Tag Archives: trolling

Protesting Too Much

The lady doth protest too much, methinks. — Queen Gertrude, Hamlet

To “protest too much” is to insist so passionately about something not being true that people suspect the opposite of what you are saying.

Pocket English Idioms

In American English, the phrase “the lady doth protest too much” definitely indicates that you think the subject’s ardent denial of a proposition is meant to cover up its embarrassing truth.


Another form of “protesting too much” is for two people to have a staged conversation for the benefit of a third party. For instance, if a teenager has skipped school, she might bring a friend home with her that afternoon and make a point of discussing their day “at school” in front of her mother. If the discussion seems unusually elaborate, the mother might begin to suspect something. Why? The daughter is “protesting” too much.

This method can also be used on the internet by one person posting under two or more usernames. Someone and his sock puppet can carry on what appears to be a casual conversation, while deliberately inserting specific comments or questions designed to give a certain impression. The problem with this, and what the “protester” in this case often fails to realize, is that the very person for whom he has staged the performance, is the one most likely to see it for what it is.

The reason is simple: while the conversation may appear perfectly random or innocuous to outsiders, the comments and questions must be somewhat specific to the target audience if there is any chance of creating the desired effect — sending a specific message to a specific individual(s). The irony is that this is also the very thing which undermines the desired effect. It’s something of a Catch-22.

It’s a very obvious and desperate tactic most often used by people whose backs are against the wall. At the risk of sounding arrogant, the people I’ve seen doing this are never close to being as clever as they think they are. That’s why they do it in the first place — they don’t recognize the flaws. Nevertheless, I do admit to getting a certain amount of satisfaction from watching a worm squirm.

Oddly, a verse from the Bible just sprung to mind, and I think it would make a very appropriate closing to this entry:

[…] be sure your sins will find you out. — Numbers 32:23

Posted by Lottie — Copyright © 2008 Rambling On

Internet Trolling – What It Isn’t

The term “troll” gets thrown around quite a lot, especially on high-traffic blogs and discussion forums. At least half the time, in my experience, it’s not even accurate. So what is an internet troll anyway?

An Internet troll, or simply troll in Internet slang, is someone who posts controversial and usually irrelevant or off-topic messages in an online community, such as an online discussion forum or chat room, with the intention of baiting other users into an emotional response[1] or to generally disrupt normal on-topic discussion.[2]


Notice this does not define trolling as posting something controversial which happens to provoke an emotional response. The difference is intent.

All too often, participants in online discussions carelessly accuse others of trolling when it is clearly not the case. Many times, the accusation is in response to something which is clearly on topic that simply makes the accuser uncomfortable or angry. That is not trolling. Having an emotional response does not mean you were baited into one, and disagreeing with someone, however strongly, does not make that person a troll.

But why does this even matter? Well, for someone who genuinely attempts to make meaningful points only to be dismissed as a troll, it can matter a lot. On high-traffic discussion forums where there is often an cliquish atmosphere, accusations of trolling can be particularly damaging to the credibility of newcomers. And when administrators jump on the name-calling bandwagon, it only compounds the problem.

So why do people do it? Why do some people cry “troll” at the drop of a hat?

Continue reading