Free speech - do we deserve it???

General Open Discussion for topics not covered anywhere else.
Strange. Who knows what happened.. maybe it was a glitch or something? Or maybe he quit for a few days and then changed his mind, lol. Idk
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minute recordings
 
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" wrote:If you ask me there is too much freedom of speech and no we don't deserve it.


Really? What if it was against the law for you to have said that statement above? What if most of what is said on this forum was against the law or not accepted as free speach.

to all you who are younger....let me tell you I lived during the time where there were many many things that could not be said without repercussion.

People were ousted, blackballed from their professions, jailed in some instances for saying things that you all take as normal today.

You could not speak out against the country...the president....god....without worrying about who was hearing you and who would take it to someone who could infringe on the rights that you all enjoy now.

Do you think that the freedoms that you have were always there. There was a time not long ago when we couldn't even express an opinion about unity because it was considered to be communist. People were jailed for saying things like we should all be able to have health care that was considered socialism and anything that was not a capitalistic or democratic philosophy...was punished by the law.

there were things that were simply not allowed because they were considered un american....lol

So as you all sit back and enjoy those freedoms that you now have...remember that there were many who fought and struggled to get you those freedoms and if you think we don't deserve freedom of speech then you also have the right to shut your mouth and not take advantage of those freedoms.

What you do not have is the right to shut anyone else up.....
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I agree with you, Lola. "wev'e come a long way, baby".......but the road ahead is still filled with peaks and valleys. Are you ready for a friendly hike? LOL! It's good for the cardio system, so they say.;)
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I agree with you, Lola. "wev'e come a long way, baby".......but the road ahead is still filled with peaks and valleys. Are you ready for a friendly hike? LOL! It's good for the cardio system, so they say.;)

I'm in as long as can I bring my "lucky strikes"(cigs) for the ride.....it would be a pleasure to hike this "mountain" with you, cigs and all....
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a double shot of love to you here, gal, for the road is long..........;)
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It's "interesting" how some post are delayed from posting by........LOL! It's all good (hope that meets the expectations)...LOL! :p:p:p If you don't succeed, try and try again....the only barriers are those that we set-up for ourselves.
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FREE SPEECH

Specialty Definition: Freedom of speech
(From Wikipedia, the free Encyclopedia)
Freedom of speech is the right to freely state one's opinions and ideas.
Freedom of speech is often regarded as an integral concept in democratic governance. According to these ideas, when citizens refrain from voicing their discontent because they fear retribution, the government can no longer be responsive to them, thus it is less accountable for its actions. Defenders of free speech often allege that this is the main reason why governments suppress free speech--to avoid accountability.
Alternatively, it may be argued that some restrictions on freedom of speech may be compatible with democracy or necessary to protect it. For example, such arguments are used to justify restrictions on support of Nazi ideas in post-war Germany.
As Tocqueville pointed out, people may be hesitant to speak freely not because of fear of government retribution but because of social pressures. When an individual announces an unpopular opinion, he or she may face the disdain of their community or even be subjected to violent reactions. This type of suppression of speech is even more difficult to prevent than government suppression is.
See also: Freedom of speech (Canada)

Free speech in the United States
In the United States freedom of speech is protected by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. Through Supreme Court decisions and popular usage it has come to be associated with freedom of expression. Some argue that this linkage is necessary, as the purpose of speech is to express ideas, and ideas can be expressed through non-speech methods of communication as well. Others argue that substituting freedom of expression blurs the distinction between meaningful debate and (sometimes prurient) entertainment. Under a freedom of expression approach, for example, erotic dancing is likely to gain greater legal protection than it would under a free speech approach. The United States Supreme Court frequently uses the SLAPS test, under which speech or expression can only be banned if it lacks serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value.
One exception to the broadening of freedom of speech to freedom of expression in the United States is in the realm of advertising. This "business expression" is still subject to greater restrictions than political, social, or artistic expression.

Prior Restraints on Speech
"Prior restraints" are governmental restrictions on speech that regulate speech or expression before it ever occurs. These governmental restrictions typically come in the form of administrative or judicial regulations. Some common examples of prior restraints are laws which require one to obtain a license or permit prior to engaging in certain forms of expression (e.g. protests or rallies) and court injunctions prohibiting certain communications before their occurrence (e.g. gag orders). The Supreme Court has labeled prior restraints on speech and publications as "the most serious and the least tolerable infringement[s] on First Amendment rights" because they have "an immediate and irreversible sanction," which has the effect of "freezing" speech.1 Because of their potential adverse effects on freedom of expression, prior restraints are viewed by the Supreme Court as "bearing a heavy presumption against [their] constitutional validity."2 In spite of this presumption, however, the Court has made it clear that when faced with a prior restraint, one is bound to follow the law or court order unless it is "transparently invalid or [has] only a frivolous pretense to validity."3
(1) Nebraska Press Ass'n v. Stuart, 427 U.S. 539, 559 (1976). (2) Bantam Books, Inc. v. Sullivan, 372 U.S. 58, 78 (1963). (3) Walker v. City of Birmingham, 388 U.S. 307, 315 (1967).

A Historical Background on Freedom of Speech
1. Reaction Against English Restrictions
The origin of the First Amendment was undoubtedly a reaction against the restraint of speech and of the press that existed in English society. Until 1694, England had an elaborate system of licensing, no publication was allowed with-out the accompaniment of a government-granted license. William Blackstone wrote in his famous commentaries on the law that “the liberty of the press consists in laying no previous restraints upon publications, and not in freedom from censure for criminal matter when published…. To subject the press to the restrictive power of a licenser… is to subject all freedom of sentiment to the prejudices of one man, and make him the arbitrary and infallible judge of all controverted points in learning, religion, and government.” Commentaries on the Laws of England, 151-52 (1769). The First Amendment is perhaps widely accepted, at the very least, to abolish such prior restraints on publication. One form of speech that was widely restricted in England was the law of seditious libel that made criticizing of the government a crime. The King was above public criticism and that statements critical of the government were forbidden, according to the English Court of the Star Chamber. Chief Justice Holt, writing in 1704, explained the apparent need for the prohibition of seditious libel “If people should not be called to account for possessing the people with an ill opinion of the government, no government can subsist. For it is very necessary for all governments that the people should have a good opinion of it.” Truth was not a defense because the goal was to prevent and punish all condemnation of the government. Professor Zechariah Chaffee said that “the First Amendment was…intended to wipe out the common law of sedition, and make further prosecutions for criticism of the government, without any incitement to law-breaking, forever impossible in the United States of America.”
2. Colonial Experience
The colonies were mixed on the protection of freedom as record shows. During the time period, there were fewer prosecutions for seditious libel than England, but there were other controls over dissident speech. Professor Levy said that each community “tended to be a tight little island clutching its own respective orthodoxy and…eager to banish or extralegally punish unwelcome dissidents.” The trial of John Peter Zenger in 1735 is most famous for its seditious libel prosecution. Mr. Zenger published criticisms of the Governor of New York. Alexander Hamilton represented Mr. Zenger and argued that truth should be a defense to the crime of seditious libel. The court rejected this argument, however, Mr. Hamilton persuaded the jury to disregard the law and to acquit Zenger.
3. Purposes of the First Amendment
There is little doubt that the First Amendment was meant to prohibit licensing of publication and to forbid punishment for seditious libel. However, beyond this there is little indication of what the original intent of the framers were. Professor Smolla remarked that “one can keep going round and round on the original meaning of the First Amendment, but no clear, consistent vision of what the framers meant by freedom of speech will ever emerge.” Congress in 1798, along with many of the drafters and ratifiers of the Constitution, adopted the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798. The law prohibited the publication of "false, scandalous, and malicious writing or writings against the government of the United States, or either house of the Congress of the United States, or the President of the United States, with intent to defame…; or to bring them…into contempt or disrepute; or to excite against them…hatred of the good people of the United States, or to stir up sedition within the United States, or to excite any unlawful combinations therein, for opposing or resisting any law of the United States, or any act of the President of the United States." The law did however allow truth as a defense and required proof of malicious intent. But this Act of 1798 made the ascertaining of the intent of the framers even more difficult to comprehend. The Federalists under President John Adams aggressively used the law against their rivals, the Republicans. The Alien and Sedition Act was a major political issue in the 1800 election, and after he was elected President, Thomas Jefferson pardoned those who had been convicted under the Act. The Act was repealed, and the Supreme Court never ruled on its constitutionality. However, in New York Times v. Sullivan, the court declared "Although the Sedition Act was never tested in this Court, the attack upon its validity has carried the day in the court of history." 376 U.S. 254, 276 (1964). Not surprisingly, then, Supreme Court cases dealing with freedom of expression focus less on the framers' intent than do cases involving many other constitutional provisions. There is little that can be discerned as to the drafters' views other than their desire to prohibit prior restraints, such as the licensing scheme, and their rejection of the crime of seditious libel.
Erwin Chemerinsky, Constitutional Law, 2001.
Erwin Chemerinsky, Constitutional Law Principles and Policies, 2002.
Zechariah Chaffee Jr., Free Speech in the United States, 1941.
14 Thomas Howell, A Collection of State Trials 1095, 1128 (1704).
Leonard W. Levy, The Emergence of a Free Press, 1985.

Why Should Freedom of Speech Be a Fundamental Right?
1. The Complexity of the Inquiry
The courts will always decide what speech if protected by the First Amendment and what can be regulated by the government. The First Amendment is written in absolute language that Congress shall make “no law,” however the Supreme Court has never accepted the view that the First Amendment prohibits all government regulation of expression. Justice Hugo Black has taken the absolutist view of the First Amendment, but he is in effect alone among Supreme Court Justices. The Court has many times expressed that freedom of speech and association as protected by the First and Fourteenth Amendments are not absolutes. Konigsberg v. State Bar of California, 366 U.S. at 49. The is line-drawing as to what speech will be protected under the First Amendment and what can be proscribed or limited. Also, lines must be drawn as to where and when speech will be allowed. Even an absolutist view surely would not allow spectators to disorderly yell out while a court is in session and prevent the court from functioning. Even originalists have little guidance from history or the framers’ intent as to the true meaning of the First Amendment. This ultimately leaves the Supreme Court to make value choices as to what speech is protected, under what circumstances, and when and how the government may regulate. Such analysis is possible only with reference to the goals that freedom of speech is meant to achieve.
2. Why is Speech Protected?
There is not one universally accepted theory of the First Amendment, but rather several different views as to why freedom of speech should be regarded as a fundamental right. The theories are not mutually exclusive, but the choice of a theory can influence views on many specific issues. The four major theories are that freedom of speech is protected to further self-governance, to aid the discovery of truth through the market place of ideas, to promote autonomy, and to foster tolerance. Justice Louis Brandeis offered an eloquent rationalization for why freedom of speech is protected. “Those who won our independence believed that the final end of the state was to make men free to develop their faculties, and that in its government the deliberative forces should prevail over the arbitrary. They valued liberty both as an end and as a means. They believed liberty to be the secret of happiness and courage to be the secret of liberty. They believed that freedom to think as you will and to speak as you think are means indispensable to the discovery and spread of political truth; that without free speech and assembly discussion would be futile; that with them, discussion affords ordinarily adequate protection against the dissemination of noxious doctrine; that the greatest menace to freedom is an inert people; that public discussion is a political duty; and that this should be a fundamental principle of American government. They recognized the risks to which all human institutions are subject. But they knew that order cannot be secured merely through fear of punishment for its infraction; that it is hazardous to discourage thought, hope, and imagination; that fear breeds repression; that repression breeds hate; that hate menaces stable government; that the path of safety lies in the opportunity to discuss freely supposed grievances and proposed remedies; and that the fitting remedy for evil counsels is good ones.” Whitney v. California. 274 U.S. 357, 375 (1927).
3. Self-Governance
Freedom of speech is crucial in a democracy, because open discussions of candidates are essential for voters to make informed selections during elections. It is through speech that people can influence their government’s choice of policies. Also public officials are held accountable through criticisms that can pave the way for their replacement. The Supreme Court has spoken of the ability to criticize government and government officials as “the central meaning of the First Amendment.” New York Times v. Sullivan, 376 U.S. 254, 273 (1964). This does not mean that the Court views the First Amendment as to only protecting political speeches. The Court has declared that the “guarantees for speech and press are not the preserve of political expression or comment upon public affairs, essential as those are to healthy government.” Time, Inc. v. Hill, 385 U.S. 374, 388 (1967). They says this perhaps the difficulty of defining what is political speech.
4. Discovering Truth
A classic argument for protecting freedom of speech as a fundamental right is that it is essential for the discovery of truth. Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote that “the best test of truth is the power of the thought to get itself accepted in the competition of the market, and that truth is the only ground upon which their wishes safely can be carried out.” Abrams v. United States, 250 U.S. 616, 630 (1919). Justice Holmes also invoked the powerful metaphor of the “marketplace of ideas.” This marketplace of ideas rationale for freedom of speech has been criticized by scholars, because they argue that it is wrong to assume all ideas will enter the marketplace of ideas, and even if they do, some drown out other because of better resources to loud their voices for everyone to hear. Another argument is that it is wrong to assume that truth necessarily will trump over falsehood, and we can see this through history that people may be swayed by emotion rather than reason. Also if truth ultimately prevails, enormous harms can occur in the interim. However, the response to these criticisms is to concede the problems with the marketplace of ideas, but to argue that the alternative of government determination of truth and censorship of falsehoods is perhaps worse.
5. Advancing Autonomy
Another rationale often expressed for protecting freedom of speech as a fundamental right is that it is an essential aspect of personhood and autonomy. Professor Baker said that “to engage voluntarily in a speech act is to engage in self-definition or expression. A Vietnam was protestor may explain that when she chants ‘Stop This War Now’ at a demonstration, she does so without any expectation that her speech will affect continuance of the war…; rather, she participates and chants in order to define herself publicly in opposition to the war. This war protestor provides a dramatic illustration of the importance of this self-expressive use of speech, independent of any effective communication to others, for self-fulfillment or self-realization.” Protecting speech because it aids the political process or furthers the search for truth emphasizes the instrumental values of expression. Justice Thurgood Marshall wrote that “the First Amendment serves not only the needs of the polity but also those of the human spirit- a spirit that demands self-expression.” Procunier v. Martinez, 416 U.S. 396, 427 (1974). Critics of this view argue that there is no inherent reason to find speech to be a fundamental right compared with countless other activities that might be regarded as a part of autonomy or that could advance self-fulfillment.
6. Promoting Tolerance
Another explanation for protecting freedom of speech as a fundamental right is that it is integral to tolerance, which should be a basic value in our society. Professor Lee Bollinger is an advocate of this view and argues that “the free speech principle involves a special act of carving out one area of social interaction for extraordinary self-restraint, the purpose of which is to develop and demonstrate a social capacity to control feelings evoked by a host of social encounters.” The free speech principal is left with the concern of nothing less than helping to shape “the intellectual character of the society.” This claim is to say that tolerance is a desirable, if not essential, value, and that protecting unpopular speech is itself an act of tolerance. Such tolerance serves as a model that encourages more tolerance throughout society. Critics argue that society need not be tolerant of the intolerance of others, such as those who advocate great harm, even genocide. Preventing such harms is claimed to be much more important than being tolerant of those who argue for them.
7. Conclusion
All four theories are important in understanding why freedom of speech is protected, in the consideration of what expression should be safeguarded and what can be regulated, and in appraising the Supreme Court’s decisions in this area. Although none of the theories are sufficient to explain all of the cases, and none is without problems.
Erwin Chemerinsky, Constitutional Law, 2001.
Erwin Chemerinsky, Constitutional Law Principles and Policies, 2002.
C. Edwin Baker, Scope of the First Amendment Freedom of Speech, 25 UCLA L. Rev. 964, 994 (1978).
Lee Bollinger, The Tolerant Society: Freedom of Speech and Extremist Speech in America, 9-10 (1986).

