Internet, games and apps

You’re a troll

troll-pixabayAm I talking about you? Yes, I am. Chances are you are actually an internet troll. And so am I. Or at least, that’s what research done at Stanford University (which we know so well from the Stanford Prison Experiment) tells us.

Contrary to popular believe, trolling isn’t something done by a small minority with an inherent bad temper. They found that all of us can be a troll (which is a lot better than being a Nazi, which the Prison Experiment showed) given the right conditions.

The researched performed an experiment where 667 participants were asked to read an article and engage in discussion. One group of participants was shown an article with neutral comments, the other group a version with negative comments.


At the end of their project, the researchers concluded that the likelihood of trolling behaviour is influenced by:
– mood
Grumpy people are more likely to troll
– time of day/week
Which they linked to the natural mood-pattern of people. In the morning, people are at their best behaviour. But at night, the trolls come out!
– Earlier encounters
People who have been in a trolled discussion are likely to continue trolling when they enter an unrelated discussion.
– Context
Monkey see, monkey does. If people see a trolling comment, they are more likely to become nasty themselves.

Troll forecast

With these variables, the researchers did some mathematical magic and came up with a model predicting showers of trolls. According to their reports, they could predict whether or not someone would become a troll with a whopping 80% succes rate.

That’s pretty high!

Fighting the trolls

It is time to get out the pitchforks and torches. It is time to reclaim the internet! Let us fight the trolls!

Luckily, the researchers provide us with some strong weapons against trolls. And they are pretty simple:
– Allowing people to retract their comments helps to cool things down. Sometimes, even trolls regret saying what they said in the heat of the moment
– Prioritizing positive comments might also help, according to the scientists. They explain that this provides the image of civility.
– A simple pinned topic with community rules also might help. Just reminding people of decent conduct does miracles (also supported by other research)

Be an example, the Socrates’ way

All in all, the best way to fight others who are trolling, is to fight the troll within.

Use the filter of Three questions attributed to Socrates:
– Is it true?
– Is it kind?
– Is it necessary?

If you ensure you only comment with true, kind (compassionate) words, and only when needed, then you’re setting a positive example. You may not cure all the trolls. But at least you’re working to avoid others from being infected!

Source: The Conversation

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