2012/07/11 22:52:14
barata

The Rules of Civility

As a school boy George Washington wrote a treatise on the Rules of Civility and Decent Behaviour. There's a great novel by Amor Towles of the same name that takes place in the US in 1938. Good read. Here's something I found regarding "Posting With Civility". I thought it was kind of interesting, and a good reminder for "posting with civility." You may want to print it out and put it next to your keyboard. [:D] And for the record, I can't say I always succeed either.

POSTING WITH CIVILITY

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Internet forums are great. But, discussing the relative merits of hiking boots or skis is one thing and discussing issues that are rooted in our deepest held personal beliefs is another. The question is, how do we discuss things while remaining civil?
Here are a few things I try to keep in mind when entering such discussions. I can't say I always succeed. In fact, I'm not even close. But, I do find these rules to be helpful.

DEBATE IDEAS, NOT PEOPLE - Few of us are really expressing new ideas. More often, we are just mouthpieces for traditions and lines of thought that have been handed down to us. Unfortunately, ideas need people to express them and people are clumsy. Old Joke...

Q: How do porcupines mate?

A: Carefully.

Internet posts can be like porcupines. Focus on the ideas, not the quills. When you read a post, look for the idea that is being expressed. If you respond to the barbs of personal attacks, you have lost focus.

NEVER, EVER PERSONALIZE - Work very hard to avoid making personal assertions about other posters. While it is true that no matter how hard you try, somebody somewhere will take personal offense to what you wrote, still make the attempt to keep it impersonal. In the other direction, ignore personal attacks made against you at all costs. It is a practical impossibility to defend your honor while engaged in a mud slinging contest. Besides, you will find when you meet over beer/coffee/whatever that most of the personal attacks weren't meant. People type and read without the aids of body language and feelings get hurt easily.


LET YOUR IDEAS DEFEND THEMSELVES - Be confident that the ideas you express have a power of their own that will make them capable of defending themselves. This will free you to resist the urge to convince others to join your point of view. Just as importantly, never criticise another's beliefs as inferior or illegitimate. If you can not affirm another's rights to hold their beliefs, you are not prepared to have a civil discussion with them.

CS Lewis said that you defend God like you defend a lion. You unlock the cage and let the lion defend itself. If you can express an idea in a civil fashion, consider it a success. Don't measure success by convincing others. This is unachievable. Instead, remember that while the person with whom you are discussing ideas won't change his or her mind, others who read and lurk will be considering the merits of both sides. Allow the idea to defend itself to those readers.


DON'T TAKE THE DEBATE BACKCHANNEL - Don't take debates to private for channels of communication like e-mail or private messages. This is to be avoided for 2 reasons. First, it changes the dynamic for the listener. The conversation moves from an open discussion in the school lunchroom to a private confrontation behind the school, so to speak. Private challenges are simply ineffectual in terms of influencing people. Worse, they remain ineffectual no matter how hard one works at trying to be reasonable and kind. I have concluded that people can hear me better in the relative safety of a public setting where my words can either be supported or challenged by our mutual peers.

Second, I find I that I do a better job of expressing myself in a positive, constructive manner when I choose to submit my words and my reputation to the accountability of public review. Putting it frankly, I generally conduct myself better in public posts.


BE WILLING TO TAKE ONE FOR THE CAUSE - When you step into a discussion of ideals, you can be guaranteed that somebody will disagree. When you do this on electronic forums, you can also pretty much guarantee that somebody will disagree with you in an inappropriate manner. This is simply the cost of doing business. You must ask yourself 2 questions at this point. First, is the idea you hold dearly important enough that you are willing to voice it while knowing that others will disagree? Second, can you sleep at night and ignore inappropriate personal attacks made against you in public? If the answer to either question is "no", then you probably aren't in the right frame of mind for the discussion.


NEVER WRESTLE WITH PIGS - It is amuses the pig and makes you look muddy. No matter how polite and tactful you try to be and no matter how hard you try to avoid personalization of attacks, you will occasionally run into people who will hold grudges and launch personal attacks at every turn. Ignore them entirely. Never respond to their posts.

DON'T BE AN ARROGANT EXPERT - In many internet forums, there is at least one guy (and it always seems to be a guy) who plays the roll of the arrogant expert. Don't be that guy.

Internet forums are great at bringing together people with common interests. One of the best things about this is the opportunity for novices to learn from experts and for experts to give back to the community by helping novices. In the vast majority of cases, it's a situation that rewarding for everybody involved. But there is also the chance for things to go wrong.

One common problem is a form of teacher burnout. After answering the same basic question for the zillionth time, the expert becomes testy to the next novice who unknowingly asks that question for the zillion and oneth time. This burnout can be exasperated when the expert feels like the novice failed to do a basic amount of research on their own before asking the question. There's an infamous internet acronym of RTFM, which grew out of this type of frustration in the context of technical support. Read the f***ing manual (or man page).

Another factor may be that the zeal for the subject that drove the expert to become an expert also makes him less tolerant of incorrect statements about his beloved subject that are made by those with less experience. In protecting the "truth", the expert can come off sounding rough.

