John Loughney writes:
People who suggest ignoring or hitting delete don't seem to
really get it ...
People who insist that this doesn't work don't seem to really get it.
It has worked for me for decades.
The reality is that some people are irritated by the need to do
anything they don't want to do, including something as simple as
ignoring a post that irritates them or hitting a delete button. As a
result, they exaggerate the "effort" required to do these things by
many orders of magnitude, in an attempt to give the impression that
there is an objective reason for not doing them--which they feel will
be much more persuasive than admitting that they simply don't like it.
It's not hard to delete or ignore messages (the latter, in particular,
often requires no effort at all). And moderating discussion groups
tends to be only as hard as one makes it. A moderator with a
powerfully anal-retentive personality will constantly fuss and stress
over a group, perpetually deleting, editing, banning, and lecturing.
A moderator with a clue, on the other hand, will let just about
everything slide that won't get him into legal trouble and doesn't
technically compromise the system.
The real trolls know this. They know that a technical denial of
service isn't nearly as effective as appealing to the emotions of a
moderator and the participants in a group, and then watching them fume
and flail uselessly for days, weeks, or months. While they are busy
banning, deleting, and lecturing, they aren't getting anything else
done--the service level is zero. And no technical magic is required;
it's all psychology.
Of course, most people who upset a moderator or the other members of a
list aren't trolls ... they've just made the mistake of expressing
unpopular opinions, and the natural intolerance that afflicts most
people takes over from there.
- as a working chair, I need to continually try to
maintain forward motion on technical issues, sometimes someone shows
up with what seems like an axe to grind or is trolling for
attention. I think we need mechanisms to be able to divert people
who continuously disrespect rough consensus from continuing to
disrupt the on-going work.
The best mechanism is the silent treatment. Unfortunately, that
requires a wise moderator and wise participants, and these are scarce.
But "diverting" people who are unpopular only adds fuel to the fire
and wastes resources.
The IETF doesn't have a strangle-hold on the Internet - there are
other standardization bodies out there, and noone is preventing
people from going out and designing their own solutions, outside of
They are all populated by the same species of intolerant and immature
participants that afflict the IETF. It's very, very difficult to
assemble a group of people who are able to stay cool even when
confronted with things they don't want to hear. The tiny minority of
people who do fit in this category tend to be excellent moderators
(and indeed excellent leaders in general).
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