Freedom of speech in the European Union
The European Convention on Human Rights, when signed on the 4th November 1950, imbued all of the signatories citizens with a broad range of human rights including Article 10, which entitled all citizens to free expression.
"Everyone has the right to freedom of expression. this right shall include freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information an ideas without interference by public authority and regardless of frontiers. This article shall not prevent States from requiring the licensing of broadcasting, television or cinema enterprises."
It did also include some other restrictions...
"The exercise of these freedoms, since it carries with it duties and responsibilities, may be subject to such formalities, conditions, restrictions or penalties as are prescribed by law and are necessary in a democratic society, in the interests of national security, territorial integrity or public safety, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, for the protection of the reputation or the rights of others, for preventing the disclosure of information received in confidence, or for maintaining the authority and impartiality of the judiciary."
Each country then had to produce a law to confer these rights to their citizens. In 1998, the United Kingdom implemented the Human Rights Act which granted the judiciary power to apply these rights to cases, and a requirement for Parliament to check compatibility of new laws with the Convention rights. If a judge finds a law to be 'incompatible' with the given Convention rights, then the law must be amended to incorporate these protections.
European-wide cases have been heard in the European Court of Justice as well as the European Court of Human Rights to guarantee these privileges - and cases have tested the need for professional integrity (as a journalist or lawyer) and the compatibility of one with the Human Rights law. The Human Rights Court has also targeted the French laws on journalism as being incompatible.




http://www.websters-online-dictionary.org/translation/esperanto/free+speech
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tmt
 
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" wrote:Really? What if it was against the law for you to have said that statement above? What if most of what is said on this forum was against the law or not accepted as free speach.

to all you who are younger....let me tell you I lived during the time where there were many many things that could not be said without repercussion.

People were ousted, blackballed from their professions, jailed in some instances for saying things that you all take as normal today.

You could not speak out against the country...the president....god....without worrying about who was hearing you and who would take it to someone who could infringe on the rights that you all enjoy now.

Do you think that the freedoms that you have were always there. There was a time not long ago when we couldn't even express an opinion about unity because it was considered to be communist. People were jailed for saying things like we should all be able to have health care that was considered socialism and anything that was not a capitalistic or democratic philosophy...was punished by the law.

there were things that were simply not allowed because they were considered un american....lol

So as you all sit back and enjoy those freedoms that you now have...remember that there were many who fought and struggled to get you those freedoms and if you think we don't deserve freedom of speech then you also have the right to shut your mouth and not take advantage of those freedoms.

What you do not have is the right to shut anyone else up.....


I don't think its a question of 'right to speak' so much as a question of 'speaking right' when a person expresses their views in an aggressive manner that is antagonistic, people react. Some are offended and choose to utilize their 'right to speak' and voice their view on the context of the message being conveyed. When that happens, the material presented is reviewed and if it is over the top, it may be deleted or edited.

So that is the wider view of 'freedom of speech'. One can speak freely and another can reply in kind. The person that placed the offensive content, that gets edited/deleted can choose more prudent words the next time, or not. If they do not, the people offended are likely going to react again, and the words will be reviewed. So, it is that we either find a way to express ourselves that is not so offensive that others complain about the content, or continue to be edited/deleted.

I do not see how any of this equates to activists that work to change social conditions. It is like comparing apples to oranges, G Lola. And frankly, diminshes the profound courage and conviction of those that took up those causes you were witnessing back in the day.
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Limitations on freedom of speech


According to the Freedom Forum Organization, legal systems, and society at large, recognize limits on the freedom of speech, particularly when freedom of speech conflicts with other values or rights. Limitations to freedom of speech may follow the "harm principle" or the "offense principle", for example in the case of pornography or "hate speech". Limitations to freedom of speech may occur through legal sanction and/or social disapprobation.

Members of Westboro Baptist Church have been specifically banned from entering Canada for hate speech.

In "On Liberty" (1859) John Stuart Mill argued that "...there ought to exist the fullest liberty of professing and discussing, as a matter of ethical conviction, any doctrine, however immoral it may be considered."Mill argues that the fullest liberty of expression is required to push arguments to their logical limits, rather than the limits of social embarrassment. However, Mill also introduced what is known as the harm principle, in placing the following limitation on free expression: "the only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others."

In 1985 Joel Feinberg introduced what is known as the "offence principle", arguing that Mill's harm principle does not provide sufficient protection against the wrongful behaviours of others. Feinberg wrote "It is always a good reason in support of a proposed criminal prohibition that it would probably be an effective way of preventing serious offense (as opposed to injury or harm) to persons other than the actor, and that it is probably a necessary means to that end." Hence Feinberg argues that the harm principle sets the bar too high and that some forms of expression can be legitimately prohibited by law because they are very offensive. But, as offending someone is less serious than harming someone, the penalties imposed should be higher for causing harm.

In contrast Mill does not support legal penalties unless they are based on the harm principle. Because the degree to which people may take offense varies, or may be the result of unjustified prejudice, Feinberg suggests that a number of factors need to be taken into account when applying the offense principle, including: the extent, duration and social value of the speech, the ease with which it can be avoided, the motives of the speaker, the number of people offended, the intensity of the offense, and the general interest of the community at large.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freedom_of_expression#Relationship_to_other_rights
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Whoa tmt....that was a lot of work...or do you just have these things lying around on your desk...lol
the point is...it is all someones opinion...I can write a paper on my opinion but is it anymore right than if you wrote one?....or visa versa.

Censorship has no end...once you can shut people up because you are offended by what they say then anyone can silence you for the same reason....its up to no one what comes out of my mouth....it is up to them if they want to hear it or to be where I am.

I don't care how many articles you print or quote...there will always be another to counter act that that is also someones opinion.....why do we have that....because we have FREEDOM OF SPEECH.

once you start to fool around with that you limit peoples possible rights in every way.

Injustice to one is injustice to all.
and there is no article that can prove that wrong to me because the history that I lived and watched in this world in my life time has been the action to prove it right.
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Troll (Internet)

In Internet slang, a troll is someone who posts inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community, such as an online discussion forum, chat room or blog, with the primary intent of provoking other users into an emotional response or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion.[2]
Trolls can be costly in several ways. A troll can disrupt the discussion on a newsgroup, disseminate bad advice, and damage the feeling of trust in the newsgroup community. Furthermore, in a group that has become sensitized to trolling — where the rate of deception is high — many honestly naïve questions may be quickly rejected as trollings. This can be quite off-putting to the new user who upon venturing a first posting is immediately bombarded with angry accusations. Even if the accusation is unfounded, being branded a troll is quite damaging to one's online reputation.
Susan Herring et al. in "Searching for Safety Online: Managing 'Trolling' in a Feminist Forum" point out the difficulty inherent in monitoring trolling and maintaining freedom of speech in online communities: "harassment often arises in spaces known for their freedom, lack of censure, and experimental nature".[11] The broadly accepted ethic of free speech may lead to tolerance of trolling behavior, further complicating the members' efforts to maintain an open yet supportive discussion area, especially for sensitive topics such as race, gender, sexuality, etc.



Flaming: The Relationship Between Social Context Cues and Uninhibited Verbal Behavior in Computer-mediated Communication
Mauri Collins

Hypothesis: In the absence of social context cues, the level of uninhibited verbal behavior in computer-mediated communication rises.
One phenomenon occurring in computer-mediated communication is the appearance of uninhibited verbal behavior. It appears that the level of uninhibited verbal behavior indulged in by those communicating via computer-mediated communication is a function of the absence of social context cues. I will first briefly examine social context cues as they effect communication content. These includes both verbal, non-verbal and situational cues. Then I will review the literature on uninhibited verbal behavior (often called 'flaming') in computer-mediated communication, to determine if there is support for the hypothesis that it is the lack of contextual cues that allows the phenomenon to occur, and if so, how researchers have explained the connection between the absence of social context cues and the occurrence of uninhibited verbal behavior.

SOCIAL CONTEXT CUES

The term 'social context cues' refers to the various geographic, organizational, and situation variables that influence the content of conversation among persons. Persons are usually sensitive to these social context cues and they can inhibit or facilitate what is said, how, and by who to whom. When defined as a person's physical position in time and place, geographic location can have a profound effect on communication. Discourse that is suitable for a bedroom is rarely suitable for the podium at a national convention, from a pulpit unsuitable for a bar on a Friday night. A business phone call made to someone's home number may originate quite properly at ten o'cloc in the morning, yet be most unwelcome arriving in another time zone at 5 am.

Organizational variables refers to a person's position in a job or social hierarchy, and their social position or job category. This often effects what can be said, when and to whom. Discourse occurs more often within organization levels, than among them.

Situational variables are characteristics of the immediate communication context that includes the hierarchical relationships among senders and receivers, the purpose of discourse and the norms and social conventions that apply to the situation. Situational variables can include the demographic characteristics of the communicators: age, gender, race, socio- economic status, residence and such personal characteristics as appearance, dress, accent, tone, mood, size, and attitude. Some norms and social conventions are fairly stable: be polite to your elders, don't talk back to you boss, getting rowdy in a bar on a Friday night is ok within limits, don't reveal personal information to people you don't know well, when in a meeting you attend to the highest status person present and allow them to lead the meeting. Other norms vary depending on the negotiated agreement among the persons present: clapping of hands, shouts of "Amen" during sermons and speaking out 'as moved by the spirit' may be accepted in some worship situations, while in others, worshippers may be expected to remain silent and in their seats when not making unison responses.

