Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Real Goddamned Mail: The Censorship Edition.

Listen, I've just had three bottles of Orange Crush. Do you feel me? In glass bottles. My supermarket sells them that way and they are, like, the greatest tasting soda pops I've ever had. When I drink them I get a little high, a little more truthful. There is an ingredient in them that brings me a level of clarity, and I have chased them down because I need to open up this window to the loyal readers of CM.

Oh, I didn't introduce myself. I'm the RGM. That's Real Goddamned Moderator, no matter how many clever-tons try to reverse engineer it to Real Goon Moderator in their hysterical emails. (No, stop, my ribs are tickling.)

I've collected some recent email that I'll now share with you, in the manner:

[+]

  • I wanted to write to tell you how much I appreciate you keeping one eye on the page and one finger on Delete. Xxxxxxxx is a pain in the ass. I direct you to these comment threads: Xxxxxxxxxxx, Xxxxxxxxxxxxxx, and Xxxxxxxxxxxx. It's not just me sick of him; a bunch of folks can tell he's just another version of a troll trying to get a rise. I hate to admit I took the bait a couple of times, and it pissed me off half the day. Thanks for saving me the trouble. This page has got a level of discourse that's better than any place else I visit, and the people on here have been saviors to my sanity endlessly. When assholes try to ruin it, like Xxxxxxxx before he went away, it does a real disservice to what can be accomplished here. I'm sure you take shit for it, but thanks for keeping the sandbox safe.
  • Who died and made you constable? 
  • Where in the rules does it say we can't be assholes? That's what you mean, right? Except you let your "favorites" do whatever they want. The rest of us get cut off like kiddies shuffled to the little table at Thanksgiving. Fuck that. You can't delete everything because then you wouldn't have enough HITS to get your boner all hard and earn that big Google money. You know who you should delete is that fucking Xxxxxxx. She's out of her mind.
  • I take exception to your heavy hand with moderation. I didn't sign up for that.
  • I have been reading your page for several weeks now, and I see a real problem. What you should be doing is encouraging debate, not shutting it down. I see lately you've censored a number of comments by Xxxxxxxxx. I don't know him personally, but he is active on a couple of other boards that I read. He's funny. Maybe that's what your problem is. He's actually funny, and he's got a razor sharp view. He's tweaking you stuck up academics and that's maybe too much for you. Now, don't get me wrong, I value college and education, but professors? You're supporting the wrong group. I'm not ergo a professor, but I give several lectures each year at Xxxxxxx University. I'm the guy they call in when the professor is too tired from reading from the textbook. I have real world experience. I actually make enough money not to have to worry about attendance or Wikipedia. And my lectures are well attended and the class really gets into it. I talk the people's language. You can watch Professor Dunderhead over at the side thinking, "This guy is stealing my class," and he's right. For that hour or two I speak to the students about the real world, and they love me for it. You can't believe how many students stay afterwards, just to get my business card or to tell me how great my presentation was. I might hire some of these kids some day if Professor Dunderhead doesn't bash out their fire. But back to my concerns about how you moderate the page. I think you're shooting yourself in the foot by stopping anyone who has some real backtalk to your normal staid and boring whining. Like I said, you seem to only censor Xxxxxxxxx because he's funny, and he tweaks you guys. Lighten up a bit. Look at how he needles you. You need that. You need to listen to him and get with it. You'll be happier when you do. I probably won't stick around much longer the way you run things, but I thought you should know what would help you make this a better board.
[+]


All right, I've switched from Orange Crush to Fisherman's Wharf. Its effect is different. It's slowing me down, bringing on the self-loathing. I make Nixon look like a piker. Self doubt is swamping me. I'm unsure. Do I dare eat a peach?

