Context While Modding

It’s just a note, not a warning. I don’t need anything changed. But Tomndebb stepped on a pet peeve. He ignored context. Yep. Another one of those threads.

The original thread was How likely is this scenario? Global warming at 4C. Watchwolf49’s posts have not been well received by the other posters, who find them lacking in every possible way. That lead to these two posts.

It doesn’t show in this quote back but I quoted Stranger’s line “The unfettered fatuousness and borderline incoherency displayed in these posts is so appallingly counterfactual it is difficult to read them as anything other than a poor attempt at satire, or else intentional misinformation.”

Tom responded as a mod:

I wasn’t. Not in my head and not in my words. Nothing could be clearer in context that all I was doing was removing a modifier from what Stranger wrote, making it "“The unfettered fatuousness and incoherency displayed in these posts is so appallingly counterfactual it is difficult to read them as anything other than a poor attempt at satire, or else intentional misinformation.” This purely and obviously is critiquing the posts.

I’m pointing this out because what Tom did is exactly why people get so het up when others take quotes out of context. Doing so can change or even reverse their meaning. And that happened here.

Context is everything. That’s a favorite phrase of mine because it’s so true. Tubadiva, next time you send out an SDMB mug, slap that slogan on it!

It’s a weird feature of “attack the post, not the poster”. You can say almost the same thing (which you did), but if you aim your comment at the poster instead of the post (which you also did), then you’ve stepped over the line. Perhaps a better phrasing, given the rule as it is would have been:

“There is nothing borderline about the incoherency of those posts.”

Rather than:

“This [sic] is nothing borderline about his incoherency.”

I don’t believe the context changes what you said. If anything, it highlights the difference between “attach the post” instead of “attack the poster”.

Correct. You clearly changed the insult from his posts to him directly.

No, that’s just perpetuating the madness. This is a message board. All contact is made via words. The only normal human way of referring to another person is “you.” The context is virtually always that “you” means “words you have just written.” This is a universal, and we’ve seen the dynamic in thread after thread.

The default should be that “you” means “your words.” People can and do insult the poster rather than their words, but they almost always have to go out of their way to be explicit about it.

This reversal of normal discourse has always driven me crazy. It requires the mods to do mind-reading and mental gymnastics that are impossible to justify after the fact. It makes them look bad. It’s exacerbated by … nuts, I have to use the c word … the context. There must be hundreds of threads in which the no personal insult rule is invoked in threads where one person is clearly trolling while others are trying to call out the nonsense. The trolling posts are the issue at hand, not the poster.

Attack the posts rather than the poster is fine as a general rule. While the new Power That Be is making changes around here, though, changing the default so that “you” is assumed to be “your words” instead of “your person” is a much more sensible change than, say, allowing the c word to be used in the Pit. Seriously? People cheered that they can call each other cunts in one place while mods have to mind-read insults in another? It’s madness. It has to stop.

I’m sorry, but what kind of crazy post is this? “You” means the poster. “Your words” means the posts.

You want to change that for everyone because you got a mod note?

Sorry, Exapno, but you’re dead wrong. You changed “the incoherency displayed in these posts” to “his incoherency.” That’s clearly switching from attacking the posts, to attacking the poster.

At the very least, you’re guilty of grossly unclear writing. If you mean his posts, instead of him, you should have said “the incoherency of his posts.” If you were misunderstood, the person to blame for that is you.

You said “you”. Is that a personal insult? Did you perhaps mean to say “Your words imply that a change is needed?”

As I said, there are thousands of posts that refer to other posters are “you.” You just did it. Through your words. As you should. That’s the way people talk and write. You did it so automatically that you never spent a second to stop and think whether a modification is needed. You couldn’t have proved my point better. It’s ridiculous to insert the superfluous “words” into every sentence just to conform to a meaningless distinction. Can a person be anything other than their posts? Can their thoughts not be coming from them the person? You couldn’t get through a two paragraph post without conflating them. Or must I say that your words couldn’t get through a two paragraph post without conflating them?

There are other examples of this built into the system. It occurred to me that even though I carefully shifted my argument to a general and generic one - everybody who’s been around for awhile has seen examples - somebody could jump on me and claim that I’m sneakily calling watchwolf49 a troll. I’m not. If I wanted to do so I would take it to the appropriate forum where there’s a long-going thread calling long-term posters trolls. That’s also insanity (although I might accept the argument that social norms are never strictly logical and rational). No matter. Deciding when people are coding hidden meanings into posts must be a nightmare for the mods. They can get it right at best 50% of the time and those times are still disputed by many.

