Sealioning (also spelled sea-lioning and sea lioning) is a type of trolling or harassment which consists of pursuing people with persistent requests for evidence or repeated questions, while maintaining a pretense of civility. It may take the form of "incessant, bad-faith invitations to engage in debate." The troll pretends ignorance and feigns politeness, so that if the target is provoked into making an angry response, the troll can then act as the aggrieved party. Sealioning can be performed by a single troll or by multiple ones acting in concert. The technique of sealioning has been compared to the Gish gallop and metaphorically described as a denial-of-service attack targeted at human beings.
The term originated with a 2014 strip of the webcomic Wondermark, where a character expresses a dislike of sea lions and a sea lion intrudes to repeatedly ask the character to explain. "Sea lion" was quickly verbed, the term gained popularity as a way to describe online trolling, and it was used to describe some of the behavior of supporters of the Gamergate controversy.
- Poland, Bailey (November 2016). Haters: Harassment, Abuse, and Violence Online. University of Nebraska Press. pp. 144–145. ISBN 978-1-61234-766-0.
- Sarkeesian, Anita (20 February 2015). "Anita Sarkeesian's Guide to Internetting While Female". Marie Claire. Retrieved 11 January 2018.
- Chandler, Daniel; Munday, Rod (3 March 2016). A Dictionary of Social Media. Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780192518521. OCLC 952388585.
- Sullivan, E.; Sondag, M.; Rutter, I.; Meulemans, W.; Cunningham, S.; Speckmann, B.; Alfano, M. "Can Real Social Epistemic Networks Deliver the Wisdom of Crowds?" (pdf). p. 21. Retrieved 28 January 2019 – via The PhilPapers Foundation.
- Lindsay, Jessica (5 July 2018). "Sealioning is the new thing to worry about in relationships and online". Metro.co.uk. Retrieved 13 September 2018.
- Stokel-Walker, Chris (18 August 2018). "How to handle a troll … and neuter a sea lion". The Guardian. Retrieved 13 September 2018.
- Johnson, Amy (2017). Gasser, Urs (ed.). "The Multiple Harms of Sea Lions" (PDF). Perspectives on Harmful Speech Online. Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society. p. 14. Retrieved 16 September 2018.
- "Wondermark #1062". 19 September 2014. Retrieved 3 March 2019.
- Maxwell, Kerry (6 October 2015). "Definition of Sea lion". Macmillan Dictionary. Retrieved 10 January 2018.
- Jhaver, Shagun; Ghoshal, Sucheta; Bruckman, Amy; Gilbert, Eric. "Online Harassment and Content Moderation: The Case of Blocklists". ACM Transactions on Computer-Human Interaction. 25 (2): 12. doi:10.1145/3185593.
- Massanari, Adrienne L. (2016). ""Damseling for Dollars": Toxic Technocultures and Geek Masculinity". In Lind, Rebecca Ann (ed.). Race and Gender in Electronic Media: Content, Context, Culture. Routledge. ISBN 9781317266129. OCLC 948090024.
For supporters [of Gamergate], however, the hashtag became an effective way to swarm the mentions of users perceived as not sharing their views, which became known colloquially as "sea lioning" (Malki, 2014).