From Wikipedia (as of 3/4/07)
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.
In 1996, in the early days of the popularization of the Internet, I attended a journalism conference in Pittsburgh. At the time, I said I thought the lack of editorial control on the Internet was a strength and not a weakness. Let the people do their own content creation and their own filtering.
However, the irrationality of some areas of the Web have been embraced by mass media. If anything, some people now considered part of mass media are nothing more than trolls.
In particular, Ann Coulter.
This woman has had nothing useful or rational to add to public discourse. Yet, she is considered a media celebrity, and when she says something, people pay attention.
The only way to raise the level of public discourse is to ignore the people who only want to shout inanities. If we want a rational, reasoned discourse on the issues, we should ignore the Ann Coulters, the Bill O’Reillys, the Al Sharptons, the Kenneth Engs of the world, and only pay attention to people who can back up their opinions with facts.
Trolls are people who should be ignored in the public discourse. They should not be leading the public discourse. They only want to stir up controversy, not enlighten issues in any way.
As we’ve said on the Internet for many years: Do not feed the energy beasts. These people are nothing, nothing but energy beasts. Ignore them.