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)


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:


The paper:

Trolls just want to have fun

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


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.


0 0 votes
Article Rating
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
October 2, 2014 7:37 am

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.

Reply to  Dyrewulf
October 2, 2014 8:44 am

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.

Reply to  Norman
October 2, 2014 9:22 am

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
Reply to  Dyrewulf
October 2, 2014 10:32 am

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.

Reply to  John West
October 2, 2014 11:01 am

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.

Reply to  John West
October 2, 2014 11:37 am

Agree with, John West.

Reply to  John West
October 2, 2014 2:41 pm

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.

Reply to  John West
October 2, 2014 3:06 pm

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
October 2, 2014 7:38 am

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.”

Reply to  Clovis Marcus
October 2, 2014 8:25 am

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

Reply to  Clovis Marcus
October 2, 2014 12:23 pm

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.

Reply to  Clovis Marcus
October 2, 2014 2:31 pm

I disagree with you. ;*)

Jim B
October 2, 2014 7:39 am

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
Reply to  Jim B
October 2, 2014 8:01 am

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.

Reply to  Mark from the Midwest
October 2, 2014 6:43 pm

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!”

Reply to  Mark from the Midwest
October 4, 2014 1:12 pm

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………

Reply to  Jim B
October 2, 2014 8:07 am

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

Robert W Turner
Reply to  Jim B
October 2, 2014 9:06 am

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
Reply to  Robert W Turner
October 2, 2014 11:11 am

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

Reply to  Jim B
October 3, 2014 5:27 pm

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
October 2, 2014 7:41 am

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
October 2, 2014 7:44 am

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

Reply to  Latimer Alder
October 2, 2014 8:28 am

Eh, what’s up doc?

Reply to  tomwtrevor
October 2, 2014 1:16 pm

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

Anarchist Hate Machine
Reply to  Latimer Alder
October 2, 2014 5:47 pm

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

Anarchist Hate Machine
Reply to  Latimer Alder
October 2, 2014 7:03 pm

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
Reply to  Anarchist Hate Machine
October 2, 2014 7:04 pm

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

October 2, 2014 7:55 am

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
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.

Reply to  njsnowfan
October 4, 2014 3:36 am

Steven Goddard?

October 2, 2014 7:58 am

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.

October 2, 2014 8:00 am

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
Reply to  Gary
October 2, 2014 8:40 am

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
Reply to  Tom T
October 2, 2014 2:48 pm

Do you have any examples of your superior skills?

Reply to  Gary
October 2, 2014 10:18 am

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.

Reply to  TomT
October 2, 2014 3:10 pm

Funny nonsense.

Jim G
October 2, 2014 8:01 am

“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
Reply to  Jim G
October 2, 2014 8:02 am


Reply to  Jim G
October 2, 2014 8:29 am

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
Reply to  Stephen Rasey
October 2, 2014 8:35 am

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
Reply to  Stephen Rasey
October 2, 2014 9:47 am

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.

Reply to  Stephen Rasey
October 2, 2014 11:56 am

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

Michael 2
Reply to  Jim G
October 2, 2014 4:24 pm

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
October 2, 2014 8:03 am

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

Mike Maguire
Reply to  Roderic Fabian
October 2, 2014 11:17 am

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.

Reply to  Roderic Fabian
October 2, 2014 2:47 pm

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.

October 2, 2014 8:06 am

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
Reply to  GaelanClark
October 2, 2014 11:15 am

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
Reply to  GaelanClark
October 2, 2014 5:23 pm

“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
October 2, 2014 8:07 am

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?

Reply to  Michael D
October 2, 2014 8:40 am

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
October 2, 2014 8:08 am

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
Reply to  George A
October 2, 2014 11:17 am

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.

Reply to  George A
October 2, 2014 12:50 pm

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

Reply to  George A
October 2, 2014 2:10 pm

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.

October 2, 2014 8:08 am

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

Reply to  mpainter
October 2, 2014 10:27 am

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.

Reply to  dbstealey
October 2, 2014 10:53 am

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.

October 2, 2014 8:10 am

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

Reply to  PiperPaul
October 2, 2014 11:34 am

It amounts to self selection.

John Schwartz
October 2, 2014 8:11 am

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.

October 2, 2014 8:12 am

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

Dave in Canmore
Reply to  Todd
October 2, 2014 9:39 am

HAHA! Brilliant. Thanks!

Reply to  Todd
October 2, 2014 9:46 am

That is a brilliant link. Thanks for posting it.

M Courtney
Reply to  Todd
October 2, 2014 11:26 am

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

Reply to  Todd
October 2, 2014 2:09 pm

Brilliant list, great pics. A must see 😉

October 2, 2014 8:13 am

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.

Reply to  klem
October 2, 2014 2:10 pm

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.

Reply to  Sleepalot
October 3, 2014 4:09 am

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.

Reply to  klem
October 2, 2014 6:51 pm

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.

October 2, 2014 8:14 am

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:

Reply to  Geckko
October 2, 2014 10:36 am

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

Reply to  Geckko
October 2, 2014 11:09 am

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

Reply to  LeeHarvey
October 2, 2014 11:17 am

Never mind… found him another way.

Reply to  LeeHarvey
October 2, 2014 2:15 pm

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.

Reply to  LeeHarvey
October 2, 2014 2:19 pm

A minus? Who’re they kidding?

Tom J
October 2, 2014 8:17 am

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

October 2, 2014 8:18 am

Obligatory xkcd

Reply to  J
October 2, 2014 9:29 am

A classic.

Matthew R Marler
Reply to  J
October 2, 2014 9:52 am

too funny! He looks exactly like me!

Michael D
October 2, 2014 8:19 am

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.

Reply to  Michael D
October 2, 2014 8:25 am

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

Alan Robertson
Reply to  Michael D
October 2, 2014 8:30 am

Just what I’d expect from a 3%er.

Reply to  Michael D
October 2, 2014 10:04 am

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.

Reply to  alexwade
October 2, 2014 6:15 pm

mmmmmmm, tripe

Reply to  alexwade
October 2, 2014 6:16 pm

Oh, and BTW, I did attend Bovine University.

