By all means, discuss our comments policy in this thread

But only in this thread, please.

Some complaints have been made about double standards in the application of our comments policy, to whit: that bloggers here “chosen to not respect NWBY’s right to disagree and she has descended to obnoxious or vexatious remarks, yet demands that NWBY has a higher standard.”

To me, Lauredhel’s remarks did not seem either obnoxious or vexatious. Blunt and dismissive? Yes. Telling NWBY that she didn’t give a damn about his opinions? It’s not telling him that he doesn’t have a right to disagree, just that she doesn’t care whether he does or not. There’s a nuance there, and this blog is rather fond of nuance.

As to the bluntness being called obnoxious, this may partly be a cultural difference: we’re Aussies, and for Aussies blunt speaking that includes the occasional profanity does not constitute an obnoxious or vexatious remark. We’re also feminists, so offensive stereotypes do constitute obnoxious/vexatious remarks. This is all laid out in the Fine Print section of our Comments Policy.

We’re not unwilling to examine our commenting guidelines in principle, but the thread in question is not going to be derailed by this debate.



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58 replies

  1. blunt speaking that includes the occasional profanity does not constitute an obnoxious or vexatious remark. We’re also feminists, so offensive stereotypes do constitute obnoxious/vexatious remarks.
    I think that’s where the hang up was for the commentors who were saying “OMG hypocrites!” They thought it was insulting to be called out on their homophobic remarks and to be sworn at.
    IMO, swearing is a lot less offensive than homophobic and sexist comments and their comments came off as “omg you said a naughty word! You hurt my feelings.” And if they didn’t want to be accused of making homophobic remarks, they shouldn’t have made the damned remarks to begin with. There are ways to talk about what clothes you wish you could wear other than implying “people will think I’m gay and that is BAD.”

  2. Moderator note: This comment has been ported from the original thread:

    Hi,
    I came across your blog while doing a Google search to figure out why there is such a ridiculous difference between the men’s and women’s beach volleyball outfits. It does seem that the popularity of summer Olympic sports is related to the amount of clothing worn. (Though, badminton and fencing have surprisingly high ratings this year.)
    However, I got sucked into the disagreements that have occurred here with “Cam” and “Name Withheld….” What is interesting about these disagreements is how they have illustrated a form of hypocrisy that relates to the thread topic.
    A brief analysis:
    Cam posted comments that were thoughtlessly worded and were seemingly tangentially related to the topic. Truthfully, he raised an interesting point as Audrey observed and commented upon. Ultimately, the question that he is asking is why are women encouraged to wear revealing outfits and men are discouraged to do so? To say that the latter point is the only point that matters is a bit myopic as both points are strongly interrelated. As Audrey mentions this is a interesting concept that is perhaps best addressed in another thread.
    Lauredhel then disagreed, but I believe may have missed Audrey’s main point. More on this in a moment.
    Next, NWBY came in and made, again, a comment with very poorly chosen words. Regardless, what he said did relate to the tangential topic.
    Then, Lauredhel told him to read the commenting rules and then used abusive language toward him. To quote the commenting rules: “We expect our commentors to respect others’ right to disagree in principle, without descending to obnoxious or vexatious remarks.”
    This is the hypocrisy that is interesting. Lauredhel has chosen to not respect NWBY’s right to disagree and she has descended to obnoxious or vexatious remarks, yet demands that NWBY has a higher standard.
    For the beach volleyball I found out that the women do have the option of wearing a one-piece suit and not the bikinis. So while the option of wearing something more modest exists, this option has not been taken. And where the option of having a reasoned discussion on this topic exists, this option has also not been taken. Women and men in the Olympics are not being held to the same standards, and it appears the same holds true here.
    Perhaps this is a good opportunity to look at how everyone, including one’s self, approach others with pre-conceived notions. NWBY illustrated a knee-jerk reaction when he invoked the trope “manhater.” Similarly, Cam’s comments elicited a similar knee-jerk reaction of saying he has a “homophobic panic.”
    Patience and tolerance are the core of equality, and it is a shame that these are lacking here.

  3. Cam’s comments elicited a similar knee-jerk reaction of saying he has a “homophobic panic.”
    IMO it wasn’t a knee-jerk reaction so much as one based on the content of his comments, which repeatedly referenced his (heterosexual) sexuality being questioned as if that were OMGBAD. The logical implication there is that being thought to be gay is bad, which actually is a homophobic attitude.
    Pizza Diavolas last blog post..Unintentional Hilarity

  4. I think that’s where the hang up was for the commentors who were saying “OMG hypocrites!” They thought it was insulting to be called out on their homophobic remarks and to be sworn at.

    And the harshest example of being sworn at was simply “I don’t give a damn” as well! Sorry, but being oh-so-offended by that is fainting couch territory.

    And if they didn’t want to be accused of making homophobic remarks, they shouldn’t have made the damned remarks to begin with.

    Yup, pointing out that a remark including an offensive stereotype is [foo]-ist or [foo]-phobic is not an insult.

  5. In an LJ link in one of Lauredhel’s comments, someone says none of the women wear the one piece option because sand gets caught in it and it is thus impractical.
    Cam (who has been around the blogoshpere a long time and I like) has posted at his own blog so ample opportunity exists for discussion of his issues.
    So yeah I snarked — but snark is an internet tradition as I am sure you are all aware.

  6. Thanks for the link re the volleyball outfits, Amanda. Since that sentence of Mike’s comment is actually directly on topic for the original thread, I should re-insert that sentence into his comment that I truncated there.
    ETA: actually, that link appears to be to one of the Girl-Wonder forums – [link].

