Monday, March 07, 2011

Dealing with Internet #Trolls - the Cognitive #Therapy Approach

Trolls and #vandals are the bane of polite and effective conversations and collaboration on many projects and mailing lists. They poison the atmosphere and particularly newbies are the victims of what easily can be described as a war of attrition. While trolls and vandals are dysfunctional in many respects, many who are perceived as such did not intent to be disruptive at the start.

A blog post titled "Dealing with Internet Trolls - the Cognitive Therapy Approach" recognises that there will be always someone inadvertently feeding the troll. Consequently the standard wisdom of dealing with trolls is flaky at best and the need for another approach is obvious.

Hugging a troll is a bit much, but learning about cognitive therapy can help in dealing with this subspecies of the Homo sapiens. The recommended book by Dr. David D. Burnsis is a self help book teaching cognitive therapy. Key is how to properly handle criticisms from peers. The super-executive summary for the key part  is: "On the Internet, don't be right - be smart".

Obviously a self help book is intended for those in need of help. However, when dealing with trolls or vandals we are in need of help. The objective for us is not to swat the newbies like flies but to help them become competent and collaborative peers.

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