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Don't feed the trolls


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The JavaScript community is one of the most vibrant and fun groups I've ever been lucky enough to be a part of. Like any vibrant community, sometimes people don't play nicely. In this session, I will discuss what it has been like to be shy *and* be on twitter, mailing lists, and open source. I'll talk about my experiences consulting on massive CSS overhauls, and ways to defeat trolls -- including your own inner troll! I'll also share a timing attack for your brain that might just surprise you.

Don't feed the trolls

  1. @stubbornella DON’T FEED THE TROLLS!Thursday, May 31, 12when I worked at yahoo there was a mailing list called devel-frontend. It should have been a great place to shareinformation across teams, but it was so nasty no one would dare to ask any questions. They were afraid. So everyonesat in their corner, not sharing, and not learning as much as they could have. Sad!I’ve included my twitter user name “stubbornella” above because there is a test I’m going to show you that I thinkyou’ll want to try later. I’ll tweet out a link to it after the talk.I’m a consultant. I mainly spend time going in to big companies and helping them sort out their giant CSS files, myjob inherently rubs people the wrong way. I’ve worked hard to learn not to take that personally and I want to share abit of it with you today.
  2. DEF. TROLL - PEOPLE WHO SEEK CONFLICTThursday, May 31, 12At a yoga and mediation retreat in California, I spoke to an Italian researcher about the difficulty she was having withthe other academics she worked with as part of the EU in Brussels. She said that the senior person in her domain wasaggressive and forceful. She felt she had to match his vitriol in order to keep from being run over. At the point I mether it had been going on for six years. She was exhausted.
  3. SOME PEOPLE ARE ENERGIZED BY CONFLICT. If you aren’t, you will always lose, if you play the game by their rules.Thursday, May 31, 12What I noticed from the italian researcher’s description was that this guy pretty clearly thrived on conflict. The moreshe fought back, the more energized he became. The inverse was true for her. She thrived on collaboration andconnectedness. The more they fought, the more drained and depleted she became.
  4. WHO ARE YOU?Thursday, May 31, 12Do you prefer a collaborative or combative environment? Figure out what kind of person you are, and you’ll know alot about how you want to interact with the world. (though, even if you are collaborative, sometimes you will stillchoose to deplete energy when conflict is required). Decide what tone you want to have, and carry it through to yourinteractions.
  5. TROLLS FEED ON ATTENTION You get more of whatever you give your attention to.Thursday, May 31, 12
  6. IF YOU ONLY RESPOND TO ASS-HATS Your life will soon be full of ass-hatsThursday, May 31, 12
  7. intentionally redirect your attention SOFTER, GENTLER, MORE CONSIDERED OPINIONS tend to get lost in the fray.Thursday, May 31, 12We need to intentionally turn toward them, give them the recognition they deserve. The best ideas are not always theloudest.
  8. SOMETIMES A TROLL IS NOT 100% TROLLISHThursday, May 31, 12
  9. RESPOND TO THE HUMAN Human 13% Troll 87% Troll HumanThursday, May 31, 12Even within a single person we need to turn our attention to their human bits rather than their trolly bits.
  10. “This is stupid. You have no idea what you are talking about. The padding in the first exampel should be a margin to avoid an IE7 bug.”Thursday, May 31, 12
  11. “This is stupid. You have no idea what you are talking about. The padding in the first exampel should be a margin to avoid an IE7 bug.”Thursday, May 31, 12
  12. Potential responses #1: “This is stupid. You have no you. Who are you calling stupid? You F*&% idea what you are talking about. can’t even spell. The padding in the first exampel should be a margin to #2: avoid an IE7 bug.” You don’t have to be rude. I’ll fix the IE7 bug in the next patch. #3: Thanks for the bug report, I’ll fix the IE7 bug in the next patch.Thursday, May 31, 12
  13. BLOG: DON’T PUBLISH EVERY COMMENT You are responsible for your readers and the tone of the discussion in your space.Thursday, May 31, 12I felt obligated to let anyone speak in my blog comments until finally I realized, this is my house -- if people can’t becivil, they aren’t invited. I am responsible for keeping that community collaborative for my readers.
  14. TO TWEET OR NOT TO TWEET? When you reply to someone who is being a troll, you give them more attention. You are also responsible for your followers.Thursday, May 31, 12Maybe the best thing for a troll is to be ignored!
  15. MAILING LISTS If a mailing list goes off the rails, release something cool. Distract, distract, distract.Thursday, May 31, 12I’m pretty impressed by the OOCSS google group. We have managed to have almost entirely collaborative interactionsover the last several years. When things have seemed less productive, I do not reply to that mail, instead, I releasesomething cool, or ask an open ended question (that is ideally more interesting that the trolly-thread).
