Debating the Pit

I am prompted to this by one of the most recent “Hey Guys, let’s all get together and talk about what an asshole Doper X is!” threads, which in this case happened to be The Ryan. (You can look it up in the Pit if you insist. It’s recent, not hard to find)

I read that thread, and the thread which was offered as evidence of TR’s supposed assholian behavior, and found myself completely stumped. I could not figure out what in the world he did to justify having things like this said to him and about him:

Wow… taken altogether like that it’s quite a breathtaking display of…of…well, gee, * ** of everything they are accusing The Ryan of! ** *

There was also some taunting to the effect that since no one had come to his defense, then it all must be true and virtually the entire population of The Straight Dope must all agree that The Ryan is, indeed, an assholeworthlessprickdickwaadmotherfuckershithead whatever.

Well, I certainly wished to come to his defense, but having been the target of two “we all think you suck -and therefore you suck- shut up- fuck you -we all hate you” threads myself, I didn’t think that my doing so would be of much good to him, and perhaps be seen as self-serving.

But frankly, I can’t stand it anymore.

This is just the latest of many such vicious threads. I can’t remember the last time a thread like this was *not * active in the pit. Don’t you people who jump right in and start ripping people apart because they tick you off ever stop and think about what the hell it is you’re doing? Are you under the perfectly ** bizarre ** impression that you are * in any position whatsoever * to be judging others? Does this sort of thing just puff you up with pride? “heheheh…I called some guy a shithead today! I’m pretty neat!” What is with this mob mentality? “He is irritating! * Stone him * !” WTF?

Now, it’s one thing when a true troll shows up…and when they do, haven’t we all agreed upon DNFTT as the preferred response? But the rest of the time, when we aren’t talking about real trolls (and The Ryan, in this example, is about 1600 posts and a year and a half into being a real member of this community, hardly a troll), we are talking about our fellow Dopers, some of whom are sure to piss us off and annoy us at times.

So then we get this feeble, perfectly ridiculous excuse: “It’s the pit, it’s designed for that!” – Cool, we have a * special place * where we go to** lynch ** people who annoy us!

Because other people do it and there’s a special place for it,* that makes it acceptable behavior *?

Interestingly, if I suddenly learned that there was a special block in my neighborhood where I could go kick the shit out of someone I didn’t like with impunity,* I still wouldn’t do it * ! Why not? Because it violates my personal code of behavior. You all have one of those, doncha? Mine doesn’t change just because I see an opening where I can get away with something. I don’t steal because stealing is wrong and to do so would violate my code of behavior. I wouldn’t start stealing if I found a way I could get away with it. Would you?

I can’t do anything about people who annoy me, I can only do something about my reaction to them. And the reaction I’m going for is generally to be better behaved than they are, not worse.

This is not about reaching people with your critique of their behavior, it is about dumping on them. Newsflash: people calling you an asshole and a dickwad, or in my own case, a cunt, are not people you will be inclined to pay much attention to, particularly if the people who talk to you this way are claiming that you are behaving badly… Such people are obviously not offering anything resembling constructive criticism, they are behaving as badly, or usually, far worse than they are accusing the victim of behaving. Which never ceases to amaze me. In this case, The Ryan happens to be kinda condescending and picky…which apparently means he is a worthless dickwad shithead prick who is a waste of space. Riiiiight. :rolleyes:

And by the way: this juvenile crap about how many people agree that someone is an asshole… please! There are children on this board who have adults assuring them that the cruelties of childhood are temporary. They’ll never believe it hanging around here! (Besides which, if you don’t have the courage of your own convictions, if you need backup, you shouldn’t be speaking in the first place…but that’s a whole ‘nother thread…)

The Ryan’s mistake was in even attempting to address that thread. That only made it worse. He needed to adopt the Stoidal Motto: ** DNFTLM – Do Not Feed The Lynch Mob. **

I was going to post this in that thread, but it was suggested to me by one of my Doper friends that it would actually be better placed in GD for everyone to have a whack at it. Not to mention the fact that having it here might help prevent it becoming a version of exactly what I’m talking about…

So, whack away.

But if I may…can we all agree not to make this about whether **The Ryan or pldennison or danielinthewolvesden or Brian Bunnyhurt or Wildest Bill or Welfy or Asmodean or grienspace or jmullany or Scylla or JohnCorrado or Esprix or Wring or Yosemitebabe or Diane or Me ** or who the hell ever is getting under your skin at the moment is in fact annoying or irritating or obnoxious or stupid or whatever, since it is almost certainly true that we all are some of the time to some people. The sad fact is that some people are indeed, far more annoying than others. How is that an excuse to behave badly yourself?

