On Civility

Mo’ Meta, Mo Beta.

NO Promotion, NO Recommends.

For one thing I hate the term civility because it does not mean what you think it means.  I prefer the term “Courage”.

But before we talk about that we’re going to take a side excursion into the realm of Community Moderation.

Community Moderation

Community Moderation (as understood by kossacks) is a system of participatory democracy where elite members of the community decide what content is unsuitable for display to the general public and non-elite.

What do I mean by elite and non-elite?  Frankly it is much easier to give Community Moderation responsibilities to everyone or no one at all (just one button to push).  You can grant Trusted User status (and that’s what the software calls it) by Time (and it’s currently set at 45 days) or by measuring community approval.

You measure community approval by selecting a total average rating for a certain number of comments.

An average rating is just that, the average of two or more ratings on a given comment.  Comments without an average rating (those with 1 or no ratings) don’t count.  This is the same average rating that is used to determine if a comment is ‘Hidden’ or not.

The total average rating is the total of all the average ratings.

When I arrived those controls were set for 10 comments with a total average rating of 30.  In other words you had to make 10 comments and if 9 of them had an average rating of 3 and one had an average rating of 4, you’re in.

Ridiculously easy and easy to maintain.  Practically everybody except the rankest n00b and the most despised of users is a Trusted User.

Some time before launch budhy asked me to look at it.  I did the math and set it to the same proportions (you have to have a 3 overall average) but extended the number of comments because I wanted to encourage commenting.

You see the thing about Community Moderation, why it’s really important, is that the desire to attain and keep elite status encourages certain types of behaviors.

One of them is that it motivates and empowers people, making them stakeholders in the success of the blog.

Another one of these is indeed civility, courtesy, politeness, call it what you will.  The Community of Trusted users has a great deal of control over it’s own membership because they are more or less the arbitrators of who has sufficient “popularity” to be a member.

In the system of Moderation proposed for DocuDharma Regular Users also have a say because of the Wrong! (1) rating which, while it wouldn’t hide your comment, does pull down your average for keeping TU.

As always though it takes many, many 1s and 0s to overcome a modest sprinkling of 4s.  The threshold at dK must be incredibly high because I’ve seen the part where MSOC loses TU in 6 comments.

And maybe the controls are different, these are the controls we have.  You can’t use time AND the community approval measure at the same time for instance.

So why are we using time now?

Shortly after launch we discovered that we couldn’t find the button that lets Trusted Users view hidden comments.  This means a ‘Hide Team’ of one single Trusted User and a Regular User (*cough*, *cough*- sockpuppet) can hide any Unrecommended comment with no appeal, even from Admins (if there is a button to change ratings I haven’t found it yet).

There is no uprating unjust ‘Hides’ by anyone at all, unless you encounter them while reading a diary.

Further investigation, including contacting several other boards using this software including pff and MLW showed that NO board using this software had this feature which was deemed essential.  A request has been made to pacified and he promises to get on it real soon now.  Until then it was our decision (and by our I mean basically budhy, OTB, Turkana and I) that we would wait for the upgrade before fully implementing Community Moderation.  I changed to time based eligibility and set a period I thought would be sufficient.

I had also thought it would have eliminated TU for everyone who wasn’t an Admin, a Contributing Editor, or a Guest Blogger, and in many cases it had that effect, but evidently not all.  I’m going to try and find a non destructive way to change it so that nothing much gets hidden and only Admins, CEs, and GBs can do it.  Anything else would be kind of unfair.

But not to worry.  As mentioned above, the Wrong! rating will still blacken and tarnish someone’s reputation quite effectively, making it that much more difficult for them to achieve Trusted Usership.

The Ridiculousness and Danger of Troll Ratings

And that’s it-

You can blacken and tarnish their reputation, making it that much more difficult for them to achieve Trusted Usership.

You can hide things.

There is no autoban here.  Your case will be individually reviewed by budhy who has the final say.  I’ve no doubt he will accept input from his advisors but he’s the man.  I’ve argued for penalties short of banning and I think there’s some consensus on that, but we’ll see when the time arises.

Other than that, there is nothing much anyone on this board can do to you at all.  Other than say harsh words.


Sticks and Stones make break my Bones, But Whips and Chains excite me!

If words can hurt you, perhaps you need another hobby.  My mom crochets.

This is what I said to Armando last night about civility

If what you meant Armando, was that nobody can have the expectation that they won’t get their feelings hurt, and that there is no whining and complaining about hurt feelings I agree.

In the strongest terms.

If you’re not tough enough to withstand my saying your ideas are stupid acompanied by a Wrong! or a Hide without complaining about it OR worrying that it’s somehow going to negatively affect your “popularity” you are showing the same kind of craven cowardice we decry in our elected Representatives.

Think about it.


Maybe you’ll agree with me next time.

But don’t expect anyone to act toward you in any particular way, because they don’t have to.  It’s up to you to control how you act.

You should be a courageous blogger.

Think about what we most decry in Washington, it’s the establishment’s inability to withstand the baseless bloviating and canards of the Right Wing Noise Machine.

You’re tougher than that, aren’t you?

Now I’m all for hiding hate speech and fighting words but stupid ain’t one of them and Wrong! indicates- “Your comment makes me question your motives and/or intelligence.”