M Courtney
Reply to  Michael D
October 2, 2014 11:30 am

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.

October 2, 2014 8:19 am

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.]

October 2, 2014 8:21 am

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.

Reply to  Daniel
October 5, 2014 7:42 pm

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.

Tim Ball
October 2, 2014 8:22 am

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!
October 2, 2014 8:23 am

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.

Reply to  more soylent green!
October 2, 2014 8:55 am

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!
Reply to  Chris4692
October 2, 2014 11:46 am

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
October 2, 2014 8:28 am

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

Reply to  Alan Robertson
October 2, 2014 8:48 am

Nick Stokes, perhaps?

Reply to  Alan Robertson
October 2, 2014 9:12 am

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.

Reply to  Alan Robertson
October 5, 2014 8:43 pm

I like money, how can I get such work?

October 2, 2014 8:28 am

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?

Reply to  Ben Garrison
October 2, 2014 1:54 pm

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

October 2, 2014 8:29 am

“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.

Reply to  Paul Matthews
October 2, 2014 2:29 pm

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.

October 2, 2014 8:33 am

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
October 2, 2014 8:37 am

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

Reply to  Mark Bofill
October 2, 2014 8:49 am

A Black Hole of a Soul.

Andrew Russell
Reply to  Mark Bofill
October 2, 2014 9:29 am

Or a rock band….

October 2, 2014 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.
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.
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”.
Richard Greene, Editor

Reply to  Richard Greene
October 2, 2014 10:42 am

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
Reply to  Richard Greene
October 2, 2014 1:01 pm

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
Reply to  Richard Greene
October 2, 2014 2:49 pm

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
Reply to  Michael Wassil
October 2, 2014 3:02 pm

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.

Reply to  Michael Wassil
October 3, 2014 9:11 am

I was speaking about the internet in general, not about this website.
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!
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).

Michael Wassil
Reply to  Michael Wassil
October 4, 2014 6:33 pm

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.

October 2, 2014 8:47 am

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.

Reply to  mpaul
October 2, 2014 10:09 am

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.

Reply to  Duster
October 2, 2014 10:23 am

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
Reply to  Duster
October 2, 2014 11:38 am

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

Reply to  Duster
October 3, 2014 12:49 am

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

Duke C.
October 2, 2014 8:49 am

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.”

Reply to  Duke C.
October 2, 2014 10:35 am

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.”

Reply to  Frank Lee MeiDere
October 2, 2014 2:25 pm

That’s not trolling that’s wit,

October 2, 2014 8:50 am

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
October 2, 2014 8:51 am

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
Reply to  John W. Garrett
October 2, 2014 12:26 pm

I fully second that.

October 2, 2014 9:01 am

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
Reply to  Alan Poirier
October 2, 2014 1:28 pm

Alan, since you are a journalist, you might be interested in this blog article that looks at professional trolls.

October 2, 2014 9:05 am

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.

October 2, 2014 9:13 am

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.]

Reply to  rabbit
October 2, 2014 11:28 am

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

Non Nomen
Reply to  rabbit
October 2, 2014 12:28 pm

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

October 2, 2014 9:13 am

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.
An interesting take on the issue:
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”

October 2, 2014 9:14 am

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.

Reply to  tadchem
October 2, 2014 9:55 am

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”.
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
Reply to  E.M.Smith
October 2, 2014 10:35 am

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…

Reply to  tadchem
October 2, 2014 12:33 pm

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.

Reply to  Fernando Leanme
October 3, 2014 12:43 am

“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
Reply to  tadchem
October 2, 2014 2:16 pm

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.

October 2, 2014 9:15 am

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?”

Reply to  Shoshin
October 2, 2014 10:25 am

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.

Reply to  Shoshin
October 2, 2014 10:57 am

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.

October 2, 2014 9:19 am

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

Leon Brozyna
October 2, 2014 9:23 am

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.

October 2, 2014 9:24 am

I just saw Linde’s reaction on the video above:
“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
October 2, 2014 9:35 am

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?

October 2, 2014 9:37 am

‘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??

Reply to  rtj1211
October 2, 2014 9:54 am

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?

Reply to  rtj1211
October 2, 2014 2:40 pm

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?

Reply to  rtj1211
October 2, 2014 7:49 pm

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

Reply to  rogerknights
October 3, 2014 12:41 am

better known as authoritative personality, more here

michael hart
October 2, 2014 9:39 am

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.

October 2, 2014 9:41 am

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.

Reply to  nuwurld
October 2, 2014 12:36 pm

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.

October 2, 2014 9:42 am

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

Paul in Sweden
October 2, 2014 9:44 am

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.
Well Anthony, If your view is limited to people who taunt others while hiding behind fake names, I agree. There are those of us around the world that would be inconvenienced(at the least) or worse should our affiliations, positions or political views be well known, which for me is not so bad but then there are the repercussions against family. It is oh so easy to take a stand ignoring the lessons of history proclaiming your name when there is nothing to lose.
Trapped in Polyphemos’s cave, he’s quick enough to call out “Nobody is my name. My father and mother call me Nobody, as do all the others who are my companions”
The use of a pseudonym for posts is valid for public posting (not so much for hit and run troll attacks).
It is bad in America in light of the illegal use of the IRS & the FEC by the DNC/Obama Administration to suppress the organization of voter opposition as exhibited during the scandal of the 2008 general elections. While it looks bad in America it is far worse here in Europe where the process is institutionalized and beaten down into the populations psyche.

October 2, 2014 9:56 am

{bold emphasis mine – JW}
A. Watts said in the lead post,
“[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.. – [A. Watts] ]”

Well, the psychology paper, with its own definition of trolls, may or may not be intellectually faulted. Certainly, I won’t give it the benefit of the doubt at all.
I think, without any need for such a psychology paper, it is long overdue for A. Watts to strengthen controls to stop the misuse of anonymity. The new anonymity policy statement by Anthony gives a justified context from many years of experience from abuse by anonymous commenters.
In my thinking, lack of civility by anonymous commenters means they get to avoid the responsibility for their uncivil behavior. In open society one should be responsible (accountable) for one’s actions.
Other issues with anonymity besides uncivil behavior exist. In my thinking, when anonymous commenters act without integrity then they avoid responsibility. Likewise, when anonymous commenters try to control the conversation by name-calling accusations that other commenters are trolls then they avoid responsibility.
Question: It makes me feel dishonest to be anonymous in intellectual discussions. Does it make any other commenters here feel that way too?

