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Re: Reputation and Accountability (tye)

by tye (Cardinal)
on Jun 12, 2003 at 19:43 UTC ( #265467=note: print w/ replies, xml ) Need Help??


in reply to Reputation and Accountability

To skip the suspense, it was me.

You got a warning. You got two. In some places in this thread you say you don't need a warning ("I actually agree with you WRT warnings, there was no particular need for one") and in other places you say that you do need a warning (that have now been updated to say that you just wanted a warning so you could identify the culprit).

You did not get a "Watch the language or *I* am going to *take away your chat privileges*" kind of warning. Would that have led to a better outcome or worse?

Personally, trying to put myself in your "shoes" at that time (which I certainly can't do since I just have a few snippets of text to infer from), I think such a warning would have sounded very condescending to me. It likely would have made me more upset. It could have easily caused me to redirect (at least for a while) my outrage at being mass-downvoted into outrage at being insulted and treated like a child by a specific person.

I find that it is a lot easier to stay mad at a person and keep up a good rant than it is to stay mad at a system.

What would have been the best outcome in this situation? Well, you seemed quite upset to me so I think the best outcome would have been for you to realize that you were upset and take a break and come back to the problem when you were better able to interact with people and perhaps get some understanding of the original cause of you being upset.

In fact, the (at least) two requests (from non-anonymous monks) for you to watch your language/attitude didn't curb your language but after being borg'ed I noticed that you used a euphamism in place of a curse word. So I don't think you were in a mood to interact civilly with identifiable people and needed a good swift kick from an anonymous system to get you to listen.

When you came back, I "listened" and waited for an indication that you were ready to communicate rather than rant (and to let other monks respond so you could get a feel for what is expected around here so it wouldn't sound like, "Hi. I'm tye. I make the rules. Obey them." and so I could get a feel for how others felt as well). I never felt like you were ready so I just kept listening and then you had left.

You lost chat privileges for a few minutes. I don't consider that a horrid "punishment" that requires a complete accounting system.

The /borg command was added to deal with trolls. I think putting an accounting system on top of it would certainly be a horrid idea in the case of trolls. In this case, I still intended to identify myself when it seemed appropriate. I had started that process in private messages before you posted this.

Would knowing that *I* took away your chat privileges for using foul language repeatedly after repeated warnings been better? I think it would have made the problem worse. But it is just a judgement. That is what I don't get paid to do.

Yes, there should be a layer of accounting so that Power Users who abuse their powers can be identified and have their powers taken away. The next layer is the gods and there are enough bread crumbs that it is pretty likely that the culprit could be found even if he didn't confess (though not 100% assured -- put that on the huge to-do list -- update: sorry, this is actually logged quite precisely, no to-do item needed).

Did I abuse my power? I don't think so. I just did what, in my judgement, was most likely to improve the situation and shorten the duration of ranting/cursing and, perhaps even help chip be able to deal with his frustration/anger (whatever it was, I try not to pin down emotion based on text-only communication because I know such is highly error-prone) sooner/better.

Did it work? I'm not sure. I see some good signs.

Would I do it again? You betchya.

If I see anyone throw out a good curse word, see someone else complain, see another curse word, personally encourage the person to calm down/take a break/watch their language, and get a curse word back, then I'm going to /borg them.

Am I going to say it was me that did it? Only if it looks to me like the person is likely to deal well with this information at that time.

I have a lot of respect for chip. Everyone has bad days.

My best advice is to hang out and get to know the community before you start making lots of suggestions how to change it. The less you know about the "feel" of the community, the more cautious you should be in interacting with the community.

I'll read what gets posted to this thread and I might learn something or decide that I could have done a better job in some specific way. Heck, the community might "decide" that what I did was horrible and I might decide to act differently even though I disagree (just to name a few possibilities). We'll see.

I think it was a case of an irresistible force (really just the strong will of a confident person) meeting an immovable object (an established community) and chip will likely either bounce off into space, burn up on re-entry, land and move in, or teraform the planet. We'll see. (:

                - tye


Comment on Re: Reputation and Accountability (tye)
Re: Re: Reputation and Accountability (tye)
by chip (Curate) on Jun 12, 2003 at 19:50 UTC
    I intend to comment at length after some consideration. For now: Thanks, tye, for taking responsibility for your actions (however unimportant they may have seemed to you at the time); and thanks also for explaining them.

    PS: I upvoted your node for the above reasons. Only. :-)

        -- Chip Salzenberg, Free-Floating Agent of Chaos

      My actions did not seem unimportant at the time. Just FYI. Had I more spare time at the moment, I might try to figure out what I mistated or could have expressed more clearly. As is, I'll wait.

                      - tye
Re: Re: Reputation and Accountability (tye)
by chip (Curate) on Jun 12, 2003 at 20:14 UTC
    Okay, let's get the irrelevancies out of the way: Yes, I was in a really bad mood; a couple monks complained about my language; I didn't respond well to those complaints; and my borging was, arguably, justified. When tye borged me, he may well have done it entirely without malice, and most of those present in the CB may have approved at the time.

