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Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Comment Type #29

THE MUNCHAUSEN

the Baron
Baron Von Munchausen was most recently memorialized by the incomparable Terry Gilliam in the movie The Adventures of Baron Munchausen. Baron Karl Friedrich Heionymus Munchausen was a real person, a soldier that lived in the 18th century who was inclined to tell amazing, unbelievable stories. And by unbelievable, I mean "stories that no sane person would even begin to consider credible." But they were wonderful, inventive, whimsical tales like visiting the moon and pulling himself out of the sea by his own bootstraps - the origin of that particular idiom.

In the context of commenting, a Munchausen comment is when you create long, involved, complex scenarios featuring a variety of different characters, either attacking or defending. This is done to get attention typically, or to attack someone that is particularly disliked. It often involves using Sock Puppet comments to support or assist the commenter.

Another kind of Munchausen comment is one that describes the commenter in spectacular fashion, giving them a wealth of expertise, experience, age, and credibility. Claiming military service, experience in the topic at hand, claiming to be older than one really is, having kids, being married, and so on. This can blur into the Boast comment, but is more than self aggrandizement, it is an attempt to be important and portray one's self as an authority, and done to such a degree that it becomes implausible. Few people outside explorer Sir Richard Burton can claim command of over a dozen languages, world travel, being a published writer, soldier, and lover all in one lifetime.

A hat tip to Tungsten Monk for this one, who describes the phenomenon this way, referring to an odd episode between the bloggers Seixon and Truthout's Jason Leopold:

I've seen sockpuppetry like this before, usually on the fan fiction boards. Over there, we call it "trolling." The kicker? It's the exclusive domain of emotionally insecure fifteen-year-old Goth girls who make up secondary identities and have those identities announce that the fifteen-year-old Goth girl has committed suicide because of all the "OMG MEEEAN!" people who have cruelly victimized her.

A favorite tactic for trolls is, yep, pretending to be somebody else attacking them in order to gain sympathy. Often, they construct elaborate fantasy scenarios, featuring over a dozen different characters- all them- either attacking or defending them. It's the ultimate "Look at me! Look at me!" and if well-done, it can get you a lot of attention. It can also get you kicked off the boards, but that's secondary to the thrill of announcing via a fictional second party that you've just collapsed with a wasting disease and had to be rushed to the hospital. (The complexity of their sagas has given rise to their other popular nickname- MIB, or Munchausen by Internet.)

Such a comment type is somewhat amusing, but ultimately pathetic and sad. Don't do this unless it's clearly intended for comedic effect. This is usually a form of Trolling and is unwelcome almost everywhere. Often it will get you banned, and always it will get you mocked.

This is part of the Profiles in Commenting series.

*UPDATE: Expanded on the definition
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3 Comments:

Blogger Anna Venger said...

Hmmm. You've mentioned sock puppets in relation to this kind of comment. As far as sockpuppetry goes, you've overlooked the possibility that those whom you are referring to as sock puppets may in fact have multiple personalities in which case it really is kind of like another person posting the comments, don't you think? ;) (And don't think it's not possible. There are some strange people on the web.)

12:02 PM, July 25, 2006  
Blogger Christopher Taylor said...

Hm, you know that is a possibility, although I think some of the more famous examples aren't in that category.

1:27 PM, July 25, 2006  
Blogger Anna Venger said...

I actually know someone who suffered from multiple personalities due to horrific abuse suffered in childhood. Bet that doesn't surprise you, does it? ;)

10:55 PM, July 25, 2006  

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