Poisonous People in Communities

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ckwalsh
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Poisonous People in Communities

Post by ckwalsh » Tue Aug 10, 2010 1:00 am

First things first: This is my personal opinion. It does not represent the opinion of the Moderator team, the phpBB team, or anyone else. It's mine, and if you disagree, address me; nobody else had any say in the content.

I believe any project or community can become infected with poisonous people, and if they become too much of a problem, must remove themselves or be removed. They cannot hang around to become a drain on the project, no matter their history with the project, previous contributions, and more. There have been several people who have left the phpBB team, and even leaving phpBB in general, for such reasons.

Let me define what I mean by "problem". Someone who distracts from the goals of the project or community. Someone who sows discontent within the userbase, causing them to leave just because they aren't enjoying themselves anymore. The list can go on forever.

Open source projects are built by their community. Sure, there is usually a coordinating team, but without their users they would be nothing. Open source projects even have the biggest recruiting pool - the entire internet using population. With this wide audience, they must attract as many people as possible to help grow the project, or it whithers and dies.

Two things can be taken from this: One is that a successful project must continually bring in new users. People will leave for various reasons; it is impossible to have a group without turnover, and new users must fill their shoes. People will only stay if they feel welcome and enjoy helping; if they don't, it drives people away. Secondly, there are always other people out there that can fill the role you do. They might not be as good; they might take more time to start up at it; they might not be as fast. BUT, there is certainly someone that can fill those shoes. If someone is causing a community to become agitated, no matter what their role, they should shape up, leave, or be escorted out. Nobody should have to deal with them.

Recently, I've seen several communities encounter such people. The leaders are being forced to spend too much time on individual users, and it's dragging down the project. The community is unhappy, since these are people they don't want to be around, and it's easier to leave than to deal with them. Both can recognize contributions that have been made by such individuals, but they are overshadowed by the poison that seems from such people. It's hard to watch.

Part of this is inspired from http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid ... 1522818645 , which I just watched and found to have some very good points. I'd encourage everyone to watch it and respond.
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stokerpiller
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Re: Poisonous People in Communities

Post by stokerpiller » Tue Aug 10, 2010 7:08 pm

I think all active communities get infected by poisonous people from time to time.
I also think this could be avoided by the community leaders in most cases.

I also believe you are starting a poisonous discussion.
And it would probably be better if you discussed this with the Management here.

About 8 minutes in the video they talk about Fortifying against the threat and the following is mentoined:
- politeness
- respect
- trust
- humility

A large part of the phpBB Team is failing here.
Yes, I told you it would be a poisonous discussion and I am sorry about that.
But its still my honest opinion. You have been asking for trouble for years.

I know its not nice to speak this out loud, especially when I chose NOT to back this up with examples or names. It would just inflame the discussion.

I still love the project.
But I dislike the community.

Honest words from me.

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Re: Poisonous People in Communities

Post by wadie » Tue Aug 10, 2010 7:53 pm

stokerpiller wrote:I think all active communities get infected by poisonous people from time to time.
I also think this could be avoided by the community leaders in most cases.

I also believe you are starting a poisonous discussion.
And it would probably be better if you discussed this with the Management here.

About 8 minutes in the video they talk about Fortifying against the threat and the following is mentoined:
- politeness
- respect
- trust
- humility

A large part of the phpBB Team is failing here.
Yes, I told you it would be a poisonous discussion and I am sorry about that.
But its still my honest opinion. You have been asking for trouble for years.

I know its not nice to speak this out loud, especially when I chose NOT to back this up with examples or names. It would just inflame the discussion.

I still love the project.
But I dislike the community.

Honest words from me.
Actually I believe your post is poisonous,the thread was meant for discussion and maybe at some point for curing the situation.

Why do you think a large part of the phpBB Team is failing here ? and was it something personal that had happened to you before ?

