Thursday, March 29, 2012

ROM Updated.

The Rules of Misery have been updated.

Over the past 24 hours the consensus in online comments and emails directly to CM has been for a lighter hand in deleting comments that some readers find inappropriate, harassing, or threatening. Some material that appears on the blog may be offensive to some readers.

CM asks that everyone remember that this is a shared space. We also suggest that it's impossible anyone will moderate this page in exactly the way you would, so have patience with the moderator as well.

Play nice, and please to enjoy, in the manner.


  1. Mister Fixit. For the win!

    You're all welcome.

  2. Dear RGM: I missed why WoC left, but Barb from Batavia left over the way things got over on the post about Dahrun Ravi's crime and punishment--and I don't think she was driven off by a troll.

    I think a lighter hand on the delete key is probably going to result in a lot more squawking from people who feel like they're being attacked (and they may very well be the target of troll-ish behavior). But I also appreciate and respect your decision.

    Like a lot of people here, I also really appreciate how hard you and the others work to keep this place civil.

    Thank you.

    1. We do not how else to approach the issue than to follow the wishes of the majority of the community members.

      CM moderators

  3. Whatever you can most easily deal with, RGM(s), I'm in favor of. I don't think there's one right answer, and each participant is, of course, free to ignore other participants, or the whole page, as (s)he chooses.

    But/and I'm really, really sorry to have lost Barb and Wombat (and, really, all but a handful of participants who are probably 1-2 people at most*). I don't know whether any particular set of rules could prevent such losses, but I still mourn them.

    *Hmm. . .there's an observation. Projection is a pretty common human phenomenon, and especially common among the psychologically troubled. That might explain the recurring accusation by trolls and other trouble-stirrers that this page is written by fewer people than it appears to be: they assume multiple identities in order to appear to have strength in numbers, and assume we do, too. Mind you, I'm not quite sure who "we" are, or why we'd want to appear to be more numerous than we are -- I thought this was a conversation, not a demonstration -- but then I don't understand the perspective of the trouble-stirrers in plenty of other ways, either.

  4. One thing we want to address is that IP addresses have always been logged, and instances of someone creating multiple identities or logins get spotted fairly easily.

    Our system is not perfect, but one person posting or commenting under multiple identities is exceedingly rare.

    We have dealt with only a few cases, but the rule still stands that using multiple logins will not be tolerated.

    1. I understand that, partially because I've seen it in action, and appreciate how quickly the culprits are caught. I suspect that some people who are truly bent on trouble go to the trouble to use different identities from different connections; I also suspect that they ultimately get lazy or impatient and mess up, at which point they're caught.

      The fact that people can't sock-puppet here definitely helps, since it eliminates one tactic for quickly escalating conflict.

  5. Whoa - I just noticed this - I didn't really leave leave... I just got quiet.

    I thought the RGM was making fun of me when he wasn't and it brought to light that my super crappy semester was making me a super crappy grump - so I was just being quiet.

    Sorry - the timing of the snit and silence was unfortunately close and left the appearance of cause and effect. But things out here sorted themselves out so in a better mood, I was reading more and stumbled across these comments. Sorry for the confusion.

    1. Oh good! I would really have missed you.

    2. Hurrah! Glad you're back, and very glad your semester is looking up a bit.

  6. We lost Wombat? I'm so sorry! I really, really enjoyed reading Wombat.

    I think there is a gendered thing going on here, both because trolls almost invariably express as male and because they are generally misogynistic as hell. If female commentators feel as if they're under attack by trolls, it is usually because they actually are. If males don't notice or don't think it's because trolls hate women, it is generally because males are blinded by male privilege.

    I suspect that those who emailed and commented asking for a light hand on the delete button were male. I don't know it, but I suspect it.

    I don't like trolls, an invasion by trolls will significantly affect my enjoyment of a space as long as I continue to visit it, and I will leave a space, obviously, if it feels as if it has been taken over by trolls and no one cares. I hope that this "let all the trolls flourish because a few male commentators like them" approach does not make College Misery a place I no longer want to visit.

    1. This post just drips with irony and female-on-male sexism. Male privilege? Ummm, what? I smell a divorced women's studies major turned misandrist.

