on Armando and civility

The topic has been rehashed to death already, but these diaries, written over the past 2 years, are still pretty much relevant:

Armando is a kind, gentle, caring person
Ultimate meta: civility, dKos ecology and the reclist
Meta: How to discuss constructively with a smart brash kossack

Beyond the text below, I’d like to note one thing: there is nothing that will frustrate a bully more than unflailing civility in the face of continuous aggressivity. Civility actually is very satisfying in fights.

As per the last of the 3 diaries linke to above:

Armando consistently fights the hypocrisy of those that call for civility and restraint in comments but are unable to follow their own rules, something that I fully agree with. He also thinks that there is no need real for civility in discussions and that we’re all big boys (and girls) who should be able to take it and dish it without taking things too personally. His position is that sharp disagreements, immediate and abrupt note of inconsistencies, errors or stupidity help bring out the facts faster and weeds out the fluff. I disagree with him on the specific point that this need not be done politely, as I think that if you really are civil, people will listen to you more than if you are brusque or confrontational. I do agree that inconsitencies, errors or stupidity should be noted.

But what I’d like to point out, as CanYouBeAngyAndStillDream, is that a combination of the two approaches can be highly effective.

For a very long time, I was wary of discussing anything with Armando. I was already a well known kossack, and yet I dreaded entering any thread wehre he was present. Part of it was avoiding the hassle of being subjected to relentless pressure to justify whatever I’d have written, and part of it was the difficulty to conduct a dialogue when any error is noticed, used against you and to distract you.

I eventually did join discussions with him, but I did it in a way that would limit the possibility for him to not respond on what I hoped he would respond, i.e. by avoiding errors, ambiguities or loose ends. He forced me to think hard about what I wrote, so as not to give him easy openings. He forced me to be precise, either in what I stated, or in what I asked of him. He sharpened my arguments.

And he responded in kind – still probing, pushing, and pounding whenever he could, but also genuinely responding to questions and acknowledging points when they deserved it. And we got serious dialogue going. The signal-to-noise ratio is pretty damn good between us, I think.

So, take it like this: Armando does not like noise, and he will scream at noise (yeah – irony alert. But this is the core point). Do not give him the opportunity to scream. Do not generate noise. Do not write fluff. Don’t be inconsistent. Don’t write in bad faith. Be sharp. And drop your pride offsite.

Because, let’s face it, what makes the quality of this site is, as I’ve droned on and on about many times already, is because the information is vetted. That does not mean that all writing on the side is good, far from it, but that the community is able to identify the good writing, flag the bad or the ugly or the false, and the good stuff is thus supposed to be more visible than the bad one. And Armando is part of that vetting process. The more people know that their bullshit will be called, whether in polite tones or in vicious retorts, the less noise we’ll have.

(As an aside, that’s why “response diaries”, which annoy many – why yet another diary on a topic that has already generated a lot of comments? – are actually useful, because they allow for the information beaten to death in earlier diaries to be summarised, re-used and brought to the community in a smarter form, thereby contributing directly to the vetting process).

Where I differ with Armando is that I think that the brash replies can create more noise, because they cause those people that are not willing to take the heat to huff and puff and feel (to some extent with justification) victimized, thereby allowing them a whiny out from the debate on substance. But their ability to create more noise (which triggers more reaction from Armando, naturally) does not mean that they were right.

So the lesson is simple: be smart, and find ways to use Armando’s sharpness to your advantage. Remember: he’s shouting at the noise, not at you. Hone your aguments, improve your writing, and learn how to keep cool! It works.


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  1. I’m off to sleep right now, so I won’t be around to be civil or not (and no, I’m not runnign away!)…

  2. …all I can say having passed out and woken to see this is still going on is that I can’t believe this is still going on.

    Armando is Armando.  We all knew what to expect going in.  And I’ll add that when it comes time for everyone to weigh in on me, it would be nice if y’all could do it slightly less publicly.

    • melvin on September 17, 2007 at 12:55 am
  3. Sick of these meta diaries.

    Armando is someone I would never take seriously when it comes to any kind of meta whatsoever.

    There.  That’s it.

    • pfiore8 on September 17, 2007 at 1:00 am

    and i love the next to last line: he is shouting at the noise, not at you.

