It's been clear for a while that he/she is posting solely for the purpose of trolling, so instead of just a suspension, why not delete the account altogether?

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How does the troll tag not have a wiki entry? –  MDMarra Aug 29 '10 at 12:24
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@MarkM - what would the text say? Simply vgv8? :-) –  Ben Pilbrow Aug 29 '10 at 12:26
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I'm a little uncomfortable with this - isn't the definition of a troll subjective? And couldn't someone determined to troll a site just register a few sockpuppets and carry on? It's clear that they disagree with the way the site is run in some areas, and their kicking against those boundaries annoys us but does that make them nothing but a troll. –  RobM Aug 29 '10 at 16:54
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OK, the word troll aside - vgv8 is still irritating a LOT of people, generating a lot of moderator flags, not contributing anything beneficial to the site and being a general nuisance - all after being warned about his behaviour, and suspended twice. I'd go as far as IP banning him (provided he isn't on some ISP using DHCP). At the end of the day, call him a troll, call him something else - it all boils down to him being a pain in the ass. –  Ben Pilbrow Aug 29 '10 at 17:30
    
@Ben: Are you saying that [pain-in-the-ass] should be a tag synonym for [troll] or vice-versa? –  jscott Aug 29 '10 at 18:35
    
@Robert - He has made sockpuppets. Those have been banned as well. –  MDMarra Aug 29 '10 at 19:08
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Sure, "troll" and "trolling" are somewhat subjective, but I think most would agree that someone is trolling when the main intent of their post is to get a reaction. They might be being deliberately obtuse, or posting stuff they know is bogus, and a number of other things would qualify. We could debate which posts of vgvh's are examples of which type of "trying to get a reaction," but I think there's a clear pattern of posting things that don't make sense unless the goal is to get a reaction. –  Ward Aug 29 '10 at 19:53
    
@Mark - Oh I know about the sockpuppets. Kinda makes the point about whether or not a ban is worthwhile doesn't it? The guy has problems, there's no doubt about that. The question I'm leading up to is whether or not he's so poisoned the well that we're unwilling to give him a chance and see everything he does through that lens. Totally his own fault, I agree, but that path leads to the site being dominated by cliques. –  RobM Aug 29 '10 at 21:29
    
Ward, I've been quite active in down voting and voting to close poor questions from this person. I'm not defending their posts as much as I am wondering two things. See my reply to Mark for the first rather than me repeating myself, and for the second... how do you deal with a determined troll? Would a ban solve the issue? –  RobM Aug 29 '10 at 21:32
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My question to everyone is this - are you monitoring his account and downvoting everything he posts? If so, then that's also an abuse of the system as well (following someone for the express purpose of up/down voting their answers), so be careful where you tread. –  Mark Henderson Aug 29 '10 at 21:34
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@Robert - Well, he is working on his second ban here, and is currently serving a 30-day over at SU and MSU as well as having previously served a ban at MSO. He's been boxed on every site and hasn't learned and is now on his second ban. –  MDMarra Aug 29 '10 at 21:38
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He's banned until Oct 13 on SF and MSF. –  Warner Aug 29 '10 at 23:06
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@John and @Farseeker - I don't think the issue is that anyone is following him to downvote, but the number of edits he makes causes his questions and answers to be on the front page a lot. Many of his questions would receive 1 or 2 downvotes if they were from any other user, as most of us would look at it and feel like the people that voted before us took care of it and we would quietly move on. With vgv8, the problem is that his questions are always very visible and his confrontational attitude is one that causes people to "pile on" with the downvotes when they might normally just move on. –  MDMarra Aug 31 '10 at 2:09
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Which looks like is a result of this: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/62743/… swim with the big sharks, get eaten. –  sysadmin1138 Aug 31 '10 at 20:30
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Yeeeeaaaaah. He's crossed the line into "stick around to annoy the crap out of us" territory. a.k.a. Trolling. –  sysadmin1138 Sep 2 '10 at 16:57
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6 Answers

Too long for comment...

vgv8 has all the hallmarks of someone completely self-taught, and proud of it. Unfortunately for him, his knowledge is full of holes and misunderstandings and he doesn't have the personality to weather the process of having those hammered out of him without some indignation on his part. Okay, a lot of indignation.

