Twitter tutorial aims to bring trolls in from the cold

A local internet expert will hold an interactive tutorial on Twitter focusing on the online art of trolling.

Trolling can be defined as posting inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community, such as an online discussion forum, chat room, or blog, with the primary intent of provoking readers into an emotional response.

Generally viewed in negative terms, Councillor Jonathan Bishop aims to lift the lid on how trolling can be used in a non-offensive way while having fun online.

His Trolling Academy tutorial, which runs during Get Safe Online Week, also aims to help people gain qualifications that can count towards entry to higher education.

Coun Bishop, a town councillor for Treforest, will launch the Twitter tutorial tonight (Thursday, November 10), at 6.30pm, showcasing how one can ‘troll’ politicians online to see if they believe what they say they do.

People can find out more about the Trolling Academy at (www.trollingacademy.org) and follow the Twitter account at www.twitter.com/TrollingAcademy to join in the tutorial.

Unfair on trolls

I was disgusted to read Susan Lee’s misrepresentation of “trolls” in the Echo (It’s time the ‘trolls’ were silenced, Oct 28).

As a recognised authority in online communities and founder of the Trolling Academy, I have had research published on trolling for a number of years.

Susan’s representations of trolls being vitriolic is in itself vitriolic and misinformed. She should learn to differ trolls from trolling. When a troll does trolling, it is for the entertainment of others with humorous effect. On the other side of trolling is what is done by Snerts (Snotty Nosed Egotistical Rude Twits), as they post to harm others for their own sick entertainment only.

So instead of tarring trolls with the same brush as one should the Snerts, perhaps Susan should look at finding ways in which Internet users can become better at the humorous side of trolling, while protecting themselves against the dark side. Susan could always enrol at the Trolling Academy – she might learn something!

Act over this sick site

As an internet researcher in the Centre for Research into Online Communities and E-Learning Systems in Swansea, I am pleased that Rod Minchin took the time to report on the disgusting behaviour of the individual who set up a Facebook page to mock the families of the miners who tragically died near my centre (Mail, September 19).

My grandfather betrothed me the Davy lamp from his retirement after working in mining for five decades in the Rhondda mines, with my ancestors having moved to Wales from Birmingham.

The Welsh psyche is still built around mining and the sick individual on Facebook does not realise the full consequences of their actions.

As is pointed out in the article, the police have the power to act. The Communication Act 2003 gives them powers to prosecute Snerts for the posting of offensive messages. It is such a difficult time for the families and friends of Phillip Hill, Charles Breslin, David Powell, and Garry Jenkins as it is, without this on top, so let us pray the police will use them.

Prosecution for parasites

It will disgust readers to know that a Facebook page was set up to mock the miners that tragically died in the Gleision Colliery. As a local researcher of online communities, based at the Institute of Life Sciences at Swansea University, I know all too well the capabilities of these sick characters who plague online worlds.

Called ‘Snerts’ (‘Snotty nosed egotistical rude twits’) these parasites of Internet bandwidth post grossly offensive, indecent, obscene and menacing messages that are intended to harm others.

The police have powers under the Communication Act 2003 to prosecute for the posting of such messages by Snerts and I’m sure everyone will share my view that they should face the highest penalty for such sick behaviour at such a difficult time for the families and friends of Philip Hill, Charles Breslin, David Powell, and Garry Jenkins.

Prosecute snerts

The news that a Facebook page was set up to mock the miners who tragically died in the Gleision Colliery is disgusting (“‘Sick’ Facebook page probed”, September 19).

As someone who has researched and published on online communities for over a decade, I know all too well the sorts of characters that infest these virtual worlds.

These abusive parasites of internet bandwidth are called “Snerts” (“Snotty nosed egotistical rude twits”) and the offensive messages they post called “flames”.

Fortunately the powers created by the UK Government in 2003 under the Communications Act mean that a Snert who “sends by means of a public electronic communications network a message or other matter that is grossly offensive or of an indecent, obscene or menacing character” can be prosecuted.

