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Sealioning

Pull up a chair, have a biscuit - discuss the site and general questions about the LemonFool
Itsallaguess
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Sealioning

#328614

Postby Itsallaguess » July 25th, 2020, 12:16 pm

The subject of 'Sealioning' was discussed recently on a now deleted post, but I thought that it describes the behaviour so well that I felt it would be a real shame if it didn't get some wider views.

I especially like it's description of 'Sealioning' as a sort of 'denial-of-service attack targeted at human beings'..

Sealioning (also spelled sea-lioning and sea lioning) is a type of trolling or harassment which consists of pursuing people with persistent requests for evidence or repeated questions, while maintaining a pretense of civility and sincerity. It may take the form of "incessant, bad-faith invitations to engage in debate".

Description - The troll feigns ignorance and politeness, so that if the target is provoked into making an angry response, the troll can then act as the aggrieved party. Sealioning can be performed by a single troll or by multiple ones acting in concert. The technique of sealioning has been compared to the Gish gallop and metaphorically described as a denial-of-service attack targeted at human beings.

An essay in the collection Perspectives on Harmful Speech Online, published by the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard, noted:

Rhetorically, sealioning fuses persistent questioning — often about basic information, information easily found elsewhere, or unrelated or tangential points — with a loudly-insisted-upon commitment to reasonable debate. It disguises itself as a sincere attempt to learn and communicate. Sealioning thus works both to exhaust a target's patience, attention, and communicative effort, and to portray the target as unreasonable. While the questions of the "sea lion" may seem innocent, they're intended maliciously and have harmful consequences — Amy Johnson, Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society (May 2019)


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sealioning

Cheers,

Itsallaguess

seagles
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Re: Sealioning

#328623

Postby seagles » July 25th, 2020, 1:23 pm

As far as I am concerned any poster displaying this form of behaviour needs to be stamped out same as "basic trolling". But that is only my opinion as it detracts from the flow of the threads it happens on or maybe it is dependant on the "forum" posted on. I only read (normally, uness something catches my eye) financial forums.

redsturgeon
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Re: Sealioning

#328626

Postby redsturgeon » July 25th, 2020, 1:54 pm

Although this is a much more subtle form of trolling and thus can be difficult to identify as such, once it becomes generally known for what it is then the answer is the same as for any type of trolling.

Surely non engagement will very quickly make the extra efforts that this type of trolling requires too onerous to continue with.

John

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Re: Sealioning

#328641

Postby XFool » July 25th, 2020, 3:11 pm

Yeah...

But then what exactly IS "trolling"? Or rather, who gets to define what the definition of "trolling" actually is?

My "posting" might be your "trolling" (or "sealioning"?) or vice versa. I ask with good reason(s).

A few years ago I had a bad experience: A friend of mine died at home in his sleep. He had no living relatives in this country. I found out he was dead after calling round at his house, at the urging of friends who were worried that he was not answering his phone. The policeman in the car outside his house got out of the car to explain to me what had happened and what I should do - contact the coroner's office when they were open. Which I did.

I then took on the responsibility of keeping all his other friends (as known to me) up with events. To cut a long story short, it didn't work out. After several weeks passed I eventually found out it was all over - he had gone, his funeral service was over. I had missed it, so had all his other, mutual, friends. This was a shock - it was worse, I felt I had let everyone else down, mislead them. I felt guilty, was it somehow all my fault?

There were further issues to do with the only known living relative in the USA and her inability to get any apparent sympathetic understanding from the executor - who I eventually got to track down.

I posted about this at the time on TLF. Mainly to do with trying to understand the practical issues involved: the law/role of the coroner/role of the executor etc. How could this happen? But the driving force was, of course, my feelings of guilt (whether justified or not).

I certainly got some helpful advice from some TLF posters but, in the middle of all this, a TLF poster 'helpfully' (WTF?) accused me of "trolling" on the matter. I immediately terminated any further engagement.

Whilst I am sure "trolling" etc. is a real phenomenon, I also assert that false accusations of "trolling" are an equally real phenomenon as a method of 'closing down' or 'dissing' other posters. Just as some would assert that racism is only too real (include me in), so too can ready accusations of "racism" be wielded as a weapon against others.

