You don't know what you're talking about = direct insult?

(emph. mine)

This is the problem. It’s really not a line, but a wide minefield that separates acceptable from not acceptable comments sometimes. Comments like “don’t be such an asshole” are pretty clearly wrong to everybody. However “you don’t know what your talking about” is context sensitive enough that, absent clear malice, it deserves nothing more than a mod note, if that.

The mods really need to stop defending each other here and come up with a standard that works, one that doesn’t require a code book to interpret correctly.

I too often get told directly that I don’t know what I’m talking about, and then I am given a long explanation of how very wrong I am. I don’t take it personally and see it as either a learning experience or an indicator that the accuser is a blithering idiot. Both are good.

But John, the “Don’t pay attention”, part is what was substantive. Steering the conversation is a good thing. Smacking down bad ideas is a good thing. Insult-fests are of course bad for GD, so we are discussing matters of calibration.

At any rate I was curious about what the civility advocates thought about this. I would recommend that they click the link for context. In particular, was there an obvious way of expressing the underlying legitimate point?

I disagree with this actually: I perceive exaggeration. You don’t really need a code book right now. Just try not to be personal in your remarks. [1]

Wolfpup captured the general issue here:

Curbs on direct insults in GD fight ignorance. But so does setting aside bad ideas and focusing on more defensible and therefore debatable ones. That said, I’m doing a fair amount of hand-wringing in this post: I’m not exactly outraged by the OP.
Issue #2
Hm. I can see things evolving whereby a broader spectrum of posters get caught out with 5 warnings in 2 years, whereas they might have had zero warnings under older civility standards. That’s ok, but I’m not sure whether it’s what we want. Or rather I’m not sure whether it’s what we want in all cases.

[1] Case in point: “I perceive exaggeration”, was actually a personal remark (and apologies Morgenstern) but it added clarity (if also hypocrisy :frowning: ).

Here’s an appropriate place where one might use the “I don’t think you know what you’re talking about” sentence, without malice and not intended as an insult. Yet, without a code book, I’m at a loss as to whether or not that would violate a rule.

(this as an example, not intended to disrespect another member)

In retrospect, I probably should have given that one a mod note.

Fair enough.

Let me clarify. I think there’s some reasonable discussion about how high we want the civility bar to be. I think some longstanding posters can end up getting warnings for behavior that would have been passed over some years ago.

I don’t think the rules are hard to adapt to. It’s a matter of keeping a good distance away from the minefield, as you call it. I personally dislike bright line rules, because they can be gamed: posters can act obnoxiously while still staying within the letter (though not the spirit) of the rules. Which is part of the reason why Ed kept things general when he framed the Do Not be a Jerk rule back during the 1990s.

At the meta level, yeah actually a little bit of personalization can add clarity. There’s a tradeoff. ETA: (also yes: I certainly don’t know definitively whether you exaggerated - though using that word I argue was clarifying.)

Fair enough. I didnt expect a warning.

I was just perusing this thread without intending to opine on it, but I see that Measure for Measure has introduced me into the discussion by proxy. :wink: Which is fine – I stand by what I said earlier, specifically this: “… it’s fine to have rules that promote civil discourse, but not rules so far gone that we can’t properly communicate, and in particular, that impairs the ability to call out complete bullshit when we see it.”

So what I will say here is that I was staying out of it because there are many nuances involved in that particular post, and, Jonathan, I have no argument with the points you make in this specific context. A poster says “you don’t know what you’re talking about” and in this particular set of circumstances I can see the insulting and generally counterproductive tone when viewed in its totality. It’s not for me to judge what sort of modding was justified in this case, but I do have a big concern with how this might be generalized.

Specifically, I’m concerned about the proliferation of rules about forbidden terminology. Do we now, because of this instance, have yet another officially forbidden phrase that may never again appear in our lexicon of communications? I certainly hope not. What if someone demonstrates through a series of repeated posts of astounding ignorance that they really and truly have absolutely no idea what they’re talking about? What am I supposed to say then? “I acknowledge your belief that the earth is flat and the Sun God Ra rises and sets by magic, but I believe you may be mistaken, though of course I could be wrong”? Is this what this forum has come to? Surely not. May I kindly suggest that comments about whether or not someone is actually apprised of the facts should be taken in context, rather than edicts cast in stone so that they benefit trolls and those who game the system and penalize those of us actually trying to communicate, and – God forbid – might sometimes even be afflicted by human frustrations?

Why would we?
A response to a specific post in which a poster replies “You do not know what you are talking about.” is rather different than a post in which Poster A tells Poster B to ignore Poster C because Poster C “clearly has no clue what he is talking about.”

I didn’t tell him to ignore ralph, I said don’t waste too much of your debate efforts on his account. I certainly didn’t ignore ralph - I responded directly that I thought his points about Turkey were ridiculous. Tamerlane brought up Ralph’s post, so I was responding to that in the post that got me a warning.

At least an explanation, following the assertion, backs it up with facts.

