U Novigradu je svečano otvoren novi Design Boutique hotel Rivalmare, a istog dana otvoreno je i turističko naselje „Narcisa ago – Čiže“ u Trvižu kod Pazina, u središnjoj Istri. Tako je Istra u jednom danu povećala svoje smještajne kapacitete, a važno je naglasiti kako su svi novi objekti visoke kategorizacije.Hotel Rivalmare is the only project from the Istrian County that received the green light in the tender intended for funding from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) in the amount of 7,12 million while the total value of the project is 17,62 million kuna. The hotel has 12 double rooms and one suite, with a total capacity of 26 beds. It is planned that the hotel will be open for at least ten months a year, and in order to enable that, it will have additional facilities such as wellness, fitness, sauna and bicycle rental.Minister Kliman also took part in the opening ceremony, emphasizing that the Croatian tourism sector relies heavily on the accommodation and catering offer and that one of the priorities is a further step forward in their quality. “Such investments, which represent development, innovation, raising tourism to a higher level, are exactly what we need in order for Croatian tourism to become even more recognizable, of better quality and more competitive on the world market.”Minister Kliman points out.According to the Tourism Development Strategy until 2020 and national programs, a particularly prominent investment in hotel facilities, such as swimming pools, wellness, sports and recreation, entertainment, etc., was detected, all with the aim of attracting in the pre- and post-season periods and strengthening the offer. during the main part of the season.On the same day, the tourist resort Čiže, the company Narcisa ago in Trviž in central Istria, was opened in Pazin. It is also a greenfield investment, considering that the resort was built on once barren agricultural land of 3 hectares. The resort has two holiday homes of 95m2 each, a boarding house with 5 double rooms, a swimming pool, a kitchen and a restaurant and a camping rest area. All facilities are built according to the 4-star quality standard. Total investments in this project amount to over HRK 8 million, of which the loan from the Croatian Bank for Reconstruction and Development (HBOR) amounted to slightly less than HRK 4 million.
On Saturday, in Smokvica on the island of Korčula, the 6th Days of Pošip were officially opened – an event that lasts 9 days and consists of the Open Day of wineries and the final evening, the Night of Wine.The Days of Pošip event is organized by TZO Smokvica, TZG Korčula, Municipality of Smokvica, City of Korčula, Hotel Aminess Lume from Brno and 13 wineries, producers of Pošip from Smokvica and Čara. The goal of the event is the additional branding of Pošip and the offer of this area, not only in Croatia, but also to show tourists the richness of the wine offer that the island and Smokvica and Čara have.This year’s, sixth in a row, Days of Pošip, began on Saturday with a grand opening, and continues with the Open Days of wineries, which last until Saturday, July 30. During this period, visitors can visit 8 wineries and enjoy the best of Pošip. The final Night of Wine will be held on 31.7. in the bay Zavalatica, where 13 winemakers, producers of Pošip, from Smokvica and Čara will present their wines. During the Open Day, the wineries offer leaflets with a list of wineries and branded tasting glasses with which guests can visit all open wineries.The tradition of viticulture and winemaking on the island of Korcula, and especially in Smokvica and Cara, dates back to the 4th century BC, from the time of the ancient Greeks. The development of viticultural production has taken place on the island through the centuries, and the result is high quality wines, primarily Pošip – one of the best Croatian white wines. Field work and wine production in Smokvica and Čari have always been a tradition and way of life of the local population, as evidenced by numerous pieces of evidence and endless areas of Smokvica and Čara vineyards. Today, these places boast top quality wines, widely known in Croatia and the world.Let’s sell Croatian and autochthonous wines to our tourists, not foreign wines that they have at home or can buy in supermarkets. They want to get to know and taste the local and indigenous we just have to offer it to them.
