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Old 10-16-2019, 06:36 AM
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Sealioning


Hey, can someone really explain sealioning to me? I've now seen it referenced by several posters and several moderators, and I've looked up the original comic, but I don't see how it applies to the posts here where it's referenced.

I'm putting this in the Pit because accusations of sealioning are accusations of trolling, and I'm looking for examples and an explanation of how it fits. The posters here who are accused of it don't seem to be taking the position of the sea lion in the comic -- they aren't inviting people to debate, they're just debating in bad faith. I don't think I've ever seen an example that's displayed in the original comic, but maybe I'm missing some subtlety.

Here's the original comic: http://wondermark.com/1k62/

I'm off to work with limited opportunities to respond, but I'll read this with interest if I get responses.
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Old 10-16-2019, 06:54 AM
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https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sealioning

I too was unfamiliar with the term until a mod here told HD to knock it off. I looked up the term, and fuck me, they could have named it Hurricane Ditka'ing.
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Old 10-16-2019, 07:46 AM
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Never heard of it until this moment!

Sea-lioning: "Sealioning (also spelled sea-lioning and sea lioning) is a type of trolling or harassment which consists of pursuing people with persistent requests for evidence or repeated questions, while maintaining a pretense of civility and sincerity. It may take the form of "incessant, bad-faith invitations to engage in debate".

From Wikipedia:

Quote:
The troll feigns ignorance and politeness, so that if the target is provoked into making an angry response, the troll can then act as the aggrieved party.[6][7] Sealioning can be performed by a single troll or by multiple ones acting in concert.[8] The technique of sealioning has been compared to the Gish gallop and metaphorically described as a denial-of-service attack targeted at human beings.[9]

An essay in the collection Perspectives on Harmful Speech Online, published by the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard, noted:

Rhetorically, sealioning fuses persistent questioning—often about basic information, information easily found elsewhere, or unrelated or tangential points—with a loudly-insisted-upon commitment to reasonable debate. It disguises itself as a sincere attempt to learn and communicate. Sealioning thus works both to exhaust a target's patience, attention, and communicative effort, and to portray the target as unreasonable. While the questions of the "sea lion" may seem innocent, they're intended maliciously and have harmful consequences.
— Amy Johnson, Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society (May 2019)[9]

Origins and history

The term originated with a 2014 strip of the webcomic Wondermark by David Malki,[10] where a character expresses a dislike of sea lions and a sea lion intrudes to repeatedly ask the character to explain.[11] "Sea lion" was quickly verbed, the term gained popularity as a way to describe online trolling, and it was used to describe some of the behavior of those participating in the Gamergate controversy.[12][13]

In a 2016 study published in First Monday focusing on users of the Gamergate subreddit /r/KotakuInAction, participants were surveyed about what they believed constituted "harassment." Participants were quoted claiming that "expressions of sincere disagreement" were considered harassment by opponents of the forum and that the term was used to silence legitimate requests for proof.[14]
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Old 10-16-2019, 07:48 AM
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Hey, can someone really explain sealioning to me? I've now seen it referenced by several posters and several moderators, and I've looked up the original comic, but I don't see how it applies to the posts here where it's referenced.

I'm putting this in the Pit because accusations of sealioning are accusations of trolling, and I'm looking for examples and an explanation of how it fits. The posters here who are accused of it don't seem to be taking the position of the sea lion in the comic -- they aren't inviting people to debate, they're just debating in bad faith. I don't think I've ever seen an example that's displayed in the original comic, but maybe I'm missing some subtlety.

Here's the original comic: http://wondermark.com/1k62/

I'm off to work with limited opportunities to respond, but I'll read this with interest if I get responses.
Before we discuss sea lioning, you should provide cites to these several references that you've seen.
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Old 10-16-2019, 07:50 AM
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I get that HD, for example, argues in bad faith, and moves goal posts relentlessly, but I don't see the sea lion aspect. I see the subject changing and distractions, but not what's described in that Wiki excerpt.
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Old 10-16-2019, 07:52 AM
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Before we discuss sea lioning, you should provide cites to these several references that you've seen.
Well, HD was warned for it, but I'm my phone and searching for it will be a huge pain. So, later today? Unless someone jumps in with the cites for me (please).