But, the notes above are some that have come in recently about my heavy handed moderation. Please, if you'd like, bat some ideas around below. Or if that doesn't interest you, you may look at this duck:



XOXOXO
The RGM

71 comments:

  1. I like the duck, personally.

    I wasn't one of the people who sent you email, but now that you've brought the topic up for discussion, I might as well weigh in with my opinion, for what it's worth.

    I lean towards supporting the "minimal moderation" model, and I think that you've been deleting too many comments. I recognize that your aim is to make this a place where we faculty types can get together and share some misery, and provide support and advice to one another. I also get that you want it to be community. But I don't think that we need to feel threatened or somehow put-upon by criticism, or even some minor incidences of ridicule.

    One of the comments you deleted today was made in response to one of my own comments. The person disagreed with me, and suggested that my comment was disingenuous. I thought the person was being a tool, but I didn't feel that his/her comment warranted deletion.

    As I said in a comment on the Not Fun story, we need to recognize that some disagreement, and even some hostility, isn't the end of the world, and that the site can still be a valuable and enjoyable place without the level of censorship that's been going on recently.

    If people are clearly trolling, turning up here for no purpose other than to make trouble, and are not interested in an actual discussion, or in the main purpose of the site, then by all means ban them altogether. But the sort of selective editing that you've been doing isn't very productive, in my opinion.

    I'm sure the majority will disagree with me, and that's fine, but even if I'm outnumbered I prefer to let people know where I stand on the issue.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The person's comment was not a problem in that case. It was the person himself, who's run afoul of me on a number of other occasions and has lost any goodwill with me outside of the comment you mention.

      Thanks a lot for your feedback.

      Delete
  2. I love the moderation. Some people, including the recently skewered StorkStaller, are just pissing in the pool. He does enter some occasional comments that clearly are okay - way more than someone like honest_prof did, for example, but he never misses a chance to belittle profs generally. There were two he had up in the earlier post today that were out and out racism. I don't give a shit if this is the internet or not; I'm not interested in a site where that passes as humor.

    I'm glad he got zapped.

    I'd LOVE to know more about the last email above, the "not ergo a professor" guy. What a psycho.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Tell a math-joke here and it's not the moderator here who acts in a heavy-handed manner.

      Delete
  3. I haven't been nearly as annoyed by our callow young friend as some others have been, though I had resolved to ignore him as much as possible, because his presence was clearly bothering others. Besides, he was revealing himself to be something of a one-trick pony, and someone a few threads back had uncovered evidence to suggest he was basically using this forum (and perhaps other fora) to build some sort of potentially-monetizable online cred. Since he was at least claiming to be a TA, I was willing to put up with him, but I do think some of his comments crossed the line into violating the rules of misery -- basically, dismissing others' experience out of hand, and arguing and provoking for argument's/provocation's sake -- which is reason enough to delete them. My only concern is that it's fairly hard work for the RGM to police comments by someone whose participation sometimes falls on the acceptable side of the line, and sometimes doesn't. And I worry about anything that makes this place even more of a timesuck than it already is for the RGM.

    Also, although I like the duck, I'm beginning to find its appearance a bit alarming. I see it, and think "oh, no! What's happened now?"

    ReplyDelete
  4. i don't really have an opinion about the moderation, but the guy who said this is a douche. "He's tweaking you stuck up academics and that's maybe too much for you. Now, don't get me wrong, I value college and education, but professors? You're supporting the wrong group." is it wrong for me to call him a douche? have i gone too far? to which blog should i go to "tweak" "real world" ignorami like him? actually, i vote for less moderation. let the trolls in; that way people get to bash undergrad snowflakes AND the "real world" snowflakes they become.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, the last letter-writer is clearly an narcissist with little to no actual teaching experience. I bet he complains like crazy if the recent graduates he hires can't write, or do whatever sort of quantitative reasoning is essential to his business but he wouldn't last a week in front of a class designed to teach those basics. Guest lecturing is fun; I'm beginning to do a bit of it myself, and it's a nice break from being the person who has to organize things, and assign things, and grade things, and generally play the heavy. Instead, you get to talk about something you're especially interested in, answer a few questions, and go home (or, in my case, back to another classroom where I have much more responsibility). If he's so convinced that teaching is a great gig, and that he's a great teacher, he should sign up to teach a full intro class at the local cc. If he makes it even a month into the semester, I'll be far more inclined to listen to what he has to say.