This is also not a call to close the Pit.

This is a call to everyone to examine their own behavior and check and see if they are coming from a place of integrity with what they believe is right and good. If you can honestly say yes…well, then more power to you. Although the old saw about the number of wrongs and what it produces reverberates through my mind…

Oh, and one more thing: while this is primarily about the egregious nastiness in the “Poster X Blows” threads, it also applies to random comments sprinkled around all the boards. Why does anyone feel that it is alright to be rude and nasty to someone at any time? Remember the Christian saying: hate the sin, love the sinner. Well, I sorta feel that way: hate the post, love the poster. If someone says something stupid, then the remark is stupid, it does not follow that the person who said it is stupid. And it doesn’t make you look smart to say that it does. Ditto all the other mean and shitty things my fellow Dopers have been known to say to each other. Go ahead and rip the post…not the poster.

Almost 15 years of posting on public message boards, and then meeting the people I’ve been arguing with, has taught me that we cannot begin to really know who people are based on the messages they post to a public board. This is particularly true for people who ** debate ** publicly (as opposed to hanging out in MPSIMS, sharing sexual tips and tricks or discussing their favorite Star Wars character). So I don’t ever think that just because someone is driving me off a cliff with their debating style online that they are really such an awful person. I know better. Certainly sometimes they are…but you would be stunned to see how often it is not the ones you’d expect.

So that’s all. Discuss.

Oh yeah… I am not failing to notice Xeno’s apology thread that followed the original Ryan thread, nor the one that Spoofe offered to me. I offer them both a standing ovation and a round of applause for seeing the error of their ways and repairing it. They showed real class. (Which doesn’t surprise me in Xeno’s case…he’s one of my personal heros around here.) It’s just that it would be so nice if they weren’t ever needed in the first place, wouldn’t it?

I agree with Stoid.
Especially on the threads about The Ryan and Daniel.

I’m don’t exactly have the same positions as either of them, but I thought they got slammed just a little hard.

I’ll just take this opportunity to point out that I also offered an apology to you for the cunt remark.

TESTIFY, sister!!!

Thanks freedom- altho we may not agree on everything- i respect your opinions & posts. Of course, sometimes i think you are completely wrong- but I never think less of you as a fellow poster. Of course- sometimes you get it right, also. :smiley:

Er — please don’t take this wrong, but no props to me for the apology thread, please; it shouldn’t have been necessary, as Stoid said.

Okay. Now that that’s out of the way, on to the OP.

I think there is a definite useful purpose for “calling someone out” in the Pit about a specific thread. It can certainly improve understanding between posters to be able to tell someone “Look poster “X” you’re being an asshole, and here’s why I say that…” It also presents an opportunity to both parties for some hard self-examination. Harsh criticism is a very stressful thing to take, and it’s only fair to present it in a forum where the other party can say “Yeah, well you’re a fuckwad too, xeno, and here’s a link…” But harsh criticism is also valid and necessary sometimes; it get’s things said in a way that grabs everyone’s attention, and when done properly can, if not prompt changes, then certainly raise awareness.

However, as I’ve learned recently in an embarassing way, somebody has to hold the reins of such a thread tightly, or it’ll take off in a nasty and vicious direction (after all, we’re never posting in a vacuum; other posters will invariably chime in on one side or the other). The mods are too busy to play Romper Room director, so to avoid a massacre or an early closing of the thread, it’s usually up to the person who started it to handle the other posters. (I’m not saying this in a superior way, btw; someone outside the first thread had to “handle” me because I was acting romper-roomish.)

Anybody who’s ever managed people, or spent time counselling children, or mentored another individual knows that criticism must be specific and fair to be helpful. We’ve all seen examples of excessively broad, unjust or inaccurate criticisms; I think what Stoid addresses here is that sort of criticism, which is certainly provoked by the general “X is a morphoditic imbecile” threads.

I guess what I’m saying is go ahead and take it to the Pit when you can’t state your objections without hijacking a good thread to do it. But if you start such a thread, better keep it specific to the behavior you don’t like. And if you contribute to such a thread, better remember what you learned in kindergarten. Otherwise, as Stoid says, you’re just throwing stones.
(reformed stone thrower)

People might find me less than perfect??? Damn. I need a refund on my 12 steps to perfection course.

Seriously. I make an effort (don’t always succeed) to be polite, when folks get rude at me, will make a mention of “no need for that” and proceed on with the debate. Have rarely posted in Pit threads about other posters, generally when doing so have posted something rather un pit like.