Family accommodation keeps alive almost 80.000 families and more than 250.000 citizens in Croatia 3. The Family Accommodation Forum (FOS) has become a central gathering place for family micro-entrepreneurs in tourism, and FOS is also the largest congress of the tourism profession in Croatia and the only congress of family accommodation in Europe. This year, the 3rd Family Accommodation Forum of the Croatian Chamber of Commerce will be held in Zadar from 15-17. November. 2016.FOS brings together the owners of catering services in rooms, apartments, holiday homes and camps in the household, as well as in boarding houses and rural households, and is interesting for all micro and small entrepreneurs who follow current changes and trends in family accommodation. 2014 registered participants participated in the first FOS 800 in Opatija, 2 participants in the 2015nd FOS 1.000 in Poreč, and we believe that the 3rd FOS 2016 in Zadar will be extremely well attended. Great importance of family accommodation, ie “short-term renting houses and holiday homes ”for the European Union was recently confirmed by the European Commission, which in its statement points out that this type of microeconomy can contribute to economic growth and employment in the EU, and that such activities must be responsibly considered and developed. European Holiday Home Association), an organization that brings together providers of accommodation in short-term accommodation in apartments and houses (family accommodation) but also associations of managers and platforms within the sector, welcomed the European Commission’s statement which made significant progress in understanding and recognizing the sector. At European level, this type of accommodation has 20 million beds. This contribution of citizens who independently help the national economy with their property has not been recorded anywhere in Europe, in fact, in many countries this activity is still unregulated and the volume of traffic is unknown, Pinezić points out, adding that we must keep what we have and what we have improved over the years. every public official should be aware that both his or her livelihood and income may depend tomorrow on the possibility of quickly and easily integrating his or her private property into the “sharing economy” system. Over 74.000 households are currently registered in family accommodation, which is growing from year to year, and with 500.000 beds it makes up 50% of the total accommodation capacity. “The Family Tourism Community of the Croatian Chamber of Commerce hopes to formally become a member of EHHA and thus share experiences and contribute to the development of family micro-entrepreneurship in tourism in the European Union. It is important to realize that the growing social, political and economic tensions in which Europe finds itself will not be able to overcome without a new economic model, without a new paradigm that will allow the rapid inclusion of all social and ethnic groups in the microeconomic systems of EU countries. capital companies in any sector, especially in tourism, will absorb high demand for long-term employment with a stable wage. “Start-up companies”, self-employment, free enterprise, “sharing economy”, are new models that function as catalysts for the deep crisis of the existing socio-economic system. Our family accommodation, which keeps almost 80.000 families, more than 250.000 citizens of the Republic of Croatia alive, but also contributes to the community through 2 billion Euros of income generated on the basis of private property, also found itself on this positive wave. ”Points out Nedo Pinezić, president of the Association of Family Accommodation at the Croatian Chamber of Commerce, and adds that in addition, HRK 150.000.000 is paid annually into the state budget based on a flat tax and the same amount into the budget of the Croatian National Tourist Board based on a flat tax.
The final version of the Master Plan for Tourism Development for Osijek-Baranja County was presented at the Osijek County Hall. Prior to the adoption of the Master Plan by the County Assembly, a consultation process with the interested public was opened. The entire work of making the study cost HRK 349.000,00, and it was entrusted to the company Horwath & Horwath consulting Zagreb dooIt is a key document that has the task of setting long-term goals for tourism development. This document was made in three phases, and each phase was individually verified by the Council for Continental Tourism of Osijek-Baranja County. In the first phase of the project, the focus was on analysis and assessment of the situation. The second phase refers to the development of a tourism development strategy, while the third phase includes an investment plan, destination competitiveness development activities, a marketing and sales system development plan, and a time plan.As tourist attributes of Osijek-Baranja County, the master plan identified Kopački rit, rural households, wines and wine cellars, the Drava and the Danube, gastronomy, culture of abundance, plains, Đakovo and the state stud farm, and the city of Osijek. The master plan envisages focusing the county’s market offer on short breaks (enogastronomy, rural tourism, culture, events, selective forms of tourism), touring, health and wellness.This document envisages the division of Osijek-Baranja County into four experiential zones: Podravlje, Baranja, Osijek and Danube, and Đakovo region. Each experiential zone has its own slogan that has the ambition to define it in the shortest possible way. Thus, Baranja is the Pannonian joie de vivre, Đakovo – the Golden Embroidery of Culture and History, Osijek and the Danube – the city park of culture and entertainment, Podravlje – active and fun