Quibbling, jerkdom and abuse of power

RussRuss Shipmate
This is a somewhat delayed response to:
@Russ, you've been warned several times about bogging discussion with constant questions about minor details or quibbling definitions (for example here and here), and you're at it again with trying to define 'real' and 'imaginary'.

We don't take such blatant disregard of our hosts, and as such we're suspending you from posting for a couple of weeks. Feel free to use this time to reflect on your style of posting.

Alan
Ship of Fools Admin

Alan has charged me with "bogging down" and "quibbling" and with persisting in this despite warnings.

The post in question is
Russ wrote: »
Just because something is not purely biological, does not mean it is not real.

I would have said that in common usage the opposite of "real" is "imaginary". And "imaginary" describes ideas that fail to correspond with what objectively exists. Thinking of imaginary friends, imaginary countries, etc.

I don't know exactly what you're meaning to say. Are you using "real" in some other sense ?

Quibbling is arguing over trivialities. I deny that this is either trivial or off-topic. The discussion at this point was about what gender identity is - whether it is something like a perception of an objective reality (such as "brain sex") which can be true or false depending on whether the perception corresponds to that reality. Or whether it is something like a feeling (if I feel angry then that can be neither true nor false. But your response may well be "get over it"). Asking what Doublethink meant by "real" was not an invitation to abstract metaphysical speculation, but seeking clarification over whether she was arguing for the "feeling" model or some third option which I did not at that point perceive.

On the second charge (persistence) I was warned for "sealioning" back in September, and contested the charge. That was discussed in the "White Supremacy" thread in the Styx. The matter was resolved by Eutychus, in his official capacity, by interpreting the issue as being about my verbosity (my word not his). I agreed to change my style to avoid lengthy posts and multiple posts; not to try to respond to everything.

I have tried to abide by that. And unless I lapse back into that particular bad habit, consider the matter resolved. (This is an OP so different standard of length applies). My post to Doublethink was brief enough, I think.

If you disagree with that resolution, you should re-open that thread in the Styx and tell Eutychus that he got it wrong. You are not at liberty to unilaterally re-interpret that issue as being about something else.

The first post you quote, Alan, is this one:
Louise wrote: »
hosting
Hi Russ,
Please do not argue with hosts who are posting as hosts, or discuss their host posts to you on this board. If you have something to say about a host post from Gwai, then the Styx is where you should say it, not here where Gwai cannot reply to you without posting and hosting on the same thread.

You are on a warning from the admins for sealioning..., if you start pettifogging about the vocabulary used by others and the hosts judge this to be tactic to derail/bog down discussion, we will draw it to the attention of the admins.

People engaging with Russ should be aware that he has a warning for sealioning on this board against him. If you feel he's bogging you down with constant questions about minor details or quibbling definitions- then you should feel free to disengage from his posts and to answer other people who do not do this.

Louise
Epiphanies Host
hosting off

I did not ignore this post; I did exactly what I'm supposed to - opened a thread in the Styx to clarify what may or may not be included in an on-thread response to a hostly post. So that I can avoid any future friction on the issue that Louise is raising. (B62 helpfully provided such clarification - thanks.)

The reference to sealioning here is entirely irrelevant to the point at issue.

I object that

1) I have done nothing that warrants suspension. Neither quibbling nor precision of language is against the written rules (is there precedent ?)

2) I was not given an opportunity to answer Alan's charges before the suspension.

3) The "couple of weeks" suspension lasted longer than two weeks.

If you read of a banana republic where charges were invented, charges changed during the course of the prosecution, the accused was denied the opportunity to respond to the evidence and the sentence carried out was greater than that imposed, you'd have a pretty low opinion of the standards of justice in that country...

How do we resolve this and move forward constructively ?

First, I'm owed an apology and then we wipe the slate clean.

Second, if my posting style is getting up the noses of the Crew, then we should try to identify a line that I and everybody else can stay on the right side of, and that can be applied impartially. (If a majority are assuming the truth of one conclusion and one or two people are arguing for a different conclusion, then are they "bogging down" the discussion ? How can a host judge that an argument is of no merit, without their agreement with the position that that argument attacks being part of that decision ?)

Third, power corrupts. Maybe there's a discussion to be had as to whether the current reliance on interpretation of Comandment 1 ("Don't be a jerk") to cover a wide range of behaviours allows too much scope for hostly bias. And whether a more detailed list of do's and don'ts would help to assure impartiality.

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Comments

  • orfeoorfeo Shipmate
    edited February 2
    Russ wrote: »

    Third, power corrupts. Maybe there's a discussion to be had as to whether the current reliance on interpretation of Comandment 1 ("Don't be a jerk") to cover a wide range of behaviours allows too much scope for hostly bias. And whether a more detailed list of do's and don'ts would help to assure impartiality.

    The word you're looking for is not "bias", it's "discretion". Or "interpretation".

    The more detailed a list gets, ironically, the more it risks dissolving into endless nitpicking.

    It's not feasible when it comes to something like interactions between people to nail everything down. I'll generally leave others to discuss the merits of your particular complaint, and even the merits of whether any further detail in the rules is merited.

    But what really caught my eye is the way you think there's something "biased" about the application of a rule that requires interpretation just because the interpretation by someone other than yourself is not working out in your favour. That, with respect, is not a valid form of reasoning.

