One of our community guidelines reads:
- Assume good faith and like the good. However, flag the bad, and avoid contentless comments.
The “good faith” part is there because we are all (mostly) anonymous to one another. In the context of the BBS (or, indeed, online forums), one’s “faith” in posting generally amounts to “does this user have an ulterior motive for making this post or do they genuinely believe what they are saying?”
If the answer to either of these is no, then the likelihood that a user is attempting to derail or disrupt the conversation, bait other users into inappropriate behaviour, or otherwise act in a way that is contrary to the interests of the community is very high (i.e., they are trolling), and those posts should be removed before they succeed.
However, since we are mostly anonymous to one another, it’s difficult to answer those questions, especially for new posters. Only with enough history from a user, examining their actions, and the consistency of positions taken in responding to topics can one truly answer this question.
This is probably the most time-consuming and difficult part of moderation. Worse, the accusation is often the start of a derail in and of itself - accusing someone of acting in bad faith nearly always sends the conversation spiralling into personal attacks, off-topic arguing or pushes away others who might want to comment in the first place. It’s for this reason that “assume good faith” is in our guidelines.
If you believe a user is acting in bad faith, please flag them. Do not make accusations within topics. Accusing users of “sealioning,” “gish galloping,” or the like will only have one outcome - moving the conversation away from the topic at hand. And worse, this risks other folks who try to respond having their posts eaten when the accusatory posts (or poster) are ultimately removed - not to mention creating far, far more work for the moderator than if the post or poster had been flagged in the first place.
I utterly despise people who come to the BBS intending to waste the happy mutants’ time. People who intentionally visit the BBS to annoy others, see what they can get away with, or intentionally disrupt/derail topics are a plague on online discourse and siphon seemingly unlimited amounts of energy from moderators and the community. But engaging them leads to further wasted energy on all sides. Please use the “something else” flag type and raise your concerns there. Once the flag is raised to our attention, we’ll see it - without derailing the topic in the process.