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» Hatrack River Forum » Active Forums » Books, Films, Food and Culture » I apologize (Page 1)

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Author Topic: I apologize
scifibum
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...for being less than civil on Hatrack.

Specifically, I remember being rude to katharina, King of Men, Orincoro, Lisa, and Tatiana. I think I also ascribed poor motivations to Scott R once. I am sorry.

There are probably other cases where I have been knowingly rude and compounded the offense by not remembering it. I would like to be able to remember and repent of those things as well. Sorry that I can't.

And for anyone else who I unintentionally offended, I would like to assure you of my good will. I didn't mean to hurt you.

Just to try to round this out, on occasion I have posted without sufficient forethought in a way that may not have signaled any kind of malice but probably wasted the time of anyone who was unfortunate enough to read what I wrote - some of what I post is just not worth sharing. I'm sorry about that too.

However, I do not regret writing that thing about TomDavidson. He deserved it.

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MattP
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You're not in one of those weird "self improvement" seminars right now, are you?
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scifibum
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No. But I'm feeling seminal.
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MattP
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Ew
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scifibum
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Sorry. I'll try to use less loaded adjectives.
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MattP
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In the spirit of this thread, I apologize for making light of your apology, but frankly you come across to me as one of the most reasonable and sensible (and sensitive!) posters here. If you've occasionally been a bit snide, I think it can be easily forgiven and at least some portion of the message you were trying to convey was probably useful or deserved.
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scifibum
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...I guess you could say I feel Hatrack has been a bit blue lately. I was noting the lull and hoping to generate a spurt of activity. I thought a general apology might serve as a seed for further interaction/discourse. But I really didn't have to grab hold of the word "seminar" and try to squeeze out a bit of wordplay to describe my mood. My bad.
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scifibum
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(Thanks Matt. I'm sincerely apologizing to those I've named, but just being silly about the rest as you might have noticed by now.)
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MattP
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There are people here that, at least on occasion, are insufferably rude/snide/curt and seem completely unaware of that fact based on some of the ironic condemnations they make of similar behavior in others.

I won't say whether any of the people on your list are like that but how does one go about addressing such a thing in a positive fashion?

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scifibum
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quote:
There are people here that, at least on occasion, are insufferably rude/snide/curt and seem completely unaware of that fact based on some of the ironic condemnations they make of similar behavior in others.

I won't say whether any of the people on your list are like that but how does one go about addressing such a thing in a positive fashion?

I'm pretty pessimistic about it.

I would say that since Hatrack is such a large, and yet loosely associated community that any individual or even any group of like minded individuals has little chance of mustering enough social consequence to really alter the way others use the site.

The usual pattern seems to be this: a discussion will have roughly two sides, and people on side 1 will call out perceived offenses by side 2, and side 2 will either make a converse accusation or simply scoff and ignore the implied request to modify what they are doing.

Now, participants may not perceive it this way. It might be that they don't feel they have a 'side', and perhaps they feel they are receiving and responding to the feedback on forum behavior that is intermixed with the discussion about current events or what have you. But I think patterns of disagreement and opposition seem to become entrenched, and openness to such feedback might be out of the norm.

It's been said, and I think it's probably accurate, that we need to reign in those with whom we agree but who are behaving badly. That people will listen to someone who is on their side more readily than an opponent. However, it's a lot to expect people to take responsibility for other forum members. Their own agenda might well be served by simply providing their own input to the discussion and letting others manage their own conflicts. Certainly I don't often want to set aside time, which I'd like to use to be entertained or to work out my own thoughts on things, to try to modify the way others who I agree with tend to interact online.

And it must be acknowledged that taking someone who says things you agree with to task might serve to undermine your 'side', or at least the fear of that might enter in somehow.

I think that incompetent trolls are sometimes shunned successfully, but those who have interesting ideas and some rhetorical competence (even if lacking logical integrity) can pretty much garner reactions and be part of things even if they are regularly uncivil. While the precise connotations of 'insufferable' might come down to the magnitude of response, I'd say we are, in fact, suffering the habits of all the forum regulars.

So anyway, longwindededly, I think we probably can't collectively address such things as a community. Too little individual reward for too great an effort to unite and overcome the obstacles I described.

The moderators could prune, and that might end up having a positive effect, but to be honest I have not seen it work anywhere else. I'm just saying I'm ignorant about the results of that kind of policy. My forum experience is pretty much at Ornery.org, here, and (lately) sakeriver, where those in charge seem reluctant to so actively interfere, and a few apolitical diversions where such problems don't seem to occur, e.g. mrexcel.com.

