9

What should I do, if I observe certain users of a related site continuously misrepresenting and attacking our community on their own place? At times, the attacks go even farther than "conventional badmouthing" and include (unfounded) accusations of criminal intentions. By "accusations of criminal intentions" I mean for example claims, that we are a platform for illegally exchanging copyright protected material and similar things.

More detailled description of the situation

  • The users on the other site who attack our community have never been members of our site
  • Among the attackers are even moderators of the other site
  • There is a certain thematic overlap of the two sites: The site who attacks us is about playing with red, blue, and green balls (for all colors site), whereas our community is focused on playing with blue balls only (blueball site).
  • We have founded a separate site for blueball players, as blueball players have difficulties in extracting their blue balls at the for-all-colors site (they are a minority there), which is dominated and governed by red and green ball players these days.
  • Blueball players like more sophisticated games, that are uninteresting and boring for non-blueball players

I insinctively followed the advice given in this related discussion How can a community protect itself from a single user intent on misrepresenting the community? (a community member goes ranting elswere about his home site) as far as it is applicable to the partly different situation: I avoided getting into heated discussions on the for-all-colors site and just dispassionately debunked the grossest misrepresentations.

Compared to the situation in the earlier discussion, it seems more urgent to do something about the attacks in this case as there are blueball players on the for-all-colors site who would potentially be happy join the blueball site. At the same time it seems very difficult to do anything at all, as established users and even moderators of the for-all-color site are involved in the attacks of the blueball site.

So what can best be done in this situation?

In particular what should we do about the very harmful and potentially dangerous accusations of criminal intentions?

7

There are several different options. On the diplomatic side, you could try to talk with the owners of the other site about the problem and try to get them to stop. Make it clear to them that you aren't trying to harm their community, but rather trying to help them by making a place that people can talk about things their community doesn't want. If moderators on the other community are part of the problem, then there is clearly an institutional us vs them mentality and without addressing that, you won't be able to stop the problem nicely.

On the nuclear option side, depending on the kinds of defamation and the locations of the site owners and servers, some of the posts may actually be libelous and you may be able to get a court order for their removal and force them to stop posting similar such inaccurate information. This is likely to stroke a lot more bad feeling and complaining about your site in ways that you can't get removed for libelous reasons, but it would at least prevent the misrepresentation of your site as criminal in nature.

If the political route fails and you don't want to go the nuclear legal route, the only option really left to you is to calmly respond to the criticisms and post defenses to yourself. As long as the criticisms aren't justified, anyone that does visit your site should be able to that quickly enough which will actually hurt the site doing the misrepresentation more than it will hurt your community.

  • Thanks for this helpful answer. I also mailed to some trusted users of our site and asked them to have a look at the ongoing issue too. It seems we have now sat it out by calmly and dispassionately debunking each false claim or accusation. The agressors have lost the interest in the discussion. For now ... – just_curious Oct 13 '14 at 7:48
7

To this good answer I would add: consider creating a page on your site where you (dispassionately) lay out the facts. Don't name the other site (why give them publicity?) and don't get into "they said, we said" -- just say that you take copyright seriously, violations will be dealt with, here's a link to report them, etc. Do that for each category of false rumors/claims. Then, when accusations are made, you can just say "that's incorrect" and provide the link, instead of engaging in the discussion each time.

If all of the claims are about policy issues, then instead of a separate page consider making this part of your TOS, which I assume you publish on your site.

This related post talks about a user within a community rather than external to it, but many of the responses are the same.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

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