Velocity just referenced it in one of the elections threads - maybe the question of O'Rourke purposely sabotaging the Dems?

ETA: here's where HD is warned: http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/...2&postcount=85

Last edited by RitterSport; 10-16-2019 at 07:54 AM.
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Old 10-16-2019, 07:59 AM
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Well, HD was warned for it, but I'm my phone and searching for it will be a huge pain. So, later today? Unless someone jumps in with the cites for me (please).
...
I think you've been whooshed and sea lion'd together!
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Old 10-16-2019, 08:01 AM
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Ah, thanks. Well, here's Velocity's post:

https://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb...&postcount=303

ETA: well done, Ravenman

Last edited by RitterSport; 10-16-2019 at 08:02 AM.
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Old 10-16-2019, 09:40 AM
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I think you've been whooshed and sea lion'd together!
Could you explain in more detail? I'm open-minded about what his comment meant, but I've never known Ravenman to joke around about something like that, I'd find it more believable if you could provided a few examples of him using this type of humor in the past.
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Old 10-16-2019, 09:41 AM
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Before we discuss sea lioning, you should provide cites to these several references that you've seen.
Bravo! You actually got me for a bit.
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Old 10-16-2019, 09:46 AM
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Geez, you all don't need to be so hostile. I'm just trying to establish some basic facts first.
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Old 10-16-2019, 09:50 AM
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Could you explain in more detail? I'm open-minded about what his comment meant, but I've never known Ravenman to joke around about something like that, I'd find it more believable if you could provided a few examples of him using this type of humor in the past.
I started explaining it, then thought, "hey, wait a minute......"
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Old 10-16-2019, 10:07 AM
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Thanks everyone for helping me understand the concept, eventually. OK, I honestly still don't see it in action on this board, from what I remember, this thread notwithstanding. I'll look more closely, but if someone could actually provide some examples (no joke), I'm interested.
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Old 10-16-2019, 10:31 AM
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Thanks everyone for helping me understand the concept, eventually. OK, I honestly still don't see it in action on this board, from what I remember, this thread notwithstanding. I'll look more closely, but if someone could actually provide some examples (no joke), I'm interested.
All kidding aside, on this board the key things to pay attention to are:

1. Overuse of asking for cites,
2. Fixation on the use of a particular word, such as asking for precise definitions and then quibbling with them,
3. If someone provides ten points in favor of an idea or whatever, proceeding to nitpick the hell out of one in order to "disprove" the other nine,
4. Altering the basics of the debate or moving the goalposts of a standard of proof, forcing others to essentially go back to square one,
5. An extreme focus on the process of a debate, rather than the main point (e.g., if someone says the sky is blue, the troll/sealioner will focus discussion individually/serially on the words, meaning, and standard of proof for "sky," "is," and "blue" rather than coming out with a competing argument that the sky is a different color.

This is definitely a phenomenon that is hard to see at first because it is subtle, but once you notice it, it becomes obvious. One question to keep in mind is, "Is this poster just making others do a lot of work/citing/arguing without contributing a similar degree of effort?"
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Old 10-16-2019, 10:41 AM
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Originally Posted by Ravenman View Post
All kidding aside, on this board the key things to pay attention to are:

1. Overuse of asking for cites,
2. Fixation on the use of a particular word, such as asking for precise definitions and then quibbling with them,
3. If someone provides ten points in favor of an idea or whatever, proceeding to nitpick the hell out of one in order to "disprove" the other nine,
4. Altering the basics of the debate or moving the goalposts of a standard of proof, forcing others to essentially go back to square one,
5. An extreme focus on the process of a debate, rather than the main point (e.g., if someone says the sky is blue, the troll/sealioner will focus discussion individually/serially on the words, meaning, and standard of proof for "sky," "is," and "blue" rather than coming out with a competing argument that the sky is a different color.

This is definitely a phenomenon that is hard to see at first because it is subtle, but once you notice it, it becomes obvious. One question to keep in mind is, "Is this poster just making others do a lot of work/citing/arguing without contributing a similar degree of effort?"
Ah, that's the stuff. Seems like Magiver is pretty guilty of it in the Kurds thread as well, although maybe that's straight up moving goalposts. And, does doorhinge debate any other way?

