Name calling or cursing someone out isn’t okay; it goes without saying.
In that same regard, though; sea lioning a thread into the freakin’ ground and passively being needlessly obnoxious in an attempt to make it all about oneself is the exact opposite of ‘being cool.’
Being “passionate” about a subject is not some sort of ‘license’ to act like a dick to others.
Making demands of other users, using appeals to authority, being needlessly snide and then acting like a victim are all signs of flagrant bad faith, despite that we are inherently expected to automatically assume good faith… up until what point, exactly?
Where is the line?
Because lately it seems pretty blurred and that’s rather concerning.
“Bad-faith” isn’t about opinions themselves. Full-stop. Moderation isn’t about trying to ensure everyone has compatible opinions, it’s about ensuring that those opinions can be debated respectfully.
“Bad-faith” from a moderation context is:
0 - violating our community guidelines. That’s an easy and obvious one.
1 - posting something with the specific intent of riling up the community instead of participating. This necessarily requires some way to tell that the user likely does not believe what they are saying.
2 - a consistent pattern of taking the “devil’s advocate” position on multiple topics. We’ve had several bad-actors do this specifically - they always took the contrarian point specifically to rile up the community.
3 - Repeated feigning personal involvement with topics - that improbably, a user is part of every minority, that they’ve done every thing, that every issue is personal for them. We’ve had bad actors do this specifically, as well.
4 - Traditional sealioning - coming into a discussion, demanding that it go only one way, and that people expressly refute their position, dismissing all others.
Every one of these behaviours should be flagged, not responded to, because responding only serves to further the aims of the bad-actor - they want to create a derail, to rile up the community, to force you to spend energy on their claims, to make more work for the mods. By instead flagging the behaviour and not replaying you deprive them of that.
Lastly, If we started banning people for being snide we’d have almost no members. People have strong and acerbic opinions. The key is those opinions need to be about others opinions, not others themselves. The line is drawn when someone attacks other people, not other opinions.
It can be tough to tell from early posts in a thread when a user is sea-lioning or gaslighting. Sometimes it’s necessary to probe the poster to see if it’s miscommunication or bad faith. Eventually it becomes clear one way or the other, but that often manifests in a blown up thread.
When I see that, I usually split the derail off into it’s own topic, but it can accelerate quickly.
Maybe there should be some leeway provided when people are responding to a poster who, it turns out, is posting in bad faith after all? We all have our moments of impatience, especially in an online environment where so many bad actors seem to relish wasting their own time and that of others to create chaos and strife.
‘Agreement’ or mere conformity isn’t the issue here, and for me personally, it never has been.
The lack of respect when engaging others is the issue here, and lately it seems like more microaggressions are being allowed to go unchallenged.
As one who is Other, that is a highly concerning shift.
Now in this particular instance, the member who was told to ‘fuck off’ started out their very first comment being needlessly hostile and belligerent, and then he proceeded to talk down to anyone who had an alternative opinion, especially if the user happened to be female.
Just a coincidence, I’m sure.
Agreed and that’s what is highly problematic about taking ‘the assumption of good faith’ too far; much like Poppers Paradox, many bad faith actors are more than opportunistic enough to take full advantage of that tendency, to the detriment of the entire conversation.
1 - flag posts that violate our guidelines, or fall into the bad-faith points above.
2 - challenge their opinions. I mean, that’s what the issue is in the end, right! I’m not going to moderate anyone who tells something else their opinion is shitty for reasons. What is going to be a problem is when the flow is “bad opinion = must be bad-faith = attack the user”. “bad-faith” in that context is pretty narrow on purpose.
We do, and all too often end up being penalized for it ourselves.
And I’m not referring to the rare occasions like when I myself have lost my temper and told someone to ‘fuck off’ for acting like a dick. I knew I was out of line, and I accepted the consequences like an adult.
Rather, I’m talking about rational, measured responses or apt gifs and memes, posted after 5, 10, 20 comments of nonstop sea lioning or gaslighting where it has become obvious that the person is not interested in the topic at all… they just want everyone else to listen to them.
We’ve seen people do this time and time again, sometime for months (or in one or two edge cases for years) before they finally are asked to leave.