It’s ok to call someone Wrong!.  It’s ok to be called Wrong!.  Doesn’t hurt a bit, see?

A Ridiculous Example

budhy explicitly allows 9-11 Conspiracy Theories.  Perhaps you wish to post an Essay.  I think MIHOP is ridiculous and LIHOP proven- “Bin Ladin Determined to Attack in U.S.”

From the community you can expect ridicule and derision at best (yes, I wrote that).  Wrong!s and Hides– piles of them.

Suck it up you Whiny Ass Titty Baby.  You’ll never get TU but you’ll never be banned.  budhy explicitly allows CT.

The community will think you’re kooky because you’re a kook.  Get over it.

You can’t be afraid of words.

“Your ideas are stupid and you’re a poopy head.”

Really? How so?

“You smell like farts. Hahhahahahahhahhahah!”

Pfui.  I’m done with you.

And stay done.

The whole concept of this site is for you not to be afraid to say what you think, but you can’t go around afraid that someone will disagree with you.  And that’s what it is.

If you have the courage of your convictions engage.  If you’re not impressed don’t, you control your own actions and reactions.

What ever you do don’t whine and complain about how mean and unfair it is when somebody says Wrong! “Your comment makes me question your motives and/or intelligence.”, either with words or with ratings.

I didn’t sign on to be a hall monitor in a kindergarden.


Skip to comment form

  1. Try and hurt me.  I double dog dare you.

    • Armando on September 16, 2007 at 7:03 pm

    My “concern” (pun intended) is assuaged.

    I believed this to be what we signed up for.

    I believed this to be the policy.

    I thought it important to be stated by the REAL Admins of this site.

    I will shut up now.

    • pfiore8 on September 16, 2007 at 7:08 pm

    on the same topic… and you ended up on top, btw!!!

    but i love that you invoke courage and the call to end the whiny ass titty baby behavior of running to the principal when things get tough

    great piece ek… maybe i’ll promote it

    bwahahahahahahahaha (sorry, just like doing that)

    • on September 16, 2007 at 7:10 pm

    conflicts, motherfuckers, and do it NOW!!!

    I’m waiting

  2. Fine if you demand it, I will comply.

    • djbmd on September 16, 2007 at 7:23 pm

    bout peace, love and understanding.

    It’s easy enough to argue, discuss and rant without acting like a goddam right winger.

    • YetiMonk on September 16, 2007 at 7:24 pm

    the free and frequent use of the Hide button is going to be a community norm here?

  3. I want my TU back!!!!! (EU now?)

    • pfiore8 on September 16, 2007 at 8:07 pm

    i visited your civility essay…  it’s only civil that you visit me so i can serve you some pie

    don’t you come out to play at all???

  4. Great post ek.  Thanks for spelling it all  out. 

    This has been a great exercise for the community. It’s all turning out for the best.  I love this place! 

    • plf515 on September 16, 2007 at 8:14 pm

    Names *can* hurt, and words *can* hurt.

    They can, especially, hurt the more fragile. 

    We’re progressives.  In my view, progressives stick up for the vulnerable.

    I, myself, am not particularly fragile.  I grew up arguing with a lawyer (my dad) and then endured an adolescence filled with abuse.  No one here is matching that.

    But do we want to make this place welcoming to all who share our views? 

    • pfiore8 on September 16, 2007 at 11:17 pm

    so this gives you 64

    and a hug… { { { ek } } }

      • pfiore8 on September 16, 2007 at 9:17 pm

      so why always shutting them down with the “this is bullshit” stuff?

      this isn’t a political blog… it’s a conversation

      seems to me less declarative sentences and a few more questions might bring about a different result

      and maybe a different perspective

      you might have more fun in my essay… we’ve got pie on the menu this afternoon… come and throw some

    1. ek is (i believe) staking out his position from which to proceed…..he knows it is not black and white.

      But we have to start somewhere.

    2. to take down a book of poems by Marge Piercy. Here’s a bit from her poem “Strong Women.”

      A strong woman is a woman who craves love
      like oxygen or she turns blue choking.
      A strong woman is a woman who loves
      strongly and weeps strongly and is strongly
      terrified and has strong needs. A strong woman is strong
      in words, in action, in connection, in feeling;
      she is not strong as a stone but as a wolf
      suckling her young. Strength is not in her, but she
      enacts it as the wind fills a sail.

      What comforts her is others loving
      her equally for the strength and for the weakness
      from which it issues, lightning from a cloud.
      Lightning stuns. In rain, the clouds disperse.
      Only water of connection remains,
      flowing through us. Strong is what we make
      each other. Until we are all strong together,
      a strong woman is a woman strongly afraid.

      I think we could substitute “human” for “woman” and find the same result. But I do bless Piercy for writing it this way.

  5. WELL SAID!!!

  6. Than stroke the oversized ego of a guy who threw a petulant Front Page tantrum because didn’t like a reply in some thread?

    Now that same guy is dishing out 1’s like they’re candy to any one who doesn’t acquiesce to his puerile, attention seeking antics.  Yeah, that’s helpful.

    Bottom line: there wouldn’t be a problem with civility if one guy hadn’t decided to make it a problem.

    Same shit, different blog.

    • jessical on September 17, 2007 at 1:55 am

    The community will think you’re kooky because you’re a kook.  Get over it.

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