Of course, my 'story' above might all be BS. I might just be "trolling", no?

Only one of us knows.
Last edited by XFool on July 25th, 2020, 3:14 pm, edited 1 time in total.

seagles
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Re: Sealioning

#328643

Postby seagles » July 25th, 2020, 3:13 pm

redsturgeon wrote:Although this is a much more subtle form of trolling and thus can be difficult to identify as such, once it becomes generally known for what it is then the answer is the same as for any type of trolling.

Surely non engagement will very quickly make the extra efforts that this type of trolling requires too onerous to continue with.

John

I agree but a lot of posters seem to rise to the bait and continue the flow. Some even reply saying n" not taking the bait" but any reply just continues the dialogue. IMO it needs to be stopped at source and swiftly.

CryptoPlankton
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Re: Sealioning

#328646

Postby CryptoPlankton » July 25th, 2020, 3:22 pm

redsturgeon wrote:Although this is a much more subtle form of trolling and thus can be difficult to identify as such, once it becomes generally known for what it is then the answer is the same as for any type of trolling.

Surely non engagement will very quickly make the extra efforts that this type of trolling requires too onerous to continue with.

John

The trouble is that, because of its subtlety, the only real way to make (and keep) it "generally known" is to call it out on a fairly regular basis. Even then, there will be people who have no prior knowledge of the pinniped's activities and will take its antics at face value, thereby satisfying its insatiable appetite for fish. As far as I can see, the only truly effective solution is a metaphorical harpoon gun...

CryptoPlankton
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Re: Sealioning

#328651

Postby CryptoPlankton » July 25th, 2020, 3:42 pm

CryptoPlankton wrote: ...thereby satisfying its insatiable appetite for fish.

Did I really write that?! :roll:

Mike4
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Re: Sealioning

#328671

Postby Mike4 » July 25th, 2020, 5:18 pm

XFool wrote:Yeah...

But then what exactly IS "trolling"? Or rather, who gets to define what the definition of "trolling" actually is?


Well just like all language use, the meaning of trolling (in the computery sense) has changed beyond all recognition since the early days.

Back in the beginning trolling was the (fairly) harmless activity of making a post on a forum (or newsgroup before forums were invented) designed to initiate a long debate. The longer the debate, the more successful the troll. The activity even borrowed its name from the angling term trolling, meaning to trail a bait on a line out behind the boat to catch a fish. Internet trolling in its finest form was the starting of a thread with a single controversial post, with the aim of creating a long and drawn out debate with no further input from the OP. Here on TLF for example, such a thread might be a new poster saying they had this great idea for a share portfolio focussing on income and forget the capital value, and asking what everyone thinks. Mybe a clunky example but done subtly and skilfully, a lovely long thread could perhaps be generated with the participants arguing amongst themselves for weeks.

Nowadays the term has been hijacked to mean someone being nasty or spiteful to someone else, on line.

Itsallaguess
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Re: Sealioning

#328682

Postby Itsallaguess » July 25th, 2020, 5:56 pm

XFool wrote:
But then what exactly IS "trolling"?

Or rather, who gets to define what the definition of "trolling" actually is?


I think the Wikipedia article linked above does a good job of describing a particular type of online behaviour that might then be recognisable by people if they were previously unaware of it, and perhaps help to confirm it to those that already are.

I would hope that such things help to positively refine our collective online radars, and in doing so, I would like to think that it might also help to reduce the ability of such behaviour to regularly influence things in a negative way.

I thought the article was interesting, and certainly rang true for some situations that I've experienced, so I thought it might interest others too..

Cheers,

Itsallaguess

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Re: Sealioning

#328694

Postby Lootman » July 25th, 2020, 6:51 pm

Mike4 wrote:
XFool wrote:But then what exactly IS "trolling"? Or rather, who gets to define what the definition of "trolling" actually is?