But the most pernicious aspect of expert arrogance is how technical expertise can be used to establish a pecking order within the forum. It is very common to see a novice make a post that kicks off a long debate among the forum's experts. This has little to do with answering or correcting the novice and has everything to with establishing who the alpha males of the forum are.

Anyway you look at it, technical help and advice is great. But rude is always rude.

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Dave's Backcountry Skiing Page
Copyright 2005 by David Mann
39 comments Leave a comment
uphillklimber
Very good post. Long read, but I like civility in discussions. Thanx for posting.
2012/07/12 05:19:05
ChrisandCindy
Excellent piece. The long explanation of Badger's tag line:

Wag more bark less.
2012/07/12 05:31:29
Rose
Fantastic book - loved it.
2012/07/12 09:30:52
CurlSnout
Really good article!*
 
 
*Though, still think I'm the expert on yaks 'round here ;)
2012/07/12 10:00:39
margaritamamma
Love it - maybe Admin can pin this to the top so it doesn't "fade away"
2012/07/12 10:02:32
mamamia
What a good post. Hopefully people will take note and see themselves somewhere in it.
2012/07/12 11:27:06
movie fan
BUMP!
2012/07/12 12:16:13
crunch
NEVER WRESTLE WITH PIGS - It is amuses the pig and makes you look muddy. No matter how polite and tactful you try to be and no matter how hard you try to avoid personalization of attacks, you will occasionally run into people who will hold grudges and launch personal attacks at every turn. Ignore them entirely. Never respond to their posts.

Yes![:D][:D][:D]
2012/07/12 13:05:25
sandinmypants

ORIGINAL: crunch

NEVER WRESTLE WITH PIGS - It is amuses the pig and makes you look muddy. No matter how polite and tactful you try to be and no matter how hard you try to avoid personalization of attacks, you will occasionally run into people who will hold grudges and launch personal attacks at every turn. Ignore them entirely. Never respond to their posts.

Yes![:D][:D][:D]

That's the hardest one to follow - sometimes those pigs are hard to ignore!
2012/07/12 14:25:37
sandinmypants
I also like this part:

But the most pernicious aspect of expert arrogance is how technical expertise can be used to establish a pecking order within the forum. It is very common to see a novice make a post that kicks off a long debate among the forum's experts. This has little to do with answering or correcting the novice and has everything to with establishing who the alpha males of the forum are.

This one used to happen a LOT on the "other forum". Made it a very unpleasant place to be. So glad the people here don't get into that kind of thing. [:D]
2012/07/12 14:28:38
1runjuan
jeez, barata you sucking up or what.[;)]
i compare it to those subway commercials
with adults talking like children, those ones crack
me up.
just have fun ya'll.[;)]
2012/07/12 15:08:42
BeachBilly
Very nice post B.

I've often wondered if those that have clashed online would behave the same
way face to face.

2012/07/12 16:17:37
Isla Chica
Great article!
2012/07/12 18:59:42
barata
Gosh, I'm blushing. Thanks for the support you guys. LG really IS a great place and I think we're all here for the same reason; we love Locogringo and the places it represents. So let's remember (whatever our differences) we all have that in common![sm=love.png]
2012/07/12 22:21:32
Seagoat
Are you a care bear Barata?  [:)]
 
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lNm5Hqow78I
 
Cheers,
 
Seagoat
2012/07/14 20:58:54
barata

ORIGINAL: Seagoat

Are you a care bear Barata?  [:)]

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lNm5Hqow78I

Cheers,

Seagoat

Was there a passive aggressive care bear?[:D]
2012/07/14 21:03:24
Seagoat
ORIGINAL: barata


ORIGINAL: Seagoat

Are you a care bear Barata?  [:)]

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lNm5Hqow78I

Cheers,

Seagoat

Was there a passive aggressive care bear?[:D]


[;)]
Take the care bear name generator....mine was amazingly accurate. How did they know?? [:D]
 
http://rumandmonkey.com/widgets/toys/namegen/6413/
2012/07/14 21:29:04
barata
It amuses the pig, but not the one in the middle of all this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JoEU1L2kueo&feature=share
2012/07/14 23:42:51
Seagoat
ORIGINAL: barata

It amuses the pig, but not the one in the middle of all this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JoEU1L2kueo&feature=share

 
Glad I'm a goat! [:D]
 
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nWKXU0ApF08
2012/07/15 00:05:04
snowbound
Personally, I blame all the Canadians around here... [;)][:D][:)][;)][:D][:)][;)][:D][:)]




Snow(no nasty PMs - the requisite smilies were posted)bound
2012/07/15 09:14:36
Whale
If you want to fight on other forums feel free, there are plenty of them that will allow it. But please don't fight over there and then try to bring the fight over here. We don't allow personal attacks.
2013/01/20 00:33:23
Isla Chica
If someone is trying to find the rightful owner of something, don't send them nasty email! [sm=hammer.gif]
2013/01/22 08:44:34
Seagoat
ORIGINAL: sandinmypants

I also like this part:

But the most pernicious aspect of expert arrogance is how technical expertise can be used to establish a pecking order within the forum. This has little to do with answering or correcting the novice and has everything to with establishing who the alpha males of the forum are.

