more stuff to think about

by problembear

heading into election season and things will most likely ramp up here so i thought i would offer this blog post i found when i logged in at wordpress this morning. not sure how i feel about it other than it provides some good thinking to think about.

like most people, i like lively discussion that doesn’t bog down in personal attacks. comments  that add something to the discussion rather than derailing it into side personal agendas are preferable. i don’t like to be put in the position of deciding who gets to say what and when, but without some control things can easily get out of hand. anyway, read this post and see what everyone thinks. maybe we could develop some guidelines so commenters as well as editors here have some way to guide us in keeping this site useful and relevant.

this is an excerpt but be sure and read the entire thing…..

“In regards to tone/style, those that are excessively negative tend to provide a basis on which to delete in a principled way. Examples of negative tone/style include being needlessly hateful, needlessly condescending, or needlessly hostile. As others have noted, being negative (or, to be more technical, an ass) out of proportion to the provocation seem to provide grounds for considering deletion.

Not surprisingly, drawing a line that will allow consistent deletion can be a challenge. Despite this challenge, a consistent principle seems to be rather desirable. After all, as in law and ethics, the rules should be consistent and non-arbitrary. That way people know, in advance, what sort of behavior is acceptable and what is not. From a practical standpoint, this also helps avoid conflict over such matters and this is generally a good thing for a blog. After all, the idea of having a blog is to attract readers and active participants rather than drive them away.

Blog moderators will vary in what is considered tolerable in regards to tone/style. Those that prefer a rougher approach will tolerate more negative tones and styles. Those who wish to have a nicer environment or prefer a blog that seems more professional in character will no doubt tolerate less.”

and before anyone else chimes in with accusations. i am well aware of my own short-comings regarding proper etiquette. i could use a frying pan alongside the head once in awhile myself, but i do use one rule which had helped this sinful bear in the past….. when i am posting a response to a comment or making a post if the word YOU is used in any sentence, take a minute and pause before posting it and make sure it is necessary to make my point. when i take the time to do this, i have found that it never is.

  1. Just let people be themselves and relax. And examine your internal contradictions. You’ll never ban anyone again.

  2. It’s rather telling (and humorous) that the one person who deems himself important enough to tell you how to run your blog, and your life, is the only one you’ve deemed worthy of banning. It’s the same meager threat of the common troll: ‘Don’t ban me, bro; you’ll be less of a person if you do!…’ Well, no you won’t. Always ask yourself a question. What will be the net impact on my life/soul/decision making capability if I quit putting up with this person who makes myself and others miserable? If the answer is “none whatsoever”, then you’ve learned something.

    Blogs are opt-in. That’s the beauty of the medium. If someone wants to post *THE TRUTH* at their website, and it irritates others, others don’t have to read it. Comments are somewhat different like. If one wants desperately to post *THE TRUTH* in your comments then readers are welcome to opt-in, or out. Punch line is this: You, the blogger, are allowed to opt-in or out as well. The way you do that is either quit reading/writing or ban the troll. No person committed to blogging will opt out of it just because someone else demands they do. Yet that is, in its entirety, the only strength that trollish commenters have. They seek to manipulate a blogger’s sense of themselves such that the Troll can continue to be an annoyance, a harm, an irritant, until the blogger changes to be what the troll wishes them to be. And even then, the Troll will invariably move the goalposts, because that’s the whole point of doing it. (If you ever wondered, that’s precisely why I recognize Mark as the worst authoritarian in the Montana blog comments. He seeks to remove choices from others, nothing more.)

    Not surprisingly, drawing a line that will allow consistent deletion can be a challenge. Despite this challenge, a consistent principle seems to be rather desirable. After all, as in law and ethics, the rules should be consistent and non-arbitrary. That way people know, in advance, what sort of behavior is acceptable and what is not.

    That’s the long and short of it, right there. State expectations plainly and follow through. That is very difficult for a blog with multiple admins, even worse for a blog with multiple liberal/progressive admins who may not even agree on the principles of what they espouse in aggregate. Still, I learned from a good conservative friend that a blog must have rules, clearly stated, and those rules must be followed. There is no shame in correcting a puppy who won’t follow your rules, and even less in banning a dog who deliberately attempts to flaunt them. But they must be posted and clear.

    If the 4 & 20 community is unwilling to come up with commenting rules, then it’s useless to even look at “drawing a line”. There won’t be any line to draw. These are things I have learned in 7 years of blogging and 11 years of engaging in blog comments.

