Jihad! (not really, just a real complaint)

Continuing the discussion from LISTEN: Interview with Jeff Atwood of Coding Horror:

I’m not talking about the communities judgement of a user. Your solution prevents a user from having a voice,.

My request is for a tool that allows a user who feels targeted by another user to stop that oter user from sending them notifications.

You know this Jeff, and you know that I suggested it because I am talkingh about a situation recently when a user asked another user (named coding horror) to please stop. And that other user did not. I counted about least 10 ropings in… and the victim wanted the Trust level 4 abuser who knew the rules and was obtusly taking advantage of them because justificaion, to stop.

Jeff, it very much looks from here like you could hound people with differing points of view out of conversation with tools if that works, or bullying if it won;t. Just my 2 cents.

I think it would be great if you didn’t respond to people who you think are beneath you. That’s most of us.

Because If you had been there to explain the rule, instead of abuse the other user (my opinion!), it would have been awesome. You’re not above needing moderation at times.


Even a 'block this user for 20 minutes" button would be great.

Sometimes other people need to cool down.

Sometimes we are other people.

And sometimes we forget to apologise when we were other people. I do, @codinghorror, think that the way you were out of line is ONE of the ways that people get out of line that YOU need to write us a better tool to manage. For the community, right?



Your suggested solution does not apply to TL4 users, such as the user I was mentioning.

"Part the second: How to mute a user.

For administrative purposes users that are TL4, moderators, or admins cannot be muted."

So this mute thing seems like is a way for TL4 users to quiet down folks that TL4 thinks are trouble and reduce their impact on the rest of the site.

Hope none of the TL4 users ever get petty and shortsghted and blame an argument they took part in, entirely on another user.

Some people find vitriol grating. Others find passive aggression grating. Others find baiting and harrassment by engineers and architects grating. Otsers still find a smart ass who doesn;t drop a point until it’s acknowledged, grating.

Grating is an opinion. Harrassment is a pattern of multiple actions.

So, direct question, @codinghorror, is there any way, as a user, to block (temporarily or permanently) another user from roping me into a conversation, linking to my name, or directly contacting me if I feel harrassed by that user?

No? Yes? Could there be? I’d appreciate a direct answer if one is available. Thanks!

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Yeah, Jeff, even Twitter has Block and Mute options, and you think they’re terrible at product :slight_smile:


I -do- understand the reasons not to have them. I’ve read some of that from @codinghorror, and I don’t disagree with the reasoning for the tools he’s thought of. Maybe there are other tools that haven’t been considered?

I witnessed a really foolish exchange, since moderated out of existance, and I think it’s is one which could be avoided in future and designed around. That the designer was one of the participants could well cause problems, but I don’t think that needs to be assumed.

I wasn’t disagreeing with you. I also saw that exchange (or series of exchanges) and really wanted that user to just stop doing it.

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Perhaps the air could continue to clear before this is brought up again?

That would be awesome, and a lot more fine-grained that “we’re banning you because reasons.”

And yeah, at the risk of wading into something, I’ve seen people abuse the privilege of power to bash other people over the head. Whether right or wrong, it’s rude behavior.


Dude, yes. You and I are great examples of why that would be great! We tangle sometimes, and escalate too! I think we bug each other occasionally, but is hardly has to get personal, right?

Would be great to have a -stop this dude from roping me in for a day- button.

I can choose to not respond, but sometimes it just. keeps. going. across. threads. (but not in the case of you Shane, you’re fine man). We’re all human here.


Yeah, I can count the number of times I’ve held a grudge over Imaginary Internet Points on one hand. As far as I’m concerned, an argument happens here, or there, and it’s over.

To not get specific, I’ve had an instance where I said something on a thread, had someone respond with the worst possible interpretation of what they thought I meant, a bunch of people piled on, and before I got a chance to say, “Hey, wait…” boom, banned. I’m not sure if there’s a fix for that, because for whatever reason I like to say things that are easy to misinterpret and make people mad as hell (it’s a gift, I guess).

Other people do that to me, and it’d be nice to /ignore people sometimes.

