|See also:||flame, flame war, sockpuppet, wank, tl;dr, anonymouse, Rude Person|
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A troll is an individual who posts to an online community -- such as a BBS, newsgroup, or mailing list -- looking to provoke and sustain a negative emotional response from its members. Trolls might do this by asking inflammatory questions, insulting the fandom or its source, making off-topic posts, or bringing up an issue that's been well covered before. For example, a common troll tactic on alt.tv.x-files was to ask, "Why does Mulder put that X in his window?" -- a question that had been asked so many times it made its way into the newsgroup FAQ.
Named so for their habit of "trolling" through communities looking to stir up trouble, trolls crave attention and common internet wisdom says "don't feed the trolls," as responding to them only encourages them. A member of a community may use the term "troll," or other code words such as "billy goat gruff" to signal to other members that they believe it would be wiser not to respond to a particular posting. A heavily trolled community may need to be moderated.
Because of their naive questions, newbies are sometimes mistaken for trolls, and vice versa.
In extreme cases, trolling can be sustained and vicious, with several individuals targetting one person with the intent to upset them. This is usually referred to as Cyber Bullying to distinguish it from less harmful trolling.