In another life I have had to deal with people going through the unlearn/relearn process. It is hard, and when people who have ego invested in the fact that they know their stuff get told that they don't know jack they get defensive. When told they don't know jack in a way they perceive as demeaning, they get very defensive; very defensive people either clam up until they stop getting yelled at or return fire. Vgv8 chose to return fire rather than clam up.

I've dealt with that kind of person before, just not in a technical learning context. What I've found to work best is to take them aside and have a long talk. If you seem like you're actually coming to hear their side rather than the Official Voice Of Orthodoxy to Smite The Unbeliever, they'll vent like a volcano about the injustice they've experienced. This is likely to include unkind language. Once you've gotten through that process and they've calmed down a bit, you can start working on the core of the problem: they don't know that they don't know jack.

Start with a single concept and dig into it. Find out how they think it works and how they came to that conclusion. Then explain how it really works, and why that's the case. There may be defensiveness. You may have to gently invalidate their sources, or explain how their deductive methodology was fundamentally flawed. Repeat for a few more concepts and you stand a good chance of convincing them that they really don't know jack, and that sticking around is actually a good idea if they want to change that.

This is an intensive one on one process that involves a very deep understanding of the topic at hand on the part of the person doing the taking-aside.


The entire StackExchange framework is designed around breaking the very process that can reform users like vgv8. Intensive one-on-one interactivity is exactly the kind of thing that StackExchange is NOT. It is Q/AAAA, not Q/AAA/Q/AA/Q/A/Q/AA.

The taking-aside process is something that can only be done by full up Moderators, and vgv8 is already convinced that the mods are biased against him. The one thing I know of that can cause true behavioral change can not be done because of how the site works. All we are left with is to ban him into the corner until he learns that shutting up in the face of injustice is wiser than railing against it. This is, shall we say, very unlikely with his kind of personality and we're much more likely to get one of two outcomes:

  1. He will go away, never to trouble us again.
  2. He will stick around, just to annoy the snot out everyone as vengeance, complete with sock-puppets to get around bans.

The environment where I faced this kind of thing before did not employ community-sourcing for its administration, which actually made it easier to handle. Here any 3K user can vote to close, and practically everyone can downvote or flag-for-attention, which means that if 'the mods' decide to attempt to reintegrate him into the community the community can vote to have none of it.

Which they seem to have done. When October 13th rolls around some of the userbase heat may have waned, but it will take very little effort on his part to rekindle anti-vgv8 sentiment and he'll get banned again. Considering what I've seen of this user, it may be kinder to put him out of our mutual misery and perma-ban him.


Time has passed, a ban has been experienced, and now there is evidence that he has fallen into the second response possibility I lined out above. Once the sock-puppets start arriving, it's time to ban his IP if possible. Good riddance.

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I don't believe vgv8 is a troll, merely an uneducated person playing in a field he/she is unfamiliar with, to say nothing about unqualified. Elsewhere vgv8 claims to have 25 years of IT experience, yet every utterance contradicts that claim. This person may possibly be a developer at some level but is certainly not a sysadmin.

The fact that this one individual has created such an outcry and is the only one I've seen suggested for complete removal must be a bit of a clue. While I have little doubt that vgv8 will return under some new name I still feel that in this instance the damage being done is sufficient to warrant a ban, together with a deletion of all his/her posts.

