Aggressive language on python-list
rurpy at yahoo.com
rurpy at yahoo.com
Wed Oct 17 18:48:17 CEST 2012
On 10/16/2012 08:45 PM, Steven D'Aprano wrote:
> On Tue, 16 Oct 2012 14:10:17 -0700, rurpy wrote:
>> On 10/16/2012 10:49 AM, Steven D'Aprano wrote:
>>> > On Tue, 16 Oct 2012 09:27:48 -0700, rurpy wrote about trolls and
>>> > dicks:
>> No, I wrote about trolls. "dicks" is a highly emotive and almost
>> totally subjective word
> As opposed to "troll", which is unemotional and objective? Not.
Not not. Please be careful of binary thinking. I did
not say "troll" is unemotional and objective; I said it
was much less so than "dick". It has a fairly specific
meaning (see the wikipedia article for example.)
>> that I would not use in a rational discussion.
> I would. If someone is acting like a dick, why not call them by the word
> that most accurately describes their behaviour?
Because (as I said) it is highly subjective and hence describes
not their behavior but rather your opinion of their behavior.
> I see nothing troll like in Dwight "call me David, but I can't be
> bothered changing my signature" Hutto's behaviour. He doesn't seem to be
> trolling, in either sense: he doesn't appear to be making provocative
> statements for the purpose of making people think, nor does he seem to be
> making inflammatory statements to get a rise out of people. He seems to
> genuinely want to help people, in a clumsy, aggressive, and I believe
> often intoxicated way.
> So it seems to me that you are wrongly applying the term "troll" as a
> meaningless pejorative to anyone who behaves badly.
Hardly meaningless. It seems to me there is a spectrum
ranging from those who post for the pure enjoyment of starting
an argument, through those who have a on-topic reason to
post but have a lot of attitude, through those who usually
keep their attitude under control but go off when provoked
to those who really are clueless and have no idea that their
attitude is offensive to anyone.
This is further complicated by the fact that some offensive
behaviors are offensive to some and not to others, and worse,
some people are offended by any opinion they disagree with.
Finally there are lots of people, some drive-by, some with
lots of python knowledge and regulars here, who just enjoy
arguing. That trait is not restricted to trolls.
So regardless of the category of "troll", telling them to
stop is more likely to result in a response ranging from a
repetition of what they already said to "go screw yourself",
followed by dozens of more responses telling them everything
from "stop" to "you're an asshole".
You are right that I lumped them all under the label "troll".
I will do so through the rest of this post since I don't
have any other good labels.
>> Perhaps you were trying to be amusing?
> Certainly not.
>>>> >> The best advise is to ignore such posts and encourage others to do
>>>> >> the same.
>>> > How should somebody distinguish between "I am being shunned for
>>> > acting like a dick", and "I have not received any responses because
>>> > nobody has anything to add"?
>> Because you sent them private email telling them that?
> My, what a ... unique ... concept of "ignore such posts" you have.
What's so unique about it? I have seen such advice dozens
of times including in this list. (Oh wait, I just read ahead.
I'll respond below).
> So far, this has been the best advice you have given so far. My opinion
> is that there is a graduated response to dickish behaviour:
> * send a message telling the person they are acting unacceptably,
> preferably privately on a first offence to avoid public shaming
> (when possible -- lots of people aren't privately contactable
> for many reasons other than that they are trolls);
> * if the behaviour continues, make a public comment condemning
> that behaviour generally without engaging directly in a debate
> or "tit-for-tat" argument with the person.
That's great except that,
* Many people feel compelled to make the same public comment
* Tit-for-tat arguments usually do ensue.
> And for those who value their own peace and quiet over the community
> * block or killfile posts from that person so they don't
> have to be seen, preferably publicly.
* And all too often that is followed up with a public **plonk**.
(I really don't care that you (generic) killfiled someone.
I'm quite capable of deciding who to read on my own.)
> When I killfile someone, I tend to make it expire after a month or three,
> just in case they mend their ways. Call me Mr Softy if you like.
>>> > If I believe that your behaviour ("giving lousy advice") is causing
>>> > great harm to this community, and *I don't say anything*, how will
>>> > you know to change your behaviour?
>> If that was how you thought, then you would be someone I hope would
>> follow my advice. Because you would clearly seem to be unable to
>> distinguish between difference of opinion on a subject relevant to the
>> newsgroup, and inflammatory trolling. Further you see the situation in
>> extreme terms ("*great harm*") and one in which only a single point of
>> view (your's) is acceptable.
> As opposed to only your opinion being acceptable?