Colibri, you posted while I was writing this. Look at what you posted. You used a variation on “you” seven times. Of course you did. That’s how language works. The context for the use of “you” is what I posted. And yet you say that I am to blame, thereby conflating me the person and my words in exactly the way manson1972 did - and every other poster on this message board and all message boards everywhere does. It’s inescapable.

I couldn’t care less about the mod note except that it waved in my face a general board issue I’ve felt strongly about for a long time. It’s not all about me. Sure, this is the first time those words have ever appeared on a message board. Once you recover from the shock, pretend that I mean that seriously. Given all the far more absurd hypotheticals that have been posted here, this one shouldn’t be too hard to grapple with.

Are you serious with this? I didn’t MEAN to say anything. I asked you a question. A legitimate question that doesn’t have a personal insult embedded in it.

Anyone can see that something like “Your posts are idiotic” is different from “You are an idiot”

I have an unbelievable to me over 7000 posts, and I don’t think I ever even had a warning (I might be wrong) and most people here don’t even like me. But I know the rules. It’s not that hard to follow them.

I’ve had over 30,000 posts and I’ve never had a warning. I know where all the lines are. I know how to tiptoe up to them and not step over. Maybe that makes me someone to listen to when I talk about those lines.

Perhaps. But I’ve seen mods don’t usually go with “intent”. And you clearly changed the words to make it look like you were attacking the poster.

Just don’t do it again. If you’ve never had a warning or note or whatever, just take it as a learning experience. It’s not that big of a deal.

There is a tool in place if people are trolling. It’s called the report button. There is no need for a vocal group harassing a poster with explicit insults that are somehow not explicit insults.

Why is it madness that the whole board won’t be some sort of pseudo-Pit?:dubious:

How does the context have to change to make “you” mean “all the words you’ve written on this message board” (which would be the only basis on which to judge “you”) to “words you have just written”?

I’ve read your argument multiple times in an effort to understand it. I’m not understanding your point.

There are obvious insults and they are easy to deal with. Much of the time, though, comments can and should be dismissed as “what you just *said *is dumb” rather than “you are a stupid poopyhead.” That won’t change the civility of a thread. Contentious threads aren’t civil in the first place. Mods can still come in and tell everybody to tone it down. Pretty much everything would stay the same except that the mods wouldn’t have to mind-read intent. Nor would they have to go back and read through every post to parse who exactly said what to whom that is being referred to by third parties and commented on by fourth. We know that happens because very often mods explicitly say they don’t have time to do that.

It’s a small change, a matter of kicking the line over a bit, and certainly not erasing it.

If I follow correctly, this is the OP’s complaint. Simplified, this is the exchange that got a note:

Poster 1: Your posts are borderline incoherent.

Poster 2: There’s nothing borderline about his incoherence.

In the context of the first post, it should be clear that the second post is referring to “his incoherence [in his posts],” even though it didn’t have that specific phrase.

Is that basically the issue, Exapno?

My reading was the same as Tom’s. The phrasing made me believe the post was directed to the person, not the post.

  1. You explained that every well. I like what you wrote.

  2. You are an idiot.

Can you (heh) not see the difference between a compliment and an insult?

And yet everyone else in this thread disagrees with you. Perhaps you are wrong.

While I agree with the general gist of the various comments above, I have a slightly different take on the issue. Exapno said “This [sic] is nothing borderline about his incoherency.” What if he had added just one word, and said “… about his incoherency there”?

I don’t think the absence of one word is the real issue here. I’ve been participating in that thread and I’m totally on Exapno’s side there, and I think that Stranger on a Train wrote a masterful (and well deserved) takedown of the other poster. But consider this: what if Exapno had made the exact same statement, “there is nothing borderline about his incoherency”, and followed it up with criticisms of what the other poster was saying. It would certainly be very clear from such a context that the attack was on the post, not the poster.

What I’m saying here is that the perception of an attack on the poster, not the post, was not so much based on a fine parsing of the words, but rather on the absence of any substance or specificity, so that the comment came across more as a drive-by pile-on than a legitimate critique. Whether it attacked poster or post, it didn’t contribute anything.

There’s no way it deserved a warning, but I think a note was probably appropriate if those are the standards of discourse we want to establish. Personally, as a judgment call I would have just let it go, but I can definitely see Tom’s point.

I don’t see how that makes a difference. The problem is pairing an insult with a reference to the poster. I could say “you are being really stupid in that post”, instead of “that post is really stupid” and I’m still attacking the poster in the first case.

Like I said in my first post here, it’s a weird aspect of the rule. I don’t think it’s hard to understand, even if it might be hard to accept. But that is the rule whether anyone likes it or not.

maybe you need to cut your toenails then?

In my specific case, yes. Please note that I am trying to go beyond that specific case.

Unless the rule is changed. Rules can be changed. Much larger rules have recently been changed.