There are often posts we agree with that also run afoul of the community guidelines. In this case, the author chose to add a personal attack to an otherwise great post. It was hidden, and a message sent to the author that they could edit said post and it would be unhidden automatically. They didn’t edit, and the post was eventually removed as it was also a response to a hidden post.
I personally wish the author had chosen to edit the post. Perhaps next time.
The problem with rules is that you have to enforce them, even if the insulted were a simpering simpleton, the sorriest scum of the earth, a scallywag of the lowest order, a knave, an offal oaf, a festering pustule on the cheek of humanity. Else, there’s no real point in having rules, is there?
The goal of the bOINGbOING BBS appears to be to have wide and mostly cordial topics of conversation with the intent of driving readership to the blag. The intent is not to have a functioning community (though that is a happy accident). This 'orse has been flagged into dust 'ere, after many many occurrences.
This community’s converse is as good as the members maintaining it. Code is law, and the law has empowered you to Flag. A certain threshold score of flags will automatically hide the offender’s posts, and an even higher threshold will outright bin it, no wolf intervention required. These flags do show in a counter on the staff’s view.
In times past there were ways to tell at a glance who the reliably good posters are. These days, you’re almost best off using a userscript to killfile repeated idiocy instead of spending time crafting a perfect response to a simpleton’s post. Why waste the emotional energy? Here’s one such userscript.
While I agree with the rest of your post, this here:
…is simply not true. We’d close the BBS if that were true and reinstall something like Disqus (or even just use WP’s comments system). But you’re right, that’s been talked about to death and doesn’t need discussing again.
The other point you reinforced, however, stands - flag, please!
The problem is that the line between cordiality and Stepford is a fuzzy one, and so it comes down to: in which direction do we choose to err?
While the outright trolls are often tedious, arguing with people at the edges in an environment like this has merit: it is good practice for the outside world, some of us learn new arguments or approaches we might not have thought of, and so on.
I grew up as an urban Jew, my wife is Italian, we’ve been known to get disapproving looks from other tables at restaurants for our normal level of discourse; I wonder what would happen if our lives were moderated, especially by someone from a place with a tradition of outward politeness - Minnesota, say, or Canada. We’d probably get flagged out of existence.
Absolutely! My post broke the rules. Your job is to enforce the rules. You did your job. Thank you for doing it, because holy crap I would not want that job and the sysadmins here do a generally superb job at modding and the community is what it is in no small part because of that.
Well, in part, that didn’t happen because I usually don’t have time to check in and sit down and contribute as often as I might like, so I the post was eaten before I had the opportunity to revise, but that’s my responsibility and that’s totally fair.
But as I said, I believe that sometimes, even in the best communities, a distinction between what is legal and what is right, and sometimes the community can benefit, even if only temporarily, from things the community rules do not allow.
Don’t want to derail, just to remind you that the free speech threads are pretty weird and sometimes heated. It’s not “existence”, but every day life certainly is moderated by social norms and the law.
And online communications are a part of this. The admins here are social animals as well, and are working hard to moderate within the law and social laws which derive from the non-online world. They are not apart, the distinction virtual/real is not sharp, or maybe even non-existent.
Opening caveat: obviously, y’all are gonna mod however you wish to mod. And it’s a difficult job, and critique from the peanut gallery can be annoying. Please take this as well-intentioned feedback rather than a demand of any sort.
At the moment, the BBS standards focus much more strongly on civility of presentation than civility of content.
Expressions of hostility are strongly frowned upon, particularly if they use informal language.
OTOH, expressions of racism/sexism/classism/etc are given substantial room to operate, unless they very clearly step over a few loosely-applied limits (overt victim blaming, etc.). So long as they keep it impersonal and prim and avoid the handful of verboten arguments, a thinly-disguised fascist can operate with relative impunity. Max lasted for years, and he was about as subtle as a half brick in a sock.
