One common way atheists cope with stigmatization is to distinguish themselves from those atheists. You know, the bad ones. I call this creating a foil. I'm using "foil" in the sense of a character foil. When you create a foil, you describe a position that contrasts with your own, often to highlight what you think are your positive qualities.
One classic example is Richard Dawkins' scale of belief from 1 to 7 (from The God Delusion). A 1 means you believe there is 100% probability of God, and a 7 means a 0% probability of God. Dawkins describes himself as a 6, and notes that "category 7 is in practice rather emptier than its opposite number, category 1, which has many devoted inhabitants." Category 7 is a foil, used to explain that he is not certain that there is no god.
From another point of view, when you create a foil, you create a straw man. After all, what is strawmanning, but attacking a position that no one holds? Or perhaps there is more to it than that. I propose that there is an additional component to a straw man: it must be an explicit or implied attempt to represent a real opponent. Dawkins does not misrepresent anyone with category 7, because he's quite upfront about the fact that category 7 describes few people. Therefore, Dawkins' foil is not a straw man.
There are some things I don't like about the foil strategy, but it is undeniably useful. People have so many misconceptions about atheists: they're certain, they're dogmatic, they have faith in science, they're always getting up in your business, etc. But even though people hold these misconceptions, they often don't put them into words. So it's up to the atheist to put the misconceptions into words, and create foils out of them.
Take, for instance, the time it was reported in major newspapers that Dawkins isn't 100% certain, as if this were surprising. People are incredibly ignorant, and foils are necessary
But while foils are useful to spread a low-level understanding of atheism, they just aren't that good beyond that.
It could mislead people into thinking that the main difference between different atheists is the degree of certainty. In reality, most people in the movement don't care about that, (and to the extent that they do care about it, I don't think they should). What people actually argue about are goals and strategies.
Foils also set up a hierarchy of atheism. Rather than thinking about our different backgrounds and motivations, the foil draws all attention towards a single dimension of atheism. To our right is our fabricated foil, the absolutely certain atheists. To our left are people less atheisty than us. And then the people to our left will use us as a foil. Their foil implicitly attempts to represent us, but they don't do it very accurately, because their purpose is to create a foil, not to actually argue with us. Yep, it's a straw man!
This is frustrating, and magnifies divisions. I don't know what we can do about it, but I hope that everyone is at least aware of what's going on.