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Comment guidelines. - I know it's wonky and I don't care [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]

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Comment guidelines. [Jan. 31st, 2006|03:29 pm]

I've been reading the journals of people who aren't on my friends list quite a bit recently. The reason I mostly post friends-only is not so much for privacy (I generally use filter groups for that) but to keep out the idiots. (Yes, I know about the setting that lets you only let friends comment. I like doing it like this. Also, the fact that you're not on my friends list yet doesn't mean I think you're an idiot. It means you're not on my friends list yet.) This thought led to me writing down some things I do and don't like about comments left in my journal. And now I've written it down, I shall post it. Comments on whether I've managed to communicate my thoughts clearly are welcome. No, comments are solicited. Help me get this into decent shape, and I'll link to it in my userinfo. It's a public post and will stay that way. Edited to add: I think we're covering the "don't post like this" parts adequately; has anyone got anything to say about the "do post this" parts?

Here goes!

If you cause tedium in my journal I will ask you to stop doing that, and if you don't stop after I've asked you lots of times then I'll defriend you. There will be no "final warning" because I find policing discussions tedious in itself. This has never had to happen yet, and I hope it never does. My definition of tedium is the only one that counts for this purpose.

I get very, very bored by short back-and-forth arguments with no time taken to ponder and re-ponder in between commenting. Take your time, think about what the other person said, consider the possibility that you have nothing to add to the discussion beyond the things you've already said. Conversely, give the other person space to think about your point; immediately jumping in with a reply to every new comment they make is a very good way of failing to do this.

I get even more bored by repetition of points that someone made perfectly well the first time (I have no problem with thinking out loud, and I positively love it when someone says something like "hmm, I said X earlier but now I'm starting to think Y is more accurate", or "I've changed my mind"). I like people who understand the difference between clarifying a point and trying to make someone else accept it by reiterating it twenty times.

Single comments are never tedious, even if they're relatively content-free. Obviously-non-hostile comments are rarely tedious (the definition of "obvious" is "obvious to Kake"). Social grooming comments (that is, content-free comments used to reinforce social relationships) are not tedious unless excessive. I have no objection to *hugs* comments, but if I've not asked for comfort or hugs then I probably don't need them.

I hate the way that livejournal switches to a horrible UI when a post gets over 50 comments. If a discussion is approaching this limit, I'd prefer that social grooming comments and other less-relevant comments are taken elsewhere ("elsewhere" includes other posts on my journal), or at least postponed. Once we've hit the limit we're screwed anyway, so anything goes after that.

I love it when I get a comment on a six-month-old post. I love it so much that if it's substantive I'm quite likely to make a new, brief post pointing people at the old one, so your efforts are not wasted. I like comments that say "yes, that makes sense" and nothing more; they let me know that you've read what I had to say.

I like comments that disagree with me intelligently. My definition of "intelligently" is the one that counts; it includes things like being coherent, and showing evidence of having put a lot of thought into the matter. I also like comments that acknowledge ignorance and request elucidation.


From: feanelwa
2006-01-31 05:26 pm (UTC)
But then, not letting random people come into my house is censorship, and so are spam filtering, only giving my phone number to a few trusted friends, walking away from a fight, asking somebody to turn off their mobile phone before we go into a theatre, ignoring tramps who shout abusive things at me, and not talking to people who I already know hate me. I don't think censorship is always a bad thing. Most of the times I censor something out of my own life, it makes it better.
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[User Picture]From: tiquetoque
2006-01-31 05:32 pm (UTC)
Completely agreed in principle :)

However, this isn't your house. I have no idea who you are (hi btw), and I can comment in response to you. Should I have a right to tell you not to respond to me? Certainly! but should it be enforced?[1]

_that_ is what I don't understand about limiting (call it censoring, controlling, undermining, overlording, fnording, bananaing) comments and posts in this forum. It's livejournal. And it's great :)

[1] I can control who comments on my journal. If I choose _not_ to control it, I'm implicitly allowing freedom to comment. That's the default for the community, and it's what makes it what it is.
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From: feanelwa
2006-01-31 05:56 pm (UTC)
Actually I'm going to try that again, I'm not sure I actually answered the question.

I don't see my journal like that, or to some extent other people's. I see it more as a small pub that the journaller rents and can operate as a public bar or as a private club. Pleasant strangers always make pubs better, but if a rude stranger comes into a pub and starts shouting at random people or the landlord, I think it's entirely reasonable for the landlord to kick them out and possibly ban them from coming back, otherwise my nice regulars might decide not to come back in case the rude person is there again.

Personally I keep most of my journal public, as a compromise between risking letting rude strangers in and allowing for pleasant strangers appearing. Possibly I think it's a compromise between myself censoring the rude strangers, or the rude strangers censoring some of the regulars, and it's my pub and I'd rather hear from my friends than from the rude stranger.

Other people run their pubs differently, and I feel like I ought to play by their rules just as much as they play by mine, because they clearly have different definitions of what behaviour counts as rude. Some of my definitions are ridiculous to some people, but they're entirely sensible to my regulars, and equally some things other people see as rude are to me entirely acceptable.
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[User Picture]From: tiquetoque
2006-01-31 06:15 pm (UTC)
100% agreed. I probably didn't explain myself well enough, or draw a connection between "Someone who makes a post has every right to make that post" and "If you don't like the comments, just delete them already".

I like Default Permit. Handle the idiots on a case by case basis, but let 'em be idiots first.

