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First, I will admit that it took me no small number of attempts before I was able to find an actual non-trivial proposal in this posting. Here is what matters to me:

The request is that you, as PerlMonks, don't ignore the personal attacks when you see them. That you use your standing as a member of the PerlMonks community to show that such things are not the way that we, as members of the larger Perl community expect things to be done. Speak out, or simply downvote the posts that don't match your understanding of how things should go.

I think that is excellent advice when dealing with people face-to-face or even verbally (or even just professionally). In an on-line, text-only forum, I think those are both pretty bad ideas.

The most widely recognized problem with those ideas is the existence of "trolls". Feeding trolls is a bad idea. I'll assume that those who don't already know why can do some quick research.

But even if somebody has not gone all of the way down the continuum to the "troll" mark where they intentionally post provocative text for the sole purpose of provoking responses, feeding text-only responses to people who are upset and being rude is very likely to back-fire and so isn't something I widely encourage.

For me, the fact that the rudeness ended up being done "by both sides" makes for a good example of how easily and completely the idea of "intervention" can fail. Even the textually stuffing of people into buckets rather far down stereo-typed ranges ended up being done by some of those who started out complaining about a perceived textually stuffing of people into extreme stereo-typed buckets.

Those trying to be part of the solution quickly became part of the problem. And that is completely understandable... and predictable.

I saw a couple of replies that did a reasonable job of sticking to just trying to advocate for civil tone and avoiding getting into a heated argument over the perceived insults (or even claims of things that had potential to be insulting). And I think that is fine if the person replying has an unusual level of eloquence on the subject and has unusual clarity of judgement as to the likelihood of getting a positive reaction.

But, for example, chromatic was unusually eloquent in Re^3: How many man-hours would you estimate you have invested in learning Perl? and I don't think he was replying to a troll. But I also don't think he and Jenda would come very close to agreeing what "help the situation" should mean. And he got a relatively healthy dose of downvotes for his efforts. So I'm unsure how much positive over-all impact his efforts obtained.

So I give chromatic praise for not, as far as I can tell, significantly worsening the situation with that reply. But I don't think it ended up helping much and I see how easily it could have made things worse.

So I really don't think calling for everybody to pile on in defense is good advice.

I can empathize with a desire to "improve things". I actually thought that this particular flame fest was relatively minor compared to many. It would have been even less extreme had people remembered to seriously consider whether or not they might be feeding a troll.

Less involvement in the thread would have been better for everybody, IMHO. And that is not because I condone or encourage creating a hostile environment for women. The majority of the thread beyond the initial pointing out of how it could be taken as hostile served to make the thread more hostile, as far as I can tell. Encouraging people to add to that doesn't help, IME, even when the people adding to it have the main purpose of trying to reduce the problem of perceived hostility.

The key to progress here is more about listening than about asking everybody to speak up. And I can't force people to listen.

- tye        


In reply to Re^2: Additions to the FAQ and a Community Statement (speak) by tye
in thread Additions to the FAQ and a Community Statement by Co-Rion

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