Flame trolling is the posting of a provocative
or offensive message, known as "flamebait
", to a
public Internet discussion group, such as a forum, newsgroup
or mailing list, with the intent of provoking an angry response (a "flame") or argument over a topic the poster often has no real interest in.
While flaming can occur as a result of legitimate debates or grievances, flame trolling implies the intentional posting of inflammatory, grossly offensive or menacing rhetoric or images for the fun of it in order to cause others harm.
As stated, flame trolling can stem from a variety of issues, including misunderstandings
, frustration, and perceptions of unfairness. One motive (from trolls especially) is the desire for attention
and for entertainment derived at the expense of others.
Posted flamebait can provide the poster with a controlled trigger-and-response setting in which to anonymously engage in conflicts and indulge in aggressive behavior without facing the consequences that such behavior might bring in a face-to-face encounter, a fact parodied in a YouTube video by Isabel Fay.
In other instances, flamebait may be used to reduce a forum's use by angering the forum users. In 2012, it was announced that the US State Department would start flame trolling jihadists as part of Operation Viral Peace.