Thanks for the explanation!
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Old 10-16-2019, 10:45 AM
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As far as specifics, here is one:

In this thread, one poster says Trump is immoral. Another says Trump is criminal. D'Anconia responds," "What crimes has he been convicted of?"

D'Anconia clearly believes that Trump is not a criminal. That's fine, and I doubt anyone would say that she is trying to sealion/troll if she said something like, "This goes to far, innocent until proven guilty, etc." But rather than offer arguments and evidence that Trump is NOT immoral and criminal, she picks out one term, redefines debate onto the meaning of criminal, and basically throws the whole burden of debate onto the one poster to justify an argument that D'Anconia clearly doesn't have an open mind to, and has no intention of putting in any effort to establish a reasoned counter-argument, much less actually bother to state a contrary opinion.

Note also in that thread that D'Anconia never returns with another post, and the moderators actually defend the troll in question, leading me to the conclusion that some mods are equally clueless about sealioning, or just don't care.

Last edited by Ravenman; 10-16-2019 at 10:47 AM.
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Old 10-16-2019, 10:53 AM
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So, nothing to do with Nazis invading England?
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Old 10-16-2019, 11:12 AM
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Originally Posted by Ravenman View Post
All kidding aside, on this board the key things to pay attention to are:

1. Overuse of asking for cites,
2. Fixation on the use of a particular word, such as asking for precise definitions and then quibbling with them,
3. If someone provides ten points in favor of an idea or whatever, proceeding to nitpick the hell out of one in order to "disprove" the other nine,
4. Altering the basics of the debate or moving the goalposts of a standard of proof, forcing others to essentially go back to square one,
5. An extreme focus on the process of a debate, rather than the main point (e.g., if someone says the sky is blue, the troll/sealioner will focus discussion individually/serially on the words, meaning, and standard of proof for "sky," "is," and "blue" rather than coming out with a competing argument that the sky is a different color.
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Originally Posted by RitterSport View Post
I get that HD, for example, argues in bad faith, and moves goal posts relentlessly, but I don't see the sea lion aspect.
He's great at #2: denying Trump said something because Trump didn't use an exact phrase being discussed.
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Old 10-16-2019, 11:23 AM
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Thanks everyone for helping me understand the concept, eventually. OK, I honestly still don't see it in action on this board, from what I remember, this thread notwithstanding. I'll look more closely, but if someone could actually provide some examples (no joke), I'm interested.
HD is an exemplar.

In this thread he claims that the Kurds are not being murdered because the background stock footage used in one report was clearly used in error. He declines to consider that there may be other evidence or, more fundamentally, that the wrong choice of background footage doesn't negate what happened. This is when I began to understand sealioning.

In the same way (and ever so politely as I have learned sea lions usually are) in the Trump Impeachment thread he brings up the fact that it took Turkey something like 15 years to receive their first F-35 from the US in order to imply that the US was deliberately slowing the delivery to force Turkey's/Erdogan's hand (implying in turn that the same was being done legitimately with Ukraine). When it was pointed out that even the US military itself didn't take meaningful delivery of the plane for a similar amount of time, he responds by, well, by not.

As has been said, when given ten cites that counter his narrative or 'facts', he'll try to pick apart one but ignore the other nine, and somehow still claim that he's gotcha.

It is clear that he has no interest in sincere discussion. His mind is made up. He may or may not be aware of what he's doing but at the end of the day it doesn't matter. He has shown he is incapable of productive discourse.

In real life and (repeatedly) on this board, when confronted with new information, or when presented with a new perspective, I may change my mind. HD never.
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Old 10-16-2019, 12:38 PM
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Like anything else cool or funny that most people don’t know about, dimwitted wannabes will overextend the use of a term until it is basically meaningless simply so they can appear to be hip to something you aren’t hip to.

Then they will spend hours editing wikis and posting “authoritative”-seeming lists, complete with numbers, to justify their misuse of the term.

