Is Rickrolling Devaluing Your Social Currency?

from the welcome-to-the-life-of-a-griefer dept

If you’re reading this site, you probably know what Rickrolling means. However, did you ever think that people would be discussing how Rickrolling devalues your online currency? Yes, according to the Guardian, it’s important to realize that Rickrolling is bad for you. The argument is pretty straightforward. Online, links are a form of “currency.” If you provide good links, it increases your value to a community, but if you provide bad links… well then you lose a lot of value. And what kind of link could be worse than one that tricks you into watching a Rick Astley video (don’t answer that)? Of course, I would think that’s all rather obvious. Being a jerk and tricking people into clicking on bad links isn’t likely to gain you many friends… except this ignores the context by which Rickrolling first came to prominence.

When it first came around, it was actually a way of gaining social currency within a specific community, where tricking others was seen as a part of the game. So, yes, in normal, polite company, being a jerk via Rickrolling might get people pissed off at you. And, these days, the meme is so played out that it might just get people to wonder why you’re still living in 2007. However, to automatically assume that it “devalues” your social currency ignores the context in which it’s used.

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Comments on “Is Rickrolling Devaluing Your Social Currency?”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

you know, It always surprised me the fame the three big name pictures got (Goatse, Tubgirl, and the Harlequin Fetus used to be referred to collectively as the “unholy trinity”) by the same method as the rick astley video got, but now that video is common the really messed up stuff like BME pain Olympics (DON’T LOOK THAT UP IF YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT IT IS!) exists people don’t trick others into watching them much the way they did with goatse et all.

Dav says:


This is very true but the context in which you rickroll is also very important.

If you were to rickroll in a serious political discssion for instance your community value would decreace.

If on the other hand you were to rickroll in a joke/spam/pointless discussion then your detriment in value will be minimal. Also if you confine yourself to pulling pranks like this to the pointless/spam then your linking value will only fall in this arena rather then in the more serious discussions.

Also remember that rickrolling is still amusing when done in the appropriate place and time.

Matt says:

currency only to those who find value

Some websites are known to have tech savvy users, and so linking to lemoparty/goatse/rickroll has no effect, in fact it may value that person because of the social value of humor.

Fark forums, somethingawful forums, are both like that.

Also, unless someone does this kind of thing constantly, people’s memory will tend to be like a goldfish. A single user in a swarm of users tends to not be memorable enough just due to a rickroll.

eball says:

“When it first came around, it was actually a way of gaining social currency…”
Mike, I gotta disagree with you there, simply because the community on which it started is, of course, all anonymous. There’s still an odd sort of value, but it doesn’t have that value where you decide you will or won’t click on links from one particular person.
But as soon as I read the headline in RSS, I thought of a friend of mine who was very late jumping on the bandwagon. He posted a Myspace bulletin claiming to go to some video, and instead of using an unidentifiable youtube link, it went to And, of course, Myspace now takes you to a big warning page when you click external links, so… it wasn’t the most convincing trick. Point being, he’s a friend of mine IRL, but any online interaction we have is greatly devalued now, and I usually ignore the hell out of him. He’s a good guy in person, but a total jackass online, and that little “trick” really put me off from seeing what he has to say.

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