This one used to happen a LOT on the "other forum". Made it a very unpleasant place to be. So glad the people here don't get into that kind of thing. [:D]

 
No kidding eh? [:D][;)]
 
2013/01/29 21:47:11
starjazz
Now what?!?
2013/01/29 22:55:45
Seagoat
ORIGINAL: starjazz

Now what?!?

 
No kidding eh?
2013/01/29 23:33:47
barata
I notice that no where in "the rules" does it mention drunk posting. Maybe we should add a few rules of our own?

1. Don't post photos while drunk. When sober, you don't want strangers looking at your who ha.
2013/01/30 21:17:13
Maggie

ORIGINAL: barata

I notice that no where in "the rules" does it mention drunk posting. Maybe we should add a few rules of our own?

1. Don't post photos while drunk. When sober, you don't want strangers looking at your who ha.


That takes the fun otta chit![:@]

BINK!
Mags[8D]
2013/01/30 21:23:19
starjazz
She said who ha! [:D]
2013/01/30 21:44:22
Seagoat
ORIGINAL: starjazz

She said who ha! [:D]


tattle tale! [:D]

Barata...WTH is a who ha?  [;)][:D]  Is that BC speak?  Please enlighten me! [;)]

SG
2013/01/30 21:57:38
barata

ORIGINAL: Seagoat

ORIGINAL: starjazz

She said who ha! [:D]


tattle tale! [:D]

Barata...WTH is a who ha?  [;)][:D]  Is that BC speak?  Please enlighten me! [;)]

SG

If I told you what a 'who ha' is, it probably wouldn't be considered civil.
2013/01/30 22:15:01
1runjuan
oh the hypocrisy of some.
hum, go figure.[8|]
2013/02/26 18:45:37
Tortuga Tom

ORIGINAL: sandinmypants


ORIGINAL: crunch

NEVER WRESTLE WITH PIGS - It is amuses the pig and makes you look muddy. No matter how polite and tactful you try to be and no matter how hard you try to avoid personalization of attacks, you will occasionally run into people who will hold grudges and launch personal attacks at every turn. Ignore them entirely. Never respond to their posts.

Yes![:D][:D][:D]

That's the hardest one to follow - sometimes those pigs are hard to ignore!

This seems oddly appropriate today. [8|]
2013/06/11 16:26:25
margarita man
YA WATCH THAT crazy bugger from up north in Chinook wind country he has been known to drink tequila and lime jiuce in a little concoction called a MARGARITA !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! [:D][:D][:D][:D]
2013/12/14 23:06:34
katzgar
Civility is a good thing, its what keeps civilization civil after all. The flip side of it is if you don't tell stupid people they are stupid how can you expect them to change?
2013/12/16 09:12:15
barata
That's the thing Katz, stupid is in the eye of the beer holder. Stupid people seldom recognize their own stupidity so telling them they are stupid is futile and counterproductive. Some times stupid people will form alliances with other stupid people and stomp all over you. If you want to expend any energy on stupid people at all, just state your case politely and move along. Don't let them bait you into any kind of extensive debate because it will doubtlessly turn into the kind of 'your mother wears army boots' type of non-argument, and you could end up being dragged down to their level.


“Never argue with a fool, onlookers may not be able to tell the difference.”


― Mark Twain
2013/12/18 22:30:15
Seagoat

ORIGINAL: barata

Some times stupid people will form alliances with other stupid people and stomp all over you. If you want to expend any energy on stupid people at all, just state your case politely and move along. Don't let them bait you into any kind of extensive debate because it will doubtlessly turn into the kind of 'your mother wears army boots' type of non-argument, and you could end up being dragged down to their level.


“Never argue with a fool, onlookers may not be able to tell the difference.”


― Mark Twain

Good point amiga! [:)] There's a story here isn't there? [:D][;)][:)]

Seagoat
2013/12/19 14:31:50
barata

ORIGINAL: Seagoat


ORIGINAL: barata

Some times stupid people will form alliances with other stupid people and stomp all over you. If you want to expend any energy on stupid people at all, just state your case politely and move along. Don't let them bait you into any kind of extensive debate because it will doubtlessly turn into the kind of 'your mother wears army boots' type of non-argument, and you could end up being dragged down to their level.


“Never argue with a fool, onlookers may not be able to tell the difference.”


― Mark Twain

Good point amiga! [:)] There's a story here isn't there? [:D][;)][:)]

Seagoat


More than one story, I don't always take my own advice.[sm=rolleyes.gif]
2013/12/19 20:12:11
TomKatWpg
And then almost everyone is gone!
2016/10/11 14:55:39
moonaround
I really enjoyed reading this again. Practice, practice, practice. Why yes it takes practice. lol.
2017/11/19 00:05:38

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