  7. Wow. This has been an excellent demonstration of privilege.
    We were talking about an issue that oppresses women. Cam noticed that there is a vaguely related issue that affects men to a gargantuanly smaller degree. He immediately took the WATM attitude that the man’s issue is far more important and it is our job as women to give it all our attention, and then maybe we can attend to our own issues later once we’ve fixed the man’s issues. See “What About the Men?” on the Finally Feminism 101 blog for information about how this is constantly used to intercept feminist discussion and how very sick of it we are. He then iced up that cake with a homophobic remark.
    Hardly surprisingly, we were offended. NWBR saw the original post, and couldn’t imagine for a second that it wasn’t about him. Good grief. I know that men constantly get messages telling them that women exist to fulfill their sexual needs. But sweet leaping Jesus, he sees women complaining about sexual objectification and he can’t even believe for a second that this isn’t about his own sexual arousal? Even going so far as to claim that any time a discussion about sexual objectification exists, it impedes on his own sexual needs and amounts to an accusation of him being “a horrible person,” and makes us “man-haters.” How egomaniacal does one have to be to come to such a conclusion?
    A mod brings him to the shocking realization that the conversation is not about him or his sexual arousal, and the even more horrifying illumination that she doesn’t even care about his sexual arousal. He responds with a substance-free response that amounts to “I know you are, but what am I?”
    Then Mike comes along and chimes in with the notion that wrenching away the focus on NWBR’s sexual arousal, and foiling attempts to take discussion away from a woman’s issue was “obnoxious and vexatious.” The claim that his right to disagree was not respected is fascinating. He never even mentioned the issue. All he did was insist that it was all about his sexual arousal and then get upset when someone told him that we don’t even care about what arouses him. He didn’t disagree, because he never even touched the actual topic.
    Then we got an interesting logical fallacy where Mike took the word “tolerance” and made an inference through extended meaning. Feminists and other egalitarians talk about “tolerance,” meaning that one should not discriminate against people based on their sex, gender, race, sexuality, etc. He then noticed that we were not “tolerant” of interceptions to feminist discussion, homophobic remarks, and offensive accusations. Thereby, he claims that we were hypocritical. This particular logical fallacy is called “equivocation.”
    As a yellow belt feminist, this was an enlightening display for me. I’m sure a black belt feminist could write a whole book on the dynamics of this conversation.

  8. Yes, there’s a lot to unpack there, lala. I’ll be interested to see if Mike or any other complainant is actually willing to discuss it on a thread where it won’t be a derail of the original topic.
    Amanda:

    So yeah I snarked — but snark is an internet tradition as I am sure you are all aware.

    Actually, I should probably add a line to the Comments Policy Fine Print about how snark directed at the content of someone’s post/comment is indeed a fine internet tradition that we have no intention of throttling – it’s just any snark directed at the person themselves that is objectionable.
    Edited to add: Actually, I added it to the relevant portion of the Comments Policy Summary, which now reads:

    We expect our commentors to respect others’ right to disagree in principle, without descending to obnoxious or vexatious characterisations of others
    (N.B. snark directed at the content of someone’s post/comment is a fine internet tradition that we have no intention of throttling – it’s just any snark directed at the person themselves that is objectionable)

  9. There was a post, and a thread about the double standards of dress, and the marketing of sex in sports – the fact that world class athletes are spoken of as girls and are lauded as being objects of lust over and above being recognised and discussed as fine athletes…
    Then there was a dude who decided to tell the feminists how they had it all wrong, how they *should* think were they reasonable human beings (that nearly nekkid = liberation), then another who decided to try on the old *Man haters, I KNOW you hates me cos I’m a heterosexual man, and what you hates is my *desire*…but I get hot over athletes, does that make me bad? Does it?? Does it??? Yeah, you know it does, you hate me for it*
    In context “I don’t give a damn what gives you a woody” is an entirely appropriate response, meaning just that…as in, get over it dude, what you find hot is not the point, and you tried to make it the point so shut it and make an actual point or go home.
    The words of those two were not “poorly chosen”, like “Oops, what I meant to say was I don’t know if I agree, though I respect your opinion, however my reasons for disagreement are threefold, but what I said was MAN HATERS!!! MAN HATERS!!! Go get me the shotgun!!! There’s nothing worse than a bunch of uptight man haters”. Both commentors have full grasp of their vocabularies, their self expression, and their ideas and expressed their sentiments of aggravating disdain and intolerance of the ideas expressed in the thread quite clearly, quite aggressively, and really, rudely and “same old same old bang my head on the desk I’ve heard this crap a million times” style.
    “Patience and tolerance are the core of equality”…really? Says who now? Patience with men telling women they’re wrong, stupid and hateful every time they object to objectification? Patience with men thinking we need them to tell us how to think/argue/discuss/exist? Patience with misogyny in the media? Tolerance of this? Tolerance as in accepting it without challenge? Or making sure that rude aggression is met with gentle coddling patience and tolerance lest we be branded rude women?
    Because my views as a feminist meet with very little patience or tolerance…they are mocked on an everyday basis, most often in the age old tradition of men simply shaking their heads and dismissing my points entirely because they “don’t see it that way”, therefore, I am *wrong*. Frustration, anger and an ability to say “No, you won’t hijack this space in order to make the same old boring, ridiculous statements (ie, the menz know better, you feminists hate men, hate sex, hate fun, hate desire, hate the penis and wants to rip it off)” is crucial to preservign a space where feminist ideas and issues can be discussed properly…the rest of the world is available for individuals to mock and deride feminism and feminists if they so choose, they don’t need coddling in this space…is my take on things anyhoo.

  10. And…the discrepancy in the welcome or otherwise of a particular comment or opinion Mike isn’t based on whether it comes from a man or a woman as you seem to suggest with: Women and men in the Olympics are not being held to the same standards, and it appears the same holds true here.
    Many of the monikers on here are asexual, so presumably there a mix of men and women, and there are regular and less regular commentors who are men…the discrepancy in response is not about gender, it’s about the arsehole factor. To assume that the only men who are on here are those that get recognised as arseholish (or that only men do get recognised as such) is both patently untrue if you look back through the threads, and further is to suggest that only women care about and are respectful about feminist discussions, and that men do not…I’m sure you wouldn’t want to imply that.

  11. Oh dear. Late to the party again, and missed the storm on the original post.
    I’m not sure what the poor petals think they have to complain about, to be honest. There’s no getting around the media bias toward the “girls” as was shown so obviously in the original photo, and no amount of blathering about choice / what the girls really want / my libido / what about meeeeee can take anything away from that.
    I also don’t think the moderators did anything particularly fascist here – you were just lucky (?) enough to get a particularly dim-witted species of commenter (personally, I’d be thankful that the “lol your fat” crowd didn’t come over via Shakesville!). Frankly, I can’t blame anyone for being blunt or dismissive. That’s the standard of moderation that keeps lurking menz like me coming back. More, please.

  12. Women and men in the Olympics are not being held to the same standards, and it appears the same holds true here.
    The whininess in that is something special. It takes a really self-centered mindset to take a post about how sexism hurts women and turn it into “men are oppressed by women on this blog!”
    Pizza Diavolas last blog post..Unintentional Hilarity

  13. I was going to write something, but you’ve said it all above, so I’ll just point up and say “What they said”.
    It’s revealing to note the number of “dissenters” on spin-off metathreads compared to the number on the original threads. I guess it’s all just not as much fun once you’re not interrupting someone else’s conversation.

