Should a community try to make undesirable people go away? If so, how?

Since the page title suggest one-sided action, it makes sense to call it by its other name: “Mobbing”.

See DissuadeInteraction, CommunityExile, OutcastNewcomer, RadicalInclusiveness.



I don’t think it is correct to characterize (most) unwanted but persistent wiki participants as “attackers”. They are not at war with the community (if they were, there would be more effective ways for them to waste the community’s time than what they do). I don’t think it is critical to think of ways to deter them. If their content is bad, I think it would take less time to weed out the content rather than making the effort to discourage them.

If a wiki community really needed to make certain people go away, I don’t think having an open site, but making them feel bad, is the proper way to do it. Such a goal would be best served by an application of HardSecurity.


But we shouldn’t need HardSecurity against those who aren’t just mindless teenagers: if we conclude this, we might as well abandon wikis, quite frankly.

I think we need to figure out how to make people feel good about leaving.

I think it might also help, when deciding what action to take, to try and discern “why” people are doing what they are doing. Try as best you can to determine what the real motivation is. If the motivation is malicious, then yes, it may be necassary to apply HardSecurity, as I believe has happened here in CommunityWiki, where we’ve seen the wiki locked temporarily, because a persons intent was clearly malicious.

But when the person’s intent is not clear, then it seems like it would be better to “wait and see”, and try to steer the person in a useful direction through SoftSecurity measures. I believe that SoftSecurity applied over time will tend to reveal the person’s true intentions and motivations in most cases. Because we have an active and engaged community here, SoftSecurity tends to work.

For instance, if I come into a page, like MakePeopleGoAway, and I write something kind of assinine, like “boy, i think your ideas are really stupid! I’ve decided to delete your whole contribution.”.

SoftSecurity might find people in the community both reverting my change, and asking me to expand constructively on why I think that. My reaction to that will give some clues to my motivation, along with all of my other actions here.

If I write “screw you!”, and roll back to my change, this builds the case that my intention is malicious.

So, looking at how people react to SoftSecurity applied over time might be a solution. Plus, applying SoftSecurity will tend to steer people towards constructive ways of channeling their energies. I think that most people will respond positively to SoftSecurity.

On eTerra-wiki-de a fellow - supposingly the same person that caused the community-wiki lock-up for some days a while ago - just returned to do the usual vandalizing to sigi’s pledge on the eTerra-bank. I reverted it.
Vandalism and malicious behaviour has a stigmergic effect as much as constuctive contributions have, maybe even a stronger effect (under certain circumstances). The eTerra-wiki jumped back into my contiousness because of it. I’ll work on it more likely now than on other wikis not having been vandalized. For me it’s actually a pretty strong signal - especially within the vacuum of dozens of solitary wikis I created recently ;) - to go on to improve especially this wiki. Founders, communities (if founders are so lucky to have such on the wikis they started) fight for their babies! They do it mercilessly. A good deal of attention for the eTerra-wiki was actually caused by the vandal. Both constuctive contributions and vandalism cause stigmergy. I do not mean to say vandalism is good. I just say it’s not without consequences. This evening’s 2 ct.

Mattis, I’ve come across other pages (I thinkon Meatball?) where I remember you suggesting similar approaches to spammers. At first I got a chuckle out of it. But, then I thought about it, and I thought your ideas were a really interesting way to approach designing a solution to the problem that possibly works well for you. I remember your ideas being a suggestion of somehow incorporating the spam instead of reverting it. (maybe you can remember what Meatball page that is on?).

I thought the idea was interesting, because in brainstorming solutions, sometimes it really can be effective to flip thinking around 180 against common logic like that, because it can generate unique directions. Maybe it doesn’t instantaneously provide a solution, but it can suggest new models and theories that might actually work for some people, and some groups. In the case of spam and wikis, it seems preposterous to suggest that the wiki community should somehow consider a way to incorporate the spam, or take an action like this that could be interpreted to encourage spam.

However, it leads me to ask:

  • Who are the majority of spammers, and what is there spam content exactly, and why are they doing it? How could this inform the actions and reactions of the wiki community that sees the current spam content as taking value away from the wiki community?
  • What potential wiki uses/wiki communities could actually effectively figure out a way to incorporate spam as you suggest? How could they incorporate it in a way that adds value to the community? What if that community figured out an effective way to steer spammers away from their current spamming content, and into value adding content for the community? How would they reach out to the spammers, and how would they help create conditions for the spammers to change?

In other words, what if some wiki communities designed a solution to spam that targetted the core motivations of spammers, and made their current spamming regime obsolete, in favor of a new regime that allows them to satisfy their motivations, while adding value to the networks that they previously were seen as “free riders” on?

Anyway, realistic and useful or not, that’s what I took away from your ideas. :)

I looked around, and I think what I was referring to was actually written by RadomirDopieralski, ChrisPurcell, JoeChongq?, at MeatBall:CategorySpam#Erect_barriers (None the less, it reminds me of the vibe of Mattis’ 2 ct above, adn I still think what I wrote about it.)

Sorry Sam, I’ve ve been too busy with the wiki-net to answer. I made OffTopic/SpamHereOnly in 2004 on the first Ca’foscari-wiki WiCaFo?. It was once on taoriver but it is not anymore.

It went like this:
Imagine your house and your garden is the world. The entire world, there’s nothing around it. In your garden you have a pond with toads and mosquitos. Now you decide to turn your garden into a parking place. Where do toads and mosquitos go? You’ll find them in your bed and your living room. Thus create a mini-pond for them somewhere it doesn’t hurt.

Remains of the idea are on s23-wiki: spam here only. I have the data from the old WiCaFo? somewhere. Lion mailed them to me. Maybe I digg it up.

A part of the function of the “spam here only”-pond meanwhile has been taken over by wiki-cadavers - wikis without sufficient spam protections once set up by someone and not maintained or cared for by anybody. These fulfill a function. You can’t say “Hey people, use wiki” without having people hear it who want to spam. There has to be space for it where it is not disturbing serious wiki-work, I think. On the long run. It’s all still too young to tell.


Define external redirect: JoeChongq WiCaFo

EditNearLinks: OutcastNewcomer HardSecurity SpamHereOnly WikiNet CommunityExile