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Online discussions about politics can be very nasty. But why is that? Researchers have proposed two theories. One talks about the disagreement over ideas. And the second theory is that people see others as rivals. But there is a third theory called the “troll hypothesis”. It suggests that mean people are mean, regardless of the topic. To see if this is right, we analyzed comments on Reddit. We found that people who often argue and are rude in political discussions are also mean when they talk about other things. Plus, those who make comments on communities of both political sides turn out to be the meanest! So, online discussions get mean largely because of these people rather than the topic.

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Scientific topic
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May 2024

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