THEORY

Sproull and Kiesler (1986) have an extended discussion on how social context cues affect information exchange between persons through perception, cognitive interpretation and communication behavior in their seminal article on the effect of the reduction of social context cues on electronic mail communication in organizations. Their theoretical framework explains how social context information mediates information exchange.

When a communication opportunity arises the participants must perceive the social context of the communication. Social status, and other social context cues can have no influence if they are not perceived. These cues can be static or dynamic, and may include static elements of the physical setting, like location and furniture, while the dynamic cues are drawn from people's non-verbal behavior in the communication situation. Perceived social context cues can engender cognitive interpretations and give rise to various emotional states. As people interpret a situation they adjust the focus, tone, mood and verbal content of their communications.

"Typically, when social context cues are strong, behavior tends to be relatively other focussed, differentiated and controlled. When social context cues are weak, people's feelings of anonymity tend to produce relatively self-centered and unregulated behavior. That is people are relatively unconcerned with making a good appearance (Cottrell, Wacj, Sekerak, and Rittle 1968). Their behavior becomes more extreme, more impulsive, and less socially differentiated (Diener, Fraser, Beamon, and Kelem 1976; Singer, Brush and Lublin 1965)." (pp. 1495-1496).

Face to face communication is the richest in social context cues and any form of mediated communication lessens the cues available. All that can be perceived over the telephone is the voice of the communicator, most static cues are stripped from the situation. The only cues that remain are, perhaps, the location of the person called (Beverly Hills, Watts), but this is often unknown in the case of a first-time conversation.

With most written communications, all dynamic cues are stripped, as well as all static cues, barring the feel and appearance of the writing materials. And yet norms remain attached to written communications, and their mystique and relative permanence can restrain grossly uninhibited verbal behavior, with the thought that someone else might read or save the correspondence. With e-mail correspondence, it has the illusion of ephemerality, appearing and disappearing from your screen (Sproull and Kiesler, 1991, p. 39). This is often more present in the minds of those who use e-mail than the idea that many persons can have access one's electronic mail, and may contribute to a lessoning of restraint.

Social context cues are almost totally lost when using electronic mail (e-mail) because dynamic cues are eliminated, and static cues are minimal. E-mail is the transmission of text between networked computers regardless of the physical distance between them, which may be a few feet or many thousands of miles. This transmission is very fast and asynchronous. Messages are delivered to the receiver's mailbox to be read at their leisure. However a e-mail reply can be returned within the time it takes to type the message on the screen, plus seconds or minutes of transmission time, across desk or across continents and oceans. Electronic mail is also text-based, without the voice component of the telephone or the visual element to the facsimile transmission. E-mail depends on almost solely on the contents of the text to create meaning between participants, thus favoring those who are literate and whose vocabularies are up to the task (Chesboro and Bonsall, 1989 p. 118).

Text-editing capabilities on most computer systems that facilitate the transmission of e-mail are frequently arcane and difficult to use. An alternative, while time consuming, is to compose your messages using a word-processor and then to upload the document to the machine equipped with the e-mail software and then send it. Most person using e-mail compose on-line with only rudimentary editing tools, so what comes off the fingertips is more likely to go unedited and often unconsidered to the correspondent, whether that be an individual or the many hundreds or thousands of persons reading a subscription-based or usenet discussion groups.

Text-based messages all look more or less the same. The sending machine will put lines of transmission information at the top of the note. Currently the only characters that can be transmitted are those that appear on the traditional type-writer keyboard, and the appearance of text on the screen is unaffected by any physical, social or emotional characteristics of the sender. A note from the CEO of a company looks exactly the same as one from the janitor.

FLAMING

Uninhibited verbal behavior is known, in computer user's jargon, as 'flaming'. This can consist of "swearing, shouting at their terminals, and groups refusing to make a group decision until a group member gave in" (Sproull and Kiesler, 1984, p. 1128); "to abuse, make offensive comments, or criticize sharply" (Kim and Raja, 1991, p 7); "using offensive language and being interpersonally insulting" (Matheson and Zanna, 1990, p. 1); "speaking incessantly, hurling insults, using profanity" (Baron, 1984, p 130). The Hacker's Dictionary defines flaming as "to speak incessantly and/or rabidly on some relatively uninteresting subject or with a patently ridiculous attitude . . Synonym: Rave.". (quoted in Sproull and Kiesler, 1991, p. 49)

RESEARCH

As early as 1984 Baron conceived the computer as a force in language change, wondering if CMC "had evolved (or could evolve) some way of compensating for the lack of physical presence or non-linguistic context" (p. 125). She notes that computer conferencing appears to foster a distinctive and homogeneous conversational style, distinguished by the great frequency of arguments and flaming, and says that participants in computer conferencing were consistently rowdier than their face-to-face counterparts. Baron postulates three explanations for this phenomenon: the lack of non-linguistic and visual cues puts added pressure upon the users to use any means possible (such as haranguing) to ensure they are being understood; the fact that CMC is a relatively new form of communication and lacks the established norms of face-to-face conversation; and the lack social context cues masks status differences.

Kiesler, Siegel and McGuire (1984) published a seminal article which firmly established the connection between the absence of social context cues and the presence of uninhibited verbal behavior and is cited by all the following authors. They noted that previous research on CMC had examined the efficiency of computer information transmission systems in terms of their cost and technical capabilities and that it was their intention to examine the social psychological issues.

In a series of experiments designed to explore the impact of computer mediated communication (CMC) on group interaction and decision making, Kiesler et al. used groups of three students who were asked to reach consensus on a choice-dilemma problem in three different contexts: once face to face, once using the computer anonymously, (i.e. not knowing which one of their group was talking/typing) and once using the computer where each member knew when the other was 'talking'. Their data showed, "in all three experiments, that CMC had marked effects on . . . interpersonal behavior..." (p. 1128), in that 'people in CMC groups were more uninhibited than they were in face-to-face groups, as measured by uninhibited verbal behavior, defined as frequency of remarks containing swearing, insults, name calling and hostile comments" (p. 1129).

As part of this same series, an experiment was devised to see if CMC, by its nature, simply encouraged disorderly verbal conduct, or if flaming was a function of lack of constraints on interruptions and distracting remarks. However, the imposition of a strict order of contribution raised the level of uninhibited verbal behavior over the condition when no such restraint was imposed. The conclusion was that having to wait to take turns, when they had previously been able to type their comments in at will, raised levels of frustration which manifested itself in increased 'flaming'.

When allowed to synchronously communicate in computer- conferencing condition rather than by electronic mail (asynchronously), the level of uninhibited behavior rose. Kiesler et al. postulated the following three reasons for their results: "a) difficulties of coordination from lack of informational feedback, b) absence of social influence cues for controlling discussion, and c) depersonalization from lack of nonverbal involvement and absence of norms" (p. 1130). These findings have be elaborated upon and refined in subsequent research.

The Rand Organization (Shapiro and Anderson, 1985), recognizing an emerging need, published a position paper entitled Toward an Ethics and Etiquette for Electronic Mail. The authors noted the possibilities of misinterpretation of meaning inherent in a text-based communication medium which will

"allow casual and formal messages to look superficially the same; that allow near-instantaneous, rather than reasoned, response; that don't permit feedback during the delivery of a message (as in personal conversation); and that require modification to many old traditions of communication. A related phenomenon is "flaming," in which emotions are expressed via electronic mail, sometimes labeled as such, sometimes not." (p vii).

The occupance of flaming is attributed to the absence of cues to social hierarchical position, to the formality or informality of the communication; the absence of a buffering 'time lag' that might moderate response; the messages can attain a permanence that is not possible in verbal interaction (unless recorded); and persons are anonymous, beyond the bare information in their e-mail address, unless they choose to reveal further personal information, and the lack of non-verbal feedback that might moderate and augment the interpretation.

Some highly innovated suggestions were made concerning a future communications system that could imbue the text with some of the missing social content cues:

". . .the boldness of the characters displayed is a function of the force with which keys are hit; the speed at which it is typed is reflected in the character spacing (or color, or size, etc.). Or providing a set of standard forms to be selected, ranging from "Note from the desk of . . ." to "Corporate Memorandum" to give additional cues to the level of formality intended. Perhaps the most informal messages will be displayed in the handwriting of the sender (even though keyboarded for convenience) as an additional cue to its informality. More certainly (because the systems are in prototype form already) there will be systems in which the cold green (or amber, or whatever) characters will be accompanied by voice annotations, so that the humanity and state of the sender will be retained and "read" by the recipient" (p 41-42).

Sproull and Kiesler (1986) in their study of organizational communication determined that "e-mail reduced social context cues, provided information that was relatively self-absorbed, undifferentiated by status, uninhibited, and provided new information" and "people behaved irresponsibly more often on e- mail than they did in face-to-face conversations" (p. 1509) because it 'removed social reminders of norms" (p. 1510) Further they report that respondents who saw flaming in e-mail messages an average of 33 times month, only saw the same kinds of verbal behavior in face-to-face conversations an average of 4 times a month. Besides flaming, Sproull and Kielser also include in their discussion of uninhibited verbal behavior an increased willingness to pass on bad news or negative information and a flouting of social conventions. The particular convention they highlight was the boundary between work and play, noting that 40 percent of all e-mail traffic in the organization studied had nothing at all to do with work, but included movie reviews, recipes, notices of club meetings, etc. Overall, they found "evidence that electronic `mail reduced social context cues, provided information that was relatively self-absorbed, undifferentiated by status, uninhibited, and provided new information" (p. 1509)

The same year, Siegel et al. (1986) published further results from their experimental series at Carnegie-Mellon University. In this series they were examining the effects of CMC on communication efficiency, participation, interpersonal behavior and group choice. They note initially that CMC has only written text for a communication channel and that it lacks aural and visual cues and the social context information that one finds in face-to-face or telephone conversation.

They found that 'submergence in technology, and technologically-induced anonymity and weak social feedback might also lead to feelings of loss of identity and uninhibited behavior" which may cause people to become ". . . 'deindividuated,' leading not just to uninhibited verbal behavior and more equal participation," (p. 183) but to other, as yet uninvestigated effects. Siegel et al. also point out that the incidence of uninhibited verbal behavior may hinge on the direction of the communicator's attention. Perhaps this may be away from group and internal social standards and solely towards the message content, and also away from the behavior of, or even awareness of others as message senders.

Asch's social influence experiment was used as the basis for a study by Smilowitz, Compton and Flint (1988), investigating the effect of the exclusion of contextual cues provided by face to face interaction on individual judgement in CMC contexts. They determined that: "It is easier for a deviant to persist in the CMC environment. Since the effect of the majority opinion is diminished, individuals with deviant opinions are more likely to hold out that to succumb" (p 320). They attribute this to the absence of physical cues focussing attention exclusively on the text, the lack of a sense of others' presence to enforce social norms and the lack of non-verbal informational cues to encourage or discourage particular choices.

Chesebro and Bonsall (1989) indicate that when computers are used for messaging systems that the person dominates and that the computer becomes "merely a kind of elaborate typewriter and delivery system" (p. 97), however it "does affect the users" (p. 116). They note that CMC has a potential for reducing a correspondent's sense of personal responsibility to others, when all that one knows about others is characters appearing a screen. A further form of 'uninhibited behavior' they note is an extension of the concept of 'football widow' to encompass the complaints of wives whose husbands appear so engrossed in their computers as to have no time for social interaction. They also note that in the resolution of conflict in CMC, often engendered by flaming, that "more time and more words must be employed during teleconferencing to eliminate problems and conflicts" (p 123) indicating the difficulties in coordinating meaning in the absence of informational feedback.

Taking as a starting point that CMC users are more likely to display uninhibited verbal behavior, Matheson and Zanna (1990) experimentally examined the extent to which the use of CMC creates a state of deindividuation. The state of 'deindividuation' is characterized by a low sense of public and private self-awareness. In this state, the user loses touch with both their internal behavioral standards, and the awareness of social sanctions from others. When compared with face-to-face groups in problem solving situations, the CMC groups reported significantly higher levels of private self-awareness and marginally lower levels of public self-awareness. This precludes their being deindividuated. The researchers hypothesize that flaming may occur because, with a heightened sense of private self-awareness, users are more reactive to what they perceive as coercive behavior on the part of others, and less sensitive to the thoughts and feelings of others. ". . . this could lead to an escalating cycle of conflict and disagreement, and it could increase the display of affect and uninhibited behavior characteristic of computer users (Siegel et al., 1986). . ."