One of the first times these powers were used in Wales was in August 2008 when Gavin Brent from Flintshire was charged by the police and found guilty of posting such a message about a police officer.

At such a tragic time for the families of Phillip Hill, Charles Breslin, David Powell and Garry Jenkins, such actions are more reprehensible, and the police authorities should take the necessary actions to bring the Snerts to justice.

Response to Tom Chivers's article on Trolling

I refer to Tom Chivers article, ‘Troll hunting: a look at the dark side of the internet’ (Telegraph, 16 September). As someone with Aspergers syndrome and an authority on online communities I felt I had to respond.

Just because someone has Asperger Syndrome it does not mean that they should be treated by journalists or the legal system any differently to anyone else. When a ‘neuro-typical’ without autism commits a crime, this fact is not given undue prominence as it is with people with AS, is it? So, if someone harms others, they should be subject to the laws of the land, regardless of individual difference, and it is the offences they are convicted of that should be reported by the media, not any ‘protected characteristic’ that law abiding citizens may share.

Since 2008 I have had research published every year on trolling, including by other authorities like Celia Livermore Romm and Subhasish Dasgupta. It is not Trolls that post offensive messages to hurt others, but Snerts (Snotty Nosed Egotistic Rude Twits). The offensive messages they post are always ‘flames’.

Trolls on the other hand post messages for humorous effect, called ‘for the lulz’. A common pastime of a Troll is ‘trolling for newbies’. They post messages directed at new members that they know these naïve ‘noobs’ will react to. This then starts a ‘flame war’ where the Snerts react negatively, posting inflammatory messages. The Troll will then post messages that expose the Snerts past transgressions in order to wind them up further.

Many of my friends on Facebook appreciate trolling. A Eurosceptic friend always responds favourably when I troll by writing something on his ‘Wall’ that someone against the EU would oppose. So this misrepresentation of Trolls should stop.

Name and shame internet bullies

Jonathan believes that online communities should be open about their identiities so they can be accountable

There’s more to online communities than the “trolls” who post shocking messages on memorial web pages. My studies have discovered ‘trolling’ isn’t necessarily done to hurt people, but to be provocative and to create a reaction for supposedly humorous effect. This is done by existing members of a community to newcomers; something referred to as “trolling for newbies”.

Whitney Phillips describes tolls as men ain their 20s and 30s (Mail), but these are more likely to be ‘Snerts’ (Snotty nosed egotistical rude teens), who enjoy putting other people down.

Many of the trolls I have come across have been successfully employed women seeking an escape from the grind of modern life. Men who are Snerts have generally been denied opportunities to progress in life. The more successful ones may be “degree slaves”, well qualified but working for nothing.

Less fortunate youngsters abuse others to makes themselves feel big, by acting as ‘Masked Snerts’ or ‘Masked E-Vengers’. My research [has] been used by authorities such as Professors Jenny Preece and Sherry Turkle.

Many people with emotional difficulties (known as ‘Rippers’) go online in search of empathy (from the ‘My Heart Bleeds for You Jennies’) rather than solutions (offered by the ‘Big Men’).

All too often they are greeted by Snerts, who ‘flame’ them  by telling them to GFGI (Go “flipping” Google it) or suggesting ‘M/S’ (murder/suicide).

I took part in an EU consultation on electronic signatures, suggesting that these miscreants should be unmasked by requiring everyone to use their real names online. It wouldn’t be a panacea, but it may help make the online world safer and encourage people to look out for each other in the same way in which the use of the Davy lamp and an active community spirit helped the industrialised Rhondda communities in which my grandfather grew up. Then the Snerts who bullied Natasha MacBryde – and continued to torment her family after her suicide – would be held account for their actions.

