Okay, let's talk about (mis)quoting.

Giraffe says that it’s okay to misquote someone as long as you’re “careful” and that “any changes within quote tags” are “clearly labeled”.

Skip Magic says that “[c]ertain allowances–for certain infractions–can be made”.

Cajun Man says that “the misquote rule is unbendable”.

From here.

Is the rule unclear? It’s certainly caused some confusion with the staff. Is it ever okay to misquote somebody? Was Giraffe’s misquoting of even sven (see here) okay?

Is the rule unfair? Probably. It seems to be enforced rather arbitrarily, not unlike a lot of the rules around here. Perhaps a clarification of the rule and a sticky in the mod forum, so you’re all on the same page, is in order?

For once, SIlver Fire, I do not agree. If by quoting you mean he still had even sven after the “Originally Posted By:” then yeh, he mis-quoted.
BUT, he obviously said that he was in fact just altering her post to prove a point. He was obviously not INTENDING that even sven said those things, and even said so.
Would you have prefered he broke up her post into different quote boxes and added his opinions in between?

Wait, he didn’t even have “Originally posted by even sven”, just a quote box. That’s not a quote of even sven.

Right, but even very transparent fucking around with quotes inside quote boxes has seriously never been tolerated. There is zero leeway, even if it’s obvious what you’re doing, and that’s been clear for some time. I’m not sure what I think about the rule, but I sure think Giraffe broke it.

He misquoted her. Whether he used the full quote tag or not, he very obviously used a quote by even sven and added his own content to it. Yes, he bolded the extra parts. Yes, he told everybody that he was doing it and pointed it out again when he was done.

My question is, does all of that make it okay? Right now, it depends who you ask. It’s yet another inconsistency that I believe needs to be cleared up. What, if anything, makes misquoting a poster okay?

Actually, it used to be tolerated, until some little fuckwit with a chip on his shoulder threatened to sue the Reader because someone altered a quote of his in a text box. Fuckwit got banned, but we got stuck with a new rule that’s I’ve always felt is excessively restrictive.

All that aside, I think Giraffe’s post was pretty clearly a violation of said rule, but rather than giving a mod a smack-down, it’d be nice if this were used to rexamine that rule, and maybe make it a little less draconian.

I think it’s a stupid rule, but if it does have to exist I think it should be enforced as leniently as possible. As long as I’m not making a fake quote that’s completely libelous, who really gives half a shit except giant whiners?

Silver Fire (and hello and good to meet you, by the way), I am extremely sensitive myself, by temperament and by training, to misquotation. I think it’s wrong and should be punished when it occurs. But I can see shades of gray here. In the first example, a poster used a quote box to insert a parenthetical commentary on someone else’s post. Rude and crudely done, perhaps, and I don’t like it, but it presents little actual danger that words will be wrongly attributed to the other member. In the second, Cajun Man seems to, um, clarify Skip Magic’s interpretation that infractions may be overlooked if they’re all in good fun. Giraffe’s riff on even sven’s post sets my teeth on edge because it inserts words not even sven’s into a quote box with even sven’s name on it. I have to admit though, that it’s hard to miss the before-and-after disclaimers Giraffe provided, and it’s easy to recognize the technique as an easy, efficient way to see a prior argument with a new perspective. Neither honest or dishonest in and of itself, it’s a tactic that can be judged partly by how overtly it’s accomplished – in this case, very.

I wouldn’t mind a rule that specified no tampering inside quote boxes, except perhaps for ellipses, and I’d like a technical innovation that inserted the post # that was being boxed. But I’m pretty convinced that Giraffe, for example, has a handle on the uses and abuses involved. I would like to be sure that everybody else is also, though.

Actually it didn’t. But you were probably removing your knee from your eye at the time so I can understand how you wouldn’t see that.