    The Choice
    The intellect of man is forced to choose
    perfection of the life, or of the work,
    And if it take the second must refuse
    A heavenly mansion, raging in the dark.
    When all the story’s finished, what’s the news?
    In luck or out the toil has left its mark:
    That old perplexity an empty purse,
    Or the day’s vanity, the night’s remorse
    W.B. Yeats

    btw…i was a little leery upon opening this essay…

  4. et Armando est toujours l’asshole.

    Will someone please stop the madness!!!

    Ok, I will. I will write a diary that absolutely nothing to do with Armando and the meta of civility. It will have to do with the destruction of all civilisation as we’ve known it!

    • pfiore8 on September 17, 2007 at 1:11 am


    and this is way more than just about armando.

    good golly… we all have some bias slant blinders to work on

    and pie to all of you… because it’s that kind of day

    so if you want some pie, come to MY essay on Armando… it really is more fun

    • melvin on September 17, 2007 at 1:24 am

    tesing. I can’t post in J’s other diary.

    Message “you must have a subject” or whatever, even though there is one.

    • Armando on September 17, 2007 at 1:48 am

    As far as I know, no one was complaining about ME at all.

    I brought up the issue regarding THIS SITE.

    I am pleased and satsified with the statements made by Buhdy and EK about THE SITE.

    Though I appreciate Jerome’s kind words.

    As muh as I love things being about me, this really was not.

    • Armando on September 17, 2007 at 6:15 am

    as she decided to write about my personal life.

    I have asked that she be banned.

  5. This was the diary at the top of the page on my first visit to the site. Deja vu all over again, again.

    • scribe on September 17, 2007 at 3:19 pm

    Jerome writes: “So the lesson is simple: be smart, and find ways to use Armando’s sharpness to your advantage. Remember: he’s shouting at the noise, not at you. Hone your aguments, improve your writing, and learn how to keep cool! It works.”

    For you, Jerome. For YOU this works.

    To me, an asshole is an asshole, no matter how ” brilliant” that asshole may be.

    “Brilliant assholes” often assume the sovereign right to crap all over everyone, and demand special treatment and special attention wherever they go.

    That degree of willful arrogance will never earn any respect from me. 

  6. Buck the fuck up.


    • d3n4l1 on September 18, 2007 at 6:54 am

    Armando is an asshole.  Or else his methods would work for everyone, and there wouldn’t have to be any warnings or “this is how you debate with a prick” explanations.  Instead you have to slap your warning label on him like a pack of cigarettes. 

    He’s not special.  He’s an asshole that hasn’t learned patience and respect with other people.  As such it’s he that should be tasered and taken out of the room before anyone else gets hurt when there are such policies.  Why?  Because these issues affect everyone, and if you really want to be a “Big Tent Democrat” then you respect that fact that some people in the tent take time to explain themselves and others take time to present their arguments, and a real professional waits, and waits, and waits.  Unless you’re an asshole attorney or something that only cares about winning on the stage.  That would be very good for one of that profession.  (and don’t begin the troll rating proceedings because his occupation is long since public knowledge now) I wonder how Armando would have treated the indians at Wounded Knee.  Prick.

    If my mother came to a community meeting and debated some of her issues and a guy like Assmando began berating her because she didn’t serve her comments to him just the way he likes it such an asshat would need to be taken out of the room in a stretcher, and I wouldn’t have to be present. 

    You want to talk about noise to signal ratio?  What about efficiency?  10 people in the room have to filter their anger and be patient because 1 person claims that they know their argument is more exact and precise and he should be allowed to argue over the others while poking at their eyeballs if he can.  What you’re missing here is that it isn’t if that 1 person is right, it’s if the other people can understand him.  If 5 of those people leave that room feeling the 1 is nothing but an asshole, whether or not they understood the arguments in time to please him or not, or they leave not feeling that the great infallable one has failed to understand their heartfelt issue because he wouldn’t take the time to be civil and ask for clarification and aid the other person in getting his voice out (which is the way it should be done), then really is that any more efficient? 

    A few true believers at the cost of many that can’t stand him?  Sound familiar?  Armando for President!!  It’s really because our kids isn’t learning, right?  In this case, No Citizen Left Behind, another sham concept.  Put them all to the test, so that Armando can say that all of them fail.

    Have patience with the asshole?  Bullshit.  With all due respect, or should I have respect?  Could it be you have dissed us?  Only you can understand the Great Armando.  Anyways, I’ve always heard the French don’t know the meaning of respect.

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