    2. To the CM Community:

      Vis a vis the recent conversations, StockStalker's comment above is clearly not useful, clearly not a part of any real discussion. Isn't he just an asshole? Seriously, correct me if I'm wrong. I got so many emails over the past couple of days (and those of you who wish to come out in this forum and admit you think I've "closed the page off from new voices" are free to now) convincing me that the majority of community members think that StockStalker and his ilk deserve to play in this space.

      I want to make sure I'm not completely fucking crazy. I'm happy to be shown where I'm wrong.

    3. Since you ask, yes, that is also how I feel: SS's comment is clearly not useful, clearly not part of any real discussion, and is a pointless and vile ad hominem attack designed to poison the discussion. Yes, he is an asshole. He does not deserve to play in this space, and neither does anyone who behaves this way. I am sure he can find like-minded individuals to play with, and they can use ad hominems to derail discussion all they want. Somewhere else. But that is not what this space used to be for, and I hope it does not become accepting of this behaviour, ever.

    4. Thanks very much for your input.

    5. I wrote Fab an email saying, "I can't stand when cretins clog up the comments." I want some moderation.

      I feel, and forgive my armchair psychology here, that he's feeling overwhelmed by trying to please all of us. That's understandable, and I'd never want his job.

      My suggestion is, let someone like Compound Cal take over moderation if he's willing.

      If he is indeed the person who wrote the moderator manual noted here, then he's got the right self-of-steam to do what's right without fear.

      What I wouldn't give to see that manual, by the way!


    6. I agree with Merely that gender seems to be playing a role, even though, despite a clearly female name and avatar, I haven't experienced much if any of the harassment. Maybe that's because, according to another recent comment, I come across as "butch" -- another characterization that could be problematic in several ways, but which doesn't bother me because (1) I tend to take it as a compliment and (2) I have no history of being discriminated against in real life on the basis of being considered butch (though I suspect students have occasionally at least thought another b-word). However you word it, I apparently come off as fairly thick-skinned, which I am -- and which explains why I'm probably less bothered than some others by the conflict-stirrers. For the most part, I'm comfortable ignoring them.

      That said, StockStalker's comment above strikes me as clearly violating the rules of misery. Merely wrote a strongly worded but well-thought-out analysis of what she sees going on in the blog. She might be seen as criticizing some male members of the community, but she doesn't attack anyone personally, and she does provide an explanation for why they might not see what she sees: male privilege, which, like other forms of privilege (race, class, sexual orientation) is a pretty well recognized phenomenon. By comparison, the last sentence of StockStalker's comment is a personal attack on Merely that also manages to convey negative assumptions about both divorced people and women's studies majors. He had other options -- e.g. challenging whether either the gender patterns Merely notes or male privilege exist -- but he chose the personal-attack route.

      Like others, I've found some of SS's comments provocative but germane to the discussion, others clearly designed to stir conflict but ignorable, and others beyond the pale. That's what makes him hard to handle, I think.

    7. In real life, I would have no problem kicking anyone making that kind of ignorant and deliberately incendiary comment out of my classroom / telling them to fuck right off. If I thought there was a hope in hell of the message getting through, I might even throw in a free "intro to power and privilege, or why there is no such thing as a reverse 'ism'" lecture.

      But here? It's just not worth it, because it wouldn't make a damn bit of difference and I don't want to give someone the attention they so. desperately. crave.

      This is why I count on the RGM to judiciously enforce the rules of misery and delete that kind of crap and ban repeat offenders.

      I'd rather be pushed to choose my words with care and challenged to engage in thoughtful sarcasm/smart snark/intelligent discourse than be dragged back in the muck. I see enough of that in the classroom and committee room, thanks. It always leads to silencing, burnout, apathy, and...misery.

      We're worse than the flakiest flakes who ever did flake the moment we start to whine that the blog rules shouldn't apply to us. So tell us to RTFS and drop if we don't like the way you run your space. I'd expect nothing less from any of us.

      Thanks RGM(s), for all you do.

