Conference paper Open Access
This paper investigates the linguistically marked motives that participants attribute to those they call trolls in 991 comment threads of three British political blogs. The study is concerned with how these motives affect the discursive construction of trolling and trolls. Another goal of the paper is to examine whether the mainly emotional motives ascribed to trolls in the academic literature correspond with those that the participants attribute to the alleged trolls in the analysed threads. The paper identifies five broad motives ascribed to trolls: emotional/mental health-related/social reasons, financial gain, political beliefs, being employed by a political body, and unspecified political affiliation. It also points out that depending on these motives, trolling and trolls are constructed in various ways. Finally, the study argues that participants attribute motives to trolls not only to explain their behaviour but also to insult them.