However, I find people telling me what I can and can't post in advance of me posting it to be abhorrent. That's why I was agreeing with simon and disagreeing with kake.
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[User Picture]From: nou
2006-01-31 06:46 pm (UTC)
I'm not likely to invite someone onto my friends list unless I've seen something of them elsewhere, so "let them be idiots first" has effectively already happened. Making it clear up-front what I find acceptable lets me offer people who enjoy being argumentative the option of deciding whether they'd like to participate in this space that I have some control over, or not. The other way to handle it is to not let them in at all, but I don't want to do that because some of them are interesting.

(Hm, perhaps my use of "idiots" in the reason I gave for friends-locking is confusing. By "idiots" there, I mean people who are unremittingly stupid and incapable of interesting me. I don't think that enjoying an argument makes someone an idiot.)
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From: feanelwa
2006-01-31 07:17 pm (UTC)
Hmmm, but isn't that a bit like having a sign outside a pub explaining that if you do X, Y, Z you will be asked to leave? You still have the freedom to do X Y and Z if you want to, just somewhere else, and if you weren't going to do it then the sign was obviously meant to keep out strangers who were.
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[User Picture]From: tiquetoque
2006-01-31 07:34 pm (UTC)
A quote, if I may.

[Context: an anarchist placing or modifying signs as part of a very subtle consciousness-altering experiment, causing resentment as he went. This segment describes a particularly important piece of the puzzle he created]

It was a sign that said:


This replaced an earlier sign that had hung on the main showroom wall for many years, saying only


The change, although small, had subtle repercussions. The store catered only to the very wealthy, and this clientele did not object to being told that they could not smoke. The fire hazard, after all, was obvious. On the other hand, that bit about spitting was somehow a touch offensive; they most
certainly were not the sort of people who would spit on somebody's floor-or, at least, none of them had done such a thing at any time since about one month or at most one year after they became wealthy. Yes, the sign was definitely bad diplomacy.

Resentment festered. Sales fell off.

(The Illuminatus! Trilogy, R. A. Wilson / R. Shea)

I believe this is relevant. YMMV :)
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[User Picture]From: jvvw
2006-01-31 09:14 pm (UTC)
This article makes similar comments about discussion forums (though doesn't provide concrete evidence admittedly.
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[User Picture]From: nou
2006-02-01 08:03 am (UTC)
This is a good point, and of course I understand how it applies to the current situation. But I don't consider taking offence at being asked not to do something you weren't going to do anyway (or indeed at being asked to do something that you were going to do anyway) to be a positive trait; it's something that I try to stop myself doing whenever I see myself, well, doing it. Nobody is perfect, of course (and not everyone is going to agree with me about it not being a positive trait) but there are an awful lot of potential triggers for offence/upset/confusion, and in many cases it just comes down to a judgement call over which is the lesser evil - taking an action, or not taking it.
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From: feanelwa
2006-02-01 01:15 pm (UTC)
I think the very wealthy to whom the shop catered were being resentful because they'd run out of real grievances to be resentful about, and that they were being unreasonable. After all, they would have been more annoyed to tread in somebody else's spit, but because they were very wealthy they didn't daily encounter working people who spat, they paid their servants to deal with them instead, so they had forgotten how annoying it was to tread in somebody else's spit and many more thngs besides. I think I'd be rather glad to get them out of my shop and make room for some people with more important things to get annoyed about.
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[User Picture]From: hairyears
2006-01-31 06:28 pm (UTC)

Which is to say: like runs with like. I doubt that many of us could give as straightforward a definition as Nou of what is and is not welcome - or downright unwelcome - in their Journal.

The clarification you're looking for is the difference between 'private' and 'public': to restrict what people say in a public forum is censorship; but a private space is, by definition, an enclosure where much of the public world is left outside. This can be an explicit statement of the rules by the 'landowner', but is most often an unspoken consensus that emerges from the shared preferences of the participants.

I happen to believe that personal preference rules, with the force of law, in private life. If anyone feels that a need to accommodate to other peoples' leanings, likings, and limits is an imposition in the private sphere, then they must either seek to change their friends' attitudes by means that are acceptable to all, or seek new friends.

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[User Picture]From: tiquetoque
2006-01-31 06:47 pm (UTC)

Probably the best comment I could've hoped to have read in this thread, thank you.

To respond - if I can! - I don't feel that LiveJournals are "private" in the sense that my land is private. This post in particular is a public post, and therefore visible to the entire world should they wish to view it (and comment herein), but I accept that friends-only posts carry with them a modicum of trust; I know I would be upset if some of my friends-only posts turned up in a not-friends-only forum.

Although LiveJournals are not (imo) private like my land is private, they are private like a club is private - a club in which we are all members, a club in which there are accepted customs and usages, a club in which opinions are given and received, and bilous retorts exchanged. This is the nature of LiveJournal from my vantage point, and it is this nature that I refer to in this thread.

I don't and can't complain about the right of someone to describe how they wish to limit posts to their journal, but while I am allowed into this enclosed room in this members' club, I intend to follow first my own ethics and second the rules of the club. If the holder of the key to this enclosed room chooses to deny me entry, then so be it :)

they must ... seek to change their friends' attitudes by means that are acceptable to all

Although I disagree with the implied accusation behind the paragraph that contained this nugget, I feel this sentence was worthy of response - I expect my friends to listen to and tolerate my opinions, and I grant the same favour in return. This position just about meets the above quote's sentiment in spirit. In this particular forum, however, I feel the sentiment is inappropriate - it is a forum for comments, debate, and (hopefully!) articulate discussion. If someone of your (and nou's) clear intelligence chooses to disallow certain types of comment in advance of them being posted, I feel that goes against the spirit of this forum.
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