Tone policing in moderation - it's bad

Continuing the discussion from Where can I find centrist discussion?:

I’m gonna carp a bit about PuzzleGal’s moderation here.

The first observation is fine… okay, they were looking for information, not criticism, and some of us couldn’t resist criticizing. We were wrong, we were on the jerk side, fair call. Speaking for myself, I’m chastened and will not repeat that performance.

As to the other bits. I’m calling this out because Puzzlegal has in the past modded me for being “dripping with sarcasm.” Now it’s “too partisan” and “too dismissive.” Last I looked, sarcasm is allowed in every forum. Partisanship is allowed and abundant. Being dismissive is common and routine. It’s not moddable (or generally umodded) behavior.

And the rules don’t support any type of tone policing like “don’t be dismissive”, and I’m not aware of any history of such moderation. So, while you can expect me to follow directions like “stay on topic” or “don’t be a jerk” or “leave this thread”, don’t hold great expectations that I’m going to stop being sarcastic or partisan or dismissive. It’s not against the rules, it’s been well-tolerated for some time, and sometimes it’s appropriate and necessary.

Partisanship was expressly off-topic in that thread, as I mentioned in the first sentence. There are threads where partisanship is appropriate. This isn’t one of them.

And being dismissive of the topic is a form of being a jerk. If you prefer, I could have called it threadshitting.

But in general, I believe that threads asking for advice should maintain a civil tone, and yes, that’s how I am moderating. I also think that in general, IMHO and MPTIMS should be be more civil than what’s acceptable in P&E and GD, which in turn should be more civil than the Pit.

This is news to me. Breaking news threads in MPSIMS, sure. But why would you want people to feel that there are forumwide restrictions on expressing their opinion freely and (where appropriate) robustly in the IMHO forum? Threads in IMHO obviously vary considerably, and include (for example) asking for advice, where jerkish behavior should obviously be moderated. But I wasn’t aware that there was any forumwide tradition on the board of being more civil in IMHO than GD.

Civility doesn’t prevent you from expressing an opinion robustly, imho.

I mostly stay out of GD and P&E because they tend to get snippier. And that’s how I ended up modding the categories I moderate. But if I’m wrong as to the intent of the site, I am willing to change.

But I’ve been in mod discussions about moving a thread, and been told, “don’t move it to GD, the OP may not want to deal with that atmosphere”. So I didn’t come to this opinion out of nothing.

That’s loaded with the assumption that others agree that we must always be civil (on a forumwide basis) in IMHO. I don’t agree. I think it depends very much on the type of thread, and that there’s a wide spectrum between civility and being a jerk. If an IMHO thread is started by a proponent of some flavor of nonsense, sometimes it’s quite appropriate to respond with a post that is extremely blunt, dismissive or “dripping with sarcasm”.

Though AFAIK there’s no written rule about it, or explicit tradition, I think most posters are fine with someone saying “this is too incivil for MPSIMS or IMHO” and certainly “this is off-topic or against thread directions.” It’s a squishy gray area, but I agree those are different spaces.

What I take issue with is the tone-policing of “too sarcastic” or “too partisan” or “too dismissive”, which is a level of nannying I don’t think I’ve previously seen, and which I don’t think appropriate, or supportable by any rule. In particular, “too partisan” is itself often a red flag to a particular kind of bias. We can be controversial in IMHO, we can be partisan, we can trade barbs, it’s never been prohibited.

The “too partisan” was specific to that topic, which was a request for advice on finding “places to hold a centrist discussion”. The topic was specifically NOT about the value of left/right/center positions. I apologize if I gave the impression that I think partisanship is generally not allowed in IMHO. Opinions are often partisan, and IMHO is a fine spot to express partisan opinions. Just not in that topic.

Sarcastic and dismissive are different from partisan. We can argue about sarcasm, but I think it often tends towards jerkish behavior. “Dismissive” is very close to “thread shitting” in most cases.

To add my one small opinion, I thought puzzlegal’s mod note was good. The Dope is as strong as it is because of the moderation.

My post was totally an impulsive threadshit and I’ll strive to restrain myself. I have no problem with getting called out for threadshitting, it cuts directly to the point.

Sorry for the interruption, but I’ve noticed you’ve abbreviated the forum name Mundane Pointless Stuff I Must Share multiple times as MPTIMS, so I’m pretty sure it’s not a typo. I’m wondering why.

As to the OP, I’m good with puzzlegal’s note as well since the mod note in post #2 was to avoid politics The comment she modded was basically political. Once it was political, the characterization of it wasn’t the deciding factor for me.

ETA: Maybe if there was another example of the tone policing, I might see it better.

I would lean towards in a thread where posters identified as Centrist/Moderates, insulting Centrist/Moderates was being pretty jerkish. Not enough to draw a warning but enough for the type of modnote that puzzlegal gave.

Hell, she phrased it better than I would have as I look at it.

Thanks for pointing that out. Yeah, i suck at names, and i thought the category was Mundane Pointless Things I Must Share. I’ll try to get that right going forward.

Thanks! At first I thought it was a typo, then it got confusing after a while.

In my head I’ve always thought of it as EmPeeSims and have to think about the full name instead.

Eh, that wasn’t really my thought. If the topic was “why i hate the death penalty” or “why being a carnivore is the one true path” i think it’s okay to argue for the death penalty or against eating meat, even if that might insult the op. But this topic was “recommend some places i might like to visit to discuss politics with centrists”. And then i think “centrists suck” is inappropriate.

Frankly I’d rather be called a jerk than to be told “stop taking that tone” or whatever. But, it’s a minor quibble. I was clearly in the wrong after all.

Duly noted. I’ll try to remember that next time. :wink:

I keep misremembering it that way too. :frowning:

It’s not just you.

I think your moderation there was Ok.

@puzzlegal is telling another poster to “do better” in IMHO acceptable? It seems both rude and dismissive to me.