"Effective immediately, we are adopting a hard line against blatant trolling in article discussions . .
We are going to give trolls an immediate 24-hour timeout upon their first infraction—with no warning. Additionally, troll posts will be subject to deletion if judged egregious or made by a new account. (Experience tells us new accounts that troll are almost always sock puppets, and those that are kicking off a new account with trolling aren't welcome). What's an egregious troll? Any troll that personally attacks someone else in our community. If you're not bright enough to criticize ideas without personally criticizing individuals, we're not interested in having you around. If a user chooses to venture into the territory of trolling others, it is their fault and their fault alone for what happens to them next. We will not weep for trolls, nor will we feel any remorse. . .
The requests for increased moderation come from all corners: people complain about Mac fans trolling Windows 8 threads, Windows users trolling iPad threads, and Android acolytes trolling yet others. The takeaway is that trolling is a universal problem and it isn't caused by one topic, one product, one writer, or any single item. Really, trolling is about one thing and one thing only: an individual's capacity for intelligent disagreement. There is only one person responsible for trolling, and that's the troll. There are no other excuses for it.
Anti-trolling efforts aren't about silencing discord or competing points of view, although the unimaginative troll will always claim that it is. Moderation is about creating a space for intelligent discussion, which includes dissent. But people are not free to dissent in whatever manner they wish. By personally attacking others or making asinine, substance-free posts, trolls hurt discussions. And we hear from too many people on a daily basis—people with smart and interesting points of view—who won't go into the discussions because of the trolling.
. . . Worried that your inner hater will be oppressed? Don't be. Be as critical as you want. Dissent as much as you want. Just remember that if you start personally insulting others, accusing them of crimes or moral failings, or engage in otherwise mindless behavior indicative of someone lacking a proper frontal lobe, you can and will be moderated. If you don't want to be moderated, it's easy. Don't troll."
ArsTechnica should be applauded for recognizing that personal attacks, vague accusations of dishonesty and moral failings, or simply claims that others lack intelligence was keeping good discussions from becoming great ones. I think it's a policy well worth considering here at AI, and following it would encourage a larger community of contributors.
Just a thought. Comments?