laws of physics that we know.
Have a nice day.”

That’s insulting, but I’ve seldom known a troll to put so much imagery and articulation into an insult. I’m not saying it’s not a troll, but it’s a troll of a very high calibre, like Sheldon disagreeing with Leonard: “Perhaps this is some primordial fragment from the original big bang of stupid.”

tty

That’s not trolling that’s wit,

I switched some time ago to using my real name, mainly because I am retired and there will be no significant repercussions…and if there are it would only mean there might be some excitement, like a visit from the FBI – and my old Black Lab will warmly welcome them…or anybody else for that matter.

John W. Garrett

Anthony,
I use a pseudonym for very simple reason: I fear the potential for effects on my career or organizational bias or reprisal because of my views and beliefs about climate.
Normally I am as apolitical as they come. When climate became so heavily politicized and genuine science disappeared, it became imperative for me to obscure my identity. Having already suffered the professional consequences of “speaking truth to power,” I simply cannot afford more.

Non Nomen

I fully second that.

I find the whole concept of ‘trolldom’ fascinating. Having spent most of my adult life in the public as a journalist, I have no trouble using my real name. I enjoy commenting on various sites, but I do wish some commentators would practice just a modicum of civility. The debate over the science and the policy has degenerated to such an extent, it is becoming next to impossible to have a rational discussion.

Retired Engineer John

Alan, since you are a journalist, you might be interested in this blog article that looks at professional trolls. http://www.strategypage.com/htmw/htiw/articles/20130826.aspx

arthur4563

Having spent a fair amount of time in graduate school psychometrics, the one thing you quickly learn is that personality tests, excluding vocational inventories a such as the Strong, are the pits. Probably mostly because there simply is no good definition/theory of what a personality is, or even if there is such a thing.
Just look at court cases – the prosecutor brings in a suitably qualified clinical psychologist that claims the defendent is as sane as you and I. Next the defense brings in their equally well qualified psychologist who claims the defendent cannot distinguish reality and is not responsible for his actions. Or the clinician in the insane asylum who declares a killer no longer a danger to the community, one day before he is released and wipes out a family of four with a machine gun. While I’m sure we all agree that trolls are useless pests,
let’s not go overboard and paint them all as psychotics or sadists.

rabbit

Why is my comment at 8:19 awaiting moderation?
[Reply: Sometimes moderators have no idea why WordPress shunts comments into the Spam folder. This is one of those times. Have patience. If it doesn’t violate site Policy it will be posted soon enough. ~ mod.]

rabbit

Thank you. From now on I’ll be sure to avoid any references to sekks and ppron when discussing climate issues.

Non Nomen

Does that mean that WordPress censors in the name of right- or wrongful anti-spamming? Oh dear oh dear oh dear….

Beethoven

Out of topic but I think is interesting to see what’s happening in REAL SCIENCE.
There was a famous experiment (BICEP2) which purports to show a fingerprint of inflation.
This result was met with a media frenzy.

In barely two weeks the paper was out and physicist were concerned about some of the assumptions,
there were calls to keep calm and carry on with the science.
Very recently, updated Planck data has shown that the observations were probably dust.
Preprint: http://arxiv.org/abs/1409.5738
An interesting take on the issue: http://www.math.columbia.edu/~woit/wordpress/?p=6865
I think climatologist should see the standard that real scientist demand of each other and wonder “Are we like that people?”
One of the things missing form the debate -which I’d like to see more in this blog- are the assumptions on the literature about mitigation and impacts. Many of this assumptions make most papers irrelevant -even as qualitative results. Others have assumptions which contradicts the assumptions on the references fundamental to the arguments.
Climatologist don’t even bother about this and they should if want to be called “climate scientists”

tadchem

Where to draw the line between a name, a nickname, and a pseudonym? My own “handle” (tadchem) is to me more of an abbreviation. It stands for Thomas. A. Davidson, CHEMist. I have been using it in email, posts, and comments for nearly 30 years, and for about 10 years on WUWT. Google it and you will find only me and some mom-and-pop chemical company in the Philippines. I strive to avoid personally offensive comments as Ad Hominems are to me Anatemas, but I confess I can get snarky occasionally, hopefully in a clever way. Please advise if the new site policy on nicknames will affect my use of this.

