There is a word for "earnestly" offering questions and giving suggestions with a hidden agenda to derail and distract from the main argument being made.

I've seen it used on twitter before.

I think it might be "_____ trolling".

  • Can you provide some examples?
    – Dan Bron
    Jul 21, 2016 at 14:27
  • derailing the conversation, side stepping the issue, bypassing the problem, evading the question etc. Also you can describe that the intervention of the person is a "moot point" (it can mean it's debatable or that it's not worth talking about)
    – P. O.
    Jul 21, 2016 at 15:40

2 Answers 2


I believe you're looking for concern trolling (or concern-trolling), which Oxford Dictionaries defines as

disingenuously express[ing] concern about an issue with the intention of undermining or derailing genuine discussion

Wiktionary has a more detailed description:

[p]ost[ing] to an internet forum or newsgroup, claiming to share its goals while deliberately working against those goals, typically, by claiming "concern" about group plans to engage in productive activity, urging members instead to attempt some activity that would damage the group's credibility, or alternatively to give up on group projects entirely.

Alexandra Petri discusses this on the Washington Post (and adds another beautiful neologism, emphasis mine):

“I’m with you,” the concern troll says. “But surely you must see how this looks to people. Not me, of course. But other people. They might think horrible things of you. People might think you were self-centered, fat, slow, rude. Not me, of course. I’m with you. I have your best interests at heart. That’s why I want to warn you. I, you see, know how this ought to be done.”

There is some Faceless Someone out there who is absolutely merciless. That Faceless Someone is saying or might say Terrible, Awful Things.

The concern troll does not agree, of course. But the concern troll wants to make sure you know.

Who might say these things, you ask?

Well, you know. People.


One of the characteristics of concern trolls is that they seldom take the time to check with their sources to see if their concerns have any grounding in fact. ...[T]his is one of the powers of the concern troll. He can go months and miles without any factual information whatsoever, like a fact-camel.


This is simply known as a diversionary tactic.

You are attempting to divert the course of the conversation onto a tangent. It can be used in any form of debate.

It is politicking rather than trolling as you suggest.

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