Rule #3, in our ongoing discussion about rules.

The Rule:


   3. Harassing other members of the site may result in a ban.
Harassment includes (but is not necessarily limited to) the following:

   1. Ad hominem attacks and name calling.
   2. Blatantly bigoted or derogatory statements or remarks about
someone’s race, gender, or sexual orientation.
   3. Posting any contents of private conversations without the
expressed consent of all people involved.
   4. Disclosing private information about a fellow member without
their expressed consent.
   5. Posting inappropriate or private pictures of fellow members
without their expressed consent.
   6. Making negative threads targeting fellow members.



The Reason:
Nobody likes being harassed, we'd like everyone to have a fair shot at
getting along on Atheist Nexus and nobody should be subjected to an
undue amount of hassle. We'll go over this one slowly as it is a
matter of contention among members.

First, note that harassment is going to be one of those issues in
which the mod is going to have to make a decision based on what they
can see is happening using their judgment. It is another instance
where "good faith" and "Intent" will be leaned upon. The body of the
rule even mentions that items in the list of "things that are
harassment" are not the only ways to harass people.


a. Ad hominem attacks and name calling.
The long and the short of it is this: if people avoid calling others
names, they'll never get in trouble for calling others names.
Attacking people's character in order to discredit their ideas falls
under the same heading. If one takes exception to a person's ideas,
they should attempt to discredit those ideas in a civil manner. If
that person is acting foolish, their actions will speak for
themselves. Opinions about their IQ, the likely chemical composition
of their brain, the legitimacy of their parentage and other such
things are immaterial to discourse and hurtful.


b. Blatantly bigoted or derogatory statements or remarks about
someone’s race, gender, disability, age or sexual orientation.
Keep it to yourself. The freedom to talk down to other races, genders, disabilities, ages
and/or sexual orientations, can be found plenty of other places on the
internet. This isn't one of them.


c. Posting any contents of private conversations without the expressed
consent of all people involved.
Things written in private should stay private. The exception to this
is if someone is making a report of another member harassing them in
public, in which case it is acceptable to forward messages on to the
moderation staff. It is never appropriate to publicly post the
contents of a private message without the senders permission.


d. Disclosing private information about a fellow member without their
expressed consent.
This rule is meant to protect people from being harassed via other
mediums or in their-day-to-day lives. Giving away another user's e-
mail address, phone number, home address, place of work or even real
name can be potentially harmful to that person, especially considering
the nature of this website and the prevailing attitudes toward
atheists and non-believers in most places around the world.


e. Posting inappropriate or private pictures of fellow members without
their expressed consent.
What is going to be inappropriate or private is sort of going to be up
to the person who's pictures is being posted. The onus is on each of
us to obtain permission before posting pictures of other members. 



f. Making negative threads targeting fellow members.
There is a fine line between targeting a person and targeting an idea
which has been associated with a person with such vitriol or passive
aggression that it becomes indistinguishable from a personal attack.
We'd like the free flow of ideas to remain free, and clamping down on
what people can and can't say is always a dangerous game--a game we'd
rather not have to play at all. However, our lack of action on matters
of harassment because of our respect for the freedom of speech is
causing a lot of problems.

On the one hand, as atheists, we have a great appreciation for ideas.
On the other hand, we typically expect those ideas to be based on
sound evidence and thinking. It's not wrong to challenge someone's
idea and it is not against the rules to upset someone. It is against
the rules to harangue them. Sometimes, people are wrong. Often times,
their minds can't be changed through argument. If it is evident that
no one is going to change their mind, continuing to attempt to
convince them or knock down an idea that has presumably already been
knocked down is accomplishing nothing. People are not obliged to
defend their ideas if they don't want to. They are also not obliged to
be right, nor are they obliged to acknowledge when other people are
right. These are all lovely, polite things, but they are not
obligations. Nobody has the right to persistently attempt to force
another person into a conversation they don't want to have.

By the same token, if a member takes exception to another person's
views and brings evidence and rational discourse to the table--that is
not harassment. Hounding people is. The difference will be up to the
moderators to decide. Their decisions need to be respected. 


The Action:
If it is determined that a member is harassing another member,
depending on the severity, they will usually receive a warning to
stop. After that, they may be banned. There will no longer be a chain
of warnings because a particular offender has decided to simply switch
targets. People who chronically hassle other members will be banned.
The culture of mean-spirited confrontation is getting stale and--as it
has manufactured nothing of value--it's going to stop.

It is my hope the the dialogue here will become more dialectic and a
little less argumentative.