Paul in Sweden
Reply to  Anthony Watts
October 2, 2014 11:27 am

Where contempt is institutionalized, penalizing all aspects of our lives, anonymity is the only refuge.

NZ Willy
Reply to  Anthony Watts
October 2, 2014 12:23 pm

Our democratic vote is anonymous, so that citizens are not coerced. That same principle extends elsewhere.

Reply to  Anthony Watts
October 2, 2014 2:12 pm

I post under my initials, not really to be “anonymous”, but rather because that is how I have always signed my name, even in handwritten notes. (there have always been quite a few people who do that) I believe (of course others my differ) that a poster who consistently uses the same handle on the same forum for a long period of time isn’t “anonymous”, rather, that handle tells me more about who he is, by past reputation, than his actual name would.
My personal opinion is that the “anonymous” label should apply to those who change their name/handle frequently, along with the posting address, rather like a telemarketing company always rotating through new numbers so that they can’t be blocked. Or to put the thing succinctly, I don’t see a problem with someone using a consistent nom de plume.
The problem with using True Names, as has been pointed out elsewhere in these posts, is that there are quite a few people who are in positions and have jobs in which the simple act of posting on a site such as this one would be used to damage, and potentially end, their careers.

Reply to  Anthony Watts
October 2, 2014 6:09 pm

Poor content breeds contempt. For the rational, the “who” is irrelevant, only the content matters. It is what is said that should be judged, not the identity used to say it. Concerning yourself with the “who” is merely perpetuating the “argument from authority” falacy.

Reply to  Anthony Watts
October 2, 2014 9:31 pm

wws – I’ll post as Wally, with a real proper genuine email. If I can’t post as Wally, then I won’t post at all. The consequences of being found out are too severe.

Mark Bofill
Reply to  John Whitman
October 2, 2014 12:59 pm

It doesn’t make me feel dishonest, but I had noticed that after I started using my full name some time back that after dropping anonymity I took more care with what I said. I generally did more research before speaking, generally thought through what I was going to say a little more carefully, etc. I think it was a positive change.
Of course I understand there may be risks involved, and I understand it’s not for everyone. ~shrug~

Owen in GA
Reply to  Mark Bofill
October 2, 2014 1:30 pm

I post under only part of my name, but try to take great care with my posts anyway. When I came to WUWT from CA, I did so to try to understand what was going on in the climate field. (I still go to CA occasionally, but Steve Mc’s format is harder to follow) I have been a skeptic on AGW from Mann’s first hockey stick because I studied too much history to entertain the idea that the MWP was not warmer than today at least in the northern hemisphere. I have had a few times in my comments where my previous understanding was corrected by others (for instance: DesertYote set me straight on salt water density verses temperature – for which I am quite grateful, I hate being wrong, so being shown a fact is appreciated). There have been other times when I would have liked more background, so I really should ask more questions.
I work in a University that has a leaning toward CAGW, but not fanatically so. We have no meteorology department or climate science so it is more that busy people just trust that the articles published in “the right journals” have been properly vetted and reflect the current state of understanding. Whereas I have seen the data adjustments and don’t believe the result. The wrong people publicly knowing my views could cause me difficulties I would prefer to avoid. I started off using just my first name, but a gentleman from Wales was already posting under that handle and it was causing some confusion so I added a general location of the US state I am in.

Mark Bofill
Reply to  Mark Bofill
October 2, 2014 1:38 pm

I can certainly understand that. I’m a private sector engineer; nobody knows and nobody cares in my largely unrelated industry. The only risk I’m really taking is crazies tracking me down, and even there, I live in a conservative community that I’m confident would be sympathetic to my position if there was some altercation. In short, it’s no big deal for me because I’m really not risking much anyway. 🙂
Certainly, if I thought disclosing my identity wasn’t worth the (fairly minimal) risk, I wouldn’t hesitate to remain anonymous.

Gunga Din
Reply to  John Whitman
October 2, 2014 2:52 pm

I’m not sure how many of my comments would be considered “intellectual”, but no, it doesn’t make me feel dishonest. Aside from the fact that I’ve identified with “Gunga Din” as me ever since someone else dubbed me with that as a CB handle 30 years or so ago, there are those out who would do real harm to those who don’t agree with them. Some of us may be more vulnerable than others. I said this earlier.
I don’t use use “Gunga Din” to harm or disrupt.

Reply to  John Whitman
October 2, 2014 6:44 pm

& Anonymity is a minor art form that specializes in communicating who you aren’t.

October 2, 2014 10:04 am

Careful here….
Ultimately I believe the conclusions of the study will be expanded to add skeptical behavior to the troll category.
Simply questioning the status quo on any subject will be labeled as trolling as it may be seen as an attempt to upset rather than simply wanting to provide a point of view on a subject or correct the record.
My gut says that this study is really a disguised attempt to pigeonhole and discredit all skeptics as trolls.

Reply to  InMD
October 2, 2014 11:23 am

I completely agree. There’s a full court press going on to get the Social Scientists and Psychiatric Scientists to manufacture papers that dehumanize and marginalize skeptics and paint them as “ill”. Money is flowing for this purpose and these scientists are moving to the money. This paper is one example.
The goal is to create stereotypes and prejudicial caricatures that become distinctions between believes and skeptics — ultimately forming dangerous ‘in group’ and ‘out group’ patterns. The ‘in group” comes to regard the “out group” as inyenzi who are not real humans, and as such must be eliminated. Or as James Cameron said when speaking of skeptics, “I think they’re swine”. “Kill the skeptics” becomes hip and cool among the believers.
Dr. Paul Bain from the University of Queensland (colleague of Stephan Lewendowsky) has studied the process of dehumanization extensively, and in particular its use in the Rwandan genocide. Its his primary research area. So its quite disturbing to see him now showing up in the climate change area and publishing papers calling skeptics deniers. In effect he is now applying his research in a way that dehumanizes skeptics. I guess he has discovered that its a better way to monetize his expertise. In any case, this needs to be exposed before it leads to a very ugly place.