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now that six more months have come and gone I hope you know that this user has terrorized the network up and down. I'm sure, at 11.9k, that you do. –  jcolebrand Mar 14 '11 at 22:51
    
@drachenstern, and your point is? –  John Gardeniers Mar 14 '11 at 23:43
    
~ I believe networkwide ban was the consensus after that. Additionally, he got himself banned on twitter. –  jcolebrand Mar 14 '11 at 23:47
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I'm with Farseeker, while also respectful of Ward and Warren's statements. One thing I like a lot about the network is that everyone gets multiple chances to prove that they're beneficial to the community before even getting binned. (Yes, others would argue this, especially on MSO).

I also don't necessarily agree that vgv8 is trolling but it was apparent to me that as much as he thought he was trying to help the level of aptitude just wasn't there. That coupled with a certain level of arrogance when being corrected became degrading to the quality of the site. Answers were just plain wrong and conversations with OP's were completely misleading. It's easy for new people to spot trolls who are intentionally degrading the quality of the site. I think incompetence is much more detrimental, especially to someone who's new to the site or new to the topic they are posting about.

He's been binned here, on SO, on MSO (at one point I believe) and now on SF. I don't agree that this needs to be a permanent thing, though. I'm an advocate for second (and third) chances. That said, however, I don't mind the binning durations getting exponentially greater as Jeff has already stated in other venues.

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I think the main problem I have is not whether he is trolling, it is the fact that he will best plain wrong answers, but when corrected will react angrily to this, if he would admit he is wrong and take it graciously, and be willing to learn then I would have a lot more time for him. –  Sam Aug 30 '10 at 8:26
    
@sam I completely agree –  squillman Aug 30 '10 at 11:50
    
I hate the idea of locking someone out of the site. But it's a better option than driving away multiple people with incorrect information and unexplainable rage. Sometimes the cost is just too high. –  Kara Marfia Aug 30 '10 at 17:16
    
@Kara completely agree there as well. I hate creating the air of exclusivity that comes with suspension, even timed suspensions. But like you hint at, there is still the fact that the community has a standard of acceptable behavior. –  squillman Aug 30 '10 at 22:18
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No.

vgv8 is a conundrum to me. I'm honestly not convinced that they're a troll - primarily because I've seen them make valid contributions in the past.

Sure, they don't understand how the system works and they get a bit emotional about it but that's not a reason for a life-long ban.

Also, vgv8 does come to Meta, so I suggest that you be prepared to have this dicussion with them face-to-face (as it were).

They're a bit like Evan Carrol from m/so.

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If we cater to abusive users, irrespective of what you want to call their behavior, we're degrading the quality of the site as a whole. I see no reason to attempt to justify their behavior, as they are not providing a positive contribution to the site. There is no need for this to be a contentious subject. A 5% positive contribution does not negate the other 95%. –  Warner Aug 29 '10 at 23:09
    
@Warner - you don't have to cater to him if you don't want to. Just ignore him. I'm actually a tad annoyed because he allegedly had an answer to a long-outstanding question I have on SF and now I'll never know what it was. Of course, he could have just been pulling my tail but I'm trusting like that. –  Mark Henderson Aug 30 '10 at 0:13
    
Even if they're not always trolling, someone who - like vgv8 - is willing to spend the time it takes them to argue with everyone is a big distraction. –  Ward Aug 30 '10 at 0:15
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In addendum, I really, really don't want this place (Meta, that is) to be like MSO when I first started participating there. I felt like an outsider, that nobody gave a shit and they were all running around in their own private space and refused to acknowledge outsiders. It's different there now, but I die a little bit inside each time I see something like that happen here. –  Mark Henderson Aug 30 '10 at 0:15
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I did ignore him for the most part. Again, his behavior does not justify his continued presence. I think you're getting off track here. Everyone's not entitled to participate. –  Warner Aug 30 '10 at 0:21
    
Fair enough. My point was that I don't believe he's being deliberately malicious, and I don't believe he's trolling, because if he is he's the most advanced version of a troll I've ever seen. I believe his behaviour is mostly innocent, and thus deserves more than once chance. This site is totally different to any other forum on the intertron so it might take a while for new users to wrap their head around. Hell, I've even chastised him myself. But I don't believe anything he's done is in malice and thus doesn't deserve a lifelong ban (yet). –  Mark Henderson Aug 30 '10 at 0:24
    
