Reply to post: Re: Do NOT Take Them Seriously

Trolls prevail because good men do nothing: boffins

Michael Wojcik Silver badge

Re: Do NOT Take Them Seriously

Trolls, by definition, post to wind people up.

That's how the term was commonly employed (to describe contributors) on Usenet in the early '90s, which I believe is the arena that popularized it. I've read speculation that "trolling" was actually introduced as an erroneous homophone (an eggcorn) of "trawling" - i.e., figuratively dragging a net trying to snare angry responses or hasty corrections, but I've never seen evidence to support or refute that.

These days, however, it's often employed loosely - as this article does - to mean any sort of contributor who hopes to elicit some sort of angry reaction. The Dillon & Bushman paper is explicitly about online bullies, who share very little with the Usenet trolls of yore, people like David "Snopes" Mikkelson or James "Kibo" Parry. They did wind their audiences up, but as a joke, not to cause distress; and they didn't make a practice of personal attacks.

It's an unfortunate degredation of a once-useful term of art, but that's how these things go. September never ends and kids these days aren't careful with their terminology like we were. Why, when I were a lad, we were lucky if we got five words a day.

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