This is a funny thing to write about, I guess, not having many comments/commenters. I’m just exploring the theoretical, I guess.
One of the blogs I visited referred to the… dissenters/antagonists/devil’s advocates– whatever you want to call them– as trolls. Individuals feeding/acknowledging the debate were said to be “trolling” (a fishing term originally, isn’t it?) or “feeding the trolls.”
One of those labeled a troll took offense and asked if anyone who disagreed is automatically a troll, which I thought was a good question. He then asked if all the writer wanted was affirmation from her readers. Agreement and no discussion. Also good questions.
The answers would depend on the purpose of the blog I suppose.
For a “personal” blog I think any negative comments could be labeled trollish.
For an issues blog it gets more hazy. Some people like/want a debate, and opponents are not only welcome but needed (especially ones in a hurry, who type before they plan and put forward easily-beatable arguments. Those must be especially welcome).
Some issues blogs are more about discussion, rather than debate. With these I would tend to see the original post as a sort of maypole. This is the rooted topic that the comments wrap around and refer back to. At this type of blog I would consider trolling to be either trying to chop down the maypole (uproot/discredit the original post) or draw the attention off the topic (or the author’s treatment of it) and/or onto the troll’s self (or the troll’s treatment of the topic).
My favorite blogs are the first and third kind. Debates seem to me to be mostly an avenue to “Vent your folly,” since I’ve never heard of a debate that changed any of the debaters’ minds. It is a wonderful exercise to show how educated you are (and display opposing views in a hurry), but if one is trying to educate/influence others I’ve heard there are more effective ways.