I am sanely jealous of Leaving Babylon and its author. It has more regular commenters (ok, that includes me) than Dwight Towers. And a focus (DT is pretty scattergun, no?). And its author writes absolutely bloody brilliantly. Limpid, witty, clever …. and in her fracking second language. Not fair at all, IMHO.
Here’s a piece from her latest post, on ‘disruptors‘.
Trolls relish sowing chaos, deception and confusion within human communities, and have been known to paralyze them. They generate emotions in others while not investing any of their own. Trolls love to yank people’s chains! They feed on the chaotic emotional energy they stir up, and on the attention paid them.
What all trolls have in common is bait: messages intended solely to upset or insult. If people “bite” by getting riled, the troll proceeds to “reel them in” and does his best to wreck the conversation and damage the good will within that community. To this end, trolls apply a wide range of havoc wreaking, noise generating methods with great success. Spurious accusations, previous statements twisted into meanings never intended, demands for proof for any and all statements made, requests for information already provided, willful contradictions, off-topic bunny trails, arbitrary word usage redefinitions, or seizing upon small mistakes to subvert the thrust of the main argument; these are just a sample of the rich trollish repertoire. They cultivate the fine art of missing the point, never answer inconvenient questions, and set people up to argue with each other by using subtly invidious language.
If one tack does not produce the desired discord, the creature will switch to another. When an otherwise peaceable community starts fighting, look for a troll loitering nearby. Still, trolls are not all bad; they can liven up a moribund discussion and interrupt groupthink. And dealing with them can foster a community’s spirit of self-governance. Unfortunately, their positive contributions are far outweighed by the pointless conflict they generate. The troll’s goal is not to win an argument but rather to provoke a futile one that runs forever.