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POSTED IN: My DTL blog: Chris' blog

I think a lot about internet trolls.  Wikipedia describes it like this:

troll (/ˈtrl//ˈtrɒl/) is a person who sows discord on the Internet by starting arguments or upsetting people, by posting inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community (such as a newsgroup, forum, chat room, or blog) with the intent of provoking readers into an emotional response or of otherwise disrupting normal, on-topic discussion, often for the troll's amusement.

Everyone has seen troll comments attached to internet content.  In the long term, I have two goals for trolls on Dream to Learn:

  1. Protect Dream to Learn members from their bile.  To learn and grow, you need to allow yourself to be vulnerable, and trolls are anathema to vulnerability.
  2. By providing an environment where people can express themselves constructively and honestly, let just about *everyone* express themselves.

And, yes, I'm a glass-half-full kind of guy.

Anticipating the troll problem, we turned off self-sign up for Dream to Learn. For a long time, the only way to become a Dream to Learn member was to be invited to join by an existing member.

We've now turned self-sign up back on.  But there are a few steps involved.

To sign-up, you need to pass Google's recapatcha challenge (which is trivial, it's designed only to eliminate automated programs), and you need to verify your email address.  We verify your email address by sending you an email, with a link that you need to click on.

Once you've signed up, you are a guest user.  You can see all content for Dream to Learn members, and you can create all the content that any Dream to Learn member can create.  However, as a guest user there are a few things you cannot do:

  1. you can't invite other users to be members
  2. you can't invite DTL members to be your colleagues
  3. you can send messages only to DTL members who have allowed messages from guest users
  4. you can't give karma to other users

So how does a guest user become a full DTL member?  Simple -- an existing DTL member needs to make you their colleague.  I said above that as a guest user you can't invite anyone to be your colleague.  But DTL members can invite you to be a colleague.  

Once you have at least one colleague, you are a full member.

The idea here is that some (brave) DTL members will serve as the gatekeepers of Dream to Learn.  They'll allow messages from guest users, and will find people they connect with, and invite them to be colleagues.  All members are equal in this regard - every member can be such a gatekeeper if they wish.  

If anyone starts to get spammed with messages from guest users, they can simply turn off messages from guest users in their settings.  If a particular user is a problem, they can easily block just that user.

 

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About the Author

Chris Tennant

Chris Tennant

I co-founded Dream to Learn in 2013. I love the outdoors, growing and building things, and the challenge and beauty of writing computer code. I live in Eugene, Oregon with my wife Giuditta, my two kids Joshua and Rebecca, and our cats Sprinkie and Hugino.

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Created: June 28, 2014

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