    There's only bias if you can demonstrate that someone else is engaging in the same behaviour as you and not suffering the same consequences. First, we would have to find someone else who is engaging in the same behaviour...
  • EutychusEutychus Shipmate
    edited February 2
    Russ wrote: »
    On the second charge (persistence) I was warned for "sealioning" back in September, and contested the charge. That was discussed in the "White Supremacy" thread in the Styx. The matter was resolved by Eutychus, in his official capacity, by interpreting the issue as being about my verbosity (my word not his).
    This is an exciting new definition of "resolved" I've not met before. The post was not a "resolution" but a warning, which referred to a previous warning, which a) gave you notice that if you didn't reform you could expect shore leave b) referred explicitly to sealioning and c) to a previous warning. There was no "resolution" because the behaviour outlined in these multiple warnings did not change. It still hasn't changed - witness your post above.
    I object that

    1) I have done nothing that warrants suspension. Neither quibbling nor precision of language is against the written rules (is there precedent ?)
    In the judgement of the admins, in consultation with the hosts, your behaviour constitutes sealioning, and you're still doing it, right here.

    Persistently indulging in behaviour we've asked you to stop qualifies as jerkdom, and you're still being a jerk. You're also failing to respect the Crew, which is a C6 breach.
    2) I was not given an opportunity to answer Alan's charges before the suspension.
    As shown above, you were given multiple warnings and failed to change your behaviour.
    3) The "couple of weeks" suspension lasted longer than two weeks.
    You weren't given an exact date, and the admins are not paid to keep track. You should be glad we let you back in at all, and you should be interpreting that as a sign of grace, longsuffering, and clemency on our part. If you are, you're showing no signs of it.
    If you read of a banana republic where charges were invented, charges changed during the course of the prosecution, the accused was denied the opportunity to respond to the evidence and the sentence carried out was greater than that imposed, you'd have a pretty low opinion of the standards of justice in that country...
    Ship of Fools is not a country. Posting rights are entirely at the discretion of the admins, not an intrinsic right of posters.
    How do we resolve this and move forward constructively ?

    First, I'm owed an apology and then we wipe the slate clean.
    Here's a clue: "we" don't resolve this by you dictating your terms.

  • Russ wrote: »
    I object that

    1) I have done nothing that warrants suspension. Neither quibbling nor precision of language is against the written rules (is there precedent ?)

    2) I was not given an opportunity to answer Alan's charges before the suspension.

    3) The "couple of weeks" suspension lasted longer than two weeks.
    Just a quick response to these objections.

    1) Yes, there is precedent. You've received several warnings from hosts over spending inordinate amount of space arguing over minor tangential points in a manner that has the effect of shutting down discussion. You're not the first person in my 20 odd years here who has received such warnings. It is normal practice on the Ship that repeated behaviour that has already received multiple warnings leads to a suspension.

    2) Suspensions have always been immediately implemented, without opportunity for further discussion at that point. We're not going to keep on issuing warnings just so that there's another chance for clarification when previous warnings hasn't resulted in an understanding of why posting style is problematic nor how to change style to reduce the problems caused.

    3) I apologise that I wasn't sitting at my computer to reinstate your posting ability exactly 14 days after suspending you. Some of us have lives beyond the internet. No suspension has ever been an exact duration, the end of a suspension has always depended upon what time volunteers have to make changes to the membership database.
  • RussRuss Shipmate
    Eutychus wrote: »
    There was no "resolution" because the behaviour outlined in these multiple warnings did not change. It still hasn't changed - witness your post above.

    On the contrary, I have changed. I aim for brevity. I have accepted that I shouldn't try to answer everyone and everything. Because that was what you said I should do.
    your behaviour constitutes sealioning, and you're still doing it

    I genuinely don't know what it is that you think I should stop doing. Because I have stopped doing what I understood you wanted me to stop doing - posting too often on the same thread and at too great a length.

    [Rest deleted for brevity]



  • Russ wrote: »
    I genuinely don't know what it is that you think I should stop doing. Because I have stopped doing what I understood you wanted me to stop doing - posting too often on the same thread and at too great a length.

    Amongst the things that you have been called to stop is your idiosyncratic and limited definition of commonly understood words, which when combined with your repeated requests to 'clarify' what other shipmates mean when using the same words, becomes an obstruction to serious debate. This pattern of posting is disruptive, it has been pointed out to you by multiple hosts and multiple admin over a significant period of time, and you've been asked not to do it.

    If your only take-away from all the warnings and your suspension is 'posting too often on the same thread and at too great a length', then I'm going to suggest you go back round and try again.
  • CrœsosCrœsos Shipmate
    Russ wrote: »
    [ 973 word post including 3 hyperlinked block quotes ]
    Russ wrote: »
    I aim for brevity.

    Then your aim is terrible, Quickdraw.
  • While the point is made, it is not helpful here. Hell is available and open for business.
  • DafydDafyd Shipmate
    If I may, questions look more constructive if the person asking questions shows genuine interest in the answers.

    Repeatedly raising questions, without acknowledging that the other parties think they've been dealt with, does not look constructive.
  • RussRuss Shipmate
    Just a quick response to these objections.

    1) Yes, there is precedent. You've received several warnings from hosts over spending inordinate amount of space arguing over minor tangential points in a manner that has the effect of shutting down discussion. You're not the first person in my 20 odd years here who has received such warnings. It is normal practice on the Ship that repeated behaviour that has already received multiple warnings leads to a suspension.

    2) Suspensions have always been immediately implemented, without opportunity for further discussion at that point. We're not going to keep on issuing warnings just so that there's another chance for clarification when previous warnings hasn't resulted in an understanding of why posting style is problematic nor how to change style to reduce the problems caused.

    3) I apologise that I wasn't sitting at my computer to reinstate your posting ability exactly 14 days after suspending you. Some of us have lives beyond the internet. No suspension has ever been an exact duration, the end of a suspension has always depended upon what time volunteers have to make changes to the membership database.

    Alan,

    Re 3), thank you for your apology. I feel better for knowing that this was due merely to conflicting pressures on your time, and not any intent to wield your power capriciously. It would indeed be unreasonable to expect you to be available to the Ship every day.

