I was using the "chat" for the first time today, I asked a question that some people interpreted as provocative, and accused me as "trolling".

If I am not mistaken trolling on SE means I want to gain reputation by attracting attention without providing anything constructive or useful,

What is it that I can gain in chat? or maybe I don't know what trolling means?!

  • 5
    It means you're saying something just to get people to respond and fight with you. In fact, if you're not legitimately asking this question right now, then that would be considered trolling. – George Stocker Nov 21 '11 at 20:21
  • cool! No, really I always thought trolling should envolve some sort of gain for the troll. And I was surprised to be called a troll there. – Ali Nov 21 '11 at 20:25
  • Hey! I didn't link to the chat myself. People! I was just asking a question, not trying to accuse others or point fingers! Just wanted to learn the community norms. – Ali Nov 21 '11 at 20:30
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    I wouldn't see that as accusing. Around here, we just like to not discuss hypothetical examples, but rather concretes ones. FWIW, the whole conversation looks innocent enough to me. – balpha Nov 21 '11 at 20:31
  • @balpha OK, but it is such a diverse community that I always think I might step on someones tows if I discuss anything but technical matters, may be this is why I see SO as the successful one but things like parenting are not very successful (I know they are new, but discussions there does not look to me as effective) [I AGREE that there is not enough evidence yet available]. – Ali Nov 21 '11 at 20:35
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    Nah, that's rep whoring. Like what @balpha does. – user1228 Nov 21 '11 at 20:40

In the R chat room, you wrote:

and I want to know what is it about R, is it just something for people who don't want to get their hands dirty or it has something that I maybe missing!

To which someone responded:

I was reserving judgement as to whether you were just trolling, but "is it just something for people who don't want to get their hands dirty" seems like a dead giveaway. ;)

Now, it sounds like English isn't your native language: in it, being dismissive of something your audience and their expertise (i.e. people who would frequent an R chat room) comes off as rude, and like you're trying to provoke the obvious defensive response to a question like that.

Had you meant it like that, it would be trolling. To prevent people from labeling you a troll, try not to be dismissive of your audience's expertise or interests, particularly when you don't know whether your audience appreciates ironic snark.

  • Got it! Thanks. Although I didn't mean "don't want to get their hands dirty" as a bad thing. And I guess it's obvious that I am not a native English speaker. – Ali Nov 21 '11 at 20:36
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    @Ali generally someone who doesn't want to get their hands dirty is seen as lazy, which is not a good quality :) Without knowing your intentions, it sounds like you're asking "Is R just for lazy people?" to a room full of R experts. – user149432 Nov 21 '11 at 20:40
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    Very well said, will be good reference for future cases as well. – Shadow9 Nov 21 '11 at 21:48

Update at +4:

Seeing the concrete messages I believe that it's just a language barrier here. You did try to explain yourself, but given that you're in a room full of people interested in R, I can understand that somebody would be skeptic about your real intentions.

It's good that you brought it up anyway. There's nothing wrong with an honest discussion.

From Wikipedia.

with the primary intent of provoking readers into an emotional response or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion

They probably thought you were asking a question just to disrupt their current discussion or make them angry about something.

Typical (hypothetical) trolling in Super User chat:

HEy u guyz like Micro$oft or Apple lol? — ihatewindowz 21:10

I don't see any other reason for accusing you of trolling, other than posting nonsense questions just to attract attention or provoke others.

More generally, I think it's hard to enter chat as a new user, just to ask new questions. Most people on chat will know each other already and maybe can't help you or even don't want to. You definitely shouldn't pester them with questions (e.g. by @-mentioning them constantly). Not an accusation, just a precaution.

  • thanks, I thought some sort of gain should be involved for trolling to be trolling! – Ali Nov 21 '11 at 20:23
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    Well, who knows what your personal gain is? Laughing about others as they rage about you? :) — no, seriously: If you're just being honest, that's not trolling. People online are a bit cautious though. – slhck Nov 21 '11 at 20:26
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    No need for gain - trolling is about provocation to no particular end beyond provocation – Murph Nov 21 '11 at 22:05

From Wikipedia:

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 readers into an emotional response or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion. The noun troll may refer to the provocative message itself, as in: "That was an excellent troll you posted".

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