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Bad troll, good troll

Ken M wanted serious discussions in the comments. Now he’s a legendary comic troll.

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Ken M wanted serious discussions in the comments. Now he’s a legendary comic troll.

WATCH | Internet trolls are best known for stirring up trouble, but there's at least one out there who just wants to make people laugh.

He's got over 120,000 social media followers, his own subreddit and a spot on TIME's 30 Most Influential Internet People on the Internet list. His (user)name is Ken M, and he's a troll -- but not the kind who harasses people on social media or enforces his view of the world via comment section vulgarity.

Ken M is probably best described as a good troll. He aims to trigger people online, but he does so by playing stupid and polite. When the insults come his way, he lays both on thicker -- and comedy ensues.

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Ken M on baking.

Usually by the last comment I make, I hope it's clear that I'm kidding around ... I don't like to keep an argument going on and on.
Ken M

Ken M's brand of trolling, his fans would say, make comment sections worth visiting again. And that's a bit of a personal catharsis for the late 30-something who makes his online sillies behind the avatar of an old man.

"In 2012, I naively tried to have sincere civil discourse in news comments sections ... I was surprised that people don’t go [there] to continue the conversation. They go there to spar," he told Circa. "I found that using this anger from other people and these cheap insults can be turned into something that’s fuel for comedy."

It's harder to bait brands into getting short with you online, but Ken M gives it his best.

The endless arguing and toxic provocateur behavior of most internet trolls today has been labeled a problem by plenty of sites -- but it’s one without an agreed upon great solution yet. Ken M, a seasoned veteran of getting yelled at online, isn’t convinced that the kind of AI and algorithm programs proposed by Google and Twitter will necessarily be the answer.

"Will it block somebody who uses a lot of profanity while delivering a humanistic message, while allowing a racist dog-whistler? ... I just doubt that an algorithm will be sophisticated enough."

Ken M on asteroids

Ken M on asteroids.

Another way some sites are approaching the problem of bad trolls is getting rid of the comment sections. When asked whether that was something he feared would ultimately be the undoing of his fun, he shrugged and said, "Obviously for me, I just wouldn't do this anymore.

"I would like it if there was a more humane and empathetic and intellectually robust discourse online. Turns out we don’t deserve that or want that or something ... I guess it’s easier just to say 'Go to hell, you’re an idiot.'

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