Reply to  mpaul
October 2, 2014 12:14 pm

That is illuminating. Other studies (in nonverbal communication) are actually quite sly in their conclusions about the use of stereotypes (such as for a race, or seniors, or any other group).
They show that using these stereotypes is effective because they are easily triggered (though unconsciously) after recent exposure to a stereotype.
People who are young have been over-exposed to stereotypes and misrepresentations of a lot of people, and I think it is a good idea to realize that.

Reply to  mpaul
October 2, 2014 12:41 pm

I wrote something called “i´m going underground” and quoted the Daily Mail as follows:
“The professor….argued that ‘cultural resistance’ to accepting humans as being responsible for climate change ‘must be recognised and treated’ as an aberrant sociological behaviour.”
This refers to the Norgaard comments. When I realized they were serious about these ideas I decided I´d better be extremely careful when I visit known climate zombie haunts.

October 2, 2014 10:10 am

I’d be interested in a study of the anti-trolls as well – the people who immediately scream “Troll” whenever someone disagrees with them. A certain Lord who contributes to this blog comes to mind ;(

Harry Passfield
Reply to  steveta_uk
October 2, 2014 11:14 am

Hold on there Steve. I think you do ‘a certain Lord’ a disservice. Yes, I’ve seen him take trolls (in his mind) to task, but I figure he is well able to hold his own in civilised debate (would you take him on?) – so he does not need to hide behind troll-calling. Let’s face it, he is a very identifiable face and not scared to put himself up on the wall to make his case. Would that many more of us were that brave, and on balance, kudos to Monckton.

October 2, 2014 10:14 am

I am interested in the saint status of the non-commenter.
The only trait you can be sure of about a non-commenter is that at least they are not masochists.

Reply to  Zeke
October 2, 2014 12:18 pm

Especially on Youtube. Ha ha.

Reply to  Zeke
October 3, 2014 12:33 am

Non-commenters are obviously solipsists. Or catatonic.

October 2, 2014 10:32 am

I am glad there are no trolls who post here. Right?

October 2, 2014 10:34 am

“andthentheresphysics” was always a flag for nonsense. A handle that is purposely myopic and suggests ignoring the numerous other sciences involved in understanding climate is not worth the time of day.
The worst case is when a person is identified as a troll for the crime of daring to disagree with the prevailing views on any particular site. I understand the need to filter out noise just taking up space or paid or unpaid trolls purposely trying to derail threads. None the less censorship is a slippery slope.

October 2, 2014 10:39 am

I leave a comment and usually leave soon after. We all know the US NAVY/NSA ‘sockpuppets’, as well as NSA automated ‘reply’ softwares are at play, right? What you term ‘trolls’ has been taken over by psyopcrapmosis.

October 2, 2014 11:04 am

I have seen trolling, and I have seen debate. Sometimes however, it gets fuzzy on who is debating and who is trolling. As long as both parties are not calling each other names, and both parties are actually acknowledging what has been said in relation to the argument, I’m ok with disagreement. When the discussion breaks down into either party changing the subject numerous times in rapid succession to evade conceding any point whatsoever, I call BS on the guilty culprit.

October 2, 2014 11:11 am

Alas: I do have concerns about making a negative impact on my employment, if I use my real name.
My real name, though simple and elegant, has only ONE duplicate in my metro area of 4 million plus people. (Nation wide, about 25 duplicates.) So I can’t use a name as John Smith for protection.
Many people know who I am. And, yes, they have my real email. And the emails I’ve sent to Anthony
ALWAYS have my real name.
When I think about it, aside from some mild sarcasm, I really NEVER have engaged in:
1. A direct attack on a personage for any aspect of their person, only their views of GLOBAL WARMING and the IR heat balance of the atmosphere.
2. Derisive or demeaning comments.
3. Putting forth information which would not have some reason behind it, and in many cases, some references to back it up.
I have, however, experienced an occasional “snap back” primarily…from what I can tell, by folks that generally would easily obtain the troll designation. Perhaps a badge of honor???

Reply to  Max Hugoson
October 3, 2014 2:45 am

My real name, though simple and elegant, has only ONE duplicate in my metro area of 4 million plus people. (Nation wide, about 25 duplicates.) So I can’t use a name as John Smith for protection.

As far as I know, my real name is unique world-wide. It amounts to censorship to demand people post on controversial matters using their real name. This is what MSM is doing where I live, and therefore I am excluded from making my opinion heard. Problem solved for MSM.

Reply to  Amatør1
October 3, 2014 3:59 pm

There is one other Eric Werme in the United States. I think there are none in Sweden.
I’ve seen a few other Rics running about (one is a F/X guy in Hollywood), I’m certain I’m the only Ric Werme. Been on the ‘net since ARPAnet days with my own name.

October 2, 2014 11:15 am

Miriam O’Brien
Dr. Joshua Halpern
are anonymous trolls!!! That must be a new meaning of the word anonymous then?

Owen in GA
Reply to  sergeiMK
October 2, 2014 1:35 pm

Ok, anonymous before they were outed. so formerly anonymous trolls then, agreed?

October 2, 2014 11:18 am

Then there’s Fanny at Currys…

Jim G
October 2, 2014 11:23 am

Trolling, in my mind, is any continued attempt to defeat the open discussion purpose of the site. Stupid and obnoxious posts and posters are many times simply in the eye of the beholder. Long rambling posts that break up the flow of the site and/or interrupt the discussion for the pure sake of interruption are candidates for the title of troll. But in the end, censorship is worse. The concept of personality “types” is not very valid in this respect as that becomes context specific. Occupy Wall Street types and Tea Party types probably would each comdemn the other’s personality except possibly at the extreme ends of the continuum in each group.

