Trolling is intentionally and persistently posts inflammatory messages about sensitive topics to bait users into responding or provoke a confrontation. (Source: Yahoo!)
Many people have put forward various different possible origins of the term “trolling”. The most widely accepted one is that it started in the late 80s/early 90s on alt.folklore.urban where it meant reposting questions and topics that had been repeatedly overdone. In this sense, it was a harmless way of “baiting” new users into replying and making arses of themselves. Trolling here coming from the fishing technique where you bait one or more lines and slowly reel the fish in if they bite.
What Trolling is Not
Over the years, cases of amateur failtrolls and users on the losing side of an argument have created a misconception about what trolling really is. Some interwebs users have found the internet an excellent place to get on their soapbox and spout unsolicited opinions, which is the major cause of arguing on the internet. Trolling both sides, though entertaining, is a very easy form of trolling and thus is often used by newer, inexperienced trolls. As it’s become commonplace, it’s also become a common excuse for a user who loses an internet argument. To say that they never intended to win the argument the entire time is a justification for their inadequate argument skills.
Since then, the definition of trolling (through eliciting an argument) has devolved into anyone trying to elicit an argument altogether. Though this technically fits the definition of the troll, the intention behind arguing is what makes the difference. Remember: to be considered a troll, the user must have had the intention of trolling from the beginning. If there isn’t some subtle hint of the intention to troll during the argument, the user is either a failtroll or a fail arguer.
Additionally, as stated before, many interwebs users only choose to argue as an excuse to spout their unwanted opinions. By failing, the troll has given that user an excellent excuse to do so; causing the troll to backfire and thus troll himself.
How to Identify a Troll
Despite the small size of each of them,trolls pose a great threat to mankind and all the internets by possessing incredibly high numbers
Most people who identify as a troll are, unsurprisingly, 12 year old kids with nothing of value to contribute, people angered by a ban, or users upset that no one pays attention to them. As expected, the only harm they do is make themselves look like butthurt idiots. Typically their posts are overly abusive, conspicuous and badly written. The topics are generally well known to be abused by Trolls and the poster would never be able to pass for genuinely interested in their question because of it. A good troll on the other hand is usually extremely difficult to out: knowing what they’re doing, they are able to bluff through a whole argument, giving the impression that they’re truly interested in the topic while watching the whole community go down on the thread in a mass of flame wars, ad hominem attacks and much generally much anger. (Source: Encylopedia Dramatica)