Monday, November 22, 2010

Misery Moderation Monday Thirsty


OK, I get it. We want to play nice. We don't want to offend each other. And I don't think I've posted anything unforgivable myself.

That said, it's not so simple, is it? Sometimes, it is most appropriate to say, "That is fucktarded!" Remember somebody's suggestion that we "masturbate while watching Maury"? Aren't there some of us who bristle every time we see the word "sh*t" on this page, because it reminds us of that stuff in the toilet? At my school, the most offensive thing is probably that adjuncts get paid easily less than 20% of the f-t proffies for doing the same work, and yet the mindset (which is replicated on this page sometimes) that allows that corruption* is often politely encouraged in spite of its offensiveness. Maybe you're offended by the rabid, irrational anti-creationism rants. Personally, I'm more offended when my colleagues are unable to precisely define plagiarism and articulate why it's wrong than when my snowflakes actually plagiarize.

So here's a tough thirsty that seems self-contradictory, but actually is not (I hope**):

Q. Honestly, what is the most offensive thing you've ever seen on CM (something you wish you never had to see here ever again)?

A. Feel free to censor yourself in creative ways, use codewords and circumlocution, bleep things (e.g., "sh*t"), and so on.

*I don't know if this is the appropriate word. So what.

**Fab, please don't kill me.


  1. Um. I just want to be perfectly clear that I did NOT suggest that anyone 'masturbate while watching Maury' in order to get things published. I was, and am, in fact, not sure how that would even work. (Also, who's Maury?)

    That list was the product of a survey I ran in the early days of this site. I collated and posted the results of the survey. Some anonymous poet made that suggestion, not I.

  2. Thanks, Merely. I apologize for my sloppiness.

  3. Honestly? I find pointless and ineffective bowdlerizations like "sh*t" to be pretty amazingly offensive, and I absolutely wish I never had to see them again, here or elsewhere.

    But, maybe that's just me.

  4. None of it has offended me; what does is the new deletion policy. If people think I write crazy things they should look at how nutty the comments were this summer; it was like sugar-mad fifth graders on the last day of school. Back in August the blog "Tales of a Wayward Classicist"* looked at CM; they weren't happy. My point is that anyone can find anything to nail you with and it's ten times worse on the Internet because nobody is talking face to face.



  5. My swearing is heavily affected by my environment. If you would like me not to swear on CM, let me know. I won't. I don't swear in front of my students (that's not true, I swear about four times a semester, usually for emphasis). I don't swear when I comment on NYTimes articles. I swear when I talk to my friends, when I talk to crazy people, when I talk to my psychiatrist.

    Again, tell me the rules. I'll follow them.

  6. I don't think saying something is fucktarded is a problem. It's calling another CM person a fucktard for expressing his/her opinion. I don't think that's useful.

  7. The swearing doesn't bother me. I get bothered by the comment threads that get hijacked by someone desperate to explain why and how he/she is smarter than everyone else, and who does so by bullying everyone else in the thread. That happens a good deal. It makes the comment threads worthless.

  8. What offends me on CM?
    For all intents and purposes, nothing.

    The occasional profanity notwithstanding, 99% of what is posted here contains some nugget of commonality that, upon reading, one is able to identify with the content.

    Even the occasional disagreement is not that disagreeable.

    What DOES offend me happens not here but on the comment blog of my local paper, where snowflaky fucktards overflow in their ignorant certitude. I recently expressed my incredulity at one such "contributor" who responded that he has always wiped the floor with me as he has always been right, I never.

    Here in the passion pool of CM, such obstinate contrariness is blissfully rare, relegated to a couple of well known posters.

    As for swearing, I rely on the counsel received from a college professor long ago. It shouldn't be banned or free-flowing but used in deliberate moderation, like spice in food.

  9. I'm not offended by anything here, although there is one Troll and perhaps his occasional Sock-puppet who keep gleefully being . . . Trolls, and it makes me think "Oh, Gawd, not again, STFU" because too many people on this forum are not web-forum-enculturated and have no idea how to react (of course the correct response is to ignore it).

  10. I think it's really clear when a comment is just put up in order to bully someone else, or when a comment is designed to pull the conversation away from the topic and back to some imagined brilliance of the commenter him/herself.

    I don't mind if there are rules of some kind, especially if they protect us from the kinds of attacks that occasionally break out.

