Thursday, January 7, 2010

A Brief Note on Rules

troll-web Yesterday I banned an individual from commenting here at Politics Plus.  This is the first time I have found that necessary in this nor the previous incarnation of this blog.  The reason was quite simple.  The individual refused to abide by the rules here.  I have long said that Politics Plus has only one rule.  In truth, it has two.  The second is Thou shalt not SPAM!  I don’t really count that one, because that’s a universal rule, virtually everywhere.

The one rule is in our header, where everyone can see it.  All points of view are welcome, but personal attacks against me or anyone who comments here are forbidden. Trading insults never changes anyone's mind.  This is not difficult.  It simply means that we treat each other with respect.  If you want to post an insult to a public figure, say Bush, that’s OK.  I don’t like Bush either.  If you want to insult Jeff Merkley, whom I fully support and worked to elect, that’s OK too.  I defend your right to your opinion.  But, even if Traitor Joe LIEberman ever posts a comment here (God forbid!), please treat him with respect in your replies.

The individual I banned insulted another commenter.  Then he insulted the entire blog.  I deleted his offending comments, and warned him.  He protested that because the commenter and I had insulted public figures, he was being treated unfairly and insulted me .  He ignored his warning, and I will delete all future comments from him.  He then commented that he was being banned only because he disagrees with me.  If he knew anything about this blog, he would know that these pages have multiple comments from people disagreeing with me from all sides of the political spectrum.  Sometimes, they even inspire me to change my mind.  The thread I linked is an excellent example, because it contains a disagreement that does violate the rule and one that does not.

So please don’t feed the trolls.  They love drama, and if you get into an insult war with them, that’s exactly what they want.  By all means, refute their arguments, but please don’t return their insults in kind.  A few years back, a troll insulted another blogger, whom I considered a friend.  He responded with insults back.  The two had quite a little flame war.  When I returned and found it, to be fair I had to delete the insulting comments from both and warn both.  My friend deleted PP from his blogroll and had not been back since.  He has also refused to reply to me on his and other blogs ever since.

I don’t want to lose any more friends.  So please, demonstrate to trolls that you are better than they are by replying to them with respect.  Leave the insults for me.  I will deal with them.  OK?


Jack Jodell said...

Well done, TomCat! Persons of a progressive/liberal bent like you and I have an aversion for censorship or impeding the free flow of ideas, and we try to kkep an open mind. But every once in a while, someone comes along who is insulting, abusive, or offensive, and the blog owner is perfectly within his or her rights to ban or remove comments from people like that. I had a similar experience a few months back and I shitcanned the guy, too. Life is too short for needless personal abuse!

TomCat said...

Thanks Jack.

Holte Ender said...

Just another example of the division we are experiencing, respectful discourse is passe (not here), shouting insults and talking down has become a tactic of the teabaggers and it is spilling over into the blogs, but a tactic is all it is, it offers nothing concrete, it is nothing but empty rhetoric.

Leslie Parsley said...

Wise words. I've beeen struggling with this a little lately - not nearly as much as some of you.

It seems that if you disagree with a rightie, they come back with "you're interfeering with my Freedom of Speech." What this amounts to is that they can say whatever they want, but you - the owner of the blog - can't. My better sense tells me just to ignore them and on a good day I will. But there are other days when my better judgement fails me.

However I will not tolerate name calling and personal attacks on me or another blogger, so I delete. Of course this just escalates into the next level of abuse! They're relentless.

Gwendolyn H. Barry said...

TC, you've done the responsible thing in banning that kind of 'flamer' and posted a warning well done that we should engage one another in respectful, although sometimes including a familiar humor, debate ... we may be (as Jack points out) progressives / liberals -me- yet we respect both sides of the fence before we go aiming and firing. I say Ok, TC, I hear you and this is your good site... I play by your rules. And, (hopefully not getting banned for profane thoughts) bullshit is bullshit! Who needs the bullshit? Am I right?

JUDI M. said...

TC, You did good! I've found that trying to reason with some people is an exercise in futility. As someone on here already stated, you cannot have reasonable discourse with these people: it devolves into "freedom of speech", "liberal commie" "libtard", and "you don't know what you're talking about." To say there is a chasm in this country is an understatement.

Sue said...

I know TC and you know how much I know! LOL I have asked my troll repeatedly to go somewhere else but she is relentless! One day, I can only hope.... for now its gotta be comment moderation!

TomCat said...

