I listened to an interesting talk/Q&A with top community manager Justin Isaf who spoke, among other things, about what he called Soapbox Trolls.
These are the kind of people that aren’t joining a community to have a healthy debate about something, but rather want to wax lyrical and discourse at length about what they think.
They’ll often be incredibly well informed and will quote facts and figures at length. What they will often do is take the conversation that is taking place and raise it to a level higher – what Justin calls the meta-conversation.
Justin deals with these soapbox trolls by deleting their comments and banning them (note – this is not all the time, context is important). They aren’t there for the conversation, they are looking for the opportunity to talk about themselves.
The great thing about the internet is that everyone can have their soapbox. Everyone deserves a soapbox! But, as marketing legend Seth Godin states, ‘everyone doesn’t deserve their own audience’ - and they certainly don’t deserve your community as an audience.
Whereas Soapbox Trolls are not worth a community managers time, people that use bad language or are abusive are not to be banned outright. These people can often be turned around to become the most constructive members of a community. The important thing to remember is to teach people what language and behaviour is and isn’t appropriate inside your community.