Rule clarification: Insulting mods in the pit.

Calmly and without referring to recent events.

I understand that it is ok to get “verbally intense” towards the mods in the Pit. We have had no shortage of threads along those lines, and they have happened without event.

Now, if the mod action that one dislikes happened in the Pit, is it ok to reply right then and there (being that it is already the pit), or should one open a new dedicated thread about it?

Say we are pitting Bush. I do something ugly and get a mod note. I think the mod is full of it and want to say it. Can I say it in that thread or must I start a new thread about it?

I can see my talking back being a bit of a hijack, of course, but it shouldn’t go for more than a post or two, so I don’t think that’s the relevant principle.

Say the mod note happens in a pitting to that mod…

According to certain things I’ve read, you should start a new thread, just as if the current thread was in another forum. It keeps the original thread on track.

It’s become apparent that the Pit rules aren’t as clear as they should be. We’re discussing revisions and I’ll post them in due time. We want to let the Pit be the Pit with the understanding that there are limits even there. More later.

Fair enough.

And now you’ll do the right thing and reinstate Euthanisiast, right? Since he didn’t break any clear rule, and all.

As I’ve said in a previous thread in this forum, the lack of clarity was the reason he was only suspended for a week.

If you admit the rules are unclear then why is he suspended at all?

Exactly. It’s like getting a speeding ticket for failing to obey a “SPEED LIMIT W” sign.

They weren’t so unclear as to excuse that type of behavior. With all respect, let’s not keep going round on this.

I want to commend you for this, which I think is the right call.

As I commented in the Pit thread, the meaning of rules like “Don’t be a jerk” is far from clear in a forum where posters are allowed to call each other all manner of nasty names. More specificity seems the way to go.

Personally, I’m not really sure why you allow Pitting of administrative actions at all, as opposed to just saying “Keep your criticism polite and post it in ATMB.” I can’t think of any other message board where the mods put up with this sort of abuse. But of course it’s up to you how much abuse you’re willing to tolerate on your own board. If the rules are clear, I for one have no complaint.

Now I say this as someone who’s never gotten a Mod warning, and have never really felt the need to pit a Moderator, or even really chime in on pittings of Mods. I may, therefore, be overestimating the cathartic value of the pit. However, it seems that by allowing a place for members to vent, and in particular, hear the responses of their peers to those mod actions, it’s a good thing for the members of the board to have the pit. It makes a warning seem much less onerous if you know that everyone else thought the action was overharsh.

And, of course, while the administration is very unlikely to ever admit it publically (you don’t want to undercut the authority of management except in the most drastic circumstances), the Pit, in all its virulence, is the best way for the Mods and Admins to get a good grasp on what the members want out of moderation.

It’s fine to say that the rules will be clarified, but I’m still waiting for an explanation as to how a poster can be suspended for a rule they weren’t aware of.

I’m not trying to say that they shouldn’t allow posters to criticize how they’re moderating the board. What I don’t get is letting people do it in the “curse people out and call them nasty names forum.” Surely the members could communicate what they want out of the board moderation in a forum where some level of politeness is expected.

Of course, there is no doubt some cathartic value in getting to curse people out when they use their authority in a way you don’t agree with – but it’s a catharsis that most people learn to do without in polite society.

This. Fun as it is telling people that you will see them next Tuesday, it is something we manage to live without IRL. Saying that it is not allowed in here wouldn’t be that much of a stretch.

I’ll miss using the right to do it, but I won’t miss seeing others using the same right. And this is, in the end, how laws work. I love having loud parties until sunrise. Not having one next door every day more than makes up for not being able to have one myself.

Anyone who gets bent out of shape over an insult to their internet pseudonym needs to get a life. It’s a freakin message board, for crying out loud.

But the insult is actually directed to the person behind the internet pseudonym. What you’re saying is that someone writes a person’s name on a piece of paper and shouts at it. That’s not the case here. There’s a real person behind the name.

Good luck with that.

The problem is that making firm, clear, inflexible rules of what may and may not be written, and to whom, and when, and where, and under which conditions, boxes you guys in more than you’re comfortable being boxed in. “Firm, clear, and inflexible” easily morphs into lots of “Okay, HE did the same thing on Tuesday, and HE only got a warning”-type complaints, which you currently deal with by saying “Hey, it’s our site, we’ll do as we please.”

