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» Hatrack River Forum » Active Forums » Books, Films, Food and Culture » Stop the Personal Attacks, Please (Page 1)

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Author Topic: Stop the Personal Attacks, Please
Papa Janitor
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Thank you to those whose posts in the two recently-deleted threads stayed reasonable. I'm sorry you were outnumbered.
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King of Men
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Not to criticise, I was a bit out of line, but ought that not to be "Stop the personal attacks, or else"?
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Glenn Arnold
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The sad fact is that back in the day... when Hatrack was a bustling venue for discussion and there were lots of people posting here, moderators were a lot more effective. Now that it's merely a place where people post occasionally, any post, regardless how unpleasant, is a welcome addition.
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Mucus
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Hmmmm, two? Maybe I should check in more (or not?).
One was the paternal rights thread. What was the other one?

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steven
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quote:
Originally posted by Mucus:
Hmmmm, two? Maybe I should check in more (or not?).
One was the paternal rights thread. What was the other one?

I don't remember the name, but it was about Creationism. KoM, Blayne, and Orincoro decided to dogpile Ron, KoM and Ron were trading physical threats...it got impolite.
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Mucus
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Ah, what a thing to miss.
Good times.

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James Tiberius Kirk
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<insert personal attack here>

<insert sig here>

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Samprimary
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quote:
Originally posted by Mucus:
Hmmmm, two? Maybe I should check in more (or not?).
One was the paternal rights thread. What was the other one?

what happened the paternal rights thread?
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Lyrhawn
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I remember briefly posting in it, and following it, but I don't remember it turning into an especially acrimonious thread.

Then again, I don't really remember it all that well. It must have been pretty bad to actually delete it however, and not just lock it.

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andi330
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I left when it started to get really obnoxious, so I missed the personal attacks that got it deleted.
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Mucus
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Samprimary: No idea.

Last I saw, Katharina and Clive were going at it pretty predictably. It doesn't seem like that is "enough" these days for a delete, so maybe something more did happen *shrug*

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steven
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quote:
Originally posted by Mucus:
Samprimary: No idea.

Last I saw, Katharina and Clive were going at it pretty predictably. It doesn't seem like that is "enough" these days for a delete, so maybe something more did happen *shrug*

If it did, it happened fast. It was at 349 posts the last time I saw it, this afternoon, and it had not crossed any sort of line by then, that I could tell. That particular deletion surprised me. The other one I expected, pretty much.
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FlyingCow
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At this point, I think such a large portion of the remaining active posters are so incendiary that this is like holding back the tide. The reason the reasonable posters are outnumbered is that so many have given up and left the site entirely.

I still read and post more out of habit than anything else at this point.

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Sterling
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I do remember at one point taking a glance into that one and going. "Ah. Yes. So glad I'm not involved in this."

Which is, I grant, kind of an unfortunate way to have to look at things. It's not a good sign when it's more rewarding to have not become involved.

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Samprimary
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quote:
Originally posted by FlyingCow:
At this point, I think such a large portion of the remaining active posters are so incendiary that this is like holding back the tide.

... It's not even doing that. I come back after new years and see this thread, but all references to the original incidences are obliterated. I literally have no idea whether or not I was part of the cause of the deletions. I do not know whether or not other actions were taken. I'm left completely ignorant as to exactly what actions warrant deletion or whether or not any actual moderation of users occurred.

So ... let that be a lesson to us? Congratulations, if you're a problem poster, I guess you get empowered to erase other people's threads? I don't think this works.

No, wait. I know this doesn't work.

Whatever. Odds are that in six months I'll be able to see the threads on a wayback cache or something anyway.

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FlyingCow
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By "holding back the tide" I meant doing nothing, though I wasn't clear. If I were to go down to the beach to try to stop the tide from coming in, I wouldn't be very effective.

A single moderator at this point will be just as effective, imo. The majority of moderate posters have gone.

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Samprimary
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Yeah I am not meaning to be contrary. I agree with the assessment. I do essentially consider the forum unmoderated and the community collapsed as a result.
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Clive Candy
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I jokingly called Katherine a 'female supremacist', which I didn't intend seriously. I wasn't bothered by any of the invective directed at me in that thread as that is the typical response MRAs such as myself usually get when we voice our viewes about these issues. It was a good thread and there was no reason to delete it. Please bring it back.
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Samprimary
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quote:
I jokingly called Katherine a 'female supremacist', which I didn't intend seriously.
There is hardly any way I am not going to believe that you are massively dishonest for saying this. I read the interaction in question. You offer no reason whatsoever to to suspect that you were saying that 'jokingly,' and no — you also offer no reason to give you the benefit of the doubt.

