With my recent exposure to the WoW community thanks to Wow.com's blurb, I've acquired a new kind of reader on my blog.  This kind of person is generally undesirable, completely useless, and otherwise ignored.  We have come to know them as Trolls:
Slang Dictionary (From Dictionary.com)
  1. n.
    an ugly person; a grouchy person. : Gee, that dame is a real troll. What's her problem?
  2. n.
    an internet user who sends inflammatory or provocative messages designed to elicit negative responses or start a flame-war. (As a fisherman trolls for an unsuspecting fish.) : Don't answer those silly messages. Some troll is just looking for an argument.
  3. n.
    a message sent by a troll (sense 2). : Every time I get a troll, I just delete it.
Definition #2 applies here most readily.  I have participated on a number of forums in my long years of internet exposure and I have found these specimens everywhere, no matter the type or format of forum or blog.  Anything that allows comments also allows trolls.   These people like to nitpick, insult, and argue.  But what makes a troll tick?  How do you stop them?

I've played on a variety of server types while on WoW and in on of my more recent server changes I transferred off an (RP)PVP server to a regular RP server.  On the previous server which shall remain nameless, I was a part of an ex-boyfriend's guild, widely known on said server for being a troll guild.  A small membership of said guild were clever and witty and did indeed troll on the forums pretty hard.  The rest of us just raided and laughed in the background at the burns they would throw at nubs and whiners.  My ex was the biggest troll of them all, so I got a first hand look at what sits behind the troll.

I can honestly say that some of these people are not bad.  Their quick wit and sense of humor provides entertainment for all, and I truly doubt they have the intent to hurt anyone.  However, their powers are used for evil in some situations, and despite best intents, people get their feelings hurt.  So why do they do it if it can go sour?  Usually just to entertain themselves (and occasionally others).  Look at the population of people that play WoW - people looking for something to get their mind off other things, like work or school.  Apparently the game isn't enough for some of that population, so they turn to the forums and blogs.  For others, it's just the thrill of the hunt.  Bullies have always existed along with society.  Wherever there is community, there will also be bullies.  These people feed off the misfortune of others, making themselves feel better in the process.  It helps them forget their own problems.  For a select special brand of trolls, there's no other explanation other than they're just assholes.  Nuff said.

I'll happily admit that sometimes a troll is in the right - putting someone in their place for a ridiculous complaint, shutting them up and moving people on to something more worthwhile to discuss.  However, we run across a few problems with these undesirables.

  •  Sometimes (often), they just don't care.  Certainly, they're entitled to not care.  No one should or can tell you who or what to care about, and you don't have any business telling others.  However, common courtesy often eludes trolls.  They have little to no filter and telling them they hurt your feelings is not going to get you anywhere.  In fact, they'll probably troll you harder.
  • They prey on anyone they see weaker than them.  This can cover any number of aspects; physical, mental, emotional, armory, gear score, level...  If there's any indication that they've got a one up on you, welcome to the target list.  Please note that this is only their opinion of these indications; it may or may not be true.  It's also important to note that trolls are not part of any guild or society.  There is no code of honor among trolls.  This means that they also tend to "eat their young" so to speak.
  • They don't always have identifying marks.  Trolls don't run around with a badge pinned to their jacket or a special guild icon in their signature.  They often post anonymously or under a pseudonym to protect their true identity.  This often stems from a degree of cowardice, although it can also be to protect their loved ones.  Only the bravest trolls do so under their actual name (in WoW's case their main character). 
  • They come in all shapes and sizes.  I have met male and female trolls.  Big ones, small ones; smart ones, dumb ones; mean ones, and funny ones.  Without the badge mentioned previously, there is no way to tell who or what is going to lash out at you in a post or even why.
  • They cannot be exterminated.  They will always exist.  There will always be replies of "QQ more" waiting on you in your forum post or your blog.  Where one disappears, two pop up in their place.  This applies to banning, deleting, and other means of removal.  IP addresses are readily available as are accounts.
So what do you do with them?  Honestly, the best policy is to ignore them.  Remember how your mother always told you to ignore your big brother or sister and then they'd leave you alone?  The same principle applies here.  As long as you feed their fire, they shall continue to burn hot and heavy and all over your blog.  You can try to one-up them, but their arsenal is vast and unless you manage a hell of a re-troll, they'll be back for more.  I tried this once, for fun, and got my ass kicked; I'm not happy to report that, but I learned a lesson from it.  If you're desperate enough, you can always find a bigger troll to take care of them, but more often than not, you'll end up getting eaten along with the whelp.