  14. Hi,
    It’s great that you opened a new thread to discuss this topic. Obviously I find it interesting, and though you might not get the same huge response as with the original post, you’re up to nearly 100 comments on this metatopic. That’s not too shabby at all.
    So where to start? How about patience and tolerance–a term on which there was no equivocation. When one expresses a laudable ideology that is met with derision then the only way to succeed is through patience and dedication to one’s goal. If you believe that the problem with the world is X, and the people who have X characteristics are the problem, then the last thing you do is dismiss or deride them.
    Cam doesn’t necessarily know how to communicate with you–obviously I don’t either. But he was trying to contribute to the conversation in his own way. So, it’s not unlikely that someone who isn’t well-versed in your subject is going to bring it into their wheelhouse. In this case he went with, “Men also have it bad in a similar way.” Well, sure, they don’t, but his point about the inequality of perception wasn’t necessarily something to dismiss as demonstrated by the strong response. (If you find something elicits such a strong response, it is probably worth investigating.)
    The most effective way to handle someone like Cam or NWBR is help them understand why they’re wrong and not to dismiss them outright with crass comments. The response that NWBR got is likely to enforce his wrong-minded opinion that you are “manhaters.” And in the case of Cam, if he really is experiencing homophobic thoughts, then you’ve not benefitted him at all by, in essence, implying that he might be gay.
    The fact that you are able to read the subtext in their comments puts you a few steps ahead of these folks. Take advantage of that rather than pushing them away so quickly.
    Now, I imagine that a response I’m going to get is that this is yet another example of priviledge, and that I am telling you what to do as women. I say this based on the responses I’ve already gotten. The truth is, I firmly want people to not only be cultural equals, but to feel like social equals. But if you are the minority who has an important point to make then you need to express it in a way that draws the majority to your side. You need to help them understand it because you are the one with knowledge and passion.
    An aside that relates (I think): I grew up in a part of America that is extremely racially tolerant. As a kid there was very little mention of someone’s race, nor did race enter into one’s mindset. However, I’ve since moved from there to a few different parts of America where racism is pervasive in both subtle and overt forms. A problem I see quite often is that the various folks aren’t willing to reach out to each other. They complain about the problem, but only to each other. That’s never going to solve this. They need to speak to each other and be tolerant and patient with the other person’s wrong-minded views in the hopes of changing them.
    And it’s tough to do.

  15. The most effective way to handle someone like Cam or NWBR is help them understand why they’re wrong and not to dismiss them outright with crass comments.

    That’s assuming that they’re not trolls, which as I know Cam (a little) from blogging over the last few years I can be pretty sure of, but I’m not at all so convinced regarding NWBR. And in the case of NWBR, he came right out of the gate with crass comments, so if he gets some back that’s only to be expected.
    Cam certainly did not get any crass comments initially, just disagreement expressed quite reasonably, yet still came back not merely with continuing to press his point but then arguing that our point was also wrong wrongitty wrong. That’s when things got testy.

    The response that NWBR got is likely to enforce his wrong-minded opinion that you are “manhaters.”

    See above.

    And in the case of Cam, if he really is experiencing homophobic thoughts, then you’ve not benefitted him at all by, in essence, implying that he might be gay.

    Nobody did any such thing – that’s not what “homosexual panic” means, and Cam is sufficiently erudite that I’m fully sure that he knows that’s not what the phrase means. The phrase was used hyperbolically in any case (and perhaps unwisely, when considering that attacks on gays mean that being perceived as gay is genuinely something to be apprehensive about), but the phrase has never necessarily/only meant a panic over one’s own gay desires.

  16. I don’t remember anyone suggesting Cam was gay, but I do recall them saying that his concern at someone possibly thinking he was gay was the issue – the whole homophobic panic thing, OMG someone might think I’m gay. Although, under certain circumstances,eg OMG STIG and is going to beat the daylights out of me, understandable.

  17. Shorter Mike: You’re doing feminism wrong, you should watch your tone, you should be nicer to sexists and more tolerant of their view, it’s your job to educate everyone on feminism (now do it), you’re too angry, you give feminists a bad name, I’m an equalist, and a bonus side serve of gratuitous colourblindness-waving and an implication of I’m-the-most-objective-one-here.
    Mike, did you read the Antifeminist Bingo threads I linked to? Do you know what Fresh!Manly!Wisdom! is?
    And, most importantly, have you thought about why exactly you think it is feminists’ job to tiptoe around others and cater to their every emotional demand, and not the other way around?

  18. P.S. to Mike – as Lauredhel notes, you are coming across as heavily patronising. Lauredhel and I are both veterans of 90s USENet newsgroups (and even older BBs) – consider that perhaps our way of conducting discussions has a long history of interaction in online forums of various types behind it.
    That doesn’t mean that we will be always right, of course. We’re just as capable of losing our cool counter-productively as the next old ‘netter (although we do try not to), and as I expect you are, however long you have been online.
    What it does mean however is that perhaps you might not know as much more than we do as you think you do.

  19. Re the ‘homosexual panic’.
    I must admit I was surprised that Cam was blasted a few times for that. I didn’t interpret that to be his meaning at all. It is perfectly reasonable to point out that wearing particular clothing might lead to other people assuming you’re gay, and to be concerned by that. Because apart from the risk of being attacked physically for it, the assumption itself is homophobic.
    This is where Cam’s points sort of extrapolated further for me. If gay men are only allowed to dress in a certain way, and straight men doing so makes them gay, then by proxy the people thinking it makes them gay are expressing homophobic views. It doesn’t necessarily follow that Cam cares whether or not people think HE’S gay. It could be that he cares that there are two perceived ways in which men are allowed to dress – straight and ‘faggy’*.
    *I use this word to tap into the homophobia that people who think this assume.
    Similarly, I personally feel that Mike has a point. When you exist in the minority, it’s a simple fact that it’s often up to you to try and draw people into your viewpoint. Because 9 times out of 10, they won’t bother to do it themselves.
    I admit that I do think commentor response here (not just from mods) to well intentioned but ignorant comments can sometimes seem a little like ganging up. I don’t feel like that’s the most effective way to respond when people are genuinely sorting things out in their heads but coming from misguided positions – but that’s just my personal choice. Ultimately, this is the hoydens’ blog so they can do it how they like 🙂

  20. I admit that I do think commentor response here (not just from mods) to well intentioned but ignorant comments can sometimes seem a little like ganging up. I don’t feel like that’s the most effective way to respond when people are genuinely sorting things out in their heads but coming from misguided positions – but that’s just my personal choice. Ultimately, this is the hoydens’ blog so they can do it how they like 🙂