Thanks Holte. Sadly, online trolls have been around since before there was a world wide web. In the early 1980s I ran a Computer BBS, and they were there then. The only thing that makes today different is that the GOP now encourages such behavior. A major political party has never done so before.

Thanks, Gwen. Your thoughts are your own, and if you need to vent, you have my email address.

Thanks Judy. There are few enough lefty blogs where they are free to post their ideas without being flamed. If they can't respect that, oh well.

TomCat said...

Thanks Holte. Sadly, online trolls have been around since before there was a world wide web. In the early 1980s I ran a Computer BBS, and they were there then. The only thing that makes today different is that the GOP now encourages such behavior. A major political party has never done so before.

Thanks, Gwen. Your thoughts are your own, and if you need to vent, you have my email address.

Thanks Judy. There are few enough lefty blogs where they are free to post their ideas without being flamed. If they can't respect that, oh well.

TomCat said...

Dang, Leslie and Sue!! You were being so polite that I skipped right over you. Relentless is a good word for it. People with absolute views believe that they have a monopoly on truth that justifies whatever they do.

Thanks Sue. You know I know how well you know. She even came here and badmouthed you. As you know, I tore her a new asshole, politely and respectfully. She has not commented again. Comment moderation is such a pain. If you delete everything she posts before she sets people off, she may give up.

Gwendolyn H. Barry said...

You know, the Huff Po calls the greater blogger community 'citizen journalism' ... there should be rules; then again, perhaps it works as 'citizen journalism' because there are really no rules?
Ta TC... I don't really need to 'vent' anything :-)

Jo said...

Tom, in your usual diplomatic manner, you have not named the individual, but I think it is perhaps the same person who made me feel uncomfortable a couple of times.

It's unfortunate that people can feel so polarized at times, but that's no excuse for rudeness...!

I like your new avatar. It looks like my cat Jiggs. Jiggs used to play the piano. :-)

Jolly Roger said...

Eh-I let them have their say, as I'm sure you've noticed. I also engage them, because it is fun to engage them. About the only comments I've ever deleted were the threatening ones, and there have been a few of them.

For a real treat, you should see what I get in my email. I may crank up the Jolly Roger Mailbag again :)

SJ said...

I hear you. I used to just obliterate jackasses who came on to Random Thoughts to paste in weird backward crap.
Specifically, in response to a very incendiary post I wrote about Jesse Helms's death, -I have experience whereof you're speaking.

I tore into a Conservative law professor and humiliated him. I got real personal, and the guy didn't bother to respond after that...
I regretted it afterward as I could have just as easily, just as civilly stated my position and explained my reasoning, but Jesse Helms is a very, very hard subject to be cool-headed about.
I consider that exchange with that Conservative (who was trying to employ spurious euphemisms in defense of Helm's career and life) a complete failure on my part for that reason.
Today I keep it all fairly PG-13 and only delete spammers.

benjibopper said...

I'm insulted by your policy and must vehemently disagree.

Just kidding.

The worst insult I ever got online was being called anti-semitic. I didn't ban the insulter, but I should have. You're spot on here, Tom. Way to stand by your principles.

TOM said...

I use comment moderation. End of problems.
My trolls came to my blog, because of comments I made at other political blogs, not what I wrote on my blog.
I'm not a prude, but theses attacks were just the plain f%*& you types. If they made a point while swearing, I might post their comments. So far none have made any legitimate points.

Leslie Parsley said...

TC: "I tore her a new asshole."

Damn, I'm sorry I missed that.

MadMike said...

I also let them have their say for the most part. If they use harsh language when insulting me or another commenter, in other words if they SERIOUSLY personalize it, I will trash them after one warning. Like JR I sometimes engage or at the least enjoy the fight.

Lisa G. said...

Leslie - he was nice about it, but he did tear her a new one. It was very diplomatic, but it was a tearing just the same.

We all are passionate about our opinions - otherwise we wouldn't comment. Someone came on here the other day and I called him out for being rude. I know it's not my place, but I was polite about it (at first); but this is TC's blog. I get pissed off when someone is just insulting when there is no need for it. And I consider you guys my friends, even when we disagree (the death penalty discussion was a perfect example of that), and I don't like when people insult other people for no good reason. TC is very diplomatic (especially when he called out the teabagger the other day) and much more patient than I would ever be (which is why I don't have my own blog - because diplomacy has never been a strong suit of mine). But, I've always said that patience is a virtue, just not one of mine. :)

However, if Lieberdouche comes on here, I'm gonna give him a piece (or maybe my whole) mind. Or I may just get so hacked off that I throw my laptop out the window. :)

Sometimes, I just give myself a time out and walk away before I let my anger get the better of me. But TC's right, I'm a lot like Ditka (and I think we can all agree that the Bears are waayyy less interesting to watch without him on the sidelines), but the husband (who is far more patient than me) can usually talk me down. Usually. :)

Oso said...