    Is Leslie K. around yet? What does she have to say?

  11. Yep, I'm with Darla. Dr. Lemurpants, the reason I often respond to a particular brand of smug contrarianism, or sexism/racism/etc. is that when you say nothing, you implicitly condone the behavior--it's not my lack of understanding of web forums. In fact, when it's the kind of dickswingery that reminds me of RYS and nobody says anything, I assume that *everyone* on the forum condones it. And I wonder if I've gone stark raving mad and it's 1962 again.

    But hey, if offensive stupidity gets deleted, no need to bother.

  12. Yep. The smug ignorati who attempt to "impress" us all by giving us "advice" are aggravations. Their advice is not meant to help; it's meant to show that they are soooo much smarter than the rest of us, when in fact their "advice" often shows a lack of intelligence and/or common sense. When we call their behavior out for what it is--fucktarded--are we really so very in the wrong?

    It's a pity that the new Rules of Misery will inadvertently support certain people who are here not to commiserate, but to dispense their "advice." It's already happening, and it's more of an affront to me than potty-mouthedness. (But long-time readers will already know that.)

    That said, I am all for rules protecting commenters from bullying from imitators, from sexist or racist twits, and so on. (I still have a problem with the way Meanest Professor Ever was essentially run off by trolls.) All in all, it's a fine line, but I suppose it's good for the moderator to attempt walking it.

  13. "Offense" is probably not the right word. "Frustration" might be. There was that period where a couple of people were trying to turn CM into their own personal academic NFL. An excess of testosterone doesn't bother me, really. My favorite poem is Beowulf. It's the testosterone-fueled bullying and "YOU CAN'T HANDLE THE TRUTH!" mentality that bothers me.

    Spend more time screwing, guys (if you can), and you won't have to pull that shit on anonymous blogs. I've seen plenty of trolls and I doubt any one of them is getting laid properly. It's why they're so angry and like to pick fights.

    It was obvious that the posters involved just liked dicking with people, metaphorically because they doubtless weren't getting to do it literally. It never fails.

    Estrogen-fueled bullying is another story. I haven't seen as much of that here, thank God. Unless someone wants to start talking about breastfeeding, and I'd just as well you didn't.

    As for cursing, seriously, are people really going to say they don't want people to curse on this blog? What is this, the under-8 happy fun times candy puppy blog or something? When adults are miserable, they curse. I don't mind moderation of deliberately dickish behavior, because it was obvious the blog was going to implode without that, but don't tell me not to fucking curse when I fucking want to. If that's the case, I'll give up my posting privileges right now.

  14. Yeah this is all about attacking individuals. Which was pretty heavy for a few weeks. But mostly this common misery thing is pretty successful.

    It's all about context, yeah? If I call an anon snowflake leotarded, that's acceptable. If I call Strelnikov* a fucking lunatic, that's not very nice. Nor does it further the conversation in any meaningfulway.

    *chosen for his demonstrated thick skin

  15. And to further Monkey's note, even Strelnikov is worthy of being protected by a set of community guidelines.

    I would argue about the thickness of his skin, though; he cries bloody murder when his comments disappear.

    Now, I sit back and wait to get ripped by the Russian assassin! I guess if you're going to create an alter ego for an academic blog, that's about as inappropriate as it gets. I'm actually Reg W. I need to boost my creativity I guess.

  16. I am offended anyone would suggest watching Maury...either while masturbating or not.

  17. I'm not offended by swearing or honest disagreement. I am offended by people who bully, people who degrade other people's disciplines, and people who offer advice (when none was asked for in particular) to show their alleged moral superiority. So overall I'd say I'm pretty happy here save for a couple of trolls. And thank you, Marcia, for some of your great comebacks!

  18. This 27k-a-year job requiring a doctorate is offensive.

  19. @Reg W.
    What I don't like about things vanishing is that it destroys the structure of the thread and any person who reads it later will think "what happened with that arguement?" I've seen websites with real trolls and the moderator takes things down, but they leave behind "this post deleted."

    As I've written elsewhere, Strelnikov is a semi-common Russian name, it means "the hunter." I've used it in the past, along with some other aliases. I don't give out my real name because nobody used real names when I started fooling around with the Internet in the mid-1990s, and I like that policy.