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Orincoro
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quote:
Originally posted by scifibum:

However, I do not regret writing that thing about TomDavidson. He deserved it.

I don't recall being offended by you, so obviously I haven't held a grudge...

But yeah, TomDavidson deserves our deepest contempt... [Big Grin]

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Orincoro
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quote:
Originally posted by MattP:
There are people here that, at least on occasion, are insufferably rude/snide/curt and seem completely unaware of that fact based on some of the ironic condemnations they make of similar behavior in others.

We're not.


As somewhat of an aside Scifi, I'd rather not be called out in this way over disagreements we may have had in the past. Assume I forgive you- I'm an extremely forgiving person, no matter what impression you may have of me here. I'm more put off because you've essentially posted your hatrack **** list, and it's not the only one I've ever been listed in. But I understand where you're coming from, even if I personally would be far too sensitive to open criticism to make such an apology.

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King of Men
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I think that, if people are going to post in the style that I regularly do, they had better be prepared to take it as well as dish it out. So, no worries. As it happens, I am not certain what you are apologising for; I did not notice you being rude to me. But whatever it was, consider it bygones.
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scifibum
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To continue my response to MattP,

...while I am not overly optimistic that we can address uncivil forum behavior in a positive fashion, I do think that the overall culture and atmosphere of the board is balanced by kindness and determined civility by those who muster it.

So though I don't by any means consider myself one of Hatrack's rabbliest citizens, I am aware that I have not contributed as positively as some others, and have room for improvement. I figure I might make a microscopic difference to how Hatrack functions, and the mood/character of the community, by doing what I can. And I think that this might be the optimal strategy for improvement - to opt in to a culture of civility, and hope that it appeals to others.

I expect to stumble, and I'll probably avoid awkward apology threads like this in the future, but the board was just so damn slow today that I had to post something. [Smile]

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scifibum
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Orincoro, KoM, thanks.
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scifibum
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quote:
'm more put off because you've essentially posted your hatrack **** list, and it's not the only one I've ever been listed in. But I understand where you're coming from, even if I personally would be far too sensitive to open criticism to make such an apology.
Whoops, I posted the last one before I read this paragraph. I can understand your preference...I'm not sure what to do about it now though. I didn't intend to make a **** list. [Frown]

Edit: (forgot this site doesn't scrub my profanity for me)

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Orincoro
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I don't know scifi. Maybe it's my own personal *whatever* that attracts it, but I've on occasion posted something fairly heartfelt or personal, and on a couple of those occasions, people have posted the rudest things that have ever been said to me at hatrack. We're talking about the *nice* people here too. Maybe it says something that I don't even remember who, or what the subject was, but I recall being quite stunned. My point I think, is that ego and courteousness are like sides of the same coin sometimes- people use them to protect themselves from others. When I let my ego down, I actually do get hurt. I'm not imagining that- I experience it irl in almost exactly the same way. And the courteous can, after their fashion, express themselves, as well as their derision, resentments, and personal prejudices, just as well as anyone. I do realize after all that its partly to do with personality and personal preference when some people object to a person's demeanor, while other people reflect it. I guarantee you, I can handle myself in a conversation irl with just as much conviction as a I can here, but the difference would be that the conversation would be much more private, and much more attuned to the other person's mode of communication.

Ever had a heated conversation with someone over some topic, only to have 4 people sitting around your periphery wincing and trying to intercede and change the subject, not getting the wavelength you and the other party are on? Because I've been in those conversations, and I've winced in the same way as well. It's a lot like that here, except the nice and courteous and safe people are respected, and often feel the need to interject themselves, and alter the tone of the conversation, never realizing, or more likely not really caring, that they are shaming the people involved by asserting their rank and the higher ground. Then you also have other participants who feign that type of behavior on occasion as a rhetorical device, or to allign themselves tactically with the status peacemakers in order to shun the other. That's partly why you get people saying frankly outrageous stuff, and then balking at the reaction they knew they were going to get, and folding in with the others like a bunch of mother hens. That's just basic group dynamics. This is what comes from the forum not having well enforced guidelines for interaction, and it's why the self-policing and self correction thing never both works and is conducive to actually interesting talk. Just read 58 pages of pregnancy chatter if you don't believe me. Fine, if you want a forum for chatter and gossip, that's cool, but I have facebook, and not much patience for that either.