  16. HACKER NEWS These people don’t care about your project, they are purely there for trolling.Thursday, May 31, 12
  18. RECOGNIZING TROLLS There are several different types. Once you recognize them, they become part of a pattern. Not as upsetting!Thursday, May 31, 12
  19. JEALOUS TROLL “I did everything you did, only five years ago and better.”, May 31, 12
  20. THE GRAMMAR NAZI “Go back to school and learn to spell, then maybe someone will take your ideas seriously.”, May 31, 12
  21. BIASED TROLL Humans are subtly biased - pattern matching machines. We expect others who do what we do to be like us.Thursday, May 31, 12Sexist, racist, etc. This kind of troll has a big blind spot. Usually, they can’t see that they aren’t treating people fairly,or are failing to be compassionate about someone else’s experience.
  22. SCARY TROLL “How long are you going to lead the web astray before you just disappear?”, May 31, 12
  23. GET SUPPORT ideally, without feeding the trollsThursday, May 31, 12Get to know others in the community, talk to them privately, let them know you are being trolled or bullied, find waysto isolate or exclude the troll if ignoring or confronting his/her behavior doesn’t work.
  24. TAXONOMY OF TROLLS, May 31, 12
  25. AND, INTERNAL TROLLS Harder to identify, because most of us have a vested interest in believing we’re not ass-hats, May 31, 12
  26. WE’RE ALL TROLLS SOMETIMESThursday, May 31, 12
  27. INTERNAL TROLLS FEED ON INATTENTION To avoid feeding your inner troll, you must *notice* it.Thursday, May 31, 12
  28. WOMAN IN TECHThursday, May 31, 12A few years ago, I wrote an article about my experiences as a woman in tech. Talk about a way to bring out the trolls!It was also amazing because I met so many female developers I never would have otherwise known. Anyway, itgenerated so many comments on my blog that moderating them became a full time job for 3-4 days.Someone had linked in the comments to Project Implicit, a research project out of harvard, and since I’m also a datageek, I wanted to see what I could learn about the state of my brain.
  29. PROJECT IMPLICIT Uncovers bias., May 31, 12Project Implicit has a very creative way of teasing out biases, and if you are open enough to seeing yourself clearly itcan provide you with a very interesting view of yourself.It is a little game in which you sort words & pictures into different bins.
  30. Thursday, May 31, 12The first test I did was to see if I was racially biased. First, I sorted white people and black people into different bins.
  31. Agony, Joy, Terrible, Love, Peace, Horrible, Wonderful, Nasty, Pleasure, Happy Evil, Glorious, Awful, Laughter Failure, HurtThursday, May 31, 12Then I sorted positive words and negative words into bins.
  32. NEXT, THEY COMBINE BINSThursday, May 31, 12So, you might sort positive words and white people to the left, and negative words and black people to the right.Then they flip it. All the while, they’ve been measuring exactly how long it took for you to do the sort. A kind ofpsychological timing attack.If it takes you longer to do the sort with a particular combination than it does with the other, it implies that that sortcaused cognitive dissonance, therefore bias has been uncovered.
  33. I AM NOT RACISTThursday, May 31, 12
  34. BUT, I AM SEXISTThursday, May 31, 12I did the test and found it easier & faster to sort women and home-related words and men and work related words.At first I thought “no way!” But thinking about these issues had changed me. I began to notice that I spent less timereplying to email from women, I subtly expected them to be less technical, less interesting, and therefore less worthyof my limited free time. That is awful to admit, but it is the truth. I was sexist.-- the test results fit with what I saw in my own behavior, but was very hard to hear.
  35. CHANGE IS MADE BY SIMPLY NON- JUDGMENTALLY NOTICING THAT THINGS AREN’T RIGHTThursday, May 31, 12I started noticing all the ways that I was subtly biased against women in tech, and, in doing so moved back to thecenter. I didn’t try to overcorrect (which would be awkward), I just noticed and tried to be forgiving with myselfbecause sometimes, part of being human is to be a troll. We all have trolly bits.
  36. GROUP IQThursday, May 31, 12If you find yourself having both troll inclinations and human inclinations, you might want to consider group IQ whenyou decide how to behave. A study was done to test the IQ of teams relative to the IQ of individual members.Certain teams performed above the level indicated by their individual IQs and others underperform markedly. Thedifference researchers found in the groups was their level of collaboration & diversity (in particular the number ofwomen in a group is highly correlated to positive group IQ outcomes). I work to quell my inner troll and uncover mybiases so that I can collaborate more effectively.
  37. @stubbornella WE CAN MAKE OUR COMMUNITY STRONGER if we learn not to feed the trollsThursday, May 31, 12