1. Did somebody say something shitty? (if yes, proceed to step two. If no, I’m not sure why you’re here)
2. Was this a shitty thing that was absolutely integral to the philosophy of the group? Or somewhere between “kinda related but not everybody buys into it” and “totally unrelated?” (if integral, proceed to Outcome Three. If not, or you aren’t sure, proceed to step three.)
3. Did someone from the person’s own group immediately call them out? (if yes, proceed to Outcome One. If no, proceed to step four)
4. Are you deeply familiar with this group, or have you just read a couple of postings/hung out casually with a few individuals? (if deeply familiar, proceed to step seven. If not, take a stop by step five.)
5. Do more research. Look to find out if this kind of thing is said often in the group, or if this was an aberrant occurrence. This is also where you can clear up any ambiguity about how deeply the shitty thing is tied to the group’s philosophy. Once you have a clearer picture of where this shitty thing fits into the group’s overall culture, you can proceed to step six.
6. Has your research determined that this is a random occurrence, or that this group has a toxic element that has not been addressed? (if the former, proceed to Outcome One. If the latter, proceed to step seven. If you have discovered that this shitty is absolutely an integral part of the group as a whole, proceed to Outcome Three.)
7. Are you part of the group? (if yes, proceed to Outcome Two. If no, proceed to step eight.)
8. Are you one of the people the shitty thing affects? (if yes, proceed to Outcome Two. If no, proceed to Outcome Zero.)
Outcome Zero: Talk to people with personal stakes in the situation, either because they are part of the group, or affected by it. Support them in addressing the thing. Your perspective is not invalid; an informed outside opinion is often very useful in identifying problems. But recognize that it is their thing to fix. Don’t write a callout post unless a lot of the affected people want you to.
Outcome One: this should not be a group callout. An individual in a group was shitty. Sometimes this happens, because groups are people, and enough people are shitty that growing groups will eventually gain shitty people. Call out the shitty individual if that’s something that you really think needs to happen, but move on with your life. You can’t fix everything, and there’s no shame in saving your energy for more important battles.
Outcome Two: talk about the thing. Acknowledge that it is not a thing that everybody does, because then people on your side will be more likely to listen to you. Aim to be constructive for the sake of those people. Remember that it’s sometimes easier to recognize a problem from a distance than when it is right up next to you, and that’s why good people sometimes seem to ignore problems among their own. It is possible to keep those things in mind and still issue a powerful callout. You are not weakening your strike, but adding precision to the blow.
Outcome Three: this is a shitty group. They will probably not care what you say, and will like the attention your callout brings. However, it is also possible that their shittiness will harm others. Carefully weigh the cost of feeding the trolls against the risk of ignoring a wildfire. No one can make the final decision for you. Godspeed