  20. What hooked me into this site was ruminations on the "bookstore fucker" by StellafromSparksburg. There was such truth in what she wrote and the swearing was appropriate. It was the shared experience and frustration that made it so funny. Other swearing has likewise been humorous and appropriate when not directed toward someone (which so far seems to be really, really rare...but I'm newish).

    I'm glad the attacking has toned down, but really, nothing has offended me.

    I haven't seen anyone moralizing or preaching yet, so I guess this must be me. I'm new to blogging, so I may have offended and hijacked without even knowing it. I'll try to tone it down. Guess I'm just a fucktard at heart.

  21. Why don't we take the gloves off and say flat out that Tim (not Jim) is offensive? The reason more people don't take what he writes seriously is that he is a dummy, and that what he writes is boring, unhelpful, self-aggrandizing, and utterly, utterly predictable. Who is he in real life anyway, Dinesh D’Souza? Oh yes, we are awed by your mighty power, plus your obvious inexperience and cluelessness with modern students that make me scream, “Rubbish!” whenever he claims he teaches in the business school. Doesn’t he know that if a university instructor today were to do anything he advocates, the students would complain to the administration that would cave in to their every whine faster than you could say, “tenure review”? Doesn’t he even know that business schools are widely viewed as among the least rigorous in the American university today, almost as bad as education? If you haven’t heard about this, recall the following RYS post:

    One more thing, Mr. Chemical Engineer: I’m an astrophysicist, and I’m 6-foot-4 and I eat punks like you for breakfast!

    @Marcia: Sorry you had to see that. It’s gross, isn’t it?

    @Beaker Ben: You chemists don’t do such a bang-up job yourselves. Anytime I hear one of you announcing “there are 92 chemical elements in nature,” I want to ask about technetium, not to mention the plutonium and americium in meteorites and at Oklo.

    Oh, by the way, in case any of you haven’t realized: this comment was made largely in jest. But not entirely.

  22. Hey Fab, if you want to remove posts, why don't you remove the ones that say only, "This post has been removed by the author"? I know, I leave behind a lot of these, but then all my life I've had a problem with doing anything right the first time. That's right, I had to re-take the SAT, the GRE, and I passed my Ph.D. qualifier on the second try. The time I went parachute jumping sure was interesting.

  23. The personal attacks and insults offended me, but now that I know they'll be deleted within a day they don't anymore and I don't need to respond to them. The occasional smug advice-from-on-high I can ignore (though I respect your feeling that ignoring condones, Marcia. I try not to feed the troll, but offensive language calls for a response of course.)

    Cursing? Fuck, if we can't curse, I'm out of here. Cursing is an essential part of watercooler behaviour. And Blackdog, WTF do you mean, you DON'T curse at NYT articles? I ALWAYS curse at NYT articles.

    I just want to point out that I am naturally morally superior to the lot of you since I breast-fed all 6 of my children, usually in front of students and colleagues, until they were 12 (over their strenuous objections as they got older, but Mother Knows Best) while publishing critically acclaimed monographs in 4 different disciplines and winning national teaching awards. And volunteering for Greenpeace in the summers. But I haven't wanted to mention any of this for fear of making the rest of you feel (granted, deservedly) inferior. I am content to revel quietly in my innate wonderfulness. But feel free to ask for advice. I've got lots.

  24. Now I feel all chagrined because my sarcasmic advice about improving evaluations was taken all seriously by people who thought I was being pompous.
    I thought the thing about sticking up pictures of random cute kids would give it away, but apparently not.

    As for the offensitivity thing, I am thick-skinned, so none of your dickloafian comments offends me.

    Oh, god, now you are all going to think that was serious. Please disregard this comment, except for the part where I apologized for appearing pompous and/or flippant.

  25. I am offended that Dr. Snarky hasn't noticed that I wasn't "run off by trolls." Snarkmeister, the bigger issue is the site's self-appointed Word Police, at least one of whom acted trollishly. ('s a secret.) Let's talk about smug ignorati there. Oh, wait... Is that offensive calling them "smug" and "ignorati"? Is that subject to censorship too? Great Googley-Moogley!

    I guess it's the naming of names and calling people out that's the issue. We wouldn't want anyone to feel bad if they make a fool of themselves, would we? Oh, unless you get 2 or more who are offended, and then you are free to do whatever you want! That's not potentially bullying is it? Because we're all always right if 3 of us think the same! Yeah, that's the ticket. ;)

    I am equally offended that the Word Police have an utter lack of a sense of humor.

