Comment 59933

By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted February 17, 2011 at 18:53:25 in reply to Comment 59930

SpaceMonkey, this is what I wrote in my email reply to you:

Thanks for your email. I can understand your frustration, but I think you need to give people a chance. You've posted some pretty snarky comments and people start to form an opinion that follows your username to subsequent comments.

If I've read several comments from someone that seem trollish and then read a comment that doesn't seem trollish, I'm going to assume the person is just laying a trap until I've seen considerable evidence in the form of a number of consecutive reasonable comments, and even acknowledgment that previous comments were inappropriate, before I start to let my guard down. I expect I'm not alone in feeling this way.

Just on the weekend, you posted a comment accusing me of "ulterior motives" in supporting two-way street conversion. That doesn't do much to reassure me that you're not trolling, even when you write, "I'm not trolling" in the same comment.

If you're serious about debating in good faith, just keep at it and give people some time. From years observing discussion on RTH, my experience is that most people, most of the time, respect a reasonably-argued, politely-worded comment even if it runs against the prevailing opinion.

In the interest of fairness, I will happily acknowledge that your more recent comments, while frequently remaining contrarian, have in general been much more respectfully written.

I'm also happy to report that your comment scores have reflected this, showing a pronounced upward trend over the past four months when I graphed them (yeah, I'm a data geek).

This is evidence in support of the idea that the RTH community is generally quite tolerant of dissenting opinions but relatively intolerant of dissenting opinions delivered with sarcasm and insults. (Again, in fairness I should point out that consensus arguments delivered with sarcasm tend to be more well received.)

I'd say there's a distinction between what we might call incidental trolling - behaving in a trollish manner under certain conditions - and the kind of perennial trolling that is so corrosive to basic civility. I'd go so far as to hypothesize that anyone can troll under the right circumstances.

The difference between incidental and perennial trolling is that the former is a) localized and b) amenable to reason, whereas the latter is incorrigible.

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