Of course it’s scrubbed. A colossal waste of time and money - can’t wait for it to be over.
Because while that may be a naive and pretty poignant opinion, it’s an opinion and not one that’s going to be moderated just because they happen to believe as they do. What it isn’t is an attack on the community or “needlessly hostile and belligerent”.
What I did see as a response that post was a “side-eye” gif with no context or text in response:
followed by an explanation from the poster:
Think of how many rocket programs it could’ve funded. It’s tragic.
Followed by another reaction gif with no text in response:
Followed by another attempt of the original poster to clarify:
24 BILLION DOLLARS dude. 24 fricken’ billion dollars. They could’ve started several rocket programs over. Just to keep some folks in flyover states employed.
That is a poster trying to provide a good-faith (but controversial) opinion, being snarked at with reactions that do not contribute in any way to the discussion. Of course the poster is going to respond, as @DukeTrout put it with “a moment of impatience” when that’s the response they get to their opinion.
Additionally. we’ve made it clear that reaction gifs that do not include text or the poster’s own opinion do not add to the discussion (and the right gifs as part of an opinion is something you could provide a masterclass in!)
That things went downhill from there was inevitable, but that still doesn’t make it ok for anyone to insult others, and when someone posts an opinion only to have it belittled without responding to the opinion directly, I’m going to toss the entire discussion out as a massive derail, every time.
I don’t think that’s what happened in this case, but yes, I do see that happen. I hate seeing that happen, because wasting good energy on bad discussions with people who aren’t going to change their minds sucks. A lot. And it’s only with the help of the community that we’re able to even find frequent bad-actors and react, so thank you for that. But at the same time, there’s only so much moderation can do to help defend against people who behave this way. As I hope has been clear, I am open to suggestions on how to better deal with energy leeches, but the answer can’t be “ban everyone with strong opinions who shows up”, because all of us were at one time or another someone who decided to come join because we wanted to contribute and have our voices heard, and all of us, myself included, have overstepped. That means not every suspension will be permanent, and not every person will be booted for their first offence, and yes, there are a LOT of those people on the internet right now, emboldened by current events.
To be completely clear: I really do value your opinion and those of the rest of our regular community. I could not moderate this community without you. I don’t have all the answers either - and worse, most of the “big” communities have just given up or chosen to ignore these more nuanced aspects of moderation in the first place, so we are in a pretty unique situation - too big to go under the radar, too small to have options like the big sites to solve these issues.
The most I can do here is listen and explain my thinking, in the hopes that I can be consistent and adaptable. Or, at least try to be.
Sure - but I think one of the problems with moderating (from this side of it) is that it only really works with spherical commenters in a vacuum - or, more realistically, rules are great for only two users; I can manage my own replies, but what about the next person who replies…? Now the sealion gets his fish
So the only response that actually works is “nobody say anything and we’ll all be fine!”
I am aware this is more venting than offering solutions.
I think the issue for a lot of us on that thread was the larger context that we’d just had this same argument in the other Artemis thread a few hours ago. I certainly reacted somewhat knee-jerk because of that. It’s a topic I like, but every thread has the same naysayers come in and dump the same negativity into it. Sure, they are their opinions and they are entitled to them. But I do also feel like the tone of the thread should matter. When it’s an otherwise positive thread that gets totally dominated by one person wanting to be “devil’s advocate” all the time, it gets tiresome.
Every topic has one person who wants to say bad things about it. If we let that person control the conversation in every thread, the BBS turns into a pretty depressing place that I don’t want to spend time. That’s just my opinion though, of course. Take it for whatever it’s worth.
That can only happen if people respond in the first place, of course. To @Tamsin_Bailey’s point though, you can’t stop everyone from replying, but no one should feel like they are required to respond, either.
There’s thankfully a third option, we have a large number of Leaders who are 1) awesome and 2) regularly split topic-adjacent conversations (like the “Is artemis even a good thing?” sub-topic) into their own posts, to allow for such derails not to happen. Feel free to ask a mod or Leader to do just that.
In short a “something else” flag indicating the conversation is being repeated and is derailing the conversation, or having a Leader split it is an alternative to “clapping back” at a poster, which very very often makes the derail worse.