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Orincoro
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quote:
Originally posted by scifibum:
Whoops, I posted the last one before I read this paragraph. I can understand your preference...I'm not sure what to do about it now though. I didn't intend to make a **** list. [Frown]

No, you just did though. Don't worry about it. It just so happens I've seen that particular list of names (give or take) posted in :ahem: other places with the words "most hated." My point is not that you shouldn't have apologized, but rather that, especially to the people on *that* list, an apology is probably not going to be necessary. The apology seems like it's really for everybody else, distancing yourself from that list, which is why I get the impression that I'm not being apologized to, but rather apologized *for*. But I realize the difference between it seeming that way, and you meaning to do that intentionally, or at least your meaning not to make it look obviously as if that was your intention... or whatever it is your intent may have been- possibly just to be nice.
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scifibum
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I'm so bad at understanding and exploiting group dynamics that I can't even assess my own track record in that arena without descending into a self doubt spiral that extends all the way back to pre-adolescence!
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scifibum
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I see what you mean, O.

(self doubt spiral)

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Orincoro
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quote:
Originally posted by scifibum:
I'm so bad at understanding and exploiting group dynamics that I can't even assess my own track record in that arena without descending into a self doubt spiral that extends all the way back to pre-adolescence!

I tend to think that's a very common thing. Another issue with having everything you say committed to a running written record. Sometimes on Hatrack you're not really allowed to change your attitudes or mood because people are reading things you've already since thought about, amended, regretted, or said in haste.
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TomDavidson
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quote:
I think that, if people are going to post in the style that I regularly do, they had better be prepared to take it as well as dish it out.
Let me short-circuit this a bit and say this:

I believe that the quote above is precisely what we should be trying to avoid, if indeed we want to keep this place genial and friendly and fun to visit.

If you are aware that you are "dishing it out," and your only justification for doing so is that you're willing to "take" the equivalent from other people -- and in return expect that people willing to "dish it out" to you must "take" whatever you feel the equivalent is -- I think you're missing the point.

Hatrack is a social club. It is not a debate hall; it's a largish dinner party. If at any point you're conscious of "dishing it out," you should be aware that you are behaving inappropriately. It doesn't matter that other people are also "dishing," or that there are other people willing to "take" what you're serving up (because, let's face it, human nature suggests that most people will at least pretend to be willing to match you, offense for offense, without being man enough to admit hurt); if you're aware that you're serving up something offensive, you're doing something wrong.

I remember, back in the day, when people would justify rudeness by saying that it was necessary; they needed to get their point across, and nothing else would do. And then, for a long while, people would justify rudeness by saying that the other guy did it first. Other people justified their rudeness by saying that they felt the standards of the community were restrictive or artificial, or worked in favor of a select few "regulars." And we even get people justifying it nowadays by saying that they're actually trying to make people more polite -- which is why I cringe every time I see a "how can we help Hatrack get back to what it used to be" thread.

You want Hatrack to be more civil? You need a moderator who's going to step in early and harshly and delete the heck out of threads if they get heated, and make it clear that any such discussion won't be allowed to remain on the board; not even a crater gets left behind. You need a whole community that decides to not only dogpile trolls but outright ignore them -- not least to avoid the phenomenon of posts that you'll always get in support of any underdog, no matter how wrong-headed, from people who hate to see other people criticized. You need a general understanding that people are, by and large, here to have fun and talk with people whose company they enjoy -- which implies that people whose only fun comes at the expense of the community recognize that in themselves and move on, or get forcibly "moved on" by the moderator if it gets bad.

It also means that people need to stop being thin-skinned about policy disagreements, but also refrain from insulting generalizations about those disagreements: in other words, someone who likes Obama's health care proposal should try to overlook it when someone writes that the proposal is deeply stupid -- but, by the same token, that critic should not write that supporters of the proposal are deeply stupid or misled or deluded (or any dozen other things).

It means that some people who're still hanging on to grudges after God knows how long deal with it by just, y'know, moving on. It means that some people recognize that some topics are ones that they just can't discuss civilly, and -- out of respect for the rest of the forum -- don't.

And absolutely none of this is anything that is worth discussing -- because if you aren't already doing it, no one's going to convince you to do it. Nothing I write here is going to make Alias decide to stop insulting Nameless, or make Nameless stop insulting Alias.

If you want Hatrack to be fun and friendly, be fun and friendly. Not only is it that easy, it's the only way to achieve that goal. More than a blanket apology -- as much as the idea made me smile (and it did make me smile, s'bum; thanks for the thread) -- I think we need a blanket amnesty: the decision to simply forgive everyone for everything we've decided to feel hurt by, and remember that, in the end, they're only here among us because (for one reason or another) they like being here with us.

(Note: the moderator cannot be fun and friendly. The moderator has to be ruthlessly efficient. But that's why it's a crap job.)