Views: 231

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Replies to This Discussion

Yes, my compliments to the chef on including the full comment in the notification email. That makes my wasting time on A|N so much more efficient. With this innovation, I estimate I can waste at least three times as much time as previously. Excellent.
Diana: When a few members are consistently name calling and harassing other members "with a creepy sort of intensity" people stop visiting the site.

This is unreal. You just finished slapping together a fable accusing another member here of hatred, stalking and verbal violence because they committed the crime of skepticism - and you write this? Having created "a creepy sort of intensity" yourself out of nothing, for no reason other than to deflect the skepticism, you now blame other people here for doing it? This is a Barney Frank moment. Priceless.
--- Diana - When a few members are consistently name calling and harassing other members "with a creepy sort of intensity" people stop visiting the site.

--- Felch - This is unreal. You {Diana Agorio} just finished slapping together a fable accusing another member here of hatred, stalking and verbal violence because they committed the crime of skepticism - and you write this?

I assume the presumed fable is This Reply?

If so, it came after she wrote the quote you inserted, not before.

If not, to which fable do you refer? A link would be useful.
moJoe: I've heard nothing but suppositions based on air. Correct me if I am wrong, but what I am hearing from the self styled "dicks" is that I am a bullshitter, I am part of the problem, nothing is going to change, I am propping up the so-called "whiner culture," etc, etc, etc. I can paste in quotes if it will speed things along. Am I wrong? I'd like to be.

No, what I said, and what has been ignored, is that yet again we have departed into theoretical land and all there is is talk, talk and more talk. I said that we have a perfectly functional set of rules in place already and some of these rules have either a) never been applied, or b) applied but in a highly arbitrary manner with zero consistency, and if you were a conspiracist, it would be quite easy to show that this seemingly arbitrary application is in fact not, ie. the field is not level, and never has been. I also said that rather than get sidetracked into yet more theory and debate and waffle to at least make an effort, in good faith, to apply the existing rules in a manner that is clearly equitable and visible to us, the members. I even gave you perfectly good ideas about areas where you can show your good faith in ways that are not complex. You did not respond to that suggestion so I assume you declined. And here we are, waffling again with nothing actually happening.

moJoe: Felch:
You have been talking to me as though I fashioned these rules to target you, or something...


This is getting beyond merely annoying. I have now heard this so often that I was starting to believe it myself. I actually went to a lot of effort to not make it about "me", but I did use personal examples. I even went and asked 3 different people whether this has been all about "me". All of them disagreed and stated it was pretty obvious that what I have written was about global, as opposed to personal issues. The only people that seem confused are those that have various reasons for disagreeing with some things that I say. How is that for confusing the man and the ball? You are discounting and discrediting what I have said by implying that this is entirely my personal hissy fit - ie. you are rebutting my character, not my arguments. That is way beyond merely fucking insulting. Whether intentional or not, it matters not, you are completely misreading what I have said and misrepresenting my intent. This reality disconnect that you and others make no effort to avoid is the root of all of the troubles here. I am tired of explaining and re-explaining things that are obvious and unambiguous to most folks that have read them. It underscores how deeply the lost cause is. If you have trouble understanding what I have written, go back and re-read it. I am not a remedial teacher - work it out for yourself. I should not have to handhold you through it all point by point.

The true depth of comprehension failure is in one of your next lines -

All I know, because I was born three days ago, is that you are petitioning for us to get rid of rule #3

OK. You point me to where precisely I said that. I demand that you do. I have said no such thing, but of course arbitrary deletion practices being what they are, I am screwed in trying to defend this. But I know I have never said such a thing and the more astute readers know the same. I merely pointed out some issues that ruin the quick fix mentality of draughting this particular rule. The rule would work perfectly well in a world populated with reasonable and rational people that value ethical principles. We are not in such a world. So what you will have instead is a goldmine for the opportunistic whiner to misuse and abuse - folks that know full well from past experience that if they shriek loud enough anything they say will be accepted as concrete fact. There is no shortage of such people. And just look at the ease with which you have managed to turn everything I have said on it's head, whether intentionally or not is irrelevant, and then think of the power you are placing into the hands of the unscrupulous who can and do exploit it. (You also completely missed a rather fine example if the same type of nonsense earlier in this thread.)
Felch states "I said that we have a perfectly functional set of rules in place already and some of these rules have either a) never been applied, or b) applied but in a highly arbitrary manner with zero consistency"

So the discussion there is not with the content of the rule, it's with the application. I suggest that be a separate discussion or issue - it's been stated a number of times (I think) and addressing it is valid. That may be due to limited moderation resources, or personality issues, I doubt a consipiracy but again, would move that to a separate discussion. In my workplace when meetings on a particular issue threaten to be derailed by other issues, we have a "parking lot" bulletin board where those issues are place. I suggest that for this aspect.

