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Trolling in asynchronous computer-mediated communication: from user discussions to theoretical concepts

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Published
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>07/2010
<mark>Journal</mark>Journal of Politeness Research
Issue number2
Volume6
Number of pages28
Pages (from-to)215-242
<mark>State</mark>Published
<mark>Original language</mark>English

Abstract

Whilst computer-mediated communication (CMC) can benefit users by providing quick and easy communication between those separated by time and space, it can also provide varying degrees of anonymity that may encourage a sense of impunity and freedom from being held accountable for inappropriate online behaviour. As such, CMC is a fertile ground for studying impoliteness, whether it occurs in response to perceived threat (flaming), or as an end in its own right (trolling). Currently, first and second-order definitions of terms such as im/politeness (Brown and Levinson 1987; Bousfield 2008; Culpeper 2008; Terkourafi 2008), in-civility (Lakoff 2005), rudeness (Beebe 1995, Kienpointner 1997, 2008), and etiquette (Coulmas 1992), are subject to much discussion and debate, yet the CMC phenomenon of trolling is not adequately captured by any of these terms. Following Bousfield (in press), Culpeper (2010) and others, this paper suggests that a definition of trolling should be informed first and foremost by user discussions. Taking examples from a 172-million-word, asynchronous CMC corpus, four interrelated conditions of aggression, deception, disruption, and success are discussed. Finally, a working definition of trolling is presented.