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onehundredandtwo
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Re: Poisonous People in Communities

Post by onehundredandtwo » Tue Aug 10, 2010 9:47 pm

There is also a slideshow available here: http://www.slideshare.net/vishnu/how-to ... ous-people

I do agree that there are poisonous people around who are very good at distracting communities. No doubt, there have been people at phpBB.com that have been like this, but I have certainly seen worse in other communities.
stokerpiller wrote:About 8 minutes in the video they talk about Fortifying against the threat and the following is mentoined:
- politeness
- respect
- trust
- humility

A large part of the phpBB Team is failing here.
Actually, I don't. Although the team may be misunderstood at times, I do think the team members here practise these values.

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Re: Poisonous People in Communities

Post by 3Di » Tue Aug 10, 2010 10:10 pm

stokerpiller wrote:I think all active communities get infected by poisonous people from time to time.
I also think this could be avoided by the community leaders in most cases.

I also believe you are starting a poisonous discussion.
And it would probably be better if you discussed this with the Management here.

About 8 minutes in the video they talk about Fortifying against the threat and the following is mentoined:
- politeness
- respect
- trust
- humility

A large part of the phpBB Team is failing here.
Yes, I told you it would be a poisonous discussion and I am sorry about that.
But its still my honest opinion. You have been asking for trouble for years.

I know its not nice to speak this out loud, especially when I chose NOT to back this up with examples or names. It would just inflame the discussion.

I still love the project.
But I dislike the community.

Honest words from me.
I do perfectly agree here, I can say.

Anyway, it is just a discussion, let's see what happens this time. :)

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Re: Poisonous People in Communities

Post by Jan Christensen » Wed Aug 11, 2010 3:27 am

I thought about not writing in this topic, but it occurs to me that what I have to contribute with might be valuable information for some.

There is no such thing as poisonous people IMO, but there are indeed different types of people, and because of this, also different types of forum users, and not all of these are good assets for a board.

I will highlight one type in particular, maybe you can recognize this type.

- You would want to stay friendly with this type of user. When this usertype has found a board that he/she loves, he/she will be quick to recommend the board, and will even offer you help running the board in any way they can.

If there are others who talks bad about the board this usertype supports, he/she will be quick to defend it.

BUT.. you have to be carefull with users that fits this type, they can be a great asset to the board, or the negative opposit.

If they have used a board that they suddenly doesn't like anymore for various reasons, they will also be quick to talk bad about the very same board they have loved to participate in before, and they will do it to anyone who wants to listen to them.

You will find these kind of users on allmost any boards, including this board :!:
Jan Christensen • Danish language package author • Olympus DK Team

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Re: Poisonous People in Communities

Post by GarethM » Wed Aug 11, 2010 8:07 pm

I also thought about not posting here because I thought it might cause a lot of rows, but I've not been one to stay quiet when I have something to say.

I am going to do the same thing as StokerPiller and not back any of this up with examples and/or names, however, I know for a fact that there are members of the phpBB Team that shouldn't be here. Several things I have heard from word-of-mouth, just things people have said to me and I've kinda though, wow, that's not right, and some other friends of mine showing me replys from the phpBB Team and in some cases PM's sent to users from the phpBB Team.

I am not saying that I dislike the phpBB Team, there are a few people that I think are really nice people and very helpful, however, like anywhere, there are the few people who just don't belong.

Getting back to general poisonous people, I completely agree ckwalsh, if there is someone in a community that is making others unhappy, they should go, end of, no discussion about it.
I don't think it's right to treat people differently in that people who have contributed A LOT to the community should be treated better than someone who has just joined, if they are making others unhappy, then they need to wise up or get out.

In saying that, maybe if the person is a really good contributer and everyone used to get along with the person and all of a sudden they are acting weird or repelling people, may be it's worth one of the senior managers having a little chat to that person before kicking them out, maybe they are going through a rough patch in life, but if they continue to do it, then they should go.