Podravlje. As key development projects of the private sector, the masterplan defines a golf resort, Slavonske dvore / Pannonian resort, health and wellness resort, two wine and wellness hotels, fisherman resort and glamping resort.Osijek, TvrđaPanoramic balloon Slavonia as a unique tourist attraction Key public sector projects are the Slavonia Panoramic Balloon, the Slavonia Interpretation and Visitor Center, the Urban Rehabilitation of the County’s Small Town Centers, the expansion of the Đakovo State Stud Farm, the improvement of river cruise infrastructure and the regional brown signaling system at the regional level.The masterplan envisages that Slavonski dvori / Pannonian resort will be located in an attractive location with an authentic Slavonian-Pannonian ambience and scenography, ie in an endless plain. Alternatively, the resort can be located along river banks or in less elevated locations overlooking the Pannonian plains and landscape. The wine hotel should be located within the vineyards or on a hill overlooking the vineyards. In other wine-growing regions, it is common practice for hotels to be located in vineyards.In case the Slavonia panoramic balloon project is realized, it would be a unique tourist attraction in the Republic of Croatia. Steel cables would raise and lower a balloon filled with helium, and a panoramic basket would have a capacity of 30 people.Author: Mario Jukić
Email A biomarker found in the blood of alcohol users is significantly higher in binge drinkers than in those who consume alcohol moderately, according to a study by researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago. The biomarker, called phosphatidylethanol (PEth), could be used to screen young adults for harmful or heavy drinking such as binge drinking.Having performed extensive research on alcohol and its effects on health throughout her career, Mariann Piano, professor and head of the department of biobehavioral health science in the UIC College of Nursing, knew PEth is a biomarker associated with alcohol consumption, but it had never been measured in young adults.“Binge drinking is pervasive on college campuses and among young adults,” Piano said. “More alarming, though, is the regularity of binge drinking episodes: one in five students report three or more binge drinking episodes in the prior two weeks.” Share on Twitter The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism defines binge drinking as a pattern of drinking that brings a person’s blood alcohol concentration to 0.08 or above. This typically occurs when men consume five or more drinks in about two hours. For women, it’s consuming four or more drinks in the same time period.Piano and co-investigator Shane Phillips, associate professor of physical therapy, measured PEth in blood samples from student participants at two large Midwestern university campuses. Participants were part of a larger ongoing study examining the cardiovascular effects of binge drinking.Participants completed a 10-question self-assessment survey to determine their drinking patterns. After the questionnaires were reviewed, the subjects were divided into three groups: abstainers, moderate drinkers and binge drinkers.Abstainers had not had more than one drink per month in the past two to three years. For men, moderate drinking was defined as consuming three drinks or less per sitting one to two times per week in the past five years. For women, the number of drinks was two. Binge drinkers must have had at least two episodes of heavy drinking in one sitting in the last month.The majority of participants were Caucasian females. The majority of moderate and binge drinkers were Caucasian, while abstainers were predominantly Asian.Following the self-assessment, blood was drawn from each participant to measure blood alcohol levels and PEth. Five blood spots were placed on cards to be dried and measured against the whole blood samples in an off-site drug testing laboratory.“We discovered a significant correlation between PEth levels in both the whole blood and dried blood samples and the number of times subjects consumed four to five drinks in one sitting within the last 30 days,” Piano said.The PEth levels in the blood also positively correlated with the self-assessment survey scores, Piano said.“Using a biomarker of heavy alcohol consumption such as PEth along with self-reporting could provide an objective measure for use in research, screening and treatment of hazardous alcohol use among young adults,” she said. Share Pinterest LinkedIn Share on Facebook
Pinterest Share on Facebook Share Share on Twitter In a study published in PLOS One the team have proposed an entirely new approach to risk assessment for future violence. Previous approaches have relied on looking at risk factors that happen to be linked to, but may not cause, violence, for example, being young, male, of lower social class, with previous violent convictions.The new approach is instead based on identifying risk factors that have a clear causal link to violence, and include symptoms of major mental disorder, the patient’s living condition, and whether they are taking medication.Over 300 risk assessment instruments are currently used by psychiatrists, psychologists, and probation officers to assess the risks of violence and sexual offending among psychiatric patients, prisoners, and the general population. The authors say that producing risk assessment instruments has become an ‘industry’ and new ones are being produced annually. LinkedIn QMUL researchers found that none of these instruments have any advantage over those produced before and that their best predictions for future violence are incorrect 30 per cent of the time.First author Professor Jeremy Coid from QMUL’s Wolfson Institute of Preventative Medicine said: “Researchers have become too obsessed with predicting whether a patient will be violent in the future, rather than looking for the causes of why they become violent. While it is helpful to know that a patient has a high or low risk of being violent if you release them from hospital, this is not going to tell you what you should do to stop them being violent.”