Mike Bryant
October 2, 2014 12:04 pm

I still say that this is Anthony’s home… And as guests here, we should act appropriately… Anthony, I respect and admire you and your mission. I would never leave droppings for the moderators to clean up 🙂 Please never stop the fight against post normalcy. Many are counting on you.

John Coleman
October 2, 2014 12:12 pm

I feel strongly that every person whose comment is posted should have a valid, verified email address so regardless of the name he/she uses to hide identify from other posters, the moderators know exactly the email address which gives them a way to contact the person to confirm identity if the situation merits research. In this regard, I have to laugh. When I made my first post after retirement, I accidently erred in entering my email address. When I corrected it later, my post was rejected. Moderators, my correct email address is available from Anthony.

Gunga Din
Reply to  John Coleman
October 2, 2014 3:19 pm

The first and only other time I “hung out” as a commenter at an online site it was the old AOL PetCare Forums under the subject of “Animal Rights/Animal Welfare”.
You couldn’t choose your name. The name that appeared was the name of your account. You had to be an AOL member to reach it. Add at and everyone and anyone there had your email address.

October 2, 2014 12:16 pm

Any day now? New Climate study that global warming and climate change are the cause of Trolls.

October 2, 2014 12:38 pm

The concept of a troll is over-engineered and unsuited to the purpose. It should be enough to say anyone with or without a fake or cloaked identity that is a serial disruption for a site is subject to ejection from the community. Labels such as troublemaker still work fine and are good enough. I have used a rather subjective threshold for certain types of posters on sites I host: If they appear indistinguishable from response-bots then they’re blocked. That would be anyone who repeats pet notions endlessly and omanuel at Climate Etc comes to mind. Mosher is another for his ability to be controversial without being relevant.
Another problem exists and that is the response to contributors here who don’t agree 100% with everything posted. This regards for example disagreement with science, belligerence of certain authors, and even editorial decisions (eg, appropriateness of certain articles). In a perfect world the percentage of these skeptical visitors should be 100% if everyone were truly a skeptic (and I can find no excuse for not being a skeptic). What I find is that when commenters express disagreement with a posted article there is a strong tribal reflex from other commenters that is unhealthy and very non-skeptical. The comments are personal and are intended to quash dissent, not to seek clarification. I think of these people as fanboys which is another unhealthy label but does make the point, and they are as toxic as any troll. George W. Bush jumped the shark in this regard when he said “you’re either with us or against us” in the days following 9-11. Life isn’t that convenient.

Reply to  dp
October 2, 2014 3:16 pm

That was one of the most thoughtful and interesting posts of the entire thread. I say this not just because I happen to agree with you, but because … well … hmmmm … heck, because I agree with you. 🙂

October 2, 2014 12:46 pm

So is this a case of most trolls being sadistic or most sadists being trollers?

October 2, 2014 12:52 pm

YOu can bet that study was not done by Lewandowsky. 😉

Gary Pearse
October 2, 2014 12:59 pm

Well the internet is a human cosmos so I expect that there are commensurate numbers of pathological liars, inferior and superior complexed folks (I’m told that the superiority complex is really a type of inferiority complex, though), schizoid types, drunks, cheats, gamblers, horse thieves, trolls, honest people, empathetic people, sympathetic people, just plain pathetic people, …… It’s all there. Indeed, what wonderful data there is to be teased out for a definitive study of the world’s psycho-pathologies, the percentages of every wavelength of human personality…. Trouble is the social sciences have long been suborned by political “progressives” and they’ve taken the field to combat sceptics to global warming, anti-elitists, educational goals, etc. and they would be the last to know and understand what a rich harvest there is. The authors of this article would seem to be the rare exception.,

October 2, 2014 1:06 pm

In today’s world, where someone’s career can end because they signed the “wrong” petition or donated money to the “wrong” group, I think anonymity needs to be protected. A lot of forums ban anyone that presents a different opinion, no matter how expletive-free and respectful the posts may be. If someone is just blindly antagonistic, then do an IP ban on them, problem solved. Trying to get sociopaths to behave by forcing everyone to shed their anonymity is unnecessary and counterproductive, in my opinion.

October 2, 2014 1:18 pm

I absolutely believe there are trolls who are psychopathic and narcissistic.
Then there are the trolls who are ideologues.
And then are the the trolls who are 12 year old boys who have discovered the joys of blogs rather than just flaming each other while playing CoD. I haven’t seen any of that 3rd class here but yes both of the first 2 categories show up occasionally.

October 2, 2014 1:38 pm

Tamino was so abusive on the RC blog that Gavin had to delete some of the vulgarities flung in my direction. It took me some time to find it was well known climate ‘scientist’ Grant Foster. After revelling his name elsewhere, and added that I got his email, address and the place of work, without disclosing any of the information, in the following 3 or 4 years since, he never again commented on any of my posts on the RC (usually identical to what I post here on WUWT). In return Gavin more often than not despatches them to the bore hole.

October 2, 2014 1:43 pm

Warmist trolls are becoming a very small minority backed up by the likes ofFake science created/adjusted by Mann Gavin ect. They are really fading fast.. My2c worth. BTW Troll is Scandinavian term for leprechaun LOL

Martin 457
October 2, 2014 1:47 pm

I always try to post as I would say something to someone standing right in front of me. Recently, I’ve been really quiet. I don’t wish to be seen as some under the bridge ugly ogre but, on occasion, I have been insulting. I’ve only changed who I post under once and at that time, made it public.
I don’t mind the occasional (snip). The ones that get even worse in their diatribe when snipped, I believe are the true trolls.

Steve P
October 2, 2014 1:52 pm

Play the ball, not the man.