That's just what I think!! :)

Gareth

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Re: Poisonous People in Communities

Post by ckwalsh » Fri Aug 13, 2010 12:12 am

I was waiting a bit to see what discussion this generated.
stokerpiller wrote:I think all active communities get infected by poisonous people from time to time.
I also think this could be avoided by the community leaders in most cases.
I completely agree. As I said, I think community leaders should remove those who are causing problems. They distract from the community.
stokerpiller wrote:About 8 minutes in the video they talk about Fortifying against the threat and the following is mentoined:
- politeness
- respect
- trust
- humility
Yup, I completely agree.
onehundredandtwo wrote:There is also a slideshow available here: http://www.slideshare.net/vishnu/how-to ... ous-people
Thanks, I hadn't found that.
Jan Christensen wrote:I thought about not writing in this topic, but it occurs to me that what I have to contribute with might be valuable information for some.

There is no such thing as poisonous people IMO, but there are indeed different types of people, and because of this, also different types of forum users, and not all of these are good assets for a board.
I'd disagree with your believe of no poisonous people. Not everyone who causes trouble is a poisonous person though. When I think of poison I think of something that spreads, gradually affecting that around it. There are some people (spammers immediately come to mind) that don't stick around, but are definitely not welcome.

Considering both types of people, poisonous ones and just those that are not good assets to the board, what do you propose be done with them? Put up with them and you get nowhere. Remove them and you get rid of hem, but risk they will just turn and besmirch the good name of the community. There is no good way to handle them.

Personally, I would rather have them removed. They cannot go on badmouthing your community forever, and I think the amount of people brought in from their absence with more than make up for their bad PR with good PR.
GarethM wrote:Getting back to general poisonous people, I completely agree ckwalsh, if there is someone in a community that is making others unhappy, they should go, end of, no discussion about it.
I don't think it's right to treat people differently in that people who have contributed A LOT to the community should be treated better than someone who has just joined, if they are making others unhappy, then they need to wise up or get out.
The problem I've found is that they expect to be treated differently, and in fact are because of their existing relationship with the leaders of the community. It makes the decision to leave them much harder.
GarethM wrote:In saying that, maybe if the person is a really good contributer and everyone used to get along with the person and all of a sudden they are acting weird or repelling people, may be it's worth one of the senior managers having a little chat to that person before kicking them out, maybe they are going through a rough patch in life, but if they continue to do it, then they should go.
In your opinion, how harsh should the leaders be in such an exchange? Too much and you may damage relationships too much to recover, eventually forcing the person to abandon the community. On the other hand, too little and you end up groveling with the person.
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Re: Poisonous People in Communities

Post by GarethM » Fri Aug 13, 2010 2:50 am

ckwalsh wrote:In your opinion, how harsh should the leaders be in such an exchange? Too much and you may damage relationships too much to recover, eventually forcing the person to abandon the community. On the other hand, too little and you end up groveling with the person.
Yeah good point!
When it's someone that's been around for almost forever it does make it harder to do, but it needs to be dealt with all the same.

It can be done in a nice way, but then as you say, it appears as though you're groveling with the person.
The best way would probably be to fully explain your concerns in that they are not helping the community anymore and that the boards leaders feel it would be best for the community if that person stepped down.

Something along those lines, not REALLY harsh, but not TOO polite either, remember, this person is destroying your community.

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Re: Poisonous People in Communities

Post by stokerpiller » Fri Aug 13, 2010 6:46 am

First I want to make a "small" comment on this thread.

If you follow the discussions here and on area51, you would realize that this thread is created because of one single person, or maybe a small group of people who are very critical towards phpbb.com
Discussions you have been involved in ckwalsh :idea:
You say that its your own opinion, yet you still are writing with your colours and rank which means that you represent phpbb.com no matter what you say.
Since you have been involved in these discussions and spoken your opinion, starting this thread was a bad idea.
Its provoking the people to whom it is addressed. You are inflaming the situation.

wadie wrote:Actually I believe your post is poisonous,the thread was meant for discussion and maybe at some point for curing the situation.
I contributed to the thread.
You should do the same instead of being poisonous ;)
wadie wrote:Why do you think a large part of the phpBB Team is failing here ? and was it something personal that had happened to you before ?
Please read my first post in this thread and respect that I wrote that I didnt want to backup with examples or names :!:
But you can read my "small" comment the top of this post. It should do as an example.

