shilling [= indirectly steering conversation?]


Senior Member
Hello. I remember this from a while ago. Basically, I was trying to improve my English, and I was reading this magazine that appeared to be for "smarter" (for a lack of better word) people. Basically it was a magazine with a literary slant. Lots of very good stuff, good writing and things. Then, I came across a contest of some sort, basically, it asked readers to join and compete in a debate. The debate was about whether businesses and manufacturers should out-source and/or move some of their operations oversea. Pretty reasonable so far, right? We needed an open debate like this. But, as I continued reading, I noticed that the ad tried to "steer" competitors in a way. It gave a general direction, not directly or explicitly, but in a round-about, tacit way. Essentially, it wanted arguments FOR American businesses outsourcing to the third-world. It did not want a fair, real debate. And it (or whomever paid for this contest) turned to a place where people with good debate talents could be found, so that they could find arguments that they wanted and needed. I guess they wanted to be able to convince the public that outsourcing was a good thing for the West. And I am not necessarily saying this is a bad thing. I just think that this debate was set up in such a way that was one-sided and unfair. Rigged, as it were.

Assuming that I was right (of course, I could be wrong), what would this act be called? Thanks.
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  • lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Not quite coercion, I suppose, but that was the first word that sprang to mind. And I imagine they were asking “leading questions”?

    (NB: Not whomever – it’s the subject of the verb.)


    Senior Member
    English, U.S.
    "Coercion" seems like persuading in a threatening way.
    I agree, they might have been asking "leading questions", or they were "slanting the questions".
    (The dictionary at the top of this page defines "shill" as a person who pretends to be a customer, to fool others...".
    I would take "shilling" to mean "acting as a shill".)


    English - England
    I think I would have to see the article but - as you describe it - it does not actually advocate or extol the final "product" - outsourcing. So I don't think that the article was exactly a shill, but it comes close to being one.

    The commonest shills that are seen are in product reviews, in which some paid stooge will write a review that has just a slight hint of criticism of the product, but then extol its virtues.
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