Last edited by WillFarnaby; 10-16-2019 at 12:40 PM.
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Old 10-16-2019, 12:41 PM
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Pissed off at being spotlighted much there, Willieboy?
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Old 10-16-2019, 12:49 PM
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Like anything else cool or funny that most people don’t know about, dimwitted wannabes will overextend the use of a term until it is basically meaningless simply so they can appear to be hip to something you aren’t hip to.

Then they will spend hours editing wikis and posting “authoritative”-seeming lists, complete with numbers, to justify their misuse of the term.
OP wanted to know what sealioning was. But you didn't answer that at all. I understand that the reason is that you don't feel like participating in a discussion, you just want to be a jagoff. I suppose a man's got to focus on his strengths.
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Old 10-16-2019, 12:52 PM
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I've never heard the term before today, but I've experienced it more than enough.

My idiot congressman's FB page is full of it from trump loyalists. "Give me evidence from reputable sources that show trump is guilty." And "you have no answer for my points! You are a coward democrat! " "Still waiting for your rebuttal."

I had read "never provide detailed answers to such a question, because you'll just be wasting your time. You'll never convince them", but you can't write that as a reply. They'll just say "you have nothing! I win!"

it's like arguing with a five year old. As long as they get the last word, they think they're winning. And they will ALWAYS get the last word in that type of argument. It's the nature of the thing.

Knowing it has a name won't stop it, but it will make my responses shorter!

Last edited by Just Asking Questions; 10-16-2019 at 12:53 PM.
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Old 10-16-2019, 01:09 PM
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I've never heard the term before today, but I've experienced it more than enough.

<snip>
Only popped in to say yours is the best username in this thread.
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Old 10-16-2019, 01:11 PM
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Pissed off at being spotlighted much there, Willieboy?
WillFarnaby isn't a troll or sealion. He's very forthcoming with his crazy ideas, and instead of trolling people by asking for cites for everything, he just goes off the deep end and calls his opponents racist Democrats or statists or warmongers.

What you're seeing here is a grudge that I posted something, and I'm a stupid racist Democrat statist warmonger. He follows me from thread to thread like an angry yet impotent wasp, trying to sting me with barbs I just never feel.
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Old 10-16-2019, 01:15 PM
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What you're seeing here is a grudge that I posted something, and I'm a stupid racist Democrat statist warmonger. He follows me from thread to thread like an angry yet impotent wasp, trying to sting me with barbs I just never feel.
But relentlessly following someone is also part of sealioning, which is not really appropriate to the other examples in this thread because it is a general message board where anyone can post anywhere. Only if you do deliberately follow someone would it be classic sealioning, which in WF's case would be appropriate, or even more classically, posting on someone's blog that they hadn't responded to a twitter comment. (Which isn't to say that the other examples aren't sealioning because definitions can drift, only that following someone around gets you extra sealiony points.)

But I agree that WF is still not a sealion because he isn't polite and doesn't pretend to engage.

Last edited by Ludovic; 10-16-2019 at 01:17 PM.
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Old 10-16-2019, 01:18 PM
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He follows me from thread to thread like an angry yet impotent wasp, trying to sting me with barbs I just never feel.
So, he is a troll, albeit an ineffectual one?
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Old 10-16-2019, 01:38 PM
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Like anything else cool or funny that most people don’t know about, dimwitted wannabes will overextend the use of a term until it is basically meaningless simply so they can appear to be hip to something you aren’t hip to.
Those Boomers sound like some real statists!
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Old 10-16-2019, 02:06 PM
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So, nothing to do with Nazis invading England?
(-:

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Old 10-16-2019, 02:53 PM
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5. An extreme focus on the process of a debate, rather than the main point (e.g., if someone says the sky is blue, the troll/sealioner will focus discussion individually/serially on the words, meaning, and standard of proof for "sky," "is," and "blue" rather than coming out with a competing argument that the sky is a different color.
As an example:

Quote:
Originally Posted by HurricaneDitka View Post
I do have a gripe with the whole "gun buyBACK" terminology though. It's wrong. The government isn't buying BACK people's guns. They never owned them in the first place. O'Rourke is proposing gun confiscation with some compensation.
I'm starting to think that he's reading this thread as an instruction manual.
  #31  
Old 10-16-2019, 03:23 PM
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Like anything else cool or funny that most people don’t know about, dimwitted wannabes will overextend the use of a term until it is basically meaningless simply so they can appear to be hip to something you aren’t hip to.

