What is happening? Some of you aren't gonna like this.

Having seen what has happened over the last 12 + hours I am sure this is a BBQ Pit topic, so I am making it easy on the Moderators.

I don’t understand what is happening to the boards. I am not exactly a veteran of these boards, but have been posting to message boards for 5 years. I have seen people on other boards/chat rooms flame and hurt one another with serious consequences, it is important that we all keep a few things in mind here.

  1. There is a human behind those words. Whether or not you react emotionally is up to you but the fact remains there will be people that do react, keep that in mind.

  2. Have you ever, in your entire life, read an article in a newspaper or magazine that gets you hot under the collar? Enough that you write the editor of the publication or felt like you wanted to? I am sure a great deal of you have. Shows you that words on paper or on the internet can evoke emotions. In addition, if you didn’t have something to say I doubt you’d be here in the first place. This is a place to voice opinions and ask questions. It’s imminant that emotions will enter into these boards.

  3. Message boards are slightly less than a chat room. I have seen heated arguments in chat rooms that put the recent happenings to shame, but the emotions are there none-the-less.

  4. These and other message boards are a form of communication. It is up to you how you want others to perceive you, so do your best to convey, in words, what you mean.

  5. I realize this is the BBQ Pit, but is it really in your best interest to have every other word be fuck, shit, asshole, fuckhead etc? Also, it is important that if you must be so overtly angry, keep it in here and keep it out of other boards.

  6. I am ashamed that the moderators have helped fuel the most recent issue. I know that they are here for the same reason we are, but in my experience over the years, a Moderator or Forum Director whatever you want to call them should refrain from such outward displays. The Moderators and Admins should have a separate screenname for this behavior. Hey it has worked quite well on AOL and other boards (not that AOL is the model of decency, but in my experience helps.)

  7. I have seen more people react stronger than the person who was feeling attacked, bullied or whatever. If you expect those people to stand by and not feel like they need to defend themselves only to belittle them for their reactions, you need to rethink what you are communicating. Some of you have been so hateful in your replies it’s kind of scary.

Just a few weeks ago someone posted a plea to the masses to put down the swords, paraphrasing here. We had many problems in December and now we are ending January and starting February with similar feelings. When some of you say “you did this, you did that, you fucker, you dick, you should die” really does nothing but make you look like an ass, sorry I had to say that. But it really lowers the levels of thoughtful conversation.

I am applying this to MPSIMS, Great Debates and in here even if this is the BBQ Pit.

I can’t emphasize enough that even if this is a message board, there are still human emotions involved. Words are words whether spoken or written.

Words have always been ways to communicate emotions and thoughts before there was the internet, now we can just do it faster and more efficiently.

Flame me if you will, but reread this and try to understand where I am coming from. I rarely care what others say regarding who I am or what they perceive me to be, but I am just trying to help restore some sense of civility, which even in the BBQ Pit can be an attainable goal.

Tech, you’re absolutely right.

TECHCHICK – I absolutely agree that words have an effect that is easy to forget in the context of a message board, where you don’t see the reaction of the person you are complimenting or insulting. I also agree that people should observe some minimum standard of civility when posting, because gratuitious maliciousness is just counter-productive – it doesn’t advance your argument, it just pisses people off.

That said, I don’t think Opal’s unfortunate circumstances indicate some gross lack of civility on the Board. She over-reacted big time to some relatively minor criticism – which I guess was understandable in her current situation – but that doesn’t mean that people were being vicious to her – really, I can’t find anyone who was. (Well, Sake is now, but I’m not sure what his deal is, and he wasn’t doing it then.)

My point is that while basic civility is a goal that is attainable and ought to be sought after, we should not have to modify our posts so as to avoid giving offense, even unintentionally, to anyone. We’d never succeed in doing that, anyway.