You're entitled to your opinion and I respect it. In this case, I disagree. Hopefully if he returns on Oct 13, he demonstrates behavior deserving of your understanding. –  Warner Aug 30 '10 at 0:27
    
@Warner - I hope he does too. I'm inclined to agree with what you didn't say, and that is that he probably won't. But let's wait and see. If he continues like this on his third chance, then I will agree with you. –  Mark Henderson Aug 30 '10 at 0:30
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Not everyone can ignore him though. His answers are generally full of inaccurate info which could be harmful to users that are used to this site containing useful and generally responsible answers. A single downvote seems to send him into a tirade, nevermind explaining why. –  MDMarra Aug 30 '10 at 2:46
    
@MarkM - there's two distinct issues in your comment: 1) Bad answers. These are already taken care of with downvotes by the community. Nothing to be done here. 2) Emotional responses to said downvotes. This is part of the reason why he's in the sinbin I'm guessing, so let's see if his attitude changes in the future. –  Mark Henderson Aug 30 '10 at 3:49
    
@Farseeker - Not really, it's one problem, since with him they are bundled together. You're right that with a normal user these are two separate problems. Part of SF is trying to explain to people where they are wrong so that they can have a better understanding going forward, or at the very least so that the OP understands why a specific answer is wrong. This is impossible to do with vgv8, due to his attitude. This can lead down two roads - 1)No one responds to him and the OP thinks his advice is correct. 2)People respond to him and he starts a verbal battle. –  MDMarra Aug 30 '10 at 12:49
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I'm convinced that vgv8 is not a troll; in the traditional sense (though the question does not accuse him of this; other answers have specifically addressed it as though the question did). He is however very misinformed, unprofessional, verbally abusive, and deconstructive of social norms (see most of his posts for examples).

I am not in favor of a lifetime ban; people do change over time and nothing he has done yet specifically warrants such extreme measures.

I am in favor of continuing to ban him any/every time he gets out of line (and possibly for longer durations each time). This puts additional responsibilities on moderators to inform him why he's been banned (again); but that is the penalty we pay for being publicly accessible (and I very much prefer that we do stay open to the public).

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I thought I would add my own answer, partially to collect my thoughts from various comments, and partly to summarize what's been said.

Having re-read some of the previous posts and the recent posts and comments (vgv8 is currently posting as pizdets), I still think they are mostly trolling: I think the intent is mostly to get a reaction, not to have a discussion and gain an understanding.

I understand and appreciate the "no, don't ban permanently" answers, and since vgv8's recent posts as pizdets are mostly reasonable, perhaps the people with more faith that this is mostly a misunderstanding will turn out to be right.

OTOH, the lucidity of some of the pizdet posts makes me think that unfamiliarity with the english language was not an issue in some of the complaints (as has been supposed). Another thing that occurs to me is that someone who loudly proclaims "this place sucks, you guys all suck, I'm leaving!" and then keeps coming back isn't being consistent.

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Going over various posts I'm starting to think vgv8/pizdets is more than one person. Some posts are in fairly good English, whereas others are little more than gibberish. I'm wondering whether it's a group of people, only some of who can speak reasonable English, working together to make a nuisance of themselves just for kicks. In the meantime these sites suffer. –  John Gardeniers Sep 1 '10 at 11:32
    
He's also bitching about the trilogy on other forums - if you Google for Vgv8, you'll see he has hit a bunch of MSDN groups asking questions, with links to the same question on SO/SF where he didn't get answers that he liked. –  mfinni Sep 1 '10 at 15:47
    
@mfinni, it must be difficult for one perfect individual to have to live on the same planet as the rest of us. ;) –  John Gardeniers Sep 2 '10 at 5:49
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