This study is significant in that it contradicts the position of Kiesler et al., (1984, 1985) and Siegel et al., (1986). who hypothesize that the user becomes so totally caught up in the act of communicating with the computer that they lose not only their private self-awareness, but their public self- awareness also.

Smolensky, Carmody, and Halcomb (1990) examined the extent to which tasks, and the degree to which users are acquainted with one another, will mediate the occupance of uninhibited verbal behavior. They determined that the amount of uninhibited verbal behavior was highest among triads who did know one another prior to the experiment, and those persons who were highly extroverted were likely to exhibit the highest levels of uninhibited verbal behavior. Groups with high levels of uninhibited verbal behavior also showed lower levels of productivity in terms of group decisions made. The authors explain their findings by hypothesizing that a reduction in social presence and social context cues in CMC caused users to perceive their CMC partners "as semi-mechanical objects which can be ignored, insulted, exploited, or hurt with relative impunity (Christie 1976)" (p. 269). They also raise the point that further research needs to be done to determine if limiting the amount of CMC will also limit the amount of creativity in groups.
Flaming is mentioned by Boshier (1990) in the same context as the use of emoticons, ascii symbols intended to add tone to the plain text of e-mail. He suggests that flaming occurs because the sender is far from the receiver and insulated from normal feedback, which, when offered face-to-face would lead to the extinction of the behavior. Boshier finds flaming to be a stimulating feature of e-mail in some if its incarnations, but the heat created by readers who 'viciously correct the spelling or grammar in other contributions' is termed 'tedious'.

"Do You Know Who You Are Talking To?" is the title of a chapter in Sproull and Kiesler's book Connections (1991). This book is a comprehensive discussion of the use of CMC in organizations. They see CMC as creating a new social situations, devoid of social context cues. While people "talk" with others, they do so alone, sitting at their computers, with few reminders of other persons and the social conventions for communication. Computer-based communication, they noted, relies on plain text to convey messages, and is ephemeral in nature, appearing and disappearing from the screen and leaving nothing tangible behind. These two characteristics, in combination, are seen as making it easy for the user to forget their audience, and feel unrestrained by conventional rules and norms of behavior. A blurring of social boundaries also contributes to the occupance of uninhibited verbal behavior, because plain text messages give no indication of status cues, unless the message is signed with a job or position title. With no clue in the messages as to a person's personal characteristics, their competence and ability can be recognized independent of the hierarchical position. This relative anonymity can lead to feelings of isolation and safety from "surveillance and criticism. This feeling of privacy makes them feel less inhibited with others. It also makes it easy for them to disagree with, confront, or take exception to others' opinion" (p. 49).
Sproull and Kiesler suggest several techniques to add context cues to CMC in order to remind users that they are social actors in a social situation. Emoticons, commonly known as "smilies" are an attempt to add mood indicators to CMC. :-) (tilt your head sideways to the left to see the smiley) indicates humor, or a smile to diffuse a possibly hostile reaction. People can change their personas in different communication situations, as professional writers always have. Adding temporal cues, time and date stamps, or setting very clear time lines in which work must be performed might increase social information and add guides to behavior, as will the writing of etiquette manuals. Sproull and Kiesler look forward to the time when sound and pictures will be added to e-mail, thus restoring many of the now missing context cues, and thus significantly lowering the occupance of uninhibited verbal behavior.

The theme of mechanomorphism briefly reference by Smolensky et al., (1990) is elaborated upon by Shamp (1991). With regard to uninhibited verbal behavior, Shamp acknowledges that "There is general agreement in the research that these behaviors and attitudes can be attributed to a lack of social presence of communication partners and an absence of social context cues" (p. 148), but he states such explanations are incomplete. In a study of messages sent to public bulletin boards, he determined that "when little personal information is available, an individual's perception of a computer communication partner becomes similar to his or her perception of the computer" (p. 149). Behavior that is not suitable when dealing with persons may be appropriate when dealing with machines and may be used on people when the people are perceived as machine-like.

Kim and Raja (1991) studied CMC in Usenet which carries over 1500 newsgroups discussing everything from rape to recipes, computers to communication. A large proportion of Usenet newsgroups readers comprise a subculture of computer, engineering, and scientific professionals, many of whom, despite their high levels of education, flagrantly breach conventional communication etiquette. They note that communication via computer terminal apparently allows users to forget they are communicating with other persons. This leads to levels of verbal aggression and self-disclosure that would be unthinkable in other types of communications among "strangers"

Using a sample of 600 messages, they coded them for 'face threatening acts' (FTAs), which they defined as evaluating some aspect of the other negatively and showing indifference towards the others' feelings. Their results show a difference in the level of such behavior among groups but a substantial number of FTAs in all newsgroups sampled.

The first reason they give for the occupance of uninhibited verbal behavior is a diminished desire to maintain the tacit cooperation in face saving usually occurring in face-to-face communication. When user must imagine their audience while sitting at a computer, it can appear that their only audience is the machine itself. The level of sympathetic involvement with others is attenuated and people don't need to be sensitive to other's feelings or messages, nor do the need to avoid impoliteness. The exchanges of rudeness can provoke a rapidly escalating series of aggressive messages.

When an audience must be imagined, the fear of physical retaliation as sanction for verbal aggression is non-existent, especially when the actual audience is geographically widely dispersed. There is a sense that there is very little that others can do to sanction one's behavior in CMC. If one person is rude, often the only remedy appears to be rude in return, again escalating the verbal conflict.

Within Usenet newsgroups, the only thing that can unite apparent enemies is any threat to their freedom to verbally abuse or malign one another. Appropriate verbal behavior on newsgroups is often learned by watching other participants, and where there is an established tradition of grossly uninhibited verbal behavior, a new group member is more likely to be socialized into perpetuating these behaviors, rather than changing them.

While one would expect, they say, that a medium that removes all social context cues, would lead to a undistracted discussion of ideas in a dispassionate, logical and issue-centered debate, the opposite seems to be true of CMC.

McCormick and McCormick (1992) collect samples of undergraduate student's e-mail to test their hypothesis that the computer was a powerful, but neutral technology by looking at the full range of their communication rather than just pinpointing the flames. Less than half of the sample of messages were work related, the rest serving purely social functions. About a quarter of all messages showed high intimate content and "unexpectedly little showing signs of flaming or hostility and social inappropriateness" (p. 379). They noted, following Sproull et al., (1986) that flaming is especially commonplace in the male-dominated, adolescent subculture of the college computer center, "which encourages pranks, idiosyncrasy, and irreverence" (p. 389). Without empirical evidence, the researchers note that the flames appeared to be exchanged by young men who knew each other well. This is consistent with other research reported above. They felt that flaming was akin to the mock physical battles (also a sign of affection and trust) that occur among male adolescents, rather than a sign of dislike or alienation. It appeared to affirm the strength of the relationship that they could call each other names and still remain friends.

This study contrasted sharply with experimental work with unacquainted individuals in which computer-mediated communication, compared to face-to-face discussion, increased the likelihood of disinhibited and socially offensive behavior However the respondents in McCormick and McCormick's were local uses of a system who could expect to continue intensive, future interaction, thus rendering them a little more civil than those who expected to never meet their communication partners.

Over the past decade, there has been consistent support in the literature for the hypothesis that in the absence of social context cues the level of uninhibited verbal behavior in CMC rises. Kiesler and her associates began to articulate the theoretical underpinnings for exploration of social context cues and the effects they have on CMC. Other researchers have furthered that knowledge and attempted to describe some of the variables affecting the phenomenon. In the literature identified to date, all has supported the contention that flaming rises as there are fewer and fewer social context cues within a CMC environment.
BIBLIOGRAPHY
Baron, N.S. (1984) Computer mediated communication as a force in language change. Visible Language, 18 (2):118-141.
Boshier, R. (1990) Socio-psychological factors in electric networking. International Journal of Lifelong Education, 9 (1), 49-64.
Chesebro, J.W., & Bonsall, D.G. (1989) Computer-mediated communication: Human relationships in a computerized world. Tuscaloosa, AL: The University of Alabama Press.
Kiesler, S., Siegel, J., and McGuire, T. (1984) Social psychological aspects of computer-mediated communication. American Psychologist, 39 (10): 1123-1134.
Kim, M.S. & Narayan, S. (1991) Verbal aggression and self- disclosure on computer bulletin boards. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the International Communication Association, Chicago, IL, May. ED334 620
Matheson, K., & Zanna, M.P. (1990) Computer-mediated communications: the focus is on me. Social Science Computer Review, 8 (1):1-12.
McCormick, N.B., & McCormick, J.W. (1992) Computer friends and foes: Content of undergraduates' electronic mail. Computers in Human Behavior, 8:379-405.
Scovell, P. (1991) Differences between computer and non computer- mediated communication: A preliminary study. Paper presented at the Eastern Communication Association Convention, Pittsburgh, PA, April. ED 333 520.
Shamp, S.A. (1991) Mechanomorphism in perception of computer communication partners. Computers in Human Behavior, 7: 147-161.
Shapiro, N.Z., & Anderson, R.H. (1985) Toward an ethics and etiquette for electronic mail. Santa Monica, CA: The Rand Corp.
Siegel, J., Dubrovsky, V., Kiesler, S., and McGuire, T.W. (1986) Group processes in computer-mediated communication. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 37: 157-187.
Smilowitz, M., Compton, D.C., and Flint, L. (1988) The effects of computer mediated communication on an individual's judgement: A study based on the methods of Asch's social influence experiment. Computers in Human Behavior, 4: 311- 321.
Smolensky, M.W., Carmody, M.A. and Halcomb, C.G. (1990) The influence of task type, group structure and extraversion on uninhibited speech in computer-mediated communication. Computers in Human Behavior, 6:261-272.
Sproull, L. & Kiesler, S. (1991) Connections: New ways of working in the networked organization. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.
Sproull, L. & Kiesler, S. (1986) Reducing social context cues: electronic mail in organizational communication. Management Science, 32 (11): 1492-1512.

URL: http://cac.psu.edu/~mauri/papers/flames.html
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tmt
 
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Lol....are you calling me a troll....lol I don't think a troll joins a community stays there for years and donates....lol
but what ever...

Print as much as you want to print...print pages hon...you will not shut me up.

I'm a little surprised at you tmt....I thought you understood people better than this.

but it's ok I'm not offended....you don't have to be bannished...lol
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" wrote:Whoa tmt....that was a lot of work...or do you just have these things lying around on your desk...lol
the point is...it is all someones opinion...I can write a paper on my opinion but is it anymore right than if you wrote one?....or visa versa.

Censorship has no end...once you can shut people up because you are offended by what they say then anyone can silence you for the same reason....its up to no one what comes out of my mouth....it is up to them if they want to hear it or to be where I am.

I don't care how many articles you print or quote...there will always be another to counter act that that is also someones opinion.....why do we have that....because we have FREEDOM OF SPEECH.

once you start to fool around with that you limit peoples possible rights in every way.

Injustice to one is injustice to all.
and there is no article that can prove that wrong to me because the history that I lived and watched in this world in my life time has been the action to prove it right.