So, I call shenanigans. You're lying to us right now.

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Clive Candy
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Um, believe what you want.

I really don't know why the thread was closed. I see far worse stuff than "female supremacist!" in other threads.

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Papa Janitor
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I've locked threads in the past, and it only seems to encourage people to read those and start new threads talking about them. So I took out the middle man.

Please don't take this as whining about how tough it is to be moderator. Not what I'm intending. However, it seems that my level of permissiveness combined with hope that people can exert self-control hasn't been panning out. I'm going to attempt to take a harder line.

That has to be combined with the fact that I'm not always here, though, so not everything gets dealt with immediately. Mucus said, "It doesn't seem like that is 'enough' these days for a delete" (emphasis mine). I'm attempting to change how far I've let things go out of line before I step in. That change is gonna be as tough on some of you as it is on me, and I apologize that as I regain footing in a new place there will be some uncertainty.

As to what is ok -- the topic says it. Stop the personal attacks. If you're calling someone a name, it's inappropriate. If you're using vulgar language, it's inappropriate. Lately, there's been more talking of thread participants in third person -- that's a good warning sign ("this is what *person* says/how *person* acts").

Attack the argument, not the person. If (in your opinion) the person can't be reasoned with, then drop it/ignore it. Or, if you have the patience, continue to address the argument.

--PJ

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Verily the Younger
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quote:
Originally posted by FlyingCow:
At this point, I think such a large portion of the remaining active posters are so incendiary that this is like holding back the tide. The reason the reasonable posters are outnumbered is that so many have given up and left the site entirely.

I still read and post more out of habit than anything else at this point.

I sort of stopped checking in on the forums in mid-2007 because I was tired of how mean-spirited things had become. I never made a conscious decision to leave Hatrack, but I just sort of stopped trying so hard to make time for it. Then in 2008 things got really hectic and crazy in my life, and I didn't have much spare time for internet forums at all.

I can't believe I got all the way through 2008 and all but the last couple of days of 2009 without coming back--like I said, it was not a conscious decision--but I have noticed since my "return" that the forums move a lot more slowly than I remembered. I had wondered if it was because we're only now coming off the holiday season and people have been busy, but if it's true that a large number of people have simply gotten fed up with the antagonism and given up, then that truly is a sad thing.

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dabbler
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It's a very slow moving board and unfortunately many of the fast moving parts aren't nice.
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Samprimary
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quote:
Please don't take this as whining about how tough it is to be moderator. Not what I'm intending. However, it seems that my level of permissiveness combined with hope that people can exert self-control hasn't been panning out. I'm going to attempt to take a harder line.
If by 'taking a harder line' you just mean you're going to erase more threads, then it's not going to work. I'll warn you of that right now.

Moving up from locking to deleting isn't even 'taking out the middle man' — I'm sure you hadn't missed those threads that kick up here and elsewhere in the wake of a thread deletion. Don't try to fix the fact that your ineffectual methods of moderation aren't working by using these ineffectual methods of moderation more or sooner. Switch to effectual methods of moderation.

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steven
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quote:
Originally posted by Samprimary:
...effectual methods of moderation.

What methods do you think would be effectual?
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Papa Janitor
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Sorry -- that was wry humor, rather than my actual impression of the change. No, that's not what I mean by taking a harder line. And I don't expect that I'll delete too many (if any) more threads now than before, but I will endeavor to step in much sooner on problem threads, and take more specific action with consistently problematic posters.
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Samprimary
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quote:
Originally posted by steven:
quote:
Originally posted by Samprimary:
...effectual methods of moderation.

What methods do you think would be effectual?
Right now this place has two major problems. The first is that it doesn't have clear, well-defined rules and guidelines placed someplace easy to see and reference.

The second is that the moderation used is not a good means of handling problem posters. If anything, it just empowers them with the ability to destroy threads.

You set up clear and precise rules. You warn people who step out of line. Depending on the severity of the offense, you ban that user if they continue to break the rules. You permaban them if they come back after their bans expire and continue with violations.

Right now, "The TOS" is the only referenced "rules." This is a major, major, major mistake. I can explain in detail again if anyone wants.

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steven
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quote:
Originally posted by Samprimary:


Right now, "The TOS" is the only referenced "rules." This is a major, major, major mistake. I can explain in detail again if anyone wants.

I agree with you on banning/suspensions, I think.

