Thursday, 10 January 2019

Well-Kept Gardens Die By Pacifism

quote [ Good online communities die primarily by refusing to defend themselves.

Somewhere in the vastness of the Internet, it is happening even now. It was once a well-kept garden of intelligent discussion, where knowledgeable and interested folk came, attracted by the high quality of speech they saw ongoing. But into this garden comes a fool, and the level of discussion drops a little—or more than a little, if the fool is very prolific in their posting. ]

Came across this nearly 10 year old article last night, but was hesitant to post it. Not looking to start the same arguments over about the SE users pegged as trolls. Rather, this got me thinking about SE as a whole and where individual responsibility lies within its framework.

Short, relevant, personal recollection in extended.


I remember in midsummer at the Tennessee communal farm, this troublemaker got drunk and trashed the kitchen, then knocked down a wall of the tool shed, then proceeded to threaten and spit on a woman and her daughter. She called the cops and he ran off into the woods to hide out. He showed back up the next day and asked to borrow my phone to make a call. He couldn't go out in public or he'd be detained. He wanted to call a friend to come get him and drive him across the border to Kentucky. The cops had warned us they could come back any time they chose and search any building (i.e. harass us) until he turned himself in.

He thought I was his friend, because until that point I had tolerated his behavior which had been more annoying than dangerous, and not at all violent, so he asked me for a phone call. I refused him. I told him to turn himself in and leave the farm alone. He laughed out of frustration. He said he wanted to punch me. There was nothing to stop him from beating the crap out of me, really. He was tall, had plenty of experience physically fighting with others, and everyone else on the farm was afraid to even disagree with him in conversation so no worry of someone backing me up. But he didn't. He just laughed and threatened, and I didn't budge on my stance.

A few days later he did go to the police station, after he got a hold of someone else's phone and had his mother wire his girlfriend bail money. The county set a court date, but the woman he had threatened had already left the farm so it was expected that the case would be thrown out. He didn't stick around to find out. I left a couple months later and I can't say one way or another if my actions ultimately helped. As far as I know, the guy has a bench warrant out for his arrest in Tennessee, so maybe the fear of incarceration has kept him away from the farm. That is far from a best outcome in my opinion, but it could have gone a lot worse and, at least for the rest of that season, the farm remained relatively peaceful.

During that time and as much as possible since, I have tried to structure my values and choose my actions in situations under these guidelines:
1. Consider the land.
2. Consider the community.
3. Consider yourself.

[SFW] [politics] [+10 Underrated]
[by JWWargo@8:32amGMT]


cb361 said @ 9:28pm GMT on 10th Jan [Score:2]
Single moms in your town earn $37,864,382 per week in their spare time! Find out how at!
arrowhen said @ 3:33am GMT on 11th Jan
Are they hot?
mechavolt said @ 10:58pm GMT on 10th Jan [Score:2]
At this point, the only reason I see for being upset if we banned people like numbers is if anyone actually enjoyed "debating" with them. They don't offer anything constructive to discussions, they just regurgitate whatever racist, troll argument is the flavor of the week over at Stormfront. I'm all for dissenting opinions and arguments, but that's not what they offer. They just offer strife and annoyance.
JWWargo said @ 8:01pm GMT on 11th Jan [Score:1 Insightful]
I understand that the simple answer for why people like numbers persist to openly mock/taunt those they disagree with is because they are attempting to create an argument and general discord with the community....

BUT, I want to believe that there is more to it than that. "The benefit of the doubt" and all that, which perhaps is riding too close to that line that collapses a community from giving an inch to people with no intent other than to destroy. I try to imagine what I would say if I went into a Flat Earthers or Anti-Vax community for example. How could I approach them with my contradicting opinions that wouldn't get me immediately downvoted to hell or outright banned? We say those communities are echo chambers, so what does that make us?

I have always been against censorship, but I do believe in self-censorship. Any good performer knows how to read a room and tailor their routine to it, because at the end of the day you want to get through to the other person, even if it means sacrificing your will to some degree.

I also wonder if some trolls think of themselves as martyrs or defenders of truth and righteousness, that they feel compelled to speak their mind knowing full well they will pay for it in karma points, public ridicule, or removal from the system. I think getting banned only strengthens their resolve, gives them proof that they are oppressed and that their actions are justified.

Again, this could all be undeserved rationalizing of assumed motivations on my part. I recognize that. I'm just the type that wants to hear a person out, and try to see it from their side no matter how ridiculous it seems before making a judgement. I have what could be considered ridiculous opinions, too, but I still want to be heard and I work hard to formulate ideas that make sense (to me). I agree with arrowhen's remark about laziness. Numbers and Fish just go for the jugular every time. No nuance to their comments just flat out, "You're wrong, you're an idiot!"

I don't consider Norok in the same category, because they attempt to have a conversation and for the most part are willing to explain their position. I remember them being accused of hijacking a thread, and while their comment wasn't 100% on topic (or perhaps they took the topic as an excuse or jumping board to their comment?) I saw it overall as furthering the discussion rather than derailing it.

I'm probably thinking way too hard about it and should learn to be more hard-lined, but I don't feel it's currently necessary to do so with anyone here. At the end of the day, we are small enough that a couple trolls don't really degrade the purpose of this website. If they say something insulting or inflammatory to me, I'll question it. If the response is more of the same, then fuck 'em. I can end the dialogue whenever I please.

I'll take a few flies buzzing around the meal, instead of no meal at all, any day.
Fish said @ 11:41pm GMT on 11th Jan [Score:-1 Boring]
filtered comment under your threshold
JWWargo said @ 3:12am GMT on 12th Jan [Score:-1]
filtered comment under your threshold
the circus said @ 1:01am GMT on 11th Jan
arrowhen said @ 2:33am GMT on 11th Jan
I think they should be banned for being such lazy trolls. I think a pinch of trolling brings out the flavor in an online community , but these fuckers are so bad at it they're not even fun to yell at most of the time.

Post a comment
[note: if you are replying to a specific comment, then click the reply link on that comment instead]

You must be logged in to comment on posts.

Posts of Import
4 More Years!
SE v2 Closed BETA
First Post
Subscriptions and Things
AskSE: What do you look like?

Karma Rankings