For those of you that have an Online Community, or have managed one in the past, you are well aware of what “Trolls” are.

For those of you new to Online Communities, a “Troll” is someone that comes to your community, and their main goal is to cause problems, wreak havoc.
Causing a problem just to cause a problem is not acceptable behavior within any community and should be dealt with in a timely fashion. Any malicious behavior should be handled swiftly.

At the same time, there are certain types of behavior that these members (“Semi-Trolls” if you will) can bring to an online community that may, and I stress MAY be acceptable/beneficial.

These members generally choose the opposite side of any story, to get into a debate with other members.
Now as long as the debate is productive, and stays within the posted rules and guidelines, it should be allowed to continue – albeit you should keep a close eye on it.
Before it spirals out of control, you should step in and let your community know that you are watching the discussion, so they are aware that specific actions can and will be taken, both against the content, and any members account.
Public debates can make a community stronger and healthier – again, as long as it can be done in a productive fashion.
It is extremely important that all members understand others views, and get the full picture, so they can form their own view (both on the member and the topic at hand).
Once a member oversteps the line, they discredit themselves within the community. This assists in bringing out personalities/views of other members.

Have you observed this type of behavior in the past? Did it help you to form a better opinion concerning a specific member or topic?

Mike

Note: Cross-posted at mzinga.com

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