Baiting posts and their effect on Internet forums
Something I have found to be very much a problem in online forums is baiting posts. I think most people would be familiar with trolls, people who might write here saying how much Star Wars sucks for example. Baiting posts on the other hand are generally subtle enough to escape notice and the first sign of trouble is when the flames start arriving. It might be a condescending tone in a post for example; rather than simply explain why something is wrong comment or infer on the lack of intelligence of the other party, or in a discussion on countries or patriotism saying how stupid something is about a particular country. What usually results is much the same as troll posts with the people who react looking bad and the troll, or baiter, not being seen to be causing the trouble they do. What I feel is needed is for people to know how to spot baiting posts, how to deal with them and ways to discourage this type of behavior, maybe some understanding as to why people might act the way they do when they are baited. Anyone have any ideas on this matter?
Perception of baiting is extremely subjective. What one person considers baiting another person may consider as a direct approach. Baiters act the way they do for a myriad of reasons. However, it's important to realize that it's not the baiter that determines our individual response, it's us as individuals who determine our response. We're each responsible for what we put in our own posts, and just because someone baits doesn't mean we're required to respond.
Here's some very simple ways to deal with this.
a. Use the report post feature for offensive posts. Note that what you consider baiting and what the moderator staff considers baiting may be different.
b. Ignore the baiter and simply don't respond to the post
c. Put the baiter on your ignore list
d. Leave the thread/forum until you cool off and can deal with it more objectively.
e. If you choose to respond, make sure it's not a flame/bait. Double check your post, or let it sit a few hours or days, _before_ you hit the reply button.
Flaming someone who has baited you is against forum rules, so the staff highly recommends that you not flame when you see a baiting post. You are not required to read an offensive post. You certainly aren't required to respond to one.
Perception of baiting is subjective, and I think that is part of the problem. Repeated labelling of being a neocon for example, or reactionary Christian, these might not be seen as baiting but if that is not their intended use, then why the need to use such a label?
Yes, it is up to us to control how we act, and were it just me, okay, but I see others who are baited into being hostile. That is a large reason why people try and make baiting comments. I wish it was as easy as just being able to ignore it, I really do, unfortunetly it can be anything but. What about when the percieved baiting is consistent? It shouldn't be an excuse for acting hostile but it is at the very least a reason for it, however fair it might be.
With reporting posts, as you said what is considered baiting is subjective, and one of the things I find, certainly one of my failings, is that when you don't see anything done then the temptation is to take matters into your own hands. That's wrong, no question, but as I think it has been shown that's what can and does happen. On that matter flaming posts and hostile replies are verboten, and rightfully so. No mention of the baiting posts themselves. Are they against the rules? If not then considering the problems they cause why not? I am thinking it's because it is the responsibility of people not to post hostile replies rather than to not post baiting comments in the first place, but please, correct me if I'm wrong.
It all depends on how the baiting is done (if the poster is flaming then, it falls under the flaming rules) otherwise, it becomes very difficult to intervene and it becomes awfully suggestive (what if the poster just wanted to stimulate the discussion?).
We can't be in everyone's minds to trying to figure out what was their intent when they posted and delete all remarks that could be subjectively considered offensive by a reader as everything can be potentially offensive to some degree. We can't start moderating the boards and issue warnings based on the preferences and sensitiveness of each individual member.
In all fairness it's a very complicated part of moderating forums, to be able to judge whether something is by definition baiting or simply something that is poorly reacted to. On top of that there has to be a balence between leniancy and controlling what occurs on the forums, and let's face it you cannot stop people from doing the wrong thing. You can do what you can to discourage them but you can't, short of banning them, stop them from acting stupid. With that said you wonder why some threads get out of hand and if you look you will see that something that was baiting was what ignited the flame war. As hard as it is to moderate, it is equally as difficult to keep in mind that when you see this to think that the reason they make such posts is to get a hostile reaction. In discussing it I was told one way to deal with it was to think of the people who make such posts as the Comic Book Guy. Fair? I dunno, perhaps some forums could do with a warning about people who would try and flamebait.
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