I think an anonymous troll comment says volumes about the moron that posted it, and nothing really useful about the intended victim.
But the more worrisome question, and the one that prompted this LJ post in the first place, is: what about the readers?
There really is nothing that one can do about that - one has to just let that go, because it is out of your control.
I trust that my friends are honorable and forthright, and make it clear that I am open to discuss any topic, including what an asshole I may or may not be. What else can be said, without at least knowing the remarks made about you?
Ruining the lives of others through rumor, conjecture, and implication are the hobbies of spiteful people who feel slighted (rightfully and otherwise). People have been doing it for as long as there have been people. Othello (and many other plays) is based on it.
All you can do is trust that you have chosen your friends wisely.
You mean as "oh my... it says this/that/whatever...what will people think?" I'd give my readers the benefit of believing that they're intelligent enough to to recognize what was going on. For instance, my troll included you are nothing, absolutely a worthless nonentity, an oxygen stealing, resource wasting, compassionless subhuman in one of their many spams to my LJ and when I read it to a pal he burst out laughing, which was my reaction too... in the context of the entire typo-ridden and ill-thought-out post with unfinished sentences, it fell into the category of unintentional comedy.
I didn't see the troll posts Anne refers to, but my first thoughts upon seeing her post today were along the lines of "geez, she's picked up a nutcase" not "oooh... gossip on Anne and Bill...there must be some truth in there". The majority of net-dwellers are going to recognize a troll. Those that only visit occasionally probably didn't see the post(s). If someone is going to take a mean-spirited anonymous comment seriously, I'm not going to worry about what they think.
YMMV... but the idea that I'd have to prove / justify / defend myself to some dimbulb that can't figure out it's a BS post doesn't register. I've learned to block out gossip. You pretty much have to otherwise you'll go crazy from all the lies / misinformation floating around, and there are a lot of petty, small-minded people with too much time on their hands who create drama by making stuff up. You can just see it easier now that we have the Internet ;-)
I don't think Anne even needed to refute the accusations in the troll comments, just alerting people to potential incoming spam in their own LJs was enough. If Anne wants to swing from chandeliers with the football team and Bill has run off with a gaggle of balloon animals, it's no one's business but their own (anyone reposting that last sentence as fact will be tracked down and pummeled, then cited for being sarcasm-impaired).
It's close to what I was asking about in our LJ (Friends-locked for many reasons, and this is one of them), about whether people believe gossip. For most people who replied, it seems that they do, at least in some situations. And that of course is what gives trolls like this the power they have.
That said, I'm terribly sorry this has happened, netmouse
. You don't deserve to be attacked like this.