Wikipedia states that an Internet Troll is someone that posts inflammatory and off topic comments or articles to an online community. It also states that a troll is associated with Internet discourse.
So according to Wikipedia, a troll is a person.
This of course is not correct. Trolling is more associated with an act than with defining a person, all people are trolls at different times but not all comments, all articles and all discussions is a troll.
So what then defines a troll?
A troll is a message (a comment, a whole article, a picture, media) that is posted with the goal to inflame and generate a reaction.
A troll could be off topic, if the community is talking about cheese a troll could post about chalk. (Being better, or why someone would rather choose chalk, etc)
A troll could be a message in response to a question that would only be answered by certain types of people. For example newbies would more likely answer a question in a forum that has been answered a thousand times already in the same forum. Similarly only someone convinced that lynx is better than links, for example, would respond to a post stating the exact opposite.
A troll can be a message designed to trawl for certain people, as mentioned above, in order to identify those individuals
Okay, so why does Wikipedia state that a troll is a person?
Confusion arose with a single popular post: ‘Do not feed the trolls’
This specifically implies that trolls are in fact beings and not messages. Yet, the writer said something very cool, as the poster of a troll generating lots of responses, irritates a certain group, to which those so irritated would respond: Do not feed the troll. This would of course rarely succeed in lessening the discourse unless it is a respected hacker doing the saying.
Sometimes a troll is a group of messages, and feeding the trolls would be for example during the course of heated and inflamed discussion about the merits of Bind vs Djbdns, one would want the responses that caused the inflammation in the first place and which is detracting from the facts pertinent to the opinions of those clamouring the loudest about Vixie kicking Bernsteins butt, etc. to cease and the forum to return to a state of world peace rather than angry geeks, some 0wNing 0 days and world war three threatening to split the fabric of the community into two communities 🙂
What a troll is not:
Not a person
Not a group of netizens
Not a political organisation
Not a movement
Not a union
There are no troll groups, or a club that you could belong to should you feel that you are a called fisherman of the Internet.
And you cannot qualify as a troll at any Tech or Uni, but you can be a troll right now by just posting something that causes inflamed discussion, emotionally excites those people that strongly feel something about something.
At all times, have fun, enjoy life and always remember that you are entitled to your own opinion, respect communities however by not posting off topic messages. Posting something controversial, in the correct forum, may result in you being called a troll (remember it is not you, it is your message, the responder in all probability does not even know you) But is your message is on topic, it is not a troll, so stand your ground and speak up.
We all know that Bind is far superior to Djbdns, now that is a troll 🙂