    Ausdrey, I can see this does happen at times, sometimes with less justification than others, and I think it can be a common pitfall on communities with a core of regulars. People get twitchy and a little too fast off the blocks, perhaps.
    Of course it’s appreciated that regulars are willing to defend the values of the blog, but it is important to not jump in too fast with the snark of righteousness. Also, the snark is often of better quality when there’s absolutely no doubt that the poster in question deserves it.
    Over at Finally A Feminism 101 Blog, I asked commentors to abide by a 3 comment rule with new commentors displaying ignorant behaviour a while ago, and I have perhaps lost some sight of it (although I still have no regrets of NWBR) –

    PZ Myers was alerting his commentors to brace for an influx of creationist debaters following a particular story getting picked up by both Digg and Reddit, and he reminded them of his 3-comment rule for dealing with newbie debating opponents.
    Don’t attack without mercy until they’ve made stupid claims in at least 3 separate comments.
    PZ recommended this to his readers when he found that the regulars in the comments threads were getting a bit too zealous for his taste, and the discussions were descending into vitriol spitting contests without enough leavening of actual interesting discussion.

    I am all for vigorous, unhindered language and the expression of strong opinions, and I think dumb ideas need to be dealt with harshly, but we also need to allow opportunities for those ideas to be fully expressed. Too often, the conversations are beginning to go like this:
    Stranger: I think…
    Old hand: [Pulls out six-gun, shoots stranger down]I do believe I didn’t like your accent, stranger, and you were a bit cross-eyed.

    I’m certainly seeing rather a lot of this around on some of the blogs with loyal regulars laterly: there’s a circling of the wagons going on against the newbies, whether they’re genuine antagonists or just people who aren’t au fait with the zeitgeist. As PZ says,

    if it keeps up all we’re going to have left are the twitchiest, most psychopathic contributors.

    So what do you think? Would regular feminist commentors voluntarily imposing on themselves a 3-comment rule before handing the newbie his scalp perhaps improve the tone in a few places?
    I rather like PZ’s vision for how the conversation would progress in this envisaged new order:

    Stranger:1I think all women are chattel.
    Old hand: Pardon me, friend, but are you using humor, irony, sarcasm, or satire? Are you perhaps about to expand on a deeper philosophical point?
    Stranger: 2No, I just think women are meant to serve my needs.
    Old hand: This sounds like a most unfortunate and disagreeable belief. Why should you hold such a demeaning attitude?
    Stranger: 3Because the Bible, which is the literal word of God, tells me so.
    Old hand: [Smashes whiskey bottle over stranger’s head. General brawl commences.]
    See? Isn’t that much better? You can still have your fun in the general melee, but let’s just slow the onset down a little, hold fire for a few minutes, and see if we can get a few words through the macho murk first.

    I think it may be time to remind us all here at Hoyden that this is a good idea for this blog as well.

  21. Tigtog, I think you’ve hit the nail on the head. It doesn’t behoove anyone to help create an environment in which new people unsure of their ideas are frightened to enter. What’s the purpose in that? Seems to go entirely against a lot of feminist ideals IMO.
    A 3 comment policy also takes into account the breakdown in translation that can occur online when trying to transmit nuance, tone and sarcasm.
    I vote yes!

  22. {This is a bit long, sorry.)
    The main thing about this type of situation for me is this: It seems to be very hard for some types of male-centric egos to hear that their one particular male-centric issue, whatever it may be and however valid it is, simply isn’t what we’re talking about right now. It’s hobbyhorsing. Yet they insist over and over and over on butting in and trying to turn female-centred feminist topics into male-centred discussions, instead of discussing or listening to the topic at hand.
    Feminists offer plenty of guidance, including the feminists at Hoyden – tigtog’s labour over the FF101 blog is legendary! – yet some people still insist that their discussions must be provided in the exact spaces and ways that they specify, and they get really upset over any resistance to that. I feel this upset is unwarranted. They demand the “benefit of the doubt”, they insist that they be coddled, but that benefit is a one-way street. They want everyone else to do the work. Specifically, they want women to do the emotional work, probably because this is the pattern they’ve fallen into their entire lives.
    The “You have to be nice to me, or I won’t be a feminist so ner!” hostage tactic? I find that deplorable and offensive. Everyone has their triggers, and this is one of mine. People who throw this attitude about have no intention of working on becoming more feminist. They are just enjoying the sound of their own voice, and revelling in being their centre of their world and playing at their attempts at emotional manipulation. It’s another manifestation of the “now look what you made me do” phenomenon. Feminism is a system of thinking, a way of life, a civil rights movements. If one annoyed person (or two, or three) are going to turn you off that, you never intended to go there in the first place.
    As those of you who’ve been following the femiblogosphere over the past year or so know, some white women have been throwing the same tactic at women of colour in supposedly feminist/womanist spaces, and it gets exactly the contempt it deserves. Gender operates differently, but I do see a parallel in this particular dynamic.
    Does that make it a bit clearer where I’m coming from?
    (As an aside, the couple of times the “Lauredhel’s unreasonably angry” thing has come up, I’ve gone back over the threads with a fine tooth comb – and found that the triggering post, in each case, really was exactly just as out of line as I’d thought it was. And each time, the person was quite politely offered guidance at first sight, and came back with comments far more out of line before getting any barrels of note.)

  23. There’s another issue here (well, probably more than one!) and that’s the one centring around the idea “Let the moderators do the moderating”.
    I don’t necessarily believe in this as an absolute principle. I think there is value to communities working on community norms, and there can be value in the mod feeling like there is a bit of backup and support. But there’s also a (fuzzy) line there somewhere, and perhaps one we could work on elaborating?

  24. Thank you Lauredhel, your long comment describes exactly the other side of the coin and part of the balance that needs to be struck.
    Some of the objections/demands do absolutely appear to be based on outrage that others here refuse to give them an unearned benefit of the doubt.
    Far fewer of the objections do appear to be based on a genuine sense that they have been badly misunderstood, and even in those cases I stand with Lauredhel in that an examination of the thread will normally show that their first comment at least is normally engaged with substantively without snark. Some people simply don’t take straight disagreement without sugarcoating at all well, but that’s really not our problem.
    Still, as a general rule the 3-comment guideline before engaging the blast-setting is a good idea, if for nothing other than not being too scary to lurkers tempted to join in the chat.

  25. P.S. another thought when engaging a new commentor making dodgy claims – there will always be less sensation of a pile-on from the regulars if the initial responses are short and to the point. Again, keep the really big guns until they’ve made stupid claims in at least 3 separate comments.

