Often I see forum members who are actively trolling and when confronted with this respond: “What is trolling? I’m not aware of what that is.” I think their response is genuine. So here is a fairly detailed definition of trolling. It usually applies to online communities. The act of trollling also consists of entering communities where the member is full aware their involvement is not appropriate.
Definition of Internet Troll and Online Trolling
In Internet terminology, a troll is a person who enters an established community such as an online discussion forum and intentionally tries to cause disruption, often in the form of posting messages that are inflammatory, insulting, incorrect, inaccurate, absurd, or off-topic, with the intent of provoking a reaction from others. Trolls can also be existing members of such a community that rarely post and often contribute no useful information to the thread, but instead make argumentative posts in an attempt to discredit another person, more often than not based on what they thought was said rather than what was actually said by the other person, concentrating almost exclusively on facts irrelevant to the point of the conversation, with the intent of provoking a reaction from others. The key element under attack by a troll is the forum or group’s hegemony. Hegemony refers to the recognized and agreed upon power structure of the said group or community. To this extent, a troll does not necessarily have to make malicious or incorrect comments. For example, a liberal-minded person who approaches a forum frequented by right-wing neo-nazis, may be considered a troll, even if no lies or attacks are made.
A person who retaliates (using whatever means) as a result of a misunderstanding (or as a way of rebelling against the overzealous application of rules) is not a troll. A troll is a person who approaches a board with the specific intention of destroying a forum’s hegemony, either with no particular motive or provocation in mind, other than to be purely destructive or if the motive or provocation is against the ethos of the board. For example, a neo-nazi approaching a Jewish forum with the intention of attacking the members, purely because the neo-nazi knows the forum to contain Jewish members, may be considered a troll. A Jewish member of the said forum, who becomes angry with the neo-nazi and breaks the rules in gaining revenge against the neo-nazi, and who is subsequently banned and who then begins to rebel, is not a troll.
The general element, that determines whether a malicious user is a troll or not, is the level of indignant emotions present in the person, coupled with the person’s history with the forum or group. An indignant user who has had a previous normal relationship with the group is not a troll, even if the user uses methods of attack that are characteristic of a troll attack.
The term Troll is often used as an insult in online communications, resulting in it being largely misapplied.
From Wikipedia Trolling