Excuse me? Exactly where did I say only my opinion
was acceptable? I read a post that suggested responding
to "offensive" posts. I posted my opinion that that
will likely provoke more offensive posts and off topic
discussions that it will prevent.
But you wrote,
"[if] I don't say anything, how will you know to change
Your phrasing implies to me that once you have told me
that my behavior is wrong, the only reasonable thing to
do is for me to change it. I don't see any room there
for the possibility that I might justifiably think my
behavior is ok, or that you are willing to listen to a
defense of my behavior. You've informed me: I either
change or am a jerk.
So I think it is perfectly fair to describe that as "only
your opinion being acceptable". Had you written something
like, "if I don't say anything, how will you realize you are
offending some of us?", I would not have reacted as negatively.
> Why on earth should I
> follow your advice if I think it is bad advice?
Nothing compels you to if you don't want to. As nothing
compels me or anyone else here to follow your advice.
> We can't both be right. We can't simultaneously confront bad
> behaviour, and ignore bad behaviour. I think your advice is bad,
As I think your's is.
> and has
> the potential to kill this community. You think my advice is bad, and has
> the potential to kill this community.
No. Again you have misunderstood (or have chosen to make
things up for the sake of your argument.) I made the suggestion
to ignore trolls (and other posts you find offensive) to reduce
the number of long argumentative threads that have nothing to
do with Python. Since anyone can identify these threads and
ski[p over them (they are an annoyance, not a deathly menace)
I see your claim that they will "kill this community" as silly
hyperbolic rhetoric. But because they are an annoyance I think
it desirable to reduce them if possible and I think the best
way to do that is to ignore them.
> Except that you've made a 180-
> degree turn from your advice to "ignore" bad behaviour, but apparently
> didn't notice that *sending private emails* is not by any definition
> "ignoring". So apparently you don't actually agree with your own advice.
Do you have Asberger's by any chance? Can you understand that
I said "ignore" in the context of public discussions in this
>> You would be bordering on delusional by
>> thinking your post would somehow change my "behavior".
> It's not necessarily about changing your behaviour.
> (Well, in this case, it's less about you
"*less* about me"? Could you clarify that? Are you saying
my behavior is bad and needs to be changed? (Just not as much
as someone else?)
> than about Dwight Hutto specifically and badly-
> behaved posters in general.) It's about sending a message that the
> behaviour is unacceptable.
> The primary purpose of that message is to discourage *others* from
> following in the same behaviour. Nothing will kill a forum faster than
> trolls and dicks feeding off each other, until there is nothing left but
> trolls and dicks. A single troll doesn't do much harm -- few of them have
> the energy to spam a news group for long periods, drowning out useful
I have read of "invasions" of trolls, (or cyber-vandals or
whatever) that have lowered lists' S/N so much that all the
regular people left. However, I don't think that kind of
organized attack is at issue here. The issue is the occasional
poster who posts something that some others find offensive.
I don't believe that ignoring such posts will encourage more
of them. It is the responses (which despite recommendations
to the contrary will often be offensive or provoking in
themselves) that encourage more trolling.
>> But even if you had a more rational response
> *raises eyebrow*
I explained why I thought it was irrational. Addressing those
points would be more effective than a raised eyebrow.
>> and saved that reaction for
>> actual trolling and not someone who simply disagreed with you, I ask
>> again, what makes you think your response will change that troll's
>> behavior, when in actuality, your kind of response is exactly what most
>> trolls hope to elicit? Did it help in the case I mentioned?
> As I said, I do not believe that Dwight Hutto is a troll. I believe he is
> merely badly behaved. And yes, I do believe that confronting him has
> changed his behaviour, at least for now.
> Not immediately, of course. His immediate response was to retaliate and
> defend himself. Naturally -- very few people are self-honest enough to
> admit, even to themselves, when they are behaving badly.
> But in the intervening weeks, we, this community, has done anything but
> ignore him. We're still talking about him *right now*. We're just not
> necessarily talking *to* him. And the few times that people do respond
> directly to Dwight, they make it very clear that their response is
> guarded and on sufferance.
> And there have been no further outbursts from Dwight, at least not so
> far. So, yes, I think we've gotten the message across.
But then you don't know what the response would have
been had you simply ignored him. It is however reasonable
to suppose that the (dozens? hundreds?) of followups that
those threads generated would not have occurred. So I
don't see that you've proven anything.
>>> > How will others know that I do not agree with your advice?
>> Why is it so important to you that I and others know what you think?
