Trolling

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The controversial concept of trolling has no one fixed definition. It is variously defined as:

  • stating positions one doesn't hold in hopes of gaining some useful or fun reaction
  • stating positions that are unlikely to be accepted into a hostile forum where at least one person will fail to believe you really hold them and are advocating them there, e.g. moving a resolution to ban traditional marriage in a Republican Party policy conference
  • generally disrupting and diluting the level of discourse in a forum
  • simply being unpopular
  • winning arguments - after which the events are described by the losers as being trolling - this is a claim that is quite common among the trolls themselves

Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter are two people commonly called trolls who operate in the television media. Bill O'Reilly and Tucker Carlson and Al Franken and Michael Moore may also be trolls by the broadest definition. Fox News itself may be dominated by trolls. But they may be fighting against terms defined by a "[[term:liberal media}liberal]]" media. Tim Graham notes that the NAACP, Sierra Club, Greenpeace, are never described as "liberal". Conservative financier Richard Mellon-Scafe finances Graham and many other groups that "watch" for such biases, and if one accepts that he is simply engaging in advocacy then his employees then are "funded trolls", an especially dangerous phenomenon if they can achieve deep framing changes in the public mind. However this may be stretching the definition of trolling to the limit:

Of these people only Franken, Moore and Coulter have published books containing statements that even they will not back up after the fact, while Limbaugh has actually advocated direct Internet trolling at Wikipedia: he advocated defining term:Africtocracy and term:ghettocracy as full status articles in Wikipedia "to spread them around". This is trolling by some definitions, but not by others, as Limbaugh believes in these concepts (though he probably knows that they do not satisfy Wikipedia's definitions of namespace neutrality).

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