    Re 2), if a breach of the rules is obvious (e.g. at the level of calling someone a stupid bastard after twice being asked by a host not to use that expression) then immediate suspension seems perfectly reasonable.

    If the charge is less clear-cut (e.g quibbling) then I cannot help but think that a fair-minded judge would allow the person who objects to say why they think the post in question is quibbling, and its author to say why they think it is not. To hear both sides of the argument before passing judgment about a particular post.

    Re 1), I didn't mean that there was no precedent for suspending someone; clearly there is. I was asking whether the particular charge of which I am accused existed before it was applied to me. Having no recollection of seeing anyone warned for sealioning previously. But of course I don't see every thread, and as every year goes by remember less of what I do read...

    Because making up a rule against something retrospectively (after the post that is deemed to have broken the rule) is the justice of the banana republic. And I don't think that's your aspiration for the sort of community you want the Ship to be.

  • When I started hosting Purgatory about 20 years ago the 10Cs was a fluid document, everytime someone did something that created a problem we would add that to the 10Cs as an example of what's not allowed here. It was an unsustainable approach, and endless task that just allowed obvious trolls to say "but, that's not a banned behaviour". For the vast majority of my time on the Crew, we've had a much simpler approach - we say "don't be a jerk" and "respect the Crew". We trust the Hosts to spot behaviour that creates more heat than light, which prevents the quality discussion we aspire to and call that out, and if people continue in that behaviour the Admins have their back with the suspension and ban buttons.

    For obvious trolling we can simply ban people without having to go through a Styx thread about why (for example) repeated use of a particular offensive phrase isn't OK. For less obviously problematic posting patterns there will be a series of warnings with plenty of opportunity to question them in the Styx, and usually Hell threads as individual Shipmates take that route in expressing their frustration. You have been on the receiving end of both Hell calls and Hostly warnings, that should have allowed you plenty of opportunity to find out what the problem is and how to amend your posting style accordingly. I suspended you after the third official warning issued on that thread alone about behaviour that can be described as 'sealioning', on a forum which was launched with the explicit aim of creating a safer space for discussing issues with a significant personal impact where the Crew would be more pro-active.
  • DafydDafyd Shipmate
    edited February 6
    If we think a Shipmate's behaviour in the Styx is inconsistent with principles that they've defended elsewhere are we allowed to comment to that effect:
    in Styx?
    in Hell?
  • EutychusEutychus Shipmate
    You can comment here so long as your comment doesn't become a personal attack. If it does, the Styx hosts will direct you to Hell.
  • HelenEvaHelenEva Shipmate
    I hope everyone will excuse a frivolous contribution - I'm having a long week.
    1) "Quibbling, jerkdom and abuse of power" feels like the story of my life
    2) I never heard the word "sealioning" before - I like it and intend to use it in conversation
  • DafydDafyd Shipmate
    Russ has repeatedly attempted to justify the position that an establishment is entitled to exclude, suspend, or ban anyone on any grounds that they sincerely think correlates with being disruptive (not further defined) including looks and racial origin.

    I'd just like to note should it come up again that this is not a principle that he thinks applies when he is on the receiving end.
  • Leorning CnihtLeorning Cniht Shipmate
    edited February 7
    Dafyd wrote: »
    Russ has repeatedly attempted to justify the position that an establishment is entitled to exclude, suspend, or ban anyone on any grounds that they sincerely think correlates with being disruptive (not further defined) including looks and racial origin.

    I'd just like to note should it come up again that this is not a principle that he thinks applies when he is on the receiving end.

    Actually, I think you misread Russ there. In Russ's defence of possibly-racist barmen, park-keepers, and other actors, he has never, to my recollection, argued that the barman should ban anyone they don't like the look of - merely that they have the right to ban them. Similarly I think Russ would concede here that the Crew do indeed possess the right to ban him, for whatever reason takes their fancy - he just wouldn't think it very fair of them.
  • DafydDafyd Shipmate
    Russ has said he thinks that if you have a right to do something then that means you have no moral reason not to; it can't be unfair (in any moral sense) to do something you have the right to do.
  • RussRuss Shipmate
    You have been on the receiving end of both Hell calls and Hostly warnings, that should have allowed you plenty of opportunity to find out what the problem is and how to amend your posting style accordingly.

    I've seen comments regarding other people's posting styles there, but my own experience of Hell is that the criticism tends not to be constructive. Consisting mainly of gratuitous insults from people who's objection is that I don't share their belief-system, rather than objections that I'm breaking any rules.

    From hosts and admins I expect better.

    Yes, with hindsight, when Louise quite unnecessarily brought up the issue of sealioning 3 months after I thought that was all resolved, that might have been an opportunity to gain further feedback. I'm sorry that my failure to challenge Louise in the Styx at that point has led to hassle for you. At the time it seemed better to focus on her genuine point. Bad call on my part.

    But now that we're here, I want to sort this out.
    I suspended you after the third official warning issued on that thread alone about behaviour that can be described as 'sealioning'

    The problem is that I'm not seeing any clear line between what is and isn't "sealioning". What does this charge mean ?

    To Dafyd, apparently, it's asking questions that come across as insincere.

    To Eutychus, it seems to be no more than arguing my corner but using too many words to do it.

    To you it's quibbling. Or talking about the meaning of words. Or bogging down discussion by making points that you don't consider to be important.

    I don't suppose there's a snowflake in Hell's chance that you could all get together and agree something and let me know what you've decided ?

    The notion that these different things are all the same thing and interchangeable is just untrue.

