Well, the title voids the need for an introduction so I'll get right to it. I feel like this needs to be considered. Call me whatever. Open discussion is encouraged. Post can be found here.
It's... kinda uncanny that I find this just now.
This is a difficult problem indeed... I used to be part of a different pony forums that is now in a very sad state. We all saw it happening and before any of us knew it, it became a reality. I don't think just ignoring the trolls is going to do much good in the long run since that's more or less rolling the red carpet for them to take over and become the norm. That isn't to say that we should have troll witch-hunts. It's a complicated problem that needs a lot of thinking just to come up with ideas that might actually do something.
Let me explain my reasoning. A lot of members join MLP Forums every day but is it a coincidence who stays and who doesn't? I don't believe that to be the case. Certain types of newcomers are more likely to settle in than others, you see. What I'm sure many of us don't want is for the disrespectful settle their roots too firmly. Let me explain how this can happen.
Sure, we can ignore trolls but what if they start connecting with each other and enjoy talking trash in each others' presence? Maybe they're not getting under people's skin since they're being ignored by them but at the very least, they get some attention between themselves and that may prove to be enough for them so they stick around. As this happens, more newcomers arrive but with this new development, more troll-like members will start to find the place lucrative all the while this place starts to look less attractive to those who can't handle such types. This could potentially snowball until eventually trolls become the dominant user demographic as those who can't stand such types leave; be they new or familiar members. This is ignoring a lot that happens in between but I think that'll do for the moment.
On to something else, be wary of tension in the group. People here can get tense over all sorts of things but what is important is what happens to that tension. The most likely thing to happen with tension is it getting displaced. That means, it goes from one individual to the next. This tends to express itself as "lashing out". The person doing it will probably feel less tense but those at the receiving end of it get more tense. It would be in our best interest for tension in our community to instead get dissipated. I don't believe that the displacement of tension in our community can be prevented but I do believe it can be controlled somewhat.
OK, so I've explained how tension can be displaced but how can tension be dissipated or its displacement controlled? Well, first of all, one would have to pick up that someone has tension that he or she is eager to release because if that tension doesn't get released in a good way, it'll get released in a bad way. It is possible to intervene and make a difference for the better. If someone is really tense and then receives a shoulder to lean or cry on, that is tension being released in a way that is beneficial to the community; tension being dissipated. By offering to be someone for the person to talk to, you are volunteering to take on some of the person's tension so that it doesn't have to be released on an unwilling person. You know what can guard against the build-up of tension? Feeling like there's someone always ready to talk to you no matter how "childish" or how much of a "crybaby" it'll make you look like. Besides, much of that kind of conversation would happen in private anyway. What this gives is a feeling of protection. So to recap, I've talked about dissipating tension, controlling the displacement of tension and protecting against tension build-up. If this is done effectively, we should see a much more tranquil userbase who are vulnerable and sincere because they feel as though there is a safety net for them should anyone try to hurt them. It makes people less afraid to show their feelings and affection.
An interesting frame of reference, no? What about the disrespectful? Well, they're people too. It's just that whenever they get tense for whatever reason, the first thing that comes to mind is to dump it on someone else. Should they receive a shoulder themselves, some might find this to be a better alternative to dumping it on others. This could prevent them from dumping on everyone as much as they otherwise would and perhaps in time they will naturally learn to be respectful.
There's a thought on the execution. Still a little sketchy.
Now then, I see forums problems as involving both staff and its member base so it's not a "one or the other" kind of thing. It's going to require action from all of us. There is more to being a moderator than just being an enforcer. I see forms staff as leadership positions. Don't just punish us for what we do wrong. Guide us to a better future. Show is what tomorrow is like. Be the examples of what is it we really need. let us be the ones to ask you to show us the way and if our faith firm, we will follow. One hoof at a time.