By "A lot like Ditka" I assume you mean the driven personality and not that you slick your hair back and have grown a mustache ?

Lisa G. said...

Definitely the driven, hot headed personality. Only when my hair is in a pony tail would I consider that slicked back. And last time I checked, no mustache; hell, I barely have hair on my head! I'm almost completely hairless, but I'm married to the missing link between man and ape. I was cooking dinner the other day and found his hair in my food (gross) and he wasn't even here!

otis said...

Palin (Micheal): This isn't an argument!
Cleese: Yes, it is.
Palin: NO IT ISN'T. An argument a series statements for the purpose of discussing a subject.
Cleese: Well, in order for there to be an argument I must take a contrary position.
Palin: Yes, but it isn't the automatic game-say of "No, it isn't"
Clesse: Yes, it is.
Palin: NO, IT ISN'T!!

Classic Monty Python. Sums up many blog commentaries, too. You did the right thing, TC. You cannot let lawlessness rule the threads. Furthermore, I may drift in and out, but if you had to censor me because I was rude, I would understand. I would be pouty and surly, but I would eventually grow up, put on the 'Big Boy Pants' and suck up the fact I did bad. Politics is a polarizing subject before you bring up Hillary and/or the GOP.

And anyone that disagrees is a big doody-face!! (And my dad can beat up your dad! :p) :) I say that in jest, but I have seen argument threads that are almost that inane, and both sides mean it.

TomCat said...

Gwen, there are things to be said for both points of view. I have far more rules for myself than other. Check sources, remain open to be influenced, own mistakes...

Josie, I know who you mean and it was not her. This individual was a one-issue wonder here to have fits over trying some terrorists in civilian courts. Thanks, bit I can't play a note on the piano.

JR, I have indeed. I'm not saying my way is better that yours or anyone else's. There are times I enjoy some of the flames. Each blogger must choose the path that best suits his or her intent for the blog.

SJ and Leslie, perhaps I exaggerated. The gal I 'tore a new asshole' is a long time troll that has been terrorizing a friend's blog. When she stopped here and bad mouthed that friend, I merely described the elements of her behavior that I found objectionable. I did so politely and diplomatically, but I made it clear that I would not tolerate such behavior here.

Benji, are all you Canadians so disagreeable? ;-) Thanks, my friend.

Good point, Tom. Many of the people, good and bad, that come to our blogs do so because of the comments we make elsewhere.

Thanks, Lisa. I had no objections to the way you asked Trent not to be rude. You were respectful when you did so. For you and you only, if LIEberscum ever comments here, you have one get out of hell free card. ;-) I've been running online communities, on and off, for 25 years. Patience is a learned virtue that I have not always possessed.

LOL, Oso. Lisa with a mustache?? That's like you with boobs!! :-)

Thanks Otis. That's well said. I'd feel angry if my comment was deleted too. You would not believe how many MSN communities I was kicked out of, in late 2001, for making such obscene statements as, "The biggest tragedy about the terrorist attacks is that Bush will use them as an excuse to invade Iraq and curtail our civil liberties."

Jolly Roger said...

I got unceremoniously booted off a bunch of message boards when I dared to question the validity of the moronic monkey's reasoning for invading Iraq (or for the heresy of asking about a plan for the aftermath, which even THEN they clearly did not have.) I think that's why I'm gun shy about banning people.

TOM said...

In another incarnation years ago. I used to write for a "liberal community" blog.
I was banned from that blog, when I took them to task for calling Bush a Hitler.
It was a long piece comparing Bush and Hitler. How the Nuremberg laws were the same as Bush's policies, and many other so called reasonable comparisons.
There was no swearing in my criticism, but I did use words like irrational, delusional, and liar.

TomCat said...

JR and Tom, I hear you. Nobody will be banned from here for expressing opinions, no matter how absurdnand rude, about public figures. The rule here isb civility toward each other, regardless of views. You guys (and I) were banned for expressing dissent from the locally approved view. Dissent is welcome here.