I figure there’s more than enough nastiness in the world w/o me adding to the tonage, let alone seeking it out here.

RE: being dragged into the pit/dragging other posters there - I do see some function . Once some one started a thread about me there, but the OP was not accusatory, just - gee, this bugged me, would you explain? and I did, it was all rather civil etc. And I think xeno’s thread there about **TheRyan ** is the same kind of tone - not gee you must be a jerk since I’m annoyed, but ok, you’re trying to make a point, but we keep getting bogged down by this other stuff, let’s see if we can work it out. the latter attitude is a productive one.

Since our form of communication is limited to the written word, inflections of voice and other body language clues are lacking. Sure we have smilies, but they don’t always help. And, frankly, some people are just better at getting their message across than others.

Misunderstandings and disagreements will happen. But I agree that the snide, snippy, rude exchanges certainly don’t advance the cause. So, where’s the debate? (:slight_smile: )

I would add to the above that I believe the very existence of the Pit contributes to this type of behavior. It’s as if the normal rules of discourse are suspended because one is posting there. (I once read about a certain religious sect - in ancient Rome, I think - that believed that all moral rules applied only while above ground, and that when underground anything goes. All their gatherings were held underground and were riotous orgies). It would do people good to remember that the significance of the looser rules in the Pit is limited to what the SDMB administrators will allow. The codes of conduct that people should adhere to exist regardless of whether they are being permitted by the MB rules.

(I hope this does not come off as condescending).

I would add that there a complicating factor due to the fact that there is a social aspect to this board as well as the intellectual, and many posters have longstanding allies and enemies. This causes many Pit threads to break down along these lines, with allies rushing to the defend their pals, and enemies seeing a prime opportunity to smite their foes.

In all, I would think it would be a good idea to have the Pit limited by rule to the type of constructive thread that **xenophon41
** describes.

Stoid sucks! well, according to a source(her last boyfriend).
Stoid, a great idea.
I love ya gal.

Of course, there is a simple solution. I almost never read the Pit, I’m not really interested in that kinda stuff, and I have better things to do with my online time.

I am glad, however, that we have a forum for the children to throw mud and splatter paint on each other, without bothering the rest of us elsewhere.

Good OP.
Good responses.
Good position by a board administrator.

Your Doper friend was right, Stoid. This thread definitely did not belong in the PIT.

Nope. I heartily disagree. Should also mention that of the list of “comments” you mention Stoid IIRC I am responsible for at least 5 and perhaps as many as 7.

I was extremely upset by The Ryan’s response to one of my posts in a certain GD thread. Sure, maybe I shouldn’t have reacted that way, and maybe you wouldn’t have, but on that day, I did. He posted a response that in no way addressed the substance of my remarks, but instead trivialized them by “educating me” as to my word choice.

And I felt extremely helpless. Because any subsequent response I made would, at best, be ignored, or more likely, might lend itself to further ridicule. So I was extremely relieved to realize that other people out there were also troubled by his actions.

What you neglect to mention in your OP is that a number of people in numerous threads have articulately expressed a very consistent impression that TR engages in unfair/dishonest/illegitimate argumentation tactics. IMO, his entry into a discussion generally signals that the issues will no longer be discussed in a manner that interests me. Instead, when confronted by one of his tedious quote-filled posts, I quickly lose interest. So what? He is certainly free to post in any manner he chooses, and I am free to continue to participate or stop participating in any particular thread in whatever manner I choose (within certain broad constraints).

The manner in which he made his initial remark I objected to left him wonderful options. He clearly is intelligent enough to realize that few sentient beings would welcome such condescending smugness as constructive criticism. Yet he can fling his “innocent” arrow and subsequently sit back and say, “Hey, don’t blame me that you can’t you are too ignorant or thin-skinned to stand this simple observation.” Wonderful tactics if your goal is to ridicule or piss off your opponent. Not as helpful, IMO, in furthering constructive debate of interesting issues on which intelligent people legitimately could differ.

I stand by every word I included in my Pit posts. I greatly appreciate the opportunity I had to vent in that thread. And if you think the 20 or so folk who participated in that thread represent everyone on these boards, I beg to differ.

And if you don’t like the Pit, stay away. And though you might not agree, I believe it is possible that knowing the Pit exists, whether I use it or not, as an avenue where I can throw mud with the other children," better enables me to present my adult side on the other forum. Congratulations on not needing such a crutch.

