Nicole Sullivan: Don't Feed the Trolls

Orde Saunders' avatarPublished: by Orde Saunders

Nicole Sullivan (@Stubbornella) was talking about not feeding the trolls at dConstruct these are my notes from her talk.

There was a mailing list that should have been excellent but it was so nasty nobody every asked any questions.

Troll - people who seek conflict.  This is how a troll is defined for this talk.  Some people are energised by conflict.  If you aren't you always lose.  Who are you?  Do you prefer collaborative or combative?

Trolls feed on attention and you get what you respond to.  Gentler opinions tend to get lost.  Redirect your attention to those opinions.  Respond to the human part of a troll.  Take some time to respond until you feel more equanimity.  Ignore all the toll parts in your response.

Don't publish every comment on your blog.  You are responsible for your readers and the discussion of the tone in your space.  If you have nasty comments it polarises discussion.  If you reply to a troll, you give them more attention.  You are responsible for what your followers do.  They don't go away immediately but they do go away.

If a mailing list foes off the rails, release something cool.  Distract the trolls.  Ask a constructive question.

Hacker news - these people don't care about your project, they are just there to troll.

Figure out how you want your community to work.  Figure out the patterns trolls use, once you recognise the pattern it's easiet to deal with.

* Jealous troll - acknowledge them.   * Grammar Nazi - they really care about grammar and that's OK.   * Biased troll - they have a blind spot.   * Scary troll - this is the really nasty troll, can be very hard to deal with so get support - preferably without feeding them.  Isolate them after ignoring or confronting.

There is a taxonomy of trolls by tantek.pbworks.com

Sometimes it will feel right to confront a troll.  Structure confrontation - Nonviolent Communication by Marshall B. Rosenberg and Cruical Confrontation by Kerry Patterson et al.

Internal trolls:  We're all trolls sometimes.  Feeds on inattention.  You need to notice it.

Women in Tech generated a lot of good contact with female devs but a lot of troll spam on blog comments.  Project Implicit tests your bias.  You get a view into your brain in a micro level in a data driven way.

Change is made by noticing that things aren't right.  Be forgving with your behaviour but strict in your noticing.

If you think you have troll behaviour then look at group IQ - some teams will out perform their individual IQs, more women in a group leads to better group IQs.

We can make our communities stronger if we don't feed the trolls.