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DissuadeReputation means to ... what ? I'm guessing it means something like:

If some hypothetical Mr. Smith writes a signed comment I feel doesn't belong on a particular page, "DissuadeReputation" means to cut it out of that page and paste it on Mr. Smith's HomePage. No information has been lost.

"PunishReputation" means something like posting somewhere that "Mr. Smith is Not A Nice Person".

Replace with a better definition.

In contrast to RewardReputation, without the possibility of creating an emotional bond, people will not contribute to a community. In other words, people don't hang around where they aren't wanted. Occasionally someone comes along that disrupts TheCollective, say an anti-social individual or a person with views radically different from yours. More often a person comes by with just an incompatible personality, like say if a FormOverContent person came to MeatballWiki. If you feel up to it, you may try to include these people anyway, and employ ConflictResolution whenever necessary. However, this could take a lot of energy that might have better been applied to either the project or your personal life. A resulting disruption may also drive away more valuable contributors or potential contributors in frustration or disgust. The last thing you want to do is allow a disruptive individual to put in an emotional stake and build a reputation, only to turn around and apply PunishReputation to him, say by flaming him. This may create an enemy, possibly an attacker.

Skirting the dangerous cliff of GroupThink and prejudice, experience will tell you just what types of people aren't worth the trouble. In those unfortunate cases, the community should avoid bonding with the individual.

Therefore, DissuadeReputation. Separate the person's identity from TheCollective. At one extreme this may involve CommunityExile, which is bad. However, at a lesser degree, it comes down to respect. If the community just fails to respect the individual, and consequently doesn't engage the individual, eventually he or she will (hopefully) grow bored and exercise their RightToLeave. The upside of this, though, is that the individual can always gain esteem later and then be accepted by the community.

But, the line between dissuasion and punishing is not always clear. Dissuading is gentle in that no bonds are made; but emotional bonds are quick to form, even if initially they are very weak. Just be glad that the stronger the bond, the more likely that ConflictResolution techniques will prevail.

And, once again, it's not a very far jump from dissuasion to prejudicial segregation, which is very bad.

SoftSecurity CategoryIdentity CategoryConflict


This cannot be said enough:

Do not feed the trolls!

If you feel that you are being trolled (cf. WhatIsaTroll), or that you are being FlameBaited? (cf. FlameWar), minimally don't respond. Maximally, at least if you're on a wiki, transmute the invective into something positive or neutral, and then strip the signature. Take away the emotions feeding the situation. In the case of a troll, however, by leaving his text in the system, you implicitly stroke his ego, which may only encourage him to continue posting, only wasting more of your time chasing after him.

Another option commonly employed on the Internet is to delete the offending contributions. However, this is really PunishReputation. Instead, it's often better on a wiki to move the author's text to her namepage (or something similar) until it can be improved. Not only is this technique easy, but it is mostly ego neutral. The individual is not rewarded for contributing new ideas, nor hurt by destroying her ideas. Much more valuable, however, it centralizes the argument. This makes it easier to respond as you only have to respond once, and it prevents the spread of the flame throughout the PageDatabase as often happens (on a wiki this could probably be termed a ForestFire...). Even better, if a ConflictResolution can be reached, it eases any possible refactoring or the much more likely total deletion (i.e. ForgiveAndForget). The offending individual will thank you later.

Finally, it should be mentioned that the UseRealNames policy employs DissuadeReputation over PunishReputation. We do not deny people access who do not want to use their RealName, we just do not allow them to create a (meaningful) SerialIdentity. Instead, they are limited to anonymous, IncidentalCollaboration. This was consciously done (in part) to dissuade hardcore CryptoNaut""s from working with us, as we feel that our perspectives are too different.

