Despite the sustained media attention surrounding internet trolling, academic studies investigating its occurrence are rare. This study aimed to provide a case study analysis of the behaviours and strategies of a group of alleged Twitter trolls referred to as the anti-McCanns due to their continual abuse of Kate and Gerry McCann as well as those who support them and thus identify as pro-McCann. The way in which language was used to construct the anti-McCanns group identity, enhance in-group cohesion and facilitate out-group disassociation from the pro-Mccann group was additionally explored, given that previous research has implicated group processes in the propagation of aggressive online conduct. A multi-method approach involving a combination of ethnographic observations and the collection of online commentary was employed. The data was then analysed using quantitative content analysis and discourse analysis, which indicated that language was utilised in a variety of ways by the anti-McCanns to construct a salient group identity and negatively stereotype and disassociate from the pro-McCann group. Findings additionally revealed that several strategies were employed by the anti-McCann trolls to provoke and derogate members of the pro-McCann group, supporting previous findings which have linked trolling to both western media culture and the characteristics of anti-social personality disorder. The implications of these findings both theoretical and practical are discussed, alongside recommendations for future research.
John Synnott, Andria Coulias, Maria Ioannou (2017). Online Trolling: The Case of Madeleine McCann. Computers in Human Behavior.
Brain–Computer Interface–Based Communication in the Completely Locked-In State
Ujwal Chaudhary , Bin Xia, Stefano Silvoni, Leonardo G. Cohen & Niels Birbaumer
Despite partial success, communication has remained impossible for persons suffering from complete motor paralysis but intact cognitive and emotional processing, a state called complete locked-in state (CLIS). Based on a motor learning theoretical context and on the failure of neuroelectric brain–computer interface (BCI) communication attempts in CLIS, we here report BCI communication using functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) and an implicit attentional processing procedure. Four patients suffering from advanced amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)—two of them in permanent CLIS and two entering the CLIS without reliable means of communication—learned to answer personal questions with known answers and open questions all requiring a “yes” or “no” thought using frontocentral oxygenation changes measured with fNIRS. Three patients completed more than 46 sessions spread over several weeks, and one patient (patient W) completed 20 sessions. Online fNIRS classification of personal questions with known answers and open questions using linear support vector machine (SVM) resulted in an above-chance-level correct response rate over 70%. Electroencephalographic oscillations and electrooculographic signals did not exceed the chance-level threshold for correct communication despite occasional differences between the physiological signals representing a “yes” or “no” response. However, electroencephalogram (EEG) changes in the theta-frequency band correlated with inferior communication performance, probably because of decreased vigilance and attention. If replicated with ALS patients in CLIS, these positive results could indicate the first step towards abolition of complete locked-in states, at least for ALS.
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e-minters Online Social Architects: Recognition of Informal Learning in Communities of Interest
As an attempt for informal learning recognition in online Communities of Interest, theory in this chapter was extracted from a dialogue between the members of the e-mint community on lurkers, newcomers and online groupz-ware. Twenty-eight e-mint members offered practical insights for usability and sociability issues towards online communities. Additional theoretical support to the concepts is provided based on social psychology, education, management and communication studies. The theoretical framework that supports Informal Learning and Communities of Interest draws on late 19th century and middle 20th century theories as these were the eras of new approaches related to masses’ interaction. A new methodological framework for data extraction and data analysis is introduced using software-based Social Network Analysis and Content Analysis, on the cluster of messages about lurkers, newcomers and the features of online groupz-ware.
Niki Lambropoulos (In Press). e-minters Online Social Architects: Recognition of Informal Learning in Communities of Interest. International Journal of Internet Trolling and Online Participation.
Trolling the trolls: Online forum users constructions of the nature and properties of trolling
Bryn Alexander Coles & Melanie West
Trolling’ refers to a specific type of malicious online behaviour, intended to disrupt interactions, aggravate interactional partners and lure them into fruitless argumentation. However, as with other categories, both ‘troll’ and ‘trolling’ may have multiple, inconsistent and incompatible meanings, depending upon the context in which the term is used and the aims of the person using the term. Drawing data from 14 online fora and newspaper comment threads, this paper explores how online users mobilise and make use of the term ‘troll’. Data was analysed from a discursive psychological perspective. Four repertoires describing trolls were identified in posters online messages: 1) that trolls are easily identifiable, 2) nostalgia, 3) vigilantism and 4) that trolls are nasty. Analysis also revealed that despite repertoire 01, identifying trolls is not a simple and straight-forward task. Similarly to any other rhetorical category, there are tensions inherent in posters accounts of nature and acceptability of trolling. Neither the category ‘troll’ nor the action of ‘trolling’ has a single, fixed meaning. Either action may be presented as desirable or undesirable, depending upon the aims of the poster at the time of posting.