    Now, on to personal opinion. There are different qualities to contentiousness. I have gone maw to claw with you before, problembear, and with many others, but where neither of us go is the realm of ‘worthiness’. And so it is with many contentious things. Where disagreement becomes damaging isn’t really attacking the person with insult or disdain. It’s attacking the worthiness of the venue in which it’s presented. That’s my line in the sand. I don’t care if someone thinks I’m an asshole; I do care when they start telling me I’m not worthy to present my opinion at my own website. Call it a personal property issue if you want. But if other web-folk ask me to chill, I chill. If other web-folk ask me to stop with the argument, I stop. For me, it’s a respect for the host. And here’s the key. I respect myself as a host as well. I have no reason, nor ever will, to listen to someone else telling me how much less I am if I don’t let them violate my rules. That’s personal, it’s stated clearly, it’s hard and fast, and it is consistent. I’m not right about every damned thing in the universe; but I know my rules, I follow them, and I trust them. To that degree, I trust myself and will *not* accept any BS from someone who tells me I should distrust my own decisions. That’s what LaBossiere was writing about.

  3. that’s a worthy comment and i appreciate it coming from someone with at least 4 times the internets experience of myself.

    i am fully aware after a few years of proclivities of certain bloggers and consider myself big enough to tolerate quite a bit. not very good at rules (big surprise for everyone i am sure!) so i just go with my gut. when a fly is buzzing around my snout i swat at it half heartedly and and fall back to sleep, but when a fly flies into my nasal passage and stays there, i expel it with force and since i am fairly sociopathic, i never feel remorse about anything which makes me feel better no matter how much it hurts the fly.

    mark has behaved himself and not flown into my nostrils yet since his reincarnation so i leave him be to buzz around. many of his opinions i share. i just don’t care for the use of the word, you, when it is directed at me or any commenters on the posts i write.

    i hope others who care about this blog give us their quarter’s worth about how they feel about this issue. maybe they are better with rules than i am. i just threw this post out there to start a discussion. i think i am far from the person to make rules around here.

    • There is a guy named Jim Versluys of Houston, Texas. The man has a powerful intellect, is a good writer, and seems to have the ability to reach through my computer and into my head … his manners are good, his wit superb. He can read a man in his shoes on introduction. Because of this, because he is just good, he is also totally annoying. He’s been banned in more places than me. He’s my right wing alter ego.

      As much as humanly possible, I have read him in his shoes as well, and we became Internet “friends” – that is, we were always at each others’ throats, but also had no tolerance for other fools. Hard to describe, but I really like that guy, as much as he can undo me in about two paragraphs.

      I don’t know many of Versluys’ caliber, though Budge is very good. I could write most other people’s comments, so predictable are they, so lacking in any real insight. There’s nothing new going on, no new facts, and politics is now as it was in 1965. It’s all been written and thought long before anyone on the blogs even thought they thought it originally.

      And I think this has a lot of what people find so annoying about me … lack of respect. That’s all. There is so little real talent out there. Without the jibes, the back and forth, it is frightfully boring!

      That’s all it is. I’ve got to pretend to respect people on the blogs more than I do. I’ll start now:

      Kailey, ***’re the best, smart, insightful, rigid in thought and sharp in wit. I really enjoy reading **** writing, especially the longer pieces. PB, well, what can I say. ***’re unbelievable! I really get that about ***. ***’re unbelievable!

      How am I doing?

  4. CFS

    I’ll give “you” my pennies worth… Flies are meant be squashed, so going with your gut worked just fine. No one complained about it here other than the fly himself, which is unusual since banning usually invites mass criticism.

    As for rules… The less the better, since we are pretending to be the last bastion of free speech in the country – flies not included – people should be allowed to rant as freely as they wish. Just come prepared with a thick skin… I’m still getting mine nice and calloused after being at this for only 18 months.

  5. one tip- disagree vehemently with wulfgar on something and you will be well toughened for encounters from any and all comers.

    he is the drill sergeant of the montana blogosphere.

  6. The Polish Wolf

    I agree that there are limits, maybe not to what is acceptable, but to what reflects well on your position. I can’t make myself tear into someone I don’t know, because they could be damn cool people. Even Coobs, whose views I find borderline ammoral (which is in its way worse than downright evil), seems like he’s a nice guy outside of politics, and so I try not to attack him personally. But I think partially its my generation that takes the internet more seriously.

    As to other people’s comments at me, well, I’ve taken my share of insults and my only complaint is that they take up space that could be spent on ideas, and thus sometimes (though certainly not always) signify the absence thereof.

    • CFS

      I find the same difficulty laying into a cute little avatar that may be green or pink and squishy looking but represent someone real on the other end that I have never had the chance to meet.

      As for insults… While we may have few flung around every now and then, we are generally more civilized than your average newspaper comment thread… Generally.

    • Coobs expects to be attacked and expects to be called stupid, and so had walled himself off. Conversation with him is impossible, as he feels vulnerable, and so leads with aggressive comments that don’t invite replies. He proclaims and says he is right. It’s a natural defense.