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King of Men
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quote:
Hatrack is a social club. It is not a debate hall; it's a largish dinner party.
You may have come here for the dinner; I'm here for the debate. If we enjoy different things, and the one's enjoyment excludes the other's, that is not a problem with either of us; it's a problem with the host who screwed up and invited both of us to the same place. But until and unless the said host cracks down and makes it clear what kind of party we've got, I don't see why your preferred activity should be the one that defines Hatrack; I could just as well claim "Hatrack is not a dinner party, it is a debate hall" and be on equally firm ground.

"We are none of us bigger than the other; we are all grown men, who can fight; I am going to get my arrows"; so the saying goes, in one or another hunter-gatherer tribe. (Humans are quite egalitarian, generally speaking, before they invent agriculture.) You get no points for trying to come the farming-village chieftain and lay down your preference as law.

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Orincoro
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So why don't we have that mod?
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natural_mystic
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quote:
Originally posted by King of Men:
If we enjoy different things, and the one's enjoyment excludes the other's,

I don't see this as being the case. There are enough threads to go around. Unless political topics are banned, I don't see how debating is to be avoided. I think the debates could be greatly improved by banning 1-line responses (unless they are "am busy now, will get back to you later"). One line responses are generally too cryptic to be useful.
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TomDavidson
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More accurately, KoM, it is a dinner party into which some people have come with arrows and insisted that it is actually a battlefield.

This is a better analogy than it might appear even at first blush, because it is impossible to fight back against the people with arrows without turning the party into a battlefield and thus vindicating them. (You could always ignore them, but then the place gets schizophrenic: it becomes a battlefield with tiny bands of oblivious dinner guests sauntering back and forth between the mines, talking about movies and trying to get the last post.)

And, yes, in many cases a mod would provide the definitive answer to this question; I concede that the situation was clearer back in the old days, when the very explicit expectations of the Cards re: the behavior of the people here were not belied by the behavior of the Cards themselves, and by many years of sliding standards. But I also think it should be unnecessary for a mod to come in and state the obvious, which is that no one should feel that, merely by posting in a thread that interests them, they are volunteering to be insulted by all and sundry.

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TomDavidson
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quote:
I think the debates could be greatly improved by banning 1-line responses...
Bah! I think they could be greatly improved by requiring one-line responses. [Smile] But YMMV.
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Tatiana
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scifibum, I don't remember your being rude to me, but I accept your apology all the same, and I'm glad for it. I'll be looking forward to seeing the reformed-you's posts. I'll be reading them with great interest.
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rivka
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quote:
Originally posted by TomDavidson:
Note: the moderator cannot be fun and friendly. The moderator has to be ruthlessly efficient.

I agree with almost everything, but not this. I have participated (and still do) on active fora with mods who manage to be both friendly and efficient. It's certainly a balancing act, but it can be done, and done well.

It also helps to have a moderating group, rather than a single individual.

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TomDavidson
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*nod* Groups can work. But in my experience, the problem there is that you really do have a situation in which a clique is essentially propping itself up. That's not necessarily the case, but I think the temptation is very subtle and very hard to avoid in those situations.
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rivka
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Agreed. It helps if the moderators are as diverse as possible. (Conservatives and liberals, men and women, older and younger, etc.)
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King of Men
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quote:
Originally posted by TomDavidson:
More accurately, KoM, it is a dinner party into which some people have come with arrows and insisted that it is actually a battlefield.

Again, why do you insist that your preferred activity takes precedence? It's just as accurate to say that Hatrack is a battlefield into which some idiot tourists wandered, and now they're trying to have a picnic while the natives wonder if, just this once, the tribal spirits might forgive them for giving up on the ritualised, near-bloodless exchange of arrows and having an actual massacre for a change.
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TomDavidson
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quote:
Again, why do you insist that your preferred activity takes precedence?
Well, for one thing, my "preferred activity" was the standard -- both explicitly and implicitly -- for years before you arrived. Depending on your definition of "precedence...." [Smile]
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T:man
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Scifi, you are pretty nice compared to other posters. In fact most people on this site are very nice [Smile] Alot nicer than most people I meet everyday at least.... that could mean I meet the worst kind of people though [Embarrassed]
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Brinestone
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Huh. My experience with group moderation was, shall we say, less than stellar. They tried to be efficient and ruthless and just ended up being somewhat tyrannical, way overstepping their bounds.
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rivka
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Like many things, it can be done well -- or very, very badly. [Wink]
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Samprimary
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quote:
The moderators could prune, and that might end up having a positive effect, but to be honest I have not seen it work anywhere else. I'm just saying I'm ignorant about the results of that kind of policy.
It's considered pretty vital if you don't want what's happening to hatrack to happen to hatrack. You have 1. personalities which are chill as long as the environment is chill but who are not if the environment is not, and 2. personalities who poison the well and spark the unchillness in the first place if they're allowed to. They are a perennial feature of forums. If a site has awol moderation and mediation (and hatrack is a place I consider essentially unmoderated at this point) then you end up with a forum environment where in the absence of moderation against repeated undesirable behavior, the posters who dislike that undesirable behavior will just use hostility in its stead, because there's no consequence for it anyway, and a lot of people determine that who they are posting against are good for nothing else anyway.

