Thank you for sharing your experiences as a teacher abroad. With your background and education in applied linguistics I’m sure you can smell the gas in some of these gas-lighting racist comments that deviate far and wide from the original point of some articles.
I have yet to doubt whether or not a commenter is a real person or not. But I certainly spend less time engaging with those who have not written any of their own articles, have suspiciously few followers and no profile picture. I wrote another piece on whether or not to respond to those who seem to just be trolling. My rule of thumb is to ask myself if what they’re saying is ad hominem or not. If they’re attacking the author instead of the article there is likely little to be gained from interacting. Especially when they’re vulgar, use profanity and attack your personal life.
But I’m also seeing hate-mongers who attack others, not just the author, in ways that can only be described as tangential to the initial article. They likely don’t want to have levelheaded debate either.
Question — in your professional experience, are linguists not using the term ELL? Most of the students I’ve worked with are learning English as a third or even fourth language. Where I’m from in Oregon we typically say English Language Learners.