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Old 09-18-2010, 09:27 AM
bjkeefe bjkeefe is offline
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Not Real America, according to St. SaŽah
Posts: 21,798
Default Re: What is this thread about?

Originally Posted by Simon Willard View Post
This thread has degenerated - it's not about whether we will have free speech in the forum or how to craft a useful comment. What you guys are talking about are your precious on-line identities.

Yes, 'fur was egged on. Yes, he stepped out of bounds. If he had something insightful to contribute, he could always create a new identity and post again. I mean, this is the Internet, and no one knows I'm a dog. Heck, how do we know that 'fur wasn't really just Bloggin' Noggin blowing off steam?

This looks increasingly like a big game where commenters want to know the rules so they can better score points against other commenters to win some imagined contest. That's not exactly what BH management wants to see attached to a diavlog.

Here's my bottom line: Good job, Brenda.
I was going to say I agreed with everything you wrote up until the last three words, but on second thought, I won't go quite that far. So, before I get to my major point, let me air a couple of quibbles.

First, it is not true that someone "could always create a new identity and post again." At least not easily. It is quite a trick to be a good actor, to be able to play a role that is fundamentally different from your self, and to be able to be convincing at it. This is especially so when you have to express yourself in text, particularly if you've got an established canon, and particularly when those familiar with what you have earlier written are good readers -- able to read critically and for context, to discern tone and style, and so forth. I am not just talking about habitual misspellings; I also have in mind sentence length, paragraph structure, word and idiom choices, patterns of phrasing, and the attitudes that leak out among these.

And even more to the point, in the example you give, it would be well-nigh impossible to pull off. I could maybe stipulate that BN is smart enough to be able to present another persona that could fool people, one that is wholly at odds with his personality, sensitivity, outlook, manners, and intelligence, but it beggars belief to think that he could keep this up for thousands of posts, let alone that he would ever want to. I don't want to argue your example too much, as I expect it was just hyperbole to make a point, but the fact remains that while it might be the case that no one knows you're a dog on the Internet, you cannot so nearly as easily present yourself as a different dog for any length of time. Especially if you have unambiguously been a snarling cur for years.

Which brings me to my second minor point.

I am not going to go on at length about this, but just for the record, I do not share your view that "'fur was egged on" and that he (merely) "stepped out of bounds." While over the years he has occasionally made substantive points, these have by far been the exception, and it has been even more rare that he has even been able to put one of those up without some sort of wholly uncalled-for nastiness also included. While I will agree that he has been subject to derision from other commenters, myself included, this did not come about because he was expressing views of a different political persuasion or philosophical outlook. From the get-go, he has been unable to deal with disagreement, or the political environment writ large, except by hurling insults, and of the most tiresome, bigoted, and juvenile nature at that. He has been consciously and purposefully offensive in the overwhelming majority of his posts. He has even extended this habit to emails, PMs, and comments posted on other sites. Further, it is beyond reason to expect that everyone else would just let him get away with his antics without eventually being moved to react. It is the worst sort of cluelessness, or spinelessness, to trot out the old "there's blame to go around" canard. The problem here has one single solitary root cause -- 'fur's persistent behavior -- and that's the end of it.

And now to the main point, why I thoroughly disagree with your last three words.

I have spent a fair amount of time in quite a few other forums, as a participant and as a lurker, and I can tell you that without exception, in any forum where there is going to be vigorous dispute, you cannot run things the way Bh.tv has. It simply does not work. And to take one problem in particular: If you try to draw up comprehensive guidelines, there is inevitably going to be a small number of people who will see these only as something to game. As you yourself have noted.

The way to run a forum where you want vigorous debate is to think of it as a garden. In order for the garden to thrive, you have to weed and you have to prune, and you have to do these things in an ongoing fashion. You have to just get in there and get rid of those little bits of bad stuff, on a regular basis, and not make a big deal about it. Further, if you neglect these tasks, things run riot, and you will one day wake up to discover that you're really going to have to put on the work gloves and get out the heavy equipment.

It was nice of Bh.tv management (I will say that Bob owns at least as much of the responsibility as Brenda does) to think at the beginning that they could try appealing to people's better angels, and then later, to think that they could solicit input from the community to develop by committee some sort of guidelines. But this, from the get-go, was naive. Such an approach only works with 90-some-odd percent of any population, especially as the size of the population grows. And when you add in permission for people to post under pseudonyms, you further make certain that you will inevitably attract a few poor slobs who have nothing better to do with their lives than to try to ruin things for everybody else. Or, to take a twisted pleasure in seeing how much they can provoke. Or, to see how much they can get away with, how many buttons and boundaries they can push, before getting disciplined. Or, to give vent to resentments because they have no other outlets in their lives. Or who knows why.

Far worse than Bh.tv's management's naivety, however, has been the pigheadedness of persisting in their beliefs, in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary. We've had a whole slew of policies and procedures, we've had Commenters' Courts, we've had monovlogs, we've had numerous threads devoted to meta, and the fact remains: none of it has worked for any significant length of time. By contrast, what has worked, at least for a while, is getting rid of the current prime troublemaker, or at least, giving him (it's always been guys, so far) a timeout.

What has also worked, on another level, is the decision to suppress certain comments from appearing on the video page. Note that in this case there hasn't been all manner of hand-wringing, attempts at clarification, fetishizing about appearances of Balance and Fairness, publishing of attempts at comprehensive rulesets, etc. It's just been a swift, no muss, no fuss suppression of a very small number of comments, at the discretion of management, and that has sufficed. It has to be done every so often, but there has never been a chronic problem with people repeatedly trying to get early posts into a diavlog thread, just to say nasty shit about the diavloggers. Nor has there ever been more than a momentary peep of protest from anyone about this.

I claim from this observation, from my observations of other forums, and from my readings of advice given by those who have managed some of those forums, that if Bh.tv management were to adopt in general the same mindset as they have about early comments in diavlog threads, this site wouldn't be in the state that it's in. Comments that are only nastiness, particularly those that are of a highly vicious, personal, and/or bigoted nature, should just be deleted. Those who make a habit of posting such comments should be spoken to, once, via PM or email. If they persist past that, they should lose their posting privileges, first for a short time, second for a longer time, and third, permanently. It's not really that hard to deal with a bad apple, and Bh.tv should not let it be. It is also not that hard to accept that bad apples exist and simply cannot be dealt with as though they are part of the normal harvest, and Bh.tv management should wrap their minds around this, too.

Finally, I am sure that you or look or someone else is just itching to hammer out WHAT ABOUT YOU, BJKEEFE???1? Do so if you must, but I will point out that I have been away for a month, and I don't have the impression that my absence has led to the blooming of a bed of roses.

Beg your pardon for beating on a metaphor.

Last edited by bjkeefe; 09-18-2010 at 10:04 AM.. Reason: minor wordsmithing
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