October 2, 2014 1:54 pm

I have to confess.. I don’t mind the trolls or the troll…perhaps I like them ..a bit. 🙂
Perhaps that makes me a troll… I don’t know..really!
As far as I can tell, if I am no wrong, a troll regardless of the exact motivation behind “it’s” behaviour, generally will engadge in an argument like from a normal possible point of view that could be expected from a non troll……. from a fake and a false representation through a character play with the intent of derailing-diluting or confusing the debate and the argument in the given issue.
Generally the troll’s “character play” will represent the point of “it’s” argument in the extreme flavour of either being too naive and dull-innocent or too brutal, and more than often there will be played too many characters at once, even in the case of a single comment……… and more than often leading to an inevitable jump out of the context and the actual argument.
Sophisticated trolls [“the clever ones”] in no time, while engadged, will have the “goal posts” of the argument shift and jump around like twig(s) in a hurricane and turning the debate in a chaotic mess.
Despite the dishonesty, irresponsability and the hatred introduced through trolling, I still don’t really mind them.
Perhaps sometimes I too see a troll in the mirror.:-)
Anyway, that is my personal take in this issue……but please please do not “shoot” them all. 🙂
Trolling still represent it’s own authentic flavour….. sometimes helping to estimate the strength and validity of certain points raised in a given issue or argument, I think.

October 2, 2014 2:10 pm

I’m a troll and I disagree with everything in that psych article.
I troll Greenpeace and other “dark” greenies and also anti frackers. I do it to wind them up but usually by going all reductio ad absurdum on their key points to highlight the stupidity of their opinions.

October 2, 2014 2:28 pm

The internet tends to create sheltered groups of like minded individuals who never get their ideas challenged. Calling someone they disagree with a “troll” is often an easy excuse for these people to avoid having to intellectually defend their beliefs. There are, of course, real trolls out there. The problem is that the word now tends to be applied to anyone who doesn’t share an individual or a groups’ world view, or worse, would like to challenge their ideas.

October 2, 2014 2:35 pm

Over on NRO, Disquss has added tags that regulars can use to flag trolls “@troll”. If enough regulars (You’ll have to ask Disquss how a regular is defined) flag a troll, the software automatically deletes all existing posts from that poster and bans all future posts.
I have no idea how the software here works, but perhaps a scan of new posts looking for a tag, so that a post can be brought to the attention of moderators more quickly?

Reply to  MarkW
October 3, 2014 12:28 am

” the software automatically deletes all existing posts from that poster and bans all future posts.”
Governments must love that idea. Especially the current David Cameron.

Darren Potter
October 2, 2014 2:41 pm

“An internet troll is someone who comes into a discussion and posts comments designed to upset or disrupt the conversation.”
That definition would fit anyone AGW “D-word” or skeptic who dares posts scientific facts or factual data in a Global Warming Alarmists forum. All a matter of perspective…

Paul Murphy
October 2, 2014 2:47 pm

Yep – the less you know, the more likely you are to be a troll.
The worst example of this affecting me personally happened during my Linuxworld Series on IBM Linux: somebody had a note, written on a Fortune 500 company’s CIO’s personal letterhead, fed exed to my home with the words “You, sir, are an A*” and nothing else.

Tom in Florida
October 2, 2014 2:50 pm

You might be a troll if you post comments about the person not the subject matter.
You might be a troll if you post generalized, unsubstantiated statements to disrupt the flow of the thread.
You might be a troll if you be a troll if you use the same generalized, unsubstantiated statements over and over.
You might be a troll if you constantly push you private agenda
You might be a troll if you spend more time looking for someone to disagree with than sleeping.

Robert B
October 2, 2014 3:21 pm

I googled a screen name that I used to see if there was a rebuttal on another site to something that I wrote and found that my real name was associated with it. You need to use an anonymous email address to stop that but I suspect that if you annoy someone from SkS for example, your real name will end up on the top of the search list.

Mark Bofill
Reply to  Robert B
October 2, 2014 4:44 pm

Meh. In a way disclosure helps there too. I’ve had discussions with a couple of the SkS guys over the years and probably to some extent as a result of the lack of anonymity, the discussions were extremely civil. It always help moderate extreme behavior when everybody has to take personal responsibility for what they do and say.

Reply to  Mark Bofill
October 3, 2014 2:58 am

It always help moderate extreme behavior when everybody has to take personal responsibility for what they do and say.

sometimes, not ‘always’

bit chilly
October 2, 2014 4:47 pm

take the dark tetrad test and find out if you are a troll 🙂

Charles Nelson
October 2, 2014 5:18 pm

Here’s a few comments likely to hurt and distress Warmists:
The Medieval Warm Period is….
RSS satellite data appears to show…
Any Climategate quote, for example…”I hope you’re not right about the lack of warming lasting till 2020 etc” by Dr Phil Jones UEA, CRU.
Antarctic Sea Ice extent is….
Arctic sea ice appears to…
Hurricane landfall is at a historical…
CO2 comprises 1/25th part of one percent of the Earth’s atmosphere…..
‘Children simply aren’t going to know what snow is’….
I guess I’m a pretty sick guy!

October 2, 2014 5:23 pm

Just a thought. If a troll is someone who gets fun out of firing people up to get a response, what if,… a whole web blog site is one BIG TROLL itself, intended to grab attention, fire people up and get a reaction? What would be up with that? I mean, nobody is going to read and reply to boring mundane posts.

October 2, 2014 5:41 pm

Willis once accused me of being an anonymous troll in the past over a difference of opinion, and I took it as an insult, I use a handle “Sparks”, I’ve posted photo’s of myself, my real name and social media links from this site and many others over the years, I even follow wuwt on twitter. My point is; Am I considered to be a troll?
Because I’ll piss of right now and never come back!! Just Messing… You’re all stuck with me for everrrrrrr..

