Sunday, November 06, 2011

Stop saying "flaming" is "trolling"

Recently, a piece was posted on the New Statesman website about the abuse bloggers face in their comments. Specifically though this was about the abuse female bloggers face in their comments. You see, being told that you deserve to die or be raped is, apparently, an area that is reserved solely for females.

Now, having been online since the 1992 I personally take issue with that assertion. Death threats, rape threats, vicious violent threats are not, in my experience, reserved for any one particular gender at all. I've been threatened with all manner of nasty ends from being anally raped to within an inch of my life, to being burned at the stake (amusingly enough when that happened I was trolling myself and posting provocative neo-Marxist arguments on a a message board full of rednecks).

Anyways, mentioning burning here is rather apt, as responding like that is called "flaming" when it happens, yet it seems now that the Observer has taken up the cause have decided that it's actually trolling, they note
The frequency of the violent online invective – or "trolling" – levelled at female commentators and columnists is now causing some of the best known names in journalism to hesitate before publishing their opinions.
Now, I must apologise here for being pedantic, but telling someone online that you hope they "DIE, DIE, DIE. I HOPE YOU BURN IN HELL!" or "I HOPE YOU GET RAPED......... TWICE!" is not trolling. OK?

It's an easy mistake to make if you think the word "troll" refers to ugly creatures that live under bridges. However, what it actually refers to is a form of fishing where where you cast a line into the water baited with lure, a spinner perhaps, and you drag it along hoping to catch a fish stupid enough to bite.

It is a subtle art where you post to a forum, a message board, a newsgroup, a blog, with the distinct purpose of making that community bite back at you. Your target is not the writer alone but in fact everyone that reads your words.

A good troll is one where the community bite and have no idea they've been had (see "oh how I envy American students" for details, a troll that kept getting responses for a year); a bad troll is when it's blatantly obvious the words are designed to cause trouble (posting a derogatory comment about Mohammad to an Islamic forum for example) and that is called flaming. See here for the legendary Ultimate Flame.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

If you're born in August you're screwed... allegedly

There's a great little piece in today's Daily Mail about a report by the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) that has found "August born children" are disadvantaged at school by being the youngest in the Academic year. Apparently,
August-born boys are 12 per cent less likely than September-born boys to get good GCSEs and girls are nine per cent less likely.

In addition, August-born youngsters are 20 per cent more likely to ditch academic study and learn a trade from the age of 16. They are 20 per cent less likely to go to an elite university.

And it is not just their education that suffers as they are more likely to be bullied at primary school and have lower confidence in their academic ability.

As a result as teenagers, they are also more inclined to smoke, binge drink and take cannabis and fewer are in control of their lives.
Oh dear, am I alone in feeling that perhaps this an effect desperately seeking out a cause?

Lord knows how this sort of thing works for those kids who, by virtue of things like "rising fives" find themselves in the year above the year they should be in in school. They're probably on the scrapheap right? Well, except for say a certain lady I know who is a research scientist at Cancer Research and has appeared on the Today programme, but was always the "youngest in the year".