Just two small notes: I don't understand the name of this page. Is it just to match "PunishReputation", which itself seems to have a name chosen only to match RewardReputation? -- BayleShanks

I'm not entirely satisfied with the names of the pages, or perhaps not the focus of the pages. I wanted to write a page around why we aren't concerned about anonymity as much as pseudonymity that contrasted a page that explained how to encourage people to keep one login account, and another that explained that it's important to avoid angering fringe people into having multiple accounts. Somewhere in between there, I ended up writing SerialIdentity and wandering off-tangent. Please do rename them if you can think of something better. -- SunirShah

I feel that an individual rarely has a duty to ostracize someone else for the sake of a group. However, they have a strong duty not to exclude someone else unduly. Since everyone will have different views of the magnitude of the problem with a given individual, it is hard to get everyone in a group to DissuadeReputation at the same time. The "most accepting common denominator" will win out and it will rarely be possible for the group to totally cut off interaction with an individual, although it will be possible to attenuate interaction.

This dynamic gets even more problematic when DissuadeReputation is chosen as the result of an incompatible personality rather than because the target did something wrong. Even if the target's personality is incompatible with the group, they might be compatible with some of the individuals within the group. There is no reason for these individuals not to work with the target outside of that particular group. Hence, the target will have secondary ties to the group even if they do not directly contribute.

Although I am mostly hypothesizing that this is the case in an online community, I have seen this happen in RealLife.

To relate this to our situation here, it seems that I may be of the "most accepting fringe" on meatball folks. I am willing to exclude "for the sake of the group" only when the individual in question did something wrong; for example, direct vandalism, obvious trolling, or insulting others.

For other things, such as obstinancy or stomping on group norms, I exclude only when I personally feel like ignoring the target. I feel that otherwise, the duty not to exclude an individual unduly trumps the duty to exclude for the sake of the group.

I should note that the "duties" I talk about here are somewhat weaker than your basic moral duties such as the duty to keep your promises, etc. They're more a matter of "niceness" and "good practice" than hardcore "moral duties". For example, not excluding someone from a group unduly is not a "moral duty" but rather a nice thing to do, and also good practice (to prevent cliqiness). Excluding someone for the sake of a group (DissuadeReputation) is also not a "moral duty" but rather good practice in some circumstances (to get harmful individuals to go away).

-- BayleShanks

DissuadeReputation does not work when the CommunityDoesNotAgree. --MartinHarper

Maybe because I am the leader rather than the fringe, I empathize more with the contributors than the vandals, attackers, and lunatics on the site. The more windows you let people break, the more broken windows there will be, and when you fail to Wiki:FixBrokenWindows, everything goes downhill. This is just basic leadership. If you see something wasting people's otherwise productive time, you eliminate it.

I disagree strongly with your assessment that people have an intrinsic right to be included here. I have stated this many times. Access to MeatballWiki is a privilege not a right. We provide no essential service. We are here for our own entertainment, not theirs. We are not their government or their state; we do not hold monopolized power over anybody (except for myself).

More to the point, as a primary contributor here, don't I have any rights? If not compared to the detritus, then why shouldn't I leave instead of dealing with boring aggravating crap all day long and exposing myself to personal attacks? I can also take everything I've contributed with me, because I in fact have copyrights.

You have to decide who is more important. Those who add value or those who subtract value. You have to consider the project's success as a whole. Thus, you have to protect people's investment because they can remove it at any time, not to mention out of fairness and respect for what they have built. If you disrespect your contributors, they will quickly leave. (cf. FairProcess)

To give an analogy, when BarnRaising, we do not let the town drunks help out because they endanger not only themselves but everyone. It's safer and better for everyone to just abandon the project rather than have waste people to babysit these clods. Do you think everyone will volunteer to babysit? No. Only a few samaritans, but they will soon stop coming to BarnRaising""s, and then the drunks will disrupt the rest. After a while, your TragedyOfTheCommons happens and there are no more barns being raised.

The assessment of who is bounced or not follows FidonetPolicyFour.

 9.1  General
 The FidoNet judicial philosophy can be summed up in two rules:

     1) Thou shalt not excessively annoy others.
     2) Thou shalt not be too easily annoyed.