  7. RGM, this is your classroom and you are the instructor. Handle it like that. If one of my student's ever acted like that, they would not be around long. I recently attended a conference where the speaker allowed participants to interrupt and interject and get him off his topic. My students also try to do that to me all the time; it is like a game for them. However, it is my classroom and I do not tolerate that behavior. I won't let them hijack my lecture or get me off my topic. Thanks for all you do!

    1. Thanks for the feedback everyone so far. And I'm grateful that the page works for so many people and I'm not in any way fishing for anyone's gratitude.

      But as longtimers know, I originally gave the page over to Leslie K because I do not have the temperament to battle some of these battles. I know what I'd do if it were me, but when I exercise that veto right, I get longtimers writing questioning what's going to happen next now that my delete finger is poised so capriciously.

      Is a well run blog impossible? If it remains open, I think so. When I don't delete, people are offended. When I do delete then I'm clearly power mad and hunting differing opinions.

      (This is why Fab's mommy and daddy are still topics in his therapy sessions with Dr. Melissa, bug I digress.)

    2. I acknowledge the temperament problem. I also hate conflict. Would you be able to just tell yourself, the hell with this, I OWN this fracking blog, and then delete what strikes you personally as out of line? People who complain can be met with the following line, which I guarantee will shut them (us) up:

      "Do you want to be moderator?"

      As long as you're moderator, it's your blog. You don't have to please us. Just do what strikes you as best, and delete without reading any bitching you may get.

      Or you could just try that for a week and see how you feel about it. Hell, a day.

    3. Or you could do what feminist blogs do, and just turn on "all comments will be moderated" for a few days whenever the trolls get too vicious or too thick on the ground. That usually scares them off. Those who don't like heavy-handed moderation won't like that, but they can feel reassured that in a few days things will be back to normal.

  8. Tenured silverback is seeking divorced feminist. Object: Consensual full- conflict tete-a-tetes followed by long walks on the beach. Ad hominim attacks are not only tolerated, but welcome. Keep me on my toes.

    Please reply.

  9. Doubt the value of gentle moderation? Check out the almost completely UNMONITORED bullshit that goes on over at writes a solid, frequently provocative blog that was completely overrun by the trolls about 30 months ago. It is bat-shit crazyville in the comments over there, and that is very, very sad. I used to be able to send students over to read and comment; were I to do so now, I'd be accused of child abuse.

  10. I think that we should be reminded of what several other people brought up in the comment thread of a previous post - for an internet blog involving pseudonyms, this is still quite a relatively tame place to be...

  11. I'm late to the discussion, and I missed the preceding kerfluffle, apparently. However, I'd like to throw a few cents in on our newest Troll-Like-Object.

    The current TLO doesn't strike me as terribly offensive. Naive? Yes. Arrogant? Yes. But, for a troll, pretty lame. I don't like the above comment re: female-on-male sexism. It is probably out of line. But, unless those are the comments that have been being deleted and I've missed seeing them, I don't think that is the norm. This TLO offers a not-quite-dissenting voice that I think there should be room for here, not free room to throw names and insults at whim, but room to disagree and, sometimes, to offend. (off-topic: the distance between identifying all male readers as blinded by male privilege and throwing gendered slurs at an individual may be real, and may involve crossing a line, but is not that large in magnitude.)

    I haven't written in privately with my opinions. I don't think I should have enough weight to modify how much work or effort the moderators choose to put into this board. I am incredibly grateful for the time and effort they put into this blog, and I think finding a balance between culturing a troll-resistant garden, keeping out the unredeemable riff-raff, making space for new personalities to appear, and not angering the natives excessively is an incredibly difficult job that I hope to never have to do, even (or especially) for money.

    I also know that I showed up as an angry grad student. I hope I'm not quite as repulsive as the subject TLO, but I probably do share some of his arrogance, and certainly share some of his experiences. In my first voice here I told some of ya'll to fuck off if you didn't like the 21st century, 'cuz I'm here to take your job. That dissenting view was let through on the old site, and I shudder to imagine where the comments would have gone here.

    Mods: Here is my opinion and my story. I offer no advice, because I do not wish to shoulder your burden. Proceed as you find best.


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