Fiat Justitia

I’ve been on and off boards, MU*s, and newsgroups for ten years or so. Things like the occurings of the last few days are almost cyclic. Everyone more or less gets along, then something happens and everyone is up in arms, screaming and so forth. Many people leave and the group might die if enough do. If the group survives, after everyone has had their time to air out any frustrations, things settle down for the next eruption of Mt.St.Helens. It is actually better that these things happen every few months to a year. If it takes to long, what blows people out of their lethargy is usually enough to kill the place. Hopefully they are small not-to-frequent mobs that let off steam and make people remember correctness for a while longer.

>>Being Chaotic Evil means never having to say your sorry…unless the other guy is bigger than you.<<

—The dragon observes

I agree with the OP in most particulars. The BBQ Pit is specifically set aside for flaming and over-the-top insults. But even in the Pit most of the exchanges are done with a certain tongue-in-cheek protocol.

What happened today went far beyond insults and freedom of speech. And no, not all of it is attributable to Opal’s condition. Like it or not, she worked hard on a project requested by posters. Whether or not that project was worthwhile is open to debate; Opal’s hard work and effort is not.

With all respect, Jodih (and there is no sarcasm in that) I don’t think the situation today is quite so easily reducable. And the messy, unquantifiable issue is the human nerve that got struck.

This has happened with other posters, in other threads (e.g. child molestation, etc.) What should be legit grist for debate and the free-for-all sometimes hits a sore spot. And, IMO, when that line gets crossed, it’s only decent and humane for other posters to back off. Not back off their opinions, or their right to differ, but to just recognize that the person has lost their objectivity.

I’m not saying this well, but Opal’s case was just a more extreme example of something that’s happened before. And I don’t know the answer, but somewhere along the line there must be a place to back off. Whether it’s a post or email or whatever along the lines of, “hey, I’m doin’ this as a friendly argument; didn’t mean to attack you” can only help.

I’m too tired to make sense. Please take whatever sense you can find out of that rambling mess.


jodi, You said “but that doesn’t mean that people were being vicious to her.”

First of all, my posting was a general statement although I did bring up her situtation indirectly.

Secondly, if you go back through her “PunditLisa” board, she initially posted a picture that was harmful to her. I didn’t see the pic, but I did understand based on the words and the fact that TubaDiva edited it out that something was very wrong. Something that should have been recognized early on as serious problems ahead.

Maybe I am more sensitive to this issue than others because of my own background, I don’t know.

Here are quotes about her that spurred my need to post this and my need to show you that Sake was not the only one that was being utterly insensitive in this matter.


“Opal, you complain that people go apeshit for no reason and then proceed to give TubaDiva a hearty “go fuck yourself” for removing a picture of you with a knife to your wrists!”

“My comments were made beacuse I was hoping to prod Opal into taking action instead of what many posters are doing: supporting the mentality that makes her feel like a perpetual victim.”


“If she pulled down the entire Teeming Millions homepage because some people criticized either the Award contest in itself or the promotion thereof in in inapproproate threads, that was a VERY childish and ridiculously dramatic thing to do.”

"But there is no way in hell I will start kissing up to her in order to get that fucking Teeming Millions Homepage back online.

I’m sorry. Some people just take this shit WAY to seriously."

To Alphagene and Coldfire, I only mean these as examples and by no way indicates my opinion of you one way or another, it’s just examples of what I am talking about with regards to my OP.

Obviously some people missed something with regards to OpalCat’s reactions.

What gets me is I have been blasted for talking about my depression (as Sake so boldly stated was a big no-no) I have enjoyed good debates and the fun and the goofy in MPSIMS and the occasional GQ in which I can offer, what I hope to be a reasonable reply.

But again, we should never separate the internet as not being a means of communciation. There are real people on the other side of that screen, the only real difference is you aren’t talking face to face and actually feeling the emotions that go with the replies or statments.

With that said, as humans the internet has done a lot for us in so many ways but somewhere, somehow we have lost the ability to hold a conversation with out RESPECT for the other person.