“It is more important to know which factors are causally related because these are the factors that must be the targets for future treatments and management interventions if the aim is to prevent violence happening in the future.”In the study, 409 male and female patients who were discharged from medium secure services in England and Wales were followed up after release into the community. They received assessments with two ‘state-of-the-art’ assessment instruments prior to release into the community, then after six and 12 months following discharge. Information on violence was gathered via individual case notes and a search of the police national computer.The team’s analysis suggests that the standard risk factors were poor in identifying who would be violent and who would not.When the researchers used a causal approach to confirm which risk and protective factors resulted in violence, the findings were very different. Symptoms of major mental disorder, the patients’ living condition, and whether they were taking medication, were highly important factors. The effects of violent thoughts, being in an unstable life situation, being under stress and unable to cope were also three to four times stronger using the causal model than using the traditional predictive approach.Professor Jeremy Coid added: “The future direction should be to identify risk factors that have causal relationships with violent behaviour and not those which predict violent behaviour. Risk factors, such as being young, male, of lower social class, with many previous violent convictions, may be good predictors, however, none of these factors are truly causal.” Email
Share LinkedIn Learning more about how synapses change their connections could help scientists better understand neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism, since many of the genetic alterations linked to autism are found in genes that code for synaptic proteins.Richard Cho, a research scientist at the Picower Institute, is the paper’s lead author.Rewiring the brainOne of the biggest questions in the field of neuroscience is how the brain rewires itself in response to changing behavioral conditions — an ability known as plasticity. This is particularly important during early development but continues throughout life as the brain learns and forms new memories.Over the past 30 years, scientists have found that strong input to a postsynaptic cell causes it to traffic more receptors for neurotransmitters to its surface, amplifying the signal it receives from the presynaptic cell. This phenomenon, known as long-term potentiation (LTP), occurs following persistent, high-frequency stimulation of the synapse. Long-term depression (LTD), a weakening of the postsynaptic response caused by very low-frequency stimulation, can occur when these receptors are removed.Scientists have focused less on the presynaptic neuron’s role in plasticity, in part because it is more difficult to study, Littleton says.His lab has spent several years working out the mechanism for how presynaptic cells release neurotransmitter in response to spikes of electrical activity known as action potentials. When the presynaptic neuron registers an influx of calcium ions, carrying the electrical surge of the action potential, vesicles that store neurotransmitters fuse to the cell’s membrane and spill their contents outside the cell, where they bind to receptors on the postsynaptic neuron.The presynaptic neuron also releases neurotransmitter in the absence of action potentials, in a process called spontaneous release. These ‘minis’ have previously been thought to represent noise occurring in the brain. However, Littleton and Cho found that minis could be regulated to drive synaptic structural plasticity.To investigate how synapses are strengthened, Littleton and Cho studied a type of synapse known as neuromuscular junctions, in fruit flies. The researchers stimulated the presynaptic neurons with a rapid series of action potentials over a short period of time. As expected, these cells released neurotransmitter synchronously with action potentials. However, to their surprise, the researchers found that mini events were greatly enhanced well after the electrical stimulation had ended.“Every synapse in the brain is releasing these mini events, but people have largely ignored them because they only induce a very small amount of activity in the postsynaptic cell,” Littleton says. “When we gave a strong activity pulse to these neurons, these mini events, which are normally very low-frequency, suddenly ramped up and they stayed elevated for several minutes before going down.”Synaptic growthThe enhancement of minis appears to provoke the postsynaptic neuron to release a signaling factor, still unidentified, that goes back to the presynaptic cell and activates an enzyme called PKA. This enzyme interacts with a vesicle protein called complexin, which normally acts as a brake, clamping vesicles to prevent release neurotransmitter until it’s needed. Stimulation by PKA modifies complexin so that it releases its grip on the neurotransmitter vesicles, producing mini events.When these small packets of neurotransmitter are released at elevated rates, they help stimulate growth of new connections, known as boutons, between the presynaptic and postsynaptic neurons. This makes the postsynaptic neuron even more responsive to any future communication from the presynaptic neuron.