Science Proves That Trolls Ruin Everything

Fanghawk

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Science Proves That Trolls Ruin Everything

A recent study suggests that trolls prevent us all from behaving like rational human beings.

Troll encounters are simply a fact of life when it comes to the internet. Just browse around any forum or comment thread, and odds are you'll find someone making life very difficult for decent, hard-working internet users. We all know how frustrating and annoying trolls can be, but a recent scientific study suggests that they could be much worse than we originally thought. You know that feeling you get when you really want to put a troll in their place with a cutting yet witty retort? That means their comments just bypassed the part of your brain responsible for calm, rational thought. Once that happens, you're not only getting angry in the short term, you're also becoming a slightly less rational person altogether.

For the study, 1,183 participants were asked to read a blog post discussing the risks and benefits of nanotechnology. While the post itself was identical for each participant, the comment threads below varied from polite and reasoned to rude and inflammatory. When the scientists asked afterwards what their subjects thought about nanotechnology, they discovered that trolling comments had a polarizing effect. Everyone who read a rude or derogatory comment quickly became more secure in their original beliefs, dismissing the more balanced ideas laid out in the original post. Most interestingly, the troll's stated opinion had no effect on the reader's reactions; it was the hostility itself that made everyone less rational.

To scientists, this behavior bears a strong resemblance to the theory of motivated reasoning, which states that humans are emotional first and rational second. This means that if you're presented with a balanced and well-reasoned idea, you'll probably ignore the details if someone is hurling out inflammatory comments nearby. It only gets worse when discussing serious issues like climate change or Mass Effect 3, where opinions are so vitriolic that almost no one is capable of having a fully rational conversation in the first place.

So is there anything that can be done, short of never reading comment threads ever again? Here's my suggestion: before posting in any thread, inoculate yourself from hostility using cute animal pictures and <a href=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0la5DBtOVNI>videos reminding you not to be a dick. Also, as always, not feeding the trolls would be a very good idea.

Source: <a href=http://io9.com/5976374/the-science-of-comment-trolls?utm_campaign=io9_Facebook_socialflow&utm_source=Socialflow&utm_medium=Facebook>io9
Image: Ernest Scared Stupid

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GAunderrated

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Interesting that they needed a study to find out that trolls ruin chances of people having a rational debate or good conversation.
 

CpT_x_Killsteal

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Remember when trolls were actually funny and didn't spam hurtful things and act like dicks?
Oh wait, those aren't trolls, they're losers.
 

Tahaneira

Social Justice Rogue
Feb 1, 2011
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You know, I love science. I think it's wonderful and has made life so much better for our species as a whole.

However.

There are times when I really wish we didn't have to put so much time and effort into studying and analyzing the painfully obvious, just so we can convince idiots that it is, in fact, true.
 

Salomega

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Can we please get some kind of referendum that asks what scientists think we want to know about instead of wasting money on "Studies" that we all just kinda go "Uh, Doy!" after we read about?
 

VanQ

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Oct 23, 2009
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No, really? How do you think the church managed to pass witch hunts off as an acceptable thing for so long. Once the first person starts crying witch then it's only natural that other idiots will follow suit. Humans are essentially just big monkeys, when we see someone starting to fling shit, we quite happily join the festivities. Monkey see, monkey do.

Yes, I'm aware people are actually apes. But I still mean it when I call them monkeys.
 

GoddyofAus

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VanQQisH said:
No, really? How do you think the church managed to pass witch hunts off as an acceptable thing for so long. Once the first person starts crying witch then it's only natural that other idiots will follow suit. Humans are essentially just big monkeys, when we see someone starting to fling shit, we quite happily join the festivities. Monkey see, monkey do.

Yes, I'm aware people are actually apes. But I still mean it when I call them monkeys.
You could have just said "Most humans are shit flinging fuckwits." and it would have worked just as well.
 

Fapmaster5000

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ITT: Mass Effect 3's ending blew donkey dongs. That is all.

(Wait? Is trolling in a thread about trolling considered satire, or expected behavior? /mindblown)
 

Abomination

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I find it odd that there's no link to what the study defined a "troll" to be.

It is odd because many people disagree on exactly what a troll is. To some people it's someone who plays devil's advocate, to others it is someone who enters a thread saying something with the intent of riling others up, and sometimes it's just someone who disagrees with you.

