[Home]LimitDamage

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It is impossible to eliminate bad things. Prostitution, drugs, guns, sexually transmitted diseases, violence, robbery - these things will always be with us. So too trolls, flamers, spammers, and other internet-based ne'er do-wells.

Focusing on punishing those who do bad things gives lawmakers and enforcers a warm glow inside, but may not address the damage caused, and may itself cause harm. For example, cracking down on prostitution may make prostitution more dangerous and increase the number of rapes and murders. When considering responses to unpleasantness, DefendAgainstPassion.

Therefore, LimitDamage. Accept that bad stuff will always happen, and try to limit its effects, rather than stopping it from occurring at all. Shift the focus from trying to reduce unwanted behaviour, to trying to reduce the negative consequences of that unwanted behaviour. In other words, address the symptoms of the crime, rather than the crime itself.

Don't be a perfectionist in your SoftSecurity: if you try to find the ideal solution to every problem, you'll waste time, and might cause harm in doing so. Get close enough, and go back to BusinessAsUsual - it's more important to avoid the worst cases than to try to find the best cases.

But, shouldn't we also be looking at ways to reduce the causes too?

Compare DissuadeReputation. Contrast ZeroTolerance? and PunishReputation

In RealWorld policing circles, this approach is called "harm reduction" - see WikiPedia:Harm_reduction

CategorySoftSecurity

The above text is PrimarilyPublicDomain


That's a very defeatist attitude.

No, that's a realistic attitude.


ya know what I really hate about SoftSecurity sometimes? When do WE get the warm glowy feeling? Why should the CryptoNauts have all the fun? Some of us are gonna burst from repressed anger here!

At times:

You don't have to be stoic; in fact, you should be passionate. But you shouldn't be vindictive, because that only comes back to you. Just DefendAgainstPassion in the kind of extremes that causes you to do more damage than the problem you're solving.

Still. Some of us were born for the Dark Side. Walking the straight and narrow can be a trial.


I think "damage" is subtly wrong: damage is about property, whereas "harm" (or "hurt", etc) is about people.

Psychological damage is an accepted phrase.


Focusing on punishing those who do bad things gives lawmakers and enforcers a warm glow inside, but may not address the damage caused, and may itself cause harm. For example, cracking down on prostitution may make prostitution more dangerous and increase the number of rapes and murders. When considering responses to unpleasantness, DefendAgainstPassion.

Therefore, LimitDamage. Accept that bad stuff will always happen, and try to limit its effects, rather than stopping it from occurring at all. In other words, address the symptoms rather than the cause.

I don't think I agree with this prescription.

In the example of prostitution, I think the solution is to target poverty, the root cause, rather than prostitution, a symptom.

Sure, there are times when you don't want to take corrective action because that corrective action will have other costs that make it undesirable (example: I think the "war against drugs" creates lots of problems worse than drug use, even if it does reduce drug use). But if that is what you are trying to avoid, then the prescription is not "address symptoms, not the cause", but rather "be sure to evaluate the costs of your attempted solution" ("sometimes the cure is worse than the disease"). Don't know what the handy wiki page name should be for this statement, though.

-- BayleShanks

"But" agrees with you. Perhaps you could expand it? I tweaked the page a little to make the rest of the pattern clearer. Prostitution isn't damage, except perhaps morally. Further, you can't "solve" it - it will always be around. But if you reduce poverty, you will at least increase the going rate, and that will help to reduce harm.

In an online community, the causes are often beyond us. On EnglishWikipedia, one vandal was being obnoxious because he'd just had a girlfriend dump him. We could have addressed the cause, provided some relationship counselling - but it was easier to LimitDamage: calmly fix the vandalism and wait for him to go away. There will always be broken hearts - just make sure they don't screw up your community too much.


I think that there is a more general truth behind this page that is not directly addressed. I don't have a clear view on it either. If you are working for a community, there are hundreds of things to do: you can fight a troll, add security features, improve the layout, refactor a page, remove begging links, sozialize with other members, write a lucid article, remove typos, think about philosophy or strategies, improve contact to the neighbourhood, advertize your community, write a book, talk to offline people to contribute, order your domain, ... whatever, you can only do a fraction of what you might like to do. So the main point must be to do the important things, to understand priorities and work according to them (mix-in according to fun and motivation). If you put work into something not really needed at that point of time, it won't help. So if you have a problem, do just enough to solve it or to limit the damage. If you do more, then you create additional indirect damage by wasting energy. -- HelmutLeitner


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