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This is some kind of a follow up of this same old issue where the problem was, that a malicious troll managed to split the moderator/administrator team of our small community.

The situation has now clearly boiled down to the fact that two "good" administrators want the site to be high-level and professional, whereas the third "bad" administrator does not recognize any rules, responsibility, despises any form of authority and wants to turn the site into an anarchistic crackpot forum. The third administrator joined the site and the team later, and he never accepted what the previously existing community has decided that the site should be. Yes, we should never have made him an administrator ...

Luckily, the "bad administrator" has been busy with real-world issues during the past few months, such that our site could thrive and continue to attract the right kind of professional audience. But after his favorite crackpot (The one he always wants to protect by all means) has been warned for off-topic commenting in accordance with the site rules, the bad administrator became very upset.

In private email discussions he insulted all other members of the moderation/administration team. On the meta part of our site, he and about three of his friends (including the crackpot he protects) try hard to get the long standing, agreed upon rules changed, by misrepresenting what they mean and how they are applied. He dishonestly misrepresents and distorts what other people have said and done, and he even copies parts of the private email discussion into the meta part of the site to pursue his campaign of turning the site into a crackpot forum and making everybody who opposes this look bad.

The problem is that at present, nobody apart from the trolling administrator, his friends, the crackpot, and the rest of the team are active on meta. So it is actually the people who always wanted the site to be high-level and professional that are looking bad and are seemingly in the minority, even though the silent majority on the main page would tend to support the original goals of the site.

So how can we save the community and prevent it from falling into the hands of the trolling administrator and his friends, without alienating or frightening the nice people who are active only on the main page and don't even notice the ongoing meta fights?

What I already did is to start writing to high-rep, community trusted and appreciated users, in private, if they could have a look at the issue and help.

Kicking out the trolling administrator which would, as he never accepted the goals of the site, be some kind of the right thing is dangerous. The trolling administrator can contribute good content if he wants too, and is therefore popular.

Calling in the owner of the site, who wants it to be high-level too, also bears the potential danger of deadly disrupting and frightening the community.

Giving in and handing the site over to the trolling administrator and his friends is no course of action we want to follow.

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    So considering you don't actually want to take any action e.g. you don't want to cede victory to the troll, you don't want to kick them out, you don't want the owner to be involved (I wonder why they're not already if its as bad as you say, but anyway...) what do you honestly think is left at this point? There ain't nobody here got the 'one weird trick to making everyone on the internet get along without actually having to do anything'. – Rob Moir Jan 19 '15 at 13:17
  • @RobM nah, I am not saying that we are not willing to do anything. But as our community still is fragile, the different possible course of actions that can be taken bear more or less the risk of breaking our community apart. So I am not sure which action it is best to take and if their are practical hints that could be considered to minimize the risk of completely disrupting the community. – just_curious Jan 19 '15 at 15:09
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Really the best thing probably is to get the owner at least aware of this issue. If it is as bad as you're saying (that it might tear your community apart/damage it), they should at least be aware of the issues.

It doesn't have to be a really formal request. It just could be a simple "Hey, there seems to be a disagreement here. Can you help us?"

Calling in the owner of the site, who wants it to be high-level too, also bears the potential danger of deadly disrupting and frightening the community.

Considering that he probably has spent countless hours and much money for server costs, he has the right to know of something that could really ruin the reputation of his community!

If he's on your side, might as well use him to help you! The worst thing that could happen is he doesn't help, which is the same exact situation that you're in now.

If you don't feel like he should bother him now, you could cautiously ask the bad admin for a reason for their decision. If they give you a totally unreasonable answer, you might be able to forward this to the site owner so he knows that this isn't a minor issue, and he can see first-handed what's going on.

  • Yes, the site owner has also spent many hours developping our platform ... I have now asked him if he could look at the issue and talk to the "evil" administrator. – just_curious Jan 22 '15 at 11:53
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The best bet is to promote some of the meta posts on your main site to encourage more of the main community to participate. This is good for the health of the site as it encourages more balanced discussion of site direction and helps ensure people are involved.

In the mean time, you can make the argument that consensus hasn't been established if your meta discussions don't match up with the apparent reality on the site. Effectively, the meta discussion itself doesn't do a whole lot other than let the one moderator try to cause in-fighting. Stay above it and prevent it from taking effect and as long as you do that, the main site will keep running.

Meta discussion won't do anything on the main site without support of the community and the moderators and the owners. They may make meta less appealing to other users by making it a hostile environment, but that's really the practical limit of their ability to do damage.

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