This is a much more philosophical question than most. It is inspired by the question Is "the community" an arbiter or an authority of "belonging" on the site? as it relates to the role of the community as a rule maker or a rule enforcer.
I've been on the network for several years, and seen quite a few community-oriented initiatives designed to better understand or support the communities of our various sites. We listen to the needs and desires of users across various spectra - subject matter experts to subject matter newbs, high rep users to low rep users, highly-active users to casual users, etc. In all of these initiatives, there are two groups of users whose voices always seem to be ignored or silenced - those whose primary purpose in being here is to post spam or abuse.
Ontologically speaking, are spammers and trolls part of "the community"? I've been trying to evaluate this myself and find that neither option is fully satisfactory.
- If spammers and trolls are members of the community, why does it always seem that their voices and needs are not only not valued, but completely ignored? Why are we not working to help them meet their goals in posting their crap while minimizing the effects of this crap on other users? Alternately, if spammers and trolls are community members, they theoretically have a voice on the sites on which they spam and troll and could, theoretically, gain power or even take over the democratic apparatus of a site (passing their own pro-spam and pro-abuse policies and electing moderators who promise to enforce these policies).
- If spammers and trolls are not members of the community, it makes me wonder what other users might also be excluded from the definition of the community. For example, are users who post non-abusive non-answers (e.g. "I'm having this problem too, did you find a solution?") to be deemed outside of the pale of the community? Shall there be a minimum reputation level (e.g. 1,000 rep) to be truly considered part of the community? Might some of our sites decide that only users who hold to certain sociopolitical views shall be considered truly part of the community?