Trolling is commonly decried as a negative social activity redolent with malicious intent and provocation. However, an accomplished troll does not necessarily require a 4chan account; those who enjoy doing it in real-life do not get the benefit of a sockpuppet.
Reading the list below made me realise that I have been an inadvertent real-life troll in said situation. Oops.
Top 5 annoying questions at scientific meetings.
5. Question: “You know, our group has been working on this for a long time, and we found that…”
Really means: “How come you got invited to talk about this and not I?”
4. Question: “Have you tried using Y instead of X?”
Really means: “We are doing the same thing using Y, since we can’t afford to use X on our budget. But we haven’t had results in the past two years, and you totally scooped us. Is there any way we can actually get results using Y?”
3. Question: “So where do you think this work is going?”
Really means: “I was just scratching my head, and the microphone runner thought I was raising my hand and handed me the mike. Now that I actually have the mike, I might as well ask something”.
2. Question: “You know, I was just talking about this recently with Bigshot1 and Bigshot2, and they said that…”
Really means: “Hey, look at me! I’m important enough to have engaged both Bigshot1 and Bigshot2 together in a conference. (They couldn’t get away because it was the conference dinner with free booze).”
1. Question: “It seems that this whole field of…. is filled with very exciting prospects. We have been looking into…. and Bigshot3 has recently published in Science….(3-4 minutes more in the same vein) so my question is: what are your thoughts?”
Really means: “Muahahaha. By hijacking Q&A time, I got to present at this conference even though I was not invited to. Sucks to the Program Committee.”