Defending Reeder

I don’t think the banning of Reeder was warrented. This is opinion is based both on Reeder as a poster and my feelings about how bannings work on this board. Let’s deal with the latter point first.

Why not changed the name to SLMB–the Straight-Laced Message Board? In a recent thread entitled, Is this place as good since they started charging?, Patty O’Furniture wrote,

I have no problems with banning socks, people who are regularly cruel and nasty, people who arrive here and never post except to complain about the board, and people who come here to spam or promulgate their hateful doctrines while disguising their intentions.

But Apollo and Athena rule here, not Hermes and Dionysius, and the latter gods are not so very welcome. The concept of “jerk” here includes Loki, and the concept of “troll” includes Puck.

A mod accused me of trolling in this thread. The crime of trolling was apparently part of Reeder’s banning. I don’t agree with the concept of “trolling” that SDMB moderators consider banworthy. Or rather, there is a spectrum of trolling, and the mods here make the cut somewhere in the infrared. This is far too stringent; it makes one “look over one’s shoulder” when posting, and it restricts the natural communication that makes a great message board great.

A recent thread asked whether whooshing should be considered trolling. The essential trolling factors are A) desiring to get a rise or negative reaction out of people, and B) not really believing oneself in the message. In whooshing the desired reaction is mild–a mockable lack of understanding, perhaps combined with annoyance–but the lack of one’s belief in the message is high. Whooshing is typically forgiven on SDMB because Factor A is mild; further, board culture approves of mocking others for perceived ignorance or stupidity.

Classic trolling, however, is much different than the trolling that known board member sometimes get accused of. It usually consists of a clear hot-button issue (racist or homophobic concepts, b&w political rants, etc.), and hence a high Factor A. Factor B can range anywhere from complete insincerity to fanatical belief. Often the troll’s rants are prefabricated or even plagiarized.

The only people who do that on SDMB are those who join explicitly for that purpose. Perhaps there have been exceptions wherein experienced members have gone off the deep end and done so, but it must be rare. Some of Reeder’s may have had a medium to high Factor A, but Factor B was zero; that is, what he said really wasn’t that inflammatory and sincerely hated Bush and kin.

Since the “troll quotient” is Factor A multiplied by Factor B, then a zero for either factor means there is no trolling. And this matches the common sense concept of trolling, too: If I posted something with zero Factor A in MPSIMS (“I love lollipops–don’t you?”), then, no matter how little I mean what I am writing, my innocuous statements won’t get a rise out of people and no one will accuse me of trolling (telling lies is another SDMB sin that has led to bannings, but it is not trolling if it doesn’t get a rise). Likewise, if like Reeder we say what we mean but get a rise out of people for saying it, then perhaps we’re not diplomatic, perhaps we have an unpopular opinion, but it’s not trolling.

(FWIW, the accusation above against me was of an entirely different nature. It was a free-for-all in the Pit, in which I refused to admit defeat. My explicit flames and mind games may not have been good Pit art, but they aren’t high-frequency trolling, either. But a “backfired” pitting in which the backfiree refuses to take his beating is something the mods really don’t like. Rev Mykeru, SnakeSpirit, etc.)

So, Problem Number 1: There is no explicit definition of trolling, much less a philosophy of trolling that informs mod decisions. This problem has led to several arbitrary bannings, or at least bannings that were highly controversial.

Problem Number 2 is the “don’t be a jerk rule.” The self-serving mod spin is that this allows a general principle of board behavior to be communicated without mod-debilitating casuistry. I say, however, that this principle, however just it was in the first place, has been applied so arbitrarily that it no longer has any explicit meaning. It retains the hidden meaning, however, that one ought to do what works within board culture, whether or not such behavior is considered jerky in Real Life.

If I were to unpack the DBAJ rule, I would do it thus:

  1. Don’t be a monstrous asshole to other posters. I’m talkiing about utterly excessive cruelty, not just basic flames.

  2. Don’t significantly reduce the value of threads through B&W hijacking and non-sequiturs (this does not apply if you are the OP).

  3. Do not post hate speech, encourage the overthrow of the government of the United States, etc.

And so on. Currently, however, there are posters who are jerks by any standard but have no trouble with the mods, and there are others that violate the hidden board culture or who do poorly politically and get into trouble.

If had my druthers, there would be almost zero banning of sincere board participants. In fact, I can’t think of a single such person I would have liked to see banned, and the reasons for banning them seem, if I may be frank, uptight, pantywaist bullshit. No, I wouldn’t ban lissener, or SnakeSpirit, or Reeder. And for that matter I wouldn’t bad Liberal, though I find him a huge detractor of board quality. Liars like handy and, as stated above, true socks and trolls being a different matter.

So that’s my observation about the way banning works here. I think it serves a kind of sick sociological function as well, somewhat like what the Aztecs did way back when. It’s a negative that nevertheless builds social cohesion. And, frankly, it has greatly diminished my respect for and enjoyment of the board.

But now let’s talk about Reeder specifically. This banning goes beyond ridiculous. Hey, when you know who a poster is and what his/her opinions are, it should come as no surprise when they continue to state those opinions! If they post too much shit in the Pit that you don’t feel like reading, here’s a clue: Don’t read the threads.

It’s not a hijack; it’s not trolling. And the treatment of Reeder seems very much like the One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest syndrome. The guy isn’t bad, but you’ve got a hardon for him, so you put conditions on him. He chafes against those, so now you’re mad for the original reason plus his disobedience. You restrict him further, give him a final warning. He can’t change his character, disobeys some more, and finally you lobotomize/ban him.