    What I need from y'all is some clarity on just what change in style you're looking for.
    a forum which was launched with the explicit aim of creating a safer space for discussing issues with a significant personal impact where the Crew would be more pro-active.
    What relevance does this have to quibbling ?

    "Crew more pro-active" I'd understood to mean that hosts would play a more active role in steering threads. Not that the rules are any different.

    "Safe space" sounds good. But if that doesn't mean that those of a naturally precise and pedantic turn of mind are safe from being penalised for those characteristics, maybe you don't
    mean safe for everyone ?
  • EutychusEutychus Shipmate
    A link to a definition of Sealioning was supplied in the very first warning to which you were referred. The definition on that page defines sealioning as
    a type of trolling or harassment which consists of pursuing people with persistent requests for evidence or repeated questions, while maintaining a pretense of civility and sincerity. It may take the form of "incessant, bad-faith invitations to engage in debate (...) The troll feigns ignorance and politeness, so that if the target is provoked into making an angry response, the troll can then act as the aggrieved party".

    In the judgement of the Crew, the proportion of requests for evidence and repeated questions to actual engagement with other posters in the posts that led to your suspension constituted a pattern of disruptive behaviour rather than good-faith engagement.

    Coupled to this is your response, in which you are indeed acting as the aggrieved party, and expecting the Crew to have a big discussion to agree on a definition that is to your personal satisfaction - when you show every sign of never accepting a working definition of anything.

    Further evidence of this behaviour is that you have now moved on above from challenging the original charge to challenging what we might mean by "safe space".

    On your current and persistent form, there is simply no way we are going to be able to satisfy your expectations even if they are in good faith, and plenty of evidence that your interactions are not in good faith, although this is not a conclusion we arrived at hastily, as evidenced by the fact that you're still here.

    The Ship does not revolve around you. You can either accept the sanction and adjust your posting behaviour, or expect further, possibly permanent sanctions.
  • SpikeSpike Admin
    edited February 8
    For the vast majority of my time on the Crew, we've had a much simpler approach - we say "don't be a jerk" and "respect the Crew".

    There is no other commandment greater then these. On these two commandments depend all the Hosts and the Admins.
  • Russ wrote: »
    a forum which was launched with the explicit aim of creating a safer space for discussing issues with a significant personal impact where the Crew would be more pro-active.
    What relevance does this have to quibbling ?

    "Crew more pro-active" I'd understood to mean that hosts would play a more active role in steering threads. Not that the rules are any different.

    "Safe space" sounds good. But if that doesn't mean that those of a naturally precise and pedantic turn of mind are safe from being penalised for those characteristics, maybe you don't
    mean safe for everyone ?
    The relevance is that in Epiphanies the hosts are less tolerant of activity that makes it harder for people to discuss issues that have direct personal impact. That means some things which were tolerated in Purgatory are unacceptable in Epiphanies.

    If you want to know what I meant when I described Epiphanies as a "safer space" with the Crew being more pro-active, read the thread in the Styx where we announced the new forum, and take any discussion of the general nature of the forum to that thread.

  • Russ wrote: »
    "Safe space" sounds good. But if that doesn't mean that those of a naturally precise and pedantic turn of mind are safe from being penalised for those characteristics, maybe you don't mean safe for everyone ?

    The "safe space" in Epiphanies is a way of discussing what are deeply personal issues of identity in a way which is respectful of and has care for those people who identify as such. To use homosexuality as an example, the Ship is saying that we* want to be able to discuss issues surrounding homosexuality, and we want to allow posters with a wide range of backgrounds and experiences to participate, but not at the cost of abusing our gay shipmates - so the Ship asks shipmates to be generally kinder and more careful in Epiphanies than in Purgatory.

    So no, it's not an equal opportunity "safe space" - it's quite explicitly a place where we take more care of those of our brothers and sisters for whom the issue in question is most personal.
  • Short answer: pedants aren't a protected class, nor a candidate for same.
  • RussRuss Shipmate
    edited February 9
    Eutychus wrote: »
    In the judgement of the Crew, the proportion of requests for evidence and repeated questions to actual engagement with other posters in the posts that led to your suspension constituted a pattern of disruptive behaviour

    In the OP I said that one of the things I'm looking for here is to understand how to change my posting style to avoid future friction. I mean it. I have no wish to be at loggerheads with you or Alan or Hosts.

    I take it from the above that the change you want to see is for me to
    - make fewer requests for evidence
    - not repeat questions
    - engage with other posters.
    Is that what you want me to focus on ?

    "Requests for evidence" I understand. I just don't recognise it as a description of my style. (The obvious thing to do is to ask you for examples. But that would be requesting evidence...). Are you referring to requests for clarification of meaning ? (Not quite the same thing)

    Not repeating a question seems straightforward. If this is the element of style that is bothering you then I will try not to do this. (I'm assuming you mean "repeated questions" and not "multiple questions")

    I don't understand the third one. I'd have said that asking questions is engaging with others. We're obviously not on the same wavelength here. Can you spell it out a little more please ? Is it about starting my posts with more acknowledgment of what others have said that I'm responding to ?
    Coupled to this is your response, in which you are indeed acting as the aggrieved party
    Of course I'm acting aggrieved. I'm fecking livid. At having been (as I see it) unjustly accused and sentenced. This is a totally normal reaction to such a circumstance and not indicative of anything.
    ...expecting the Crew to have a big discussion to agree on a definition...
    What happened here is that I took your post
    Eutychus wrote: »
    If you really want to change (and stick around), here are some practical suggestions.

    - make your posts a lot shorter
    - respond to one thing said by one person per post..
    ...
    - wait for a response before posting again unless you are personally addressed or quoted.
    to be an authoritative statement from the Crew as to what I have to do to avoid being seen as a sealion. And agreed to do that. And was then surprised that Alan didn't honour that agreed way of settling the issue.

