Alleged and collective identity

    From Consumerium development wiki R&D Wiki

    Alleged and collective identity problems plague the Internet. It is very common for unfounded allegations regarding "who is really who" and "who is with who" or part of what movement or ideology to pollute otherwise sensible forms of argument. Unfortunately, it's nearly impossible to say anything neutral on this topic, most of what is said is tied to a technology or to an ideology, see:

    technology-specific views

    factional views


    Alleged and collective identity problems plague the Internet. Even those services that try to require that users use real names often have problems with impersonation or false name creation. It is very common for users to create sock puppet accounts to create the impression of many people that agree when in fact there is only one person creating the agreement with his or her own comments. And, name-calling and labelling are very common so that even if people's personal names or identities are not at issue, their affiliation or loyalties or ideologies are. So a group of people that just happen to agree might all be labelled "left-wing" or "right-wing" or "commies" or assumed to be conspiring.

    Here are some things not to do:

    • do not claim that you know the "real name" of any person unless they use it themselves clearly on Consumerium - not on some other wiki where the same user name may well be taken by another person - there is no interwiki identity standard!
    • do not claim that others are deliberately conspiring against you on Consumerium
    • do not claim that others are all funded by some group or part of some party if they have not said so themselves
    • do not claim that other people are advocating some ideology in particular if they have not said they are

    Consumerium:Itself has a simple solution to all of these problems: if you believe that someone advocates a point of view that is strongly shared with others, encourage them to join an existing faction so that they may work with those others to create a common shared point of view that will be comprehensible to others outside that faction. Then, the shared view can be presented in the best possible light, without always compromising with others who differ very strongly in their outlook.

    Likewise, if you believe that there are unethical or unreasonable tactics going on, then, you may claim that someone is one of the trolls. When someone is called a troll that does not really mean anything other than that someone (yourself, say) finds their behaviour or manner inappropriate or maybe insincere. Since you can't really set any objective rules yourself on their behaviour, and can't tell how sincere they are, you can only point out that they would be better off joining some other faction than "trolls" so people would give their perspective more consideration. Once someone has been called a troll, they are strongly encouraged to join some explicit faction. If they choose to remain trolls, or choose to call themselves trolls immediately upon arrival, then, they can expect no great consideration or social graces from others. For the vast majority of trolls, this is just what they want - a place to gripe and debate freely without any silly "community" expectations - a sort of intellectual fight club. There is nothing wrong with this view of wiki but others should be warned to expect no consideration. Effectively, those who choose to participate as trolls have accepted Crocker's Rules which are basically that they themselves have chosen to let others hurt their feelings.

    Since sock puppet and obvious troll accounts will all belong in the faction trolls, it is irrelevant "who is writing what" or "who agrees with who" or "how many are agreeing". This is all up to the trolls to agree on: if they never agree on any common answer, they're going to be quite powerless in the OurAnswer system. Eventually anyone smart enough to advance complex arguments will probably want to join some other faction and behave at least well enough to remain there and not be kicked back into the "plain old trolls" faction again!

    While the above might seem strange or unreasonable to some users, please be very assured that all other attempts to solve problems of alleged and collective identity including advice to ignore trolls or block trolls or require response to hearsay or name and shame do not work - all have been tried over and over again, and only a sort of culture of mutual trolling as the bottom line, seems to really work in large public wikis to get the trolls and those who expect "community" off each other's backs:

    It's far better for all users if the most contentious users ally into factions deliberately, just as it's better for all citizens if the most contentious politicians ally into political parties, and we only hear from them every few years at election time. Anything else is just too much damn noise!