    NONE OF THAT MATTERS NOW. NONE OF IT IS RELEVANT TO THE ISSUE AT HAND.

    The issue at hand is that borging is anonymous. No one should wield anonymous power over public conversation. When such power is available, abuses may occur without anyone realizing it. Nothing in tye's story moderates the danger of anonymous action to public conversation.

    Furthermore, tye's lack of malice is entirely beside the point because it is a fact of human nature that the worst of abuses are often perpetrated by misguided would-be saints. I do not suggest that tye is, or is not, such a person; I point out only that it does not matter one whit whether he is or not. Such people exist.

    In the end, what should matter to the Monastery is not one little incident with a crabby guy who used swear words in an online chat. What should matter to you is that the crabby guy was silenced by someone who did not have the courage to show his (virtual) face. Yes, tye has come forward now, after I wouldn't let it die. Would he have done so if I hadn't made a stink? More to the point, can we suppose that every Power User, ever, will own up to what he does? If so, what is the objection to removing the veil of anonymity on borging?

        -- Chip Salzenberg, Free-Floating Agent of Chaos

      Yes, tye has come forward now, after I wouldn't let it die.

      I quote myself:

      I still intended to identify myself when it seemed appropriate. I had started that process in private messages before you posted this.

      It is not true that I came forward because you wouldn't let it die. You said "after" but I still read that as "because" (it doesn't make sense to say "after something didn't happen" and mean "after in time but not as a result of", that I can tell).

      If there is an abuse, there is a system for responding to it (one part of which is posting just like you did). A guarantee that the silenced one will immediately know who the culprit was is not part of that system. I think it would be a mistake to make that a part of the system.

                      - tye
        So, to summarize, you don't find my arguments compelling. But then, that's hardly surprising, is it? After all, you've found anonymity (even temporary anonymity) useful, so of course you're loathe to surrender it.

        I'm glad you've expressed your opinion, but I hope the Monastery will disregard it.

            -- Chip Salzenberg, Free-Floating Agent of Chaos

      The issue at hand is that borging is anonymous. No one should wield anonymous power over public conversation.

      I disagree. First, borging isn't completely anonymous. There's a relatively small number of "community elders" who have been vested with that power and who have been charged with the responsibility to use that power wisely. From what's been said here, it seems that there's no issue with responsibility in this particular case.

      Next, in any civil society, there needs to be some mechanism for enforcing a "time out" when things get out of hand. The benefit of that enforcement coming from "the system" is, as tye has said, that it's harder to pick a fight with the system. The fight gets defused. At most, it gets turned into a meta-argument (like this one). Meta arguments are healthy, if they're undertaken civilly.

      Perlmonks remains a remarkably civil place for several reasons, among them being feedback. When somebody comes in here and acts badly, they get feedback, ranging from negative votes, to replies pointing out the error of their behavior, to verbal (CB) reminders, to borging, to banning. Without those mechanisms--particularly without an escalation path that includes temporary CB silencing--I believe this place would be a mess.

        borging isn't completely anonymous

        It is--to mortals like me. That the members of some cabal (no, not that Cabal) are accountable to each other doesn't make them individually accountable to the rest of us. Individual visibility is precisely my point.

        And if you think I'm arguing against the borging feature, then you have not been paying the slightest bit of attention. Please read carefully what I have actually written, if you care to understand.

            -- Chip Salzenberg, Free-Floating Agent of Chaos

      Mercy, chip, you're making a liar out of me. I told you I was through with you, and yet, here I am, replying to you again. This time, however, I will expend the energy to reply thoroughly to one of your petulant missives. I should also note that these messages from you appear at such a furious pace that some mechanism to assist you must surely be employed. Indeed, it could be no other way, for surely no reasonable man, no well-and-good man, no man of solid moral character would spend such time stewing in his juices over such a regrettable tempest-in-a-teapot that he would churn out screed after vehement screed upon the topic. I say these things simply as de facto evidence -- that persons giving such importance to the issue would not be fully mentally healthy -- and not to impugn on your character.

      The issue at hand is that borging is anonymous.
      I don't think it's much of an issue for anyone except you. I don't care what rights you'd like to assign yourself at perlmonks, you don't get to know who borgs you when it happens. All I see when you suggest this as a burning issue is Chip Salzenberg, Freefloating Agent of Chaos raising a stink; a stink over non-existent rights as a pretext for complaining about his anger at being silenced.

      No one should wield anonymous power over public conversation.
      The conversation may be freely available to read, but it's certainly not open to public participation. Chatterbox is not public, chatterbox is not democratic, ok? Let us say it again : The Chatterbox is Not Democratic. In light of this apparent revelation, what is your complaint? Perlmonks is not ruled by a shadow conspiracy, but it does have a set of administrative users. Any information system (a system made of computers as well as people) will have trusted users, sysops and administrators, because without them, the system breaks down. Your actions were taken as hostile to the perlmonks system and they were squelched. Maybe you think this was fair, maybe you think this was unfair. Who cares? When an agent decided that your actions needed to be addressed, they were addressed. Who was it that actually did the deed? Who cares? Borging is the most ephemeral, least serious punishment in the perlmonks world. Your suggestion that this slap on the wrist should be subject to such auditing is without merit at all.

