They are your worst enemy on the net. I have them, you have them, they are the “scourge” of our technology.
An internet ‘troll’ is an abusive or obnoxious user who lives to get a rise out of others online. Trolls use shock value to promote arguments in web conversations. Named after the wicked troll creatures of children’s tales, an internet troll is someone who stirs up drama and abuses their online anonymity by purposely sowing hatred, bigotry, racism, mysogyny, or just simple bickering between others. Trolls like a big audience, so they frequent blog sites, news sites, discussion forums, and game chat. Trolls thrive in any environment where they are allowed to make public comments.
At the lighter end of the troll spectrum, trolls can be personal friends who like to goad and joke with their buddies online. In this case, ‘trolling’ will mean ‘stop hassling me, or I won’t invite you to my birthday party’.
At the harsher end of the troll spectrum, trolls are cruel and malicious users who want to set an online community on fire with hate and discord.
The Sad Truths of Internet Trolls:
Trolls are immune to criticism and logical arguments. True trolls cannot be reasoned with, regardless of how sound your logical argument is.
Trolls do not feel remorse like you and me. They have sociopathic tendencies, and accordingly, they delight in other people having hurt feelings.
Trolls consider themselves separate from the social order.
Trolls do not abide by etiquette or the rules of common courtesy.
Trolls consider themselves above social responsibility.
Trolls gain energy by you insulting them.
Trolls gain energy when you get angry.
The only way to deal with a troll is to ignore him, or take away his ability to post online.
How Should I Deal With Internet Trolls?
You cannot win with a troll. Publicly retaliating against them just fuels their childish need for attention. There are only 3 reliable ways to deal with trolls, all of which focus on removing their audience, removing their power, and depriving them of the attention they seek.
For a casual or emergent troll: completely ignore the person’s postings. While it is difficult for most users to to let a troll have the last word, this tactic successfully takes the wind out of a casual troll’s sails.
For repeating troll offenders: report them to the moderators of the system. If enough people report the toll, this will often prompt the moderators to take action (see number 3 below)
Have the moderators take away the troll’s ability to post online. This will commonly mean that the troll is kicked from the system, or blocked by IP address. Even better is when the troll is allowed to continue posting, but unbeknownst to him: all of his postings are deleted from everyone else’s view. This will lure the troll into wasting his efforts while still feeling proud of his childish antics. This moderator move is sometimes called ‘muting’ or ‘bonzo-ing’ the offender.