A concern troll is a person who participates in a debate posing as an actual or potential ally who simply has some concerns they need answered before they will ally themselves with a cause. In reality they are a critic. Concern trolling in geek feminism communities can result in continual reversion to Feminism 101 discussions in attempts to appease the troll's concerns, frustrating attempts at more serious discussion. Concern trolls are not always self-aware; they may also view themselves as potential allies who have just, oddly, never met a feminist opinion they liked.
Concern trolls can be identified primarily because they will retreat from, rather than engage with or be convinced by, answers to the questions they pose. They may repeatedly ask a certain question in feminist discussions without ever absorbing or replying to answers from previous discussions. They will often back into typical anti-feminist arguments, such as expressing concern that an argument is too "extreme" or a feminist too "strident" or even "hysterical". Another common tactic is insisting that some subjects are more important than others, for example, that media depictions of women shouldn't be criticised while violence against women continues.
Concern trolling is frequently banned in feminist communities. Unfortunately this means that even honest critics may be labeled as trolls, as a result of the derailing tactics used by concern trolls.
Concern troll tactics
- tone policing
- expressing qualified support for feminist goals
- retreating from rather than engaging with answers to questions they post
- using the More flies with honey argument
- using the You're being emotional argument
- using the Harming the community argument
- using the Male experience trump card argument
- In about 2009, Martin Krafft regularly responded to geek feminist blog posts, including posting on this wiki, as a concern troll. He said that: "I think women and men should have the same opportunities, and I think that the IT world (among others) still has some ways to go to make that happen." However, "The geek feminism wiki makes me pretty uneasy, and feels like someone is tying a rope to the past and present to make it harder to move forward. Under the assumption that most people would like to move forward towards an equal-opportunity community, how does keeping meticulous track of all the problems of the past and present help?"
- Aoirthoir An Broc is a more malicious type of concern troll; he pretends to engage with people in discussions on gender issues in FOSS such as here, while professing elsewhere that "women are shit programmers and lazy as fuck".
- Francisco Dao's article in Venture Beat "Women in tech: Is the outrage helping or hurting?" on March 1, 2015