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Standards of Civility

OT Civility Standards

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#41 Ro-Astarte


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Posted 15 May 2003 - 08:32 PM

I'm inclined to think this thread in itself should be moved and pinned in the HP&CE once we're done discussing (primarily anyway). I don't want to lock it, because there may be new points of discussion as we continue to grow.

Rather than a formal set of "rules", I think the community reinforcing its own standards (with the occasional nudge from a mod) is going to be far more effective in the long run.

What do you all think?


#42 Kevin Street

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Posted 15 May 2003 - 11:27 PM

Okay, at Ro's suggestion, I'm moving this thread to HP&CE where it can be pinned and whatnot.

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#43 Peridot


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Posted 20 May 2003 - 06:12 AM

I'm glad this thread was started---I think  it's something we can all think about, and maybe even come back to from time to time.

To be honest,  it seems to me that when we are discussing topics of strong emotional content, we need, if anything, not less courtesy and self-control, but more.

I f the moderating/administrating team want to make allowances to some degree on "Hot Topic " threads, in terms of handing out consequences,  I don't object to that  per se.  But I think it's important that we don't make those allowances for ourselves.  I think it's vital that we don't proceed into a topic assuming that it will "okay" if we "get a little carried away".  (Note: I'm not quoting any other board member there, just using a typical phrase.)

It's not just that it makes things unpleasant.  It's that as soon as the conversation starts to get personal, or insulting comments come into play, it actually stops being a discussion of the stated topic., and becomes something else instead.

It's too easy to forget that even when the mods don't hand out consequences for people getting out of line, due to nature of topic, there are still other negative consequences that can occur.  A good discussion may be disrupted, there may be hurt and angry feelings evoked, and board members' confidence in whether they can bring up topics that interest them may be compromised.

And how to avoid this? Well, in general I try to avoid being overly parental on the board, both because I have enough parenting to do elsewhere  :wacko:  , and since I think it would be, well,  kind of a pain. :sleeping:

But occasionally, my experience as a parent yields something relevant  (in this case, information) to a topic at hand.  One of the things that a good discussion has in common with some styles of good parenting is the use of a lot of what are called "I-messages"; as in, "I see the snacks weren't put away", instead of "You left a mess", or "You were messy".

This is, IMO, a good thing to keep in mind in a volatile discussion; when you're using primarily "I-messages" and focusing on making clear your own opinion, it's just a lot harder to wind up insulting someone or trolling them.

And use of  I-messages doesn't mean you have to state your own beliefs in a wimpy way.  For instance: "I totally support.....",  "I believe absolutely.....",  and  "I couldn't be more opposed to....." are all quite strong statements of position.  Yet while they state a viewpoint strongly, they don't set up a situation of personal attack.

What Rhys said (about the differences in reading others' posts and writing our own posts) reminded me of something I read years ago in the State of Michigan's driver's handbook on rules and laws of driving:

"The right of way is something to give, not take."

It's stayed with me all these years, because it really made me stop and think.  Taking that approach is meant to help avoid costly and dangerous collisions; it's meant to help make intersections work.

And I think that likewise, one of the ways we can make intense discussions work in this forum---or elsewhere---is by giving others a little leeway, without taking, or demanding, too much latitude for ourselves.  So often what makes the difference between a good discussion and a dissing session is not the basic points made, but how we choose to say them.

And Lil----I didn't think you were babbling at all.  I thought you made a great deal of sense.


#44 Orpheus


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Posted 25 May 2003 - 09:22 AM

I am reminded if the Straight Dope BBS, where I was a regular many years ago. It had (and as far as I know, has) a great deal of civility. and since The Straight Dope is a column that explores and often debunks obscure, commonly puzzling but rarely asked, or simply weird, topics, it had intrinsically high standards for backing up one's statements, which many otherwise bright people simply couldn't wrap their heads around for long. Many things that would be conclusive evidence elsewhere, don't pass muster with real seekers of truth [1]

They also had a forum call the BBQ Pit, where one would go to flame, kvetch, castigate, or begin topics that might lead to flames.  I won't try to describe it, except to say that, while I have no interest in flamage, it actually turned out mostly be a very entertaining place to visit. It was a place where we could direct the offensive, with "no holds barred" (aside from basic issues of legality). Further, flames were judged by the other readers for their artistic merit as flamage Other, cooler minds would feel free to "respond in kind and elegantly strip the flesh from lowbrow's bones with a wit and creativity. It was one of the few forums that actually welcomed idiots - more meat for the BBQ.  

So, if you chose to be a jerk, rather than getting the kind of emotional rise that fuels a certain type of infantile ego, you'd be redirected to The Pit, where troll orgies could thrive, if they could meet the standards, and the  mentally deficient could be removed from the genepool and reincarnated as lunch.  

I seem to recall that there was relatively little rancor on the SD-BBS, even after ca. 10 years of heated discussion (possibly much longer  -- it started as an AOL board that may have predated the WWW), but as I said I was never much interested in flamage, so I probably avoided the worst threads, anyway

I'm not saying we need that. It's just something to keep in mind -- and maybe a nice BBS to check out for your own perusal:


[1] As an example of "True Seeker" zeal: I frequented a similar group on USENET, and once cited a study that had been recounted to my med school class by an undeniable World Experts in the field. A true seeker privately emailed me, and asked for a citation. I spoke to the World Expert, and got confirmation. The True Seeker persisted, wanting a citation. Neither several computer searches of the midical literature or the expert was unable to provide any citation, or even any hints or leads.  

