Internet trolls come in many shapes and sizes from straight out being rude to, contrarians, wisecracking mischief makers to hate mongers. For better or wose in sickenss and in health, they are deeply emeshed into the the new-media landscape.
The Urban Dictionary defines a troll as a person “who posts a deliberately provocative message to a newsgroup or message board with the intention of causing maximum disruption and argument.” A recent study by UW-Madison science researcher Dominique Brossard reported that "the tone of blog comments alone" can influence our perceptions of a subject.
Trolls do not necessarily change our mind, they can however polarize us fmore than we are already polarized. The research focused on the potential effects blog comments have on public perceptions of science. The results according to Dominique Brossard showed that "even simple disagreements can sway perceptions and influence conversations."
"It seems we don't really have a clear social norm about what is expected online," says Brossard, a UW-Madison professor of Life Science Communication, contrasting online forums with public meetings where prescribed decorum helps keep discussion civil. "In the case of blog postings, it's the Wild West."
Dietram Scheufele, another of the study's co-authors, notes that the "Web is a primary destination for people looking for detailed information and discussion on aspects of science and technology. Because of that trend, 'studies of online media are becoming increasingly important, but understanding the online information environment is particularly important for issues of science and technology.'"