      Delete
  5. The duck is awesome. Long live the duck. And Yaro.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Orange Crush in glass bottles out of a pop machine at a gas station on the edge of the Mojave Desert when it's 115 degrees in the shade?

    Ambrosia.

    Mixed with gin? An unfortunate error made as an underaged drinker at a high school football game.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Orange Crush with gin? Ha. try peppermint schnaps with Mt Dew!

      Delete
    2. My college roommates and I tried Mt Dew mixed with Curacao for a while...not terribly alcoholic, really, but you get gorgeous shades of green.

      Delete
  7. Oh, and the moderation is fine. Let the criticism roll off like, well, water from a duck's back.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I love the moderation, and I have no problem at all with trolls being deleted whatever they say, even when they're trying to pretend to play nice. Some people don't understand the rules of interaction and have to be taught. They aren't trolls. Trolls DO understand the rules and are maliciously trying to cause trouble any way they can, and one of the ways they can cause trouble is by playing just close enough to the line that a moderator might feel as if he has to read every single comment just to see if this one is okay. They want to cause you extra work. Once you've identified a troll, just add him to the IP blocker, I say.

    SporkStuffer incidentally is a troll. It's not just ignorance and arrogance that are clear in everything he writes; his hostility, contempt, and intent to cause harm radiate too, even when he's pretending to be rational. He's only here to piss in the pool, as someone else put it. I gather some people find him mildly amusing, so I just don't bother to engage. It's entirely up to you. But me, I'd ban the the little shit.

    As for heavy-handedness? Nah. Come on, read through the blog sometime and ask yourself if it looks as if heavy-handed moderation is going on in any way here. It's not.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "Come on, read through the blog sometime and ask yourself if it looks as if heavy-handed moderation is going on in any way here."

      There's no way I would know. By the time I get to a thread, the deleted comments are deleted. How would I know if they were deleted fairly?

      Delete
    2. If you don't assume
      that the moderation
      will be done fairly,

      then your doubts
      suggest that this blog
      may not be right for you.

      I stay around because
      it seems the place is well cared for.

      And, for Darla.

      Delete
  9. oh, and anyone who complains that in supporting professors you're 'supporting the wrong group' has obviously picked the wrong blog to troll. What the hell does he think we do here?

    Oh, and finally, the last 3 emails you quote were obviously written by the same person, using different email accounts.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Oh, and I LOVE the new Latin motto and I think we all need it on a t-shirt.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We should change it to "I am not ergo a professor." That shit is priceless.

      Delete
  11. My 2 cents:
    some people believe in not feeding trolls, while others want to call them on their comments. Both positions have merit, and there are commentators on CM from each group. It seems unlikely that somebody holding one of these beliefs will ever be fully accepting of the other view. This may or may not affect perceptions about the page and its moderation.

    Second, I think that some people come to CM for a measure of solace. Disagreements in the comments perhaps detract from their experience and cause them more unhappiness than posters who like to argue might imagine.

    I'm not at CM looking for solace, but I imagine that CM is pretty much the only academic blog where professors are likely to find it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree with EC1, about the solace thing. I personally don't mind the arguments and would rather just ignore the trolls, but this blog is definitely a community, and it can be seen as a place for professors and those who support them to take a load off and commiserate. The fighting and trolling does detract from that, I feel.

      Maybe deleting trolling/inflammatory comments is unfair to dissenting voices or whatever, but unless there's an Internet Fairness Award with a nice cash prize out there, I don't think it needs to be the ruling practice. From what I can tell, even with moderation there will still be plenty of comments to keep the blog going. My only concern is the extra work for the mod... but for now, RGM, feel free delete my comments anytime it seems necessary!

