Tue Jun 12th, 2007 at 10:27:14 AM EST
Fights and troll ratings over 9-11, prisons and the word "clamoring", and 9-11 again, negative comments based on suspicion of political motivation, Bite me and Girls, girls -- another conflict meltdown week on ET... So, with my official powers as frontpager, especially for the benefit of our newer readers, a few words on behaviour on ET.
First of all, this is not a free-for-all place. ET achieved a unique signal-to-noise ratio on the Blogosphere, and you are expected to behave in a way that that remains so.
Second, if you were looking for a place of like-minded people, this isn't it. Here, everyone disagrees with everyone else (on something), often passionately so. You have to bear dismissal, and you have to offer a minimum of lack of self-confidence.
Promoted by whataboutbob
On rules of behaviour
As the FAQ states, there are no fixed rules of behaviour, other than try to behave in a civil way. There are however some guidelines which I won't restate in full, but you are advised to read. First, the ETiquette, which is more distilled guidelines than rules, and more about attitude than actions.
What Sven Triloquist wrote is a rather good shorter version of the ETiquette on how easy it is to get into misunderstandings, and how to avoid getting upset. Except for the "kiss my ass" part, which may cool you down but not your adversary. To keep a place together where everyone disagrees with everyone else, the motto is not "bite me" but "I bite my teeth". It is good to keep enough emotional distance to avoid being offended, and to be able to 'climb back' if there has been a misunderstanding.
Trolls and banning
For the case a user misbehaves consistently and grossly, especially if s/he keeps getting troll-rated, I repeat that this is not a free-for-all place: we frontpagers do have a banning policy, a three-step process with public warnings, though a frontpager may elect to first try to get the offender to behave via private communication. For now, this is our exclusive right, not subject to discussion, or appeal to fellow posters. On the other hand, note that the number of times someone got banned is exactly zero.
(Oh, and in case you wonder, the current frontpagers are: Jerome a Paris, Colman, Fran, whataboutbob, me [DoDo], Izzy, afew, the stormy present; commenters DeAnander and poemless used to be frontpagers too, just like inactive members soj and Sirocco, as well as some frontpagers of Booman Tribune.)
On ratings and ratings abuse
There is a New User Guide section on ratings, though it may be due for a rewording/update (suggestions welcome), but I say this:
On group blogs, ratings usually serve three objectives: to rank comments by usefulness/resonance, to signal approval to the writer, and to filter out trollish comments. On ET, the first doesn't play much of a role (3 is almost never used, only the number of 4s indicates level of approval), while the last is followed in a very restricted way.
The reason is that, again, everyone disagrees with everyone else. Ratings can further heat a heated dispute, and we don't want that here, even if other group blogs allow it.
On ET, it is de-facto agreed that if someone's behaviour bugs you, you first give a warning, then if that behaviour persists, a 2 rating (which also means "Warning") and explain why you gave it, and only if that fails, a 1 or 0 troll-rating. However, since someone in the heat of a debate is not the best situated to objectively say his/her opponent is trollish (as I said, some lack of self-confidence is a good thing), it is best if you refrain from rating your opponent, even in seemingly clear cases, and let other readers do the police job.
However, in the case a commenter persists in issuing troll ratings loose and just in spite, we frontpagers have a policy on that, too. This has been applied twice so far, but I will state it full officially in a diary here for the first time:
If we frontpagers see someone repeatedly abusing the ratings system, by giving retaliatory troll ratings without explanation or apparent gross insult/provocation, then, if two or more frontpagers agree and none disagrees,
- all ratings of the user too loose with troll-ratings will be wiped,
- the user's capacity to rate comments will be removed for one week,
- these will be announced in a comment on ET and possibly also in private email,
- if after the one-week ban, the behaviour persists, the user's capacity to rate comments will be removed again, this time permanently.