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definitions of the noun "troll"
- noun: angling by drawing a baited line through the water
- noun: a fisherman's lure that is used in trolling (Example: "He used a spinner as his troll")
- noun: a partsong in which voices follow each other; one voice starts and others join in one after another until all are singing different parts of the song at the same time
- noun: (Scandanavian folklore) a supernatural creature (either a dwarf or a giant) that is supposed to live in caves or in the mountains or under the world tree
definitions of the verb "to troll"
- verb: angle with a hook and line drawn through the water
- verb: circulate, move around, e.g. "he trolled all the large public wikis"
- verb: speak or recite rapidly or in a rolling voice
- verb: praise or celebrate in song (Example: "All tongues shall troll you")
- verb: sing loudly and without inhibition, especially the USENET troll song
- verb: sing the parts of (a round) in succession, especially heroic songs about trolls
- verb: cause to move round and round (Example: "The child trolled her hoop", "the Lowest Troll trolled the sysop-vandal off to other large public wikis, but it always came back")
Combining all the various insights above, clearly, a troll is a supernatural creature with a body of any size, closely associated with nature, who likely eats fish, moves around a lot and often in circles in a regular range, who sings a great deal, often in praise and celebration (of each other or Earth herself), but always loudly and without inhibition, in complex cycles in close cooperation with other such creatures, in rolling voices, with all eventually signing different parts of the song at the same time, probably driving everyone who doesn't want to listen to them completely nuts. This is the generic troll - see trolls for more information on their culture and practices.
the Internet troll
On the Internet, "today, the word troll are both verb and noun, and are applied loosely to any outsider. If you don't like someone's manners, he is a troll. If you don't like a gadfly, he is a troll. If you don't like a philosopher, he is a troll. If you don't like a inquirer, he is a troll. If you don't like a humorist, he is a troll. If you don't like a teacher, he is a troll. If you don't like witches, they are, well, witches and must be witch-hunted." (see ad hominem and witchhunt). "Thusly, from weirdo to witches, from teachers to philosophers, from gadfly to firebrand, from loner to gay, they are all trolls online at your call. Quick spun the guild of killfilers and troll-criers. Anyone who has contrariwise things to say or the manner of saying it is a troll." - "troll ignorance", Xah Lee
"I find that the term "troll" means pretty much nothing, or it just means "somebody doing something I don't like." - Theresa Robinson
"...a term of abuse that is levelled both at genuinely problematic users and users with contentious but potentially legitimate views." - Mark Richards
troll vs. sysop
Obviously, under these definitions, we are all trolls from time to time, that is, we are all likely to be in some dispute or conflict between users and then if there is some sysop power structure, we can be labelled "troll" and so marginalized. This is a fairly typical process, not different from authorship:
The sysops stand for the old guard's systemic bias and prejudices and will cooperate always to exclude the New Troll point of view. Trolls on the other hand will always seek to invite the New Troll in, and assist them in their dealings with the Lowest Troll, to ensure no groupthink can become standardized on the wiki. To side with sysops is to side with stagnation, while, to trolls, each new troll is itself a revolution incarnate.
One view of "real trolls" is that they are those who wilfully agree with Foucault and so reject both authorship and the association of authorship with fiction. To trolls, there is no such thing as an individual "troll", so the use of the term in the singular is confined to sysops. See Internet troll (Wikipedia) for examples of their anti-troll propaganda and troll (Meta-Wikipedia) for a troll view, in which sysops are defined as simply "less mature individual troll personalities who have not yet found a group they can comfortably be trolls in". A hierarchy with the sysop (those who require technological power over others to feel they can belong) at the entry point, and the troll as the culminative outcome, is formed. If this is desirable, then, troll-friendly wikis are the best:
A wiki is by contrast troll-hostile and ruled by a GodKing if "deliberately disrupting work... in order to foster change, etc." can be unilaterally labelled as "problematic trolling" by one person or a small group, e.g. Jim Wales