Definition: An Internet Troll

An Internet troll is a person who sows discord on the internet by starting quarrels or upsetting people. They do this by posting inflammatory, extraneous, or off topic messages in an online community with the intent of provoking readers into an emotional response, or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion, often for the troll’s amusement.

Researchers from Cornell and Stanford universities conducted a study which helped identify internet trolls.

The signs of a troll:

  1. Bad grammar, spelling, and punctuation
    • Internet trolls often ignore using full stops and capital letters
    • They swear more than average
  2. They are very active online
    • Trolls receive more replies than average users
    • This suggests that they are successful in luring people into time-consuming discussions
  3. They won’t let it drop
    • Trolls typically restrict themselves to a few comment threads
    • Trolls persist with replies until they get someone interested.

If you notice a troll, do not feed into their comments! Trolls want to provoke you, just ignore them. Report their comments, and hopefully, they will be taken down.

Unlike with cyber-bullying the troll is not known by the target.


Produced in collaboration with SaferLondon, The Anti-Bullying Alliance and John Carr OBE


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