Why is harassment accepted, while calling out harassment will be removed as “off topic”?

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Can you provide some (sanitized, generalized) examples?

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is it because abuse in pursuit of the topic still serves the topic while describing abuse as such does not?

Just to anchor the discussion with the formal, in person definition (we can probably define this differently for online behavior)

Harassment is governed by state laws, which vary by state, but is generally defined as a course of conduct which annoys, threatens, intimidates, alarms, or puts a person in fear of their safety. Harassment is unwanted, unwelcomed and uninvited behavior that demeans, threatens or offends the victim and results in a hostile environment for the victim. Harassing behavior may include, but is not limited to, epithets, derogatory comments or slurs and lewd propositions, assault, impeding or blocking movement, offensive touching or any physical interference with normal work or movement, and visual insults, such as derogatory posters or cartoons.

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No offense, but lawspeak definitions are not English definitions.

I think when one poster keeps going after another poster, especially while either insulting that poster, or triggering that poster, or demanding that that poster answer certain questions… I’m having trouble finding the right words here… I’ve had trouble elsewhere with people who, whenever someone discusses violence or harassment or ordinary discrimination, step in to demand that we tell them what really happened and what we did to cause this to happen, and even here with people who step in to insist that if we discuss reasons someone might not be able to do something, that we’re really just saying we are to lazy to do something.

Here for example: Why are you unvaccinated?

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Perhaps. I think I would define it most strongly as a pattern of behavior that extends across multiple topics, the physical analog would be “following a person around wherever they go”.

E.g. it becomes about the person more than the topic, and the evidence supports that.

I could see replying too much in a single topic as well, I know I have talked about that before here, the number of times you have posted in a given topic is not a good sign but a negative one after about, say, 4 to 5 posts.

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Well, what am I supposed to do, especially if people are insulting me, and misrepresenting my posts?

P.S. And adding insult to insult, one of the harassers gets to cheer on another of the harassers, while I don’t get to call out the harassment. @#$%

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Flag and pity them. Wish I had better advice.


Flag the post, ignore the insult and move on?

Not very satisfying in the short-term and of dubious effectiveness if the harassment is ongoing and long-term but I’d like to think that TPTB would notice a pattern and take appropriate action.


But nine times out of ten, they ignore the post.

I think part of the issue is that, having multiple disabilities, I’m hyper-aware of how ableism affects my life, and I feel I have to speak up about how ableism and accessibility barriers can affect other people’s lives.

I know that isn’t usually the intended topic.

I initially responded to the vaccination post with just simple incredulity that anyone could keep track of these things, but after encountering the expectation that everyone could keep track of these things, and that no one would encounter the usual accessibility and bureaucratic barriers, I felt I had to speak up about some of the accessibility and bureaucratic barriers at every turn.

Anyway, if being on-topic is the standard, then talking about disability issues when they crop up is going to be relatively off-topic, and posts harassing people for their disabilities aren’t going to be any further off-topic, and posts calling out people for the harassment are going to be completely off-topic. So it’s a bad standard.

A lesson we can all take to heart! :slight_smile:

(edited to add, the other 4 paragraphs were not there when I wrote my terse response, it was a one line response to a one line post at the time)

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… and how does that help?

If you ignore them, then you can’t be bothered by them.


It doesn’t work that way. “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will make me think I deserved it.” It can really really hurt when someone is harassing you, or someone is harassing someone else for being like you, and no one is sticking up to them. I had to deal with that for being trans, and some of that for being disabled. It can hurt more when someone is hurting you, of course.


I can’t speak for the mod team but a polite PM to them may help, if you haven’t done so already. Other than that, my opinion is about as relevant as any other.

For what it’s worth, I actually appreciate that. Your particular situation is uncommon in my experience and not one I’d have necessarily considered without you raising it. I might not have any useful suggestions for you, but at the very least I’m now more aware.


Yeah, I responded. I could make a fair guess at what jab I’ve had, but as to which flavour of jab it was, couldn’t tell you. And my medical records are scattered all over the bloody planet, it would be the devil’s own job to track them down and that’s without the barriers you have.

Digressing here… :blush:

Even just as a general principle I’d agree with you there. I’ll also add that I’ve been guilty in the past of the sort of nitpicking wankery that could easily have been construed as harassing someone but been too dense to see that what I was doing was causing distress.
So sympathy, but sadly, no solutions.


Ah, like when there’s commercial radio playing at work.

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I am well aware of this. And look, I did!

At some point though, I have had to recognize that I have no -right- to have the conversation I want to have with someone else. I have every right to conduct my half of it as I please, but… so long as i CAN get away from a conversation, then if I choose to stay, my control over the conversation becomes about my staying in it or not. I have also been in situations, offline, where leaving the room was actually not possible, and so I have a hard time comparing chat rooms to real rooms in that way. Nobody should make me feel badly. That said, I probably don’t need to tell insensitive strangers my personal information and with the expectation that they be sensitive with it. They didn’t consent to that plan of mine.

It is also true, and I am sorry if this sounds mean or harsh, but a lot of ‘it can really hurt’ comes from “I haven’t learned how to take people who talk such claptrap and put their stuff on me an others, less seriously yet”. He was hounding you, for sure. Taking bait may be a role you could look at having played?

Harrassment, as one of the top comments says, is really a larger pattern, which leaves a single conversation or website. Like people do to Cory and Xeni here, all the time, hounding him for his posts on the EFF website, on his posts here, or Xeni for being awesome.

I definitely sympathize that you felt harrassed. I think some part of it was how deep you got into conversation and how personally you take it - neither of which are under anyone else’s control.

Sorry you got that weird smallpox thing, that blows!

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This is a common situation:

• Insinuating, inveigling, norm-surfing trolls post within the rules, don’t get their comments removed, but are permanently banned once the pattern and personality are clear.

• People like you see them coming or are targeted by them, but respond with outright unacceptable/offtopic posts that just get deleted or moved.

You and the forces of goodness eventually prevail, but it takes a bit of patience (and resisting the urge to flame out and get temp-banned)

We’re going to be more aggressive toward the insinuating-asshole type very soon.


Well, either they do know how what they’re doing, in which case calling them out on harassment is entirely appropriate, or they don’t, in which case calling them out on harassment is entirely necessary.

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I’d like to know what the rest of that sentence was!

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