351: Trolling

Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
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And I was really impressed with how they managed to shock the Goatse guy.
Title text: And I was really impressed with how they managed to shock the Goatse guy.


Rick Astley. (from Wikimedia Commons)

The term Trolling is used to describe provocative, destructive, or annoying behavior on the Internet. Especially common are Internet pranks of the bait-and-switch type, an example of which is Rickrolling. It involves placing a link that is supposed to contain interesting or funny material, but instead directs to the music video of the 1987 Rick Astley song Never Gonna Give You Up. The prank first occurred in May 2007 on the popular imageboard 4chan and has since become a widespread internet meme.

The comic has Black Hat and Cueball digging into the ground and splicing Black Hat's computer into the TV cables of Rick Astley's house. They are feeding the video of Never Gonna Give You Up into Astley's TV signal, who can be seen sitting in his living room and wondering why CNN has been replaced by his own video. The act of Rickrolling Rick Astley himself is declared to be a "great moment in trolling".

The title text mentions Goatse.cx (pronounced goat sex), a former shock website that was used in a similar prank. People clicking on the feigned link would instead see the disturbing picture of a practitioner of anal stretching. The title text suggests that Black Hat and Cueball somehow made the (unknown) founder of the site click on an even more shocking link, or possibly put him in the personal presence of anal stretching.

Also note that the comic image itself is itself a Rickroll. Anyone curious enough as to why their mouse pointer became the selection icon to click on the comic (on the original xkcd page) would find themselves watching "Never Gonna Give You Up."


  • Almost 13 years later, on 18th June 2020, Rick Astley was actually rickrolled on Reddit (on r/pics)
    • He was rick rolled by someone pretending that he had met Rick backstage when he was 12, and posted a link that was actually a rickroll.


[Black Hat and Cueball are in Rick Astley's yard, hacking into his cable TV connection and replacing the signal. Rick Astley is sitting in a chair in his house, watching TV.]
TV: CNN has obtained this exclusive footage of the riot-torn-- *CZZZHT* ♫ Never gonna give you up... ♪
Rick Astley: What the hell?
[Caption below the frame:]
Rick Astley is successfully Rickrolled

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Removed from the explanation:

>> It should be noted that in the original prank, the victims voluntarily click on the link instead of having the video forced upon them. Therefore, the scene depicted in the comic is (arguably) no Rickrolling in the classical sense. Also, since Rick Astley is not the originator of the prank, this is no pay-back scenario.

Rick voluntarily chose to watch CNN, but was interrupted by an unexpected appearance of "never gonna give you up". Sounds a lot like rickrolling to me.

Also, I'm sure the 4chan trolls get trolled by other 4chan trolls all the time. And nobody knows who they are. Rick Astley is the ideal comic target for payback; what, you think he doesn't deserve it? Exactly. 18:59, 14 January 2014 (UTC)

Would anyone consider it more payback if Astley was rolled by a cover of his song? 11:55, 19 July 2014 (UTC) 11:56, 19 July 2014 (UTC)

I am looking at the comic on my iPhone and there is a different title text. It's simply a link leading to the Rick Roll'd video. CaptainJack (talk) 20:34, 10 October 2014 (UTC)

SOMEONE ACTUALLY DID IT: https://www.reddit.com/r/nextfuckinglevel/comments/hawahv/this_guy_just_rick_rolled_rick_astley_i_think_he/

What was the riot mentioned by the CNN?