  26. I like the PZ Myers stuff you posted, tig.
    I’ve also noticed the sort of reactions you talk about at number 20 on other blogs in many feminist online spaces of late (OMG! Feminist backlash against anti-feminist backlash. Who’da thunk? Especially with all the Pathetic Anger Bread we have here :P).
    I concur with Audrey’s comments at 19 and 21 as well – I got the impression Cam was well-meaning but poorly phrased.
    Re: lauredhel being ‘unreasonably angry’; I find her reactions to sometimes be crankier than I would have read the situation warranting. But
    a) lauredhel is not me (and I have my own hot-button issues)
    b) this is lauredhel and tigtog’s defined space, not mine (and not any sympathy trolls’)
    and
    c) I don’t think I’ve ever actually found the crank ‘unreasonable’, I’ve just disagreed with or been surprised at the level of anger expressed. Which I guess could come down to “give me another ten or fifteen years looking at this crap and then we’ll see how cranky I am”.

  27. Anger is also very much in the eye of the beholder. What to one person seems merely to be a forthright rebuttal is taken by some others to be a declaration of scorched-earth hostilities. Disagreement is not a hostile act, it’s just disagreement.
    This goes to the fatuous “tolerance” argument offered by Mike among others – tolerance is about allowing other people space to do their own thing. Tolerance does not mean that one has to abide by another’s rules in one’s own space. I find it interesting that this argument for “tolerance” is generally advocated by those coming to someone else’s forum and castigating people who aren’t bothering to come to theirs.

  28. I know my comments can come across as condescending, and I honestly don’t want them to. But you know, this ties in with one of the biggest challenges in communicating online. In general, it is far easier to come across as an ass online because pure text lacks prosody as Audrey points out. People who are fundamentally funny (as, I believe, Lauredhel is) are oftentimes the easiest to misinterpret. A statement that a funny person writes that has a light-hearted tone in their mind can come across a vicious attack to someone who can’t perceive that tone.
    The PZ Myers’ idea is great. There’s nothing wrong with gently disagreeing, or pointing out where the fallacy is. But with someone new to your blogland you can’t necessarily communicate the same way you would with an old friend–and that’s how most commentors/bloggers speak online.
    Anyoldhoo, I have looked at the Antifeminism Bingo and, firstly, it’s great. And it is funny. The one that I imagine you’re tagging me with is, “It’s your job to teach me about feminism, now do it.” The problem, unfortunately, is that it is and always be the role of the person who has an understanding of their topic to explain it to people who don’t.
    I understand how one would find it deplorable that the people to whom they’re speaking seem to have zippy interest in learning about this. How their minds are seemingly made up from the start and, really, why should you go through the effort of re-educating them? It’s as if someone foisted a puppy on you and said, “Hey, housebreak this.”
    But these folks are like puppies and need to be treated as such. It’s unfortunate, but that’s the way it goes.
    If it makes any difference, I’ve been upsetting people in the online community with my condescending comments for -years-!

  29. I’m going to comment one last time,then take a break for an unspecified period of time.
    What I want to say is this:
    – This was an invitation by tigtog to discuss the comments policy. Instead, it has been redirected by some into a series of lectures to me about my “tone”. I see almost no discussion of the actual comments policy.
    – The person being defended here, the person who is being given the benefit of the doubt about his “careless wording”, was someone who marched in here to a woman-centred conversation and immediately, off the bat, told a bunch of feminists to their faces that “women should be pleased” that they’re treated as nothing but sex objects. When challenged, he then told us in no uncertain terms that we were wrong to take a feminist approach to the issue of women’s sport uniforms, that the mini-bikinis have nothing to do with women and their ascribed gender roles, and that in fact we should all be concentrating on men and how hard done by they are in international sport. That is it men who need to be liberated, and not women. Seriously. His problem is “careless wording”? What exactly, is it, that you think he was trying to say, and missed?
    Because I’m not getting it.
    [Addit: I went back over the thread. The first accusation of a so-called “pile on” came after cam had made three comments and comments challenging his comments numbered about half a dozen – around half of them from moderators, and in the context of a 100-post thread in which a number of other conversations were also occurring. It’s worth not relying on the retrospectoscope when post-morteming such things.]

  30. May I suggest another rule? We’re dealing with being told that we have to educate people on feminism, and tigtog has gone to great lengths to create the (legendary, as mentioned above) Finally Feminism 101. Maybe when someone is doing a WATM or “I’m a man and I agree, therefore your opinion is valid,” or anything like that, we link them to the relevant article. Leave the commentary at that until they’ve read it.
    The only problem is that I’ve tried linking a few people to that FF101 on other communities and I found that almost 100% of the time, they don’t read it. They just go on insisting that some feminist principle is wrong, and seemingly refuse to find out what that principle actually is even when I point them straight to it.
    @Mr. Mike, I’m going to be a Nice Girl now. I just want you, and others like you, to understand something. I can see how the anger and the piling on might look from your angle. What you need to understand is that we deal with this constantly (and I’m just a commenter, imagine how it is for the bloggers!). Feminist communities are constantly barraged with tactics that range from death/rape threats to sexual slurs to insistence that we discuss only men’s issues instead* to insistence that we drop everything to educate others. Maybe not all of them are tactics since some of them aren’t intentional, and are just a side-effect of privilege, but the result is the same.
    The point is that in order to keep a feminist discussion going, we have to be constantly fighting for it. The reason we are so upset and sensitive is that this is not the first time. It’s not even the seventy fifth time. There is a reason we are sensitive about it and there is a reason we have lost patience.
    * Bearing in mind that feminists already spend a lot of time discussing men’s issues. It’s simply not our main focus.