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Oh I’m sure it was never me. :wink:

Yeah, an /ignore feature, but not one that lasts forever. else you do wind up in a bubble.

More like a -as far as user X is considered my username does not exist for 24 hours- button. They can respond to your posts, you just won’t get told. They can’t @ you. They can’t PM you. They cannot force themselves on your attention while you otherwise enjoy other conversations. They can’t follow you from room to room at the party, or speak loudly to other party attendees about you either. But -not- a total forever ignore button. That would be counterproductive.

Maybe it’s something you earn at TL2?

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Didn’t you quote the answer to this in your first post here?

This is something we will probably get to in 2015. From the earliest days of Discourse we said we wanted to get to a PM block as needed, and this is a logical extension of that: suppression of not just PMs but all forms of notification from a particular user.

It was never prioritized because across the hundreds of active Discourse instances these kinds of one-to-one user jihads were (and are) ultra rare. I have no doubt that at scale the one in a million will happen, but what I typically see is what I described: if a user grates on one person they typically grate on many people in the community, to the point that either they have an intervention, and the behavior improves – or the user leaves, whether voluntarily or by suspension.

I also find it strange to refer to normal replies and conversation as “abuse”. Am I abusing you now by replying to your post? Doesn’t abuse imply, y’know… abuse? Yelling at someone, calling them names, strident language… Certainly something more than having a (what appears to me to be, anyway) normal conversation, typical of the hundreds or thousands that happen here every day? I apologize if any of my replies to anyone’s posts are seen as abusive, that is certainly never my intent and I hope they would get flagged if I am not seeing things correctly. I encourage anyone reading this to look at my public post history, and either flag me or PM me if I am getting this wrong somehow.

As for people who decide “person X may no longer reply to my posts because reasons”, I am not sure that’s a sane thing to expect in a public discussion area, is it?

Yeah, but Twitter and Facebook aim to be platforms for the entire world – they have to allow everyone otherwise they are undermining their own goals. Which means they tolerate some awful, hateful stuff under the banner of free speech.

From Facebook’s perspective, if you stop being a Facebook user, you cease to exist as a person. There is no other platform, no other communities, there is only Facebook for every human being who will ever live.

Whereas in regular web communities, you can (and should!) close the door on people who are disruptive or abusive. Because when one door closes, another opens, at one of the millions of other houses of community on the web.

I covered this at some length in http://blog.codinghorror.com/your-community-door/

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I’ve seen a couple of really weird, stressed, negative responses to seemingly innocuous stuff you have posted.
I’m not sure if that’s informing your current perception of (some) reaction to you here and I can only add my one anonymous and uninvited voice to say that I have never seen you be anything other than friendly, informative and an all-round good guy here.

Thanks for all the fish.

Related : How much flagging goes on here? Do you have any stats available? Are we more or less flaggy than other communities? What about ban/timeout rates? How much thread muting?


I don’t think BB is unusual relative to the other communities I look at in regards to those stats, though I would say there is a bit more hesitancy around flagging.

There is less flagging here than I would personally like, I think because (as I mentioned in the podcast, actually) the Happy Mutant ethos is live and let live, and nobody wants to be seen as a policeman or cop to other people’s Happy Mutant opinions.

However, it’s worth reviewing the guidelines periodically for a refresher:


(For the record, I believe strongly that how you say something matters every bit as much as what you are saying. No matter what the topic is, how morally right you may or may not be, hauling off and punching people in their proverbial noses every tenth post is just as unacceptable as if it happens every time. These are all just opinions, and how we treat each other will be remembered long after others have forgotten how funny/smart/right we were.)

Incidentally the above directly contradicts “tone policing” in some definitions of the term, though that too is a nuanced discussion.

There are a decent number of flags and certainly more than enough to handle the errant spam. And I do think there is less overall hesitancy about flagging now versus, say, 6 or 12 months ago. We’ve also tried to make the flag dialog friendlier and more clear about what is happening over time (note that the flag dialog now explicitly says the flags are private, for example).