    I want to learn from that experience and ensure before the end of this thread that whatever action for me emerges is something that you are both fully signed up to.

    I'm not expecting special treatment. Just whatever process you normally use to either agree or to take collective responsibility whereby one of you accepts and works with the rulings of the other.
    Further evidence of this behaviour is that you have now moved on above from challenging the original charge to challenging what we might mean by "safe space".
    Alan thought that "safe space" was relevant enough to mention in the discussion. What's wrong with engaging with him on this point ?

    If you are ruling that that is off-topic then I'll let it drop.

    Of what is this supposed to be evidence ? That I'll argue about anything under the sun ? This is a discussion board. Arguing for what we believe is half of what we come here to do. Alongside listening to others to understand why they believe differently. I take it that anything posted is fair game for a response, unless it's so far off-topic that it's better not to.

    Enthusiasm for words and argument is what this place runs on. Don't knock it.
  • DafydDafyd Shipmate
    Russ wrote: »
    What I need from y'all is some clarity on just what change in style you're looking for.
    Leaving aside your vague and impressionistic precis of what people, especially Eutychus, have asked you to do...
    Let's grant for the sake of argument your contention that these are not aspects of the same pattern. Asking which precisely you are being asked to discontinue is equivalent to asking which disruptive behaviour you can get away with.

    How about you try giving up all forms of disruptive behaviour?
    "Safe space" sounds good. But if that doesn't mean that those of a naturally precise and pedantic turn of mind are safe from being penalised for those characteristics, maybe you don't mean safe for everyone ?
    I don't think you need worry about being penalised for that.
  • EutychusEutychus Shipmate
    edited February 9
    @Russ the definition of Sealioning referred to above (its words, not mine) includes reference to "repeated questions".

    Your post above alone contains no fewer than seven questions.

    Responding to each of these would take time, and past experience with you (including in your above post) suggests that any responses on our part will be met with more questions, requests for clarification, and so on.

    This is why sealioning is also referred to in the link above as "a denial-of-service attack targeted at human beings".

    Any good-faith attempts to clear things up for you result in more requests to clear things up; substantive discussion, which as you rightly point out is the main purpose of these forums, is impossible. Instead, it's a bottomless pit.

    This has led us to question your good faith. We don't have the time, energy, or disposition to continue down this route.
    whatever action for me emerges is something that you are both fully signed up to.
    Your entitlement meter needs recalibrating.

    Almost everybody here somehow manages to work out what is acceptable and what is not, without being spoon-fed by the admins. In the rare cases when we impose sanctions, the vast majority of those sanctioned learn their lesson after that. I see no reason in theory why you should not also be able to without any further help from us.
  • EutychusEutychus Shipmate
    Also, on a point of detail
    Russ wrote: »
    What happened here is that I took your post
    Eutychus wrote: »
    If you really want to change (and stick around), here are some practical suggestions.

    - make your posts a lot shorter
    - respond to one thing said by one person per post..
    ...
    - wait for a response before posting again unless you are personally addressed or quoted.
    to be an authoritative statement from the Crew as to what I have to do to avoid being seen as a sealion. And agreed to do that. And was then surprised that Alan didn't honour that agreed way of settling the issue.

    The full list was:
    - make your posts a lot shorter
    - respond to one thing said by one person per post
    - in that post, attempt to reformulate what that person has said before giving your own view or asking for clarification (one question per post)
    - display more empathy for the general environment of the thread and for where the other posters are coming from

    - wait for a response before posting again unless you are personally addressed or quoted.
    Condensing that list for the purposes of your complaint can be nothing other than a deliberate, conscious action on your part, involving deleting the bolded part and adding the dots.

    Those parts are important and get to the heart of the problem here.

    Your wilful omission of them in an attempt to present yourself as the aggrieved and unjustly treated party is further evidence of your bad faith.
  • Eutychus wrote: »
    @Russ the definition of Sealioning referred to above (its words, not mine) includes reference to "repeated questions".
    I'd echo everything @Eutychus has said, especially in the last couple of posts.

    I would, however, add that you shouldn't get too hung up on whether your behaviour exactly matches one particular definition of 'sealioning'. Use that as a guide to reflect on your posting style, but also remember we're talking about a posting style that can be described as "a variation on sealioning" or "including some aspects of sealioning".
  • This from the "Homophobia" thread:
    Russ wrote: »
    Not quite sure of the different shades of meaning between
    "Snow in April is normal",
    "Snow in April is usual",
    "Snow in April is common".

    But if that's a tangent too far please ignore.
  • Russ wrote: »
    .....
    I don't understand the third one. I'd have said that asking questions is engaging with others.
    ...

    No. Pelting Shipmates with requests for definitions (vide supra) is a performance. To engage with others, you would have to listen to the answers.

    Comparing descriptors for weather seems inconsistent with interest in the reality of racism and heteronormativity. It seems more consistent with trying to find a semantic "gotcha" to un-define them out of existence.

    And April doesn't need your help; nobody is trying to exclude April from the calendar for being abnormal / unusual / uncommon.
  • It seems more consistent with trying to find a semantic "gotcha" to un-define them out of existence.

    Bingo.
  • RooKRooK Admin Emeritus
    Please be mindful of veering too far into personal umbrage here in The Styx, and take such up in Hell. The thread is for clarifying one accusation of quibbling, jerkdom and abuse of power.

    Thanks,
    -RooK
    Styx Host
  • Russ frustrates the hell out of me but he clearly has some talent for debate so... why doesn't he demonstrate that by getting to the point and cease digging himself into ever deeper holes? The hosts and admins aren't going to shift and they may actually lose patience.
  • RussRuss Shipmate
    Eutychus wrote: »
    Any good-faith attempts to clear things up for you result in more requests to clear things up; substantive discussion, which as you rightly point out is the main purpose of these forums, is impossible. Instead, it's a bottomless pit.

