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01 August 2008

That was an interesting article, thanks for posting. I still find it hard to fathom that people would go to so much effort to affect a person they have never met or have no contact with. I guess that's the apathy in me...I just don't see the point of trolling. "To get a reaction" just doesn't register with me.
posted by LunaticFringe 01 August | 10:10
The point of trolling is to have fun. "Getting a reaction" is just the way these people have fun. Not any reaction is fun (I personally don't find death threats fun). What is fun is pushing the boundaries of the discourse just enough to make it trainwreck, while still maintaining its normal appearance.

You could describe it as a feedback loop. A troll will inject the message A into the loop, provoking the reaction B. The troll will then modify his behaviour (or not) to provoke further reaction. The more cycles are completed, the more he will have to modify his behaviour, since the reaction he gets tends to diminish in time. He will have to push the boundaries even further each time. Eventually, he'll get bored and move away. If it's a single troll we're talking about, he'll do relatively little harm. In case of a mob like /b/, however, each new person will have to "push" the object of trolling harder to provoke a reaction, leading to the situations described in the article.
posted by Daniel Charms 01 August | 11:49
One afternoon in the spring of 2006, for reasons unknown to those who knew him, Mitchell Henderson, a seventh grader from Rochester, Minn., took a .22-caliber rifle down from a shelf in his parents’ bedroom closet and shot himself in the head . . . Something about Mitchell Henderson struck the denizens of /b/ as funny They were especially amused by a reference on his MySpace page to a lost iPod. Mitchell Henderson, /b/ decided, had killed himself over a lost iPod. . . .Someone hacked Henderson’s MySpace page and gave him the face of a zombie. Someone placed an iPod on Henderson’s grave, took a picture and posted it to /b/. Henderson’s face was appended to dancing iPods, spinning iPods, hardcore porn scenes. A dramatic re-enactment of Henderson’s demise appeared on YouTube, complete with shattered iPod. The phone began ringing at Mitchell’s parents’ home. “It sounded like kids,” remembers Mitchell’s father, Mark Henderson, a 44-year-old I.T. executive. “They’d say, ‘Hi, this is Mitchell, I’m at the cemetery.’ ‘Hi, I’ve got Mitchell’s iPod.’ ‘Hi, I’m Mitchell’s ghost, the front door is locked. Can you come down and let me in?’ ” He sighed. “It really got to my wife.” The calls continued for a year and a half.

Wow. This is the kind of behavior that, in less refined precincts, would earn you a beating.

Not that I'm advocating that, or anything. But I wouldn't cry too hard if something like that actually did happen to these little shits.
posted by jason's_planet 01 August | 12:39
Yeah DC, I get the mechanisms of trolling, and I have been in chat rooms in which trolling is taking place. What I was saying is that I don't get why individuals would go to such effort, and expend that much energy, just to annoy someone whose reaction they can't directly experience. I would think that they would want to see the expressions or hear the irritation/anger/whatever/ in their targets voices. Emotion and intent often misinterpretted when it's just words on the screen, perhaps the trollees are trolling the trollers.
posted by LunaticFringe 01 August | 13:17
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