“Wikipedia is not…”: The misuse of sysop prerogative in policy-driven online communities
Sysop prerogative is the principle that a website administrator can do anything which they have not been prevented from doing so by statute or said they won’t do by contract. In many online communities, such as Wikipedia, sysops will encode their rules into policies for others to follow. On platforms like Wikipedia, however, it is possible for users to claim that certain aspects of their sysops’ policies support their position and if those users have enough support they will be able to force a set of circumstances to suit their biases even though the rules do not permit those actions. This paper investigates the way that the skeptic movement abuses Wikipedia’s policies to dilute from its articles those who criticise the movement or figures within it. The paper finds that if someone is disliked by enough users on Wikipedia or does not have enough support from other users, they will face behaviours that go against Wikipedia’s rules, yet which they are outnumbered in being able to challenge.
Jonathan Bishop (In Press). “Wikipedia is not…”: The misuse of sysop prerogative in policy-driven online communities. International Journal of Internet Trolling and Online Participation.
“Trolling is not stupid”: Internet trolling as the art of deception serving entertainment
This paper aims to distill the essence of Internet trolling, a prevalent intercultural online communicative phenomenon which appears in many forms and guises. However, the label “trolling” tends to be (mis)used in reference to communicative practices which are not trolling in the traditional sense. It is argued that trolling necessarily relies on deception performed in multi-party interactions, which is conducive to (humorous) entertainment of self and/or other participants, at the expense of the deceived target. Taking data from email communications of the “DontEvenReply” troll, this account not only draws on the literature addressing the focal phenomenon but also integrates findings from several other fields of investigation (the philosophy of deception, humor theory, and the pragmatics of interaction) in order to demystify trolling.
Marta Dynel (2016).”Trolling is not stupid”: Internet trolling as the art of deception serving entertainment. Intercultural Pragmatics 13 (3), 353–381.
Managing sysop prerogative in Europe through fabris dualism: An agenda for reform of the European Union and Council of Europe into international organisations
The European Union referendum on the 23 June 2016 in the United Kingdom was reported as being the most significant plebiscite for over a generation. Its impacts may only become most apparent when the citizens of the United Kingdom start to demand the same rights that those in the countries that have remained a member of the European Union enjoy. This paper looks at the impact leaving the European Union will have for the United Kingdom in terms of ‘sysop prerogative’ – the right or lack of for information society service providers to do what they want when administering their websites as systems operators, or sysops. The paper argues that a lack of harmonization of laws across Europe will make enforcing sysop prerogative and indeed the very nature of it, more difficult. Even with the outcome of the EU referendum affecting only the United Kingdom, this paper argues that in order to secure a cyberspace free from crime that global cooperation is still needed, but that the European Union in its current form might not be the appropriate vehicle at all, with a combination of the United Nations, Nato and the Council of Europe being more suitable.
Enhancing the Performance of Human Resources through E-Mentoring: The Role Of an Adaptive Hypermedia System Called “AVEUGLE”
Coaching and mentoring have many commonalities but can also be seen to be different. The aim of coaching is to help people transform being where they are to where they want to go, which may be on a path that has not yet been trodden. Mentoring is a one-to-one communication between a mentor who has “been there and done that” and a mentee who wants to “learn the ropes.” This paper looks at how these practices can be enabled online through Virtual Coaches and the extent and limitations of the GROW model for online coaching and mentoring. It finds that the GROW model is limited in what it can do, and that it needs to be extended to consider factors beyond goals, realities, options, and wills. It is suggested that “engage” and “routinize” be added to create a new model called “GROWER.” An extension of the M-MARS model making it M-REAMS (i.e. Methods, Rules, Enmities, Amities, Memes, Strategies) is proposed for an ethnomethodological approach to reflective learning. The paper concludes that virtual coaches can provide benefits in terms of enhanced mentoring and coaching relationships.
The Robin Hood Character Test Online and on Paper: An accurate personality assessment tool or a case of the Forer Effect?
The Robin Hood legends have spread throughout the world in many different centuries, perhaps even more so in the 20th and 21st centuries due to the Internet. The Robin Hood Character Test, which spread around offices in paper format in the 1980s has seen a resurgence in the 21st century due to its posting to personality websites and weblogs. The test claims to be able to accurately predict someone’s personality though asking them to place the characters in the story they are asked to read in the order they most value their behaviour. This study finds that the perceived accuracy of this test can be put down to the Farer Effect and also finds that the Forer Effect is more apparent when the test is conducted online than when it is conducted on paper.
Jonathan Bishop (In Press). The Robin Hood Character Test Online and on Paper: An accurate personality assessment tool or a case of the Forer Effect? International Journal of Internet Trolling and Online Participation.
Ranulf de Blondeville was the 6th Earl of Chester and 1st Earl of Lincoln. He is famously referred to alongside Robin Hood in Piers Plowman. Ranulf has been portrayed as a trouble-maker with a strong independent streak. This paper compares Ranulf with contemporary Internet trolls. This involves looking at not only how Ranulf III of Chester’s activities compare with Internet trolls, but also how many of the Robin Hood legends might emanate from the activities and stories associated with this particular Ranulf Earl of Chester.
Jonathan Bishop (In Press). Ranulf de Blondeville – First Lord of the Trolls. International Journal of Internet Trolling and Online Participation.