In case you’re curious…

this is what a troll is on the Internet.

Personally, though, I prefer the Flame Warriors version, although I’m not sure that I agree with Mike Reed’s characterization of trolls as “generally quite harmless.”


  1. #1 David D.G.
    December 27, 2007

    He recrafts the post, and titles it “Hillary Clinton, the Oil, War and Fox News Profiteer.” He lists Mrs. Clinton’s ownership in BP PLC, Chevron Corp., Boeing Co. and News Corp., despite the fact that the candidate and her husband liquidated their blind trust in April to avoid any appearance of conflict of interest. “So the truth comes out,” Mr. O’Neill concludes, “if she is elected, looks like we may spent a couple more years in Iraq, so someone can make more money on there stock dividends and guess what, its not Bush.”

    Since he is blatantly lying (and gallingly saying “the truth comes out” in the process of presenting his lies), how the heck is it not libelous of him to be doing this?

    He must be the envy of attention-seeking trolls everywhere, not only getting so much notoriety at various political websites, but also getting written up personally in The Wall Street Journal. Unfortunately, this publicity is sure to only encourage him and other such trolls; it’s rather like suspending kids for skipping school.

    ~David D.G.

  2. #2 Sastra
    December 27, 2007

    It’s not clear to me that he’s deliberately lying here — the aside is from the reporter, not O’Neill.

    The way I learned the term, this guy would not, technically, be a “troll.” A sincere crank passionately arguing his case may be annoying, but doesn’t fit the definition. As the Flame Warrior site makes clear, a proper troll doesn’t care about the topic or subject at hand. They’ll argue either way — or throw in something off-topic which is bound to de-rail the discussion, or get people angry, or whatever. I used to run into them from time to time in chat rooms. It’s not just being willing to argue (and argue.) They’re actually playing a game.

    Kicking off people who constantly disagree isn’t necessarily a matter of removing a “troll,” either. In the skepticism and consensus post before this one, Orac wrote:

    I also found it telling that, unlike most bloggers, myself included, Szwarc does not permit comments. If there’s one thing that skeptics usually encourage, it’s spirited debate. That’s impossible in a blog that doesn’t permit comments.

    She’s keeping away trolls (people who disagree). Sciencebloggers constantly complain that their negative comments are kicked off of creationist sites. Dembski’s keeping away trolls, too. Like this guy.

    Imo, the fact that O’Neill haunts the internet intent on debate doesn’t, by itself, make him a troll. Hell, that probably describes a fair proportion of the people on scienceblogs. It could even describe Orac — from the point of view of those brave, noble souls promoting alternative medicine.

    Of course, O’Neill does sound like a bit of a tool, though.

  3. #3 Kerry Maxwell
    December 27, 2007

    It seems to me the WSJ article was setting this guy up for a meeting with a gym sock full of quarters. Giving both the guy’s location, and a photo, and detailing what a useless sack the guy is, seemed like an invitation to beat his knees down for anyone so inclined. A little out of the way for me, and I need the quarters for the vending machine at work, but maybe there wil be some takers…

  4. #4 DLC
    December 28, 2007

    I wonder now if he’ll give up trolling ?
    Probably not. Once upon a time, fear of having your real name connected with your internet moniker was enough to quiet some trolls. But some just keep on and on, like a certain battery company mascot.

  5. #5 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    December 28, 2007

    I wonder now if he’ll give up trolling ?

    Are you kidding, he just got his mug on the WSJ website. If anything this will make him a little demi-god to the conservative hand wringers.

  6. #6 TheProbe
    December 28, 2007

    To Orac:

    O’Neill? It has just gotta be the name. Ask PeterB.

  7. #7 Orac
    December 28, 2007

    Nah, that O’Neill lives in Canada.

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