      Delete
    2. Disagreement in the comments is fine, and I would hate for legitimate debate to be stifled by heavyhanded moderation. The whole brouhaha a couple weeks ago involving the whole Tyler Clementi case involved some impassioned opinions that clearly upset some people. Yet, in that case, everyone seemed to be debating in good faith. The moderator should not curtail these discussions just because some want to find solace in this blog.

      But we all know Xxxxxx disagrees with just about each and every goddamn person here not out of honest differences of opinion, but solely to be an insufferable nuisance, to put it mildly. Obliterate him, I say! This is obviously not the right blog for him.

      We appreciate your hard work, RGM!

      Delete
    3. I agree with Matilda that we need a place to push our troubles out. It's not like we can tell Professor Dumbass down the hall that she is totally out of her mind. She might just kill me if I did that. Ditto on these flakes. So I call them out here instead.

      Delete
  12. For the record none of those emails are mine. I think anyone can agree with a majority opinion, get a pat on the back for being "one of us" and move along. I'm more a fan of playing devil's advocate. I've also taken a lot of heat from other members, but that's OK. My generation grew up on the internet and have thick skin. I get annoyed when I get a reply that's just pure personal attack at me and it remains because it comes from a "regular" while my comment that isn't even directed at anyone in particular gets deleted.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "I'm more a fan of playing devil's advocate."

      No you're not. "Playing devil's advocate" and "gratuitously insulting people" are not the same thing. If you need help understanding the difference between these two things, just ask; I'm sure someone here will be willing to explain it to you.

      Delete
    2. Your irredeemable flaw is that you are boring, Seersucker.
      You may go now.

      Delete
    3. Ooh, that's the perfect variation on SS's name. So un-hip. Or is it hip again? I'm somewhat out of the loop.

      Delete
  13. Correct me if I'm wrong, but the incivility in recent comment threads has already cost us Wombat of the Copier and Barb from Batavia, two funny and wise women who had thick skin and great senses of humor.

    If the action in the comments drives people that valuable away, then there is something wrong.

    @Stalker, who said they were? Pretty hair trigger defensive from someone from the thick skin generation.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Darla, that is right about Wombat and Barb. Neither was a shrinking violet either. I think we're arguing about something stupid here. Everyone knows StockStalker is a troll. He's one of the trolls who feigns innocence, at the same time making a racist statement yesterday that was clearly designed to stir shit.

      Then he's all, "Who me? Oh, I'm from the thick skin generation."

      It's the same stance we saw in the first year from the "this is the NFL" commenters. I don't come here to fit. I come here for some level of collegiality.

      When it becomes a fight, it bores me.

      Delete
    2. "He's one of the trolls who feigns innocence"

      I presume most of the readers of this blog are double my age and haven't been around the block enough to see what real trolling looks like. Visit youtube some time and read some comments. That's trolling. A verifiable fact that asian parents take more interest in students than other ethnicities isn't racism. So forgive me for thinking you're somewhat of an idiot for ignoring something standing right in front of you:

      "Explanation of academic achievement of Asian American students"
      "Asian-American educational achievements: A phenomenon in search of an explanation."
      "The new whiz kids: Why Asian Americans are doing so well and what it costs them"

      Delete
    3. When referring to an earlier discussion, it is polite to include a link to it. You are assuming we all know that so-and-so left and why. This behavior creates somewhat of an in-group atmosphere for me.

      Delete
    4. #1 - While we aspire to be so, this page isn't quite youtube yet. Give it 5 years though.

      #2 - Unless you are still in middle-school, I'm not double your age. I grew up with the internet.

      #3 - Your behavior fits the pattern of a troll. Individuals on this page agree about said behavior. We don't just pick out a new commenter and spontaneously declare them the troll of the page.