You know, you’re right. It merely had a quote box containing the bulk of a post previously made by even sven, with even sven’s name, in boldface, positioned just above it. My mistake, but one that merely demonstrates another sly way to play with the quote function. A quote box without attribution, but closely mimicking another poster’s prior comment, with that same poster’s name featured prominently just above it … nope, I guess you wouldn’t see any potential for misunderstandings there. I don’t think, in your case, it’s a knee-related problem, though.

I actually initiated a discussion about this very issue with the other mods on email about a month ago, as I wasn’t sure I fully understood/supported the rule as I thought it was written. There had been some confusion over the exact degree to which changes within quote tags were allowed. In the end, the consensus view was that any use of the quote tags that could give someone the impression a poster said something he/she did not in fact say was against the rules. However, clearly-labeled changes or paraphrasing within quote tags was acceptable. The burden of clarity lies on the person altering the quote, however, so it is probably best to err on the side of caution if you aren’t sure.

So both of the following are acceptible modifications within quote tags:

(emphasis mine)

I think my altering of even sven’s words also falls within the unambiguous category, since I didn’t put her name on the quote and I clearly labeled which words were added by me. If people feel that was still potentially confusing, I will freely apologize and not do such things again in the future.

I’d also like to hear people’s thoughts on what you’d like the rules regarding quoting others to be.


That’s the problem. It’s not uncommon for various staff to have wildly different interpretations of the rules here and that, to me, is a big problem. This is a chance to clarify one of them.

Trouble is, Giraffe, I’m pretty sure I got warned once for doing one like your first example (though it may not have been an official warning and thus not archived - I’m not certain of enough context to find it now.) Very clearly not actual misquoting, but the rule as I’ve seen it thus far has always been that any fucking around with the quote box is not allowed. I think it’s a stupid rule, so long as there’s no actual room for confusion, but that’s what has been enforced in my experience.

This is quite a leap from “unbendable”, something that was decided by “The Powers That Be” less than a week ago (see Cajun Man’s post linked in the OP, dated the first of this month).

So which is it?

Well if you saw the even sven, then you’re also reading that that’s because it isn’t a direct quote of even sven’s post.
So no, I don’t see any misundertsandings. Did anyone seriously think even sven said that? Or are you just fulfilling your Offenderati quota for this month?

I never got warned for mine.

This thread is less about Giraffe misquoting even sven and more about the consistent enforcement of rules. I happen to agree with Ooner; it’s a stupid rule. Misquoting is mostly harmless. Giraffe’s post wasn’t even that bad, but he invited this thread. I’ve been under the impression (several posters and the most recent interpretation (that I’ve seen) happen to agree) that it is an absolute, “unbendable” rule. If it’s not, I think we ought to know that.

FWIW, this rule was originally instituted over something I was involved with in 2002.

I changed a quote to alter the word “conservative” to “jew” to show what I thought was prejudiced language. I clearly said that I had made the alterations, and that they were for illustrative purposes.

I used a quote box, and when I did, the “originally posted by” tag came along. The person I quoted threatened to sue me and SDMB.

He was banned, and Ed Zotti added the rules that misquoting and threatening to sue were bannable offenses henceforth.

If the rule is indeed unbendable now, it ought to get bent for uses like Giraffe’s. That was a clearly stated and highlighted set of alterations which made a succinct point. There was no intent to deceive and no likelihood of confusion on the reader’s part.

Perhaps the rule could be amended to allow such alterations if no quote box were used for the amended text, or at least no “Originally posted by XXXX” attribution were used within the quote box. Disclaimers such as those used by Giraffe would also be required.

Easy fix:

Don’t use the quote box to make point like Scylla did.

Set off the quote some other way, perhaps with the [ I ] tag or plain old “quotation marks.” Using the [ quote ] tag, even with disclaimers, makes it look like a MB quote of a previous post and no alterations should be allowed.

I think the rule on not changing other people’s quotes is valid and useful in a written-word only medium like this. We are all represented here solely by what we write, and we take it in good faith that what we write will not be substantially altered by anyone for any reason.

I think even with the disclaimers he used, Giraffe stepped over the line for no good reason.