As Sally Kohn writes, “anyone who has written anything vaguely controversial online has been introduced to this unique species of nastiness.  The traditional dictionary definition of a troll is “a mythical, cave-dwelling being depicted in folklore as either a giant or a dwarf, typically having a very ugly appearance.”  But the 21st century web definition is “someone who posts inflammatory, extraneous or off-topic messages in an online community… with the primary intent of provoking readers into an emotional response or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion.”

Whereas some advocate ignoring and not “feeding” the trolls, others have begun suggesting a different approach.  Kohn summarizes, “the Internet isn’t a murky under-bridge of incivility that threatens democracy and which the rest of us polite folks ignore, but a constantly-contested space.  And in that space, civility isn’t a victim but a tool, one to be wielded with wit and abandon to slay the trolls that would undermine a decent culture and society.”