Letter to twelve rabid weasels

Couldn’t agree more, but generally a series of monumental, largely personal and largely absent from the public consciousness struggles. A SFWA spat may make waves where it will matter but it isn’t close to being even local TV news. Now I know that sounds like I’m disagreeing with you but I’m not. I’m probably closer to your thinking that it appears and I only stepped into this debate because people were, in my opinion, making ill-advised, hyperbolic declarations.

And that’s me out of this discussion because otherwise it’ll just be me and a bunch of folk passive-aggressively agreeing with each other until it all ends in a blood feud.


Oh, no! People agreeing with each other!? Where will it end? :wink:

I know what you mean, and it feels hard not to give some leeway to the snowcaps, but the fact is (1) they’re still being racist, always were, just nobody did anything, and (2) they’re contagious, and love nothing more than to attempt immortality by infecting young minds.

My own parents sent some round robin email critical of Mexicans, some pseudo-comedy racist content thing. I called them out on it, told them simply from the title of the email I knew it was for the bin. They declared “but we didn’t find anything wrong with it!”, and I let them stew in that soup for a while, then asked politely that they not send me anything else similar in the slightest.

Their grandkids are half Chinese. I pointed out that when they forward on another round-robin making fun of Chinese people, it’s not going to be good for anyone’s relationship.

Old? Used to being a bigot? Tough cheese. No-one alive today in the developed world grew up unaware of major cultural events like Abe Lincoln, the Civil RIghts movement, and so on.

The trick to not being an old bigot is to constantly refresh and invigorate your thinking - never stop. Not till your last synapse fires its last pulse.


“these people are poison.” - Here Here!

the sooner we find a way to banish or at least declaw these people the sooner the internet becomes the universally glorious utopia we occasionally believe it to be.

that said, i always appreciate one troll on a forum, keeps the skepticism sharp.



In what way does Discourse handle trolls?

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Thanks for the effort - laudable intent.

Where’s the “ignore” button on profiles? As individual participants, we should be under no obligation to get shouted at by any particular troll’s user ID more than once.

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Assuming that Niven/Pournelle et al are obnoxious trolls just because you dislike their politics is ridiculous. Consider that the offenders are less than 1% of the members of the SFWA … you really think the first big names you can think of are the guilty parties?

Your links provide one example of actual academic work related to small teams, and another piece of anecdotal evidence along the same lines. I don’t see how this is directly relevant to trolls/griefers in online communities. I’m not sure the problem really needs a new solution beyond community moderation, anyway - Slashdot and reddit being examples where people who are deliberately obnoxious are easily rendered invisible (reddit has another layer of moderation as well, I’m aware). Granted those systems have the problem of muting unpopular opinions as well as (or even more than) deliberately hostile ones…

I knew I’d heard the term “rabid weasels” before:


Just a heads up. If we’re talking sensitivity here, “lynch mob” is often not the best term to use. If you care about such things.


Make sure your children are never alone in the same room with her, and in her presence as little as possible in general.

Oh, you didn’t mean literally?


Reading through these comments, I think some folks saw Gattaca as a story about a beautiful utopia ruined by a few inferior troublemakers.


I’m not Jeff, but take a look at this piece about Discourse and Mathew Ingram wrote a nice piece on trust metrics, heavy on Discourse discussion.

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As an old (Social Security/Medicare/trifocals/bad knees-qualified), white, straight, middle-class man, it may be impossible for me to make a comment without being seen as engaging in some kind of generational/entitled-class mansplaining, but–

This it-will-be-better-when-the-old-farts-die stuff strikes me as an unlikely and, if I might put it more strongly, unreflected-on notion. One of the things that being old (and not yet senile) has taught me is that the assholes we have always with us. I have plenty of contemporaries who are not assholes, who do not harbor asshole attitudes, who occupy and articulate political positions to my left and right without making asshole arguments. And I encounter (on line mostly, thanks to the way I run my social life) plenty of younger folk who behave in spectacularly assholey manners. Some of their assholery is even located to my left (and I’m an old lefty), though that’s a minority condition.

I’ve observed on-line behavior since you needed an acoustic coupler to do so, and what I’ve seen is not different in quality from what I saw in other social settings my whole adult life. It is, however, different in visibility, which means that it’s harder to avoid. In 1968, there were bars where a guy like me would not enter, let alone start an honest conversation. When I worked blue-collar jobs, there were topics I didn’t participate in, groups I didn’t hang out with at lunch.

Now any unmoderated forum can draw the attentions of badly-socialized loudmouths with many of the traits of the schoolyard bully, and it’s hard to figure out how to make such spaces comfortable for those who would prefer not to have their conversations derailed, dominated, and generally made unpleasant by resident or drive-by assholes. In the old off-line, real-presence world of, say, the corner tavern, the response to an offensive loudmouth might be for the host to throw him out or for an offended patron to kick the shit out of him. There’s also the military tradition of the blanket party. Of course, the latter mechanisms depend on the kind of primate/guy social machinery that I have spent my life avoiding, and in any case I’m not sure what the virtual equivalents would be.