Standard disclaimer: I need diagnostic access to this stuff for troubleshooting and advice but I never, ever handle flags here except for extremely obvious spam that should be removed ASAP. I may advise staff and moderators in various ways but it is just my “expert” advice for them to do with whatever they please, including ignoring it altogether. If I have a problem with something I’d flag it just like you would. My posts can get deleted too. All matters of moderation are officially handled by BB staff proper, not me.


I’m somewhat skeptical as to how such a feature would work. But if I’ve understood your goals, you want to make a forum that can govern itself, according to the values of the community, instead of forum that needs constant maintainance, lest it fall to the spammers.

In a thread that has mysteriously dissapeared, I believe we agreed on certain “mellow” ethos, iirc. But others disagreeed. Wouldn’t the bottom up style of discourse be better served by allowing say BoingBoing to just try out this feature, rather than accept all of the Master Architect’s ideas of what’s tonally appropriate? And I mean no disrespect.

[quote=“codinghorror, post:12, topic:47952”]
also find it strange to refer to normal replies and conversation as “abuse”. Am I abusing you now by replying to your post? [/quote]

No. If I asked you to stop maybe 8 more times, and you did not until moderators intervened, then I would say yes.

Doesn’t abuse imply, y’know… abuse? Yelling at someone, calling them names, strident language…

You can’t yell on the internet. You can emphasize, but yelling is threatening because it precedes hitting. As that cannot be done online, overemphasis and/or a strident tone is more like verbally masturbating all over you. Still, offensive to be sure, but not yelling. Yelling is a physical thing. This is online. I guess masturbation is a physical thing too. Maybe it’s like reading you in a funny voice then? Harmless unless you need it to hurt.

Namecalling… well yeah, that stinks. I avoid it.

But patterns of behavior are patterns of behavior. Naming them is not namecalling. Acting them out is only acting them out until you stop, subsequent to which time, the label is not applicable.

I think we’re all behavior focused here. Largely existentialist.

I encourage anyone reading this to look at my public post history, and either flag me or PM me if I am getting this wrong somehow

I think I had flagged it, i believe moderation ensued, posts were deleted, and it was excellent moderation. But it happened man. And it was avoidable if the user who was asking for it to stop were empowered to shut down a user, for a short time, who appeared be taunting them.

As for people who decide “person X may no longer reply to my posts because reasons”, I am not sure that’s a sane thing to expect in a public discussion area, is it?

Well sure, but that’s explicitly what I agreed should not happen, and an oversimplificatiuon of what I did ask about, which was more like a user activated ‘keep this other user off my back for a couple hours’ button. I was pretty clear, couple times about that distinction, too.

So, is that possible? Or can I look forward to my question being answered with a question, again? Because that’s admirable, you know. Really admirable.


Does this extend to things like saying no when you mean no, rather than asking a vague question with the link that generated the original question, in return?

Because that sort of thing can be easily misconstrued as passive aggressive, and that’s not better than any other sort of aggressive, correct?

If someone suddenly asks you to “stop replying to me forever” in the space of 48 hours, or 12 times in the space of 48 hours… is that a “pattern of behavior”? There’s usually some significant element of time involved for something to be a “pattern of behavior”.

Also, what if the person is actively and repeatedly replying to your two posts and the two created topics in that same 48 hour time frame? Isn’t that like saying “you are not allowed to reply to me because reasons, but I can reply to you as much as I want”?

Furthermore, what if those “replies” were actually quoted posts as new topics, created for the express purpose of not derailing existing topics to explore a different but related topic? Because, and I quote:

Why are you derailing this topic

I just don’t feel you’re accurately characterizing the situation, particularly the timescale involved, which was rather narrow – and the number of posts is quite small as well. If it is a “pattern” it’s an awfully tiny one.

I also, because of my background, have an honest interest in these topics: how do you identify a troll, really? and what does it mean to tone police? I think these are fascinating topics and I wanted to explore them with the community here. But, as pointed out in the original topic, it is unfair to derail an existing BB topic with that kind of meta stuff at length. Hence, reply as linked topic.

I honestly have no clue what you’re talking about here. Did you want to PM me? But before you do that, and you are welcome to do that, I encourage you to look at the data.