October 2, 2014 5:45 pm

I would say that the blanket term “troll” is overused, and few persons commenting at WUWT would fit the traditional interpretation.
In the 17th century public debate was held in coffee houses and in “salons” moderated by a host. I would view blog sites as closer to the latter while other social media closer to the former. However blogs differ from salons in that there is no face to face or group interaction. This carries the dis-advantage that peoples behaviour is often not how they would behave in company. However this physical isolation is what has made this blog and others such a powerful political force. The human being is a social animal and strongly influenced by tribal urges. In real world gatherings, the social engineering techniques of Saul Alinsky can be highly effective. Wrong or right, a small number of “change agents” can influence and steer the many. The blog environment seriously reduces the efficacy of these methods. It is difficult to isolate the individual or discount their voice when everyone is commenting as an isolated individual.
Prior to the Internet, the distinct political bias of much of the lame stream media allowed the AGW hoax to flourish. Blogs changed this. Blogs could be considered responsible for saving science. Blogs allowed sceptics to find that they were not alone, explore the science in greater depth, communicate globally and even advance scientific understanding. The limited censorship of the sceptic blogs allowed ascendancy while the astroturf believer sites suffered and became echo chambers. When believers ventured from the cosy censorship of the astroturf sites and the lame stream media sites, the paucity of their arguments were revealed to themselves and others on the sceptic sites. This demoralised believers and strengthen the resolve of sceptics.
When sites like WUWT start to cause a serious political impact, people do notice and react. While it would be great to debate the science alone, it would be foolish to ignore the highly political motivations of the believers. For them, careers, billions of dollars and indeed an entire political ideology is at stake. This brings me back to “trolls”. Have there been any at WUWT and other sceptic sites? I would say yes, (but far fewer these days) but they have been highly specialised variants. I would further suggest that some at WUWT, naturally preferring science to politics, have discounted the forces motivating them.
To put this in context it is well worth following Todd’s excellent link –
When their numbers were greater, I used to have a few categorisations for sceptic sites –
Popcorn warrior.
light weight, used on mass, typically short comments or distracting questions. Thrown into a debate between other parties to delay and dilute a debate that was heading in a “dangerous” direction.
again delay, redirection and thread dilution is the aim, but a single identity is used with far more extended comments.
False Flag.
as distinct from “sleeper”. False flag is a complex “reverse” variant of Alisky techniques, re-engineered for blogs. The “change agent” here tries to drive others away from a view by making themselves and their support for the view seem ridiculous. Many identifying as “slayers” fell into this category. Sceptics needed to herded from discussion of net GHE.
A lonely existence, and they sometimes snap (often dramatically). Posing as a mild sceptic, and nodding along with some criticism of more extreme believer behaviour for colouration. They hope to gently steer sceptics from within the crowd. Perhaps all sceptics should adopt an agreed luke warm position? Perhaps we should be quiet and work only on getting through pal-review? Maybe those not accepting net GHE should be excluded. sleeper numbers are dwindling now.
Japanese mega robot.
Formed of multiple units in a spectacular transformation sequence. Rare. I have only battled one. Three or more voices posting under the one screen name. Difficult to control and proved ineffective.
We all know the saying “Never ascribe to malice…” , and this is doubly true in the text environment of a blog, where misinterpretation is a constant risk. However I would add, that like it or not, climate science is highly politicised and some AGW believers are highly motivated. There is little they won’t try.

October 2, 2014 6:58 pm

Identity versus Non-identity.

October 2, 2014 7:08 pm

I am not a narcissist.

Reply to  RoHa
October 2, 2014 7:35 pm

What happened? did your membership run out?

Robert B
Reply to  RoHa
October 2, 2014 10:33 pm

Did someone suggest that I was a narcissist?

October 2, 2014 8:19 pm

Ok, I confess that I sometimes read the comments on sites that cater to AGW believers (I have to come here, afterwards, to restore my faith in the intelligence of Man). You will likely agree that trying to start a discussion based on observations and data is a frustrating waste of time, but I can’t stop myself from making some comment that might save the mind of someone not yet committed.
So, I write something like, “Some fool I’ve been debating claims that global temperatures haven’t risen in EIGHTEEN YEARS. Can one of you PLEASE give me a link to the data that proves he’s full of it, so I can shove it in his face? I’ve tried Googling for it, but I can’t find anything.”
If anyone gives an arm-waving response (warmest decade ever), I may reply, “Yes! Please give me a link to the data showing we have been warming over the recent years. This guy is really bugging me.”
Of course they can’t, and I hope I’ve tweaked the curiosity of some to actually research the data.
I rather feel like a troll, but it certainly doesn’t fit any of the above definitions. Am I trolling or not?

Reply to  Jtom
October 2, 2014 9:53 pm

You are a stirrer. In the eyes of some thats probably being a troll.
Trouble is, it’s also the Socratic method: don’t answer the question. Ask questions that the questioner to find the answers for themselves.
Some people find this intensely irritating, but its a good way of teaching, too, as the results tend to be a bit more “sticky”.

October 2, 2014 9:36 pm

Seems to be an awful lot of anonymous comments above – sycophantic anonymity is OK, obviously.
Anthony’s new found concern over poor behavior on blogs is very interesting, given how he recently demonstrated ( at the Mike Mann lecture) that he’s an internet coward-bully.

Charles Nelson
Reply to  Michael
October 2, 2014 11:22 pm

Michael…is that ‘you’?

Reply to  Michael
October 3, 2014 12:25 am

October 2, 2014 at 9:36 pm
“Anthony’s new found concern over poor behavior on blogs is very interesting, given how he recently demonstrated ( at the Mike Mann lecture) that he’s an internet coward-bully.”
He demonstrated that he’s a bully by sitting there and listening? Then I must be the greatest bully of all times – I sat in hundreds of lectures, not saying a word – I even made notes, doubtlessly about the professors and what they were saying.
Michael, you’re not only a liar, you are also stupid.

October 3, 2014 2:11 am

Michael on October 2, 2014 at 9:36 pm

I think of this thread and its lead post as partly being some intellectual bait laid out for catching the most clueless examples of aggressively uncivil anonymous person.
The bait was placed. We waited quietly, patiently.
It was inevitable that one would show up to take the bait and make a comment. Michael (commenting on October 2, 2014 at 9:36 pm) did.
It was too easy to catch Michael.
Do you think WUWT should have a bag limit on how many aggressively uncivil anonymous persons like you that we can catch in one thread? I suggest no bag limit.

Reply to  Anthony Watts
October 3, 2014 5:34 am

[Snip. What’s the matter with you?? ~ mod.]

Reply to  John Whitman
October 3, 2014 8:30 am

Anthony Watts on October 3, 2014 at 4:32 am
– – – – – – – –
‘Michael’ seemed to attach great importance to spitting with malice. Forcing him spit his malevolent effluent elsewhere seems a sanitary measure. Spitting is a nasty habit.
‘Michael’ even met my extremely rarely applied standard of troll. (I think ‘trolling’ only occurs when a person openly and explicitly comments on a venue with insults/ slanders/ lies/ etc about the venue’s host).