Internet trolling in its finest form was the starting of a thread with a single controversial post, with the aim of creating a long and drawn out debate with no further input from the OP. Here on TLF for example, such a thread might be a new poster saying they had this great idea for a share portfolio focussing on income and forget the capital value, and asking what everyone thinks. Maybe a clunky example but done subtly and skilfully, a lovely long thread could perhaps be generated with the participants arguing amongst themselves for weeks.

In that example, if all the participants enjoyed the long, rambling discussion, then what harm is done?

Mike4 wrote:Nowadays the term has been hijacked to mean someone being nasty or spiteful to someone else, on line.

It's also been hijacked as a way of seeking to distract from or dismiss the other party's argument. So for instance A makes a point, B counters that point and A then accuses B of being a troll. It's become an almost meaningless and hopelessly over-used generic insult for whenever another contributor annoys or contradicts someone.

Mike4
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Re: Sealioning

#328705

Postby Mike4 » July 25th, 2020, 7:24 pm

Lootman wrote:
Mike4 wrote:
XFool wrote:But then what exactly IS "trolling"? Or rather, who gets to define what the definition of "trolling" actually is?

Internet trolling in its finest form was the starting of a thread with a single controversial post, with the aim of creating a long and drawn out debate with no further input from the OP. Here on TLF for example, such a thread might be a new poster saying they had this great idea for a share portfolio focussing on income and forget the capital value, and asking what everyone thinks. Maybe a clunky example but done subtly and skilfully, a lovely long thread could perhaps be generated with the participants arguing amongst themselves for weeks.

In that example, if all the participants enjoyed the long, rambling discussion, then what harm is done?

I agree with you, I see no serious harm but the opposing argument is that first post is in bad faith, i.e. dishonest and manipulative. It is not the troller's genuine attempt to have a discussion, it is using and manipulating other people and their emotions for their own gratification, not because they genuinely want to debate the issue of their OP. If the thread goes quiet the troller OP will seek to re-ignite debate by posting again, not because they are genuinely interested in debating, simply to keep the squabbling going.

Some see that as harmful. I see it as mostly harmless but not always. I've met people who have been incandescent with rage at the things they've read on internet forums. Been there myself even, back in early TMF days when bialystock turned up sheet-stirring on the property board. He even used to say as much occasionally, that he was posting to provoke reactions rather than to engage in reasoned debate.

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Re: Sealioning

#328711

Postby GoSeigen » July 25th, 2020, 7:59 pm

XFool wrote:
Of course, my 'story' above might all be BS. I might just be "trolling", no?

Only one of us knows.


Maybe only one party knows as you say, but IMO it is often the party which is not trolling. Trolling often comes from people doing it as a neurotic behaviour and they themselves might be blissfully unaware of what they are doing and how it affects others. They benefit from the supply the behaviour provides and lack the empathy to understand how they are abusing others in the process. Those others are often more able to step out of the situation, rationally consider what is going on and recognise that the game is trolling and feeding the troll.

So I think it more likely others spot the trolling long before the troll recognises it himself, if he ever does...


GS

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Re: Sealioning

#328715

Postby Lootman » July 25th, 2020, 8:11 pm

GoSeigen wrote: I think it more likely others spot the trolling long before the troll recognises it himself, if he ever does...

I see. So your point is that if you were trolling then you would never realise that, and might instead think that it was only others who troll?

So you would rely on the rest of us to inform you of that fact? And thank us for pointing it out? :D

Of course, would it really be trolling if you had no awareness of your motive? Isn't trolling a conscious, deliberate act?

tjh290633
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Re: Sealioning

#328730

Postby tjh290633 » July 25th, 2020, 10:12 pm

It stikes me that this has much in common with vexatious litigation. Both are disruptive activities, intended to annoy or to aggravate a situation. So, to take a pertinent example, posts are often reported because the reporter does not agree with the comments made, or feels they are in an inappropriate place. Sometimes they are correct, but often one can sense a personal antipathy to either the poster or the subject.

It often happens that a question is asked which has been covered in an earlier post in the same thread, although that can be many pages earlier in a long thread. Redirection to that earlier post or topic is the obvious response. Sometimes, repetitive questioning on the same subject can be tedious. Polite but firm responses ought to be the way to bring this to a close, but it doesn't always work.

TJH


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