      In the end, what should matter to the Monastery is not one little incident with a crabby guy who used swear words in an online chat. What should matter to you is that the crabby guy was silenced by someone who did not have the courage to show his (virtual) face.
      I disagree. Neither of these things matter, regardless of how many times you say it does.

      Would (tye) have done so if I hadn't made a stink?
      Who cares? It doesn't matter.

      (C)an we suppose that every Power User, ever, will own up to what he does?
      "owning up" to actions occur when those actions are bad. In this case, the action -- borging a user -- is a service. Your statement that power users owe a confession to people whom they borg is hyperbole.

      If so, what is the objection to removing the veil of anonymity on borging?
      Simply put : it doesn't need to be removed.

        A tip of the cap for a well-composed flame. Nothing in it seems to demand substantive reply, though: "You suck" is pretty much the end of reasoning, no matter how entertainingly expressed.

            -- Chip Salzenberg, Free-Floating Agent of Chaos

Re: Re: Reputation and Accountability (tye)
by chip (Curate) on Jun 12, 2003 at 20:18 UTC
    One comment of yours, tye, deserves particular rebuke:

    ...I don't think you were in a mood to interact civilly with identifiable people and needed a good swift kick from an anonymous system to get you to listen.

    You were not a system. You were an individual. You hid behind the NodeReaper alias to give yourself a patina of third-person objectivity, to give the impression of being Something Bigger Than Me. I didn't buy it then; it was a lie that merely made me mad. I hope you recognize now how badly you misread me, and how insulting it is to be slapped by remote control.

        -- Chip Salzenberg, Free-Floating Agent of Chaos

      I find it insulting to be slapped (period). Having been in several confrontations with people, I'm not convinced that the personal touch would have been less upsetting or turned out better. It might have. And sometimes I go that route. I prefer to go that route.

      My read of the situation at the time was that it would have made it worse in this case. Based on your implication to the contrary, I'll reconsider. But I'm not convinced yet that it would have.

                      - tye
        I fear I have confused two points. Allow me to distinguish them.

        1. Being muted is, indeed, intrinsically annoying.

        2. Being muted by someone who isn't willing to reveal his identity is infuriating. It's much worse, to me, than the non-anonymous variety, because it is an abuse of authority. It therefore provokes, not just irritation, but indignation.

        Clearer?

            -- Chip Salzenberg, Free-Floating Agent of Chaos

Re: Re: Reputation and Accountability (tye)
by graff (Chancellor) on Jun 13, 2003 at 08:28 UTC
    Wow. This thread has run way too long (but has provided value -- I just learned about all the Orders). Anyway, if anyone is still reading, here's my proposal for a solution (I'm replying to tye because I trust he will read it, consider it, and pass the idea around as appropriate):

    Let there be a "policy" established among the folks who are or become members of "Power Users" (guardians of the CB):

    When you /borg someone who is a registered member of the monastery, you should, as soon as possible, /msg that person as follows: "You have been temporarily blocked from the chat box, because your recent posts are Stepping Outside the Bounds of Acceptable Discourse. Take a break, maybe eat something, and reply to this message when you feel ready to return, or if you need further information. -- Sincerely, The Management."

    There should be no need for such diplomacy when dealing with anonymous trolls. Also, it should be sufficient that the person taking this action speak for all Power Users, and that replies to this notice be directed (accessible) to all Power Users.

    This is intended as a sort of compromise: maintaining accountability among Power Users is an obvious need, and providing direct communication between Power Users (as a group) and the scolded monk should meet that need. But requiring that each individual Power User declare him/herself personally to the scolded monk does not serve any essential good, and at the moment when the monk in question is behaving badly, it's just as likely to increase damage to both parties.

    (I guess the only hole in the proposal is enforcement: how to make sure the notice is always sent?)

    update: (made some minor adjustments above -- grammar, added link in the proposed notice -- and... ) It may be a better compromise, from some people's point of view, if the notice is copied to the CB, as well as being addressed (/msg) to the /borgee. As pointed out elsewhere on this thread, comparing who's logged in and who the Power Users are will often give enough evidence to peg the /borger (to the extent that it matters at that moment); but it's important that the /borger announce the action with a Voice of Authority (the "official signature") -- for the same reason that it's a good idea for cops to wear uniforms and drive specially-marked cars. And of course, making the action "public" in the CB will give "the Community" a chance to voice their reactions (support for one side or the other, or puzzlement), for all to see (including the borgee).

    But none of this for anonymous trolls -- I mean, "initiates" who just created their accounts earlier the same day. It could egg them on to worse offenses; just shut'em up and be done with'em.

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