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Either before or in the midst of his disruptive actions, a troll (cf. WhatIsaTroll) may make a positive contribution to the community as a form of HighLowPump?ing. It may take a variety of forms, but it must be something that the community acknowledges (perhaps grudgingly) as good, and it must be something that the troll can point to over time. Thus, BuildingJanitor type contributions are not effective for this tactic. Once the "good point" has been established, the troll can use it in a variety of ways:
- If someone praises the contribution, the troll can misrepresent this support as applying to himself in general. "See, [respected community member] agrees with me!"
- When the troll is attacked, he can do the opposite: make the attack seem like it was against his contribution, when it was actually against him and/or his destructive actions.
- If he is directly accused of being a troll, he can point to his contribution as evidence to the contrary. Newcomers and CommunityMembers not following the conflict can be tricked into supporting the troll because of this.
- If someone is foolish enough to actually attack the good contribution because of who made it, the troll has hit pay dirt. He can then righteously and justifiably claim that his opponent is making an ad hominem attack. Since this claim is true, it gives the troll a credible platform from which to launch further attacks. Community discussion over the issue are strained because supporting the truth is conflated with supporting the troll.
A ContentOverCommunity community is more susceptible to this tactic than a CommunityOverContent community. If you don't care about losing good content, but rather about losing good people (the good content generators), then it's irrelevant what someone writes if they are generally obnoxious. This is why we remove everything a troll writes, good or bad, because it's the person we want to get rid of by that point, not merely FlameBait.
The first two of these uses may also be effectively combined with the JugglingMisinterpretations? tactic. The tactic as a whole may be part of FalseRepentance.
A VestedContributor may do something similar, but the difference is that the community likes the VestedContributor and therefore are willing to do favours.
...that's why we remove everything a troll writes, good or bad...
I don't share this opinion. In many case we can't identify trolls and its wrong to label them. We can classify behaviour, but not people. So, if someone writes something good, it is good. If we are not able to accept this objectively independent from its origin, then we have a problem. We are unjust and the person in question will have a right to feel wronged. Readers may feel the same and turn away. If we make people in conflict understand that they can improve their positions by showing quality ideas ... what better could happen then increasing the community value this way? It may open the door for a constructive relationship. -- HelmutLeitner
- The trouble is that it forces the PeerReviewers to closely evaluate everything the troll writes. Given the ambiguity and the emotional manipulation involved, this is too mentally taxing, and it will lead to future opportunities for trolling. Often the troll will not write something actually valid, and it will take a lot of mental work to pry out all the negative parts to extract the value. Or if the troll is insulting then the community has to mentally shielf itself against those insults before wading through the text to determine if there is anything of value in there.
- To put it this way, once the PrincipleOfFirstTrust is violated, there is no more trust with this individual. This means that I have to evaluate everything the person writes very closely to see if it is acceptable. Contrast this with anyone else, from VisitorRole to GuestRole to CommunityMember to BenevolentDictator, whom we implicitly trust (PrincipleOfFirstTrust) and thus we do not have to be so cautious (although still PeerReviewing for mistakes, not attacks). Mistrust is incredibly costly; it creates negative work. It ruins the BarnRaising ethos. It is anti-team spirit. Thus, we do not accept good contributions from those we cast out until the trust is rebuilt. This is why sincere apologizing is a necessary predecessor to further contributions. Those incapable of apologizing frankly are too immature to write on a wiki, and therefore they must be cast out as we do not need their aggravation. ContentOverCommunity is a massive mistake. Good contributions don't count for anything, especially since all that text will be written by others later on anyway (have faith in the LongNow). Only emotional relationships truly matter because they are the iron girders that will hold the community through time. -- SunirShah
Maybe this way: If there is any doubt in its value (or any work involved to extract the value, or any trace of troll behaviour in that contribution) then delete it, for a troll can't expect that others help him. But if he creates a valuable page, or a sensible contribution to a discussion, consider to keep it. I know that this will create practical difficulties. But otherwise there may be worse theoretical difficulties. One can't add value by removing value. -- HelmutLeitner
- You have to consider the mental effort Sunir describes as a negative to be added to the weight against what the troll has added that may be worthwhile.
- What is more problematic is when the good contribution is made before the troll begins disruptive activities. Other people may have started working on it, thus claiming it for the community. After the troll begins his "work", we can't retroactively remove his contributions without ripping away the work of others. -- StephenGilbert
A case: We had a member at DseWiki that turned into a difficult person. He insisted on his right to fight violently and to insult newcomers. He developed the habit to add opinions as "minor edits". After trying to talk to him I just started to protocol his insults which he couldn't stand and after a while he took his RightToLeave. It would have been an act of retaliation to remove all his contributions. In fact after a few days he wanted to show the size of the loss for the community and he deleted all his contributions (hidden as minor edits). That created big gaps but they healed fast. He broke all his bridges to come back. He showed TrollSymptoms? from the beginning but was constructive and gave a lot of energy during many months. I would never deny his positive contributions to DseWiki, for it would be like faking the history of the community. The point is: a simple "delete all troll contributions" will not be able to fit all real situations, especially with identification and decision problems unsolved. We could for example decide about roles, keep contributions of UnwelcomeVisitor for his return after ForgiveAndForget, delete contributions of the CommunityOutcast. But there is no acceptance to face an "outcast" term, even if community behaviour suggests that outcasting is effectively done and can be observed. -- HelmutLeitner
- You only have to delete all new contributions unless extreme circumstances prompts you to do a WikiMindWipe. They might do one themselves, which is no big deal really. If it's anonymous text, you can restore it later after he calms down and leaves, or you could take the opportunity to rewrite it so it is clearer. -- SunirShah