As I understand it, use of a pseudonym is not sufficient to be a problem. It is the “hiding behind fake names” that is the issue. When you have an email address that is valid, you are not hiding.
I ran into this on my first posting at WUWT some many years back. It went into moderation for several days. Why? The email address and name were of a sort that looked ‘fake’. So a probe email was sent to me (that I didn’t get for a few days as I was not checking mail much…) Once I responded and was ‘identified’, the comment went up (as did all following comments).
But an email sent to, say “OneLoverlyTroll@upyours.buddy” that immediately rejects, or gets a ‘no such email account’ would flag the person as “hiding” and “fake”.
@all:
FWIW, I use E.M.Smith as that is more “unique” than my actual name… There’s one of me per 2000 of working population; but few of them use the initialized form… So it, too, isn’t hiding. I’d be more hidden using my full name….

Alan Robertson

I can relate to Chiefio’s lament. There are probably 1,753 guys with my name, just in Edinburgh.
Just to set the record straight: I am not one of the Duck Commander Robertsons. I don’t even look like them Ok, maybe I do, but my beard isn’t as grey. Ok, maybe it is, but…

My name isn´t mine either. But I write anti communist comments and I was traveling into dangerous places. So I used my name with my real photograph, then I got nervous and I chopped a piece of my head off. However, eventually I decided to stop traveling where they could jail me for writing all sorts of anti government material. But now I see the climate zombies appearing and threatening people like me. So I think it´s better to stick to my own advice.

DirkH

“then I got nervous and I chopped a piece of my head off. ”
Note to self: Better use a dry shave when nervous.

Gunga Din

NOTE: I’ve always believed that people who taunt others while hiding behind fake names aren’t really contributing anything except their own bile and hatred. ….spewing invective from the safety of anonymity while taunting people who have the integrity and courage to put their real names to their words. …. If you want to rant/spew from the comfort of anonymity, find someplace else to do it

If I understand that correctly it is not aimed at those who don’t comment using their real name but rather at those to whom not using their real name is part of their behavior here.
In water treatment testing for coliform bacteria is done, not because all coliforms are pathogens but because if the test is positive then a closer look is warranted to be sure E.coli, pathogen, is not present. It’s an indicator of a potential problem.
I don’t use “Gunga Din” to hide so I can snipe at others here but rather so that Green Trolls can’t harm me in “real life”.
As I said in comment before, I could show up for work drunk and be in less trouble than if I didn’t use the recycle bin.

Shoshin

I was constantly accused of being a troll on SCIAM’s website. The reason? I kept asking Climate Alarmists to support their claims by demonstrating outrageous things like data integrity, reproducibility, falsifiablity, open data etc.
This all begs the question: ” If a troll falls in the forest and you agree with the sounds that he or she makes, are they really a troll or just someone who shares your confirmation bias?”

Duster

My view is that most folks are not trolls in any fashion. They have simply allowed their convictions to override their honesty. They are essentially congregants defending their faith. They honestly have no grounds for an opinion, yet they persist in defending it. CAGW and AGW have allowed a priesthood to dominate their thought.
That is not limited IMHO to AGW though either. I am awaiting a truly convincing argument that “climate” is anything but an intellectual generalization of weather over time – i.e. is it real in the empirical sense? The discussions of the effects of long term patterns like the ENSO, PDO and AMO are the most convincing counter arguments I have read.

Shoshin,
Scientific American was bought by a group of German “greens”. Since then they go out of their way to delete and/or ban commenters who disagree with catastrophic AGW.
It doesn’t matter how rational or unemotional your comment is, they are quick to ban people who appear to question their CAGW narrative.

rah

It really is easy. Immature miserable people love to make others miserable. It makes them feel their putrid life is “normal”.

Leon Brozyna

Civility is its own reward … doesn’t mean you have to agree with everyone … you can disagree with most everyone and still be civil … except for the troll, who can’t be civil even with people with whom he agrees.
As for the troll, looking at those personality traits inspires nothing but pity for those poor barren souls.

Beethoven

I just saw Linde’s reaction on the video above:
“IF THIS IS TRUE…”
“Let’s see let’s just hope that is not a trick…I always live with this feeling what if I’m tricked?”
Has a climatologist ever said “if this is true…” when talking about a result that confirms his research?
I’m really surprised to see how hard it is for climatologist to understand the scientific method and how puzzle they are about it, how personal they take it… The traits of pseudo-science are all over this issue and sooner or latter they’ll have to face it

Matthew R Marler

Who would admit to being a “troll”? Would you believe anything else that such a person said about himself or herself? What is the evidence that this group of self-selected and self-identified persons is doing anything other than playing games with the researchers?