ckwalsh wrote:Personally, I would rather have them removed. They cannot go on badmouthing your community forever, and I think the amount of people brought in from their absence with more than make up for their bad PR with good PR.
I believe this is a bad idea because it will take away some freedom from the community.
If people doesnt break any rule, they should not be removed.
Having some people being very critical and speaking up is a part of every system. If you kill it things will be very narrow minded.
You say that they take the developers time. Nobody is taking time from me that I dont want to give them.
Nobody is forcing you to participate in a discussion. Nobody is forcing you to write long post and answer all questions raised in a thread.
You can be polite in one line.

As I see it its not about what to do with those people.
It how to avoid creating them and feeding them.
When it comes to creating them, the community is often responsible.

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Re: Poisonous People in Communities

Post by GarethM » Fri Aug 13, 2010 7:35 pm

Hey,

I am not trying to start a huge arguement or row amongst the community, I'm just constructively replying to your post.
stokerpiller wrote:First I want to make a "small" comment on this thread.

If you follow the discussions here and on area51, you would realize that this thread is created because of one single person, or maybe a small group of people who are very critical towards phpbb.com
Discussions you have been involved in ckwalsh :idea:
You say that its your own opinion, yet you still are writing with your colours and rank which means that you represent phpbb.com no matter what you say.
Since you have been involved in these discussions and spoken your opinion, starting this thread was a bad idea.
Its provoking the people to whom it is addressed. You are inflaming the situation.
Maybe the person or small group of people will finaly wise up then and realise they are "upsetting" other users.

ckwalsh clearly stated he was not giving this opinion as a phpBB Rep, simply as his own opinion. He can't represent phpBB in everything he does, people who work for Microsoft that say Linux is a really good operating system don't represent Microsoft when they say it. Everyone has a right to express their opinion.

This post wasn't that bad of an idea, it gives people something to talk about and it lets the community leaders see that there is a cause for concern somewhere along the lines. This post could be aimed at anyone or could be aimed at no one, either way, considering no one has mentioned any names, if people are thinking this post is aimed at me then they may be being paranoid.

stokerpiller wrote:
wadie wrote:Actually I believe your post is poisonous,the thread was meant for discussion and maybe at some point for curing the situation.
I contributed to the thread.
You should do the same instead of being poisonous ;)
You speak of ckwalsh provoking the people this topic was aimed at, again I say that ckwalsh didn't say this topic was aimed at anyone, but you've just accused wdie of being poisonous.
stokerpiller wrote:
ckwalsh wrote:Personally, I would rather have them removed. They cannot go on badmouthing your community forever, and I think the amount of people brought in from their absence with more than make up for their bad PR with good PR.
I believe this is a bad idea because it will take away some freedom from the community.
If people doesnt break any rule, they should not be removed.
Not always true, someone doesn't have to be breaking the rules to be dragging down the name of the community.
stokerpiller wrote:Having some people being very critical and speaking up is a part of every system. If you kill it things will be very narrow minded.
Fair point, but there are certain ways to go about it instead of making it look like your taking digs at phpBB.
stokerpiller wrote:You say that they take the developers time. Nobody is taking time from me that I dont want to give them.
True again, but phpBB use the "statistical information" sent from people from their ACPs to determine what features are used more than others so they get a good idea how to make the next version of phpBB. If there are people making phpBB look bad then the developers do have to spend time on thinking how to change that.
stokerpiller wrote:Nobody is forcing you to participate in a discussion. Nobody is forcing you to write long post and answer all questions raised in a thread.
That's viable I suppose, but he is part of the phpBB Team, so he is expected to reply to topics.
stokerpiller wrote:You can be polite in one line.
My point exactly ;)
stokerpiller wrote:As I see it its not about what to do with those people.
It how to avoid creating them and feeding them.
Yes true, but sometimes people are just too poisonous that they will pick on every little detail
stokerpiller wrote:When it comes to creating them, the community is often responsible.
The phpBB Community does not ask people to join and be poisonous. I do understand what you are saying as in, certain topics in the community can cause people to become poisonous, but I don't think the community is ultimately responsible for poisonous people.

