Language corruption by the stupid is a fact of life, but enough is enough.
Overuse, abuse and misuse of the term "troll" has become endemic. More disturbingly, it has begun to have a distinct McCarthyist slant to it. It has come to have no relation to it's original meaning, and has become a term to attempt to silence criticism by slander, insinuation and guilt by association.
What a troll is -
Online it originally meant the act of posting a message in a newsgroup that is obviously exaggerating something on a particular topic, hoping to trick a newbie into posting a follow-up article that points out the mistake. In general, to "troll" means to allure, to fish, to entice or to bait. Internet trolls are people who fish for other people's confidence and, once found, exploit it. Trolls vary in nature; here are four types of online trolls:
* Playtime Trolls: an individual plays a simple, short game. Such trolls are relatively easy to spot because their attack or provocation is fairly blatant, and the persona is fairly two-dimensional.
* Tactical Trolls: This is where the troller takes the game more seriously, creates a credible persona to gain confidence of others, and provokes strife in a subtle and invidious way.
* Strategic Trolls: A very serious form of game, involving the production of an overall strategy that can take months or years to develop. It can also involve a number of people acting together in order to invade a list.
* Domination Trolls: This is where the trollers' strategy extends to the creation and running of apparently bona-fide mailing lists.
Once upon a time, when the 'net was civilised and the common man was still a distant but unpleasant thought, trolling could occassionally actually attain the level of an art form
. This is no more - it has been forever ruined by monkey-see-monkey-do-ers and will never be acceptable ever again.
Nevertheless, the finger pointers we have here that are so fond of the word have bastardised it beyond repair. There is one golden rule that differentiates trolling from all other kinds of posting habits -
Trolls virtually never believe the crap they are saying
Inreasingly now, accusing another person of trolling is being used habitually as a "get out of jail free" card by people that have been caught being stupid. That has got to stop. It is lame, it is desperate. It is the last pitiful squeal of the feeble
If you insist on making outrageous statements, back them up. If you want use quotations to prove points, use valid citations and research. You want to use Latin legalese, clean up your own backyard first. Do not equate the level of noise you generate as confirmation and proof of your statements. Above all else, realise that crying "troll" is the same as tattooing "I'm a spoilt brat that cries when he/she loses" on your forehead. If all this is too hard, then don't post. As they say, if you can't stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen.