Who would have thunk it? Aristotle analyzed trolling millennia ago! The long-lost manuscript was recently discovered and translated by Rachel Barney, and published in the American Philosophical Association’s Journal! Here’s the first paragraph:
That trolling is a shameful thing, and that no one of sense would accept to be called ‘troll’, all are agreed; but what trolling is, and how many its species are, and whether there is an excellence of the troll, is unclear. And indeed trolling is said in many ways; for some call ‘troll’ anyone who is abusive on the internet, but this is only the disagreeable person, or in newspaper comments the angry old man. And the one who disagrees loudly on the blog on each occasion is a lover of controversy, or an attention-seeker. And none of these is the troll, or perhaps some are of a mixed type; for there is no art in what they do. (Whether it is possible to troll one’s own blog is unclear; for the one who poses divisive questions seems only to seek controversy, and to do so openly; and this is not trolling but rather a kind of clickbait.)
Read the whole thing here.
(For my part, I recognize that trolls exist, but I think the epithet is too often unfairly aimed at those who really do have a sincerely and reasonably held opinion contrary to the “community’s”).