I always found Reeder to be insightful and entertaining. Some people didn’t. Guess what? It’s a message board–people are going to write things sometimes that you don’t like. You can’t keep purging for perfection. It never works. The SDMB keeps banning the exceptional posters, the ones that stick out and have something unique to say, while, naturally, the gray little posters with their “I love lollipops” post away. It’s about time to get a new mod philosophy.

Did you note all those past warnings in the ATMB thread?

When a Mod tells you your’re on your last chance, you should tighten your ass up until you start shitting Tiffany cufflinks, if you want to remain on the Board.

Really. Let’s have a comprehensive list of those so-called “exceptional posters” who have been banned, and compare it to all the others here who actually contribute value and worth to this Board and yet somehow remain unbanned.

All bannings are arbitrary. Even your proposed solution just introduces more qualities to be arbitrarily evaluated. Why is it better to have people bitch about finer points than broader ones?

Aeschines, check first here:

**Reeder ** got warnings for posting in wrong forums for political purposes and got specific warnings about the pointless anti-Bush attacks. Yes, one can complaint against this sorry administration, but Reeder had the knack of always turning what could have been a fair thrashing to the president into a shit-flinging contest. Amusing to see, but not conductive to getting would be supporters on one’s side.

IOW: jerkish behavior did him in more than his politics.

First, I am more in favor of fewer bannings than more just bannings.

Two, I have not proposed a solution per se, but rather have said I think the “don’t be a jerk” rule really isn’t an effective principle to work with at this point. According to my unpacked rules, I would only ban people if they were massive assholes to others or posted in a fashion that fucked up threads. These more stringent conditions for banning would, in turn, result in fewer bannings, which is my preference.

Name me ONE sentiment Reeder voiced that dozens of other people couldn’t have expressed with far more intelligence and politeness, and perhaps fostered intelligent conversation instead of controversy, insults and cries of “oh no, not again.”

People who are incapable of having a real conversation here - because they’re too strident or dumb or smug - end up getting banned here. I’ve noticed that and I’m not sorry about it.

Only if we assume that the posters already getting banned don’t meet those more stringent conditions, though, which is just another judgment call by somebody in charge.

No doubt. Whether someone stays or goes on a moderated board will always be up to moderators. I’m merely saying what my preference is and what I think leads to a better message board. I think SDMB is too uptight in this regard. YMMV.

How many members have actually been banned of late?

All I can say is that there are a few people still on this board about whom the best that could be said was: “Well, he’s not as bad as reeder.” What now?

In some way I’ll miss the wretched little nitwit. He was, afterall, our little nitwit. :slight_smile:

Posting in the wrong forum is bad IMV and leads to the kind of chaos I personally do not enjoy. As for pointless Bush attacks–oh well. As I said, if you don’t like them, don’t read them.

In my experience, you have to have a strong tolerance in life for people and situations you don’t like. Unless you are a hermit, you will always have to deal with people you perceive as assholes.

Reeder may have been a bit of a flamethrower, but he did voice the opinion of many here through his cornily ferocious Bush attacks. In so doing, he scratched that itch for many posters, who ended up (in my speculation) not having to bother themselves. That’s how it worked for me. I hate Bush as much as Reeder did, but I never felt the need to write about any of his minor foibles (or major ones, for that matter), as Reeder had already covered it.

Indeed, posters like Reeder serve a very useful board purpose. By representing the extreme (in tone, if not necessarily in philosophy) of their positions, they tend to centralize the shit-flinging so that it can be dealt with by both sides at once and in one place. They are message board calomel.

The itch will be scratched somehow, and eliminating the backscratcher doesn’t help.

Reeder got directly to the point without effete nuance or meretricious artifice. It was this clarity that made him a useful organism on the board.

This is some definition of clarity I wasn’t familiar with. Being direct and unpretentious is great, but this guy was a moron who seemed incapable of having, much less expressing, complex thought. There’s gotta be some kind of happy middleground, even if maybe it isn’t me.

However, I totally agree with your use of the word “organism.”

If history is anything, a new breed of reeder will be born. The same thing when a bully leaves the classroom, a new bully develops. The cells are dividing now! No offense to reeder, I’m just saying that someone like him will emerge. I personally didn’t mind him.

I looked back over a bunch of Reeder’s threads just now. He was a very laconic poster, usually posting just a few lines. I don’t see any rants, or anything very controversial for that matter. Responses to other posters don’t involve flaming.

His CafSoc posts are quite good. Short but pithy. Some good links.

His sin? Posting a lot about Bush, once in a while in the wrong forum. Dumb banning.

The mods of this board dealt with him with banning, so yes one has to deal with assholes; and the reason why I choose this message board is precisely because, while assholes do appear, those assholes eventually overstep and are dealed with by higher authorities. Dealing with assholes does not mean that one has to then prevent the authorities from also dealing with them.

You are ignoring that Reeder did that but then he did behaved like a jerk too when doing that.

Mercury(I) chloride (calomel) was used in medicine as a diuretic and purgative so I guess you are right. :slight_smile:

That is silly, others will pick the itch and will do a better job than him, remember: you and I have the power to do so.

…No matter how many times he was told not to…

Nope, the dumb thing was to ignore warnings. And they are cumulative; doing good posts does not clean the warnings unless there is a change in behavior.

How many, in fact? I looked at his recent threads, and everything seemed in order.

Right, hence my reference to Cuckoo’s Nest. At first TPTB punish for something that was purportedly wrong in itself; later they punish for disobedience.