I’ve seen some examples of individuals doing a very poor job of representing themselves and their teams on this site recently. I figured it’s never a bad time for a reminder that your online activity DOES reflect back to your team, its members, and its sponsors whether you say you represent them or not.
Disclaimers like, “my opinions don’t reflect the opinions of my team” are a huge joke. In many cases, the only thing people will know about your team will come from what you post online. It’s just human nature to form opinions and make judgements, disclaimer or not.
The people who read this post and take its message seriously aren’t the problem… So really the above message is just preaching to the choir. However, there is a lot that the broader community can do to minimize the impact of trolls, and others that generally represent themselves and their team poorly.
The first thing I’ve noticed is that the CD community dog piles on trolls, as well as community members with unpopular opinions, better than anybody. In the future, when a glaringly obvious troll makes a comment, rather than be the 8th person to “correct them” just hit the nifty little flag button below the post, and let the moderators know they should address it. Commenting just feeds the troll and empowers them to troll harder. Ignoring and flagging trolls is the best course of action.
In the case where a person isn’t trolling, but is just uneducated on a topic, or holds an unpopular opinion, be sure to read the dog pile before contributing to it. The other thing that CD does better than anybody else on the internet is beat dead horses. Often times the best way to respond to “mentor built” or similarly polarizing topics is to link to similar previous topics. I know you want to tell somebody they’re wrong and explain why… but I promise whatever you’re going to say has been said before… probably dozens of times.
Finally, if you see somebody representing a team poorly, and you know anybody from that team, let them know what you saw and how you feel it reflects on them. I hate to see a team’s reputation get tarnished due to a single rogue student or mentor with extreme beliefs. I would certainly want to know if somebody from my team was on CD making a fool of themselves. It would give the team an opportunity to handle things internally, and then to correct the record online.