      #4 - I'm going to go back to ignoring you, joining the majority of folks who seem to do so already.

      Delete
    5. SS: "I presume most of the readers of this blog are double my age and haven't been around the block enough to see what real trolling looks like."

      You presume quite a bit, and that's really the problem. Next time you want to presume, think instead.

      Delete
  14. There is nothing BUT heavy handed moderation here. The moderator posts more posts than anyone else - look it up. He capriciously deletes comments he personally doesn't like. Even this week he admitted that he has a trigger finger on delete.

    That's what's wrong with this page. Everything is fine. Weak members get culled when the discourse gets too hot. And that's a problem why?

    StockStalker is correct. He's been targeted several times just because he's not a regular.

    Another thing that is apparent. I'm a linguist (a cunning one at least!), and I tell you that all the "mail" in the post above was written by one person, yes, the moderator. He conspires to create a situation that he thinks shows HIM in the bright light, and "marginalizes" everyone else, especially anyone who defies his leadership of the blog.

    It's disgraceful. I believe the blog is an embarrassment and should be closed down. Anyone who reads it, and we've established long ago that it's a tiny number, knows that the quality of the page is low, that only a few people actually write for it (all of them using multiple logins - against the rules but okay for regulars), and that it exists to exult one person, Fag, no, what is it again, that's right Fab Sun, the Really Gross Moderator.

    Watch how quickly this comment disappears. I'm going to keep posting it all day long, because it's the truth, and those few of you who are reading need to know it.

    Mister Fixit

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I know many, many linguists. None would use the "cunning" joke. None would claim that they could tell that various pieces of writing were written by the same person. That's some made-for-TV bullshit. You're just a dumbfuck.

      Delete
    2. If it's all so terrible, why are you still here?. And, please, a "fag" joke?

      Delete
    3. I have an idea! If you call someone a FAG on this blog, you get blocked. Permanently.

      Delete
  15. It does not bother me in the least, that there is someone to clean the poop out of the duck's cage. I say keep up the good work, RGM!

    ReplyDelete
  16. I'm glad it's Fab and not me. Moderation is a bitch. Fab is looking out for the needs of the many, not the few. He's asked me at times for my input on a situation, and I've happily given it, but I've always been glad not to be the person who makes the call.

    I think minimal moderation is best, of course, but there are people who come here just to get attention - Stock Stalker is one of those. This whole thread justifies his existence. It's a shame his poor behavior gets rewarded, and that the comments have driven 2 excellent community members away from the page.

    ReplyDelete
  17. @RGM: Could you add this audio to the site? I like to imagine stroking the velvety green stuff on the duck, and hearing it purr.

    ReplyDelete
  18. I try to resist getting involved when this issue comes up. I love the page pretty much warts and all, and when something happens or a comment is issued that I find offensive, I skip it. I tend not to read comments from people who have proven to be bad eggs.

    But I did want to note something that I think might be missed. There is a community here, and there are definite levels within it. There are people like Fab Sun, Compound Cal, Leslie K, and the much-missed Gordon Presto (who is also Terry P.) who have been in charge of the page at different times. They've proven to me at least to be good folks with good intentions. If Fab Sun told me that the sky was yellow and the sun a big blue ball, I'd check it out for myself, of course, but I'd be willing to say, "Okay, Fab. I'll give you that in your world today these are the facts." (That's a silly example, I know, but it is early.)

    There are of course the people who are actual "correspondents," those people who have posting rights. I had posting rights for a while, and I felt that my investment in the page was higher then. I was developing original content for the page.

    There are commenters of long standing, people whose names are on the page every week, and have been since the beginning. (Some of these people date back to the RYS website, which is a fascinating archive if you've not read them all.)

    There are commenters who are on the page occasionally, short standing, who disappear for weeks and months at a time, or entirely.

