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Posted by Harold Ericsson on January 25, 2004 at 13:21:23:
Internet trolling has been around since the earliest days of Usenet, although the art of Polemic discourse from which it arose can of course be traced back to the ancient Greeks. General social consensus at the time of this writing is that in a medium free from simple repressive censorship such as the Internet, trolling is an unwelcome yet unavoidable aspect of modern communications.
troll v.,n. 1. To utter a posting on Usenet designed to attract predictable responses or flames; or, the post itself. Derives from the phrase "trolling for newbies" which in turn comes from mainstream "trolling", a style of fishing in which one trails bait through a likely spot hoping for a bite. The well-constructed troll is a post that induces lots of newbies and flamers to make themselves look even more clueless than they already do, while subtly conveying to the more savvy and experienced that it is in fact a deliberate troll. If you don't fall for the joke, you get to be in on it. See also YHBT. 2. An individual who chronically trolls in sense 1; regularly posts specious arguments, flames or personal attacks to a newsgroup, discussion list, or in email for no other purpose than to annoy someone or disrupt a discussion. Trolls are recognizable by the fact that the have no real interest in learning about the topic at hand - they simply want to utter flame bait. Like the ugly creatures they are named after, they exhibit no redeeming characteristics, and as such, they are recognized as a lower form of life on the net, as in, "Oh, ignore him, he's just a troll."
The Jargon File definition is widely accepted as the official one for Internet trolls. It also contains information on other related topics like Troll-O-Meter (used to measure the quality of a troll), and troglodyte (a malicious troll). For the purposes of this paper it will be necessary to further refine definitions into 4 unique sub-sets of trolls, although there is much overlap and very few trolls fall squarely into one particular category only.
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