Tell me about your thoughts on the rules.

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Scott R
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quote:
I apologize
Don't. It is what it is.
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sinflower
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Which threads were deleted and why? I missed it. Thanks in advance.
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Lisa
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quote:
Originally posted by Papa Janitor:
As to what is ok -- the topic says it. Stop the personal attacks. If you're calling someone a name, it's inappropriate. If you're using vulgar language, it's inappropriate. Lately, there's been more talking of thread participants in third person -- that's a good warning sign ("this is what *person* says/how *person* acts").

Can I ask if Ace of Spades' obvious antisemitism will be considered off limits as well?
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Lisa
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quote:
Originally posted by Samprimary:
quote:
Please don't take this as whining about how tough it is to be moderator. Not what I'm intending. However, it seems that my level of permissiveness combined with hope that people can exert self-control hasn't been panning out. I'm going to attempt to take a harder line.
If by 'taking a harder line' you just mean you're going to erase more threads, then it's not going to work. I'll warn you of that right now.

Moving up from locking to deleting isn't even 'taking out the middle man' — I'm sure you hadn't missed those threads that kick up here and elsewhere in the wake of a thread deletion. Don't try to fix the fact that your ineffectual methods of moderation aren't working by using these ineffectual methods of moderation more or sooner. Switch to effectual methods of moderation.

How about not telling him what to do. Make suggestions. Giving marching orders like that is rude, and saying "Do something more effective" without suggesting what that might be is kind of silly.
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Raymond Arnold
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He's outlined in detail what "more effective" might be in the past, several times. I don't particularly blame him for getting increasingly exasperated each time he says it.
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theamazeeaz
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quote:
Originally posted by Papa Janitor:
I've locked threads in the past, and it only seems to encourage people to read those--PJ

Well, yes. A lock means that the thread is really really interesting.
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FlyingCow
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Unfortunately, a locked thread is like an accident on the side of the road that causes rubbernecking.

I'm afraid that any measure of moderation at this point is too late. A huge number of productive posters have moved on, and even if the incendiary posters were all banned (unlikely), they would not come back.

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Orincoro
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quote:
Originally posted by Raymond Arnold:
He's outlined in detail what "more effective" might be in the past, several times. I don't particularly blame him for getting increasingly exasperated each time he says it.

Yeah, frankly he and Tom and Lyr have laid out a very clear plan of action so many times that it's fairly clear to me PJ is just simply not interested in doing the work of active moderation. I wouldn't be either, but I'm not a moderator, and there you have it.
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Parkour
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quote:
Originally posted by Lisa:
How about not telling him what to do. Make suggestions. Giving marching orders like that is rude, and saying "Do something more effective" without suggesting what that might be is kind of silly.

???

/ wups, what's going on here

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Blayne Bradley
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quote:
Originally posted by Orincoro:
quote:
Originally posted by Raymond Arnold:
He's outlined in detail what "more effective" might be in the past, several times. I don't particularly blame him for getting increasingly exasperated each time he says it.

Yeah, frankly he and Tom and Lyr have laid out a very clear plan of action so many times that it's fairly clear to me PJ is just simply not interested in doing the work of active moderation. I wouldn't be either, but I'm not a moderator, and there you have it.
*slow sarcastic clapping*

[ January 03, 2010, 01:23 AM: Message edited by: Blayne Bradley ]

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Kwea
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quote:
Originally posted by Orincoro:
quote:
Originally posted by Raymond Arnold:
He's outlined in detail what "more effective" might be in the past, several times. I don't particularly blame him for getting increasingly exasperated each time he says it.

Yeah, frankly he and Tom and Lyr have laid out a very clear plan of action so many times that it's fairly clear to me PJ is just simply not interested in doing the work of active moderation. I wouldn't be either, but I'm not a moderator, and there you have it.
Or it could be that he has a different view of moderating than they do.
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Samprimary
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Okay, take two?

Lisa: I have suggested often in the past. I even suggest, even detail already in this thread. Literally about four posts above yours. So I'm utterly confused by your criticism.

Steven:

The service agreement is useless for setting forum law. Gaia Online tried for a while to use it as the regulatory guidelines for posters. It was an amazing disaster. Oh look, here's a block of text that so, so many people just gloss over and don't read. It makes a really general "don't do any bad stuff ever" statement. You go into the forum and people are doing a lot of that stuff anyway, so there's no real sense of what arbitrary line you have to cross before someone finally decides you "broke the TOS" or something. To make things even worse, it's not made readily visible. It's in a registration screen for new users trying to make an account.

it is not a moderation ruleset. It's a blanket attempt at a legal indemnification put in as a cursory hurdle for registration making sure that site owners can wash their hands of most liability for user-generated content. It isn't designed for setting up protocol for a community, and attempting to use it to fill that role is confusing and actively inhibits effective moderation as well as community self-governance.

