Do Online Trolling Strategies Differ in Political and Interest Forums: Early Results

Henna Paakki*, Antti Salovaara, Heidi Vepsäläinen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference article in proceedingsScientificpeer-review

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This study compares the effectiveness of different trolling strategies in two online contexts: politically oriented forums that address issues like global warming, and interest-based forums that deal with people’s personal interests. Based on previous research, we consider trolling as context-bound and suggest that relevance theory and common grounding theory can explain why people may attend and react to certain types of troll posts in one forum, but pay scant attention to them in another. We postulate two hypotheses on how successful (i.e., disruptive) trolling varies according to context: that trolls’ messaging strategies appear in different frequencies in political and interest forums (H1), and that context-matching strategies also produce longer futile conversations (H2). Using Hardaker’s categorization of trolling strategies on a covert–overt continuum, our statistical analysis on a dataset of 49 online conversations verified H1: in political forums covert strategies were more common than overt ones; in interest forums the opposite was the case. Regarding H2 our results were inconclusive. However, the results motivate further research on this phenomenon with larger datasets.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationDisinformation in Open Online Media - 2nd Multidisciplinary International Symposium, MISDOOM 2020, Proceedings
Subtitle of host publicationMISDOOM 2020
EditorsMax van Duijn, Mike Preuss, Frank Takes, Suzan Verberne, Viktoria Spaiser
Place of PublicationCham
Number of pages14
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-030-61841-4
ISBN (Print)978-3-030-61840-7
Publication statusPublished - 19 Oct 2020
MoE publication typeA4 Conference publication
EventMultidisciplinary International Symposium on Disinformation in Open Online Media - Online, Leiden, Netherlands
Duration: 26 Oct 202027 Oct 2020
Conference number: 2

Publication series

NameLecture Notes in Computer Science
ISSN (Print)0302-9743


ConferenceMultidisciplinary International Symposium on Disinformation in Open Online Media
Abbreviated titleMISDOOM


  • Trolling strategies
  • Political forum
  • Interest forum
  • Relevance theory
  • Common grounding


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