I agree that all too often, a thread calling someone out for a real or imagined wrong turns into nothing more than a lynch mob, with lots and lots of people who had absolutely nothing to do with the original thread piling on, posting their humble opinions about what a jackass the subject of the thread is.

But, Stoid, sweetie, you’re wasting your breath, totally, calling for people to–

This is like asking members of a street gang to examine their own behavior and check and see if they are coming from a place of integrity with what they believe is right and good, before they carry out a drive-by shooting. The people who love to pile on in a Pit thread (“hey, I don’t know anything about the subject, and I wasn’t in the original thread, but I just wanna say that Mr.JohnDoe is a real asshole”) are not the ones who are good at either self-examination or self-restraint.

But it’s very noble of you to try. :slight_smile:

[Moderator Hat ON]

Much though I hate to disagree with Spiritus, given that this is much more of a discussion of the utility of a forum on this message board rather than a general debate on indulging one’s rancor, and also that particular posters and threads are being named and analyzed, I think it belongs in the BBQ Pit with the other “should we get rid of the Pit” thread(s).

[Moderator Hat OFF]

Gaudere, I beg to disagee with your last sentence, though it’s your privilege as a moderator to move a thread to where you feel it belongs.

Stoid was quite explicit in saying she was not calling for getting rid of the Pit. She was drawing a line between an inane or idiotic comment and the poster who made it.

We all slip. Even Triskadecamus, whom I hold in exceeding high regard, occasionally says something I consider foolish. And every one of us has in common the desire to fight ignorance. I would assume that means in ourselves as well as in our fellow posters.

Calling names is a kid’s game. Challenging foolishness masquerading as intelligent comment is not. There’s a huge difference, and one Stoid has very effectively pointed out.

And having said that, let me associate myself in every particular with the OP. I find TheRyan’s posting style less than courteous much of the time. I do not therefore conclude that he is an ignorant asshole. I think Stoid has said some stupid things from time to time.

But not this time.

And that’s important for each of us to keep in mind. None of us is perfect and all-knowing; each of us has much to learn. Hopefully from each other.

Or “with the flame you post shall you be also burnt.”

Damn, Gaudere.

You just killed my street cred. snif

Now I gotta cap someone.

Well, all right, Poly, you’re correct that she wasn’t calling for the abolishment of the Pit, as I implied in my post (though there is certainly some questioning of the utility of the Pit). However, I think my choice of forum still stands; any thread in which specific facets of this board AND specific posters and their actions are brought up is much more personal and particular than I like to see in Great Debates; a more global restatement of her premise would have been a GD, but this is simply too specific. Not that people have never used OPs in Great Debates to make veiled comments about the board or the actions of other posters or moderators or admins–but as long as it is veiled I’m more inclined to let it slide than an OP that is explicitly commenting nearly solely on specific events and forums and people on this board and shows no signs of going on to a more general debate about the usefulness/damage of “venting”.

That’s you. Having had to deal with him for a while, and having had to deal with his side tracking of debates while he was arguing against me, and sidetracking debate while he was “on my side” of the argument, I could. My main argument against him is he, seemingly deliberlitely, pretends to not understand words or concepts. Stupid little things that he does over and over.

Fascinating. I could also take your comments in a thread, lump them together with a bunch of other comments from other people, and make you come off as a real ass too. The difference, is that seperate people were saying those things. We were complaining about 1 single poster.


I’m sorry. From someone who consistently judges republicans and republican posters on the board (although to be fair I haven’t noticed you doing it much lately) I find this an absolutely hilarious statement. And yes, I do think about what I’m doing, and no I have no problem doing it. I have every right to judge others based on their words and actions. They have every right to judge me based on my words and actions.


Why do you think there must be a mob mentality? Just because 20 individual posters dislike someone they’re a mob? And, no, I don’t feel pride at calling someone a shit head, though I do occasionally chuckle at particularly clever insults, just as others, and I’m sure you do.


Basicly? yes.


Interestingly enough, I would. Why? Because it doesn’t violate my personal code of behavior. I can think of quite a few people I would kick the shit out of. There are hundreds if not thousands of other people on this board who would do the same. We happen to have different moral codes. Fancy that.


You ever jay walked? Would you jay walk right in front of a cop? You ever smoked? would you smoke where it was illegal? You ever yelled at someone? Wouold you yel at them in any location at any time?

I’m guessing the answer to these is no.


Excellent! IF The Ryan decides to stop responding to me, and start ignoring my comments and threads, I’ll be quite happy. He has made good points at times, but I’ve never seen him make a point that no one else made in a much more constructive, less assholish manner.


Then they should stop lying to the kids and tell them the truth.