Reply to  John Whitman
October 7, 2014 1:40 pm

John Whitman
You say

‘Michael’ even met my extremely rarely applied standard of troll. (I think ‘trolling’ only occurs when a person openly and explicitly comments on a venue with insults/ slanders/ lies/ etc about the venue’s host).

That has to be the most erroneous and stupid definition of a troll ever devised.
In reality a troll deliberately hinders discussion of a subject by deflecting the discussion onto something else often – but not always – by attacking a person.
One can only conclude that you have invented your “standard of troll” as an excuse for despicable trolling.

Reply to  John Whitman
October 3, 2014 11:56 am

Michael’s issue is he has been trolling Judith Curry’s site for some time, and no one bothers reading or responding to him any longer. So he has to try out trolling at other sites to get a rise.
Trolls must be fed or they whither and die.

Andrew McRae
Reply to  philjourdan
October 6, 2014 7:09 am

Was this “Michael” the same person who commented as “Michael the Realist” over at Jo Nova’s blog? You may be able to tell by comparing style and choice of arguments/talking points.
If they are the same person then it supports the view that they comment until they get banned and then move on to find more unwary victims. “Michael the Realist” was eventually banned (on 21 March 2014 after writing over 1000 comments on that blog and being given every opportunity to substantiate his claims in one final showdown. Jo Nova must be one of the most tolerant blog hosts in the climate debate. I don’t know of any other user in the last 4 years to have actually been banned, it’s really rare.

Reply to  Andrew McRae
October 7, 2014 1:14 pm

I have been commenting on her site for almost 5 years. That is the first time I have seen a ban.

October 3, 2014 7:44 am

I’m a climate researcher so feel free to treat this politely worded comment as a vicious attack from a “climate troll”. It’s pretty clear to everyone actually working in climate science who the trolls are.

Hexe Froschbein
October 3, 2014 11:35 am

But trolls serve a useful function — how else do we easily spot without much effort which side of the discussion is the nutty one?

Duke C.
October 3, 2014 11:49 am

Mann tweeted this earlier today. Strange coincidence.

October 3, 2014 2:35 pm

I am loving this, normally you just give them an elegant shoeing Wattsy.
I am deeply enjoying you dishing out a kicking and a stomping.
Just sayin’.

October 3, 2014 3:50 pm

Sorry, can not use my real name. to my knowledge there is only one other person with my name globally and last I heard he was about 80 years old 15 years ago. Employment contract prevents me from using any form of social media where I can be identified. Linkedin is the only grey area.
We should expect an increase in irrationality from the climate lobby as they fight tooth and nail as their little scam goes down the toilet. In behavioural studies, this is known as an “extinction burst”.

October 3, 2014 9:02 pm

Does anyone remember when the Petition Project was inundated with bogus names (i.e., Mickey Mouse, Biggus Dickus) which purportedly tarnished the petition?
If memory serves, there were hundreds of hits to that website from an IP address just one digit off from’s address.

October 4, 2014 9:10 pm

Since the nice folks at the IPCC have already decided that I’m sick, have a problem with authority, in deep denial, on the payroll of big oil… blah, blah , blah… I am so scared that a watchful eye will be upon me. Isn’t this article a bit redundant. Who bothers in AGW with thought or science. Credentials are all that matter.

Ed Zuiderwijk
October 5, 2014 2:15 am

Hmm. Great potential for selection bias here. Who would respond to a personality test like that, except a narcisist? No wonder that’s one of the characteristics found.

October 5, 2014 1:25 pm

Are social justice warriors trolls? I’ve been reading about a controversy called gamer gate involving gamer journalists linked to think tanks linked to DARPA, they basically infiltrated gamer sites and started attacking everybody as racists, homophobes, misogynists, etc. My own experience with warming alarmist trolls leads me to conclude they’re actually financed and organized at a high level.

October 5, 2014 2:20 pm

The length of the antenna will decide how much frequency
with the channels received by it. For the characteristics
in the GPS antenna itself, there’s inconsistent between geometric center
along with the electrical phase center. Mohu sky hdtv antenna canada It is amplified, so that it does require an empty AC outlet to connect, however the internal signal amplifier helps it be a more
powerful antenna. If it means moving a tool like a Blu-ray player closer on the HDTV, do that.
This can be a television antenna that could be set
up in an indoor setting or a backyard setting. Leaf ultimate
hdtv antenna canada A professional TV antenna installation company would train their professionals in such a way so that they can meet any kind of
challenge within the antenna installation procedure.
Diy hdtv antenna copper wire Compared using the
first approach, DTH satellite emission power mode, the antenna can be smaller, the common family are able
to use. If you’re stuck deciding for the video card and TV tuner for the HTPC, you
will want to kill two birds with one stone and
go for any combo HDTV Tuner Graphics Card.
Best buy hdtv antenna outdoor Then, ask them concerning
the location with their broadcast antennas.
Right positioning means good quality: Another indispensable aspect in the Tv
Aerial Installation Fareham would be the placement in the television antenna
in right position. Mounting your antenna within the attic may be possible, but it is best that you happen to be aware of the pitfalls connected with this type of configuration. Best hdtv antenna for rural areas However, it doesn’t mean that if
you’re very close to your TV tower then you definitely don’t possess a right
to buy a backyard antenna. Many professional antenna installation companies conduct a website survey about the arrival then suggest probably the most
appropriate location and position for the antenna installation. Digital antennas are good for local stations as more number of
people will be in a position to view local channels through their
programs. Outdoor hdtv antenna ottawa With the group
several antenna can be needed to obtain the full range with the broadcasts within the locality.

October 5, 2014 7:53 pm

Don’t worry when the communists finally get in control, we will be convicted of crimes against humanity. The potential deaths of millions from CAGW. Depending on our involvement will determine the punishment. In any case re education will be a certainty. I know a country far across the peaceful ocean where they just love Robert Kennedy Jr., The little captain is expecting him. No dissent is allowed there.