A troll in Internetspeak refers to an entity which involves itself in discussions purely for the purpose of disturbing other users and making itself feel important. A troll usually has little or no interest in contributing to the development of the site in question and is interested in :

  • Deliberately angering people.
  • Breaking the normal flow of debate/discussion.
  • Making itself the main topic of interest or discussion.

It is probable that, for the troll, the last point is the most important. To this end it will post deliberately inflammatory messages which generate inflammatory responses; complain about being the victim of the inflammatory responses; endeavor to obtain allies against the discrimination it feels; turn on those same allies, etc. etc. The whole objective of the exercise being to make the troll feel that it is the most important thing on the site.

If a poster begins to post comments along the lines of, “Can’t you see how stupid you all are?” or “I keep laughing at all of you,” there is high probability that the poster is a troll.

Because the troll feeds on having its name mentioned or by generating debate or ill feeling, many internet users either ignore the troll completely or respond with the phrase, “Don’t Feed the Troll.”

Some users engage in "Troll Baiting". In this unkind sport the objective is to turn the tables on the troll so that it becomes enraged. While mildly amusing in the short term it is rarely successful in driving the troll away.

Most importantly, trolls take away from productive work. The only ethical way to avoid this is to stop feeding the troll and go about your usual work.


It is, of course an improper argumentum ad hominem (personal attack), when you accuse a user of being a troll just because you don't like what they are saying or the way they are saying it. Don't accuse someone of being a troll just to dismiss their argument. Just because you disagree doesn't necessarily mean the user is trying to be disruptive, so it is necessary to measure the suspected troll against the description given above.

Copied from RationalWiki