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I do think there is a difference between being negative and being critical and it's not hard to detect which is which especially if a particular account has a history and/or continuing consistency with going out of their way to doing things one way or the other. If the moderation team sees a number of reports for a particular member that only engages in being negative/disruptive then they should keep an eye on them.
Personally, I like the idea of challenging them but not in a way that's just retaliatory or combative, but actually address their points and pull the chair out from under their argument that way. Most of those that troll, or at best, just enjoy harping on negative news and misinformation don't really go out of their way to support their arguments with anything more than what they "think". Besides, it looks much better if you can dismantle them by supporting your counterpoint which will either force them to do the same and some real discussion can be had about a topic, or they'll just continue to lash out which looks bad, or they'll ignore the better points that more informed users are providing which also reflects bad on them.