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A new study tries to sharpen our understanding of the highly verbal parasites known as trolls. Trolls – call them internet trolls, if you like – are in some ways quite similar to Plasmodium falciparum, a protozoan parasite that causes malaria in large numbers of human beings. Both kinds of parasite are maddeningly difficult to suppress. They manage, again and again, to return after we thought we'd seen the last of them. Each can, if left untreated, cause agony or worse. These trolls infect any place where people gather electronically to converse by writing comments to each other. Trolls creep into and crop up anywhere they can, wheedling for attention in chat rooms, Twitter streams, blogs, and, as you may have noticed, in the comments section of online news articles.