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How to deal with the aftereffects of member toxicity?

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I've seen multiple threads asking others for advice on how to deal with members who are currently creating toxicity on their site; this isn't about that. My question is more about how do you all deal with the emotions after dealing with a toxic member who has left a large stain on your roleplaying experience? 




I have a site that opened a few months ago. Since opening, we've (mostly) had an incredibly positive reception with impressive growth and activity. I'm extremely happy with my site's staff and the general group of roleplayers who have flocked to the site and stayed. 


1-2 months ago, we had a new member join. Initially, this person seemed positive. They were engaging with multiple threads on the site, interacting with others, posting wanted ads and character catalogs. We noticed within about a week of this person joining they were posting passive aggressive comments on their profile about other site members (names were not used in their posts, but it was clear they were speaking about someone specific). This happened twice, and both times this happened the subjects of each post came to staff to relay their experiences with the member posting the statuses. Staff learned through direct messages sent between these members that the one posting the statuses was incredibly rude to both individuals. Although the initial member had not done anything directly against site rules in the messages, it was clear that the complaining parties had politely attempted to contact the initial member and were received negatively.


Passive aggressive statuses are against site rules, however, so I sent a message to this member asking them to please not post those kinds of messages and to come to staff if they had any issues with other members. I was polite and did not mention the other members' names or their interactions, I only asked to refrain from posting negativity because it is bad for the morale of the site. The member replied vehemently, claiming that staff was incompetent and that because one of our staff members had been rude to them through PMs (which never happened, the member was mistaking one of the writers they had spoken to as a staff member when they very obviously weren't), that they assumed our staff didn't know how to interact with members and if I couldn't keep my staff in check that there was no point in them bringing any potential problems because I would just side with staff. Again, neither of the members this person spoke to were staff AT ALL. 


I replied explaining that no one they interacted with was staff, and that any assumptions they made were incorrect. I also pointed out that I was not trying to attack them, only that I want to do my best to encourage a positive, healthy environment and these kinds of passive aggressive messages are simply inappropriate. Once again, the member reacted negatively, claimed that I was forcing them off the site (again not remotely true), and left.


We thought that was it, but a few weeks later this person returned to my site. Staff and I decided to leave them be. If they wanted to be a productive member of the site and not break rules, fine. After about a week or two, this member posted, "Bye, thanks for nothing," on their profile, and once again left. I found out later that in private messages, this member had been spreading incredibly hateful lies about my staff and me, saying that we had attacked them privately and run them off the site once before after they had had traumatic experiences with other members. They told new members that staff had spread scandalous lies about them and that was why all their threads on the site died (once again, not true. My co-admin and I NEVER discussed what happened with this member with anyone). Because of their lies, at least one very positive, active, and likable new member abandoned our site and followed this person somewhere else. 


I know I shouldn't allow it to bother me, but it upsets me so much that this person lied about how my co-admin and I treated them. We were as polite, respectful, and accommodating as we could be while still trying to let them know these behaviors were not okay. Because of those lies, at least one, if not more, members now have completely false impressions of me and my co-admin. I still have the messages sent between myself and this member, and have evidence of their negative behavior, but know it would do no good to "expose" them, and I'm not that type of person anyway. My co-admin says that if they try to come back again, we should just ban them, but I'm so saddened I can't seem to think clearly about the situation.


How do you deal with people like this, and the lasting hurt they leave in their wake? How do you heal knowing that this person is now going to spread lies about who you are and what your site is when you have worked so hard to make it a positive place and be a positive person/site owner?

Anonymous poster hash: 44df2...366

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They've already broken rules and been talked to about breaking said rules. At this point, they're seeing how far they can push said rules before they're actively enforced.


Yes, they'll play the victim. They're already playing the victim. All that will change is what notes they hit.


I also find it interesting that they're trying to shame you into not talking about them. If they don't want to be ashamed of themself, the onus is on them to not do things they're ashamed of - not the witnesses to not talk about the things they did that they are ashamed of.


If your rules are tight and you've already talked to them about rulebreaking, this is exactly the kind of scenario they're there for.


Good luck, and try not to sweat what other people might think too much. Patterns emerge, and people notice.

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What Dragon said seems pretty spot on.


Based on the reaction your other members have had and the fact that they came to you, I think that it's clear that they understand that the individual in question lied. They're on your side, and aren't subscribing to the garbage that's being spread. Additionally, banning them now is not only a confidence thing, but also an opportunity that I believe you must take to demonstrate your commitment to your site's rules. Letting things slide won't help this situation. You've created rules for a reason, so I think it's best to follow through.

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