The term trolling stems from the internet slang ‘troll’, which is a person who starts arguments or upsets people by posting inflammatory, extraneous messages online.
The aim of a troll is to provoke other online users into an emotional response often for their own amusement. Trolling is the associated verb to ‘troll’ and was originally thought to be the same as ‘flaming’ – defined as a a hostile interaction between online users which often involved insults and profanity. However, the term troll has changed to refer to any content that targets another person.
Isn’t trolling just cyberbullying?
Trolling has often been put in the same category as cyberbullying, but there are subtle differences between the two. The goal of the cyberbully is to harass and harm and while some trolls do enagage in cyberbullying, others troll to create mischief that does not harass or harm an individual or group.
A common warning seen on various sites is ‘Please do not feed the trolls’. This is a reference to what many consider is the most effective way to respond to a troll – ignoring them. Responding and engaging with controversial posts and subject matter only serves to encourage more trolling.