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As a moderator on a minecraft server (the type of game matters little), several times I had to deal with what I call "cocky passive-agressive borderline trolls": usually a smart, young user, that irritates everyone with passive-agressive behaviour, teasing and provoking, managing to remain borderline within the chat rules, but annoying the hell out of most people.

So within the server rules, they did not break them, and it is difficult to pinpoint any fault within their chat logs without looking at the big picture and adding up the reactions of other players to their presence.

They are usually nice to their posse only, and most like to target server staff with their annoying behaviour. When threatened they back off very quickly, and start a "i did nothing wrong by the rules", usually refraining from trolling for some time (a couple hours, or until the most stern staff member logs off).

I've seem good, nice players driven away from the server because they can't stand these trolls.

What can be done to deal with this kind of player? They are sleazy and smart, and usually act borderline and using innuendo, so it is hard to mount a case on them. Even the ones that do not quit usually contact us on skype to vent their frustration and anger at being trolled and/or witness the trolling.

What can be done to deal with these types?


Differs from How do I deal with online trolling/harassment in video games? because it is from chat moderator point of view.

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Institute a "be nice" rule. You don't need to enumerate all, or indeed any, of the things you consider not being nice - that will only lead to the trolls avoiding the specific behaviours you've listed and still being annoying and trollish, but giving a few examples can help give context to the rule. You also need to include a caveat and "catch all" phase to avoid the case of someone saying "well this behaviour isn't explicitly against the rules". Something along the lines of:

This list is not exhaustive and includes behaviours and actions that a reasonable person would find to be against the general "be nice" rule.

Then, after a shortish period, suspend or ban them for violating that rule. If you can suspend for a few hours/days rather than outright banning it's better as it gives them a way back if they reform.

Your regular players are happy because the troll has gone so are less likely to quit the server.

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    I am not sure it this is really a good advice. For transparent and fair moderation, any rules (including a be nice rule) should be defined and installed in a objective way such that anybody can comprehend what constitutes a violation of that rule and what does not. Using a "be nice" rule in such a broad subjective and not clearly defined way as suggested in this answer could lead to even more hassle. – just_curious Mar 3 '16 at 9:25
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    @just_curious - the problem with enumerating all the "be nice" rules is that you are bound to miss something and the troll will engage in that specific behaviour and, rightly, claim that it's not against the rules. You need to include examples of the types of behaviour and include a "catch all" phrase at the end. – ChrisF Mar 3 '16 at 9:27
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    @just_curious If the environment allows, you could start a discussion or have a vote on the introduction of the "be nice" rule. Implementing it will then take a little longer, but I think most users will agree. – user732 Mar 3 '16 at 14:18
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    a "be nice" rule may lead to some overzealous staff becoming the "polite police". There were cases where some mods go "Judge Dreed" mode, and end up being banned themselves. – Mindwin Mar 3 '16 at 14:44
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    @Mindwin - That may be a danger, but if all actions are recorded and peer reviewed you can spot this sort of behaviour and nip it in bud before it becomes a problem. – ChrisF Mar 3 '16 at 14:47

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