I ask everyone, when you post on here, imagine that you are sitting in front of the person you are addressing. Granted OpalCat had responded very dramatically, and given my personal knowledge of her problem with regards to my mother, she very well could have done that in real life. I fear that she is not coping with this as well a we would like, it’s my inner self that hurts for those that hurt.

I guess I am an idealist and want peace and harmony with a good debate of topics that mean something to me. I 'spose it’s this little girl in my that hates to see people bicker and hate for reasons that are really not important to life.

My ideal internet world, is that we all would consider the words we post and how it might affect us if we were on the receiving end, just as if we were in a bar talking about life.

Honestly, would you sit there and tell someone in person they should “die a slow and painful death”? I sure as hell wouldn’t. I would take it upon myself to resist that person and not associate with this person.

I know this is the BBQ Pit, but there are ways to flame another without forceful insults that you may never say in life.

Hoep that makes sense, got interupted by the phone several times, dangit.

But Techchick, we AREN’T sitting in the same room with OpalCat. We DON’T have all (or any) of the information about her condition beforehand.

I feel extremely confident in saying that nobody wanted to hurt Opal’s feelings. But you seem to be suggesting that we should self-censor to prevent the possibility that our words hurt anyone.

I can’t do that. This is the Straight Dope. It’s about telling the truth and letting the chips fall where they may. Speaking your mind honestly and forthrightly is what this board is all about.

I wouldn’t hurt Opal (or pretty much anybody else herein) for the world. We learned today that she is sick and needs our help. I’m more than happy to help her in whatever way I can, because I think Opal is a smart, funny addition to the community.

But I am not willing to sacrifice this unique forum for her. I can’t imagine that anyone who enjoys or understands this place would want that.

Opal is ill. She has my utmost sympathy. But this board and the supposed lack of civility herein did not cause her illness.

Get well soon, Opal.

Plunging like stones from a slingshot on Mars.

No doubt about it, but where do us nonprofessionals draw the line? Your criticisms of Alphagene and Coldfire are not much less severe than the initial criticisms that set up the other events. Someone who rants or lashes out is seeking attention themselves. It can be a medical condition, but few of us are qualified to determine when someone actually needs help.

Part of the problem is expecting a public forum like this to substitute for private conversation. Our “conversations” here can always be impinged upon by posters that are irrational, deranged or dangerous. Who’s to say which ones we should stand up to, and which should be helped? Of course, this morning’s event made it all too clear, in that one instance.

Can we all be expected to help, anyway? Certainly not the ones who need help themselves. Which might be all of us.

<font color=#DCDCDC>rocks</font>


I never suggested a censorship of the self, but think about what you say and if you would say that to a person face to face.

There are a lot of situations that I have found myself in the same room with other people hotly discussing an issue, and all I wanted to do was call that person “a fucking liar” or “you don’t know what the fuck you are talking about.” etc. But I use tact and rephrase my words to reflect the subject as I see it and usually as it applies to me or a situation that has crossed a friend or relative.

I am not saying that the boards should change because of this episode, but merely suggesting that we look at our interactions on line and relate those to interactions that we may have IRL.

No, her illness is very much a part of her, I never said that the board caused it. And my posting was loosely based on what occured today, but I have seen this happen on other boards, to a point that the boards dismantled because of the outright rudeness of people. Is it too much to ask of people to lighten up a bit and discuss things without personal attacks?

Sure, cuss if you need to, but is it really neccessary to rip someone another asshole or place people on such a defensive that if it had been real life, that person would probably strike out in anger.



As for quoting Alphagene and Coldfire, I focused on those as simple examples of things that can be construed as personal attacks. I didn’t completely criticize I just posted examples of which I felt were out of line considering the circumstances… I never once said they shouldn’t have or they were out of line, I just felt that these were two gave good examples of what I am trying to impart here. BTW, Coldfire retracted those statements, after realizing what was happening over here. An example of “foot in mouth” (no offense Coldfire, I have done the same thing and again, no malice intended.)