rtj1211

‘Trolls will lie, exaggerate, and offend to get a response. ‘
I’m afraid that 50% of journalists are trolls by that definition. And every editor plans for them to be trolls as their aim is not the conveyance of truth but the generation of webpage clicks.
James Delingpole’s byline says ‘he is always right’ which is a lie, an exaggeration and designed to get a response. It doesn’t stop you admiring him here at WUWT. His articles are often deliberately hateful of another political persuasion (he wrote anti Liberal Democrat articles to generate hundreds, sometimes thousands of bile-filled far-right blog comments for a good couple of years in the current electoral cycle). He doesn’t like me hauling him before the concept of truth occasionally and therefore wrote once that I was the biggest troll of all. Unfortunately for him, it cost him his job and he had to be rescued by Breitbart, when I made a pretty coruscating rebuttal of his rubbish…….
If you’re going to damn trolls, you really must apply your troll definition to each and every one of your contributing authors and refuse to publish those who troll, if any.
Are you going to do that??
The other thing you need to consider is that there are certain websites where ‘trolls’ are actively needed, since all they do is act like a Ku Klux Klan-style forum for mutual reinforcement of prejudice and hatred. Challenging those people to face up to their prejudice generates very strong responses and occasionally exaggeration to create such a ludicrous picture that it is obvious that the blogger is not serious is the best way to open the door to enlightenment. The key issue here is that the best of those who confront closed minds rarely lie. If, however, in the eyes of those closed mind communities the facts are so uncomfortable that the challengers must be called liars, then they will probably be referred to as trolls. The fact that they are not is something which, in this age of ‘the internet says so, so it must be true’, is sometimes forgotten……..
By the way, one of the best correlations with sadism (which is joy in the inflicting of pain upon others) is the dominance complex. The dominance complex is an overarching demand to subjugate others and to enjoy the point in time when that subjugation becomes apparent, no matter the effect that it has on the person being subjugated. It is one of the most common traits in very bad bosses and for those of us free of such a complex but with the antennae which detect it, it is the single most uncomfortable experience possible in the workplace. It is also common in queen bees, for whom destroying drones’ careers is an act of immense pleasure. If you have ever been on the wrong end of that, you may or may not have experienced the emotion of wanting to kill, since queen bees do not limit their behaviour to their subordinates at work, they rather apply it to anyone who do not submit to their dominance complex. To say that such behaviour is incompatible with the concept of a free society is one of the current challenges facing Western Societies. When you ask very senior politicians to deal with the evidence presented before them about people displaying such traits, as you do not wish to act on the emotions generated, you may find that they are quite comfortable with psychopathic sadists being in extremely ‘responsible’ positions in high society. It says a lot about societies which tolerate that, doesn’t it??

Delingpole’s byline “Right about everything” isn’t a lie. It is a joke. It’s a pun. The word “right” has two different meanings. Get it? Maybe another feature of trolls is their lack of a sense of humour?

johanna

Unfortunately for him, it cost him his job and he had to be rescued by Breitbart, when I made a pretty coruscating rebuttal of his rubbish…….
————————————————
Wow, your “pretty coruscating” prose cost Dellers his job? Really! This is hot news.
I take it that they hired you to replace him, then?
Hilarious.

rogerknights

Here’s a thread link + two paragraphs on the closely related subject of “the right man syndrome”:

http://michaelprescott.typepad.com/michael_prescotts_blog/2013/06/the-right-man.html
In a recent comment, Roger Knights reminded me of a psychological theory known as “the Right Man syndrome.” It was originally formulated by the science-fiction writer A.E. Van Vogt, and later picked up by the British author Colin Wilson, and still later endorsed by maverick futurist Robert Anton Wilson.
The theory is relevant to my last post (“Ego on Trial”) and also to a great many other conflicts and controversies in the modern world. Essentially, the Right Man is someone (either man or woman, in Colin Wilson’s interpretation) whose fragile ego is threatened by any possibility of being wrong. As a matter of ego-defense, the Right Man must automatically and habitually insist that he is right in every situation, no matter what the circumstances and no matter what new information may have come to light.

DirkH

better known as authoritative personality, more here
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transactional_analysis

michael hart

Some people just like arguing, and many humans are convinced they are always correct. Posting under a pseudonym encourages people to be less cautious about what they say, so I’m not convinced there are as many trolls as thought.

andthentheresphysics repeatedly deleted my comment until I threatened to publish it in a more viewable place! Sounds like he didn’t want me to have the final word.

I exchange views with Andy (I call him Andy and he doesn´t seem to mind). But I´m a very easy going fella. When he starts acting up I remind him my attitude arises from his inability to understand where I´m coming from.

Latitude

the difference between a psychopath and sociopath…
One you can blame on everyone else…and one completely your fault