Increasing Capital Revenue in Social Networking Communities: Building Social and Economic Relationships through Avatars and Characters

Increasing Capital Revenue in Social Networking Communities: Building Social and Economic Relationships through Avatars and Characters

Jonathan Bishop

Abstract

The rise of online communities in Internet environments has set in motion an unprecedented shift in power from vendors of goods and services to the customers who buy them, with those vendors who understand this transfer of power and choose to capitalize on it by organizing online communities and being richly rewarded with both peerless customer loyalty and impressive economic returns. A type of online community, the virtual world, could radically alter the way people work, learn, grow consume, and entertain. Understanding the exchange of social and economic capital in online communities could involve looking at what causes actors to spend their resources on improving someone else’s reputation. Actors’ reputations may affect others’ willingness to trade with them or give them gifts. Investigating online communities reveals a large number of different characters and associated avatars. When an actor looks at another’s avatar they will evaluate them and make decisions that are crucial to creating interaction between customers and vendors in virtual worlds based on the exchange of goods and services. This paper utilizes the ecological cognition framework to understand transactions, characters and avatars in virtual worlds and investigates the exchange of capital in a bulletin board and virtual. The chapter finds strong evidence for the existence of characters and stereotypes based on the Ecological Cognition Framework and empirical evidence that actors using avatars with antisocial connotations are more likely to have a lower return on investment and be rated less positively than those with more sophisticated appearing avatars.

Full Text

Building Social and Economic Relationships through Avatars and Characters

References

Bishop, J. (2013). Increasing Capital Revenue in Social Networking Communities: Building Social and Economic Relationships through Avatars and Characters. In: J. Bishop (Ed.) Examining the Concepts, Issues and Implications of Internet Trolling. IGI Global: Hershey, PA. Available online at: http://www.jonathanbishop.com/Library/Documents/EN/docIGIPaper_AvatarsCharacters.pdf

Bishop, J. (2011). Increasing Capital Revenue in Social Networking Communities: Building Social and Economic Relationships through Avatars and Characters. In: IRMA (Ed.). Virtual Communities: Concepts, Methodologies, Tools and Applications. IGI Global: Hershey, PA; pages 1720-1734. Available online at: http://www.jonathanbishop.com/Library/Documents/EN/docIGIPaper_AvatarsCharacters.pdf

Bishop, J. (2008). Increasing Capital Revenue in Social Networking Communities: Building Social and Economic Relationships through Avatars and Characters. In: C. Romm-Livermore & K. Setzekorn (Eds.). Social Networking Communities and EDating Services: Concepts and Implications. IGI Global: Hershey, PA. Available online at: http://www.jonathanbishop.com/Library/Documents/EN/docSNCEDS_Ch4.pdf

Increasing Capital Revenue in Social Networking Communities: Building Social and Economic Relationships through Avatars and Characters

Citation

Cite as: Bishop, J. (2008). Increasing capital revenue in social networking communities: Building social and economic relationships through avatars and characters. In C. Romm-Livermore, & K. Setzekorn (Eds.), Social networking communities and eDating services: Concepts and implications. New York: IGI Global.

Abstract

The rise of online communities in Internet environments has set in motion an unprecedented shift in power from vendors of goods and services to the customers who buy them, with those vendors who understand this transfer of power and choose to capitalize on it by organizing online communities and being richly rewarded with both peerless customer loyalty and impressive economic returns. A type of online community, the virtual world, could radically alter the way people work, learn, grow consume, and entertain. Understanding the exchange of social and economic capital in online communities could involve looking at what causes actors to spend their resources on improving someone else’s reputation. Actors’ reputations may affect others’ willingness to trade with them or give them gifts. Investigating online communities reveals a large number of different characters and associated avatars. When an actor looks at another’s avatar they will evaluate them and make decisions that are crucial to creating interaction between customers and vendors in virtual worlds based on the exchange of goods and services. This chapter utilizes the ecological cognition framework to understand transactions, characters and avatars in virtual worlds and investigates the exchange of capital in a bulletin board and virtual. The chapter finds strong evidence for the existence of characters and stereotypes based on the ecological cognition framework and empirical evidence that actors using avatars with antisocial connotations are more likely to have a lower return on investment and be rated less positively than those with more sophisticated appearing avatars.

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Building Social and Economic Relationships through Avatars and Characters

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