C is for comic strip word creation: sealioning

“Sea-Lioning is an Internet slang term referring to intrusive attempts at engaging an unwilling debate opponent…”


There’s a nifty comic strip called Wondermark, which began in April 2003, created by David Malki ! -yes, he spell his name with an exclamation point. “It’s considered an honorific, and used in the same manner as ‘Jr.’ or ‘PhD’: there’s a single space before it. The exclamation point is not pronounced — though many have tried, often with hilarious results.”

He released The Terrible Sea Lion in September 2014, and it became an instant sensation. Less than a month later, “Sea Lion” had been verbed.

In October, it was initially adopted by gamers as “the experience of posting about #Gamergate and then being haunted by endlessly persistent entitled jerks.”

By December, the meaning had expanded. From Know Your Meme: “Sea-Lioning is an Internet slang term referring to intrusive attempts at engaging an unwilling debate opponent by feigning civility and incessantly requesting evidence to back up their claims.” Here’s why sealioning is bad.

The Encyclopedia Dramatica explains How to Troll Someone by “Sealioning”

Basically just calmly and politely question every single thing a person says and don’t stop. Make no assertions but refuse to leave them alone until they rage-quit. Don’t give them any excuse to say you are mad or accuse you of harassment, but respond to everything they say in a drawn-out fashion like a pseudointellectual 13-year old boy and end it with a request to further explain the contradictions in their position. This may not sound like trolling but it drives some people… mad.

I have been subject to that in my Times Union newspaper blog from time to time, but never here, even when the content was EXACTLY the same.

(Hat tip to Daniel Van Riper.)

David writes: “You can feel free to re-post any comics from this site on your blog, Facebook, Tumblr, etc. without asking permission, so long as you include a link back to wondermark.com as well!

See also: Arguing with idiots online wearing you down? YOU NEED FALLACY REF!

abc 17 (1)
ABC Wednesday – Round 17

Author: Roger

I'm a librarian. I hear music, even when it's not being played. I used to work at a comic book store, and it still informs my life. I won once on JEOPARDY! - ditto.

19 thoughts on “C is for comic strip word creation: sealioning”

  1. Never heard of the comic strip or the meaning of the phrase. BUT I do know people who do this! Now I will know how to derail them.

    abcw team

  2. That’s interesting Roger, Being a ‘Brit’ I didn’t ever get to see the cartoon strip, rather like the message that comes across…
    ‘Fallacy ref’, now that’s a good one.

    Best wishes,
    ABCW team.

  3. I like this kind of cartoon because it tells in a civilized way the fact that too many people judge about humans without knowing them or even want a conversation.
    Thank you Roger for entering my posts. At the moment I have an internet connection but yesterday the weather was such that I couldn ‘t get on internet..My daughter lives in the bush.

  4. Yesterday, I had to teach my students the different between a seal and a sea lion, and I actually don’t know.

  5. ha ha ha good one, which sorts of reminds me at how sometimes I tend to nit pick on my honey when I find I am so terribly bored with nothing much else to do except to bugged him silly. ha ha ha

  6. Well, now I have a word to describe what I have seen over and over on facebook! 🙂

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