Note the two halves. -- SunirShah

I feel that DissuadeReputation, while a good idea in theory (don't let the community form a bond with certain people, positive or negative), in practice often turns out to be PunishReputation anyway. Often DissuadeReputation turns into an attempt to isolate, or at the least, very pointedly ignore the target individual. This is no longer neutral, this is negative reinforcement.

I think that DissuadeReputation, as originally stated, is a good idea and should be revived, but we should take care not to (unknowingly) cross the line into PunishReputation. If someone is not encouraged here or listened to, that's DissuadeReputation. Once people start criticizing that person, or telling them to leave, or discussing them as if they are a problem, the line has been crossed.

PunishReputation may be necessary in some cases, but should be used sparingly. -- BayleShanks

I think you are making a very subtle equivocation, one that I find myself often making when considering the ethical implications of my (or occasionally, our) actions. The dissuasion and the punishment is against the reputation, not the person. So, while DissuadeReputation can very often be punishment against a person, especially when it is an active attempt to break emotional bonds with that person--say to CommunityExile (a HardSecurity measure!)--it remains neutral to the person's reputation. That is, if done properly, concertedly, and without argument (vs. the CommunityDoesNotAgree), the target's reputation will remain in tact and no significant harm done. This leaves future relationships possible. Conversely, just look at the two cases in MeatballWiki's past of significant reputation damage, where we now expect long term conflict.

I'm not very satisfied with using DissuadeReputation against a person with whom the community has already bonded at the current stage of our theory. I think there is a more nuanced approach to improve social conventions. We should learn (and are learning) how to respond with sliding scales of attention/ignorance depending on how collaborative/annoying a person is. This can be ranging from total encouragement, BarnRaising, and all the fun stuff; to fixing spelling, syntax and style; to transmuting invective, returning words, or canning a ForestFire; to an outright WikiMindWipe at the very extreme. At no point should harm be done to the person. The more harm done to the person, a) the deeper the bond gets, b) the more likely a violent reaction will be, c) the more violent that reaction will be, d) and the longer term a pattern of violent reactions will be. All actions should be done with a view to continue a productive relationship in the future.

The trouble with this idealistic theory of interaction is that it presupposes an emotionally deep, stable, and confident community. Complex interactions such as ones described above cost emotional capital. I think you can sketch a budget, more or less, for emotional costs like dealing with malcontents. If you think along budgetary lines, quickly you begin to think of ways to produce more emotional capital and to lower the emotional costs. To these ends, strong community support, both in terms of the FunFactor""s and appreciation (e.g. the BarnStar award) and in terms of the "community housekeeping" (vs. CommunityDoesNotAgree), is critical although admittedly difficult to achieve. It's certainly not my advice to just call for support without deserving it; indeed, I frequently openly question on MeatballWiki how one generates support and therefore emotional capital.

At some point in the future perhaps we'll have a better answer from all these interactions. It's unfortunate our development produces roadkill along the way. There are certainly ethical problems with our in situ experimental approach that academia would be less than happy with, but what seems to me the natural way to figure out these problems--you know, it's life. -- SunirShah

Another issue: If the CommunityDoesNotAgree, then arguments over whether to apply DissuadeReputation have to be done privately. If you do them in public, then that will RewardReputation: trolls will lap it up. In order for DissuadeReputation to work effectively, the community has to present a united front. But doing it privately has issues of openness. One answer: everyone gets to have "their day in court". However, if the troublemaker doesn't respect the FairProcess, then the community needn't respect them. Hence TrialByExile. --MartinHarper

DissuadeReputation doesn't work for many people who wish to expound a point of view or to publish their ideas. If there is conflict or community interaction, then they may rise to that. But if there is no conflict and no community interaction, they will be motivated by pride. The wiki becomes their personal website, they'll tell their friends about it and post links from other forums such as blogs. Quiet, constant reversion and deletion by the community becomes a nuisance for them, not a disincentive. They win prestige and reputation in the external community by having their ideas published in a well-known wiki, and they receive higher search engine rankings than they would for a personal website. The idea of dissuading reputation is founded on a one-dimensional and unrealistic view of human motivation. -- TimStarling



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