    I am also offended that the Word Police have united with the Thought Police and have managed to form some unholy Cabal, which ultimately instigated this conversation right here.

    A simple set of rules at the start would have been best, but the person running the show kept saying it wasn't needed (and is now passing the whole site over to someone nobody even knows, even on the site). For me, the most offensive thing was the wholesale erasure of posts, which started happening with nary a warning. But only CERTAIN posts. Some people's "offensive" commentary was just dandy.

    I am also offended that full-grown adult academics often have absolutely no clue how to read. I have witnessed many of the regulars mis-quote, mis-attribute, and even mis-characterize entire threads (see Bubba's fumble above for a slightly innocuous example, for which he fessed up when he realized his sloppiness) because of their lazy reading skill or myopic obsession with a throw-away line instead of focusing on the main point of a post. And some of them claim to teach writing! Ugh.

    Also, since when is open disgust or disapproval a naughty thing? Sticks and stones, y'all.

    One last thing, I found something in this thread to be VERY offensive. But it was a joke, right? If you're the right poster....

    I've written too much again, but it's food for thought for some of you as you take this web-site forward or to its end.

  26. So the Word Police and the Thought Police have become the Grammar Gestapo?

  27. @Frod: If I see Tim or Jim's name, I just skip whatever it is. I don't hate him/them. It's like someone here said a couple of months ago: "I nothing him."

  28. I wouldn't necessarily call it bullying, but MPE above is certainly baiting the "person running the show," who everyone knows is Fab Sun.

    It's this kind of posturing and preening that is the most offensive part of the comments - to me at least. It was like this earlier with the "welcome to the NFL," and "this is how we do it on blog forums," earlier.

    If you get jacked up to come here and swat away those who you imagine are conspiring to police your words and thoughts, then it might be a lot easier on you to just skip the page and enjoy a nice cup of tea instead.

    I want this place to be fun to visit. (Why would I come otherwise.) I have tremendous respect for the process of letting us talk about some of the blog issues, but if we just all used good sense, none of this would even come up.

    I don't have a problem with moderation, especially if it wipes out some of the bullying and hijacking that occasionally gets in the way.

    Thank goodness I'm not Fab. And thank goodness I'm not Leslie K.

  29. See, I think some of the shit MPE said in this set of comments actually breaks the "rules of misery." I can see why Fab has left this thread completely alone, though, since it is a putative committee meeting of active posters and the topic of moderation.

    But, I'll be goddamned if I don't think MPE's post really is just his way of saying "Fab's an asshole." Seriously. All that winding up for what is clear he believes.

    Now I've never had a comment deleted, so perhaps I'd feel differently if it happened to me. I also don't read the comments deeply enough to even notice when this has happened.

    I'm just a wandering wayfarer. Every day that I see is still open, I'm just happy it's here. Whoever runs it actually gets the right to say what does or doesn't fit.

    When I get tired of the site, like if it increased its focus on Widget Theory versus Widget Teaching, then I'll spend my online "dollar" elsewhere, or I'll start a new blog.

    For now, the moderation rules don't impact me at all. If the page is moderated, as long as I don't have to do it, I don't care.

  30. Everybody knows when a comment is out of bounds, I'm convinced. Even the person who makes it.

    Meanest Professor above seems to me to be testing the rules with his comments. Word police? Thought police? That kind of aggrandizement just is so silly.

    The moderator takes down inane and bullying comments. Good. It's not a conspiracy.

  31. I like a good rant, even from someone I think is batshit crazy (at least at the moment of the rant). I also like the patented cuss words (twatweasel, heh heh). These two things I think we do sublimely.

  32. Bernice, I find your comment offensive.

    You are saying I am "aggrandizing" and "silly."

    Well, you smell like fudge.

    So there. ;-P

    And Reg, were you around for the lengthy navel-gazing discussions at the start of the blog with the diatribes about its purpose, and how it would be run, and its purpose, etc? No?

    And were you targeted by a troll and the troll's defenders writing in nasty, anonymous comments to Fab, who then tossed them up as their own posts for everyone to chime in their opinion?

    Quite frankly, I think Fab screwed up despite best intentions. And I think we all know why RYS moderators kept burning out.