  31. I think I can pull the various aspects of this discussion back together… maybe.
    First, I apologize about any part I’ve had in turning this into a discussion of Lauredhel’s tone. The intention was to use her comments as a general example and not to single her out which is unfair to her. I did intend to single her out as someone who is clever and witty which has the liability of being someone that is easily misunderstood.
    With regard to Cam telling women that they should be pleased that they are being treated as sex objects, this is where the proposed three strikes rule could make a huge difference. I honestly don’t believe Cam realized that his comments could be interpreted that way and I doubt it was his intention. [Note: Some of the refinement in the nuances of that conversation is lost here, and I think that’s okay since this is a discussion on generalities.]
    So, Cam inadvertendly upset people by saying -exactly the wrong words- to people who are highly attuned to hearing this subtext. The key is the fact that you know what to listen for and you can react in such a way that they won’t say it again. Not because they’ve been shut down, but because they understand why they said the wrong thing. (I hope that makes sense–I’m not feeling very sharp right now. Insert joke here.)
    To Lala’s points:
    The problem you’ve mentioned about the FF101 thing is common to everyone, unfortunately. I’ve looked at it, by the way, and it really is quite good. I’ll spend some more time with it, but rarely are folks going to take the time to look at something like that. (I deal with this professionally all the time). The work has to reside with you do spoonfeed them what they need to know. How many of you read an owner’s manual before you start to use some new device? You start dinking with it first and then, perhaps, reference the owner’s manual if absolutely necessary.
    But to your other point, Lala, you are absolutely right about the crap you have to deal with. I empathize with your situation, but I’ll also say this: The crap you get is actually a very good sign. Good ideas are usually met with strong resistance and/or polarization. If you are getting these kinds of strong responses from people then that means you are starting to make a change. It’s when you get little to no response that you need to worry.
    So, don’t let jerkasses including myself get you down. You’re making people think about things that are outside of their status quo and folks react strongly to that.
    (Did I manage to wrap this all back together?)

  32. The problem, unfortunately, is that it is and always be the role of the person who has an understanding of their topic to explain it to people who don’t.
    No, it isn’t. You see, there’s this wonderful thing called a brain and another wonderful thing called initiative and another wonderful thing called a search engine. So if someone is genuinely interested in learning about feminism and trying to become a feminist, womanist, or ally, that person would best be served by doing some reading: here, at the Feminism 101 blog, elsewhere in the feminist blogsophere, and some introductory feminist books. It’s easy to google feminism, feminist blogs, what is feminism, etc. and take the initiative to educate yourself rather than break into the middle of ongoing discussions on other topics and demand that people pay attention to you rightthereandthen. Most of the questions that people who are new to feminism have (But what about the men, men are oppressed, too! What does feminism mean? Does being a feminist mean I have to engage in certain behaviors? etc.) have been discussed endlessly already, so your interruptions are perceived as (a) male entitlement; (b) obnoxious; (c) thread derail.
    Pizza Diavolas last blog post..Unintentional Hilarity

  33. I have a suggestion for your commenting guidelines.
    I suggest that obvious trolls like MWBY who bring the “blah blah blah,my boner, blah blah blah, my boner” argument, be disemvoweled.
    The ignorant of history, “why can’t you be nicer and then we might not kill you so much”, such as Mike, can be directed to the ‘finally feminism 101 blog, where they have the patience to put up with such specious crap.
    Of course it is important to remember that many of the menz never bother to read comment policies, so it is helpful for everyone if the commentariat is quick with the link to FF101.
    The quick link to FF101 relieves the rest of the commenters of the onerous task of engaging with the ignorant, and clearly demonstrates the trollish nature of those who persist in going on at length about that which they have no knowledge.

  34. Aphie,
    It has been my observation, both on the blogs and IRL, that any response to ‘fresh manly wisdom’ that falls short of agreement is almost always characterized as angry or shrill.
    It usually comes down to, how very dare you reject me and my mythology.

  35. Personally, I don’t think there’s a damn thing wrong with your comment policy. In the end, fair community moderation comes down to fair-minded moderators, IMO. It doesn’t matter what rules you set, within a reasonable boundary; what matters is a moderator (or moderators) who have a good head on their shoulders.
    You two are exceptionally smart, caring, but strong and uncompromising women. You have a great set of core values, and I have yet to see you make a major misstep in implementing them. You may make the “slip” of failing to please every not-totally-troll newcomer, but that just comes down to this blog being YOUR blog which YOU get to choose how to moderate.
    Lauredhel, IMO you were totally fair and you needn’t worry over that (tho’ I know it is easier said than done). A lot of people may not have a good grasp of core feminist concepts but if so, any conflict is on their shoulders. Ignorance of the law is no excuse when breaking it, after all — if it were, well, we wouldn’t have much of a society here at all.
    ::blows a kiss::

  36. and I note this having been part in a variety of communities online beginning when I was 12 years old in 1998, and having moderated several throughout the way, of varying sizes (and none of them feminist-centric until my own blog). What I have seen play out, every time there is a moderation crisis, is that no matter what rules you set out, a bad moderator is still going to be bad for the community, and a good moderator is still going to work for the good of the community.
    Which means, from my comfy armchair out here, anybody with a complaint about the moderation is necessarily never going to be happy here, and will necessarily be a drag on the community as a whole, as there is no way to reconcile “I don’t like you or the way you think” when there are only two “you”s in charge.
    I.M.H.O.

  37. In the end, fair community moderation comes down to fair-minded moderators, IMO.
    That’s a good point. Someone who’s determined to derail or try to make a thread WATM etc. probably isn’t going to be deterred by a blog’s stated comment policy, whether it’s lenient or strict. They’re more likely to use the comment policy as an excuse to whine about unfair treatment.

  38. Well I’ll leave this as my last comment here unless there’s a question or comment directly for me. I’d be interested in commenting on the original volleyball topic (where I agree wholeheartedly and question why beach volleyball has the ridiculous outfits, in particular, and not, say, shooting), but it’s safe to say that no one here is exactly clamoring to hear my opinion.
    I think it’s nice that an interesting side conversation has come out of this, though.
    The notion of civility in discussions with strangers does not constitute “fresh manly wisdom,” in my opinion. I’m disappointed that you believe I have characterized your comments as angry or shrill and feel that a unfair stereotype has been applied here.
    With regard to posters who demand to be paid attention to “righthereandthen” (that made me laugh), you don’t have to.
    Anyway, I’ve definitely broken a commenting guideline by making my posts too long (sorry), so I’ll say bye for now and thanks for engaging in this conversation.