    ....We don't have the time, energy, or disposition to continue...

    OK. My #1 take away from this that asking too many questions is a significant part of the issue. I will aim to ask no more than 1 question per post, and will try to communicate by stating my own understanding of what others are saying rather than requesting clarification.

    I assume there will be a #2 in due course.
    Comparing descriptors for weather seems inconsistent with interest in the reality of racism and heteronormativity. It seems more consistent with trying to find a semantic "gotcha" to un-define them out of existence.

    And April doesn't need your help

    I don't need to feel I'm helping anyone in order to have a view.
    Understanding phenomena, establishing truth, is worthwhile in itself.

    I was responding to Robert Armin who contrasted "normal" and "common". That contrast seems to me at the heart of what heteronormativity is. And thus totally on-topic. (And therefore not quibbling or bogging down the discussion).

    It's completely consistent with interest in the reality of norms of behaviour and how these norms come about and are influenced by majority characteristics. Which is to say heteronormativity as a real phenomenon.

    What you're finding it irrelevant to is heteronormativity as a label for feelings of exclusion.

    I argue from a set of assumptions (which I don't fully understand and hope to continue to explore) that makes a clear distinction between feelings and objective reality. Which is unfashionable. To some modern people, the feelings are what matters.

    I expect the Hosts and Admins not to be taking sides in this particular argument, but instead focus on whether both sides are playing by the rules of constructive and civilised debate.
    I would, however, add that you shouldn't get too hung up on whether your behaviour exactly matches one particular definition of 'sealioning'. Use that as a guide to reflect on your posting style, but also remember we're talking about a posting style that can be described as "a variation on sealioning" or "including some aspects of sealioning".

    Thank you Alan. I feel that with these words you're stepping outside your Admin role to offer this advice in a genuine spirit of helpfulness.

    This has caused me to reflect on how strongly my sense of justice is tied up with a legal paradigm. It is only by seeing the Ship's 10 Commandments as the law to be kept, the hosts as those who police it, the Admins as the judges who impose sentence on offenders, that I have any sense of what is and is not just behaviour by the Crew.

    I'd like to think that if you perceived some situation - perhaps someone being dismissed at your place of work- within such a legal paradigm, that your sense of what is just or unjust treatment would not be so very different from mine.

    If one of your colleagues was reprimanded for something that had not been part of the written or unwritten code of conduct at the time that he did it, you might feel that such retrospective application was unjust.

    If he was sacked for one reason but was told it was for a different reason, you might feel that something dishonest was going on.

    I've minimal direct experience of the legal system, but grew up with the procedures of English law in the background. So it seems to me necessary for justice that the accused understands the charge and is allowed the opportunity to offer a defense (for the particular instance of crime of which he stands accused).

    I'm guessing that you don't apply that legal paradigm to your admin role here on the Ship.
  • That's an interesting explanation @Russ, and certainly helps me see where you're coming from. For myself, I don't see membership here as being like a citizen of a country, where rights and responsibilities are clearly defined. Rather it's being a guest in someone's home, where I do things in their way whether I think it's a good idea or not. Because this is a very large house, with lots of guests, the 10 Commandments have been drawn up, but I see them as a guide to house style rather than laws.
  • DafydDafyd Shipmate
    Russ wrote: »
    This has caused me to reflect on how strongly my sense of justice is tied up with a legal paradigm. It is only by seeing the Ship's 10 Commandments as the law to be kept, the hosts as those who police it, the Admins as the judges who impose sentence on offenders, that I have any sense of what is and is not just behaviour by the Crew.

    I'd like to think that if you perceived some situation - perhaps someone being dismissed at your place of work- within such a legal paradigm, that your sense of what is just or unjust treatment would not be so very different from mine.
    Your sense of just behaviour by a barman or shop assistant towards potential clients is not within that paradigm. You don't see the barman excluding people he believes may be disruptive to the functioning of the business as bound to police a written law or to make sure the accused understands the charge or give them an opportunity to offer a defence.

    Why do you think that paradigm applies to the Ship when you've earnestly argued that the paradigm does not apply to other enterprises?

    The law works on a principle that anything not definitely forbidden is permitted. That's because it exists to mediate disputes between people who have clashing interests and possibly values. While the law can't function without room for the judge's discretion, it tries to keep laws that rely on indefinite terms, as for instance, 'don't be a jerk' to a minimum.

    An enterprise like the Ship is not of that sort. Participants in the Ship are presumed to have common interests, namely participation on a discussion and community board. That means it can't operate on a anything not expressly forbidden is permitted basis, since a set of commandments that distinguished every form of behaviour that disrupted that end from everything that forwarded that end would be too long to be workable. Jobsworthery and edgelording are wrong because they reveal that the perpetrator does not share the interests of the other participants even though they don't break rules.
    An enterprise such as the Ship (or a string quartet or a fishing crew or a congregation) requires adherence to the spirit rather than the law.

    Instead of asking yourself what rule does asking too many questions break? you should be asking yourself why are people saying that asking question in the way you're doing is disruptive to discussion.
  • orfeoorfeo Shipmate
    edited February 14
    Talk of "the accused" and "the charge" and all those sorts of things... in all honesty, Russ, I have to ask: do you apply this sort of approach to the rest of your life?

    Communities don't generally work on such a formal legalistic approach. I don't know if you're taking that view because we have something that is called "Commandments", but it concerns me that you are so focused on having a concrete, specific rule for every action.