    I see a definite difference between someone like Bubba (who I admit is saucier than I would probably choose for myself, but good hearted nonetheless) and someone like Sebastian who appeared yesterday or the StockStalker who has only been here a short time but who feels emboldened to tell us that many of us are wrong.

    I've seen disparagement from some, calling out "regulars" and members of the "clubhouse." If it weren't for those people, there wouldn't be a blog here at all.

    I don't have a witty ending or insult to finish with, but I thought these ideas were some that were not being discussed in this thread.

    And I add my voice to Darla's; if the comments drive off people like Barb from Batavia, then there is something wrong, and not with her.

    ReplyDelete
  19. that's a very nice duck.

    and I don't think the moderators here are heavy-handed in the least...

    ReplyDelete
  20. Erratic trolls, who swear up and down they aren't trolls and imply it's your problem if their behavior seems trollish are the hardest to deal with. I'm not sure what the best answer is though, apart from what has been done already.

    ReplyDelete
  21. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  22. The problems with this site are well chronicled. Reasonable professionals have tried to get the moderators to shut it down ever since it opened. I find it abhorrent that they choose to continue mocking the rest of us who work hard and who would never think of acting childishly.

    When someone outside the inner circle points this out, much as StockStalker has done, with real wit and verve, they play the martyr. And nobody does that as often as Fab Sun.

    Get over yourself, all of you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I LOVE THIS COMMENT!

      "well-chronicled" -- This is like when my students claim "everyone" has a problem with the homework I set, even though the flake in question is the only one who got a D.

      "Reasonable professionals" -- the double-whammy!! Not just experts, but paragons of sensibility at that!!

      "us who work hard...acting childishly" -- keep it coming. As though this is some dictatorship regime.

      "inner circle" -- Stalin?

      "martyr" -- because we are burning people for heresy here

      I think you are having a conversation with yourself, dear. Like you're making a parody of the perfect troll?

      Delete
    2. What happened Honest Prof, did you accidentally log in under the wrong account?

      Delete
  23. I see that most of StockStalker's recent posts have been deleted from various threads. I find his style of commenting both annoying and obnoxious, but I also have to say that sometimes he has a point. I don't recall him engaging in ad hominem attacks or using profanity. He simply goes against the page's zeitgeist, and he's bluntly and needlessly provocative. And it is true that there is a comment still standing that includes the phrase "StockStalker, you are an ass."

    I recall that on the faculty workload debate, he was asking for some empirical evidence to support our workload claims. Unnecessary? Maybe to us it seemed so. But really, he had a good point about the fact that if we want people outside academia to understand what we do, we ought to be able to communicate effectively about our professional lives and provide hard evidence to support our assertions. He could have asked for that info in a MUCH more positive and productive manner, but I don't think there was anything offensive there.

    And his comment about Asian students was borderline inappropriate, but it could have opened up an interesting discussion on the way we perceive and talk about students' cultural and racial identities, and the matter of hard-driving vs. helicopter parents.

    In sum, I simply think that taking the high road with him would be much more effective and rewarding than bashing and shunning him. He's not stupid: he's ignorant about much of what he addresses, and obnoxious in his delivery. Nothing will be more effective at getting him to elevate the level and quality of his discourse on this page than us engaging him in a calm, reasonable, and dispassionate manner.

    Let's take the ball and advance it toward the goal line instead of arguing with the ref and storming off the field.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree with Surly to a point. We've seen this movie before. I know how it ends. In my experience, trolls don't ever get better; they never "elevate the level and quality" of discourse. They act out until they get the attention they hunger for.

      It's also not known if StockStalker has committed some other offenses against the page or moderator that would lead to a general ban on his involvement.

      In those early "real goddamned mails" from readers, I was amazed at the things that were written to the moderators.

      Delete
    2. "He's not stupid: he's ignorant about much of what he addresses, and obnoxious in his delivery."

      Ah! It's like talking to my relatives about politics!

