Monsters in the wires: wrangling trolls with corpus linguistics

Claire Hardaker

LAEL, Lancaster University

Computer-mediated communication (CMC), or communication between humans via computers (December, 1997: 5, Ferris, 1997, Herring, 2003: 612) is a rich area for the study of the behaviour known as "trolling" (roughly: causing aggravation online for amusement's sake). In particular, CMC is predisposed towards greater misunderstanding than face-to-face communication due to the reduction of cues such as facial expression, tone, and gaze. Added to this, CMC and the level of anonymity it offers can encourage a sense of psychological disconnect and of invulnerability, particularly to the consequences of inappropriate behaviour. Building on previous research into trolling (Grabosky & Smith, 1998, Hardaker, 2010, Herring, Job-Sluder, Scheckler & Barab, 2002, Schmidt, 2006), and using a corpus-based approach, I explore two key aspects: (1) what is trolling? How can this behaviour be defined? And (2) how is trolling carried out? What are the key strategies that emerge from the data? This talk presents some findings from two Usenet corpora (RE: 63m words, SF: 17m words). However, I also discuss a few of the issues that arise when trying to use a corpus approach to analysing a fundamentally pragmatic behaviour.

Week 4 2013/2014

Thursday 31st October 2013

FASS Meeting Room 3

Lecture clash -rescheduled to 1-2pm at MR3 instead of 2-3pm