Then they will spend hours editing wikis and posting “authoritative”-seeming lists, complete with numbers, to justify their misuse of the term.
So, other posters in this thread, what would this count as? Threadshitting?
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Old 10-16-2019, 03:28 PM
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Whatever it's called at least he's doing in a forum where it's OK to call him a jagoff for it.
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Old 10-16-2019, 04:09 PM
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The original cartoon, as cited, has the woman denigrating the sealion for no reason at all. Doesn't seem like the most solid ground on which to build a meme.
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Old 10-16-2019, 05:20 PM
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The original cartoon, as cited, has the woman denigrating the sealion for no reason at all. Doesn't seem like the most solid ground on which to build a meme.
The sea lion jumped into someone else's conversation to act like a sea lion. The whole idea is that this is par for the course for sea lions, which is why, in the first place, she doesn't like them. It's like someone saying "I don't like assholes" and suddenly a wild asshole appears.
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Old 10-16-2019, 05:59 PM
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The sea lion jumped into someone else's conversation to act like a sea lion. The whole idea is that this is par for the course for sea lions, which is why, in the first place, she doesn't like them. It's like someone saying "I don't like assholes" and suddenly a wild asshole appears.
It's like someone saying "I don't like assholes" and suddenly an HD appears.

Fixed it for you.
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Old 10-16-2019, 07:59 PM
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If anyone wants to see it in action, HD is doing it right now in the Kurds thread in Great Debates. As Ravenman said, it's subtle but once you notice it, it's obvious.

We could add that thread to the Wiki page (with apologies to WF for editing a wiki page).
  #37  
Old 10-16-2019, 08:03 PM
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Hey, can someone really explain sealioning to me? I've now seen it referenced by several posters and several moderators, and I've looked up the original comic, but I don't see how it applies to the posts here where it's referenced.

I'm putting this in the Pit because accusations of sealioning are accusations of trolling, and I'm looking for examples and an explanation of how it fits. The posters here who are accused of it don't seem to be taking the position of the sea lion in the comic -- they aren't inviting people to debate, they're just debating in bad faith. I don't think I've ever seen an example that's displayed in the original comic, but maybe I'm missing some subtlety.

Here's the original comic: http://wondermark.com/1k62/

I'm off to work with limited opportunities to respond, but I'll read this with interest if I get responses.
Well, first you sneak up behind the sea lion while it's asleep and then...

Er, no idea. I heard it for the first time in a thread not to long ago. I'm so unhip I can' barely walk, apparently.
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Old 10-16-2019, 08:25 PM
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Well, first you sneak up behind the sea lion while it's asleep and then...

Er, no idea. I heard it for the first time in a thread not to long ago. I'm so unhip I can' barely walk, apparently.
He's doing it to you currently in the Kurds thread. I'm glad I'm not involved with that one -- my head would explode. It's weird -- he started out against the Syrian mess (unlike Magiver who was all in from the beginning) but I guess the cognitive dissonance of disagreeing with the Dear Leader is wearing him down. Anyway, back to the main topic of the OP.
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Old 10-16-2019, 08:27 PM
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The original cartoon, as cited, has the woman denigrating the sealion for no reason at all. Doesn't seem like the most solid ground on which to build a meme.
I really can't tell if this is meant as a brilliant example of sealioning, or if this is just a perfect example of sealioning. If the former, Kudos to you, you almost whooshed me, and did whoosh raventhief.
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Old 10-16-2019, 08:30 PM
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Originally Posted by Novelty Bobble View Post
The original cartoon, as cited, has the woman denigrating the sealion for no reason at all. Doesn't seem like the most solid ground on which to build a meme.
I think that's the point. It's not about the merits of the issue in itself, so antipathy toward sealions was deliberately chosen because it slightly surreal, lacking the intrinsic baggage of a real-life political issue. It's about the process of debate, the manner of engagement. The sealion has every right to feel aggrieved, but rather than stating his opposing view (or even righteous anger) in a straightforward manner, giving his reasons why sealions are perfectly agreeable creatures, he adopts an ostensibly uber-polite uber-reasonable demeanour insisting that they engage with him and expound their arguments in order to try to convince him of the merits of their view. But of course, it's a ridiculous notion that a sealion would be genuinuely open-minded about the idea that sealions are awful. The humans know that and don't want to engage, and his behavior deteriorates into into passive-aggressive stalking.

