On the surface, it may seem like internet trolling isn’t a big deal. After all, who’s it going to hurt if someone regularly posts nasty things on blogs and websites, when physical contact isn’t at all possible? Well, the fact is that the acting troll can adversely affect those around him/her. An online study shows that if a person is truly an internet troll, he or she most likely already suffers from conditions that may worsen with time. The Urban Dictionary defines an Internet troll as a person who post controversial, inflammatory or off-topic messages in an online community with the intent of being disruptive or provoking an emotional response from other users. We all have seen the behavior from these people; it often starts with a single-minded, ridiculously racist or sexist comment and takes off as random people take the bait and respond. You can’t blame those that reply, though it feed’s the trolls ego; who wants to think of themselves as a person that can’t handle a internet virtual battle? Not me.

The characteristics that are the staples of Internet troll behavior are Machiavellianism (willingness to manipulate and deceive others), narcissism (egotism and self-obsession), psychopathy (the lack of remorse and empathy) and sadism (pleasure in the suffering of others), according to research conducted by Erin Buckles of the University of Manitoba. The next logical step for comment moderators is blocking users that are repeat offenders. That’s an understandable step to thwart those that bully and ignite online feuds, but Popular Science has taken it a step further by banning commenting all together.

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I think banning comments in their entirety takes away from the value of the article from its producer and the user. It says a lot when a writer, reporter or user opens themselves up for criticism; publicizing articles with no possible consequence is an empty effort, and in a way, seems like the act characteristic of a typical troll. I sense a parallel here. Think about it; trolls hide behind a screen, and an author posts with no worries of reprisal. Who’s to say a writer/author will double-check his sources when his audience literally can’t respond? I vote for singling out trolls and knocking them off message boards and websites one by one. The comment section, at its best, can be a great forum for creativity and community within any industry or area of interest.

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