I am all for expressing a point of view, I do not believe that includes the right to offend others with impunity. One can choose to state an opinion in a responsible manner, or not. When one demands the right to be inflammatory, insulting, divisive, aggressive, and offensive. They CHOOSE to have their words censored to maintain general rules of civility and conduct.
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"Troll," in the context of message boards and the like, describes somebody who is posting just to be confrontational or to raise hackles. One example might be a teenager who finds a Jewish message board and posts, "The Holocaust never happened." The teen may not know or care one way or the other--he just wants a reaction. He wants to piss people off. He is a troll.
There are more subtle trolling techniques as well. One Internet dictionary (http://www.whatis.com) gives a real example in which somebody posted about "the discovery of an ancient African carving containing a list of prime numbers." The poster listed some of the prime numbers supposedly on the carving, some of which weren't actually primes. People who saw the message, thinking he was serious, responded with corrections. The troll then announced that those who spent their time responding to him had been "hooked."
That suggests how the term got its start. Trolling, to those who don't spend all their time in front of the computer, is a method of fishing where you trail bait through the water from a slow-moving boat hoping to hook an unwary fish. An online troll does much the same.
The other meaning of troll--a brutish monster who lives under a bridge--likely didn't have much to do with the origin of the term. But at an early stage it was conflated with the other sense of trolling for obvious reasons: if you've dealt much with trolls, you know you're dealing with some pretty ugly minds.
To be fair, not all trolls are slimeballs. On some message boards, veteran posters with a mischievous bent occasionally go "newbie trolling." On the Usenet newsgroup alt.folklore.urban, as of a few years ago anyway, it was fairly common for pranksters to post known urban legends as fact in hopes of getting novice users to go, "No, REALLY?" Gotcha, sucker.
The main point about trolls is that they intentionally mislead others. As the Free Online Dictionary of Computing (http://foldoc.doc.ic.ac.uk/foldoc/foldoc.c gi?troll) notes, "Trolling aims to elicit an emotional reaction from those with a hair-trigger on the reply key. A really subtle troll makes some people lose their minds."
"Troll" is often flung about too casually. If somebody is simply ignorant or obtuse, it's incorrect to call him a troll. Admittedly, it's not always easy to distinguish between someone pretending to be wrong and someone who is wrong and doesn't know it or won't admit it.
How does one deal with trolls? That depends on your personality, the overall disposition of the message board, and the type of message board you're using.
There are two kinds of message boards: moderated and unmoderated. On unmoderated MBs such as most Usenet newsgroups, no one is in charge and there is no way to prevent a troll from posting short of persuading his Internet service provider to cancel his account. Moderated boards like the Straight Dope Message Board offer more control--truly egregious trolls can be banned and their posts deleted. But most board moderators, including those at the SDMB, reserve that sanction for extreme cases. A post I consider trolling someone else may find thought-provoking. Too quick a finger on the "delete" button and you open yourself to charges of censorship.
Besides, this is the Internet, the closest we've come to a free marketplace of ideas. The prevailing ethic here is that it's best to let everyone have his say, and rely on the good sense of other participants to sort out sound ideas from stupid ones. Which means it all comes down to you.
Many people feel trolls should simply be ignored, and some message boards have evolved their own private codes to warn off other users. (On the SDMB, one such code is DNFTT, "do not feed the trolls"). But others dislike the idea of giving trolls free rein.
On the SDMB, Cecil's goal of fighting ignorance is generally the guiding principle. If somebody posts misinformation, other users feel obliged to point it out. I'm sure some trolls delight in getting others to respond in this way, but the choice is either that or let a troll's posts stand unchallenged. Ignoring obvious nonsense has some advantages, but what about naive users who may read the falsehood and, seeing nothing to rebut it, believe it? To prevent that, some advocate responding to trolls once and only once. You refute the misinformation and that's that. Of course, this is often easier said than done, and many people (myself included) simply cannot sit idly by while the troll gleefully continues to post BS.
The other option is to pounce on every last falsehood and fabrication. This can lead to a classic flame war. We've had threads on the SDMB with close to a thousand posts as users attempt to get in the last word with an obstinate troll. These battles can be exhilarating but also exhausting. Inevitably at some point you ask yourself: what's the point?
In short, you've got two possibilities--ignore the troll or argue with him. My recommendation is as follows: If the person is a well-known troll with low credibility, post once to point out the flaws and then ignore him. If there's a real chance he may fool people who don't know better, knock him down with facts.
SDSTAFF David and
— Ed
http://www.straightdope.com/columns/read/1764/what-is-a-troll

The most basic form of trolling is to submit a post that will attract the most possible amount of responses, negative or argumentative replies usually preferred, and then to sit back and bask in the chaos that has been created. This troll is simply out for immediate scoreboard and a quick win is enough to satisfy him. The tactic is basic, relatively uncreative, and only touches the surface of what a troll can really do; yet its effective in accomplishing its singular task--to attract attention and garner as many responses as possible. The content delivered by this type of troll generally falls into several areas; It may consist of an obviously foolish opposition of common knowledge, many intentional offensive insults or flames directed to the readers of a community, or a blanket generation on a specific category which is sure to attract a large number of argumentative replies.
While these trolls may be completely satisfied with just getting a desired reaction to his bait, and therefore consider it a "victory", a more well rounded and creative troll-job will encompass much more time and effort. Victory or winning for a troll depends on his particular goal. Depending on the desired goal a troll may not be content with an easy victory and choose to expand his exploits to the next level. Exactly what pursuit the next level turns out to be, is entirely up to the imagination and ability of the troll. The options are almost limitless.
Another type of troll worth mention is the "post whore". A post whore is a post-humping nuisance whose only purpose is simply to annoy by sheer volume of submitted post. They are intentionally aiming at being a pest. The post whore is generally looked down upon by most trolls and is often referred to as a spammer. They posses very limited verbal ability and are easily taken apart by flamers and civilians alike. Post whores do not possess the talent, personality, patience, or intelligence to troll using any form of advanced tactics. The true spammer on the other hand takes this one step further. Spamming is usually the exploits of the lowest caliber of troll. However, community based retaliation or mass attacks on civilian territories in an organized trolling venture are the exception to this rule. They lack creativity, but can create extreme chaos in quick order.
The experienced troll spends time carefully choosing the right subjects and delivering his bait to the appropriate communities. The most effective trolls will often posses very advanced flaming and/or debate ability in-order to aid and further his trolling potential. Just be sure to keep in mind that although there are many similarities and most flamers do troll, flamers are generally not trolls. Yet many advanced trolls are expert flamers. These master trolls employ the most advanced tactics and strategy and the art involved with trolling is taken seriously(Sometimes too seriously). Yet regardless of whether the troll is novice or advanced, the overall strategy can take several weeks or months to develop. It all depends on the trolls ability and what level he wants to take the troll to. This troll effort can also involve a number of people acting together as a unified group.

http://brawl-hall.com/pages/trolls.php



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Last updated 23 May 2003 (Dead links removed) - Bookmark this page and check for updates!
Contents
Change Language

Part One: Introduction
Part Two: What is a Troll?
Part Three: Are there different sorts of Trolls?
Part Four: Why don't people like Trolls? Surely they're just having fun!
Part Five: How do people respond to Trolls?
Part Six: What is a good way to deal with a Troll?
Part Seven: What about other types of Trolls?
Part Eight: Will This Advice Get Rid of All Trolls?
Part Nine: Who is NOT a Troll?
Part Ten: About this site
Part Eleven: Anti-Troll Links
Part Twelve: Example of Troll Threads (Links to a new page)


Introduction
'Anyone can speak Troll,' said Fred dismissively, 'all you have to do is point and grunt.'
"Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire" - J.K. Rowling (2000)
This page is a step by step guide to handling a Troll on Usenet, or any other discussion forum on the Internet. Or, more precisely, it is a step by step guide to beating a Troll at their own game.
There are too many Trolls that infest Newsgroups and discussion forums - this site gives you some ideas about how to stop their antics permanently.
Before we begin, though, understand this: the best way to deal with a Troll is to ignore them entirely. They are not worth your time, however you may feel about their comments.
However, this site recognises that sometimes you may be unwittingly drawn into a 'conversation' with them. This site will help you to deal with that situation.
"How To Handle A Troll" is updated on a semi-regular basis. You might like to visit this page again to learn new tactics against the Trolls. Similarly, you might like to let your friends know about the site. After you have finished reading, please link to this guide from your website.
Don't let anyone get destroyed by the Trolls!


What is a Troll?
The best way to know what a Troll is, is to see what they do. The following link is a humourous look at how to Troll, even encouraging people to take up the habit. Note how the author himself distinguishes between the Trolls who are just trying to gain attention, or are trying to create havoc.
Yet the author has made a fatal flaw: He fails to see that ALL Trolls crave attention. That is the sole reason they exist - whether or not they want to feel that they have achieved something (even if it is destruction) or to be recognised for doing something deviant, they want just a little attention in their direction.
Remember: Without attention, Trolls are nothing. They have no audience, and no victim. To read the website, click here. NOTE: The previous website has been removed. I will try to find a replacement site that demonstrates Troll mentality, but until then, you'll have to make do with my explanations, sorry!
I would encourage you to read the whole page. We'll come back to it later, but it is well worth it anyway.
The mentality of a Troll is obvious - he wants a cheap laugh, and that is all. The offense that may be caused is of no concern to him, as are any other ramifications of his actions.
This Usenet post describes what many people consider to be trolls. There are hundreds of such definitions across the 'net, on various different websites (including this one, and many that are linked on this site). Ultimately, these many definitions of trolls, all vary slightly, but they all sum up to this:-
Trolls are a nuisance. They purposefully cause annoyance to other users, but their approach can, and does, vary. Some trolls are obvious, some are not. This website attempts to show you some of the different approaches that trolls take - to keep you, as an Internet user, prepared.


Are there different sorts of Trolls?
Yes. There are several types of Trolls, and each is discussed on in more depth later in this site. They are: The Bored's, The Liars, The Confrontationalists and The Controversials
Many Trolls just want to be a nuisance. They're kids who aren't mature enough to have a sensible conversation. These Trolls fall under The Bored's category, but that does not necessarily mean that all Trolls are children. Many "mature" adults find enjoyment in Trolling groups.
But there are other trolls who set out to cause havoc. This may include posing as a regular poster in the group (then acting in a way to deflame that person's good name). Or it may be to draw members of the group into an argument.
You can read about that sort of behaviour here. Here, a Troll has managed to draw people into an off-topic discussion that has resulted in an innocent poster losing his ISP access. This is all part of the entertainment for the Troll.
NOTE: The previous website has been removed. I will try to find a replacement site that demonstrates Troll mentality, but until then, you'll have to make do with my explanations, sorry!


Why don't people like Trolls? Surely they're just having fun!
Trolls are a nuisance, as they frequently set out to antagonise other people who post in the same forum. For example, take the following post by "Drew" in the Usenet foum alt.tv.star-trek.enterprise
LOW RATINGS NOBODY WATCHES IT LIKE STNG STNG HAVE THE MOST RATINGS.
By the way, you can Click Here to see the message on Google
The above message is a prime example of a Bored Troll post. It is almost unreadable, atrocious grammar, and blatantly insults the show that the newsgroup focuses upon. The Troll is probably a bored teenager.
STNG is supposed to read ST:TNG (or, Star Trek:The Next Generation). The bad spelling is a part of the Troll - attempting to provoke insults from the regulars about his spelling.
Responses such as "You're an idiot. You can't even spell." is what the Troll is hoping for. This way, he can draw you into a prolonged argument about who is the bigger idiot. Sensible ways to respond (if you have to at all) are discussed below. Trolls who throw insults across the 'net are Confrontationalists and relish seeing any response that indicates the respondee is wound up, or aggravated by their Trolling.
It is fair to assume that people who regularly post to an Enterprise newsgroup will be fans of the show. By saying that the show is not up to par, "Drew" is hoping for other posters to get angry with him, degrading themselves to the mentality of schoolchildren in the process.
Trolls are the Usenet equivalent of the School bully. They don't have to be that big, hard, or clever to throw their weight around - but they do enjoy watching the over reactions of the other posters.
Their messages are poorly laid out - usually on purpose, with bad grammar, spelling, and, more often than not, written entirely in caps.
Some Trolls can be entertaining, but that may not be their intention, nor may that be the intention of any troll.
The Troll Sukami Master infests the newsgroup alt.fan.harry-potter (among others), and after one post titled "Trollness", OnsenMark followed up with... (click here for google)
serj_tankian, you aren't. Hell, even the freakin' *Boinger* is more entertaining than you, and s/he misspells every single word!
But Sukami Master isn't trying to entertain the group. He (it is usually a he) is trying to entertain himself. Perhaps this highlights just how shallow Trolls really are. So, in response to the question (finally), yes, trolls are just having fun, but at the expense of every one else in the group.
Trolls will happily do the exact opposite of what you want them to do. Sukami Master might be accused of being a "boring" troll, but he gains a reaction every time, because he does not act how people expect a troll to act.


How do people respond to Trolls?
Usually the most obvious way - they get offended.
"Drew"'s post was not as offensive as many you may have come across. Others pick on individuals - either by name calling, personal insults, or by posing as that person to degrade their character.
Naturally, people don't like this! Who would?
And so, the general result is a range of insults flung across the Internet which does nothing but antagonise the regulars on the board, and entertain the Troll.