  7. lizard19

    i’ve only been commenting consistently on blogs for about 3 years, 2 of ’em here. the other blog i frequented, called Moon of Alabama, was run by a very smart guy from Berlin, and he was the only voice that front-paged actual posts. but the comment section was a vibrant, international spread of voices. i learned a lot there, being a very small fish in deep waters. i got my ass handed to me quite a few times. that’s the arena where i developed by commentary chops.

    when it comes to this virtual locale, i’ve had to spend some time reflecting on the divergent strategies mark and i employ. what it comes down to is respect: mark claims he has to pretend. i don’t.

    but i have to say i don’t agree mark should be banned without addressing the way wulfgar is given free range to get all frothy, because that double standard reinforces mark’s perception that it’s his content that so ruffles feathers here, when that’s not the case at all.

    mark and i obviously share some core skepticism about our two party system, but where we differ is perhaps age, style, and temperament. despite my general cynicism, i believe in the power of language. mark, on the other hand, has maintained a sort of cavalier attitude towards this blogospheric medium, and too often his words smack of ridicule and condescension. it’s counterproductive.

    i think local blogs are beginning to produce tangible, democratic results that are having real world affects. when social media policing causes gay-hating assholes to be forced from their positions of influence, it’s no surprise established media is reluctant to give credit to those usurpers invading their messaging control.

    • I’ve met some very good people on the blogs, Versluys above and Budge, you’re pretty good too Lizard, not all full of ego and seeming to read a lot and all of that and having unconventional thoughts.

      (Read Washington Rules by Bacevich when you have a change. Usually I give books away, but this is a keeper, or I’d send it to you.)

      This idea that there is something to be accomplished confounds me -I get 250 hits on a good day at POM, and if I counted it all up, what are there … 25 commenters? Crisp used to ask his journalism class how many of them read the blogs … never a raised hand. Journalism students, grant you, so not terribly bright, but still, this is a small community.

      So the objective is to fart around. People take it much too seriously! Banning someone is like being moved from the grown-up table to the kids table at Thanksgiving. It’s trivial, and it’s not the banning, but the idea that people like Kailey and pb inflict this punishment like they were Yul Brynner in the King and I … heavy weighs the crown. Good grief! The seriousness.

      So anyway, yeah, I like a good food fight, I don’t take it seriously, I rarely hear a new thought even from the “thoughtful” commenters. The idea that I need to self-examine and understand my banning is so silly. The idea that Kailey gets away with his abusive shit is revealing, nothing more.

  8. Moorcat

    When my blog/blogs were active, I only banned two people – both for continued attacks at other bloggers without adding anything to the discussion (as well as one of them being a complete – and vocal – racist). That said, I would have no problem banning someone. The bottom line for me is that the blogs I ran were MY property, not public domain and as such, I have the right to refuse service to anyone. I didn’t mind people disagreeing with me (sometimes you can learn a thing or two) but I did mind people posting just to piss me or someone else off.

    I do have rules posted on my site as to what is acceptable behavior and I tended to follow those rules pretty closely. As Wulfgar suggested, if you are going to set a policy about banning someone, I would recommend setting that bar in writing. Remember, though, that it is YOUR blog and you can do any damn thing you want with it. It isn’t protected under “Freedom of Speech” – it is your property.

    • The Polish Wolf

      Does anyone else find this ‘Yoda of the blogosphere’ condescension a tiny bit grating? Lizard makes a great point – people like Ravndal were 100% immune until our bloggers pointed out his homophobia. We may not have had any ‘original thoughts’, but I think blogs aiming for slightly more terrestrial targets, i.e. promoting and promulgating old but good thoughts, and updating them to include news, published or unpublished, can really contribute.

      • Prior to blogs, there were letters to the editor, and self-important people who allowed reasonable people to make thoughtful comments, and banned others.

        But don’t kid yourself that the blogs ever did anything but bypass letters to the editor, which they did not like. It entails loss of power.

        But originality? The same thoughts in a different venue are not new thoughts. But there’s very little that is original. I’ve not heard anything new. PB started out looking for validation at his authoritarian behavior, taking great pains to say that he is not what his behavior says he is. That’s all this is.

        The same wine in a new bottle. That’s all this is. Don’t get carried away thinking the wheel is no longer the wheel, that you are part of something new.

        • Don’t get carried away thinking the wheel is no longer the wheel, that you are part of something new.

          Mark, with no malice whatsoever, it is my strict observation that the only ones I’ve ever observed to do that in the Montanasphere are you, Eric, Travis and Professor Rob. Seriously, you keep coming up with “new” ways to troll, judge or cajole, as if no one has ever seen them before. Banned In Beantown? Come on. (I think you might need to review a bit of Roland Barthes.)

      • carfreestupidity

        Ravndal was too stupid to survive politically if he can’t grasp the fact that what’s on the Internet is there for almost anyone to get at and that in the world of politics your Facebook friends might really be your enemy.

        Just wait until Google seriously gets to throwing it’s weight around in politics… They have everyone’s Internet history stored… And at some point will find it advantageous to use it for the or own gain.

    • I’m aware of self image and high-flying egos, as Kailey’s and ***rs, and I challenge it on its face.

      If I were a history teacher, my assignment to the class on which I would base the final grade would be this: Over the course of the coming year, produce one original thought.

      Go for it.

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