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A troll is a member of an Internet community who posts offensive, divisive and controversial comments.
Often, a troll will make obvious and inflammatory statements that are meant to bait new users (newbies) into reacting. This is sometimes called trolling. Despite multiple attempts at limiting trolling on the Internet, it is still widespread in social networks, comment sections and anywhere else where users can post in relative anonymity.
Popular venues for trolls include:
People with experience in online forums have learned to ignore trolls, and a good moderator will be proactive in blocking these users and deleting their comments. The policing of trolls walks a fine line between sparing the bulk of users from unnecessarily abusive commentary and unfairly censoring an unpopular opinion.
In most cases, though, trolling is easy to distinguish from true, thought provoking debate. Trolls tend towards clearly inappropriate language (sexist, racist and so on) and depend on generic usernames or anonymous posting statuses. With true accountability on the Internet unlikely - and even undesirable in some ways - trolls are going to continue lurking around. However, as with name calling in a school yard, the most effective approach is to ignore them.