Cory Doctorow on BoingBoing links today to a forum discussion about why people troll. Like Doctorow, I was interested by Etruscan’s comments. They provide fascinating insight into my husband’s personality! ;>

Trolling is fun.
As someone who has avidly trolled in the past (I grew out of it, mostly) I can clear the mystery up for all y’all.

First off, getting a rise out of people is priceless. There is a distinct exhilirating rush knowing that you’ve really twisted the knife, gotten the goat. There is probably some amount of sadism to this. Hurting other people for fun.

Analyzing someone for buttons, then carefully pressing them, can also be challenging as fuck. While people tend to fall into certain categories — with broad, generalized buttons — everyone is different, and it can take a gentle touch and canny wits to unearth that little something that will really set someone off. We’re talking about seriously honing mental muscles that don’t otherwise get much use.

I mean… don’t any of you enjoy arguing with people, like, IRL? I /love/ it. Coming out on top in a contest of wits is fucking awesome. Notably, most internet trolling is pretty crude, but not everyone’s *good* at it, right?

Sean adores getting a rise out of people. He plays Lineage II mainly so he can socialize, and I think he spends more time on the messageboards than he does actually playing the game. Every so often he’ll say to me, grinning, “I think I made some enemies today.”

(You should have seen how he used to be; compared to his vitriol of five years ago, nowadays he’s pretty tame. Or more sophisticated. Take your pick.)

Later posters surmise that trolls act out to get attention and to hide the fact that they have no substance. In Sean’s case, the first might be true, but the second definitely isn’t. He is very opinionated and articulate.

I think maybe Sean falls into the “argumentative” category that Smoothly Weaving mentions.

In any case, the discussion starts to get boring by the end of the first page, so I stopped reading there :D