Thomas Dalton wrote:
For a start, seeing someone spam and concluding that
person is a spammer is not prejudging, it's just judging.
I don't think that's quite correct. Everybody acts foolishly now and
then, but immediately judging them a fool is indeed prejudicial.
I've been a rabid anti-spammer since before the web existed, so these
days I have a pretty short fuse on the topic. But I still try hard to
keep in mind that the first time somebody spams, they rarely know that
I have talked to a shockingly large number of well-meaning small
business owners who believed the promotional flyer for the bulk mail
package they bought. Until they have done it repeatedly or after
warning, I don't think of them as spammers so much as people who have
spammed. They were just trying to promote their business in a way that
seemed reasonable given their lack of knowledge.
like threats? Should we not tell people that what they're doing will
get them blocked and just block them without warning?
I don't like threats. I do like explanations. I think the difference is
Wikipedia's secret sauce: the assumption of good faith.
Not being very friendly to spammers and
vandals is a small price to pay to get vandalism fixed promptly.
It depends on how you count the costs.
I think being actively unfriendly can get somebody's dander up. Some of
those people will become more persistent, or more sneaky. Some will
decide to get even. Many, because they still don't understand quite what
the problem is, will tell people how horrible Wikipedia is. Or just take
it out on their dogs.
On the other hand, people who feel they have been fairly treated (that
is, not as fools but as people who have unintentionally done something
foolish) have less incentive to take revenge. Perhaps now that they've
edited, they'll add something. Maybe they'll tell colleagues why they
shouldn't try to market themselves via Wikipedia. And it could they'll
even join us in tidying things up.