(Article with good footnotes.)
(A troll) in Internet slang is a person who sows discord by starting arguments or upsetting people, by posting inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community with the deliberate intent of provoking readers into an emotional response or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion.
Two studies published in 2013 and 2014 have found that people identified as trolls tend to have “dark personality traits.” (The dark triad is a group of three personality traits: narcissism, Machiavellianism and psychopathy. Any or all of these can appear at a subclinical level.)
- Narcissism is characterized by grandiosity, pride, egotism, and a lack of empathy.
- Machiavellianism is characterized by manipulation and exploitation of others, a cynical disregard for morality, and a focus on self-interest and deception.
- Psychopathy (in this usage) is characterized by enduring antisocial behavior, impulsivity, selfishness, callousness and remorselessness. Local example.)
The studies identify trolls as showing signs of sadism and antisocial behavior as well. Many of those identified as trolls had histories of being bullies as adolescents and even more often as adults.
According to social media guru Guy Kawasaki:
Now that you can identify trolls, here are five way to handle them:
1. Give them a chance. Respond to a trollish comment and see what the person does. A troll will respond with anger, negativism, and hostility.
Some think that befriending the friendless (trolls) will help them change. Most psychologists disagree, considering trolls to be victims of mental aberrations more serious than friendlessness. It must be noted that some trolls are paid – paid trolls are also unlikely to respond to offers of friendship and understanding.
Turn off comments in your posts. There’s no law that you have to let people comment.
Ignore their comments. You can let trolls post their comments and simply ignore the comments. You don’t have a moral obligation to respond to anything. 4. Delete their comments. Think of this as skimming the detritus off the surface of your swimming pool.
Get rid of them permanently.
Costa Mesa’s trolls add little to the political discourse but some of them provide mild entertainment. Their comments, if the scientists and psychologists are right, though, suggest that the trolls suffer from the “dark triad” of mental aberrations. Their comments and outlandish efforts to remain anonymous tend to reinforce that idea.
Another interesting blog entry.