    And even things like trying to extrapolate a rule for yourself like "ask one question per post" is demanding that everything be reduced down to what is commonly termed black-letter law. Spell every detail out. Point to something on the page about what action must or must not be done.

    It simply doesn't work in all contexts. I can tell you as a person who writes legislation for a living, it isn't even the approach used in all formal legislation. Many laws these days don't tell people exactly what to do, they spell out principles and desired outcomes and leave it to people to figure out how they're going to achieve what's meant to be achieved. The laws effectively say "we don't care exactly how you do this, but this is the goal you're aiming for".

    The goal we're aiming for here on the Ship is an effective, functioning message board. The Commandments aren't about laying out specific rules about exactly how to act, they're about the principles for making the community function. I'd really encourage you to pay attention to what's being said about those principles and not to try to turn this into specific rules in terms of "if I behave in exactly this rigidly defined way I won't get in trouble".

    Because the result will almost inevitably be disappointment. You'll behave in strict compliance with the black-letter law that you've extracted from this conversation, and eventually there'll be a situation where a moderator or admin feels that the outcome of the behaviour is not good in context, and you'll feel aggrieved and come to Styx to complain about this and the whole cycle will begin again.
  • RussRuss Shipmate
    orfeo wrote: »
    Talk of "the accused" and "the charge" and all those sorts of things... in all honesty, Russ, I have to ask: do you apply this sort of approach to the rest of your life?

    Issues that come up in real life can often sorted out by a face-to-face meeting involving what is euphemistically called a full and frank exchange of views. And what is said in the heat of the moment can be forgiven and forgotten rather than lingering on the record. It's a bad idea to have a row by e-mail...

    The analogy in this case is a close one. Alan isn't denying that sealioning has been deemed against the community rules and disciplinary procedures instituted.

    No problem with that if "sealioning" were used consistently to mean something like "barraging people with questions to a degree that constitutes a denial-of-service attack". Say that straight out, and anyone can see that it's a behaviour that it's reasonable to put on the banned list.

    My objection is the way that the word "sealioning" has been misused to mean "anything irritating about Russ" including pedantry, politeness, reference to multiple shades of meaning of a word, belief that objective reality is not dictated by feelings, and a tendency to argue when you'd prefer him to just give in and admit that you're right. None of which should be against the rules here. And none of which I see other people receiving official warnings for.

    I take the point that it may not be practical to write a rulebook for the Ship. So the rules here are to some extent unwritten. And therefore concepts of justice derived from the sphere of the law courts may not be able to be read across verbatim.

    But that doesn't mean that there aren't standards of justice that the hosts and admins aspire to. That they usually succeed admirably in achieving. And that Shipmates should be able to hold them to in the rare cases of a lapse.

    My question (only one, for now :) ) is where should I look for those standards if looking to the law courts is considered inappropriate ?
    the result will almost inevitably be disappointment. You'll behave in strict compliance with the black-letter law that you've extracted from this conversation, and eventually there'll be a situation where a moderator or admin feels that the outcome of the behaviour is not good in context, and you'll feel aggrieved and come to Styx to complain about this and the whole cycle will begin again.

    Yes, that's a likely outcome that I'm seeking to avoid by continuing with this conversation beyond takeaway #1.
  • Would it help to consider it as a matter of etiquette rather than law ?

    You seem to be describing a difficulty in discerning social norms unless they are explicitly stated, but usually social norms are more like an a set of overlapping Venn diagrams rather than a rigid framework.

    I can discuss this further with you in private message if you wish.
  • Barnabas62Barnabas62 Purgatory Host, 8th Day Host, Epiphanies Host
    Would it help to consider it as a matter of etiquette rather than law ?
    Very helpful.

  • I'm finding this discussion fascinating because at different times I really empathise with both sides. I find it difficult to pick up social nuance and unwritten rules - clear definite rules/laws with no room for ambiguity are just so much EASIER. But life doesn't work like that and I quite see that on the Ship "don't be a jerk" actually IS the best rule. My own response to not being sure about what's OK is to play hyper-safe but that inhibits debate and means I can never relax in case I accidentally make a mistake. @Russ - I hope you can find a way through this.
  • @HelenEva there is absolutely no problem with an accidental mistake.

    There is a whole gradation of Crew intervention starting with deliberately choosing to overlook, escalating to mild hostly reminders, hostly interventions, warnings of referrals to admins, referrals to admins, and admin warnings, with admin intervention such as suspension basically occurring only after all of these (except in case of emergency).

    Your circumstances (like those of over 90% of our posters) are separated from those of @Russ by pretty much every one of those levels.
  • Thank you @Eutychus . I am very aware that there but for the grace of God etc etc. I could easily let my own passion for rules/justice/facts/legality get away from me.
  • RussRuss Shipmate
    You seem to be describing a difficulty in discerning social norms unless they are explicitly stated, but usually social norms are more like an a set of overlapping Venn diagrams rather than a rigid framework.

    By "social norms" I take it you mean conventions like not speaking ill of the dead. The resemblance to overlapping sets in a Venn diagram entirely escapes me, but maybe that just confirms your point...

    I do tend to be literal-minded. Particularly in a text-based medium where there are no tones of voice or body language to convey nuance.

    I don't see it as an Admin's job to enforce social norms. The job should be about setting rules that will promote worthwhile discussion on these boards, and applying those rules with as light a touch as possible to maintain a friendly and welcoming culture. Using the sort of graded set of response options that Eutychus described.

    And of course those rules should be impartial and comprehensible and everything else that we expect rules to be in any other setting.

    If Alan Cresswell (or anyone else) had a boss at work who told them they'd be subject to disciplinary action if they did anything that reminded him of a story he'd read about an annoying walrus, looking for another job would be a good idea. Don't be that boss, Alan.




