On the concept of "good faith"

One of our community guidelines reads:

  • Assume good faith and like the good. However, flag the bad, and avoid contentless comments.

The “good faith” part is there because we are all (mostly) anonymous to one another. In the context of the BBS (or, indeed, online forums), one’s “faith” in posting generally amounts to “does this user have an ulterior motive for making this post or do they genuinely believe what they are saying?”

If the answer to either of these is no, then the likelihood that a user is attempting to derail or disrupt the conversation, bait other users into inappropriate behaviour, or otherwise act in a way that is contrary to the interests of the community is very high (i.e., they are trolling), and those posts should be removed before they succeed.

However, since we are mostly anonymous to one another, it’s difficult to answer those questions, especially for new posters. Only with enough history from a user, examining their actions, and the consistency of positions taken in responding to topics can one truly answer this question.

This is probably the most time-consuming and difficult part of moderation. Worse, the accusation is often the start of a derail in and of itself - accusing someone of acting in bad faith nearly always sends the conversation spiralling into personal attacks, off-topic arguing or pushes away others who might want to comment in the first place. It’s for this reason that “assume good faith” is in our guidelines.

If you believe a user is acting in bad faith, please flag them. Do not make accusations within topics. Accusing users of “sealioning,” “gish galloping,” or the like will only have one outcome - moving the conversation away from the topic at hand. And worse, this risks other folks who try to respond having their posts eaten when the accusatory posts (or poster) are ultimately removed - not to mention creating far, far more work for the moderator than if the post or poster had been flagged in the first place.

I utterly despise people who come to the BBS intending to waste the happy mutants’ time. People who intentionally visit the BBS to annoy others, see what they can get away with, or intentionally disrupt/derail topics are a plague on online discourse and siphon seemingly unlimited amounts of energy from moderators and the community. But engaging them leads to further wasted energy on all sides. Please use the “something else” flag type and raise your concerns there. Once the flag is raised to our attention, we’ll see it - without derailing the topic in the process.

Thank you!

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Had to look that up. Thanks for the new phrase.

To address your point—thanks for this. In another thread a long-time user responded to something I wrote, and that reply at first glance could have been taken in a negative light. I took a breath and replied assuming good faith. A few hours later the user wrote me to apologize, that it wasn’t meant to be mean. I was confused until I went back and saw that the reply was deleted. Indeed it had been flagged by someone else. I felt bad, because I understood the reply, and could see the user didn’t have a history of nastiness. My own reply was sardonic.

Good faith is the key, I agree.

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I have noticed that there is a sentence that is often spoken even earlier in an argument that is about to go off the rails, and that sentence is: “Nobody here is saying or has said anything to that effect.” This has been a favorite line of mine.

In the future, I am going to make an effort to stop saying that and to just ignore posts that seem to be arguing against a phantom.

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Long time community members have very highly tuned BS detectors in my experience. Please flag as you see fit! :triangular_flag_on_post:

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In the philosophy of existentialism, bad faith ( mauvaise foi ) is the psychological phenomenon whereby individuals act inauthentically, by yielding to the external pressures of society to adopt false values and disown their innate freedom as sentient human beings.[1]

Be authentic.

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But do you allow French waiters in here?

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