Years ago I once attended a conference about bullying at work hosted by Tim Fields who also covered bullying on line and in other situation. It occurred to me that there are people who are bullies and don't even realise that they are doing it. So I thought it might be worth opening a discussion thread about the subject.
This abstract covers "Internet Trolling"
"Internet Trolling" is a good example of persistent, abnormal behaviour. This is the often anonymous use of forums to post irrelevant, disruptive, insulting or abusive messages, designed to infuriate or upset members, leading to replies, counter criticism, and arguments and taking the forum way off topic. The troll gets a kick from single-handedly moving others to spend their time and emotional energy on him or her, and even on each other. The best way to deal with Internet trolling, and other adult behaviour which is primarily intended to elicit attention, is to not respond, to not engage and to thus deny the person the attention they seek. If the perpetrator is denied the attention, there's a chance that they will think twice before taking this approach again. If they get attention, they might well do it again.
Attention-seeking behaviour inevitably involves other people, who at best waste their time by becoming irritated by it, or they become an unwitting player in a fabricated melodrama. At worst, people can find that they have been manipulated, conned, harmed etc by it.
Tim Field made a link between some well documented forms of attention seeking behaviour and bullying because, he concluded, the manipulation, deceit, temper tantrums and "poor me" melodramas of attention seekers are also typical of adult bullies. Put another way, some forms of attention seeking behaviour also amount to bullying.
(This list is based on the original by Tim Field, but some inspiration from pages at http://mentalhealth.com has helped with the update.)
(abstract taken from http://bullyonline.org/index.php/bullying/bullies/21-the-need-for-attention)