Monday, February 4, 2013

False Advertising.

Tingle, flaccid.
I am afeard to jot these thoughts
in a simple email, lest I be painted
as a back channeler.

So instead, dearest Leslie,
this page is often referred to
as profane and irreverent.

Yet, your recent de-twittering
proves that we are, instead,
quite reverent,

as it relates to idiotic students
who spew boorishness
and cretinism.

This page can be quite protective
and positive,
if that's what it intends to be.

But I, along with others,
I suppose - I could be mistaken -
come here to act like Walt.


  1. Agreed.

    Again: there is no reason to clean up the page so that we look respectable. We aren't a university. We aren't a department. There is no one we can embarrass.

    Some people claim we embarrass the entire higher education community. This is clearly absurd: higher education does nothing but talk, and our small blog is a tiny drop compared to a torrent of serious, reflective, respectful communication by people that take things seriously. Anyone who choses our opinion over the other is either a conspiracy nut, agrees with us, or both.

  2. Over the weekend I heard from not a few longtimers who have said similar things.

    I'm aware of it, and am trying to sort out how best to move forward. Since my tenure running the page is not as long as Fab's - or as long as Cal's at the head of RYS - I've involved them as well.

    The arguments on both sides of the issue are pretty persuasive, and strike at the heart of what this blog "wants to be." I don't think I acted rashly on the Twitter issue, and don't want to act rashly now as it relates to complaints about the "niceness police."

    I want to stay true to the page, but also true to the majority of its community. Feel free to add your voice to this thread during the day.

    Leslie K

  3. I am not one normally who lets her hair down, but I always loved the naughtiness of this page. There has been a definite shift toward niceness, and I can see it's driven by many community members.

    I also worry when a blog's content is more about the blog itself, and less about the matter.

    I don't comment nearly as much as I once did, so don't feel a particular ownership of things, but I am willing to offer that this is not quite as much fun to visit as it once was.

    And I like the linked articles because I always think they're especially well chosen - that's just an aside.

  4. At the risk of playing both sides...

    The twitter decision didn't/doesn't bother me that much, as I view twitter as largely ancillary to the purpose of CM & the geist of the CM community.

    I would, however, strongly rail against any attempts to rein in or domesticate the blog itself and/or its denizens. This is a place where adults can still be adults, humor is humor across the whole spectrum, and discussion is conducted in a full-throated, full-contact manner. It makes for a wonderful participatory and spectator sport!

    It must stand.

    (btw, you rock Leslie!)

  5. plus 1 (on each and all of the above)

  6. One thing that will never stand is sports-bashing of other community members.

  7. The most powerful argument against the Twitter commenting was, for me, Stella's concern that we would attract a whole bunch of student-flakes to the site.

    Like Stella, I was not very concerned about the "offensiveness" issue, but I like having CM as a sort of faculty lounge where we can kick back and rant about the students without them hearing us.

    If we start doing things that bring this site to the attention of large numbers of students, we're going to be hit with a deluge of "Oh yeah? Well proffies are dumb!" comments that will likely derail a whole lot of our conversations. I've seen it happen on other internet forums, with different groups of people. A hostile invasion can be fun for a little while, but it gets old pretty quickly.

    1. I also thought that was a good argument against the Twitter feed. Having considered it some more, I would rather chance it to see what happens. The more I learned about what was posted on Twitter, the more I liked it. If we get a student or two coming around to annoy us, we can pull back from Twitter. The trolls would leave soon enough and we'd be back to normal.

    2. No, if a student comes around to annoy us, we hammer them, making sure to use big words that they have no chance of understanding. Like "study".

    3. I am sympathetic to Beaker Ben's argument that we should "chance it to see what happens." I think it is something that could be tried out, and then stopped if necessary.

      The problem, Pat, is that situations like this often lead not simply to "a student [who] comes around to annoy us," but a situation where a deluge of students overrun the comments. One or two hostile commenters can, as you suggest, be quite easily handled with the appropriate level of sarcasm and snarkiness, but too many just ends up wrecking things because their aim in coming is not to have a rational discussion, but simply to disrupt.

      As I said, I've seen it happen before on other internet message boards, where an antagonized group invades en masse and starts a full-blown board war. It's usually far more trouble than it's worth.

  8. Like Ben, I found myself liking what had reportedly been going on on twitter the more I heard about it (this with the caveat that I didn't actually witness it). As I mentioned elsewhere, I had some concerns about making stupidity by individual students more permanent, and permanently findable, than it might otherwise have been by reposting it on CM, but that concern was based on a very incomplete understanding of twitter, and/or the possible searchability of twitter screengrabs. Maybe that makes me "nice"; I'm not sure. I do appreciate that we don't attack individually identifiable students here, and I'd like to think that we also keep in mind that many of our worst snowflakes may be decent and/or competent people in other areas of their lives, or may grow into same. To me, there's an important (though perhaps not always easy to discern) line between expressing our misery, and identifying the ways in which our students, and the culture(s) in which they're raised, contribute to our misery, and attacking/making fun of students for sport. Of course we're all going to end up metaphorically kicking a student now and then because we can't kick the Dean, or the Trustees, or the State Legislature (or the VP of the United States), and it's almost certainly better that we do it here than to an actual student, but I think we'll be in trouble if we ever really start thinking that, or writing as if, the students themselves really are the core problem. But I don't think we're in any danger of that at the moment, and I don't see calling out individual students, on twitter or pseudonymously on the blog, as harmful to them; in fact, should they, or a student in a similar position, see such criticism, they might actually find it useful. Among other things, we're all about actually upholding standards, and calling wrong answers/practices wrong, here. I do think that an influx of student/parent/otherwise outside commenters might turn out to be more of a nuisance than it's worth, but, since much of the workload would be dealt with by the moderator, it seems to me that deciding whether or not to take that chance should be up to you, Leslie.