      Delete
    3. "if we want people outside academia to understand what we do, we ought to be able to communicate effectively about our professional lives and provide hard evidence to support our assertions."

      I wasn't aware that this blog was for people outside academia...

      Delete
    4. CC, the article that was being discussed in the thread about professors' work habits was written by a person outside academia and was about the view of professors from outside the academy. StockStalker was asking a question from the point of view of someone outside academia, or at least outside the ranks of professors.

      Delete
    5. For the record, I think SS's occasional poignant comment is precisely why he hasn't been banned, a la Honest_Prof. And it's also why I don't just skip his comments, but read them and consider whether he's gone off the rails for shits and giggles or if he has a valid point, which he sometimes does.

      Delete
  24. I lean toward minimal moderation, but I'm not the one actually tasked with moderating, so it's an easy thing for me to say. Really, though, RGM can do whatever he or she wants, and I'm fine with that. If I get to the point where I can't stand the moderation, then I'll move on.

    Is there a middle ground where the content of a comment can be 'hidden' with some sort of note saying "this post may be in violation of the collegemisery policy" but with the option to click on it to open it?

    Regardless of your feelings about the moderation, we should all be appreciative that someone is willing to take on the thankless task of running this site. That's what makes this place possible.

    ReplyDelete
  25. As a former moderator (a brief and illuminating duty), I'd say that minimal moderating is best. Of course, without any moderation, you get what you get. You open the door to crazies, and every blog has them.

    I, too, am mostly concerned when an "Welcome to the NFL"-styled ethos runs off interesting and valuable members of the blog. It's happened before, and I know from my own experience reading the mail for a while that it'll happen again.

    Of course that's one way to go with the page. Let the thick-skinned survive.

    But I think it would cost more than it was worth to have open commenting.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What would you expect a moderator to say? The sky will not fall Terry P. In fact the only way to save this ridiculous page is through opening it up. Surival of the fittest. That's part of what makes the internet so great. If you can swing it and hit it, nobody can tell you you're wrong. And the ones who can't stand the high hard one, well they can go back to double A and ride the buses.

      If you want debate, free and unfettered, raw and unfiltered, then this is about the last place to get it.

      Your only hope of gaining legitimacy as an Internet board is to allow comments (even ones that will fry the blue hair off of the grannies who populate this place) to seek and find their targets.

      Mister Fixit

      Delete
    2. Well most of the comments are hardly "debate." It's mostly baiting.

      Delete
    3. I recognize that I'm feeding the troll under the bridge, but "legitimacy as an Internet board." Really!? Was there some test we had to pass I was unaware of? Are there some roving bands of Internet Peacekeepers who decide who has "legitimacy" and send those who don't to the games? Would you like to apply?

      Delete
    4. I do like Fixit's avatar. It reminds me that he's a tool.

      Delete
    5. If you think a board is a collection of blue-haired grannies, and you yourself are not a blue-haired granny, then go find a board that has people you DO like. Seems simple to me. And let the blue-haired grannies get on with their pear-clutching. It's no business of yours.

      Delete
  26. Who cares about achieving "legitimacy" on the internet, on an ANONYMOUS board? In my experience (and I was about thirty when the internet started to get off the ground) there is no such thing.

    I find the trolls claiming the board is an "embarrassment" and calling for it to be "shut down" highly amusing. Because what kind of moron invests energy into trying to get an anonymous blog run by college professors shut down? A moron with far too much time on their hands.

    Besides, everyone knows it's the trolls that invent sock puppet accounts. Sockstalker and Mister Fixit are the same person--honest_prof, who is also "Mr. Ergo". I actually hope Mr. Ergo, and all his many puppets, doesn't leave. That letter to the moderator was the funniest thing I've read in awhile.

