Tag Archives: Jonathan Bishop

Character theory (media)

Character theory. A character theory is used for understanding media, such as print or electronic media texts or productions such as films and plays. It is useful for analysing and understanding media in which people take on the role of an actor or social actor. Character theories are popular with academics teaching and researching media and film studies. They assist in the appreciation of the structure of different types of media and the roles of the characters, fictional or otherwise that are portrayed in them. Character theories are often based on stereotypes, and the different characteristics that make them up can either be used for positive or negatives purposes.

Goffman’s character theory

Erving Goffman’s character theory suggests that there are four main types of broad character in a media text or production:

  • The protagonist (leading character)
  • The deuteragonist (secondary character)
  • The bit player (minor character whose specific background the audience is not aware of)
  • The fool (a character that uses humor to convey messages)

Propp’s Narrative Theory

Vladimir Propp developed a character theory for studying media texts and productions, which indicates that there were 7 broad character types in the 100 tales he analysed, which could be applied to other media:

  • The villain (struggles against the hero)
  • The donor (prepares the hero or gives the hero some magical object)
  • The (magical) helper (helps the hero in the quest)
  • The princess (person the hero marries, often sought for during the narrative)
  • The false hero (perceived as good character in beginning but emerges as evil)
  • The dispatcher (character who makes the lack known and sends the hero off)
  • The hero (victim/seeker/paladin/winner, reacts to the donor, usually marries the princess)

Bartle’s character theory

Richard Bartle’s character theory was one of the earliest dedicated to the Internet, and is still used for analysing early virtual worlds today. It took the following form:

  • Achievers (preferred to gain “points,” levels, equipment and other concrete measurements of succeeding in a game)
  • Explorers (preferred to be discovering areas, creating maps and learning about hidden places)
  • Socializers (preferred to be interacting with other players, and on some occasions, computer-controlled characters with personality)
  • Killers (preferred to depart from the norm of being “the good guy” who comes to save the day and play on the side of evil or conquest)

Campbell, Fletcher and Greenhill’s character theory

John Campbell, Gorden Fletcher, and Anita Greenhill developed a character theory for analysing online communities, based on tribal typologies. In the communities they investigated they identified three character types:

  • The Big Man (offer a form of order and stability to the community by absorbing many conflictual situations personally)
  • The Sorcerer (will not engage in reciprocity with others in the community)
  • The Trickster (generally a comical yet complex figure that is found in most of the world’s culture)

Bishop’s character theory

Jonathan Bishop developed a character theory for analysing online communities, partly utilizing Campbell et al.’s character theory. In the online community he investigated, he found a number of character types, which can be applied to various usages of online communities, including Internet trolling.

  • Lurker (makes silent calls by accident, etc., clicking on adverts or ‘like’ buttons, using ’referrer spoofers’, modifying opinion polls or user kudos scores).
  • Elder (out bound member of the community, often engaging in “trolling for newbies”, where they wind up the newer members often without questioning from other members).
  • Troll (takes part in trolling to entertain others and bring some entertainment to an online community).
  • Big Man (does trolling by posting something pleasing to others in order to support their world view).
  • Flirt (takes part in trolling to help others be sociable, including through light ’teasing’).
  • Snert (takes part in trolling to harm others for their own sick entertainment).
  • MHBFY Jenny (takes part in trolling to help people see the lighter side of life and to help others come to terms with their concerns).
  • E-venger (does trolling in order to trip someone up so that their ‘true colours’ are revealed).
  • Chat Room Bob (takes part in trolling to gain the trust of others members in order to exploit them).
  • Ripper (takes part in self-deprecating trolling in order to build a false sense of empathy from others).
  • Wizard (does trolling through making up and sharing content that has humorous effect).
  • Iconoclast (takes part in trolling to help others discover ‘the truth’, often by telling them things completely factual, but which may drive them into a state of consternation. They may post links to content that contradicts the worldview of their target).

Further reading

  • Bishop, J. (2008). Increasing Capital Revenue in Social Networking Communities: Building Social and Economic Relationships through Avatars and Characters. In: Romm-Livermore, C. (ed.) Social Networking Communities and eDating Services: Concepts and Implications. Hershey, PA: IGI Global.
  • Bishop, J. (2012). Scope and Limitations in the Government of Wales Act 2006 for Tackling Internet Abuses in the Form of ‘Flame Trolling’. Statute Law Review 33 (2), 207-216.
  • Bishop, J. (2014). Representations of ‘trolls’ in mass media communication: a review of media-texts and moral panics relating to ‘internet trolling.’ The International Journal of Web-Based Communities 10(1), 7-24.
  • Bishop, J. (2013). The Psychology of Trolling and Lurking: The Role of Defriending and Gamification for Increasing Participation in Online Communities Using Seductive Narratives. In: J. Bishop (Ed.) ‘Examining the Concepts, Issues, and Implications of Internet Trolling.’ Hershey, PA: IGI Global. ISBN 1466628030.
  • Campbell, J., Fletcher, G. & Greenhil, A. (2002). Tribalism, Conflict and Shape-shifting Identities in Online Communities. In the Proceedings of the 13th Australasia Conference on Information Systems, Melbourne Australia, 7–9 December 2002
  • Campbell, J., Fletcher, G. and Greenhill, A. (2009). Conflict and Identity Shape Shifting in an Online Financial Community, Information Systems Journal, (19:5), pp. 461–478.
  • Goffman, E. (1959). The presentation of self in everyday life. Garden City, NY: Doubleday
  • Hinton, P. (2000. Stereotype, Cognition and Culture. Psychology Press. ISBN 0-415-19866-6
  • Propp, V.I.A. (1969). Morphology of the Folk Tale. Texas: University of Texas Press.
  • Richard Bartle (1996). Hearts, Clubs, Diamonds, Spades: Players Who suit MUDs.