I thought the term for someone who just spouts obscenities or negative opinion over something was a "flamer", not a "troll".
 

lacktheknack

Je suis joined jewels.
Jan 19, 2009
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I love how this thread is mildly hostile. "Love" is a word that, in this case, means "am saddened by".

As per usual, tact is the correct (and rarest) approach.
 

Wolle

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CpT_x_Killsteal said:
Remember when trolls were actually funny and didn't spam hurtful things and act like dicks?
No, but I've only been on the internet since 1990. When was this, again?
 

CpT_x_Killsteal

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Wolle said:
CpT_x_Killsteal said:
Remember when trolls were actually funny and didn't spam hurtful things and act like dicks?
No, but I've only been on the internet since 1990. When was this, again?
Wouldnt really be able to give you a time frame because it happened at different times on different sites. But when I first discovered/heard of "trolling" it was funny and even the people getting trolled always laughed. Now everyone thinks trolling is cool and act like a bunch of wannabe losers. So that's why I consider 99.99% of today's trolls pathetic losers.

Real trolling is when even the guy getting trolled laughs/doesn't mind.
 

kouriichi

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Professional Troll here, and i just want to say, you shouldnt lump us all in together. A lot of us classier trolls would never spam, "U MAD?", or aim for someones worst quality in a direct way. Some of us are so subtle you wont even notice it. Youve all had that moment where you have to ask yourself, "Did i just get trolled?", thats what a lot of us shoot for.

Idiots and Arses ruin everything. Trolls? Real trolls? Trolls that know blunt cursing and spamming the same thing isnt sportsmanlike? We highlight the problems.
 

Vault101

I'm in your mind fuzz
Sep 26, 2010
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kouriichi said:
Professional Troll here, and i just want to say, you shouldnt lump us all in together. A lot of us classier trolls would never spam, "U MAD?", or aim for someones worst quality in a direct way. Some of us are so subtle you wont even notice it. Youve all had that moment where you have to ask yourself, "Did i just get trolled?", thats what a lot of us shoot for.
still rather pathetic....

ANY form of trolling
 

McMullen

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Salomega said:
Can we please get some kind of referendum that asks what scientists think we want to know about instead of wasting money on "Studies" that we all just kinda go "Uh, Doy!" after we read about?
How much money do you think was wasted? These studies are usually surveys, and if any money goes into them at all, it's to compensate those surveyed for the hour or so of their time. These subjects are usually students, who could use the money.

How is this a bad thing?

Besides, anyone can state the obvious, like that the sun goes round the earth, but it's not science until it is actually investigated, and every once in a while during the course of those investigations we find that what we thought was obvious was not true.
 

kouriichi

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Vault101 said:
kouriichi said:
Professional Troll here, and i just want to say, you shouldnt lump us all in together. A lot of us classier trolls would never spam, "U MAD?", or aim for someones worst quality in a direct way. Some of us are so subtle you wont even notice it. Youve all had that moment where you have to ask yourself, "Did i just get trolled?", thats what a lot of us shoot for.
still rather pathetic....

ANY form of trolling
Who are you to judge my way of life?! You find me pathetic even though you dont even know me?

Thats what truly holds the world back these days. Treating others poorly based on their life choices! Discrimination has never led to anything good in our world. Maybe if you and all the parents who think "Violent video games are evil", opened your eyes to the truth that its not the troll, or the game that's the problem, its poor parenting and bigotry that are!

But i will forgive your quick judgement on my nature, and extend an olive branch of friendship. Not because im the bigger man, but because its the right thing to do.
 

Fanghawk

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Fapmaster5000 said:
ITT: Mass Effect 3's ending blew donkey dongs. That is all.

(Wait? Is trolling in a thread about trolling considered satire, or expected behavior? /mindblown)
That's not a trolling remark, that's an off-topic opinion. And based on the intention, flame-baiting. Still not a troll though.

Trolling would be something like "I liked ME3's ending for <poorly thought-out reasons> and anyone who disagrees with me is just too dim-witted to see the beauty in its construction." But given the thread it'd likely fail.

As for the article: hostility and harsh criticism will always exist on the internet. Don't confuse it with trolling. We have another, better construct for it, and it's called being an asshole.
 

Bvenged

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GAunderrated said:
Interesting that they needed a study to find out that trolls ruin chances of people having a rational debate or good conversation.
My thoughts exactly, but sometimes people do that themselves by accident when making a point without backing it up, then turning hostile to all counter-arguments as opposed to counter-counter arguments.