    This blog is coasting. Maybe the new rules will work. They'll definitely work for posters like Bernice, who, as I said in a deleted post, often says offensive things and never gets called out for them as others do. Too bad she fails to see herself as she appears to others.

    I think most of the posters on the blog are hypocrites though, as the perpetual war of disciplines and pedagogies makes clear. If it's not how you think, then the poster is just wrong (which is obvious in this thread as 2-3 of you continue to take swipes at Strelnikov even when s/he is saying nothing controversial).

    Little Snowflakes grow into mighty Prof-flakes.

  33. Thank you, Meanest Professor Ever for that observation.

    I would say that I never wrote to Fab Sun until my comments began vanishing, and I got to find out that there was a whole hidden world of emails going back and forth, people complaining to FS about myself and four others, people claiming that they were leaving because of what the Furious Five wrote, etc. I should've guessed that such a thing was going on (it's happened elsewhere), but nobody said anything. This page might be as close to being truthful as we'll ever get. That written, I can believe that there are people at CM with hidden agendas, to what end I can't say. Let me say that I've never played these games; what you see is what you get with me, and if I feel I've been insulted I say so (ask Tex Watson, if he'll ever come back.)

  34. I'm with Stella. I haven't really been offended, though I am frustrated by deliberate attempts to interrupt and/or steer the conversation off course. But I don't think I've been trolled personally, or had my comments deleted, so I may not be best qualified to comment. The rules look good to me -- clear, not overly restrictive, but responsive to behavior that has interrupted the conversation and/or wholly or partly discouraged posters who were genuinely trying in good faith to take part in the conversation in the past.

    I am horrified by what some of the posters describe, especially in terms of administrative interference with their teaching, but that's not quite the same thing as being offended by what goes on on the blog itself. Such dirty laundry needs airing, even if it stinks a bit in the process.

  35. Personally, Contingent Cassandra, I feel that what I know about the emailed complaints is the tip of the iceberg and that the emails have probably been pouring in from month one of the existence of this website. I just wish everyone involved would come clean about any backroom deals, hidden vendettas, etc. so we could move forward.

  36. I guess I'm baffled by a lot of this discussion. Like Marcia, I'm definitely not offended by much of anything on this site. For the most part it is pretty fucking tame. Sure, Original Jim and Not Jim are/were a pair of serious knuckleheads. But with the exception of them and the troll who cloned some identities way back when, I don't think there's anybody else who has seriously violated any standards of decency.

    I've always taken Strelnikov's interventions in the discussion threads as a form of satire, and I'm not really sure I understand why his posts are being removed or why people are complaining about him--and apparently unnamed others. I don't agree with everyone here. There are even a couple of people I think are fools, but I wouldn't want to see their comments removed arbitrarily.

    And I definitely wouldn't go whine to Fab about them. Now that I find offensive.

  37. I have not been coming around much since the semester started. So maybe I have been missing a lot. But offended? Really? This blog is FUN. I LOVE coming here when I am frustrated and reading someone else's similar frustration.

    I did not like it when one time, early on, someone said "Fuck you" to someone else. And then a huge hullabaloo ensued and the "Fuck You"- person ended up apologizing. I still don't like it when people hurl that kind of thing at each other (does it happen very often though?) but after that one incident I decided I could just ignore it. If someone told ME to fuck off, I'd probably cringe and not stop by here for a while, but even then, I'm sure I'd want my CM fix eventually, and I say, THANK GOD for CM.

    Jim, although I don't think I'd hang out with him/her/it, is just tooting his own horn, and he obviously does that by putting others down. Don't we all know a huge number of people who do that very thing? Can't we just ignore him/her/it? Or, if like Marcia we have the energy and wit to come up with a great rejoinder, have at it for the benefit of the order?

    This blog was a life line for me at first and remains a wonderful source of support when I am feeling low and abused by administration and students. Let's not sweat the small stuff!

  38. Yeah, I can't imagine going whining to Fab about anyone, not even my least favorite penile undulators. Writing well is the best revenge, as they say (see:

  39. I don't think Fab screwed up at all. He made us a nice place to play and I find it incredible that anybody would complain about what he's done.

  40. Bernice, if there were no problems this thread would not exist.


  41. I'm sure that Leslie K would welcome ideas on how to improve the page. Those of you have problems can reach her after December 1st.

    Turkey hangover, by the way.


  42. Fab, you're a goddamn pain in the ass!




    You've done a good job.


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