Online Awfulness

Joseph Reagle 


  • hyperpersonal media and deindividuation effects
  • the hotter it is, the faster apples in a barrel spoil

it finally hit me. There is a living, breathing human being who is reading this shit. I am attacking someone who never harmed me in any way. —Lindy West’s cruelest troll


  • an apple in a rotting barrel is likely to go bad
  • so is someone in a rotten subreddit


  • measures of sadism, psychopathy, and Machiavellianism are positively correlated with trolling
  • strong relationship between “online commenting frequency, trolling enjoyment, and trolling behavior and identity” (BuckelsTrapnellPaulhus (2014))
Luka Magnotta


  • media: assume good faith, the person may not appreciate they are being awful
  • culture: don’t feed the trolls and no chum for the haters; engage in responsible forums with pro-social norms and moderation
  • personality: avoid and report

Take it seriously, but don’t freak out. When I was partially DOXed, I didn’t expect anything, but I told campus police.


  • I have not addressed issues specific to hate of women, persons of color, religions, sexuality and gender identity, etc.
  • See the Online Harassment Resource Guide for a more thorough review of the research.

Thanks for listening!

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