I continued to search for the study, from time to time, because it would've had undeniable charm as a cocktail party story, but that charm is undoubtedly what made it an Expert's Urban Legend -- a legend that thrived solely among the very physicians and cancer researchers who would otherwise be the "last word" on the subject. I know the Great Expert continued to teach and believe it, to his grave. I've talked to other Experts who'd heard of it (possibly from the World Expert) but I'm now comfortable that no such study existed.

#45 Orpheus


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Posted 25 May 2003 - 09:54 AM

OOPS!  I did a quick read for old time's sake after posting the above. Things changed a bit more than I had gathered from merely reading the linked threads  friends sometiimes e-mail me.

Apparently there has been a serious restructuring since I was a regular.  The BBQ Pit is now not just the place you go to flame or fight, but also the forum for questions and queries to the Admins. Interesting!

And, as it turns out, they've recently stickied a thread much like this one debating the 'rules'. Odd.

Edited by Orpheus, 25 May 2003 - 10:09 AM.

#46 Kosh


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Posted 19 June 2003 - 04:25 AM

Drew, on May 15 2003, 05:26 AM, said:

Kosh, on May 15 2003, 11:51 AM, said:

TNZ was the hot topics forum at Trekbbs.

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#47 ElJay



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Posted 06 October 2003 - 11:44 AM

I think it might be time for folks to re-read this thread, given the heated debates going on in some threads.  Above all, I ask that we all try and remember there are people on the other ends of each and every post.  We may not always agree with their veiwpoints, but we do need to respect that they are entitled to their opinions.  We may not agree with what they say, but that does not give any of us license for personal attacks.  It is all well and good to state your own views and opinions, but please hold the vitriol.

Chivalry is a matter of both deeds and words.

#48 Hambil

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Posted 03 August 2004 - 09:32 PM

I was just uncivil in this thread: http://www.exisle.ne...iew=getlastpost

Do with me what you will. I throw myself on the mercy of the board.

#49 Shalamar


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Posted 03 August 2004 - 09:48 PM

Hambil, I've just PMed you about this.

We all need to remember that there are real live persons on the other end of our posts.

And not every board member is going to get along with every other member - but we must refrain from calling one another names.
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Respect for One's Self / Respect for Others / Responsibility for One's Words & Actions.

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#50 Ogami

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Posted 07 August 2004 - 08:01 AM

I was uncivil on the "Human life: quantity versus quality". I thought my joke was funny "Mandatory abortions for democrats", but I'm not other people and obviously it distracted from what others were saying on the thread itself. I will never apologize for being me, but I can always try harder to think of others.


#51 Bad Wolf

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Posted 07 August 2004 - 09:44 PM

Who you are is who you are Ogami.  What you *do* is another matter...;)

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#52 Ogami

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Posted 08 August 2004 - 08:20 AM

:angel:  It is my intent not to be boring. No other promises.  :devil:

#53 Godeskian


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Posted 09 August 2004 - 02:10 PM

In that you succeed, i'll grant you that ;)

Edited by Cyberhippie, 09 August 2004 - 02:10 PM.

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#54 Heropa


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Posted 27 January 2005 - 04:13 AM

"The only thing that comes to mind is to remind people that they shouldn't confuse their ego with their opinions. However, this board seems to have a lot of people who know that already, it's nothing like the carnage I've seen in other places. "

Yes, I have seen some major internal destruction of group sites. Usually the snipes spin out of control before the mod (one person) can call it off and it's bad enough to spread to all of the subjects. Part of what keeps this group going is having more than two heads looking out for disruptions.

The thing that becomes problematic is that, too often, offense is met with offense even when accidental. (sometimes both sides) This can result as an overstepping of rights, bullying or even assault in the physical world. For example, being offended at another's sexual orientation isn't grounds for assault, even verbally. Questions about your sanity don't require a responce when it's not the subject. The list goes on.

When it comes to the continuance of groups the ability to know when you escalate a problem has become it's own problem. I've seen several web groups where people don't see that personal attacks are being replied to with their own personal attacks. Here we have a posted rule about it that should be enforced smoothly to all. Weather or not you like or agree with the reply the rule is more important. In groups that enforce the rules evenly the fights are short and snipped. Everyone gets told why and all are happy again. Even the chastised can (or should) rest in knowing others will get equal treatment.

Being right is in doing right not winning. We've got to remember that. See where we can improve our thinking instead of defending only what we know. That's where thing break down in "heated topics" like politics. (ick)

One of the reasons I don't like to talk politics is that sooner or later somebody will get SO wrapped up in "I'm right" that they don't even see when a subject they agree on comes up. It no longer is a conversation or even a debate. The listening has stopped. It's far from a chat. Even in football you can agree that the team you hate has a good play when you see it. And your own co-fans will take you down a notch for glossing over a flagrant foul. Try that in a partisan bar.

Not that issue politics (like abortion) are the bigger friction but party politics make it easy to offend. Another action that gets the same result is the "win/loose" attitude. Also known as gloating and whining. All parties do it.  It's hard to get through anything political without somebody identifying themself with the politition's outcome. The only way WE win in any election is to vote. Better to just talk about something else.
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