“Typically you have 70 or so of these boutons per cell, but if you stimulate the presynaptic cell you can grow new boutons very acutely. It will double the number of synapses that are formed,” Littleton says.The researchers observed this process throughout the flies’ larval development, which lasts three to five days. However, Littleton and Cho demonstrated that acute changes in synaptic function could also lead to synaptic structural plasticity during development.“Machinery in the presynaptic terminal can be modified in a very acute manner to drive certain forms of plasticity, which could be really important not only in development, but also in more mature states where synaptic changes can occur during behavioral processes like learning and memory,” Cho says.Littleton’s lab is now trying to figure out more of the mechanistic details of how complexin controls vesicle release. When the brain forms memories or learns a new task, it encodes the new information by tuning connections between neurons. MIT neuroscientists have discovered a novel mechanism that contributes to the strengthening of these connections, also called synapses.At each synapse, a presynaptic neuron sends chemical signals to one or more postsynaptic receiving cells. In most previous studies of how these connections evolve, scientists have focused on the role of the postsynaptic neurons. However, the MIT team has found that presynaptic neurons also influence connection strength.“This mechanism that we’ve uncovered on the presynaptic side adds to a toolkit that we have for understanding how synapses can change,” says Troy Littleton, a professor in the departments of Biology and Brain and Cognitive Sciences at MIT, a member of MIT’s Picower Institute for Learning and Memory, and the senior author of the study, which appears in the Nov. 18 issue of Neuron. Pinterest Share on Facebook Email Share on Twitter
Share Lower social cohesion among neighbors and higher crime rates contribute to higher rates of psychotic symptoms among urban children, a new study from researchers at Duke University and King’s College London finds.Previous research has also identified higher rates of psychotic symptoms among children in cities. The new study, available online this week in Schizophrenia Bulletin, is the first to examine why.Psychotic symptoms include paranoid thoughts, hearing or seeing things that others do not, and believing others can read one’s mind. Psychotic experiences in childhood are associated with schizophrenia and other psychiatric disorders in adulthood. Share on Twitter LinkedIn “We wanted to understand how the communities children live in are affecting them,” said Candice Odgers, an associate professor of psychology and public policy at Duke and senior associate director at the university’s Center for Child and Family Policy. “This study helps us identify specific features of neighborhoods that may be especially toxic for children’s mental health.”While a small minority of children overall experience persistent psychotic symptoms and eventual clinical diagnosis, those numbers are higher in cities. In fact, many studies have found a two-fold increase for psychosis in adults and children raised in urban areas, which is concerning given that more than two-thirds of the world’s population is expected to live in cities by 2050, according to United Nations reports.Researchers wanted to determine if certain conditions in urban areas cultivated psychotic symptoms in children. To that end, the study followed 2,232 British twins from birth to age 12. Children’s psychotic symptoms at age 12 were assessed through in-home interviews.Neighborhood features were captured by surveying local residents and constructing high-resolution geospatial profiles from administrative records and Google Street View images. The long-term study controls for family history of mental illness and for the mother’s history of psychotic symptoms.“We brought together our best measures of children’s mental health with innovations in geospatial assessments to test why children growing up in urban environments are at heightened risk for psychotic experiences,” Odgers said.The researchers found that 12-year-olds in urban neighborhoods were almost twice as likely to experience a psychotic symptom than those in non-urban areas. This held true when controlling for residential mobility, social economic status and family psychiatric history. Around 7.4 percent of children living in urban areas had experienced at least one psychotic symptom by age 12, compared to 4.4 percent living in non-urban areas.“Just because a child experiences a psychotic symptom does not mean he or she will develop full-blown mental health disorders,” said Helen Fisher, senior lecturer and MQ Fellow at King’s College London. “Many children grow out of them, but these unusual early experiences can lead to a range of problems later.”Researchers looked at four experiences at the neighborhood level to help determine the cause: supportiveness and cohesiveness between neighbors; the likelihood that neighbors would intervene if problems occurred in the neighborhood; disorder in the neighborhood, such as graffiti, vandalism, noisy neighbors and loud arguments; and crime victimization.Psychotic symptoms were more common in children who lived in areas with low social cohesion, low social control and high neighborhood disorder and whose family had been the victim of a crime.But low social cohesion and crime victimization seemed to have the largest impact. That combination of factors explained a quarter of the association between urban living and psychotic symptoms in children.The study could be used in developing social and clinical interventions for early psychotic symptoms to reduce costly mental health problems later down the line, the researchers said.