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  27. I am a LONG time reader, from way back in the RYS days, and a recent commenter. I have gone to great lengths to make sure my profile is anonymous, although I am sure the moderator could track me down via IP address if he so chose. So I am, by design, not publicly accountable for what I say. Almost none of us are. But I am personally accountable, and I think that's where the line is for some people. Anonymity doesn't/shouldn't mean license to say whatever. Anonymity does mean the freedom to say some stuff we might not say as our real selves, but what I have valued most about RYS/CM is that it's a community of reasonably like minded people. We don't always agree but we are (generally) civil to each other. I am unsure why the trolls want to crap on that rainbow, why they even care, or where they get the time to do so. If you don't like CM, then fuck off somewhere else. It's just that simple.

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    1. I think you say this very well. I'm always caught between making the page work for the people who are here now, and also trying to find a way to make the newbies feel involved. But so many new folks seem to come in, raise a fuss, and then disappear. How many times did I offer honest_prof the chance to come aboard and be a member of the community? He did write a few comments - for a while - that were fine. But at some point he got tired of not getting enough attention.

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    2. And there is the X-factor RGM ... "But at some point he got tired of not getting enough attention."

      That is the vibe I get from our most recent troll-iteration. Seriously, how does a legitimate STEM student/TA have the time to post -- often repeatedly to the same thread -- usually with some form of gauntlet throw down?

      Then, irony of ironies, here on the Interwebz, that sort of provocation strikes at the very heart of the core constituency here -- college profs. It is our sworn duty to endeavor to replace ignorance with information (hopefully as a contribution to intelligence and reason).

      But this "new" cybergeneration has embraced flamethrowing snark as a modus operandi. One need only venture briefly to the comment board of any major news story to see it in practice. The goal is not to engage in a dialogue but to get the truly interested off their game, if you can use their own language against them - extra points!

      I agree with the prevailing sentiments about a light touch moderation. Still, it is disappointing when this community that roasts flakes is occasionally buried in a blizzard.

      (But I always appreciate an appearance of the duck!)

      Delete
  28. Geez, I go away for a few days and come back to all heck breaking loose.

    I don't know what to do about moderation. I tend to think that obviously racist, sexist, and anti-gay comments ought not to stand (i.e. "Fag Sun" above). Nor should comments that are just inflammatory. But maybe the rest should be left alone? I don't know. It's not lost upon me that Wombat and Barb were both outspoken women with left political views. Those types don't seem to fare well here (as that type, I've come and gone a couple of times myself), and I truly cannot *imagine* being a person of color and reading this blog without cringing.

    On the other hand, though SuckSucker is idiotic much of the time, at least he proves our case about the snowflake generation.

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    1. I can live with the Rules of Misery as presently written, so long as they are enforced.

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  29. The consensus from comments and email is that I'm too quick to delete comments, and that as a group we should be able to tolerate the occasional nutjob without it driving a community member away.

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  30. Wow, is there a special rating on the jackass scale for that last email excerpt, RGM?

    Any idiot...er, I mean "expert"...can hold a class for one or two hours with entertaining stories and anecdotes, completely lacking in actual instructional value. How about teaching them the fundamentals for 15 weeks? He doesn't "have to worry about attendance or wikipedia." Because he doesn't actually have to teach. The jerk doesn't even recognize that when all those students flock to get his business cards, they're just kissing ass in hopes of using him later. He'd hire some of them? He'll deserve them if he thinks his two hours of mutual ego-stroking somehow prepared them for the working world.

    Oh, and on the moderation issue: I don't give a flying. I've been here less than a month, 99% lurking. I only read the comments on 5-10% of the posts - and I've probably only read 2/3 of them in this thread.

    Really, you guys: comment threads are the sewer of the Internet. While I respect all of you as intelligent beings, and I don't want to offend anyone, you're really just not so funny or so interesting that it's worth the trouble to read them. And when I do read the comments, the poster names don't often register with me.

    I won't even bother reading any follow-up comments to my own here...because I just don't care enough about comments.

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