But “loose, vague and flexible” simply and explicitly IDs your policy as “Hey, it’s our site, we’ll do as we please,” which is bothering some folks right now.

Are you concerned about harsh or hostile tones more, or abusive language, or persistence of arguing beyond the point you declare an argument settled? May I call a mod a cunt in a context where I’m all RO, and half-kidding, and pretending to be much madder than everyone knows I am, but in some dead-serious thread on a passionate issue (like PP) my language needs to be far more decorous?

I would advise you to continue taking hits in your official positions here, and to recognize that you have the power and don’t need to send the message that you do. If someone is disrupting communication–spamming, or sockpuppeteering or something that has clear parameters, well, that’s one thing. But stuff that just pisses you off personally? Try thinking of that stuff as a cost of doing business: you want to have a lively, free-flowing exchange of ideas here, and you’ve set it up so that venting on Mods, even when the venting is uncalled for or needlessly nasty in tone or language, serves a useful purpose for your clients, even if it feels horrible to you guys personally now and then. Think of yourselves as doctors on a mental ward–you don’t react to “Hey, you stupid prick” the same way you do to that abuse in a barroom. If that’s too extreme, try the analogy of being a nursery school teacher–if a kid calls you a bad name, it’s pretty unprofessional to go nuts on him. You’re better off to let the words slide off your back and try to help the kid deal with his emotional issues.

What I’m saying is that a mod writing only “I don’t appreciate the abusive language. Please address me in more nearly civil tone” (even if it has to be repeated a few times) is pretty strong stuff, and far more impressive than “You’re banned/ suspended/etc. even though other people use the same words, express the same sentiments without even a warning.” I think you guys need a tougher hide, which would resolve some of your issues here and free you from the burden of inventing Pit and ATMB rules that will be lawyered to death, and still leave most of the current problems in place. With a slightly tougher hide, in the recent example, I think Lynn would have simply changed the title to something less provocative, but instead of that professional response she chose to label the thread “trolling,” and getting into a whole messy discussion about what trolling is and isn’t, which no one enjoyed very much.

I don’t think any of you mods or admins deserve one-tenth of the abuse you get and will get, but I do think that to some large degree, that’s just the nature of free, open, lively discourse. You can try to contain it, but only at the risk of having an ongoing if not endless discussion of your policies while your clientele remains uncomfortable with the grayer areas of any policies you can devise. If most of the problems can be resolved by raising your own standards of being offended personally, that’s how I’d go.

You have to be kidding! I think the mods here have developed hides of positively rhinoceroserian thickness. Insults which would have had me sobbing in my cornflakes have been shrugged off as lightly as the brush of a gnat’s wing. Sure, there have been exceptions, but in general the moderators have tolerated mass shitstorms without resorting to bans, suspensions or even warnings.

I do think there should be a limit, even in the Pit, to personal attacks on mods. Where the line should be drawn though, that’s a tough one.

Seriously? You’re that affected by mere words? Insults are just words, and words only have whatever power over you that you give them. Getting all bent out of shape to the point that you’re actually crying because someone called you a bad name is blatantly stupid, IMO. The pit is for people to vent; let 'em vent. What do you care if someone–even someone you know closely–calls you a big, fat poopyhead? Or a crotch-rotten cumdumpster? Sure, I’ll sometimes get a momentary flash of anger over somethign someone says or calls me, and I’ll insult them right back. But damned if Im’m gonna let it ruin my day. Some things are just not worth the effort of outrage; this is one of those.

I agree, for the most part. I do think that this would be the most elegant solution, though I’m aware of an elegant solution that consists mainly of seeming to encourage an increase in hostile and vulgar language may seem oxymoronic at first. As you note, the question of where to draw the line (and how to draw it with consistent fairness, firmness, wisdom, tolerence, good humor, etc.) is probably not going to happen any time soon, at leat not in a way that’s an improvement over the current line-drawing. Far simpler, I think, to have monthly reminders distributed amongst the mods, “Hey, people, we take a lot of really nasty abuse from these Dopers in the Pit, huh? I’m glad we’ve spent another month behaving like perfect professionals, without an over-reaction or a personal response to any of their excesses. We’ve now gone 67 days without an accident! Congrats!”

I mean, it’s not as if any new policy they come up with this weekend is actually going to fix the problem, is it?