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Re: Just ignore.

Hi Steve!

I think you mix three different things in a dangerous way. I'm 
differentiating trolls, flames/flame wars and long threads. You
probably aren't the one who started mixing them, but your mail
shows where this leads to:

> > I just wanted to express that such a system, no matter how it is
> > implemented, if it ends in listmasters banning people, is not a good
> > idea.
> > Flames should be ignored. Every one, once in a while, has been a troll
> > or a flamer. They should be ignored in that moment, but not banned,
> > kicked, expelled or $whatever.
> Why do people actually believe that telling everyone to ignore flames is a
> workable strategy?  People have been saying "don't reply to flames" for
> years.  Are the lists less cluttered now with people flaming

This is were the trouble starts: The lists are cluttered by long threads
of which flames (that is: insulting mails) are only a small portion.
Futhermore not everyone agrees on what is insulting, so not everyone
agrees on what is a flame.

If you want to reduce long threads then you have to wonder why people
aren't able to come to an agreement with a decent number of messages.

> and responding
> to flames than they were 2-3 years ago?  Not noticeably, I think; at least,
> there's not so much improvement that we don't have to worry about
> contributors unsubscribing due to flames.
> The trouble with trying to give flames and trolls the "silent treatment" is
> that it only takes *one* person who's {new,having a bad day,didn't think it
> was a troll/flame,disagrees with the policy,insert other condition here} to
> break the silence.  We have over 900 developers today, which means the
> target audience for most of our core mailing lists is on that order.  That
> makes the odds of consistently avoiding flamewars by use of the silent
> treatment very, very low.

Well, better there is one person, who is responding, than 900. Also I
agree with what MJ replied to that, but I ask to make a difference between
trolls and flamers.

> Heck, for that matter, look at the case of the debian-women list -- we've
> had to deal with a troll there who didn't go away even when everyone *was*
> ignoring him, and had to be banned by the listmasters.  I think that
> expecting the S:N ratio to improve on the mailing lists just by telling
> people to ignore the noise is pretty naive.

If it is a real troll (somebody who is not interested in constructive 
contribution but only in annoying and provocation) than sure banning is
the only option since constructive measures per definition wont work.
(There should be a formal procedure for that, but that's a different issue.)

If it is just a "normal" flamer (somebody who tried to make a point, but
unfortunately did so in an insulting way) then as per MJs reasoning one
should reply to the arguments and ignore the insulting parts. Of course
it is a good idea, to give feedback if a message was perceived as 
insultung, but this is probably better done in private.

> Then again, maybe the reason this issue never seems to get any traction is
> that people don't actually agree that we have a problem on the lists, and
> think it's ok for the size of the mailing lists to self-limit through
> unsubscriptions of large numbers of DDs. :/

Perhaps people just don't agree that the current situation is worse than
a list police...

As I wrote above, I think the real problem are long threads and the high
number of messages in general - no matter if they are flames or not.

I think this problem has two aspects: You could consider technical 
measures. This doesn't only mean banning people but starts with things
like the number of lists, their topics, ... Perhaps each list should
have it's -flame counterpart ;)

The second aspect is the discussion culture. In debian this seems really
bad, as it is almost everywhere. I don't only talk about flames, but about
writing before having read the whole thread; about writing things over and
over again instead of using references; about not taking the time to
understand what somebody else actually wrote.

As it is always the case with culture, this can only change slowly and only
through good examples.

Finally, to make the good example I'm talking about, I refer to the
Debian Community Guidelines, which also talk about flames and never
suggested to "just ignore":


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