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The real purpose of trolling: Nasty comments change what we think

Dominique Brossard and Dietram A. Schuefele | NY Times

In the beginning, the technology gods created the Internet and saw that it was good. Here, at last, was a public sphere with unlimited potential for reasoned debate and the thoughtful exchange of ideas, an enlightening conversational bridge across the many geographic, social, cultural, ideological and economic boundaries that ordinarily separate us in life, a way to pay bills without a stamp.

Then someone invented "reader comments" and paradise was lost.

The Web, it should be said, is still a marvelous place for public debate. But when it comes to reading and understanding news stories online - like this one, for example - the medium can have a surprisingly potent effect on the message. Comments from some readers, our research shows, can significantly distort what other readers think was reported in the first place.

But here, it's not the content of the comments that matters. It's the tone.


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Comments are often the best

Comments are often the best and most informative post underneath the typical propaganda the MSM puts out. I hate those articles that don't even have a comment section...it almost feels like a regal decree with no comment allowed from the peons. I love when I read some propaganda and then see that there are enlightened people commenting on the flaws of the article underneath it. Comment sections have been an excellent benefit of the internet.

So, shouldnt the govt step in?

Noone likes the trolls who just come in to rile people up. But it can be effective on different levels- and you'd better believe the government and corporations know this as well!

At least the article didnt propose some draconian government controls- I was waiting for the token expert to chime in with examples of teenage suicides stemming from mean comments on a message board. Comments sections are obviously still important to the thought controllers, who aim to gauge public sentiment on a subject instantaneously. If you believe the "web" or "net" is a control grid for the burgeoning technocracy, then you'll recognize that public comment will no longer be sought once the hammer of tyranny is dropped! Anybody know if they have comment sections in red China?

Visit https://soundcloud.com/politics-of-freedom for all recent Ron Paul interviews, speeches, debates, forums, panels, press conferences, news coverage, and Texas Straight Talk updates!

"Terrorism is the war of the poor, while war is the terrorism of

In awe of the irony

"The Web, it should be said, is still a marvelous place for public debate. But when it comes to reading and understanding news stories online — like this one, for example — the medium can have a surprisingly potent effect on the message. Comments from some readers, our research shows, can significantly distort what other readers think was reported in the first place."

And by distort, they actually mean present the other side of the argument I'm sure.

I wonder if the authors realize that their entire article is nothing more than a comment on a study, the only difference being that their comment happens to be sponsored and promoted by NYT? Yes, the article's authors performed the study, but the vast majority of the article (and a good bit of the study as well), is commentary.

For the record, I just read the paper, and the study resulted in a pretty weak correlation at best (R^2 =17%). Only 2 of the 4 original hypotheses were proven even using the weak correlation, and the "polarization effect" was not even one of the original hypotheses. After discovering this "polarization effect", they went on conjecture why they thought it occurred (not once did they attribute it to the fact that the blog was neutral, and that strongly opinionated comments could possibly win people over to their own view). They didn't even publish the blog article or comments, so I can't comment much more on that.

17%? That might as well not

17%? That might as well not even be a correlation at all. Heck, that could even possibly be within a larger error range.

To climb the mountain, you must believe you can.

There are plenty

of childrens' fables with trolls...just have to be aware and weed them out.



If the emperor is wearing no clothes, comments will not be allowed.


The CB radio even has trolls. There is a local guy here who is on SSI who does nothing but go fishing and start arguments on the CB radio. That's his life. I don't think there is much of an agenda there.

CB Radios etc.

This is why I don't think I could be someone who carries a radio. I don't know how people could listen to those things day in day out. I had a hard time keeping my hard hat on while in construction ;) Especially those mundane dispatchers or other security. I think all that I would be able to say would be 10-4. Just speaking into a voice mail or answering machine is ridiculous imo.

I would hate to admit that I would be more appreciative of texting lol



Trust BUT verify.


NYT and many other MSM fear

NYT and many other MSM fear the comments section because it publicly displays their obsolescence as real people rebut their propaganda for everyone to see. After they ban the comments section or force you to use your personal identity to make comments there's a simple solution, and sites like this already provide it partially. Another website which hosts comments for any web article and provides the link for readers.

Of course they want to control the message.

"One possible approach to moderate the nasty effect, of course, is to shut down online reader comments altogether, as some media organizations and bloggers have done. Paul Krugman’s blog post on this newspaper’s Web site on the 10th anniversary of Sept. 11, for instance, simply ended with “I’m not going to allow comments on this post, for obvious reasons.”

The "obvious reason" being

The "obvious reason" being even a child is capable of calling him out as a crook and a fraud, but I shouldn't say things like that (and now I can't) because he has a prestigious award.

I've been working on an article with nearly the opposite thesis.

My argument is that the story is in the comments themselves.

Sometimes I skip straight from a headline to the comments section to avoid slogging through the propaganda news piece and getting right to the straight skinny.

I believe there are primarily just two kinds of comments - reasoned analysis by people who are informed on an issue and able and willing to dissect an article and break down the truth and what really matters, and 'troll droppings' which can usually be identified after just two or three words, and skipped.

Not that I would dare argue against the fluous, dare I say superfluous, view of the eminent New York Times...

Tweeting occasionally as himself @cudnoski on the twitter.

I agree, I often do that do

Depending on the article, blog, or subject matter - I'll scan it then skip to the comments to get a pulse on the readership of the site and what the people think of it ...

Very revealing more often than not. About a lot of things.


Are there Trolls yes... But there is also public sentiment. Often I look at the Yahoo article slant then scroll down to the comments and the public's opinion is the exact opposite. It's beautiful.

Sounds great

That sounds more like it, for sure. Remember also that a detailed analysis can trigger a "tldr" response.

with forums especially

often the op isn't the best post.

Typical NYT anti-free speech crap

Propagandists such as the NYT HATE reader comments because THAT is where the rebuttals to their lies are found. Time after time I have read lying, biased articles online and found the "other side" within the reader comments. Krugman doesn't like his Keynesian elites-o-nomics shown up for what it is, so he bans comments. Big deal. He will be rebutted on other websites. "Mean-spirited' depends on who is defining it. Is it "mean-spirited" to object to being lied to? Name callling trolls are obvious fakes who can't defend their position, just ignore them, sticks and stones.

well said.

the article is by someone who obviously prefers to tell people what to think rather than discuss it

Ha, hogwash

There should be a sign along the cyber-road leading toward nytimes.com that reads "Caution: Steep Cultural Marxism Ahead"

I guess this is why

the media acted like they had such disdain for Ron Paul. It is not as much what is said but how it's said.

trolls are people too

I troll for peace. Some folks just need a spanking their mama didn't give them.