Stylistic Variation in Twitter Trolling

Clarke, Isobelle (2018) Stylistic Variation in Twitter Trolling. In: Online Harássment. Human–Computer Interaction Series . Springer, Cham, pp. 157-178. ISBN 9783319785820

Full text not available from this repository.


Although Phillips and Milner (The ambivalent internet: mischief, oddity and antagonism online 2017) have emphasised that the term ‘troll’ and ‘trolling’ are vague and ethically problematic, due to the fact that they are used as catch-all terms for various behaviours, including more serious and criminal behaviours, resulting in the desensitisation of certain hate crimes, it remains to be understood just what these various behaviours and the numerous styles of trolling are. While we can ethically choose to ignore the word, and avoid adding insult to the injury incurred by troll-victims, it is necessary to explore the various strategies and behaviours that encompass these terms. For example, being able to describe the particular functions and styles of trolling may be more meaningful with respect to understanding where particular behaviours linguistically cross over into more negative and/or criminal behaviours, in addition to understanding what linguistic functions and styles society regards as problematic and transgressive. The present chapter focuses on describing the stylistic variation in a corpus of Twitter trolling using a modified version of Biber’s (Variation across speech and writing 1988) Multi-Dimensional Analysis. The analysis reveals 3 main dimensions of linguistic variation, which have been interpreted functionally in the context of trolling. The first main dimension opposes an interactive and involved style with an informationally dense reporting function, the second opposes a dismissive style with a mocking function, and the third dimension opposes an argumentative style with trolling Tweets that forewarn by summarising continuing action. By exploring previous research on trolling and current perceptions of problematic behaviour in society, it is argued that these dimensions predominantly reflect the different styles for promoting misinformation.

Item Type:
Contribution in Book/Report/Proceedings
ID Code:
Deposited By:
Deposited On:
23 Feb 2021 12:24
Last Modified:
21 Nov 2022 17:30