What is a good way to deal with a Troll?
It depends upon the Troll - If you realise that a Troll is just trying to wind you up, or offend you, Be Calm. Don't rise to them.
Let's take the example of "Drew" again. How would you react? These are three responses to "Drew"...
yeah right.
do you trolls really thing your lies are even SEMI BELIEVEABLE????
enterprise has a guaranteed 6 years. ratings might not be great, but what's UPN going to replace it with? the Hughleys?
This is possibly not the worst way to respond - but it does show the Troll that you have been wound up by their post. There is a certain amount of gratification for him in that!
Quoting your side of the argument to him will not help. Even quoting facts will not help. Across the great Internet divide, facts may as well be nonsense figures.
By "SHOUTING" you are expressing your anger, which to him is humourous. He is safe in his room, and so such agression means nothing to him.
ST:TNG was a first run syndication show. Ratings work different for syndicated shows, than network shows. High ratings for a syndicated show could be considered low for a network show. Believe me when I say that there will be a season 2 of Enterprise, and I imagine a season 7.
Again, quoting facts will do nothing, except possibly force an argument that he will relish in, and, whether or not you win intellectually, he will draw out until you couldn't stand it any longer through mis-quotes (of your posts), lies, and perjorative comments.
Facts and arguments are a waste of time.
You may have a valid point about the low ratings, in comparison to some shows that have had a few more seasons to be developed. ST-TNG definately was a very popular show a few seasons into its run!
However, could you not use capslock all the time, as it can be rather difficult to read, and to some, it can seem like you are shouting.
Start with a compliment! As shown above, accept that they may well have a valid argument, and therefore have a necessary place within the forum.
Keep Calm! Don't let your anger show through.
Compliment them before any criticism - and keep that criticism to a minimum. They don't how to react. Before long, they may find themselves drawn into sensible conversations with the group.
If possible, make any criticism sound like a criticism of yourself, not them. Here, the responder has made the caps problem seem like the readers fault, rather than the posters.


What about other types of Trolls?
Some Trolls will pose as regular members of a forum - either by pretending to be someone else, or by joining in some conversations, letting their subversiveness slip through very slowly.
For example, this Troll started by joining in some conversations on the alt.movies.spielberg group. "Togetherinparis" slowly began to lie, about progressively implausible situations, until eventually most regular posters left the group. Now, several years on, the Troll appears to be the only person left in the group - still proclaiming that he came up with the ideas for Minority Report, The Force (as in Star Wars) and Close Encounters of the Third Kind.
How is the best way to deal with this? It may be difficult to recognise his lies to begin with, and then it is easy to fall into the trap of outright believing him.
As soon as you recognise a Liar, don't try to get him to prove his facts - it's impossible across Usenet, and he knows this.
You may like to try some of the above tactics - try to draw him into a sensible conversation, without dropping to his level.
But, ultimately, there can be only one way to deal with him: Killfile him. Do not let yourself be seduced into having an argument over the validity of his "facts".
Other Trolls will try to draw you into a futile argument by a variety of means, but usually by saying something controversial.
A Trolls message may be as simple as "Prove that God does not exist" that has been crossposted to a range of religious newsgroups. A Troll is usually idnetifable, as he will often refuse to take a stance on either side - at one time arguing that God exists, and another that He doesn't.
These Trolls are Controversials.
A Trolls message will often be crossposted to one or more newsgroups that have nothing to do with the subject. By clicking here you can read a Troll thread that spanned for more than four hundred messages - just because it was a controversial subject, and in spite of the fact that the subject had nothing to do with one of the forums in which it was posted.
Trolls revel in their threads lasting such a long time - the longer a thread is, the more legitimate users have been sucked into their little game.
All Trolls, Controversials, Liars, Boreds and Confrontationalists use "Logical Fallacies" - in other words, they lie, change their minds, or otherwise simply claim any perspective other than the concensus.
Logical Fallacies can be a legitimate form of discussion in many instances. But Trolls can use this to their advantage, suggesting that fallacies arise in their "opponents" arguments, where, in truth, those fallacies may, or may not exist.
For example, in the following theoretical trollish encounter, the USER follows some of the above steps when approaching the troll...
In Newsgroup alt.movies.spielberg ... TROLL: SPIELBERG'S FILMS SUC!
USER: Do you think so? I have always felt that the critique of a film-maker lies with their audience. Personally, I quite enjoy Spielbergs films, however it is good to see an opinion other than a positive one addressed.

At this point, it is unlikely that the Troll would respond - he has made his statement, and enough people may have argued against him that he is wrong, causing havoc in the group, that his work has already been done for him. We will presume, however, that the troll wishes to create a prolonged thread about Mr. Spielbergs work.
TROLL: You know that Spielbergs films suck! If one meber of the audience dislikes the film, then it sucks for them. Therefore, Spielbergs films SUCK!
Arguing with the troll will get you nowhere. The counter-argument misses half the point, and they will claim the same of you. What's the best way of dealing with this sort of Troll?
Ignore it. Killfile the thread.
Others will join in, undoubtedly - but the more people ignore it, the better. Even by acknowledging to the Troll that you know what it is ("You are a Troll! Go away!") will boost his ego.
Like the best way of winning a fight, the best way of beating a Troll is to not get involved. That way, you can't get hurt.

So, in brief...
BE CALM - Don't rise to their antagonising attitude.
DON'T LOWER YOURSELF TO THEIR LEVEL - Don't start throwing insults at them. It's what they want.
PAY A COMPLIMENT - It is the last thing they are expecting - and the opposite of what they want.
ENCOURAGE THEM TO JOIN IN - Let them know they have valid points, and make their faults seem like yours.
But, above all else, USE YOUR KILLFILE - It is there for a reason, and it is your most powerful weapon.

http://www.angelfire.com/space/usenet/

Examples of Troll Posts
[ Main Page ]
Due to popular demand (okay, I admit it, I wanted to do this) this section of the site gives a small selection of my "favourite" trolls. Obviously, the term favourite isn't in any sense positive - these are trolls who are the most interesting from the spectators viewpoint, but have also caused a great deal of havoc.
Read them and enjoy. Some of them are funny (some are very funny), and some are really quite pathetic. Most are both.
You'll no doubt notice the ratings... these aren't for the trolls themselves. This is not a trolling leaderboard. The higher the rating, the more pathetic the troll. The ratings are for how the community deals with the troll, and how interesting their response is.
Note also that these are Troll threads - not specific trolls. One or more trolls may be involved in the thread itself. Ask yourself: Who are they? Do they crop up more than once?
Bear in mind the advice on the main page - how would you handle the following situations?

Bizarre!
http://groups.google.com/groups?hl=en&lr=&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&th=4457d16ecb8b88a7&seekm=683f5439.0211091504.3c13e981%40posting.google.com#link1

This sort of thing normally quite happily resides on the paranoid newsgroups, but here it is, on a Music forum, a Guns forum, and a local forum. A trollish post, no doubt, but for the conspirationalists amongst us, very much a fascinating idea that's worth seriously considering for... oooh... 3 seconds.
The troll is Old - he should have gotten bored years ago, but he keeps on coming back. A sad, sad, individual.

C-C-C-Carry On, Potter
http://groups.google.com/groups?hl=en&lr=&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&threadm=uu3181ploth8bc%40corp.supernews.com&rnum=1&prev=/groups%3Fhl%3Den%26lr%3D%26ie%3DUTF-8%26oe%3DUTF-8%26selm%3Duu3181ploth8bc%2540corp.supernews.com
See also: One, Two, and Three
This troll doesn't just reside in the Harry Potter NG, but since this is the group that I learnt about it, the NG is the focus of this example. An inherently sad thing, and most definately a bored troll (see: here), with far too much time on its hands. Although it is a career Troll, it isn't a particularly sucessful one, and tends to get laughed at more often than it actually causes trouble. It isn't handled particularly well on the Harry Potter NG, however (until eventually added to plonk files) and stirs up a little trouble. Obviously not a particularly clever troll, as its attempts to be controversial fall rather flat. Bad Monkey!
But this troll is particularly prattish, mostly because he swears in a group that is largely populated by children.

Godstation http://groups.google.co.uk/groups?dq=&hl=en&lr=&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&frame=right&rnum=1&thl=0,888510752,888495277,888493593,888492766,888474101,888470730,888470226,888331587,888215647,888195293,888185792&seekm=Xns92C3EB7D23105monkeyboy%40130.133.1.4#link1
If I had to pick a Troll to be marooned on an island with, this one would be it. I could laugh at it for years. The Troll has made the somewhat tenuous link between homosexuality and the Playstation... and God's Wrath upon both. Most of the humour doesn't stem from the Troll, but rather the users of the group, who literally line up to take potshots at it. It's frankly hilarious to see the troll subverted, and beaten around the head with its own arguments. A truly pathetic Troll, but a truly fantastic read.

Spielberg: The Plagiarist
http://groups.google.com/groups?hl=en&lr=&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&th=50e28d0f9c89cbb&seekm=8n318b%242ft%241%40nnrp1.deja.com#link1
A fascinating insight into the early work of a particular troll. This one is noted on the main page. "Togetherinparis", "Ross Nicholson", "Bubba Nicholson" are all the same troll - and all argue that not only do they know Spielberg, but that he stole many of his ideas from "Bubba" to make his films. Badly handled by the community, Bubba is allowed to flourish, and ultimately the newsgroup died an untimely death.
http://www.angelfire.com/space/usenet/example.html

LOL, no G Lola, no I am not calling you a troll.
I am merely pointing out the difference between responsible and sincere discussion and the kind of threads designed to disrupt responsible and sincere discussion.
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tmt
 
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" wrote:Troll (Internet)

In Internet slang, a troll is someone who posts inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community, such as an online discussion forum, chat room or blog, with the primary intent of provoking other users into an emotional response or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion.[2]


[url]http://indigosociety.com/showthread.php?29145-Armageddon-on-IS&p=610957#post610957[/url] look at comment #10......... hahaha
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I really think you need to take a better look at yourself. That demon got you typing tonight huh? Lmao
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Utopialove
 
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who is to judge what is responsible and sincere.

what is responsible and sincere to you many not be to the next guy.....and since there is not only you in this world but billions of next guys....who is really to judge what someone else means or how responsible and sincere they are being.

Is this a court of law or is it life....trying to get out of our selves to see the point someone else is making ....?
sometimes when you do that you begin to see that what you determined to be irresponsible and insincere is actually quite sincere and very responsible...it's just that you never looked at it that way before.
And someone who you decided was a thorn in your side was actually opening your eyes to something that will serve you and the world better.

When you censure and banish you stop that before it can even begin to happen....there are a lot of good things that come in shabby packages...we hurt ourselves when we throw them out because we don't consider their value.

Why would anyone willfully choose to limit their life in that way? I don't because I am not afraid of what people say...it can't hurt me so what reason would I have to stop them from saying it?
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" wrote:Troll (Internet)

In Internet slang, a troll is someone who posts inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community, such as an online discussion forum, chat room or blog, with the primary intent of provoking other users into an emotional response or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion.[2]
Trolls can be costly in several ways. A troll can disrupt the discussion on a newsgroup, disseminate bad advice, and damage the feeling of trust in the newsgroup community. Furthermore, in a group that has become sensitized to trolling — where the rate of deception is high — many honestly naïve questions may be quickly rejected as trollings. This can be quite off-putting to the new user who upon venturing a first posting is immediately bombarded with angry accusations. Even if the accusation is unfounded, being branded a troll is quite damaging to one's online reputation.
Susan Herring et al. in "Searching for Safety Online: Managing 'Trolling' in a Feminist Forum" point out the difficulty inherent in monitoring trolling and maintaining freedom of speech in online communities: "harassment often arises in spaces known for their freedom, lack of censure, and experimental nature".[11] The broadly accepted ethic of free speech may lead to tolerance of trolling behavior, further complicating the members' efforts to maintain an open yet supportive discussion area, especially for sensitive topics such as race, gender, sexuality, etc.



Flaming: The Relationship Between Social Context Cues and Uninhibited Verbal Behavior in Computer-mediated Communication
Mauri Collins

Hypothesis: In the absence of social context cues, the level of uninhibited verbal behavior in computer-mediated communication rises.
One phenomenon occurring in computer-mediated communication is the appearance of uninhibited verbal behavior. It appears that the level of uninhibited verbal behavior indulged in by those communicating via computer-mediated communication is a function of the absence of social context cues. I will first briefly examine social context cues as they effect communication content. These includes both verbal, non-verbal and situational cues. Then I will review the literature on uninhibited verbal behavior (often called 'flaming') in computer-mediated communication, to determine if there is support for the hypothesis that it is the lack of contextual cues that allows the phenomenon to occur, and if so, how researchers have explained the connection between the absence of social context cues and the occurrence of uninhibited verbal behavior.

SOCIAL CONTEXT CUES

The term 'social context cues' refers to the various geographic, organizational, and situation variables that influence the content of conversation among persons. Persons are usually sensitive to these social context cues and they can inhibit or facilitate what is said, how, and by who to whom. When defined as a person's physical position in time and place, geographic location can have a profound effect on communication. Discourse that is suitable for a bedroom is rarely suitable for the podium at a national convention, from a pulpit unsuitable for a bar on a Friday night. A business phone call made to someone's home number may originate quite properly at ten o'cloc in the morning, yet be most unwelcome arriving in another time zone at 5 am.

