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From Ted Husted <ted.hus...@gmail.com>
Subject Re: At what point do you unsubscribe/deny a misbehaving user?
Date Sun, 01 Jan 2006 12:55:14 GMT
On 12/20/05, Jean T. Anderson <jta@apache.org> wrote:
> I think potentially *anything* could feed a troll, so then the goal is
> how to minimize troll effects on the community. I really like Mark's
> Gandhi approach for setting FUD straight, and I think the humor of your
> approach definitely merits a place in the anti-troll arsenal.
>
>   -jean

Gandhi said "You must be the change you wish to see in the world,"
which, I think, is excellent advice for anyone working in open source,
especially when dealing with trolls.

Once I determine a poster is a troll, I never, ever feed the troll.
Usually, I filter the posts directly to the trash. Back in the BBS
days, we called this a "twit list".

If I do see a flame, I go back to the original poster and respond in a
helpful way, but without quoting the flame. I do what should have been
done in the first place: I "be the change".

If there's misinformation in a flame that needs to be corrected, I
look for another way to reply without quoting the misinformation.
Sometimes that can be done by responding to someone else in the
thread. Other times, I will start a new thread to state the correct
information but without quoting the misinformation. Again: Be the
change, and don't feed the trolls.

I avoid answering questions about a project off list. If someone can't
or won't post to the list, and it's a question I want to answer, I'll
post the question and answer to the list myself, but not to one person
alone.

If someone sends me a question that they should ask on the list, I
always reply: "The best place to post a question like this is the User
list, where there are more people to help an the answers are archived.
[Link to the mailing list page.]"

If someone asks me about a troll, I suggest that they do what I do:
Filter the twit to the trash. If that someone then posts to the list,
I make sure they recieve a helpful response.

When a new committer joins one of my projects, and we've had trouble
with trolls, I send them this note:

----

>From time to time, all public mailing lists have trouble with trolls
-- people who delight in complaining for the sake of complaining. And,
of course Apache mailing lists are no exception.

Trolls have been discussed at length on internal lists, and in the
end, we are left with the Apache maxim:

* Don't feed the trolls.

We do try listening and we do try reasoning, and when that doesn't
work we are left with shunning.

It doesn't always make the trolls go away, but it does tend to quiet
them. Replying only makes it worse, not only because trolls don't
listen or reason (they only complain), but because it steals time from
productive work. Time we waste replying to trolls can't be spent
applying patches or replying to earnest users.

Of course, we are all volunteers here, and we are free to act
according to our own lights, but it my experience, starving trolls
does work -- at least as well as anything else does.

----

In one case, a troll from one project started to post to another. I
was able to warn the other PMC right away. None of the commtters fell
for the troll-bait, and the troll went away.

Happy New Year!

-Ted.

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