I think the essence of sealioning is simply that you are not remotely open-minded about an issue, you enter a debate in an ostensibly polite and reasonable manner, but with a bad-faith aim to simply make people waste time debating you extensively and pointlessly.

Last edited by Riemann; 10-16-2019 at 08:35 PM.
  #41  
Old 10-16-2019, 08:39 PM
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I really can't tell if this is meant as a brilliant example of sealioning...
I don't think so, obviously (given my reply above). I know I had the same initial impression that the cartoon was a bit odd, and only got the point later (I think) when sealioning was explained to me more explicitly.
  #42  
Old 10-16-2019, 08:40 PM
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https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sealioning

I too was unfamiliar with the term until a mod here told HD to knock it off. I looked up the term, and fuck me, they could have named it Hurricane Ditka'ing.
Over the years I've seen too much of that shit. People (assholes) keep asking for cites and proof and evidence, and then they ignore it and keep blabbering the same lying bullshit as before.

So, I stopped playing their game. I won't provide cites because they will be ignored. More cites will be "asked for". I won't give "evidence" because it will be ignored. More "evidence" will be asked for.

So now as soon as it starts, I jump right to the bile and insults. It's a huge time saver.
  #43  
Old 10-16-2019, 08:42 PM
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OP wanted to know what sealioning was. But you didn't answer that at all. I understand that the reason is that you don't feel like participating in a discussion, you just want to be a jagoff. I suppose a man's got to focus on his strengths.
I just keep that asshole on IGNORE. Him and a few others.
  #44  
Old 10-16-2019, 08:48 PM
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WRT Mr. Farnaby:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ravenman View Post
He follows me from thread to thread like an angry yet impotent wasp, trying to sting me with barbs I just never feel.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Skywatcher View Post
So, he is a troll, albeit an ineffectual one?
Well, he was effective enough at getting me to put him on my Ignore list, so he’s got that going for him...
  #45  
Old 10-16-2019, 08:50 PM
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But even when everyone is debating in good faith, it's pretty naive to enter any debate and ever expect to change the opinion of someone who has enough to conviction to support the opposing position. In general, the people you may influence in carefully laying out evidence and arguments are third party lurkers who may be less familiar with the issue - genuinely open-minded people are less likely to comment at all, I think. I don't think it's worth expending too much thought on somebody's motivations except when they are actively disrupting. Best to just participate when you think your contribution may be of value to another reader in context.

Last edited by Riemann; 10-16-2019 at 08:51 PM.
  #46  
Old 10-16-2019, 08:54 PM
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D’Oh!

Ninja’d by SteveG1!

Last edited by kaylasdad99; 10-16-2019 at 08:54 PM.
  #47  
Old 10-16-2019, 10:20 PM
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I just wish the wondermark person picked an animal with a less awkward name to gerund.
  #48  
Old 10-16-2019, 10:36 PM
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I just wish the wondermark person picked an animal with a less awkward name to gerund.
Platypussing?
Aardvarking?
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It may be because I'm a drooling simpleton with the attention span of a demented gnat, but would you mind explaining everything in words of one syllable. 140 chars max.
  #49  
Old 10-16-2019, 10:39 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by k9bfriender View Post
I really can't tell if this is meant as a brilliant example of sealioning, or if this is just a perfect example of sealioning. If the former, Kudos to you, you almost whooshed me, and did whoosh raventhief.
I freely admit I may have been whooshed.
  #50  
Old 10-16-2019, 10:55 PM
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I freely admit I may have been whooshed.
...also known as "raventhieving." You got raventhieved. Raventheft...ed?
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It may be because I'm a drooling simpleton with the attention span of a demented gnat, but would you mind explaining everything in words of one syllable. 140 chars max.
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