What is an Internet Troll?
Wikipedia's entry on Internet trolls states that "In Internet slang, a troll is someone who posts inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community". Essentially, internet trolls are people who join a discussion on a forum, blog post or article and leave inane rubbish in their wake. Generally, their posts go beyond expressing a personal opinion and aim to incite anger or frustration in other internet users.
Trolls deliberately try to goad other internet users on message boards to have a flame war, by raising topics that aren't relevant to the post. Often, they will insult a person's religion, race or family simply to get a rise out of that person. Trolls are also infamous for making controversial comments on current affairs, social problems and historical events. Their aim is to disrupt a conversation with verbal vandalism.
Do Not Feed the Trolls
Internet trolls 'feed' off of the reactions of other internet users. They get their kicks out of deliberately making people angry. The concept of starving trolls by ignoring them is a collective effort, as it only takes one person's reaction to the troll to encourage (feed) a troll. Even when every forum member on a thread is ignoring the troll, the troll might post incessantly in an attempt to get a rise out of someone.
How to Deal with Internet Trolls
You can avoid being 'troll bait' by not getting involved in debates that you feel passionate about. Chances are, if you have strong feelings about religion, homosexuality or racism, trolls will attempt to tear apart your opinions on these matters. The troll mentality is that they are right, you are wrong and they will go to the ends of the Earth to prove just how wrong you are while insulting you every step of the way.
Rising to the challenge of interacting with a troll is a waste of time, time that could be spent on far more worthwhile activities. Trolls do eventually begin trolling another part of the internet if they are ignored, but sometimes the only solution to dealing with a troll is to leave a conversation or debate.
What Internet Trolls Look Like
Internet trolls can be recognized by their comments. These will usually be deliberately off-topic, abusive of other internet users or social groups and will often involve profanity and name-calling. In reality, there are no physical traits that mark an internet troll. Internet trolls can be anyone, anywhere, lurking in a forum waiting for troll bait to show itself...