  39. This thread has been very useful in exploring some meta-issues, which is a good thing for every forum to do once in a while, particularly as it was a chance to remind everyone of the 3 comment rule, which is a useful guideline*. The way that some have used this thread to get personal is also very illuminating.
    To the previous Hoyden commentor who morphed their ID to leave a concern troll comment on this thread – submitting it twice even! – if you think we don’t check IP addresses on such exercises in passive-aggression then you’re dreaming. Welcome to permanent moderation.
    Thank you to those who made good points and paid compliments overnight, and thank you to Mike for your apology wrt contributing to the singling-out of Lauredhel, who IMO is generally judicious with her disagreements and castigations (case in point, NWBR). Cam, after all, is a long-time lurker and occasional commentor here, not some Hoyden newbie, and he must have known that he wasn’t likely to find much sympathy for those particular dissenting views on that thread.
    It’s notable that Cam himself is not hanging around whining about strong disagreement – he objected to her using one particular term and then bowed out, developing his line of argument over on his own blog. Then came others objecting to his treatment, others who have never commented here before, throwing around value judgements of this blog based on a single interaction between people they don’t normally read.
    * Note: In my experience Hoyden newbies (actual newbies, not morphers/sockpuppets) have never been actually flamed on the first comment by either moderator, and rarely by a regular, and yet we get the whines anyway simply because our disagreement is stated flatly, without sugarcoating. So those thinking that the 3 comment rule is actually going to make this place very, very different might like to look back over the actual interactions they think that they remember as oh-so-harsh. The 3-comment rule is not going to mean that people stop expressing disagreement with dodgy claims from newbies, after all. It might just make any initial disagreement be expressed more briefly, especially from our regulars, that’s all.
    Once again, simple disagreement is neither hostile nor persecution nor suppression of one’s speech – it’s simply disagreement – and those who can’t cope with flat disagreement need to grow a thicker skin.

  40. I have been put back in my box several times now by both Tigtog and Lauredhel, and deservedly every time. Sometimes when you are on the sidelines it can seem a bit strong, but this is their blog and they don’t have to pussy foot around, they have been doing this for a long time. I also find it interesting that because this is a “women’s” blog, that it is expected that we will be nice and gently ease people into feminism where on other blogs it’s often a badge of honour to be thrown to the wolves or thrown in moderation and the key dropped into a bottomless pit.
    I’ve grown a thicker skin, and put more thought into most of my comments and I’m all the better for it.

  41. Cheers, Mindy! You’ve come up with your share of comments that have made me rethink as well, so it’s hardly a one-way trade.
    Mike, thank you for at least being willing to engage on this meta-thread. I still think you’ve got the wrong end of the stick, in large because of the (seemingly widely-shared) impression that Cam is a newbie here when he is instead a mostly-lurker, a fact which definitely changes the dynamic being analysed.
    This is also one of the rare threads where longer comments work quite well, so no worries there, but thank you for at least noticing/acknowledging.

  42. “The notion of civility in discussions with strangers does not constitute “fresh manly wisdom,” in my opinion. I’m disappointed that you believe I have characterized your comments as angry or shrill and feel that a unfair stereotype has been applied here.”
    I am amused by Mike’s assumption that my comment was all about him.

  43. bewilderness – that’s a very good point.
    lauredhel – I apologise for my part in hijacking the thread and making it about your tone. I meant my comments to be a side-note addressing your earlier additions about being accused of being overly angry, and a specific example of the moderation here. I can see they’ve come across as a personal criticism, so I’m sorry.
    tigtog –

    Anger is also very much in the eye of the beholder…tolerance is about allowing other people space to do their own thing… Tolerance does not mean that one has to abide by another’s rules in one’s own space.

    All of this is what I was trying to say in my previous comment. Insert sarcastic, self-deprecating comment here about my Communications major at University.

  44. All I can say on this topic (becuase I know you’re all waiting eagerly for my take on it!) is this:
    I have never been afraid to comment here, even though I’m not a regular commenter. It’s not because of my obviously-female name, but because I go into conversations with the Hoydens and commentators with the assumption that they are not secretly stupid, they are not trying to irritate me, and they would like a conversation of sorts about the subject.
    I think the easiest way to comment on a blog that you don’t necessarily agree with is to first read at least five posts, read the comment policy if there is one, lurk around comments, and then decide if what you’re about to say is actually going to contribute to the conversation in some meaningful way.
    No one needs to hear my opinion. The sun does not rise and set on whether I can tell Anti-Feminists how wrong wrong wrong they are in their spaces, and I can’t imagine that anyone else’s sun rises and sets on whether or not they can tell feminists how wrong they are. There’s no need.

  45. Belated cat is belated.
    The idea of “Perhaps you should be more civil in your arguments” kind of crosses infinitely well, in my opinion, with amandaw’s post about giving obvious advice.  Because to me, someone coming along and saying “You should be more civil, otherwise people won’t listen to you” is a dirt-obvious suggestion.
    (This is making more sense in my head.  I need more coffee or less SQL.)

  46. I also though have a problem with the requirement of civility (you may have guessed that by my tag and blog name) – not a problem with wandering around being friendly and polite but a problem of the way politeness and ‘civility’ are used to control and censure. (Take it easy there Mike this *isn’t* a question/comment directed to you). Again I repeat the story that prompted me to blog: Australian citizen in detention in Guantanamo Bay, no answers, left there for years, Dad is trying to get answers, politicians seem totally uninterested despite the fact his basic legal rights are being waved. Bush makes a trip to Australia. Two Greens senators stand up to ask Bush what’s happening. They are ejected, and blasted in the media for being ‘impolite’. Politeness has a time and a place. It is not a basic requirement that trumps all else.
    I am friendly and respectful to strangers (which I think is more sincere than ‘civil’ or ‘polite’ as it’s easy to be disrespectful/bigoted/utterly rude wrong and offensive while using civil language)until such a point as they make some kind of obnoxiously bigoted remark that they clearly expect majority support for. Usually then steam comes out my ears and I tell them right off. Which frankly I think is my right. If they assume everyone wants to hear their offensive and disgusting and self centred opinions I figure it’s open season for opinions right. So I share mine clearly and loudly. There are times and places for keeping things civil but I do not feel it is a *requirement* on me that I fail by telling someone off. Also the idea of educating these people came up. Sometimes it is true that remaining still and quiet and explaining your point educates, but that depends on the mindset of the person you’re talking to and frankly here I think we’re all intelligent enough to make that call on our own without external guidance or a need for set rules…but other times when for instance the guys on the train were menacing a kid telling him he was not an Aussie, Aussie’s hated him and he should go home, me standing and bellowing “Who the f*ck are you and how dare you do that to this child and what the HELL makes you think you speak for us??” may well have played a role of education far exceeding anything I might have said ‘civilly’ – when people are told off in public for being jerks they are confronted over their behaviour…politeness and civility often constrain us from confronting such offensive behaviour and everyone else was busy pretending not to hear or giggling nervously so he thought he had back up or at least no resistance. Whatever it did or didn’t do it meant the child knew I was on his side, and the idiot stopped his behaviour at least for the time being.
    I’m proud in fact of the times I’ve let civility go jump – I don’t do it for the sake of being rude, I have judgment I employ well, and I have to go through all the regular hurdles of “don’t speak up, don’t shout, don’t say anything” before I reach the point of ‘bugger it’. But Mike, you had all these philosophies of how life ‘works’ and what is the ‘best’ or ‘only’ way to succeed, rules we ‘need’ to follow to win others to our cause(s). I’m sorry but those are generalisations and there is no authority for making such blanket pronouncements. I try to live well to have respect and treat people with respect. But when people disrespect others and turn their ugly hatred and aggression outwards I react without ‘civility’ – sometimes I swear sometimes I shout. If they are not going to respectfully and carefully win me to their ways of thinking I am not wasting my time with niceties – I will make my point forcefully and unapologetically…but also space is in question here.
    I don’t go to uber-christian websites and forcefully proclaim my opinions on sexuality, I don’t go to MRA websites to tell them how wrong they are…these are instances where spaces of others have been invaded and in that case i feel well within my rights to yodel my opinions in whatever words I choose right at the top of my voluminous lungs.

