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One technique for managing conflict in groups is to set up one person in your faction to be a LightningRod, which is like a more intense, ongoing ScapeGoat. Their purpose is to attract all the hate and bile and frustration which arises, and to shrug it off. In the process, careful thinkers are not slandered, leaders are not distracted, topics aren't changed, and all that. The role is usually assigned to someone who would otherwise be considered a loose cannon, such as a CourtJester.

Often such a person is not made aware of their role. When holding the LightningRod role for a sufficient length of time, it is possible to become such a pariah within a community that departure is the only alternative (cf. RightToLeave). A ReveredLeader is often a LightningRod, but that person does not often have the same RightToLeave as other people, especially since his or her reputation is so thoroughly embedded in the project that he or she cannot exit gracefully.

cf. SamRuby's [description] of himself as a LightningRod for AtomWiki for his talk at ETech'04.

An AntiPattern.

In a wiki context: when a community has attracted a DifficultPerson?, perhaps one can LimitDamage by having different members of the community take turns acting as a LightningRod for that person. The goal is to draw the attention of the DifficultPerson? away from the rest of the wiki to one limited area which can be easily repaired (e.g., a HomePage). When the attention of the DifficultPerson? starts to wander, another person steps into the LightningRod role while others clean up the damage.

Another name for this might be "RodeoClown?".



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