Reality Bites: The real profile of an Internet Troll and her enablers

Reality Bites: The real profile of an Internet Troll and her enablers

Isaac T. Quill

Meme Image

Reality Bites - The Real Profile Of An Internet Troll And Her Enablers. By: Isaac T. Quill (Twitter Handle: ‏@TicklishQuill)

Meme Full Text

If one pays attention to popular culture and the mass media, Internet trolls are unemployed young men in their 20s at home in their parents’ basement spending their time posting abusive messages online.

This study finds that this stereotype, whilst common in the mass media, is not representative of the empirical data collected. The research found that most trolling on blogs and defriending is done by women and because of other women.

It finds that the people who troll are unlikely to be youths not in education, employment or training (NEETs), but more likely to be those in wealthy areas who are bored.

It equally finds that those who troll, or indeed troll-call, are likely to show the symptoms of antisocial personality disorder and histrionic personality disorder respectively.

With the media focussing on represent young people as trolls, the research finds that the existence of benevolent sexism in the police perpetuates this myth, meaning women are getting more favourably treatment, either as trolls or troll-callers.

In fact the research finds trolls are as likely to be men or women…


Isaac T. Quill (2015). Reality Bites: The real profile of an Internet Troll and her enablers. Available online at: http://twitter.com/TicklishQuill/status/661129407856250880


Jonathan Bishop (2015). The Misrepresentation of Digital Teens as Trolls: Considering Political, News and Feminist Agendas. Invited Speech to the 13th International Conference on E-Society (E-Society 2015), Madeira, Portugal, 14-16 March 2015.

Mega Troll

Mega Troll, n. A Mega Troll is an Internet troller who provokes others and is fully aware of the consequences of what they are doing, and enjoy the attention whether it is good or bad.

Mega Trolls are not only comfortable with trolling, but also being trolled. Mega Trolls can take any abuse thrown their way and it have no effect on them. They are the trolling equivalent of a ‘Political Animal,’ which is a politician who can take the pressures of being in the public eye and be subject to unfavourable as well as favourable evaluation on an ongoing basis.

The video above is an interview between Jonathan Bishop and BBC 5 Live presenter Nicky Campbell. Towards the end of the interview Jonathan Bishop attempts to explain the concept of being a Mega Troll. Using the example of Caroline Criado-Perez he says how those who put themselves in the public eye should enjoy any of the abuse they get, even references to “rape”, because it is a sign that people care about their opinion enough to troll them.

Jonathan Bishop

Bishop, Jonathan. Jonathan Bishop is an information technology executive, researcher and writer, with a special interest in Internet trolling. Bishop first published on Internet trolling in a presentation to The First International Conference on Faith, Spirituality and Social Change. He is recognised as the most published researcher in the world on Internet trolling and as the first academic to have an edited book published on Internet trolling – Examining the Concepts, Issues and Implications of Internet Trolling.

Jonathan Bishop is known to speak his mind on Internet trolling and is not afraid to say things that are unpopular if he believes them to be true. This may make him a professional Mega Troll, as he can take the good press and the bad press that comes from being outspoken on trolling.

Expert Witness Services

If you are looking for an expert witness on Internet trolling, Jonathan Bishop might be able to help. He has experience of bringing lawsuits for Internet trolling since 2006, and has had research on Internet trolling law published by leading journals, including the Statute Law Review, the International Review of Law, Computers and Technology as well as the International Journal of Cyber Criminology.

Jonathan Bishop has received training in expert witness from Bond Solon, who are the UK’s foremost expert witness training provider. Jonathan is particularly interested in trolling cases where free speech is being challenged, and is also able to give expert testimony as a jointly instructed expert witness. Why not get in touch with Jonathan Bishop LLM, FBCS CITP today? You can find Jonathan’s contact details on his website.

Letter by Jonathan Bishop To Geraint Davies Regarding Steve Rotheram and Internet trolling

Internet trolling

Jonathan Bishop

Correspondence with UK on Internet Trolling (Steve Rotheram Debate)


Jonathan Bishop (2012). Internet trolling. Correspondence to Geraint Davies MP (24 September 2012).

Quotation by Jonathan Bishop on V-Drinks’s V-hab


There are a huge number of laws on the statute books dedicated to data misuse, many introduced by New Labour. Politicians should start encourage law enforcement authorities to use more of their budgets for tackling trolling instead of just talking tough to woo voters


Jonathan Bishop

Quotation by Jonathan Bishop on Liam Stacey


The case of Liam Stacey is the perfect example of the technophobia in the justice system. The judge wanted to make an example of him, when similar examples aren’t made of the drunken and racist activities that go in daily in our towns and cities up and down the country. Liam Stacey was a victim of the very time he was in based on a media moral panic – it could have been anyone, but it unfortunately happened to him.


Jonathan Bishop

Quotation by Jonathan Bishop on Internet Trolling


Trolling is the posting of messages or content on the Internet that are either provocative or offensiveA line needs to be drawn between that which is free speech and that which is grossly offensive, indecent, obscene or menacing, and a lot more needs to be done to strike that balance.


Jonathan Bishop