Would a mod please address the line separating IRL vs board relationships on the SDMB

There have been a few threads recently (and no I’m not going to link to them) where people are dragging in off board interactions or relationships they have had with other SDMB board members in order to score points or make some complaint about an SDMB members off board behavior or personality. In my opinion this is really not fair game for SDMB discussions as one of the assumptions most of us make posting here is that were are accorded some degree of anonymity. This anonymity is the grease that allows the SDMB to function and enables people to feel comfortable talking, ranting or pontificating about subjects they would otherwise be reticent to discuss.

Reggardless of whatever IRL conflicts we may have, or opinions we may hold about another member, I think doing this is wrong in principle and should be discouraged to the extent possible by the mods and the members.

Well, I ran into astro last week, and he was wearing mismatched socks. Hence we can safely disregard any posts that astro makes. :wink:

I agree wholeheartedly, astro.

And I’ll forgive you the mismatched socks. :smiley:

IMHO, you should provide links.

This is a rather huge board, y’know? And if you’re going to post a request like this in the Pit, rather than an email directly to the admins or mods, you’ve got to give them something to work with.

Persephone, though I can’t speak for astro, I think the reason he didn’t want to post links is that it would bring the real life criticisms of some posters even more in the open. He is trying to preserve the anonymity.

But if you must have an example, there is a thread in the pit right now that started as a criticism of a particular poster and devolved into discussions of his behavior off board. You should be able to find it fairly easily.

I totally agree that some lines have been very badly crossed in very nasty ways lately but I’m wondering just how it can be policed.

Unless all face to face relationships are not allowed to be discussed, I can’t see how you can have happy, fluffy, joy joy threads but so and so is a butthead threads are banned. Esp when the threads begin with addressing on-line persona.

There’s over 30,000 registered members, Monkey.

Criticisms of a “particular poster” happen every 20 minutes here. That’s what the Pit is for.

And if he’d wanted to preserve the anonymity, he’d not have brought it up in the Pit, where all the registered members can read it. He’d have emailed the admins privately.



So after 5 years of people insisting “it’s more than just a messageboard” you’ve decided you want it to be “just a messageboard” and only discuss things that happen on the messageboard and real life never enters into it? What if it turns out I killed someone in real life, wouldn’t that warrant some criticism if it came up? If two people meet on the board and get married they’re not allowed to mention it because it might “cross a line” somehow?

I really don’t understand this whole “board life/real life” issue. I mean you are who you are. How do you separate the two? Don’t we lose the entire “MPSIMS” forum then? 70% of that is “my kid got an A in math” or “I stepped in dog crap today.” These are all glimpses into your REAL LIFE, unless you’re so bored you’re making it up. Even if most of us never meet in person, several posters reveal so much about themselves that we can’t help but know everything about them.

I guess I don’t really know how to articulate how I feel about this. I just simply don’t get it.

I’m really not understanding why IRL encounters should be off-limits. Isn’t 99+% of what’s discussed on these boards rooted in IRL information? Why should one’s churlish behaviour offline be exempt from comment here?

astro I wonder if you think that discussion of Dopefests should be discouraged as being IRL events as well.

As I should know, there is no boundary between board life and real life. They are often separate, but there is no line.

I believe that the issue at hand is not generally discussing what happens off the board, but rather, should specific off-the-board incidents, either positive or negative, be used as ammunition in a pit thread that started against a board member for on-the-board behavior.

Obviously no pit thread should be started against a board member for anything other than on-the-board behavior. I don’t know if this is well-documented, but is is enforced.

astro, is that what you’re asking?


And BTW, those people that really value their anonymity wouldn’t be having off-the-board interactions with other dopers, even via email.

I agree with andros, though I concede it is probably not possible to draw a line and enforce it. Some small percent of any group is going not going to appreciate the personality of someone upon meeting them. That is normal. What is not normal is for those people to get together and hold public court on someone’s worthiness as a human being. Maybe if people had more class than to essentially say, “Yeah, so-and-so did me a big favor, but then he started asking me for favors in return like we were friends or something,” it wouldn’t be an issue. Maybe a lot of things wouldn’t be an issue if we could depend on people to use good judgment.

Yes, I am referring specially to people using IRL face to face experiences or incidents with other posters as sticks or levers to beat or wrestle in the Pit (or wherever on the SDMB) with. Obviously a person discussing their own IRL experiences and offering them for discussion is what a good section of this board is all about. As “astro” I ask for advice on my IRL personal issues all the time.

For discussions relating to dopefests and IRL favors or other non-controversial stuff Dopers have done for each other, that’s almost never a situation where people are going to get agitated and horseplay will turn to tears as there is usually nothing to argue or be negative about.

In the fairly rare situation where a doper brings up a real problem they have with another doper’s off board IRL behavior toward them or relates some negative IRL historical account of why doper “X” IRL is a somewhat loony, PITA putz, we really are edging into serious territory that this board is not equipped operationally, legally or emotionally to handle.

This nonsense about. “hey, we do it all the time, but the subject just happens to be a non-doper,” is just that. Nonsense. I’m surprised that so many cannot see a difference between anonymous ranting, no matter how vicious, and publicly identifying and criticizing a person amongst their peers over some off-board issue.

The difference between an off-board issue and on on-board issue is this: in the former, you need absolutely no support for your allegations other than your own anecdote, and there is no way for the majority of us to examine the situation and form our own opinions.

In practical terms Waverly (IMO) there is a substantive difference in that when you start talking or writing negatively about a board member you have had an IRL conflict with, beyond the raw emotional issues, a host of thorny legal problems involving libel/ slander and related problems crop up. This non-profit board is free and exists on a narrow and windy ledge of consideration and good will granted by Cecil and the Chicago Reader. If they start to get dragged in legal issues (or threats relating to) because of IRL scraps between members I doubt that consideration will continue to be granted.

If I recall correctly, we’re not encouraged to discuss incidents that occur between Dopers in, for example, chat or other message boards. One reason for this, I think, is that there’s a limited number of people who would have had witnessed the problem first hand; since the vast majority of SD members would not have been there at the actual moment of conflict (wherever it may be), it makes sense to keep discussion of such incidents off the SD.

In contrast, there are those wonderful, positive incidents that occur elsewhere online and in face-to-face meetings, such as romances and weddings. Since this place has evolved into a community - not just a message board - these incidents are well received; we like to know how our fellow Dopers are doing in the so-called real world.

It occurs to me that “bad” things that occur with a Doper offline or off this message board that are witnessed by one or more fellow Dopers probably shouldn’t be brought up on this message board unless objective proof can also be provided. For example, Poster A can’t say Poster B did an evil thing in a restaurant (and saying so in an accusatory, insulting, nasty tone) without having something to back himself or herself up. In short, conjecture in this sense shouldn’t be permitted, because it would be too easy to slander (or libel) someone - and that’s not even considering the legal aspect of the word, as astro mentioned.

One potential downside to the bringing up of bad offline experiences with fellow Dopers is that Dopers who haven’t met any other Dopers might be more reluctant to do so if they see what could happen - in a worst-case scenario - if they did.

Just an opinion.

I agree with porcupine with one reservation: I’d hate to see friendly off-board anecdotes forbidden in defense of a person being trashed.

Is this a double standard? So be it. Joe_Cool’s board “enemies” were frequently fair enough to point out that he was always cool at Dopefests, and no one had a problem with that. There’s a vast difference between this and its opposite – repeating unflattering off-board stories in a board attack.

I don’t know if this position is logically consistent or not, but one certainly gives me a very bad feeling, and the other doesn’t. Just my opinion, which is of course worth exactly what you paid for it.