You'll get a lot of armchair vigilantes like myself who will gleefully return fire or harass someone if they refuse to quit their obnoxious behaviors because, well, that's what the environment here is conductive towards, and nothing else would do anything about the obnoxious behavior anyway no matter how nicely you ask.

This in turn attracts people who are coming here with an I'm Here Looking For A Fight mentality because they can turn anything they want into a fight essentially without penalty, so they will, and this drives away the people who hate this shit, homogenizing the environment and driving it into hostility.

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scholarette
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quote:
Originally posted by TomDavidson:
quote:
Again, why do you insist that your preferred activity takes precedence?
Well, for one thing, my "preferred activity" was the standard -- both explicitly and implicitly -- for years before you arrived. Depending on your definition of "precedence...." [Smile]
Didn't OSC say this was like his living room and he wanted it to be treated that way? So, it seems like the invitation was more to a dinner party then a debate hall.
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Orincoro
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The obvious and oft cited counter to this point being that OSC apparently believes his leaving room is a good place to be truculent and adversarial with his guests. Just because he says that's his intention, doesn't mean he lives by the rule.

But yeah, he has said this before, and it would be nice if we could all keep that in mind.

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Armoth
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I think that this thread is filled with some of the most thoughtful people on Hatrack. I don't mean thoughtful, in the sensitive and kind sense (though many of you are) - but in the sense that I often read your posts because they are full of content.

That's why I'm here - Hatrack is a great place to share ideas with people whom I'd never meet in real life. It's a plus that we keep up an environment in which we aren't threatened.

There is only one person on Hatrack that has ever made me feel threatened and wanted to make me stifle my ideas. There is a second person who irks me, but never makes me feel like I can't continue to share. Other than that? My experiences are more than positive.

Honestly - a thread like this one, where a person can make themselves vulnerable enough to do the right thing and apologize (even in the general sense) - makes Hatrack the beautiful place that it is.

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BlackBlade
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It's pretty tough to coral all your apologies into one thread, but it's a sweet sentiment scifibum.

Personally, when I feel like things get heated I try to get the cathartic practice of apologizing over and done with.

I don't think we need a ruthless moderator, but it might not hurt hatrack to have one other moderator as I can't imagine how much work it is for Papa Moose.

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rivka
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quote:
Originally posted by Samprimary:
You'll get a lot of armchair vigilantes like myself who will gleefully return fire or harass someone if they refuse to quit their obnoxious behaviors because, well, that's what the environment here is conductive towards, and nothing else would do anything about the obnoxious behavior anyway no matter how nicely you ask.

That's quite some spin.
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Samprimary
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quote:
Originally posted by rivka:
That's quite some spin.

If it was a defense of what I do, sure.
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Teshi
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I've been a moderator of chimps-- chimps!*-- and the only way to make it work was to be a) ruthlessly efficient b) ruthlessly fair and friendly c) hard as nails.

*students, mostly science students who thought arts students (note: me) were dumb.

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scholarette
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I read another bulletin board that is very polite,with seemingly no moderation. Of course, all that is discussed is cross stitching- no politics, religion, current events, movies,etc.
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Samprimary
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We have our solution then.
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TomDavidson
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*laugh* [Smile]
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BlackBlade
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I wonder if we could get the entire forum to discuss only one topic for a week.

We could have cheese week, or biopic week, or Neil Gaiman week.

Or heck we could have "no regulars post this week" week. And see what all the lurkers and passerbys do.

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scholarette
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So, what defines a regular?
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Farmgirl
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quote:
Originally posted by TomDavidson:
Bah! I think they could be greatly improved by requiring one-line responses. [Smile] But YMMV.

Then go to Twitter.

quote:
Originally posted by scifibum:
However, I do not regret writing that thing about TomDavidson. He deserved it.

Usually does. [Wink]
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