Merely a portion of it is applicable as a general do/do not ruleset for user behavior specific to a forum community. Of these, the prohibitive 'agreements' are so broad as to be meaningless. Especially given that some of the prohibitions rendered would be ridiculous to regularly enforce, such as the ban on the mention of anything 'sexually oriented.'

As a result, the TOS is selectively interpreted and enforced arbitrarily. Always. It's a set of rules that technically makes discussing a poster's pregnancy more clearly illegal than willful derailment of threads.

This practice is not helpful (actually, it's even harmful) because it doesn't establish clear and easily measurable rules related to community behavior in a forum, like "Do not post links to blatantly objectionable material" and "do not randomly attack a poster who has not even contributed to the discussion yet," which is available to offer users clear and clarified understanding of the rules and what the limits on their behavior are.

It is especially helpful to the moderators because it gives them a solid position for regulatory activities. It is helpful to the users because they can clearly point out amongst themselves what activities are prohibited, and know what should and should not be reported. It helps both parties out because it creates an environment conductive to peer regulation, which means that there's less for a moderator to have to do.

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Ace of Spades
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quote:
Originally posted by Samprimary:

Lisa:...I'm utterly confused by your criticism.


I know how that feels.
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Lyrhawn
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quote:
Originally posted by Kwea:
quote:
Originally posted by Orincoro:
quote:
Originally posted by Raymond Arnold:
He's outlined in detail what "more effective" might be in the past, several times. I don't particularly blame him for getting increasingly exasperated each time he says it.

Yeah, frankly he and Tom and Lyr have laid out a very clear plan of action so many times that it's fairly clear to me PJ is just simply not interested in doing the work of active moderation. I wouldn't be either, but I'm not a moderator, and there you have it.
Or it could be that he has a different view of moderating than they do.
To be fair, I have doubts as to how effective different moderating techniques are going to be, and it has nothing to do with PJ. The good posters are good, the inflammatory posters are inflammatory, and both sides occasionally step over the line to the other. Deleting more threads or banning posters or what not isn't going to change any behavior, it'll just further retard the traffic here. Maybe eventually it will turn away enough negative posters to lure some silent good posters back, but I doubt it.

I think people are too set in their ways, and the problem is systemic. If the community wants to change, it will change. Or, there will only be about a dozen or so of us left when the inflammatory posters are booted, at which point we aren't so much a community as a cool kids club in a digital tree house.

If it is just about correcting bad behavior, then just ban the inflammatory posters and be done with it. Letting them ruin threads created by constructive posters punishes everyone.

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Papa Janitor
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So many things -- I'm losing sleep thinking about all this anyway, so I might as well post. And I'll try to be relatively organized and thorough.

Samprimary, I know you've posted what you feel needs to be done in the past, and I haven't ignored it (though I also haven't done it). As far as I recall (and my recollection is far from perfect), this is the first time you listed your reasoning for what you've suggested, and that's far more helpful to me than just the suggestion itself. I appreciate both.

Orincoro, in response to "it's fairly clear to me PJ is just simply not interested in doing the work of active moderation," I'd say you're wrong that I'm not interested (read: willing), and that lack of interest (willingness) isn't why I haven't done so.

Kwea states, "Or it could be that he has a different view of moderating than they do." Yes, in part, but I think it's even more fundamental than that. I think the rules (specific or general) need to reflect the purpose of the forum/community. And to be honest, I'm not sure I know any longer what the purpose is, or who is defining it.

When I started here long ago, moderation was very light, because in general there weren't many issues that required them (this could be "good old days" faulty memory, I grant). The people who were here and active came because they wanted to, and followed the community standards (aside from TOS, relatively unstated but understood) because they wanted to -- because they believed the place was better when they did, presumably. Not because they feared what might happen if they didn't.

I want this place to be that place. I've wanted it since before I became moderator. I think there's value in every person here, which is why I have been so reticent to making a list of what would get someone banned (or, in fact, to banning someone). I'm by nature not confrontational, and I haven't wanted the position to require it. I try to persuade rather than demand, to encourage rather than rebuke. And I got so discouraged with the temporary nature of the effect most times that I started stepping in less. I don't think I lived up to what the community deserves, and I'm working on that.

