flaming vs accuracy [was Re: Performance of int/long in Python 3]

Steven D'Aprano steve+comp.lang.python at pearwood.info
Thu Mar 28 08:48:30 CET 2013

On Wed, 27 Mar 2013 22:42:18 -0700, rusi wrote:

> More seriously Ive never seen anyone -- cause or person -- aided by
> the use of excessively strong language.

Of course not. By definition, if it helps, it wasn't *excessively* strong 

> IOW I repeat my support for Ned's request: Ad hominiem attacks are not
> welcome, irrespective of the context/provocation.

Insults are not ad hominem attacks.

    "You sir, are a bounder and a cad. Furthermore, your 
    argument is wrong, because of reasons."

may very well be an insult, but it also may be correct, and the reasons 
logically valid.

    "Your argument is wrong, because you are a bounder 
    and a cad."

is an ad hominem fallacy, because even bounders and cads may tell the 
truth occasionally, or be correct by accident.

I find it interesting that nobody has yet felt the need to defend JMF, 
and tell me I was factually incorrect about him (as opposed to merely 
impolite or mean-spirited).

In any case, I don't want this to be specifically about any one person, 
so let's move away from JMF. I disagree that hostile language is *always* 
inappropriate, although I agree that it is *usually* inappropriate.

Although even that depends on what you define as "hostile" -- I would 
much prefer that people confronted me for being (supposedly) dishonest 
than silently shunning me without giving me any way to respond or correct 
either my behaviour or their (mis)apprehensions. Quite frankly, I think 
that the passive-aggressive silent treatment (kill-filing) is MUCH more 
hostile and mean-spirited[1] than honest, respectful, direct criticism, 
even when that criticism is about character ("you sir are a lying 

I treat people the way I hope to be treated. As galling as it would be to 
be accused of lying, I would rather that you called me a liar to my face 
and gave me the opportunity to respond, than for you to ignore everything 
I said.

I hope that we all agree that we want a nice, friendly, productive 
community where everyone is welcome. But some people simply cannot or 
will not behave in ways that are compatible with those community values. 
There are some people whom we *do not want here* -- spoilers and messers, 
vandals and spammers and cheats and liars and trolls and crackpots of all 
sorts. We only disagree as to the best way to make it clear to them that 
they are not welcome so long as they continue their behaviour.

[1] Although sadly, given the reality of communication on the Internet, 
sometimes kill-filing is the least-worst option.


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