The Internet can be fun. Favorite aspects include instant directions to strange streets we’ve never heard of, quick background checks on future neighbors or dates, and checking – in a millisecond – if someone like Ann B. Davis is dead or alive.

Internet troll/Ryn Gargulinski

Internet troll/Ryn Gargulinski

I am also quite fond of many comments – and the commenters. You are a cool slate of readers who add interesting tidbits and points of view.

We may not always agree, but we have fun disagreeing – opening each other’s minds and sharing our thought processes. For that, I thank you.

But alas, just like anything that starts out beautiful – from spacious skies to amber waves of grain – some folks will see fit to try and wreck it.

Enter the trolls.

Online trolls are one of the detrimental side effects of the Internet, much like SPAM, computer viruses or pop-up ads.

Not much is known about the living conditions or appearance of these strange creatures, although theories say the trolls live in dank holes, or at least unfinished basements, have beady little eyes and most likely sit around in soiled underwear.

The anonymity of the Internet makes a prime stomping ground for trolls, as they can hide behind their user names and icons.

Rather than adding insightful, delightful or even relevant comments to a post, trolls are bent on wasting everyone’s time with rants, raves or otherwise wholly inappropriate material.

They also come in several types:

The Einsteins: These trolls know everything about everything and will rip articles and other comments apart because, of course, everything in the article or comment is wrong.

Now, there is a difference between pointing out errors or inconsistencies, which is often appreciated, and ripping apart information because they don’t like the source or don’t like the facts or know oh so much more about the topic at hand.

Based on the wealth and breadth of their knowledge, we are unsure why they are wasting all their intelligence trolling the Internet when they should really be out nabbing a Nobel Prize.

The umbrella haters: These trolls visit plenty of different sites with the same goal: to spew their hatred of just about anything.

After all, “Hate is no fun unless you share it.”

They are non-discerning with their hostility and will open their large and angry umbrella of hate to encompass anything that falls in its shadow.

The targeted haters: Unlike the umbrella haters, the targeted haters pick specific targets on which to spew their hate.

The targets can be anything from cats to clowns, homosexuals to women with red hair and glasses. Some of these folks may even set up Google search alerts with keywords of their targets so they can find anything and everything that is written about the topic so they may attack with their venom-filled shots.

The provokers: These trolls lie awake at night thinking of ways to provoke arguments with the writers, the readers and even fellow trolls. They mock, degrade, belittle and hurl insults that have nothing to do with the topic – or reality. Their goal in life is to bait others into arguments, a fine waste of everybody’s time.

The incoherent ranters: Living up to their names, these trolls often leave long, disgruntled-sounding comments full of typos, misspellings and lengthy ramblings about something or other. There is, however, a huge problem with their posts: no one really knows what the heck they are talking about.

The racism seekers: Ahhh, this group is definitely a favorite, if just for their creativity alone. They will comb through an article and any comments, probably five or six hundred times, to find evidence of someone’s racism or bias. It just has to be there, no?

One of the best examples of racism seekers of late was in response to a white sports writer’s column about how he was glad Tiger Woods was finally out of the limelight. The writer said he was sick of hearing about Tiger’s private life, the public apology and the whole sordid story surrounding the once-lofty golf star.

What did the racism seekers have to say? Why, the writer is racist, of course, and that’s the real reason he didn’t like Tiger Woods. He was racist and jealous and probably a white supremacist, but of course. Now how did the rest of us miss that?

Although I got rid of ants in my bathroom sink by pouring bleach down the drain, the trolls are a bit more difficult to eliminate. Some are as tenacious in their trolling as they are about finding racism, hatred and errors where none exist.

But the Internet does provide a handy bleach alternative: delete, delete, delete.

What do you think?

Why do you think trolls get their jollies wasting everyone’s time?

What do you imagine these trolls look like?

What’s some of the worst examples of trolling you’ve seen?