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Threadjacking is a deliberate attempt at steering a discussion away from the original topic by bringing up another, which may or may not be relevant to the content of original post. Depending on the context, threadjacking can be used as a timely ice-breaker in an awkward situation (especially if you are the topic creator) or more commonly, as a form of cheap amusement for trolls. See also: Interruptors.
Changing the subject topic in an online discussion has been in practice since the early days of mailing lists and newsgroups. According to Google search, the earliest mention of “threadjacking” can be found in a game-related discussion thread posted via Civilization fan forum in October 2001; the earliest attempt at “threadjacking” on record can be found in an off-topic thread posted via Team XBOX forums in April 2002.
…You think that’s manly nail polish they’re wearing? LOL
This thread is now about duckies and bunnies. Discuss.
- Written by Dad at 04-19-02, 06:10 PM
The Urban Dictionar entry for “threadjacking” was created on December 11th, 2003.
Threadjacking still remains a common practice in online forums and chat-rooms. But given its frequent usage, it is wise to use one’s discretion in pursuing this end. Such attempts are typically made via text replies (ex: “THIS THREAD IS NOW ABOUT X”) or image macros tailored for the occasion.
Example of Threadjacking + Red Leader in 4chan
Related Concept: Thread Derailment
In contrast, an unintentional digression from the thread topic is known as Thread Derailment. This occurs when a discussion goes off topic and strays into a new subject without being triggered by a “threadjacker.”
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