“One of the encouraging findings is that social cohesion is changeable at the community level and not entirely dependent on economic resources,” Odgers said. “Many of the most cohesive neighborhoods in our study were also the most economically deprived.”Since childhood psychotic symptoms are relatively rare, with less than 6 percent of children in the study reporting them, the researchers recommend the study be replicated. Further research is also needed to better understand psychotic symptoms in later adolescence.The exact nature of the effect of urban neighborhoods on childhood psychotic symptoms is now important to uncover, said Joanne Newbury, a Ph.D. student at King’s College London and lead author of the study.“Do crime and threat increase children’s vigilance and paranoia?” Newbury asked. “Does prolonged exposure to neighborhood stressors undermine some children’s ability to cope with stressful experiences? Further research is needed to identify the social and biological mechanisms underlying our findings.” Share on Facebook Email Pinterest
Share Your gut may play a pivotal role in preventing the onset of Parkinson’s disease. And the reason may be its knack for sleuthing.Researchers at the University of Iowa have found that the gut may be key to preventing Parkinson’s disease. Cells located in the intestine spark an immune response that protects nerve cells, or neurons, against damage connected with Parkinson’s disease. Acting like detectives, the immune intestinal cells identify damaged machinery within neurons and discard the defective parts. That action ultimately preserves neurons whose impairment or death is known to cause Parkinson’s.“We think somehow the gut is protecting neurons,” says Veena Prahlad, assistant professor in biology at the UI and corresponding author on the paper published Aug. 30 in the journal Cell Reports. Pinterest LinkedIn Email Parkinson’s disease is a brain disorder that erodes motor control and balance over time. It affects some 500,000 people in the U.S., according to the National Institutes of Health. The disease occurs when neurons—nerve cells—in the brain that control movement become impaired or die. Normally, these neurons produce dopamine, and when they are damaged or killed, the resulting dopamine shortage causes the motor-control problems associated with the disease.Scientists have previously linked Parkinson’s to defects in mitochondria, the energy-producing machinery found in every human cell. Why and how mitochondrial defects effect neurons remain a mystery. Some think the impaired mitochondria starve neurons of energy; others believe they produce a neuron-harming molecule. Whatever the answer, damaged mitochondria have been linked to other nervous disorders as well, including ALS and Alzheimer’s, and researchers want to understand why.Prahlad’s team exposed roundworms to a poison called rotenone, which researchers know kills neurons whose death is linked to Parkinson’s. As expected, the rotenone began damaging the mitochondria in the worms’ neurons. To the researchers’ surprise, though, the damaged mitochondria did not kill all of the worms’ dopamine-producing neurons; in fact, over a series of trials, an average of only seven percent of the worms, roughly 210 out of 3,000, lost dopamine-producing neurons when given the poison.“That seemed intriguing, and we wondered whether there was some innate mechanism to protect the animal from the rotenone,” Prahlad says.It turns out there was. The roundworms’ immune defenses, activated when the rotenone was introduced, discarded many of the defected mitochondria, halting a sequence that would’ve led to the loss of dopamine-producing neurons. Importantly, the immune response originated in the intestine, not the nervous system.“If we can understand how this is done in the roundworm, we can understand how this may happen in mammals,” Prahlad says.The researchers plan to conduct more experiments, but they’ve got some interesting hypotheses. One is the intestinal immune cells are, according to Prahlad, “constantly surveilling mitochondria for defects.”Even more, those cellular watchdogs may be keeping their eyes on the mitochondria “because they don’t trust them,” Prahlad suggests. The reason has to do with the prevailing theory that mitochondria originated independently as a type of bacterium and were only later incorporated into the cells of animal, plants, and fungi as an energy producer.If that theory is correct, the intestinal immune responders may be especially sensitive to changes in mitochondrial function not only for its potential damaging effects, but because of the mitochondria’s ancient and foreign past as well.“How it’s happening is suggestive of the possibility that the innate immune response is constantly checking its mitochondria,” Prahlad says, “perhaps because of the bacterial origin of the mitochondria.” Share on Twitter Share on Facebook
