1. Trolls. In the past, trolls lived under bridges frightening goats. For some reason (and I can’t understand why) they tired of this and relocated, en masse, to the internet. It seems unlikely that they have parents in whose attics or basements they could carry out their activities, so I prefer to imagine them all living in a vast and dimly lit hangar somewhere, tapping away offensive and irrelevant remarks. The place smells of dirty socks and resonates to a million joyless cackles. Row upon row, column upon column, at cheap plywood desks – a production line of sociopathic drivel and unrelated memes.
2. Spammers. The article commented upon may well be about the iridium content of meteorites, or the topic on the thread may well be concerned with late medieval Belgian lace manufacturers, but still, the links arrive directing you to a site selling folding garden furniture, promoting some band so appalling that you’d wish the W.H.O. hadn’t eradicated smallpox, or promoting time cube theory. Do these people get paid, or is this just an incredibly unrewarding hobby? If they are trying to drum up business, is there actually a return on these types of marketing tactics? Maybe they are all bots. Created by someone. Someone who lives in the hangar mentioned above?
3. The functionally illiterate. Punctuation, standardised spelling, grammar, syntax... these things are apparently, in the minds of some, either fantastical, mythical concepts or unnecessary and pedantic conventions restricting self-expression. Sure, write however you feel comfortable. Just don’t expect anybody to understand what you’re trying to say unless you also submit the key to your impossible cipher.
4. People who think they can write in a language which they plainly only have a passing knowledge of. I speak reasonable French, a bit of Spanish and a bit of Italian. I do not, however, visit Italian, French or Spanish language websites and try to engage in complex discussions in these languages. That would be silly. These people mean well, and it’s not their fault they don’t speak the language they’re trying to converse in, but they end up coming across as functionally illiterate as a result, when clearly, they are merely very, very, very over confident.
5. Creationists. The most annoying of the lot. Using a computer, sitting in an air-conditioned room, they will quite happily argue that science is a non-productive endeavour and that the universe was created last Tuesday. Any mention of evolution will result in the following:
A) Accusations that evolution is being ‘rammed down their throat’.B) Claims (equally sanctimonious and erroneous) that evolution is ‘just a theory’ and that there is no real evidence for it, in spite of the fact that they don’t understand that it is referred to and accepted as a theory (rather than a hypothesis) precisely because there is a wealth of evidence to support it.
C)Some nut pasting three dozen paragraphs of completely unrelated bible verses, usually ending with a contradictory demand along the lines of: ‘Jesus loves all people! Accept his divine grace and compassion or be damned for all eternity!’.