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by Elise Moreau
Updated May 19, 2017
An Internet troll is a member of an online social community who deliberately tries to disrupt, attack, offend or generally cause trouble within the community by posting certain comments, photos, videos, GIFs or some other form of online content.
You can find trolls all over the Internet – on message boards, in your YouTube video comments, on Facebook, on dating sites, in blog comment sections and everywhere else that has an open area where people can freely post to express their thoughts and opinions. Controlling them can be difficult when there are a lot of community members, but the most common ways to get rid of them include either banning/blocking individual user accounts (and sometimes IP addresses altogether), reporting them to authorities, or closing off comment sections entirely from a blog post, video page or topic thread.
Regardless of where you'll find Internet trolls lurking, they all tend to disrupt communities in very similar (and often predictable) ways. This isn't by any means a complete list of all the different types of trolls out there, but they're most certainly some of the most common types you'll often come across in active online communities.
The insult troll
The insult troll is a pure hater, plain and simple. And they don't even really have to have a reason to hate or insult someone. These types of trolls will often pick on everyone and anyone – calling them names, accusing them of certain things, doing anything they can to get a negative emotional response from them – just because they can. In many cases, this type of trolling can become so severe that it can lead to or be considered a serious form of cyberbullying.
The persistent debate troll
This type of troll loves a good argument. They can take a great, thoroughly researched and fact-based piece of content, and come at it from all opposing discussion angles to challenge its message. They believe they're right, and everyone else is wrong. You'll often also find them leaving long threads or arguments with other commenters in community comment sections, and they're always determined to have the last word – continuing to comment until that other user gives up.
The grammar and spellcheck troll
You know this type of troll. They're the people who always have to tell other users that they have misspelled words and grammar mistakes. Even when they do it by simply commenting with the corrected word behind an asterisk symbol, it's pretty much never a welcomed comment to any discussion. Some of them even use a commenter's spelling and grammar mistakes as an excuse to insult them.
The forever offended troll
When controversial topics are discussed online, they're bound to offend someone. That's normal. But then there are the types of trolls who can take a piece of content – often times it's a joke, a parody or something sarcastic – and turn on the digital waterworks. They're experts at taking humorous pieces of content and turning them into an argument by playing the victim. People really do get upset by some of the strangest things said and done online.
The show-off, know-it-all or blabbermouth troll
A close relative to the persistent debate troll, the show-off or blabbermouth troll is a person who doesn't necessarily like to participate in arguments but does love to share his opinion in extreme detail, even spreading rumors and secrets in some cases. Think of that one family member or friend you know who just loves to hear his own voice. That's the Internet equivalent of the show-off or know-it-all or blabbermouth troll. They love to have long discussions and write lots of paragraphs about whatever they know, whether anyone reads it or not.
The profanity and all-caps troll
Unlike some of the more intelligent trolls like the debate troll, the grammar troll and the blabbermouth troll, the profanity and all-caps troll is the guy who has nothing really of value to add to the discussion, spewing only F-bombs and other curse words with his caps lock button left on. In many cases, these types of trolls are just bored kids looking for something to do without needing to put too much thought or effort into anything. On the other side of the screen, they're often harmless.
The one word only troll
There's always that one contributor to a Facebook status update, a forum thread, and Instagram photo, a Tumblr post or any other form of social posting who just says "lol" or "what" or "k" or "yes" or "no." They're certainly far from the worst type of troll you meet online, but when a serious or detailed topic is being discussed, their one-word replies are just a nuisance to all who are trying add value and follow the discussion.
The exaggeration troll
Exaggeration trolls can sometimes be a combination of know-it-alls, the offended and even debate trolls. They know how to take any topic or problem and completely blow it out of proportion. Some of them actually try to do it to be funny, and sometimes they succeed, while others do it just to be annoying. They rarely ever contribute any real value to a discussion and often bring up problems and issues that may arguably be unrelated to what's being discussed.
The off topic troll
It's pretty hard not to hate that guy who posts something completely off topic in any type of social community discussion. It can be even worse when that person succeeds in shifting the topic and everyone ends up talking about whatever irrelevant thing that he posted. You see it all the time online – in the comments of Facebook posts, in threaded YouTube comments, on Twitter and literally anywhere there're active discussions happening.
The greedy spammer troll
Last but not least, there's the dreaded spammer troll. This it the troll who truly could not care less about your post or discussion and is only posting to benefit himself. He wants you to check out his page, buy from his link, use his coupon code or download his free ebook. These trolls also include all those users you see littering discussions on Twitter and Instagram and every other social network with "follow me!!!" posts.++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
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