Organizational variables refers to a person's position in a job or social hierarchy, and their social position or job category. This often effects what can be said, when and to whom. Discourse occurs more often within organization levels, than among them.

Situational variables are characteristics of the immediate communication context that includes the hierarchical relationships among senders and receivers, the purpose of discourse and the norms and social conventions that apply to the situation. Situational variables can include the demographic characteristics of the communicators: age, gender, race, socio- economic status, residence and such personal characteristics as appearance, dress, accent, tone, mood, size, and attitude. Some norms and social conventions are fairly stable: be polite to your elders, don't talk back to you boss, getting rowdy in a bar on a Friday night is ok within limits, don't reveal personal information to people you don't know well, when in a meeting you attend to the highest status person present and allow them to lead the meeting. Other norms vary depending on the negotiated agreement among the persons present: clapping of hands, shouts of "Amen" during sermons and speaking out 'as moved by the spirit' may be accepted in some worship situations, while in others, worshippers may be expected to remain silent and in their seats when not making unison responses.

THEORY

Sproull and Kiesler (1986) have an extended discussion on how social context cues affect information exchange between persons through perception, cognitive interpretation and communication behavior in their seminal article on the effect of the reduction of social context cues on electronic mail communication in organizations. Their theoretical framework explains how social context information mediates information exchange.

When a communication opportunity arises the participants must perceive the social context of the communication. Social status, and other social context cues can have no influence if they are not perceived. These cues can be static or dynamic, and may include static elements of the physical setting, like location and furniture, while the dynamic cues are drawn from people's non-verbal behavior in the communication situation. Perceived social context cues can engender cognitive interpretations and give rise to various emotional states. As people interpret a situation they adjust the focus, tone, mood and verbal content of their communications.

"Typically, when social context cues are strong, behavior tends to be relatively other focussed, differentiated and controlled. When social context cues are weak, people's feelings of anonymity tend to produce relatively self-centered and unregulated behavior. That is people are relatively unconcerned with making a good appearance (Cottrell, Wacj, Sekerak, and Rittle 1968). Their behavior becomes more extreme, more impulsive, and less socially differentiated (Diener, Fraser, Beamon, and Kelem 1976; Singer, Brush and Lublin 1965)." (pp. 1495-1496).

Face to face communication is the richest in social context cues and any form of mediated communication lessens the cues available. All that can be perceived over the telephone is the voice of the communicator, most static cues are stripped from the situation. The only cues that remain are, perhaps, the location of the person called (Beverly Hills, Watts), but this is often unknown in the case of a first-time conversation.

With most written communications, all dynamic cues are stripped, as well as all static cues, barring the feel and appearance of the writing materials. And yet norms remain attached to written communications, and their mystique and relative permanence can restrain grossly uninhibited verbal behavior, with the thought that someone else might read or save the correspondence. With e-mail correspondence, it has the illusion of ephemerality, appearing and disappearing from your screen (Sproull and Kiesler, 1991, p. 39). This is often more present in the minds of those who use e-mail than the idea that many persons can have access one's electronic mail, and may contribute to a lessoning of restraint.

Social context cues are almost totally lost when using electronic mail (e-mail) because dynamic cues are eliminated, and static cues are minimal. E-mail is the transmission of text between networked computers regardless of the physical distance between them, which may be a few feet or many thousands of miles. This transmission is very fast and asynchronous. Messages are delivered to the receiver's mailbox to be read at their leisure. However a e-mail reply can be returned within the time it takes to type the message on the screen, plus seconds or minutes of transmission time, across desk or across continents and oceans. Electronic mail is also text-based, without the voice component of the telephone or the visual element to the facsimile transmission. E-mail depends on almost solely on the contents of the text to create meaning between participants, thus favoring those who are literate and whose vocabularies are up to the task (Chesboro and Bonsall, 1989 p. 118).

Text-editing capabilities on most computer systems that facilitate the transmission of e-mail are frequently arcane and difficult to use. An alternative, while time consuming, is to compose your messages using a word-processor and then to upload the document to the machine equipped with the e-mail software and then send it. Most person using e-mail compose on-line with only rudimentary editing tools, so what comes off the fingertips is more likely to go unedited and often unconsidered to the correspondent, whether that be an individual or the many hundreds or thousands of persons reading a subscription-based or usenet discussion groups.

Text-based messages all look more or less the same. The sending machine will put lines of transmission information at the top of the note. Currently the only characters that can be transmitted are those that appear on the traditional type-writer keyboard, and the appearance of text on the screen is unaffected by any physical, social or emotional characteristics of the sender. A note from the CEO of a company looks exactly the same as one from the janitor.

FLAMING

Uninhibited verbal behavior is known, in computer user's jargon, as 'flaming'. This can consist of "swearing, shouting at their terminals, and groups refusing to make a group decision until a group member gave in" (Sproull and Kiesler, 1984, p. 1128); "to abuse, make offensive comments, or criticize sharply" (Kim and Raja, 1991, p 7); "using offensive language and being interpersonally insulting" (Matheson and Zanna, 1990, p. 1); "speaking incessantly, hurling insults, using profanity" (Baron, 1984, p 130). The Hacker's Dictionary defines flaming as "to speak incessantly and/or rabidly on some relatively uninteresting subject or with a patently ridiculous attitude . . Synonym: Rave.". (quoted in Sproull and Kiesler, 1991, p. 49)

RESEARCH

As early as 1984 Baron conceived the computer as a force in language change, wondering if CMC "had evolved (or could evolve) some way of compensating for the lack of physical presence or non-linguistic context" (p. 125). She notes that computer conferencing appears to foster a distinctive and homogeneous conversational style, distinguished by the great frequency of arguments and flaming, and says that participants in computer conferencing were consistently rowdier than their face-to-face counterparts. Baron postulates three explanations for this phenomenon: the lack of non-linguistic and visual cues puts added pressure upon the users to use any means possible (such as haranguing) to ensure they are being understood; the fact that CMC is a relatively new form of communication and lacks the established norms of face-to-face conversation; and the lack social context cues masks status differences.

Kiesler, Siegel and McGuire (1984) published a seminal article which firmly established the connection between the absence of social context cues and the presence of uninhibited verbal behavior and is cited by all the following authors. They noted that previous research on CMC had examined the efficiency of computer information transmission systems in terms of their cost and technical capabilities and that it was their intention to examine the social psychological issues.

In a series of experiments designed to explore the impact of computer mediated communication (CMC) on group interaction and decision making, Kiesler et al. used groups of three students who were asked to reach consensus on a choice-dilemma problem in three different contexts: once face to face, once using the computer anonymously, (i.e. not knowing which one of their group was talking/typing) and once using the computer where each member knew when the other was 'talking'. Their data showed, "in all three experiments, that CMC had marked effects on . . . interpersonal behavior..." (p. 1128), in that 'people in CMC groups were more uninhibited than they were in face-to-face groups, as measured by uninhibited verbal behavior, defined as frequency of remarks containing swearing, insults, name calling and hostile comments" (p. 1129).

As part of this same series, an experiment was devised to see if CMC, by its nature, simply encouraged disorderly verbal conduct, or if flaming was a function of lack of constraints on interruptions and distracting remarks. However, the imposition of a strict order of contribution raised the level of uninhibited verbal behavior over the condition when no such restraint was imposed. The conclusion was that having to wait to take turns, when they had previously been able to type their comments in at will, raised levels of frustration which manifested itself in increased 'flaming'.

When allowed to synchronously communicate in computer- conferencing condition rather than by electronic mail (asynchronously), the level of uninhibited behavior rose. Kiesler et al. postulated the following three reasons for their results: "a) difficulties of coordination from lack of informational feedback, b) absence of social influence cues for controlling discussion, and c) depersonalization from lack of nonverbal involvement and absence of norms" (p. 1130). These findings have be elaborated upon and refined in subsequent research.

The Rand Organization (Shapiro and Anderson, 1985), recognizing an emerging need, published a position paper entitled Toward an Ethics and Etiquette for Electronic Mail. The authors noted the possibilities of misinterpretation of meaning inherent in a text-based communication medium which will

"allow casual and formal messages to look superficially the same; that allow near-instantaneous, rather than reasoned, response; that don't permit feedback during the delivery of a message (as in personal conversation); and that require modification to many old traditions of communication. A related phenomenon is "flaming," in which emotions are expressed via electronic mail, sometimes labeled as such, sometimes not." (p vii).

The occupance of flaming is attributed to the absence of cues to social hierarchical position, to the formality or informality of the communication; the absence of a buffering 'time lag' that might moderate response; the messages can attain a permanence that is not possible in verbal interaction (unless recorded); and persons are anonymous, beyond the bare information in their e-mail address, unless they choose to reveal further personal information, and the lack of non-verbal feedback that might moderate and augment the interpretation.

Some highly innovated suggestions were made concerning a future communications system that could imbue the text with some of the missing social content cues:

". . .the boldness of the characters displayed is a function of the force with which keys are hit; the speed at which it is typed is reflected in the character spacing (or color, or size, etc.). Or providing a set of standard forms to be selected, ranging from "Note from the desk of . . ." to "Corporate Memorandum" to give additional cues to the level of formality intended. Perhaps the most informal messages will be displayed in the handwriting of the sender (even though keyboarded for convenience) as an additional cue to its informality. More certainly (because the systems are in prototype form already) there will be systems in which the cold green (or amber, or whatever) characters will be accompanied by voice annotations, so that the humanity and state of the sender will be retained and "read" by the recipient" (p 41-42).

Sproull and Kiesler (1986) in their study of organizational communication determined that "e-mail reduced social context cues, provided information that was relatively self-absorbed, undifferentiated by status, uninhibited, and provided new information" and "people behaved irresponsibly more often on e- mail than they did in face-to-face conversations" (p. 1509) because it 'removed social reminders of norms" (p. 1510) Further they report that respondents who saw flaming in e-mail messages an average of 33 times month, only saw the same kinds of verbal behavior in face-to-face conversations an average of 4 times a month. Besides flaming, Sproull and Kielser also include in their discussion of uninhibited verbal behavior an increased willingness to pass on bad news or negative information and a flouting of social conventions. The particular convention they highlight was the boundary between work and play, noting that 40 percent of all e-mail traffic in the organization studied had nothing at all to do with work, but included movie reviews, recipes, notices of club meetings, etc. Overall, they found "evidence that electronic `mail reduced social context cues, provided information that was relatively self-absorbed, undifferentiated by status, uninhibited, and provided new information" (p. 1509)

The same year, Siegel et al. (1986) published further results from their experimental series at Carnegie-Mellon University. In this series they were examining the effects of CMC on communication efficiency, participation, interpersonal behavior and group choice. They note initially that CMC has only written text for a communication channel and that it lacks aural and visual cues and the social context information that one finds in face-to-face or telephone conversation.

They found that 'submergence in technology, and technologically-induced anonymity and weak social feedback might also lead to feelings of loss of identity and uninhibited behavior" which may cause people to become ". . . 'deindividuated,' leading not just to uninhibited verbal behavior and more equal participation," (p. 183) but to other, as yet uninvestigated effects. Siegel et al. also point out that the incidence of uninhibited verbal behavior may hinge on the direction of the communicator's attention. Perhaps this may be away from group and internal social standards and solely towards the message content, and also away from the behavior of, or even awareness of others as message senders.

Asch's social influence experiment was used as the basis for a study by Smilowitz, Compton and Flint (1988), investigating the effect of the exclusion of contextual cues provided by face to face interaction on individual judgement in CMC contexts. They determined that: "It is easier for a deviant to persist in the CMC environment. Since the effect of the majority opinion is diminished, individuals with deviant opinions are more likely to hold out that to succumb" (p 320). They attribute this to the absence of physical cues focussing attention exclusively on the text, the lack of a sense of others' presence to enforce social norms and the lack of non-verbal informational cues to encourage or discourage particular choices.

Chesebro and Bonsall (1989) indicate that when computers are used for messaging systems that the person dominates and that the computer becomes "merely a kind of elaborate typewriter and delivery system" (p. 97), however it "does affect the users" (p. 116). They note that CMC has a potential for reducing a correspondent's sense of personal responsibility to others, when all that one knows about others is characters appearing a screen. A further form of 'uninhibited behavior' they note is an extension of the concept of 'football widow' to encompass the complaints of wives whose husbands appear so engrossed in their computers as to have no time for social interaction. They also note that in the resolution of conflict in CMC, often engendered by flaming, that "more time and more words must be employed during teleconferencing to eliminate problems and conflicts" (p 123) indicating the difficulties in coordinating meaning in the absence of informational feedback.