Again, let me make it clear I am not trying to start any arguements, just providing a constructive reponse your post!! :)

Gareth

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Re: Poisonous People in Communities

Post by stokerpiller » Sun Aug 15, 2010 9:48 pm

Now we have shown what poisonous people are. We have proven how easy it is to hijack and poison a thread, which is quite annoying to the thread starter.

Lets see if we can get back on track ;)

First, I think this problem only goes for bigger communities.
However I have experienced something similar.
Its about people having hidden agendas, wanting something else than the community.
Doing things to provoke the Team.

I dont think you can exclude ANY person if they havent broken any rules. No matter what.
Its kind of hard to explain exactly why, english is not my mother language. But ist kind of an insurance that the management arent abusing their powers.
I also think that excluding people for being poisonous would make more trouble because many of your users might not agree with you and they want to make sure that everything is "fair".

But you can do something else than excluding.
You can contact the user (PM) and tell him what you think of him and his doings.
You can be honest. If necessary be hard on him.
Tell them that you dont like them, tell them that you dont want them visiting your board.
He will probably take some users with him, but those users would probably cause problems anyway.
Dont exclude, make him leave on his own. Its very important.

Its very important that this is done by the board admin.

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Re: Poisonous People in Communities

Post by Rhet-or-Ric » Tue Aug 17, 2010 8:33 pm

.

If I may offer some insight that stems from a fair number of years as an admin on a very, very contentious discussion forum involving a number of Asian peoples with lots of history at hating each other, a vet's website (still) that some feel is now way out of control, and smaller sites. Plus a fair bit of brick-and-mortar management experience.

Firstly, I'd like to point out that what's known as "small-team management" is considered by some experts as more difficult than large-team management. I mean, it might be something to think about if one has the belief that these problems of which you write are only on large sites on the Net.

And one key word in that paragraph up there is "manangement". You have to be tolerant of folks who have great tech skills but might not have good management skills. This problem is everywhere and goes way back. It's an old, old problem. There is just nothing you can do except be very, very tolerant. Like the Fonz said, Be Cool! You know that bit about taking ten deep breaths before responding in a face-to-face management situation; well, on the Net it might have to be take ten minutes or longer before responding. And it sure ain't easy. As much as I think I can handle my own emotions I have definitely blown it. More than once.

And the last point (I think) I'd like to bring up, and I know y'all have seen this written before, but communicating in this medium, that written "I-can't-see-facial-cues" is tough, tough, tough. Then you throw in the international aspect of various methods of communication and misunderstandings are going to be so easy. Way too easy.

I reckon you folks have seen all this type of stuff written before, but to keep it in mind all the time may be tough when you are so locked into a project and all you want to do is get the job done. Especially if you are passionate about your work -- it's even easier to forget those lessons you learned through experience or from that crazy professor. It's just so easy to get what we call in military aviation, target fixation and fly into the target and bye-bye.

At least here in this medium you have the chance to backup and rethink things and take a closer look at what might have been misunderstood between yourself and one or more others.

It also helps a whole bunch if you don't mind admitting you made a mistake yourself. And don't worry so much if that other gal or guy can't admit such a thing. Just chalk that up to their style and think of the Team or the Community and truck on. The Team or the Community is everything, the individual is just a something, but not the everything.

Oh yes, I also think it would be a terrible shame and a lost great opportunity to lock this thread and not let the steam out a bit. Sometimes a little release of pent up feelings can do wonders for a Team. Some of y'all will be in New York and will have that chance to do it in face-to-face meetings and maybe along with some elbow exercises, right? I am so unhappy I can't go there, but there are no boats that fast. but y'all have fun in New York and be sure to let us know all the neat details, like who passed out where. Okay, I'm just joking there. No offense, right?

.

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