The Taming of the LlamaLike every huge global public website, dA has it's share of spam, drama, trauma and trolls. Most deviants will have had some experience dealing with spam on their userpage, bitchy comments on their art and other unpleasant interactions. I don't want to talk about the people who trawl through the Daily Deviations every day to leave comments about how the featured work is undeserving, or the people who write journals and news articles calling out other artists and encouraging their friends to form a lynch mob, or the people who disagree with someone in the forums so follow them to their page to hurl a further barrage of insults (again usually with an army of bandwagon jumping 'fans' in tow), or...
I'm sure you get the picture. What I DO want to talk about here is how you can deal with the negativity in as positive a way as possible. I don't make the rules here and I don't write the policies. I'm writing this from the point of view of an artist who wants to have the most enjoyable dA experience I can.
So, without further ado here's the RockstarVanity guide to maintaining an aura of peaceful dA calm!
Reporting SpamEvery single comment on dA's userpages and deviations has a Report Spam link on it which allows you to...report spam. When you click this link, the comment is hidden and reported. dA defines spamming as the act of repeatedly making identical or near identical comments or the sending of a large quantity of notes with the obvious intent of indiscriminately spreading your message to as many users as possible without regard for whether they are interested in your message.
Hiding CommentsYou can hide comments on your userpage or deviations by clicking the Hide Comment link which appears on each comment. This will hide the comment from view so other people can't read it (although it will still show as a little bar saying Hidden By Owner). You can unhide a comment at any time.
Blocking UsersIf you REALLY don't want someone to communicate with you on dA, you can block them. This will prevent them from commenting on your userpage, journals, deviations, person shoutbox and personal forums as well as preventing them from noting you, favouriting your work and devwatching you.
Closing Forum ThreadsIf you've started a forum thread and no longer wish to keep it open due to the issue being resolved or a massive influx of trolling, threats or personal attacks you can request that an MN@ (message network administrator) close it. This will prevent any further replies being added to the thread.
Deleting Journals and PollsIf the horrible stuff that you want to put a stop to is happening in comments on one of your journal entries or polls, deleting the journal entry or poll will also delete the comments left on it.
Disabling Deviation CommentsYou can also disable commenting on a deviation to prevent any further comments from being made.
Moving OnAs well as the features that dA provides to help keep nastiness to a minimum, there are things that you can do to bring a halt to proceedings or calm a situation down. These are just suggestions, and please bear in mind that they will require you to put your mature hat on, take a deep breath and count to ten.
Sounds obvious, right? If you don't want to continue an argument, you don't have to. Just don't reply any more. Yes, it may be frustrating and yes, you may have to deal with immature "ha ha, I won" responses from whoever you're arguing with but if you don't want to continue with the conversation, you are free to stop at any time.
Don't write any more journals on the topic
If drama has arisen around a journal you wrote and you'd like the drama to stop, it's a good idea not to write any more journals about it. There will always be people who will seek out things to bitch about so if you cease to provide them with bitch-fuel, chances are they'll move on.
Don't make counter-threads
The forum system here is pretty cool. You get replies in your message centre, anyone can jump in and get involved with a discussion, the rules and regulations are pretty relaxed and there are forums for just about every subject you can think of. If you disagree with a forum post, you can reply TO it! You can also reply directly to other replies. You don't have to make a counter-thread, or a counter-counter-thread. Making threads about existing topics is not only a waste of space (and may well result in your counter-thread being closed), but will perpetuate potential drama well beyond what is necessary or appropriate.
Don't form an angry mob
As tempting as it may be to ask your many friends and fans to jump to your defence, it's never a good idea. Mob behaviour will only ever exacerbate a situation, dragging it out and acting like a magnet for drama llamas.
Prevention Is Better Than CureThere are things that you can do to pre-emptively minimise fall-out and viral drama. Even if you feel that you have a genuine reason to be angry or upset, it's always worth taking a few deep breaths and waiting a while before you act on your feelings. Once you've had a chance to think, you probably won't be half as annoyed as you were at first and will be able to better resolve the situation.
