Bettina Kluge

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Bettina Kluge (Universität Bielefeld)

“Es una lástima que trolls anónimos estén ensuciando el blog con comentarios racistas y ofensivos” – the collaborative construction of an outsider in the blogosphere of Latin American immigrants to Québec, Canada

In an ongoing project on blogs about migration to Québec, written by francophone and hispanophone migrants and / or migrants-to-be, interaction between bloggers and their readers typically is very polite und supportive (Kluge 2011, Frank-Job / Kluge in press). Especially among Latin American bloggers, new members to the emerging community of practice (Wenger 1998) are welcomed enthusiastically by older members and helped along in the immigration process, receiving crucial emotional support during this difficult, life-changing transition period (McNeill 2005, Stefanone / Jang 2008). The overall tone of discussion in the community of practice is very warm and pleasant.

All the more disturbing to members, therefore, is a blogging incident that will be analyzed as a case study of the collaborative construction of an outsider, who does not ‘fit into the mould’ and is ultimately rejected by the community.

Responding to the second post of an Argentine blogging family (consisting of Terry, Naty and their child Nicolás) who hope to emigrate to Québec soon, an anonymous blogger tells them to stay in Buenos Aires and to reconsider their decision to emigrate to Québec. His very aggressive statement is answered in kind by Terry, and subsequently, also by other readers of the blog. They all concur that while admittedly not everything is perfect in Québec, Anonymous has by far crossed the line of polite behavior and cannot be taken seriously. He is ultimately labeled a troll, a notorious troublemaker (Herring et al. 2002). All in all, the original post has received 35 comments, over a time period of more than a year. Also, later postings on the same blog refer back to the debate with Anonymous, showing the profound effect the debate had on bloggers and readers alike.

In this case study, I will highlight the effects of public face management in multiparty interaction in social media. Politeness theory is thus seen as attention to the face of others, but also of the speaker’s own face (Goffman 1959). Special focus will be on readers’ reaction to the debate, who feel compelled to voice their opinion and collaboratively construct the negative public image of Anonymous by taking side with Terry and Naty.


Frank-Job, Barbara / Kluge, Bettina (in press): "Die kooperative Konstruktion von Identitäten im virtuellen Kommunikationsraum des Web 2.0: Blogs zum Thema Migration nach Québec ", in: Gerstenberg, Annette, Dietmar Osthus and Claudia Polzin-Haumann (Hg.): Langage et sphère publique dans des espaces réels et virtuels. Actes du VII Congrès des Francoromanistes en 2010, Université Duisburg-Essen. Bonn: Romanistischer Verlag

Goffman, Erving (1959): The presentation of self in everyday life. Garden City, NY: Doubleday Anchor.

Herring, Susan C., Kirk Job-Sluder, Rebecca Scheckler and Sasha Barab (2002): "Searching for safety: Managing "trolling" in a feminist discussion forum", in: Center for Social Informatics Working Papers, URL: (konsultiert am 22.12.2011)

Kluge, Bettina (2011): "Mi vida en otro lado – Identitätskonstitution in den Blogs lateinamerika­ni­scher Migranten in Québec", in: Gugenberger, Eva, and Kathrin Sartingen (Hg.): Hybridität, Transkulturalität und Kreolisierung: Innovation und Wandel in Kultur, Sprache und Literatur Latein­amerikas. Wien: LIT-Verlag, 193-219.

McNeill, Laurie (2005): "Genre under construction: the diary on the internet", in: Language@internet 1/2005, (konsultiert am 22.12.2011).

Stefanone, Michael / Jang, Chyng-Yang (2008): "Writing for friends and family: the interpersonal nature of blogs", in: Journal of computer-mediated communication 13: 123-140.

Wenger, Etienne (1998): Communities of practice: learning, meaning and identity, Cambridge.