Thoughts on the recent Disappearances
These thoughts are subject to change without much notice. They were originally post number 65 in No Tolerance for Rudeness. Since then I have had more information, and others have made points which have affected my thinking.
The main differences in the text are to Issues 3 and 5
Mark, and everyone, we should all consider that we have layers and layers of issues here, and it may help to disentangle them.
First off, I am deeply troubled that the original remark was evidently *not* deemed bannably rude for two and a half months. There are several possible explanations for this, given in "I can't believe this" post 87. But even so, if something is sufficiently rude to merit banning, then it should not get through several rounds of moderation.
(I am currently experiencing repeated moderation of a link which is deemed acceptable. I am not too bothered about it, it gets reinstated on escalation but it is a waste of everyone's time, including the time of those people who visit the page about me when it is moderated away. It feels as if the moderators have been told to raise the bar a little).
So what we have here looks very like a structural or systemic problem with the Moderation system.
The second thing that troubles me is that any cure of this problem is likely to result in more stringent and seemingly arbitrary decisions by the mods and the italics. As a community we should work to avoid this happening.
A third issue - but first in the sequence of events - is whether the original remark was offensive. Essentially it appears that Lucinda indicated that the troubles were *not* connected with Peta's menstrual cycles, any more than they were connected with the SMBV being werewolves. (It would not have offended me if someone said that to me or about me, but I am fairly thick-skinned). It is a counter-factual, which is the same literary construct which Shakespeare uses in the 'Friends Romans and Countrymen' speech in Julius Caesar, where Anthony praises Caesar and disses Brutus, all the time saying 'Brutus is an honourable man'. But yes - I think that such a remark could offend the person it was made about.
Peta and I have since discussed the difference between remarks made to one's face and remarks published on a website. And I agree that there is definitely a difference. Posts 68, 69 and 70.
The fourth issue is one of the apology. [Self-moderated remark about the tone of the thread at this point.] It would helped if the italics had reminded Lucinda in the thread that being rude about the italics could result in a ban; it would have given him some indication of the stakes he was playing for, and it would have let us know what was going on. If Lucinda did know the stakes, and still decided not to apologize, then that is up to him. I don't actually have anything to say about the fact that Lucinda did not apologize.
Right, issue number five - Colonel Sellers using a similar literary construction with a far more graphic image on a different site.
Additional information is available since my original Post 65. What appears to have happened (see posts 89, 90 and 91) is that the Colonel posted an example of what "would" be offensive on Topica. Lucinda made the link available to Peta, and Mark issued a warning to the Colonel. The Italics considered that the The Colonel's emailed reply was rude, and he was duly suspended for a week. This seems to me to be entirely within Mark's remit, and since The Colonel has no way to publish his email without getting a further (possibly lifetime) ban the community has no way of judging. Although I regret it, I am not in a position to criticise Mark for it.
The original Post 65 discussed the scope of Mark's remit. The 'if I am rude in a pub' scenario. The 'shouting it out in the street' scenario. This is a debate which may be worth having, but at the moment it is hypothetical. I think it is best not to cloud the waters with it. When it looked as if the Colonel had been banned for posting on Topica, it was a debate worth having.
Moving on to issue number six - Not Banned Yet's home page. He decided not to participate in h2g2 for a week, and put up an extremely witty notice announcing a suspension in reverse. He was suspending h2g2 from his account. His ban seems to be on the grounds that this is anti-social.
Mark, I urge you not to use this as a basis for contentious decisions. It is asking for trouble. The first time I had heard the word used in 30 years was by an italic (see how I fear to name the italics) about the version of my user name which urged people to defy the moderators. The italic was right, that was an anti-social act, but so what? It was also against the terms and conditions which I had accepted, and that was why I changed it back. The last person I heard using the word before then was a 10 year old.
An anti-social act is one which is against society. But some anti social acts are more reprehensible than others. Blowing up buildings is morally and criminally reprehensible. Writing graffiti on them is cheeky. Protesting against oppressive laws may be considered anti-social by the law-makers but it is actually a profoundly social act.
If you start banning people on the grounds that they are anti-social then you will diminish yourselves and make yourselves seem petty and frightened. As I said - I changed my name back because it suggested that people should break the terms and conditions and because it actually broke the terms and conditions. But nothing that NBY wrote on his home page did that. And it was funny. I *still* fail to see why he was banned.
Issue number seven - Hoovooloo's warning. He posted the introduction to the War of the Worlds in the thread, mocked up with XXXXs to mimic the infamous posting which resulted in LeKZ's lifetime ban. This was deemed insensitive. Well it is only insensitive if you are sensitive about that ban. At least one researcher found it 7funny7. What concerns me here is the subjectivity of the verdict that it was insensitive.
Adding up the issues, (which disappointingly enough comes to 56, not 42), the ultimate issue is one of subjectivity.
Mark, I know you guys are human. I know that you guys have the good of the site at heart, as do the SBVM, LeKZ and most of the active contributors here. But I beg you to be bigger than this. There is a difference between ignoring an insult and rising above it. Please consider the harm and upset to researchers as well as the harm and upset to yourselves.
Why do these things happen on Friday? And they do, they do, they really do.
a lycanthrope called Ben