Donors making a difference – UC Foundation Annual Report

Scholarships for students with low vision, breast cancer research and new equipment specifically designed for teaching UC students – these are just some of the opportunities made possible thanks to generous donations of alumni, friends of UC and supporters.

Read more about how donors make a huge difference for our students, researchers and the wider community in the latest UC Foundation Annual Report.

Feeding the trolls? – The roles and benefits of online trolling

New University of Canterbury research into the behaviour of online trolls has revealed the many actors involved and a surprising number of benefits to trolling – and not just for the trolls.

When University of Canterbury (UC) doctoral student Maja Golf-Papez left a marketing career in Slovenia to start her research into mischief-making consumer behaviours among online trolls, she didn’t expect to be entertained or find benefits to trolling.

A postgraduate student with the College of Business and Law, Ms Golf-Papez initially thought trolling and cyberbullying were similar. She has come to realise they describe two distinct behaviours that need to be differentiated.

“Trolling is when someone is deceptive and mischievous. A troll typically has no intent to cause harm but is trying to provoke a reaction. Whereas cyberbullying is targeted with the purpose of causing harm to an individual person.”

In the pursuit of understanding trolling behaviour, she sought out trolls to interview. As she did so, she was trolled many times and found trolls had been removed or banned from pages before she got a chance to interact with them.

“Good trolls are elusive and, I find, highly intelligent characters. They know how to look after themselves and operate within but on the fringes of the law.”

Once she tracked them down, Ms Golf-Papez started her data collection by interviewing celebrity trolls.

As with other groups in all areas of society, a certain level of celebrity has been attached to individuals in the trolling community. Some of these trolls have half a million followers, who are eager to see what they’ll do next, encourage their behaviour, dress themselves as targets and ‘reward’ trolls in the online currency of likes, comments and reactions, both negative and positive.

From these interviews, five case studies were established highlighting different types of trolling behaviour across different channels.

As another part of her research, Maja interacted with some targets, bystanders and online moderators, and conducted more than 300 hours of online observation of trolling across different channels, including gaming platforms, forums, social media channels and news platforms.

Ms Golf-Papez has published a paper about her research in the Journal of Marketing Management and says she has been surprised by the benefits of trolling she has found. A number of trolls are gaining financial benefits from view rates and advertising space as well as conventional business transactions, she says.

“Some more risky brands are paying trolls to pose as customer service reps to respond to complaints and questions in a way the brand couldn’t or wouldn’t usually.”

In a society constantly in need of entertainment, Ms Golf-Papez’s research considers whether trolling has become just another form of entertainment. While audience members find trolling amusing, some trolling acts cause problems for the targets, firms and online moderators.

Ms Golf-Papez hopes her findings will help to differentiate the behaviours of trolls and cyberbullies, inform education around what, if anything, targets or online moderators should do in response to online trolls and ultimately inform policy makers when they are writing laws around online behaviour.

Her academic supervisor and paper co-author Associate Professor Ekant Veer says Ms Golf-Papez’s research explores a relatively underdeveloped consumer practice – online mischief making.

“We know little about what motivates online mischief makers, their drivers, and the community that surrounds them, supports them and encourages them in their practices.”

Associate Professor Veer says Ms Golf-Papez’s work has the potential to show not only that actor network theory can play a real role in understanding online phenomena like trolling, but also that trolling is a multifaceted practice that has both positives and negatives.

“Her work is already challenging the way trolls are defined and the way in which they are different from cyberbullies or other online negative behaviours.

“UC has provided a place and space for innovative, alternative and often risky research like this, which will mean our researchers will continue to achieve more than in a restrictive system.”

Visit of Vice-Chancellor designate

The Vice-Chancellor designate Professor Cheryl de la Rey is planning on a visit to Christchurch during the week commencing 9 July.

She will take the opportunity to familiarise herself with the city and spend some personal time to gain a better understanding of the wider Christchurch environment.

During her visit Cheryl will take the opportunity for a campus tour and observe Open Day | Rā Tōmene 2018 on Thursday 12 July.

She will also attend other meetings including with Council, Senior Management Team and Academic Board during her visit.

A formal welcome and induction will occur when Cheryl takes up her responsibilities in February 2019.

REANNZ membership cancelled from 1 July

Following a review of the cost, and UC’s use of the REANNZ network in New Zealand, the University has made the decision to cancel our REANNZ membership from 1 July 2018.

This decision has not been taken lightly, we have been discussing this situation for some time in the hope we would be able to secure a membership package that was fit for purpose, and cost competitive.

Unfortunately, we have been unable to secure this support from REANNZ and as a result, we will experience a service change from 1 July 2018.

What this means for you;

General Internet
For the past three months UC’s general internet has been provided through 2degrees, not REANNZ. This test has confirmed healthy connectivity standards and we are confident that our ongoing overall connections will be of good quality.

If you do come across any issues, please let us know through the IT Service Desk.

In most cases when you to go to a site that you had previously accessed through Tuakiri, there will be other sign up options. Generally this is through an email address, just as you would do on any other site in the world. Please use this option from 1 July if it is available. We are actively working through a list of more than 40 sites that are currently accessed through Tuakiri.

From 1 July 2018, Eduroam will not work at any location outside of our campus, i.e. when you visit another University either in New Zealand, or when you go overseas. Please use other forms of connecting such as a guest or visitor wireless. If you are in New Zealand you can also tether to your mobile.

When overseas it’s recommended you only tether to your mobile if it’s an emergency, as the international costs are prohibitive.

Research Network Connectivity
Please contact the ITS Service Desk regarding any specific connections to research networks overseas, or other specialist needs, and someone from the network team will make an appointment to discuss options with you in person.

We appreciate this change may inconvenience some users and we apologise for that. As the University continues to recover we are hopeful that services will be restored in due course. Until such time please understand that ITS will work to make this transition as comfortable as possible.

We appreciate your understanding and support.

For any further questions please contact Elaine Woo, Server and Network Team Leader.

Phone: 64+3+3693880 extn 93880
Mobile: +64 27 450 4079

Welcome to Semester Two Erskine Visiting Fellows

The Erskine Programme is pleased to announce the arrival of the first two visiting fellows for Semester Two 2018.

Joining us next week are:

  • Associate Professor Russell Lang from Texas State University, USA who is visiting the School of Health Sciences; and
  • Professor Octavio Manero-Brito from The National Autonomous University of Mexico, Mexico who is visiting the School of Mathematics and Statistics.

We hope they and their families have a wonderful time at UC.


Keeping UC staff informed