  • DoublethinkDoublethink Shipmate
    edited February 22
    The commandments *are* social norms. Likewise most bosses do operate like this, dress code is the obvious example - there isn’t a list of all possible items you could wear, but there are expectations about what you will wear and if you don’t meet them - eventually you will lose your job.
  • RussRuss Shipmate
    If there's a difference between rules and social norms, then the commandments are rules.
  • Russ wrote: »
    Using the sort of graded set of response options that Eutychus described.

    Which is exactly what happened in your case, as the record shows.

    Let it also be pointed out, as recorded in that same post, that despite your alleged literal-mindedness, you managed to describe the first warning referred to above as the matter being "resolved", which is an entirely creative and unliteral gloss on what happened. The warnings were explicit, despite which you ignored them.

  • Also...
    Russ wrote: »
    And of course those rules should be impartial and comprehensible and everything else that we expect rules to be in any other setting.

    When I took the trouble to spell out some specific ways for you to comply with our expectations, for the sake of comprehension, rather than you taking it on board, you deliberately elided the list to help bolster your allegations of mistreatment, as shown here - a point you have chosen to ignore on returning to this thread.

    Behaviour like this is not doing anything to persuade the admins that your complaints are in good faith.
  • DoublethinkDoublethink Shipmate
    edited February 22
    Russ wrote: »
    If there's a difference between rules and social norms, then the commandments are rules.

    If.

    Going back to the Venn diagram point. Some norms are solely norms, some norms are also rules, some rules are also laws. However, some laws are not social norms, some rules are solely rules without becoming either social norms or laws.

    When laws aren’t social norms, you’ll see them “more honoured in the breach than the observance”, a rule that says “the key holder should check the windows before locking up the building” is not really a social norm, the social norm of putting some form of sign off of an email before your name is not in and of itself a rule.

    (Also, self-evidently commandment one - regardless of whether it is a rule or a norm - is based on a social consensus of what it might mean to be a “jerk”.)
  • RussRuss Shipmate
    Eutychus wrote: »
    Russ wrote: »
    Using the sort of graded set of response options that Eutychus described.

    Which is exactly what happened in your case

    Yes.

    If the charge (or the accusation or whatever you want to call it) of "sealioning" were something well-defined (like using a particular word which the Crew considered offensive).

    And if I ignored that Admin warning and went on to use that word a couple more times and was warned for it by the hosts every time.

    Then Alan would have been acting well within his role and precedent to suspend me for it.

    I'm happy to accept that he thinks that's the case and acted in good faith.
    Eutychus wrote: »
    When I took the trouble to spell out some specific ways for you to comply with our expectations, for the sake of comprehension...
    You did do that and I was grateful for it. Because sealioning is not in my vocabulary. And the explanations given were somewhat wide-ranging and included elements ("demanding evidence") that don't seem to me to describe my style at all.

    My reply to you on that thread included three of your five points which seemed to have a common theme and point to the same understanding of what the issue was. (Dafyd had queried whether one of the others was really good advice). I agreed to try not to be so verbose in future. Because I can see how that could be seen as annoying and disruptive. And neither you nor anybody else said that I'd missed the point.

    My complaint here is that any subsequent accusation of sealioning refers to behaviour that is not the same thing. It now seems to be open season on Russ so that any fecking thing at all - just arguing for my view - can be deemed to be sealioning. And nothing I can possibly say about the post in question - that it is brief, polite, sincerely meant, on-topic, whatever - is considered to be evidence to the contrary.
    .. rather than you taking it on board, you deliberately elided the list to help bolster your allegations of mistreatment
    I thought I'd quoted your post on this thread in exactly the same way as I had on the other thread four months ago when I was conveying to you my thanks for the clarification and my intention to change my posting style accordingly. Any change is unintentional.

    And if part of your message to me then was that I shouldn't try to respond to every single point (because that leads to posting too often at too great a length) then it's hardly fair to hold it against me now that there's a point I haven't responded to...

  • Russ wrote: »
    If the charge (or the accusation or whatever you want to call it) of "sealioning" were something well-defined
    It is. A full definition of sealioning was referred to in this host post, to which you were referred here; you were referred to the latter warning here. The page in question is explicit:
    Rhetorically, sealioning fuses persistent questioning—often about basic information, information easily found elsewhere, or unrelated or tangential points—with a loudly-insisted-upon commitment to reasonable debate. It disguises itself as a sincere attempt to learn and communicate. Sealioning thus works both to exhaust a target's patience, attention, and communicative effort, and to portray the target as unreasonable.
    You thus had a full definition and more than adequate warning.
    sealioning is not in my vocabulary.
    See above. After all those warnings, it should have been.
    My reply to you on that thread included three of your five points which seemed to have a common theme and point to the same understanding of what the issue was.
    Which is an admission that you chose to ignore two of them. When you ask for clarification and then ignore two-fifths of what an admin tells you, you're not very credible.
    (Dafyd had queried whether one of the others was really good advice).
    You're dealing with a Crew ruling here. Other posters are free to express their opinions, but their assessment (or your assessment of their assessment....) does not give you licence to ignore the guidelines an admin gives you: see Commandment 6.
    My complaint here is that any subsequent accusation of sealioning refers to behaviour that is not the same thing. It now seems to be open season on Russ
    So far as I'm aware, this is not true. You've been posting here and there since you were unsuspended, and haven't attracted any Crew attention outside this thread. You are however making your position worse by continuing to quibble - for that is indeed what you're doing - here. The only reason we're still discussing your bad behaviour at all is because you have chosen to complain here, in the Styx, at length, about your suspension. Persisting here is not helping you.
This discussion has been closed.