By the way, just to reinforce my proposition that this is not a new thing under the sun, as clever and apt as the shitting-in-the-cornflakes phrase is, there are much older metaphors for this process: the turd in the punchbowl, and (one I learned from my father) “who pissed on the campfire?”

BTW-II: I regret to acknowledge that almost all the really satisfying terms of dismissal or scorn have the potential of offending someone in a non-trivial way. I once made a list of as many non-ethnic/gender/sexual-preference putdowns/insults/denigrating labels as I could recall, and many of them would be seen as being hurtful to some innocent class. As a lifelong bespectacled, unathletic, bookish dweeb who has been the target of much verbal assholery, I may have such a thick skin that I don’t notice such things. I suppose part of our social evolution must be to find ways of expressing scorn without injuring innocent bystanders.


It reads a bit like ‘we’re gonna do it, but we’re not sure how yet.’

I do like the StackExchange model of gradually giving someone more edit/moderation rights, but I’m not sure if that would apply well to a forum.

One other thing I’m curious about is how to handle groups of users behaving badly. Or even two groups of users who think the other group is behaving badly.

I was a little appalled at the ageist comments on this thread, and how many positive ratings they were getting.

I wonder if the tendency on BoingBoing to react positively to bigotry they like, will lead to the trust metric being skewed. As a Midwesterner whose hair has already started turning white, I have a feeling I won’t be allowed to comment after a few months.

Oh, well, it’s an improvement to the ban-everyone-the-moderator-doesn’t-like model they’d been operating under.

If they are serious about their racism(and they certainly seem to be) that’s actually to be expected: being assholes to ethnic undesireables is the most visible trait(and often one of the few life skills that rank-and-file racists actually have to any significant degree); but it’s really a fairly minor part of the theoretical Overarching Plan, which requires actually having an (ethnically homogeneous) society worth living in, ‘a future for white children’ and all that(this is presumably the same reason that they have aryan dating websites).

Various sorts of deeply abrasive and/or overtly violent behavior are accepted as part of excluding The Other; but they aren’t dumb enough to think that that sort of behavior is going to build them their whitebread utopia after it has driven the undesirables out.

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I wish writers I enjoyed reading in my early sci-fi years would just stop revealing themselves to be asshats. It sours certain memories and makes me feel awkward and gross. After a depressing run-in with an older sci-fi writer at Dragon Con a few years ago I’ve almost stopped seeking out writers entirely. I just hate the disappointment of finding someone who wrote something I loved and they turn out to be a bigoted jerk.

This is pretty much exactly what happened with a forum I moderate for in another corner of the internet. So many bans, and they all went off to found their ugly little circle jerk of self righteous idiocy.

Also Codinghorror, I <3 you.

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Speaking of assumptions. Assuming someone has had no personal encounters with people they mention in relation to a topic. They were the first “big names” (such a funny thing to think of when you consider the genre. Reminds me of Ellison’s rant of the Sci/Fi ghetto) because I’ve had personal encounters with them that made me associate the topic with the persons.

Politics may be an indicator and Pournelle is a well known hawk with a mean streak of Islamophobia (“But but but the protagonist in The Gripping Hand” shut the f up, you might as well say the Shakespeare wasn’t an anti-semite because “Shylock”) and Niven has recently said some pretty stupid an uninformed things about ‘dem Messicans flooding the emergency rooms’; but those are only windsocks at best.

Your assumption is that I haven’t seen some of your favorite authors act like assholes in person or in personal encounters. Your assumption is wrong. In person at cons in the case of Niven and via email exchange with Pournelle. Pournelle likes to just be an ego flexing dick to anyone he can get away with it on while Niven is dismissive to anyone not in his circle and priggish even on panels unless you came to offer worship to him or unless you’re a moderately attractive and/or young female and then he’s creepy lecherous (which could be just poor social skills or those informed by being old and used to a certain kind of adulation or it could be he’s just a creepy prick).

Hell even Barnes, who is (in my experience) the nicest well-known pro I’ve ever met in person, used to have some pretty borderline misogynist shit on his writing page (had to do with scoring sex at conventions but the gist is summed up with an actual quote from the piece itself “go ugly early”). The article was removed sometime around the release of Lion’s Blood and I’d like to think it was because he grew as a person (it happens).

Here’s my assumption: You are a fanboy who is incapable of understanding that writing you enjoy might come from people who behave in a manner that you, or others, might not enjoy.

News flash: Heinlein was a creepy weirdo too. Does not make his work suck (unless it sucked on it’s own merits) but the dude was a creepy weirdo with offensive things to say regarding just about everyone who wasn’t himself or his proxy written into his own works.

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