Keep it private
If you're upset about something you've seen on dA or disagree with something that another person has said or done, communicating privately (ie by note) will stop other people from getting involved and will remove the performance aspect of a public fight.
Report then move on
Every deviation has a Report Deviation link (next to the description, above the thumb code link and stats) allowing anyone to report prohibited content, miscategorised deviations, art theft and untagged mature content. As tempting as it may be to leave an "I reported this, so there" comment, it is unnecessary and will only serve to cause upset. If you really want to communicate with the person who's work you feel is breaking the rules somehow, this can be done politely in a comment or better still, a note. Remember that most (although not all) of the time, the thing you're reporting the deviation for is a mistake and not an intentional oversight and its never a bad thing to be friendly and helpful rather than accusatory and mean.
Don't dive head-first into someone else's conflict
It's normal to want to defend a friend who you feel is being unfairly targeted, but often this only results in further arguments and encourages passers-by to get involved. If you want to offer your support, leave an encouraging and kind comment of your own (not as a direct reply to someone else's) or send a note to your friend to let them know you care. If you absolutely can't live without replying to someone else's comments, do it politely and don't fuel the fire.
Remember that critique should be constructive
Just because someone has the Critique function enabled on their work doesn't mean you should charge in with all guns blazing and rip apart their work. You are commenting on a piece of art, something that a person has spent time on, poured their emotions into, a piece of work that the creator cares about deeply. Keep your suggestions polite and helpful - they will be appreciated a lot more that way. The same goes for journals, news articles and forum posts asking for help. It won't kill you to read over your comment before hitting Reply, and if it's not something that you would be comfortable reading in your own message centre, take a few moments to reword it.
Make a suggestion
We have a Suggestions forum here, as well as Suggestion galleries (look under deviantART Related). These are great places to suggest changes or share your ideas and they ARE looked at by the people who can make changes or new additions to the site. You can also contact dA staff to share your concerns and ideas if you'd rather have a conversation in private. While it isn't against the rules here any more to 'call-out' (publicly name and/or link to) specific deviations or deviants, writing journals and news articles (or leaving visible comments on staff and volunteers' userpages) isn't always the best way to go about sharing your thoughts. Before you write, think for a moment about the results that you want. Do you want to offer a fully-formed productive suggestion for the good of the community or do you simply want to humiliate and hurt someone? If your answer is the latter, it might be a good idea to hold off on any action until you've taken more time to consider your motivation.
The art of ignoring
You will not like every piece of art you see here. You will not be interested in every piece of news. You will not agree with every critique. You will not empathise with every journal entry or forum post. If you run into something that doesn't float your boat, the easiest and best way to deal with it is often to simply close the browser window or go and find something that you feel more positive about instead.
When It Really Is HarassmentdA staff are not here to resolve minor conflicts (ie those which can be resolved by blocking, hiding comments etc) but if you're on the receiving end of comments which are racist, threatening, extremely aggressive or show evidence of stalking, you can contact the Help Desk about the situation.
A Final NoteI'm not suggesting for a moment that you should always avoid being controversial or that you should never speak your mind or must always quietly tolerate attacks from other people. It makes sense that in a community populated by artists from all over the world there will be differences of opinion. Sometimes conflicts can result in a change for the better, but please remember that cyber-bullying is a serious issue and that your comments are being read by a human being with emotions.
When you're talking to someone on dA it's important to remember that you know very little of their individual situation and are basing your judgments on the small amount of information than can be gleaned from their userpage, journals and art. It's easy to forget the human aspect of online communications, so before you pick a fight or jump into the middle of one it's worth considering whether or not you would be willing to state your opinions quite so strongly if you were face to face with the person.
Don't forget to check out the Help & FAQ section of dA, found through a link at the bottom of every single page on the site.