These rules and standards are not indefensible, particularly if they’re viewed from a traditional ACLU liberal perspective. In normal times, they promote good conversation, and even Max could occasionally serve a role as a useful teaching aid.
But these are not normal times.
There is an organised online campaign of fascist propaganda that is saturating the entire web. It is increasing in intensity and sophistication, and BB is not immune. Today’s outbreak wasn’t the result of a single poster; they’re working in deliberate, coordinated teams. Disguising themselves as centrists is a known, documented strategy of the far right.
Again, how you run the place is entirely up to you. It’s your house.
But I think that you want to consider carefully the extent to which you want to allow your house to be used as a rebroadcasting station for evil. BB may not be CNN, but it still has some impact as a media presence.
This is not a new phenomenon here. I don’t subscribe to or believe that personal attacks are required to get a point across, especially in text where you have time to reflect on what you’re writing. There are plenty of other places online for folks who wish to be rude to one another can engage in that sort of discourse.
It’s a false equivocation to suggest that there is a greater focus on civility over moderation of content. I’ve recently made some pretty significant moderation decisions against users who excelled at civility while, unfortunately, espousing beliefs that aren’t consistent with what we are interested in fostering on the BBS. I think the sheer volume of discriminatory voices online currently is skewing perceptions. We’re banning far more users now than at any time in the past, mostly newcomers who would like to derail our conversations.
I personally believe there are very few places online currently that are both as popular as we are, and also able to foster open discourse to the level we do. I’m proud of that fact and intend to continue trying my best to accomplish that goal. The increased level of flagging of late has been immensely helpful in that regard, so thank you to those of you who are choosing to participate in moderation in that fashion!
I am under the impression that both you and me have a biased view here. I think we don’t even see a lot of posts because the moderation seems to be alert, and fast. In regard to “overt”, I flagged one comment once which sounded civil enough, but was borderline victim blaming. It was removed quickly, including my reply as I recall.
Can we discuss suspension for inactivity? I encourage the BBS to consider removing or revising this policy. If you decide to keep this policy, may I suggest the following:
Put a notice during sign up or in the rules that your account will be suspended after a year of no activity.
See if you can come up with a different suspension process for inactive accounts than the suspension process you use for bad behavior. In particular, see if you can come up with a way an inactive user can re-activate their account or contact a moderator. The current suspension process seems designed to make you wait until the suspension is over. This sounds appropriate when used against bad behavior and for a short time frame. But a 100-year suspension for 1 year of inactivity is a very disempowering action for an innocent behavior.
(My account is restored now, but here’s my story: I read Boing Boing nearly every day, but I only log in if I want to post a comment or like a comment. Earlier today, I was logging in to do exactly that, but I discovered my account had been suspended for 100 years because it had been inactive for 1 year. I looked over different contact methods on boingboing.net/contact and boingboing.net/about but none of them seemed appropriate. I ended up making a new account and messaging a moderator, which also wasn’t ideal.)
Indeed, when people think about verbal attack, they may assume it necessarily involves being loud, or being intense. But it’s important to understand that not all loud or intense speech is a verbal attack. Loving words can be said forcefully, and calm, quiet speech can contain an attack.
As the linguist Suzette Haden Elgin explained in her books about The Gentle Art of Verbal Self Defense, there are recognizable patterns of verbal attack in the English language. They’re built into the way that English works. If the words don’t contain one of the patterns, they aren’t attacks. I highly recommend her work.
@bibliophile20, who has not been a truly active member of this community for some time, has seen fit to come back on several occasions just to attack community members with no intention of engaging in further discourse. As a result, they are no longer welcome here.
I have had mixed feelings about their participation here. I really liked that they could be rigorously argumentative at times, like properly picking apart the logic and biases behind some of my posts. That’s a level of engagement I don’t usually find here (or anywhere). But when I PMd them express my appreciation and respect, they tore into me with lots of personal insults. It was disappointing that they only wanted to appear erudite when there were others watching, and were otherwise happy with abuse.