As for non-professionals, most people I know can pick up on the signs when things have gone way wrong, specially if someone posts (and I never saw the photo) slitting of wrists. If it had been a new kid that no one knew, yeah this may have been overlooked, but OpalCat has been a part of this place for a long time.

I don’t expect a public forum to be a substitute for private conversation, that’s what IMs are for, but it seems to me that it’s time for us to collectively rethink how we interact with one another on line. Be it in email, chat rooms, message boards or IMs. I have made an ass out of myself and lost my client’s internet service provider over an email he misconstrued. I know first hand the damage that can be done via electronic communication. I had my ass in a sling because of my stupidity…something that I will never forget.

Not edited for grammar and spelling :slight_smile:

damn, wish there was an edit before the post, arrrgh!

I said “I didn’t completely criticize I just posted examples of which I felt were out of line considering the circumstances… I never once said they shouldn’t have or they were out of line,…”

Um geez, they were out of line, but that doesn’t mean they, as humans shouldn’t have posted it, just examples of things that can be taken wrong…what I consider to be out of line might be okay with the next guy.

Wow… I pretty much agree with everyone. Yes, I believe that people can be more civil and respectful, even in the Pit. Actually, if the best insult you can come up with is “Eat shit and die, fucker”, you’re not trying very hard anyway. Yes, I feel bad that Opal reacted in the end like she did, although I’m not sorry for anything I said as it was all true and all needed saying. Yes, I agree that is she is as bad off as it would seem (no, I’m not implying that she isn’t) she would be better served getting professional help instead of posting multiple times to the board while she’s at her worst - both for her sake and that of her family. I hope she gets better and my thoughts are with her.

I dare say that what happened suprised the majority of the people. You can’t let some things just slide though because of the chance the person involved is having some sort of problems. You simply don’t know and that’s part of the internet. Still, some thought and civility could not hurt while still allowing you to get your point across.

“I guess one person can make a difference, although most of the time they probably shouldn’t.”

Well, I didn’t exactly retract my statements. I just said that, given the events that occured later on, my wordings had been too harsh and ill-timed. I would like to emphasize that the statement you quoted was posted before it all went horribly wrong. Had I done so afterwards, I would have been an insensitive asshole indeed.

I respect what you’re saying, techchick, and I understand the use of my quote to illustrate your example. But to my defense (even though you’re not attacking me, it’s just to clarify things):
a) it was posted before the actual crisis situation became apparent;
b) I had no basis on which to conclude that OpalCat would be offended by the use of a single word like “fucking”. She does so herself - you can call me rude for it, but it was not a calculated attack as such. I merely posted my thoughts in that thread to indicate that if she took down the page because some people had criticism on the Awards, it would have been a very childish and overly dramatic thing to do. A statement I stillsupport: the reason for her taking down the site has since become very clear, therefore my hypothetical reasoning is less valid now. In essence, though, it still stands if another poster would rationally do the same thing.

Does this explain things a bit?

I just wouldn’t want people to think I’m the sort of person to piss people off deliberately. I would like them to know that I may be rather opinionated, but under normal circumstances that’s a good thing - right?


"You know how complex women are"

  • Neil Peart, Rush (1993)

Techchick said:

I was going to respond last night, when I first saw this, but decided to sleep on it instead. I decided I still wanted to respond.

My first reaction was, “What the heck is this woman talking about?!” Unfortunately, that is pretty much still my reaction. I’m sorry, but I just don’t see how any of the moderators helped fuel this. Consider me biased if you want, because it says “Moderator” below my name to the left, but I still just don’t see it.

What issue did we fuel? She spammed the message board. The post was locked in several forums and deleted in one. It was left open in two. She was told not to do it again, just as anybody else would have been. She was even told that if she had asked, we might have been able to make a global announcement without the spam. Is that the fuel? I’m sorry, but I just don’t see it.