I do it in the proper forum.


That is indeed a good point. I agree completely. People should examine their behavior on the board and think about if they are like that IRL. Me? I mostly am. I’m a big believer in acting on a message board, in all aspects of your life, like you. Like the person you are, not making up identities, not thinking you could get away with shit because it’s a message board, etc, etc. Sometimes, I do post things without thinking, and later regret it (usually when I’m posting late at night and am slap-happy or drunk). Do I regret what I said about The Ryan? Nope. Do I care to elaborate on what I said? Nope, not worth my time.


[sub]::dashing out of the thread and diving for cover::[/sub]

And I feel the same way, which is why I didn’t call for the Pit to be closed. Well, to be more accurate, I also didn’t call for the Pit to be closed because my hope is always that people will choose to self-regulate, rather than have outside forces regulate them. (As I’ve said before, I’m actually a Libertarian in my heart, I just don’t believe it works in real life.) In the long run I think it is healthier.

There’s also the tried-and-true method of simply ignoring the people you just can’t or won’t deal with. As most GD heads probably know by now, I have resorted to this with a number of people. Although it is usually because they have been nasty to me personally, not because of how they behave in a general sense. (With the usual exceptions here and there.) I figure if people can’t behave towards me in a civilized and reasonably decent manner, well then, fuck ‘em! :smiley:

While there is some truth to that, I think it’s only true for some. Others get caught up in the heat of the moment…the exhilaration of expressing some of their pent-up feelings about someone. When they stop to look again, they realize that it is ** not ** actually in keeping with their own code, and maybe they’ll think next time, be a bit more careful in what they say, if they say anything at all.

Well, that just about made the couple hours I spent crafting it worthwhile. :smiley:

Wait! Gimme a chance! Please…not the Pit! I can make it more generalized, really I can…no…wait…:eek:

** Oldscratch and Dinsdale: **

Not everyone really does feel good about themselves after a pileup like that, and it is those people I hope to reach, and those people I hope are in the majority. If you feel good about your behavior, and you say that you do, then that’s all that counts.

But I would like to point out that both of you, in your disagreements with me, made it about The Ryan’s behavior – exactly as I had asked you not to. What I am asking everyone to do is determine whether someone else’s behavior has anything to do with their own. The Ryan may indeed be in need of some constructive criticism. It is a virtual certainty that calling him names doesn’t qualify and merely lets you blow off steam at his (and ultimately perhaps your own) expense.

And to answer **Oldscratch **

I’m not sure what your point is. Jaywalking doesn’t really fall anywhere on my code of bahavior. Smoking? What, pot? I don’t have a problem with that either. Yelling? Actually, very, very rarely in my life. But the volume of my voice doesn’t really register on my behavior code either, except as it relates to general courtesy (no, I wouldn’t yell in a movie theatre during a movie). If you refer to “yelling” as in “screaming in anger”, IRL, I’m actually a super-peaceful gal. I don’t have fights with people, I’ve had all of my closest friends for decades and we never have “falling out” type problems, and I work very hard at communicating clearly and carefully when I am upset with my fiance or a family member, I don’t just scream at them. My goal is to cure the ill, not simply vent my frustrations over it.

Now that I think about it…this probably explains why I have such hysterics over political matters. When it comes to my own life, and people I am in actual contact with, I have ways and means of coping with any problems or difficulties that arise. That applies to the real world and to the SD. But when George Bush decides to withdraw funding from stem cell research and pretty much give it to churches instead… I go berserk because I am powerless to stop it. Not to mention the fact that the issues are so much more important than those in my own little life, which exacerbates the problem.

Wow… a little more enlightenment every day.



I’m sorry. I didn’t notice this request. And looking back, I still don’t. Could you point out where you said this? I can’t garauntee that I would have honored it, but I might have.


Absolutely. My behavior, and how I treat people depends on how they act.


At this point, I’m not really interested in constructive criticism of The Ryan. I just wanted to blow off steam. Will he take others, admitidly very helpfull nicer, constructive criticism? Maybe. If he does, will my opinion of him change? Yes.


Let me put it this way. Do you jaywalk? If you smoked pot, would you do it in front of a cop? In a movie? I wouldn’t. Just like you don’t have a problem with those actions, I don’t have a problem with my actions. I also don’t have a problem with driving drunk, as long as you do it in the middle of a farm field with no one else around, with shooting guns, as long as they are fired to save lives, with all sorts of other actions that could be considered inapropriate, immoral, wrong in certain situations, but in the right time and place, no one would criticize you over. (ok some would, but I’d disagree with them)