The naked assertion is of no value (and, again, is usually incorrect.) The assertion, when documented, is not needed! The very presentation of the correct (contradicting) facts shows that the claims made were in ignorance.

“2 + 2 = 5”
“You don’t know what you’re talking about. The sum of 2 and 2 is 4, as you can see in this linked addition table taken from a published paper on addition groups in algebra.”

What purpose, then, does that first sentence serve? It just makes the response more emotional than it needs to be. The second sentence is the real meat-and-potatoes of the debate. Why put ground glass on top? Butter and chives, sure, but ground glass? Ick.

I completely agree with your reasoning, which is the same as mine – that context is everything, and that we’re not seeking yet another a blanket prohibition here.

So what purpose does the word “no” serve in a sentence like “No, the correct sum is …”? Or a preamble like "That’s wrong, the facts are these …?

Answer: the same purpose as a preamble like “That’s wrong, and it’s a wrong at a level that seems to show that you don’t understand even the most basic facts about the subject …”. It’s communication as it sometimes occurs in the real world, which establishes the context for what follows, and sometimes involves hard truths whose exposition may be useful to other readers as well as the intended recipient.

The view that I’m trying to promote here is that the purpose of these rules should be to avoid gratuitous insults and pointless hostilities of the kind one sees, for example, in the comments attached to any controversial story on some public news sites where the juvenile insults inevitably start flying within about ten posts. It’s ridiculous and unproductive and I get that. But the rules should not so inhibit expression that we have to tread on eggshells just to tell someone they’re wrong, and to be able to do so in whatever reasonable fashion meets the circumstances.

It’s the “You” and the “you’re”;

YOU don’t know what YOU’RE talking about! Seems hard to deny that’s direct, to me. And it’s at the poster, not the issue or post. As such, it’s an insult, I think.

Sometimes you gotta get their attention.

Example, “You don’t know what you’re talking about, I was just outside and it’s not snowing,” doesn’t seem to be insulting.

How is that really any different than, “You’re clearly wrong, I was just outside and it’s not snowing.”

Although one may, or may not, be more polite than the other, neither is intended as an insult. I’m sure you can adjust the tone and take either of these personal, but in neither statement was an insult patently obvious. IMHO.

I disagree. How many times have you seen on this board someone say X, someone replies with Y, the first poster says “That’s what I said!” and the second says “I was agreeing with you!”

You should state your position up front, then state the reasoning. The more complex the argument, the more necessary such framing is.

“I was just outside and it’s not snowing!” All awesome!

“You don’t know what you’re talking about!”, direct, unneeded and pretty clearly included to insult, I think.

Clearly, you don’t know what you’re talking about. :slight_smile:

Let me give you an example of how it really went down. Let’s say I did not respond to you here, as I’ve done, but instead responded to tomndeb’s earlier post like this:

“Clearly, Morgenstern and wolfpup don’t know what they’re talking about. I wouldn’t expend energy debating this on their account.”
CarnalK never directly responded to ralph124c to tell him anything. He told another poster ralph 124c was clueless, and therefore he should not waste his time on him.

How is that part of a civil debate, and how does it enlighten anyone about why ralph124c’s assumption was incorrect?

ralph124c had the wrong idea about Erdogan being a dictator. Ironically, he likely formed this opinion by reading other people’s opinions in the news media, in the same way that you likely formed your opinion about this incident by reading the OP.

By that logic, “you’re wrong” should also be deemed a personal insult, for exactly the same reason. Can you see how this train of logic quickly gets ridiculous?

I don’t want to get involved in CarnalK’s issue as I have no strong opinions on it. He is entitled to defend himself and I’m staying out of it. What I object to is the defense in the form of “oh, so now phrase ‘x’ is considered a direct insult” when in fact, as Tom and Jonathan have both pointed out, in this instance there is more to it than that. I’ve already stated the reasons for my concern.

But let’s look at this. We have two similar comments, neither are in any way civil or respectful. One Mod considers a Note, the other slams a Warning.

There’s just no rime nor reason, no sense of being able to guess what is OK vs what isnt. No consistency.

For example two years ago I made a bad joke in GD. “Appropriate user name, tho.” a joke that has been used over and over again here on the SDMB. Jonathan slammed me with a Warning. Now sure- it’s not funny and it could be perceived as a insult. But it’s always been Ok before- and even after that. In fact recently a poster here in ATMB made almost the exact same joke- which I reported- only to get a nice PM back from Ed saying it was Ok as it was a joke. Not even a note. No consistency.

Putting aside the differences between The PIT and GD, it’s completely unfair for us board denizens to have to guess what mood or what Mod will get a report and post accordingly. Is it a joke or a personal insult? is it unworthy of even a Note, or does it get a full Warning?

If one bad joke is not worthy of even a Note by Ed- but is a Warning by Chance*, and another similar uncivil and unrespectful reply is not even a Note by engineer_comp_geek but again- a Warning by Chance*- then there’s something wrong. Either Chance or the other two are just not in tune with the general moderation tone of this board. And, since Warnings are forever, it’s simply unfair.

  • I risk a warning here “Appropriate user name, tho.”