The phenomenon is not dissimilar to this: Word for "butting in on the Net", yet it wouldn't necessarily be considered trolling.

Person A replies to a comment/post by Person B on the internet. The conversation might be clearly between Person A and Person B, and it may be a debate/disagreement/point of contention.

As the conversation continues, Person C and Person D (who may be unknown to one or both parties)have been observing the exchange and decide to join the conversation, taking the side of the person they agree with most. In this case, they side with Person B.

So now Person A is having an exchange with Person B, C & D simultaneously.

It's basically 3 against 1. The 'spirit' of the original conversation is now dead, and it has now become a firefight for Person A and more of a witch-hunt for Person's B, C & D.

I see this happening in social media every day. It's a nasty pattern.

  • Teh Internetz . . .
    – Robusto
    May 15, 2015 at 15:50
  • 1
    I think "normal" is the term. If you're carrying on a conversation on the Interweb you should have no expectation of privacy or exclusivity.
    – Hot Licks
    May 15, 2015 at 17:07
  • 2
    I'd call it a normal public forum. If A & B wanted an exclusive dialog, they should take it off of the "party line". :-) May 15, 2015 at 19:05

4 Answers 4


This has recently been described as sealioning, after a popular comic strip about the practice. Sealioning specifically applies to situations when an interloper believes the topic of conversation concerns them and feels the need to defend themself. In my recent experience, the word rando has often been applied to people who do this, when the interlopers are unknown to the party whom they disagree with. I can't find any citations regarding this specific use of rando, though, aside from various Twitter discussions I've observed it in, so it may be too new a redefinition of the term.

  • Excellent, this is exactly what I was looking for. May 15, 2015 at 21:54

Bandwagoning fits a similar use case - agents (people/countries/etc) jumping onto the position they perceive to be stronger/more popular to join in ganging up against a now-outnumbered party.


How about buttinsky?

[Slang]. a person who interferes in the affairs of others; meddler.


I would call persons C & D interlopers.

interloper - noun - A person who becomes involved in a place or situation where they are not wanted or are considered not to belong.

  • "Circlejerk" is something else entirely.
    – Hot Licks
    May 15, 2015 at 19:47
  • 1
    The meanings of words evolve over time, and I am confident in the definition provided above. You are entitled to disagree and/or downvote if you like.
    – Lumberjack
    May 15, 2015 at 19:59

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