A grepping loon is someone who searches out particular terms on the Internet for the purpose of cutting and pasting a prepared rant or disingenuous misrepresentation of a topic rather than engaging in substantive discussion of the topic.
Some people have elevated this to a sophisticated form of trolling designed to provoke flame-wars and disrupt forums populated mostly by people with whom they disagree on that topic.
These people are a very large reason why netiquette guidelines, commenting policies and FAQs exist.
I am feeling old: I can’t find a decent reference/definition for “grepping loon” on the internets. This used to be a term frequently used and abused on USENet, and I’m rather dumbfounded to say the least that I can’t find a page on it. So I’m making one.
I feel it is still a useful concept in online forums, since I’m sure all of us have experienced the drive-by troll that has arrived due to a Google alert flagging a discussion on one of their pet issues and who never pops up on any other sort of discussion at that forum. Urban Dictionary has a halfway useful meta-reference with “lepping groon“:
1. lepping groon
One who searches Google Groups (aka usenet) for one’s own name or, more frequently recently, for a particular pet issue.
From “grepping loon”.
Certain words munged to avoid lepping groons.
As usual for Urban Dictionary this is so full of jargon that it’s not very useful for net newbies. To “grep” is to commit a particular type of search command on a file or database – I believe hardly anybody actually greps anything anymore – there are newer search utilities available, especially on the Web. “Munging” refers to deliberately misspelling a word by asterisking out the vowels or switching leading consonants to form a Spoonerism (as above with “lepping groons”) in order to disguise a key phrase from a standard search.
Here’s a decent paragraph from a 2003 forum post by randall bart that I’ll quote for some context:
Fascinating. This is someone who has never posted here before. When someone’s first post to a newsgroup is of a relatively controversial nature, does not ask questions, and does not tell of personal experience, that person can be ignored. What we have here is a grepping loon (though most grepping loons now use Google rather than grep). Searching in Google, I find no evidence he has ever talked about Terri Schiavo before. I conclude therefore he saw the word “euthanasia” and rabidly replied.
Anyone got anything to add?