And in regards to what happened yesterday, I don’t see anything either. I was the first to see the photo, a few minutes after it was posted. I immediately called TubaDiva and told her she needed to get on the computer and do something. She dropped whatever she was doing and hopped in. She got rid of the photo and contacted Opal’s husband, then stayed on top of the situation and kept everybody here up-to-date.

So, again, I just don’t see how you can blame the moderators for anything that has happened here. I don’t think you can blame any other users, either. The “blame” (if you want to call it that) for the entire situation rests with Opal’s illness. I join all the other well-wishers in hoping she’s back on her feet soon.

And I think we need to keep in mind some general time line here. I’m willing to grant that once people knew how fragile Opal was, the best thing to do would be to be supportive or shut the hell up. But the fact is that Opal’s melt-down – cumulating in posting a picture of her hurting herself – occurred before most people knew she was in any kind of fragile state. And no one was posting mean, hateful things at that time, so I don’t think the message board can be blamed for her difficulties. Certainly, if I were in her position and things posted here affected me that much, I would leave and never come back – it’s obviously not a positive influence in her life, at least not at this time.

But when we are as we were then, in ignorance of a particular poster’s serious problems, I think it’s asking too much to expect people to censor themselves on the off-chance somehow, somewhere, someone’s feelings might get hurt. Should we observe basic civility? Yes. Should we be afraid to post our honest opinions? No.

And, in fairness, and without judging or criticizing her, you must admit that Opal is often one of the first people to bring out the Big Guns of profanity and invective when she gets upset about something – witness her calling JillGat a “frigid bitch”. (Sorry about your frigidity, JillGat!) If we’re going to promote general civility – which I think is a great idea – it has to apply to everyone.


Fiat Justitia

tech, you mind telling me exactly how my two quotes above are considered insensitive?

I am not at all ashamed of anything that I have said regarding Opal. I stand behind everything I have said.

I’m not going to sit here an say “we all love you Opal” in a sad attempot to overcompensate for what others have perceived as insensitive comments.

Ok, Opal’s fragile. Duly noted. I won’t attack her out of nowhere. I never have.

However, if she starts throwing ad hominem insults because someone doesn’t like some aspect of her web page, I will throw some back whether or not she is emotionally fragile.

If I decide to punch someone in the face, I can’t complain when someone punches me back saying “I bruise easily.”

Reap as you sow.

I used to rock and roll all night and party every day. Then it was every other day. Now I’m lucky if I can find a half an hour a week in which to get funky.

tech, you mind telling me exactly how my two quotes above are considered insensitive?

I am not at all ashamed of anything that I have said regarding Opal. I stand behind everything I have said.

I’m not going to sit here an say “we all love you Opal” in a sad attempot to overcompensate for what others have perceived as insensitive comments.

Ok, Opal’s fragile. Duly noted. I won’t attack her out of nowhere. I never have.

However, if she starts throwing ad hominem insults because someone doesn’t like some aspect of her web page, I will throw some back whether or not she is emotionally fragile.

If I decide to punch someone in the face, I can’t complain when someone punches me back saying “I bruise easily.”

Reap as you sow.

I used to rock and roll all night and party every day. Then it was every other day. Now I’m lucky if I can find a half an hour a week in which to get funky.

DavidB, I do know that TubaDiva was instramental (pardon my typing, it’s late at night and ready to hit the sack) in getting OpalCat help. I still didn’t agree with your posting though, but it’s been a couple of days so I can’t recall it totally.

To others I may have offended, sorry, but those were things as I saw them. Those are not apologies of my original post because I meant what I said.

I will let this rest now, as I am sure everyone else wants to. On to better things I 'spose.

Well, it’s a bit hard to respond when you refer to my posting but then don’t give any specifics 'cus you don’t remember. :frowning:

Well, y’know what I’ve been doing recently, especially in threads involving politics, religion and our own sexual history?

I hit “reply.”
I type in what is on my tiny mind.
I re-read it.
I think, “OK, I typed it—do I really want to release this puppy into cyberspace now?”
I hit “clear fields.”
I go have a cup of tea.