Taking as a starting point that CMC users are more likely to display uninhibited verbal behavior, Matheson and Zanna (1990) experimentally examined the extent to which the use of CMC creates a state of deindividuation. The state of 'deindividuation' is characterized by a low sense of public and private self-awareness. In this state, the user loses touch with both their internal behavioral standards, and the awareness of social sanctions from others. When compared with face-to-face groups in problem solving situations, the CMC groups reported significantly higher levels of private self-awareness and marginally lower levels of public self-awareness. This precludes their being deindividuated. The researchers hypothesize that flaming may occur because, with a heightened sense of private self-awareness, users are more reactive to what they perceive as coercive behavior on the part of others, and less sensitive to the thoughts and feelings of others. ". . . this could lead to an escalating cycle of conflict and disagreement, and it could increase the display of affect and uninhibited behavior characteristic of computer users (Siegel et al., 1986). . ."

This study is significant in that it contradicts the position of Kiesler et al., (1984, 1985) and Siegel et al., (1986). who hypothesize that the user becomes so totally caught up in the act of communicating with the computer that they lose not only their private self-awareness, but their public self- awareness also.

Smolensky, Carmody, and Halcomb (1990) examined the extent to which tasks, and the degree to which users are acquainted with one another, will mediate the occupance of uninhibited verbal behavior. They determined that the amount of uninhibited verbal behavior was highest among triads who did know one another prior to the experiment, and those persons who were highly extroverted were likely to exhibit the highest levels of uninhibited verbal behavior. Groups with high levels of uninhibited verbal behavior also showed lower levels of productivity in terms of group decisions made. The authors explain their findings by hypothesizing that a reduction in social presence and social context cues in CMC caused users to perceive their CMC partners "as semi-mechanical objects which can be ignored, insulted, exploited, or hurt with relative impunity (Christie 1976)" (p. 269). They also raise the point that further research needs to be done to determine if limiting the amount of CMC will also limit the amount of creativity in groups.
Flaming is mentioned by Boshier (1990) in the same context as the use of emoticons, ascii symbols intended to add tone to the plain text of e-mail. He suggests that flaming occurs because the sender is far from the receiver and insulated from normal feedback, which, when offered face-to-face would lead to the extinction of the behavior. Boshier finds flaming to be a stimulating feature of e-mail in some if its incarnations, but the heat created by readers who 'viciously correct the spelling or grammar in other contributions' is termed 'tedious'.

"Do You Know Who You Are Talking To?" is the title of a chapter in Sproull and Kiesler's book Connections (1991). This book is a comprehensive discussion of the use of CMC in organizations. They see CMC as creating a new social situations, devoid of social context cues. While people "talk" with others, they do so alone, sitting at their computers, with few reminders of other persons and the social conventions for communication. Computer-based communication, they noted, relies on plain text to convey messages, and is ephemeral in nature, appearing and disappearing from the screen and leaving nothing tangible behind. These two characteristics, in combination, are seen as making it easy for the user to forget their audience, and feel unrestrained by conventional rules and norms of behavior. A blurring of social boundaries also contributes to the occupance of uninhibited verbal behavior, because plain text messages give no indication of status cues, unless the message is signed with a job or position title. With no clue in the messages as to a person's personal characteristics, their competence and ability can be recognized independent of the hierarchical position. This relative anonymity can lead to feelings of isolation and safety from "surveillance and criticism. This feeling of privacy makes them feel less inhibited with others. It also makes it easy for them to disagree with, confront, or take exception to others' opinion" (p. 49).
Sproull and Kiesler suggest several techniques to add context cues to CMC in order to remind users that they are social actors in a social situation. Emoticons, commonly known as "smilies" are an attempt to add mood indicators to CMC. :-) (tilt your head sideways to the left to see the smiley) indicates humor, or a smile to diffuse a possibly hostile reaction. People can change their personas in different communication situations, as professional writers always have. Adding temporal cues, time and date stamps, or setting very clear time lines in which work must be performed might increase social information and add guides to behavior, as will the writing of etiquette manuals. Sproull and Kiesler look forward to the time when sound and pictures will be added to e-mail, thus restoring many of the now missing context cues, and thus significantly lowering the occupance of uninhibited verbal behavior.

The theme of mechanomorphism briefly reference by Smolensky et al., (1990) is elaborated upon by Shamp (1991). With regard to uninhibited verbal behavior, Shamp acknowledges that "There is general agreement in the research that these behaviors and attitudes can be attributed to a lack of social presence of communication partners and an absence of social context cues" (p. 148), but he states such explanations are incomplete. In a study of messages sent to public bulletin boards, he determined that "when little personal information is available, an individual's perception of a computer communication partner becomes similar to his or her perception of the computer" (p. 149). Behavior that is not suitable when dealing with persons may be appropriate when dealing with machines and may be used on people when the people are perceived as machine-like.

Kim and Raja (1991) studied CMC in Usenet which carries over 1500 newsgroups discussing everything from rape to recipes, computers to communication. A large proportion of Usenet newsgroups readers comprise a subculture of computer, engineering, and scientific professionals, many of whom, despite their high levels of education, flagrantly breach conventional communication etiquette. They note that communication via computer terminal apparently allows users to forget they are communicating with other persons. This leads to levels of verbal aggression and self-disclosure that would be unthinkable in other types of communications among "strangers"

Using a sample of 600 messages, they coded them for 'face threatening acts' (FTAs), which they defined as evaluating some aspect of the other negatively and showing indifference towards the others' feelings. Their results show a difference in the level of such behavior among groups but a substantial number of FTAs in all newsgroups sampled.

The first reason they give for the occupance of uninhibited verbal behavior is a diminished desire to maintain the tacit cooperation in face saving usually occurring in face-to-face communication. When user must imagine their audience while sitting at a computer, it can appear that their only audience is the machine itself. The level of sympathetic involvement with others is attenuated and people don't need to be sensitive to other's feelings or messages, nor do the need to avoid impoliteness. The exchanges of rudeness can provoke a rapidly escalating series of aggressive messages.

When an audience must be imagined, the fear of physical retaliation as sanction for verbal aggression is non-existent, especially when the actual audience is geographically widely dispersed. There is a sense that there is very little that others can do to sanction one's behavior in CMC. If one person is rude, often the only remedy appears to be rude in return, again escalating the verbal conflict.

Within Usenet newsgroups, the only thing that can unite apparent enemies is any threat to their freedom to verbally abuse or malign one another. Appropriate verbal behavior on newsgroups is often learned by watching other participants, and where there is an established tradition of grossly uninhibited verbal behavior, a new group member is more likely to be socialized into perpetuating these behaviors, rather than changing them.

While one would expect, they say, that a medium that removes all social context cues, would lead to a undistracted discussion of ideas in a dispassionate, logical and issue-centered debate, the opposite seems to be true of CMC.

McCormick and McCormick (1992) collect samples of undergraduate student's e-mail to test their hypothesis that the computer was a powerful, but neutral technology by looking at the full range of their communication rather than just pinpointing the flames. Less than half of the sample of messages were work related, the rest serving purely social functions. About a quarter of all messages showed high intimate content and "unexpectedly little showing signs of flaming or hostility and social inappropriateness" (p. 379). They noted, following Sproull et al., (1986) that flaming is especially commonplace in the male-dominated, adolescent subculture of the college computer center, "which encourages pranks, idiosyncrasy, and irreverence" (p. 389). Without empirical evidence, the researchers note that the flames appeared to be exchanged by young men who knew each other well. This is consistent with other research reported above. They felt that flaming was akin to the mock physical battles (also a sign of affection and trust) that occur among male adolescents, rather than a sign of dislike or alienation. It appeared to affirm the strength of the relationship that they could call each other names and still remain friends.

This study contrasted sharply with experimental work with unacquainted individuals in which computer-mediated communication, compared to face-to-face discussion, increased the likelihood of disinhibited and socially offensive behavior However the respondents in McCormick and McCormick's were local uses of a system who could expect to continue intensive, future interaction, thus rendering them a little more civil than those who expected to never meet their communication partners.

Over the past decade, there has been consistent support in the literature for the hypothesis that in the absence of social context cues the level of uninhibited verbal behavior in CMC rises. Kiesler and her associates began to articulate the theoretical underpinnings for exploration of social context cues and the effects they have on CMC. Other researchers have furthered that knowledge and attempted to describe some of the variables affecting the phenomenon. In the literature identified to date, all has supported the contention that flaming rises as there are fewer and fewer social context cues within a CMC environment.
BIBLIOGRAPHY
Baron, N.S. (1984) Computer mediated communication as a force in language change. Visible Language, 18 (2):118-141.
Boshier, R. (1990) Socio-psychological factors in electric networking. International Journal of Lifelong Education, 9 (1), 49-64.
Chesebro, J.W., & Bonsall, D.G. (1989) Computer-mediated communication: Human relationships in a computerized world. Tuscaloosa, AL: The University of Alabama Press.
Kiesler, S., Siegel, J., and McGuire, T. (1984) Social psychological aspects of computer-mediated communication. American Psychologist, 39 (10): 1123-1134.
Kim, M.S. & Narayan, S. (1991) Verbal aggression and self- disclosure on computer bulletin boards. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the International Communication Association, Chicago, IL, May. ED334 620
Matheson, K., & Zanna, M.P. (1990) Computer-mediated communications: the focus is on me. Social Science Computer Review, 8 (1):1-12.
McCormick, N.B., & McCormick, J.W. (1992) Computer friends and foes: Content of undergraduates' electronic mail. Computers in Human Behavior, 8:379-405.
Scovell, P. (1991) Differences between computer and non computer- mediated communication: A preliminary study. Paper presented at the Eastern Communication Association Convention, Pittsburgh, PA, April. ED 333 520.
Shamp, S.A. (1991) Mechanomorphism in perception of computer communication partners. Computers in Human Behavior, 7: 147-161.
Shapiro, N.Z., & Anderson, R.H. (1985) Toward an ethics and etiquette for electronic mail. Santa Monica, CA: The Rand Corp.
Siegel, J., Dubrovsky, V., Kiesler, S., and McGuire, T.W. (1986) Group processes in computer-mediated communication. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 37: 157-187.
Smilowitz, M., Compton, D.C., and Flint, L. (1988) The effects of computer mediated communication on an individual's judgement: A study based on the methods of Asch's social influence experiment. Computers in Human Behavior, 4: 311- 321.
Smolensky, M.W., Carmody, M.A. and Halcomb, C.G. (1990) The influence of task type, group structure and extraversion on uninhibited speech in computer-mediated communication. Computers in Human Behavior, 6:261-272.
Sproull, L. & Kiesler, S. (1991) Connections: New ways of working in the networked organization. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.
Sproull, L. & Kiesler, S. (1986) Reducing social context cues: electronic mail in organizational communication. Management Science, 32 (11): 1492-1512.

URL: [url]http://cac.psu.edu/~mauri/papers/flames.html[/url]


WTF? I've almost seen everything now......LOL! Tmt, are you ok? I'm a little concerned..........we all know Lola is not a "troll".
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Hey Tmt, just saw your "disclaimer" at the end......admitting Lola did not fit the bill of troll......LOL! Man, did I have to work for that one. ;)
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@Grama Lola

So if you went to say, a formal dinner with your loved ones for a special family event and your nephew stood on the table and began screaming obscenities at the patrons seated nearby your table, you would be cool with that?

Or you come home each day and your next door neighbor loudly proclaims his opinion of you and yours verbally, and keeps several signs on his front lawn pointing at your house stating his derision of you and your family. Thats ok too?

Or a person attacks one of your internet friends and you stick up for them in a reply and are immediately the target of the unprovoked attack, with the tormentor following you daily, insulting you, stalking your every post incessently, along with continuing to attack your friend. Free speech, so no reprecussion or remonstration is in order? It is nice to play the 'free speech' card when someone has legitimate ideas to express. When it becomes thread after thread promoting war, and anger, it is simply abuse hiding behind 'free speech'. You're smart enough to know the difference, G Lola.

@ Heathra
I was not speaking of anyone in particular, merely highlighting the characteristics of troll behaviour. Not my words, simply information found on the internet. I included the link for each portion of information.

@ UL
Honesty is quite a demon, indeed. I understand your fear, being as you are unfamiliar with the concept. Fear is the first reaction to most concepts when the being is locked in a comfort zone and unwilling to see beyond that. :)
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