There is so much emotion here, I suggest we reserve it for the issues that most concern us. If in agreement with the rule, then further debate of that particular rule doesn't seem productive. Uniform, fair, and efficient moderation is a very important issue, clearly very emotional, requires resources that may be difficult to obtain, and deserves attention. The point is made - probably multiple times (hmmmm is that repetitousness.... separate rule there)

Im sorry, I truly don't have the time to read posts that are too long. Problem of having to work for a living. I can't define "too long" either. As a victim of the internet, I don't have the attention span for logorrhea. Call it a character flaw. Ive been twitterated and I don't even read twitter. Anyway, I may have missed some important parts, but basically, Felch appears to be in agreement with the rule.
Daniel: I suggest that be a separate discussion or issue

I was responding to a bunch of moJoe's highly creative reinterpretations of what has allegedly been said - yet the derailing is my fault? Welcome to AtheistNexus.
I hope you forgive my confusion, I am glad you like the rules as they are. Whether my application of them is satisfactory to you only time will tell.

To avoid further confusion: calling people a "retard" or and "idiot" or "stupid" is unacceptable.
So long as you are willing to explain why and are able to effectively differentiate between the idea and the person. Ideas, again, are not sacred. This will, of course, be pushed and abused by someone, and when it is used overmuch and without ceremony or qualification, it will still bring problems down on people who can't articulate their grievances and must resort to lashing out childishly.

But to be clear: there are stupid ideas floating around out there. By all means, lay them to rest. I'd just like people to be able to reasonably be able to determine the difference between an idea that simply lacks enough evidence to be accepted as true and a "stupid, retarded, OMG I WANT TO GASH MY EYES OUT THAT IS SUCH A RIDICULOUS" idea. There is such a thing as "overkill."

As to the Pope: I don't see him filing a complaint about it.
I'm wondering at this point, is a dead horse being beaten?

Have currently interested parties at least seen the rule, understood it, disagreed or agreed, and made their points/branch points/branch-branch points? Have the "let's be nice people" and "don't be a wimp people" all identified their point of view? ("pro-nice" and "pro-cahones" ?)

Transparency is very important. It can also be very difficult and cumbersome and controversial, which is why it doesn't happen in a lot of places. This is about as transparent as I can imagine.

I don't want to be an "on topic nazi" but out of respect for those who act on the rules, and those who moderate discussions - a finite and unappreciated resource - I think there should be an end-point to this particular discussion of each rule. Otherwise it will never get to the end. I'm fine if others state we are not there yet, but asking if we are.

Not everyone can have the last word. And once a horse is dead, it's really no good beating further, except to tenderize the meat. This despite I want each person to be able to express themselves.
Again, good points Daniel. Not only is it important that we stay on topic, but we should all be clear about the outcome we are seeking.

Quite frankly, if someone doesn't want to be a part of a civil community where all are free to discuss and defend their opinions and views, then they are wasting their time here.
I'm wondering at this point, is a dead horse being beaten?

Quite possibly. Though it's brought a few things to light I believe. Namely, this thread, in my humble opinion, has become a microcosm of the larger site issues for many of us:

One person's post being misinterpreted or misrepresented by another.

- In at least one case, I got spanked for my presumed reply to post A when in fact I was responding to post B. What tends to stand out in people's minds is not the technical error but the spanking.

- In most cases, I suspect it is the peed-in-my-cornflakes effect. We're mad at someone, or several someones, or the issue in general, and rather than responding to the compartmentalized, specific point, we read into it a way broader meaning and respond to the assumed broader meaning ... which can be miles off course from the point itself.

Subjectivity of the rule

- Some of the responses here, I and I know many others, would perceive as unduly hostile and uncivil relative to what is being discussed/responded to. I would predict that those persons and any loyal fans of theirs would not perceive undue hostility. Surprise! We're all human and we all think we're right and the other guy is wrong!

- Some people seem threatened by the very word civility itself; as if it is akin to a gag order, as if it is not possible to have ... lively discussion? ... without name calling and personal attacks.

- One person's personal attack is another person's statement of fact, and vice-versa.

- One person's subject-deserving-of-analysis is another person's I-have-the-truth-and-how-dare-you-question-it.


This is where moderators come in. Call them fascist or oppressive, but ultimately, Brother Richard, moJoe, Grundgetta, and anyone else hired to help are the jury. If someone is unhappy with the level of civility they set, then like Dave Rogers, they are free to leave.
Just to be clear, Dave Rogers has not left. He is currently suspended, which is again silencing members.

I am completely against the silencing of members by suspension, or by deleting comments, or even by closing discussions. It is cowardly

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