  47. fuckpoliteness, you’re kind of awesome.

  48. awww. thanks silvertongue, you’ve ‘kinda’ made my day!

  49. FP: The Hoydens completely agree with you – and there’s fine print on our definition of “civility” that agrees with you also (including the specific exclusion of taboo words from consideration- “On this blog, profanities and obscenities are judged an acceptable form of emphasis, so it’s OK to fucking swear every now and then.”).
    Sexist bullshit, however weaselishly worded, is readily and reasonably characterised as obnoxious and jerkish, and you’re not obliged in any way to tiptoe around such folk (though consideration of the three-comments idea is welcome).
    Speaking of the three-comments plan: If we’re going to do it, let’s do it properly. I’d like to see it apply to “dissenters”[1]. If they wish to criticise the posts or comments here, perhaps they could first be obliged to ask at least three good-faith, on-topic clarification questions on any given post before airing their criticism.
    Thoughts?
    [1] Scare-quoted to include trolls, troublemakers, concern trolls, sledgers, and MRAs as well as genuine dissenters

  50. The idea of “Perhaps you should be more civil in your arguments” kind of crosses infinitely well, in my opinion, with amandaw’s post about giving obvious advice. Because to me, someone coming along and saying “You should be more civil, otherwise people won’t listen to you” is a dirt-obvious suggestion.

    Interesting – I read Amanda quite differently. I don’t read her as asking people not to state the obvious at all. I think she’s saying “Don’t get all up in my space, stranger, and lecture me about things you know nothing about. If you do, you can expect me to be pissed off.”
    ….which is certainly applicable here.
    But Amanda’s here, so she can speak for herself, if she wishes. That’s my reading, and one I strongly relate to with my illness experience as well.

  51. Thanks Lauredhel, I was kind of assuming that I guess I was trying to think out my responses to the strange kind of unasked for ettiquette lessons being provided (like an unwelcome version of How to Win Friends and Influence People – for the nasty femmos). So it wasn’t directed at this space. I do love this space, and I do love your comments policy – I also think that requirement for dissenters is rockingly awesome. If they’d like the courtesy extended to them, they can also extend it…deLIGHTful!

  52. Lauredhel:
    I may have taken something from it she didn’t intend to put in.  From the post and the comments, part of it came out as you described, and part of it came out as obvious stuff.  (Perhaps more the comments?  Now I want to go reread, just in case.)
    It’s also possible I have a huge thing about people suggesting obvious things as though it had never occurred to me before ever.  “Just exercise more!”  “Just don’t worry so much!”  “Just relax!”  Gosh, despite being intelligent and having this thing for quite some time, somehow it never occurred to me to do something so fundamentally basic!  Thank you, random person!
    /still-hot rant
    So I read people coming into activist-type space (feminist, anti-racism, fat acceptance, &c) and going “You should be calm and civil, else people won’t listen”, and my first response is, “…that has never crossed my mind, holy cats.”
    As that is a bit snarky in the extreme, usually I don’t comment about it.  :/

  53. XtinaS: I think I understand you better now. I was reading “obvious” as “obvious and correct”, when I think you meant “obvious” more as “commonly held to be obvious, but not necessarily true at all, and I’ve heard it a thousand times before and it is actually an instrument of my oppression so how about butting out for once?”
    (Y/N?)
    Along the lines of people recommending exercise for CFIDS/ME, or synthetic vitamin megadoses to people for whom they’re actively harmful, that sort of thing?

  54. Yes!  Sorry about the nonclarity of “obvious”.  I meant exactly what you described there.
    The example for activist-things is as I described above.  One for when I have hardware issues is “You should reboot”.  (“*eyeroll* No way.”)  Or christ, depression – “Just get more sunlight and exercise!”  No one has ever said that before!!
    …I apparently can easily rile myself on this topic.  Beg your pardon.

  55. Just responding to one of Mike’s points in comment #14 on this thread.
    The most effective way to handle someone like Cam or NWBR is help them understand why they’re wrong and not to dismiss them outright with crass comments. The response that NWBR got is likely to enforce his wrong-minded opinion that you are “manhaters.”
    This assumes several things about the commenters in the first place. Firstly, it assumes they’re willing to be taught. This is not necessarily the case. Secondly, it assumes not only the other participants in the conversation are willing to teach, but they have an obligation to teach. Again, this is not the case.
    The third unstated assumption is that the newer commenter is always more valuable than the established commenter, or the blog owner. This assumption is flat-out incorrect. In the blogosphere, the blog owner is the person who sets the rules – their house, their rules, and all the bitching in the world about the power imbalances of this dynamic do not alter it.
    As a long time participant in internet discussion (I started out on Usenet groups – specifically alt.fan.pratchett – back in 1997) I’ve found the principal assumptions on my part which go toward participating in a successful discussion (rather than a free-for-all brawl) are as follows:
    1) The longer-term participants are generally the ones to listen to.
    2) If in doubt, be polite to everyone involved.
    3) If one person calls you a fool, that’s opinion. If two people call you a fool, that’s coincidence. When the number reaches three or more, it might be time to check for the bladder-on-a-stick and the hat with bells, just in case.
    4) Nobody ever went wrong by shutting up and listening.
    5) Think before you post. Think before you post. No, really, think before you post.
    Meg Thorntons last blog post..Sometimes these things shouldn’t be resisted…

  56. Meg, I think your principles need to be bronzed, with extra bronze for #3.

  57. Also, I’m now seeing CMOT Dibbler selling lovely hot bladders-onna-stick to drunken students at midnight.

  58. I can’t take full credit for principle number 3. It was originally stated by Andy Brown on alt.fan.pratchett in June 2002, and has been knocking about in my collection of internet quotes for at least that long.
    Meg Thorntons last blog post..Sometimes these things shouldn’t be resisted…

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