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  1. #1
    Senior Member JohnDoe2's Avatar
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    Scientists have figured out how to tell when someone is an online troll

    Scientists have figured out how to tell when someone is an online troll

    By Andrea Peterson April 22


    (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)


    Spotting an online troll is pretty easy for your average Internet user: They're the jerk hijacking otherwise earnest online conversations for their own amusement, often with the help of straw man arguments and profanities.


    And a lot of online moderation schemes today rely on a large-scale version of this individual model: There are literally people whose job is reviewing posts that users marked as abusive or otherwise in violation of a site's commenting guidelines.


    But there could be a better way. What if there was software that could predict if a user was going to be a troll before their behavior could tear online communities apart?


    That's one of the questions that a study submitted this month to the 9th International Conference on Web and Social Media by researchers at Stanford and Cornell universities hopes to answer.


    [Related: Twitterís trying to muzzle its worst trolls with new rules on violent threats]


    The researchers -- Justin Cheng, Cristian Danescu-Niculescu-Mizil and Jure Leskovec -- waded through 18 months of user activity in the comment sections of CNN.com, conservative political news site Breitbart.com, and gaming site IGN.com looking for antisocial activity. Using data provided by commenting platform Disqus, they were eventually able to identify what they called "future banned users" -- commenters who were later blocked from the site for bad behavior.


    Those users, they found, tended to focus their comments on a small number of stories and were more likely to post things otherwise irrelevant to the overall conversation. Trolls' behavior also tended to get worse over time, according to the researchers -- and they were generally successful at getting a rise out of those in an online community.

    "They receive more replies than average users, suggesting that they might be successful in luring others into fruitless, time-consuming discussions," the researchers said.

    The researchers used their findings to design a program that could predict who would be banned in the future -- looking at things like post content, user activity and community and moderator responses. And they had some success: They determined that they could predict with more than 80 percent certainty if a user would later be banned -- and only needed five to 10 of a user's posts to make a prediction.


    But those results might not yet be good enough for sites walking a narrow line between protecting users from truly abusive behavior and banning unpopular opinions.


    Some platforms are looking at ways to limit the impact of disruptive users without actually banning them. Twitter, for instance, said this week that it is testing out a product that flags potentially abusive tweets based on a "wide range of signals," such as account age and similarities to previous messages that staff deemed abusive, and then limits their reach.


    But regardless of how sites approach it, online harassment is a serious problem: Some 40 percent of adult Internet users have experienced it, according to a Pew Research Center study last year. And controlling the bad actors responsible behind some of the most aggressive behavior is a struggle for many online sites, including Facebook and Twitter.


    Unsurprisingly, research suggests these uncivil commenters tend to have some pretty dark personality traits. Research led by University of Manitoba graduate student Erin Buckels published in the journal Personality and Individual Differences last year found links between online trolling and narcissism, Machiavellianism, psychopathy and sadism.


    (Buckels et al).


    The issue is particularly important for news sites. There's evidence that trolling behavior, such as ad hominem attacks in the comments of stories, can sway readers' opinions, regardless of the underlying facts -- that's one reason that Popular Science decided to do away with comments altogether in 2013.


    But that's just not an option for every site, especially considering how important user contributions have become in our increasingly social online experiences. That's why systematic approaches could be a godsend to sites that otherwise must use a lot of manpower to stop their comment sections from turning into cesspools.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/...roll/?hpid=z20

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  2. #2
    Senior Member JohnDoe2's Avatar
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    Straw man

    From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


    This article is about the logical fallacy. For other uses, see Straw man (disambiguation).
    "Man of straw" redirects here. For the novel by Heinrich Mann, see Der Untertan.
    A straw man is a common reference argument and is an informal fallacy based on false representation of an opponent's argument.[1] To be successful, a straw man argument requires that the audience be ignorant or uninformed of the original argument.
    The so-called typical "attacking a straw man" argument creates the illusion of having completely refuted or defeated an opponent's proposition by covertly replacing it with a different proposition (i.e., "stand up a straw man") and then to refute or defeat that false argument ("knock down a straw man") instead of the original proposition.[2][3]
    This technique has been used throughout history in polemical debate, particularly in arguments about highly charged emotional issues where a fiery, entertaining "battle" and the defeat of an "enemy" may be more valued than critical thinking or understanding both sides of the issue.
    In the United Kingdom the argument is also known as an Aunt Sally, after the pub game of the same name where patrons throw sticks or battens at a model of an old woman's head.[4][5]
    Contents

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    Origin[edit]


    U.S. President William McKinley has shot a cannon (labeled McKinley's Letter) which has involved a "straw man" and its constructors (Carl Schurz, Oswald Garrison Villard, Richard Olney) in a great explosion. Caption: S M A S H E D !,Harper's Weekly, September 22, 1900

    As a fallacy, the identification and name of straw man arguments are of relatively recent date, although Aristotlemakes remarks that suggest a similar concern;[6] Douglas Walton identified "the first inclusion of it we can find in a textbook as an informal fallacy" in Stuart Chase's Guides to Straight Thinking from 1956 (p. 40).[6][7] However, Hamblin's classic text Fallacies (1970) neither mentions it as a distinct type, nor even as a historical term.[6][7] The idea of "men of straw" who can be knocked down by "the lightest puff, the smallest breath of truth," erected by invaders upon a field to scare away others who might join the movement, can be found in Victoria C. Woodhull's "The Scare-Crows of Sexual Slavery," written in 1873.[8]
    The origins of the term are unclear. The usage of the term in rhetoric suggests a human figure made of straw which is easily knocked down or destroyed, such as a military training dummy, scarecrow, or effigy.[9] The rhetorical technique is sometimes called an Aunt Sally in the UK, with reference to a traditional fairground game in which objects are thrown at a fixed target. One common folk etymology is that it refers to men who stood outside courthouses with a straw in their shoe in order to indicate their willingness to be a false witness.[10]

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Straw_man


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