>> Since you are (usually) a reasonable person I don't need to read your
>> explicit pronouncement to assume that you disagree with some repugnant
> You are assuming we all agree on what is repugnant. That pretty much
> demonstrates that you have missed my point.
No. Please go back and reread my response to Alex23 where I
wrote, "...different people have different ideas about
what is 'wrong'".
I wrote that I could assume there are certain repugnant posts
*you* (and some others but certainly not all) also would find
* You often have made you views known here.
* I believe many people posting here share a similar]
background and moral worldview, and least regarding
* I was trying to find something nice to say about you.
But you way overreached if you think I meant all posters or
all offensive posts.
> Without drawing explicit
> boundaries, how do people know what we consider beyond the boundary of
> acceptable behaviour?
You just chastised me (erroneously) for assuming "*we* all agree on
what is repugnant." In the very next sentence you write, "what *we*
consider beyond the boundary of acceptable behavior" What is the
difference between "repugnant posts" and "acceptable behavior" that
makes you think agreement on the first is not possible but agreement
on the second is?
> The people in this forum come from all over the world. We're not all
> white, middle-class, Australian, educated, progressive/liberals like
> me. We're black, Chinese, German, conservative, Muslim, Christian,
> atheist, socialist, anarchist, fascist, etc. We come from all sorts of
> cultures, where families are run like democracies, or where they are run
> like dictatorships where the father is the head of the household even of
> his adult children; cultures that consider euthanasia beyond the pale and
> those that believe that there are fates worse than death; cultures where
> smacking children is an abomination and cultures where it is simply
> common sense; cultures that condone honour-killings and those that don't;
> cultures where blowing yourself up to kill the enemy is thought to be an
> act of bravery, and cultures where pushing a button to kill strangers a
> thousand miles away is thought to be an honourable act of military
Thanks for the lecture but I know all that.
> What on earth makes you think we would possibly agree on what posts are
> repugnant without talking about it?
What on earth makes you think that "talking about" it will
achieve agreement? For heaven's sake, all the above cultures
have a long history of killing each other and you seriously
think that we can resolve these differences by some don't-
say-that" posts on c.l.p?
One cultural aspect you failed to mention but which is relevant
to this discussion is freedom of speech. There are many opinions
about what that means, and there are many people who hold it
as more important than mere offensiveness. That shows again
how hard it is to define a standard what is acceptable here.
So sorry, I still think the best solution is what I suggested
and what has been widely used for a long time: python-related
posts only (which also excludes responses to offensive posts.)
> I'm sure that there are some people here -- and you might be one of them
> -- that consider my use of the word "dick" unacceptable. And others who
> consider dick a mild word and far less offensive than the euphemisms
> others might prefer.
Right. And others consider "fuck you", or "lick my dick,
bitch" a perfectly reasonable response to a perceived insult.
Different people, different backgrounds, different personalities.
I would personally prefer to ignore a single (or small number)
of offensive posts than to have to ignore the hundreds of
responses over weeks generated by all those who feel compelled
to "correct" the behavior of the OP, and more who respond in
defense of the OP.
> Your opinion that we should all, somehow, agree on acceptable behaviour
> is culturally self-centred and rather naive.
No, per your own statement above, that is what you seem to
believe. You are the one arguing for responding to breaches
of "acceptable behavior". Or are you saying that everyone
here should respond based on their own personal standard of
offensiveness (i.e, if if am offended by you mention of a
deity which is not the one, true, deity you feel I should
announce on this list the offensive nature of that post?)
As I said, I believe just the opposite, that there will always
be irreconcilable differences in what is considered acceptable
posting etiquette. Hence, the best response in the interest
of avoiding endless arguments, is to simply not respond to
what you perceive as offensive.
> I'm far more offended by
> Dwight's habit of posting incoherently while pissed than I am by his
> possibly-or-possibly-not racist punning. But I don't expect everyone to
> agree with me.
Good. Then you won't mind my being offended by your public
derogatory accusations of something you can't possibly be sure
of. I find that as sleazy as Mr. Hutto's choice of language.
>  However, we can both be wrong. There's no reason to think that there
> is *any* strategy to respond to bad behaviour that will work all the
> time, against all people.
>  Nearly everybody thinks they're middle-class, except the filthy rich
> and the filthy poor.
>  I don't give a damn what mind-altering chemicals Dwight wishes to
> indulge in, so long as he does it in private.
And Dwight probably doesn't give a damn what your opinion is.
After your public speculations on his recreational drug habits
I can't say I blame him. You ironically picked a very
illustriative way to end a message about offensive posts
and a good example why not responding to such is better.
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