I think as admins, we need to realize that there is another group which I would term as "online bullies" or "internet bullies" who can become equally destructive in undermining communities.
These gentlemen/ladies differ from trolls in the sense that they are not anti-social, but they are an accepted and sometimes well-respected members who assume a sort of informal and unofficial leadership role. They use this position to intimidate and assert their views on newer and less established members and often push their weight around to mark territorial rights. They will generally try and behave properly, but subtly try and behave like moderators and preach about forum behaviour. They will also turn and insult people as they wish and surprisingly other forum members will turn a blind eye to them. They will usually "adopt" ownership of a single forum or a subforum of a board and hang out there frequently with their clan. (this feature is usually more common in larger forums)
These people are often the starting point of cliques because they can gather a group of yes-people around them in no time.
Beware of these people and watch out for them because they can be a lot more trouble in the long run than isolated trolls running loose.
Sometimes you just need an excellent troll to combat an established forum bully
- Both trolls and bullies can cause enormous damage to a forum by their behaviour.
- Both trolls and bullies usually have excellent communication skills using which they attack their opponents unmercifully.
- Both trolls and bullies can be intimidating to any normal forum user.
- Both trolls and bullies have the effect of creating bad blood.
- Both trolls and bullies are hard to control without intervention right from the top - the forum administrator(s) or owner(s) because even moderators might find it hard to control them without support from others.
- Trolls are usually isolated. They are generally short-lived in a forum. A person who signs up on a forum specifically to troll doesn't hang around in other parts of the forum and leaves as soon as the damage is done. Bullies are more or less regular forum members who might have a huge post count and a following.
- Trolls usually hit and run. A successful troll needs only a couple of posts in a single thread to turn it into a raging tornado. Bullies stay on and intimidate other members by throwing their weight around and using their group of yes-people to lend force to their powerful attacks.
- Trolls are usually identified for what they are. Bullies rarely get identified for what they are, because they are regular members and nobody can suggest that they are ordinary trolls because they have a huge post count.
- Trolls hardly respond to challenges. Instead they enjoy watching others fight. Bullies enjoy fighting and run around bashing everybody who dares oppose them.
- The potential damage done by trolls is limited to a particular topic of discussion or at most a forum. The potential damage done by bullies is forum-wide and not related to topics, but to the personality of the bully and the kind of respect and influence he wields.