"It is of the nature of idea to be communicated: written, spoken, done. The idea is like grass. It craves light, likes crowds, thrives on crossbreeding, grows better for being stepped on."
- Ursula K. Le Guin, The Dispossessed (1974), Ch. 3
Some of my own thoughts on the subject:
There is a crucial difference between physical attack and a mental aggression. You normally just must respond to a physical attack, but a mental aggression is often best foiled by just ignoring it.
In fact, all too often you will gain absolutely nothing if you are drawn into a meaningless battle of words with a troll. A troll likes nothing more than make other people angry. If they get no response, they will just fade away. A troll lives and thrives on the anger of others.
However, the chance to have a honest discussion with a person who has a different set of ideas from you is a completely different matter altogether. It is a chance that one just must never miss. The chance of testing your ideas with a different mind is an extremely valuable asset if you ever want to develop your ideas further.
The difficulty, of course, is how to see when the other party is just out to search and destroy and when he is out to test his or her own ideas.
(This piece was refurbished on 30th of October, 2012)
"Ursula Kroeber Le Guin (born October 21, 1929) is an American author of novels, children's books, and short stories, mainly in the genres of fantasy and science fiction. She has also written poetry and essays. First published in the 1960s, her work explores alternative imaginings of sexuality, religion, politics, anarchism, ethnography, and gender. She is influenced by central figures of Western literature, including feminist writers like Virginia Woolf, and also by modern fantasy and science fiction writers, Norse mythology, and books from the Eastern tradition such as the Tao Te Ching. She has won various awards, including the Hugo, Nebula, Locus, and World Fantasy Award multiple times."