Today, I used the Open Access Button

As a staff person in the library at the University of Pittsburgh, it’s not often that I get the chance to use the Open Access Button. We have so many subscriptions that I almost never hit a paywall (when I’m on campus, anyway). I realize that I am super lucky in this, and I often use my powers for the forces of good.

Then today, I got an e-mail announcement from the Association of Internet Researchers mailing list about a new issue of the International Journal of E-Politics on trolling. This looks like it’s right up my research interests’ alley. Also “the This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things scale”?! I must know!


Special Issue on Trolling 

Guest Editorial Preface
Jonathan Bishop (The Crocels Trolling Academy, Swansea, Wales, UK)


Dealing with Internet Trolling in Political Online Communities: Towards the This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things Scale
Jonathan Bishop (Centre for Research into Online Communities and E-Learning Systems, Swansea, Wales, UK)

Internet trolling has become a popularly used term to describe the posting of any content on the Internet which is provocative or offensive. This is different from the original meaning online in the 1990s, which referred to the posting of provocative messages for humourous effect. Those systems operators (sysops) who run online communities are finding they are being targeted because of abuse posted on their platforms. Political discussion groups are some of the most prone to trolling, whether consensual or unwanted. Many such websites ara open for anyone to join, meaning when some members post messages they know are offensive but legal, others might find grossly offensive, meaning these messages could be illegal. This paper develops a questionnaire called the This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things Scale (TIWWCHNT-20), which aims to help sysops better plan the development of online communities to take account of different users’ capacity to be offended, and for users to self-assess whether they will be suited to an online community. The scale is discussed in relation to different Internet posting techniques where different users will act differently.


Trolls Just Want To Have Fun: Electronic Aggression within the Context of e-Participation and Other Online Political Behaviour in the United Kingdom
Shefali Virkar (Department of Politics and International Relations, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK)

Over the last two decades, public confidence and trust in Government has declined visibly in several Western liberal democracies owing to a distinct lack of opportunities for citizen participation in political processes; and has instead given way instead to disillusionment with current political institutions, actors, and practices. The rise of the Internet as a global communications medium and the advent of digital platforms has opened up huge opportunities and raised new challenges for public institutions and agencies, with digital technology creating new forms of community; empowering citizens and reforming existing power structures in a way that has rendered obsolete or inappropriate many of the tools and processes of traditional democratic politics. Through an analysis of the No. 10 Downing Street ePetitions Initiative based in the United Kingdom, this article seeks to engage with issues related to the innovative use of network technology by Government to involve citizens in policy processes within existing democratic frameworks in order to improve administration, to reform democratic processes, and to renew citizen trust in institutions of governance. In particular, the work seeks to examine whether the application of the new Information and Communication Technologies to participatory democracy in the Government 2.0 era would eventually lead to radical transformations in government functioning, policymaking, and the body politic, or merely to modest, unspectacular political reform and to the emergence of technology-based, obsessive-compulsive pathologies and Internet-based trolling behaviours amongst individuals in society.


Freedom of Expression On-Line: Rights and Responsibilities of Internet Service Providers
Joanna Kulesza (Department of International Law, University of Lodz, Lodz, Poland)

This article analyses the contents of the universal right to free expression in the context of its applicability on-line. It starts off with a brief recapitulation of the origin, definition and interpretation of the right to free expression, derived from article 19 UDHR. It then goes on to name the three composite rights (the right to hold, impart and receive information and ideas) and details the limitations that may be put by states upon the individual exercise of those freedoms. States’ duty to protect free expression is than identified as their negative obligation to refrain from infringement as well as a positive one, to guarantee that human rights are “protected, respected and remedied” within national legal systems. Then the role of Internet Service Providers is introduced as the gate keepers of free expression in the information society. Different schemes for national ISP liability mechanisms are presented: the notice-and-take down procedure as well as Internet content filtering (preventive censorship). The paper goes on to criticize both mechanisms as enabling ISPs too much freedom in deciding upon the shape and scope of individuals’ right to impart and receive information.


Internet Regulation and Online Censorship
Nikolaos Koumartzis (Department of Journalism and Mass Communication, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Thessaloniki, Greece), Andreas Veglis (Department of Journalism and Mass Communication, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Thessaloniki, Greece)

This paper explores the development of Internet regulation policies worldwide since the birth of the World Wide Web, describes the advantages and disadvantages of the main filtering methods in use today, and presents two of the most important Internet Regulation Systems (IRS) implemented in authoritarian regimes and Western democracies around the globe. Moreover, the authors propose the conduction of well-designed surveys worldwide in order to measure Internet User’s opinion and use such results as a starting point for developing a fair “Internet Regulation System” (fair IRS) in the future. Last, the authors introduce a new online tool for conducting related surveys, project.


Unfortunately, I cannot access nor read any of these awesome-sounding articles, because they are locked up behind a paywall that even my institution cannot bypass. Perhaps one could say that this journal… t(r)olled me.