I'm frequently asked by friends both male and female, (who generally don't rock the boat or get involved in any kind of on or offline activism), why I don't just ignore trolls, why I "feed them" as it were.
I don't engage trolls to have any effect on the TROLLS. Unlike the trolls, I'm not an idiot. Whether it's an MRA being a sexist asshole, a TERF being an abusive transphobic twunt, a hyper conservative religious fundamentalist shitting on the chessboard, (500 points if you get the joke there), or just some juvenile loser being a douchebag for his own amusement, I KNOW that nothing I say or do will EVER, (barring one or two very rare exceptions), change the mind of the one trolling. I'm fully aware that nothing I say, no matter how rational, logical, factual and reasonable, will change what the trolls believe or make them stop being a dick.
I challenge them for the ones watching. The observers who aren't commenting but just reading. The ones who are sitting on the fence, who aren't well-versed or informed on the subject. When I see a troll spreading hateful lies and bullshit an uninformed fence sitter might mistake as fact, I call the troll out and rebuke their bullshit with facts. I tell the factual truth to counter their lies. I explain what feminism actually is, what misogyny means, who trans people actually are and the medical science behind it, and why a religious belief has no business dictating secular laws.
And I do it for the ones reading the exchange, who will see one person being a jerkass and see me calmly dissecting their claims, and hopefully learn both the truth from me, and how to spot a troll spreading hateful dishonesty.
And I know it works because I honestly cannot even COUNT how many times over the past nigh two decades someone has told me how informative I was and how much they learned that they didn't know before from reading my replies to trolls.
I engage the trolls so I can teach the audience. And it works. And if by responding trolls with facts and truth I can educate some good if naive people away from the hate and ignorance, then it's worth the abuse I have to wade through from the trolls to do it.