“Fail at life. Go bomb yourself.” Comments like this one, found on a CNN article about how women perceive themselves, are prevalent today across the internet, whether it’s Facebook, Reddit or a news website. Such behavior can range from profanity and name-calling to personal attacks, sexual harassment or hate speech.A recent Pew Internet Survey found that four out of 10 people online have been harassed online, with far more having witnessed such behavior. Trolling has become so rampant that several websites have even resorted to completely removing comments. Pinterest Share By Justin Cheng, Ph.D Student in Computer Science, Stanford University; Cristian Danescu-Niculescu-Mizil, Assistant Professor of Information Science, Cornell University, and Michael Bernstein, Assistant Professor of Computer Science, Stanford UniversityJure Leskovec at Stanford University also contributed to this article.This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article. Many believe that trolling is done by a small, vocal minority of sociopathic individuals. This belief has been reinforced not only in the media, but also in past research on trolling, which focused on interviewing these individuals. Some studies even showed that trolls have predisposing personal and biological traits, such as sadism and a propensity to seek excessive stimulation.But what if all trolls aren’t born trolls? What if they are ordinary people like you and me? In our research, we found that people can be influenced to troll others under the right circumstances in an online community. By analyzing 16 million comments made on CNN.com and conducting an online controlled experiment, we identified two key factors that can lead ordinary people to troll.What makes a troll?We recruited 667 participants through an online crowdsourcing platform and asked them to first take a quiz, then read an article and engage in discussion. Every participant saw the same article, but some were given a discussion that had started with comments by trolls, where others saw neutral comments instead. Here, trolling was defined using standard community guidelines – for example, name-calling, profanity, racism or harassment. The quiz given beforehand was also varied to either be easy or difficult.Our analysis of comments on CNN.com helped to verify and extend these experimental observations.The first factor that seems to influence trolling is a person’s mood. In our experiment, people put into negative moods were much more likely to start trolling. We also discovered that trolling ebbs and flows with the time of day and day of week, in sync with natural human mood patterns. Trolling is most frequent late at night, and least frequent in the morning. Trolling also peaks on Monday, at the beginning of the work week.Moreover, we discovered that a negative mood can persist beyond the events that brought about those feelings. Suppose that a person participates in a discussion where other people wrote troll comments. If that person goes on to participate in an unrelated discussion, they are more likely to troll in that discussion too.The second factor is the context of a discussion. If a discussion begins with a “troll comment,” then it is twice as likely to be trolled by other participants later on, compared to a discussion that does not start with a troll comment.In fact, these troll comments can add up. The more troll comments in a discussion, the more likely that future participants will also troll the discussion. Altogether, these results show how the initial comments in a discussion set a strong, lasting precedent for later trolling.We wondered if, by using these two factors, we could predict when trolling would occur. Using machine learning algorithms, we were able to forecast whether a person was going to troll about 80 percent of the time.Interestingly, mood and discussion context were together a much stronger indicator of trolling than identifying specific individuals as trolls. In other words, trolling is caused more by the person’s environment than any inherent trait.Since trolling is situational, and ordinary people can be influenced to troll, such behavior can end up spreading from person to person. A single troll comment in a discussion – perhaps written by a person who woke up on the wrong side of the bed – can lead to worse moods among other participants, and even more troll comments elsewhere. As this negative behavior continues to propagate, trolling can end up becoming the norm in communities if left unchecked.Fighting backDespite these sobering results, there are several ways this research can help us create better online spaces for public discussion.By understanding what leads to trolling, we can now better predict when trolling is likely to happen. This can let us identify potentially contentious discussions ahead of time and preemptively alert moderators, who can then intervene in these aggressive situations.Machine learning algorithms can also sort through millions of posts much more quickly than any human. By training computers to spot trolling behavior, we can identify and filter undesirable content with much greater speed.Social interventions can also reduce trolling. If we allow people to retract recently posted comments, then we may be able to minimize regret from posting in the heat of the moment. Altering the context of a discussion, by prioritizing constructive comments, can increase the perception of civility. Even just pinning a post about a community’s rules to the top of discussion pages helps, as a recent experiment conducted on Reddit showed.Nonetheless, there’s lots more work to be done to address trolling. Understanding the role of organized trolling can limit some types of undesirable behavior.Trolling also can differ in severity, from swearing to targeted bullying, which necessitates different responses.It’s also important to differentiate the impact of a troll comment from the author’s intent: Did the troll mean to hurt others, or was he or she just trying to express a different viewpoint? This can help separate undesirable individuals from those who just need help communicating their ideas.When online discussions break down, it’s not just sociopaths who are to blame. We are also at fault. Many “trolls” are just people like ourselves who are having a bad day. Understanding that we’re responsible for both the inspiring and depressing conversations we have online is key to having more productive online discussions. Email LinkedIn Share on Twitter Share on Facebook