Another reason I hesitate to make a separate set of guidelines (aside from above, and from the fact that this isn't my forum) probably comes from my childhood experiences of playing board games with my family. When we got a new game, we would read the rules, then spend ages on figuring out all the loopholes in the rules and how we would handle them. The rules were an invitation to see how to get around them.

And part of my frustration/struggle with the idea is that I've never thought it should be so necessary. I don't think simple things like "don't make personal attacks" are unclear (nor should they, in my opinion, really even need to be said -- they're that obvious to me). Exactly where to draw the line will always be a judgment call, but I find myself incredulous at some of the things I've heard said by people who don't see them as needlessly offensive.

That said, Samprimary, if you would be willing, I'd be interested in seeing a list of what you think such guidelines should look like -- what you've seen be effective at other (similar) places. I can't promise anything would be put into place, since it's not my call, but maybe it could. And even if it doesn't turn out exactly as you suggest, it might serve as a better framework than the current boilerplate TOS. Since it's something that the Cards (rather than the forum membership) need to decide on, an e-mail would probably be better than a post here. Fewer people to disappoint that way? *wry again* (Also keep in mind that since we're gonna have a baby very soon, that results may not be instant, or anything like it.)

--PJ

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Kwea
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Papa, that's pretty much what I meant by my statement. [Big Grin]

Please don't take that as an attack. [Wink]

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CT
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Papa Moose, I trust you will make the best choices possible under the circumstances, and I'm sure those circumstances include constraints we neither understand nor even know about. Hope this gets better for you soon.

My love to the Mooses! [Smile]

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kmbboots
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Papa Moose, I am distressed that you are distressed enough to lose sleep over this. Please, please don't let what is, for us, a hobby - an entertainment that we don't even have to pay for - loom large enough to distract you from the real, important things going on in your life.
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Glenn Arnold
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Seems to me when I first came here there was more than one moderator. Seems like dividing up the responsibility may have made it easier overall.

As far as "good old days" memories is concerned, I haven't seen arguments nearly as divisive in recent months or even years. In fact, those divisive arguments were what made this place so vibrant.

I also remember that in the past people got booted off the forum. They often came back with an alt, but the message had been received, and the behavior changed.

A lot of times it wasn't necessary to whistle a post, members just reminded the poster of the TOS and pointed out that this was a "family friendly" forum, which was a lot less antagonistic than tattling.

And finally, is there any way to reach out and bring back some of the members who have left? Surely they remember what it used to be like here.

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FlyingCow
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quote:
And finally, is there any way to reach out and bring back some of the members who have left? Surely they remember what it used to be like here.
I think a lot of them left because the tenor of conversation changed dramatically over the years. It's one thing to have heated debate with folks on both side of an issue - it's a different thing entirely to know that a controversial thread will descend into name-calling, personal attacks, and over-the-top incendiary posts.

As for the banning, that was one of the reasons that pushed a lot of people out. There was a very high profile banning that divided the board between those who agreed and those who disagreed, and that caused something of a diaspora.

At this point, I avoid most threads started by a certain few people (or which heavily involve those certain few). Whereas I used to dive deeply into discussions on more controversial topics, I've found it is rarely worth it these days because of the type of attention they draw.

While cycles are natural and the board may come back, board death is also natural and may happen. I've flirted with leaving many times myself, but habit keeps bringing me back to check in on the old place. I don't know how long my nostalgia for the way things were will hold out against the reality of the way things are.

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Samprimary
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quote:
Fewer people to disappoint that way? *wry again* (Also keep in mind that since we're gonna have a baby very soon, that results may not be instant, or anything like it.)
WHAT

putting a BABY over an INTERNET FORUM

I'm just shocked at the callousness of it all gasp ugh

no seriously though, — i totally understand where you are coming from, especially about hoping that having to babysit a community of adults was unnecessary. I just bring up this stuff because I figure that the ideas are really worth consideration and I really do figure they would help.

quote:
When I started here long ago, moderation was very light, because in general there weren't many issues that required them (this could be "good old days" faulty memory, I grant).
probably not faulty memory! it's the way it goes. kind of like 'forums have a greater than zero chance of picking up users that break community self-regulation; over time, the probability of this event approaches one'
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Glenn Arnold
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quote:
As for the banning, that was one of the reasons that pushed a lot of people out. There was a very high profile banning that divided the board between those who agreed and those who disagreed, and that caused something of a diaspora.
Somehow I must have missed that.
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