A user in my community did something that brought the wrath of the internet down on the community.

From my point of view, it was a simple wording mistake. This was pointed out to the user, who then edited their word choice. The community provided a few simple responses and the topic faded off our radar. Two days later the post was linked on multiple external sites with commentary on the original version of the post, not the changes that had been made and posted for nearly 36 hours. These comments were not flattering at all. To make matters worse, it was pointed out that the post had "been changed since this was reported", which drew even more traffic and negativity.

Much of this negativity was directed toward the community for covering up the views of the original user. Email addresses associated with moderators and administrators have been flooded with unflattering responses and negative posts have been made on the site. Attempts to remove these result in even more negative posts for "censorship". Community members are frustrated for multiple reasons

  1. We are flooded with all this negative traffic
  2. Attempts to remove these posts generate more posts, which makes it look like we aren't actually doing anything (increasing #1)
  3. All the posts from new users are ignoring feedback from established members attempting to explain the situation.

How can the community deal with the wrath of the internet due to the Streisand Effect? The idea isn't to eliminate only the problem in our own corner of the internet, but how can we handle this at the sources?

The types of responses the community has received has been posts to our main forum (and all related sub-forums). Leadership has received emails and Twitter direct messages. I know a few of us should be easily discoverable on Facebook, but I don't believe anyone has had a Facebook message yet.

Note: I have added a second question regarding the individual's reponse to this issue - how this might have prevented it at all.


3 Answers 3


One thing you could try is a pinned post (or similar) that greets new members when they go to make their first post that says something along the lines of:

If you're here to discuss X then we already have an ongoing discussion [here]

with a link to that discussion.

By directing people at an existing discussion you can hopefully do the following:

  1. Reduce the number of posts as people see that it's unnecessary to start the discussion as someone else already has. You want to encourage them to add their voice to the existing post rather than start a new topic.
  2. Add your explanation of the situation in one place rather than have to repeat it over and over again.

While there will be some people who want to start a new discussion you might be able to reduce their numbers. Also by forcing encouraging people to read through the existing discussion before posting they may realise they don't need to post at all, that you're handling the situation and that it's not as bad as "the internet" made out after all.


I don't know how big was this thing, but disable registrations for some days/a week can be a solution, or maybe moderate the first 10/15 posts for new members. This can slowdown the problem on you forum/community.

Then, IMHO, you must explain what happen with a official article and share it on you social networks' pages.

After that I think you can't really do nothing more than let it slow down it self.

p.s. Maybe a link to the content could help us to help you.

  • Moderating first posts is common on mailing lists and seems to work pretty well. If you can do it on your site, I think you'll find that it's easier to intercept these posts than to clean up after them. Commented Oct 5, 2016 at 1:42

In the future, it might be wise to have the user include an explanation of the edit at the bottom of the edited post (as is common on Reddit). This would at least decrease some of the accusations of you editing it to hide the issue, which was clearly not the intention

  • 4
    This is an answer to the related question, not to this one (and I already said this there).
    – user732
    Commented Mar 15, 2016 at 16:27

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.