Please Stop Silencing Me [Please Un-Rec]

An Open Letter to the MyDD Community

Dear All,

I came to this blog to find a place to exchange opinions openly and freely.  In part, I indeed found a diverse fellowship of people with different backgrounds and allegiances.  I have been fortunate to find instructive agreements and disagreements alike.  But now I feel bad and alone.

Lately, no matter what I write, a group of users tries to shout me down with personal insults.  They try to silence me with smears and by distorting what I have written to suit their purposes.  Oh, it hurts.  It's lonely.  It's unfair.  It's against the principles of the party I support and the country I dearly love.  

Some hate me because I develop my thoughts beyond their attention spans.  Some hate me because of my vocabulary.  Some oppose me simply because of my qualified support for our president-elect and cautious hope he will succeed in addressing some of the issues our nation faces.  But make no mistake.  It is hate.  The thugs are winning.  My lamentation ascends to the heavens in a protest against the dying of the light.

I have tried, with all my might, to maintain civility in the face of this hatred.  I have not always succeeded.  Mea culpa.  I am ashamed to say that I have once in a while returned a personal attack.  I regret engaging in snark to attempt to deflect the malice I have faced, as I am doing right now.  It's almost too terrible to bear.  To those I have offended, please forgive me.  Please.

But my principles have remained largely intact.  I will not fold in the face of those who fail to understand that my feelings and the truth are inseparable.  Stop silencing me by refusing to accept my narratives.  Stop silencing me by providing a range of opinions.   Stop silencing me by displaying the diversity and freedom of speech I came here to experience.

I support Obama.  I support Clinton.  I do not adore either.  Why can't you accept that position?  Why does it frighten you or anger you or invite your disdain?

Please stop silencing me.    

Update [2009-1-6 11:0:30 by Strummerson]: Free mojo for all comments on this diary. Come one, come all. 

Update [2009-1-6 12:46:39 by Strummerson]: Please un-rec now. I made my point and want to make way for other offerings without deleting. Thanks.

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Grow the f**k up, or leave, please.

This diary is being posted to highlight a very simple concept on which I just commented in another diary.

It's one thing to criticize the lack of moderation here. It's another thing to undermine the serious intent of the folks that are STILL putting forth good diaries here despite the lack of moderation, and then seeing folks acting like kids who then magnify the matter (of a lack of full-time moderation here) by pushing spam diaries to the Rec List.

It costs money to moderate a site, 24/7; frequently it costs money to moderate a site even on a part-time basis, for that matter. This site is not producing any significant profits as it is; at least that's what I've gathered reading between the lines of Jerome's comments regarding that reality.

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Trolls and the Broken Window Theory

Crossposted from the Moose

Don't usually crosspost here but seeing that a "polite" diary comparing Obama to Hitler is on the Rec.List ...

... I thought I'd share this with those that don't visit us at the Motley Moose.

"University politics are vicious precisely because the stakes are so small."

- Henry Kissinger

Why are people so nasty on blogs?

Why aren't some people able to have a discussion about the merits of a candidate, or strengths and weaknesses of a specific strategy without

getting personal or mean about it?

Are the stakes really so low in some parts of the blogosphere, that people feel the need to be nasty about everything?

Short answer.

Yes.

For many people, flaming and hostility are the only reasons to get online.

These are folks who suffer from a chronic case of assholicism.

Trolls.

troll    
One who purposely and deliberately (that purpose usually being self-amusement) starts an argument in a manner which attacks others on a forum without in any way listening to the arguments proposed by his or her peers. He will spark of such an argument via the use of ad hominem attacks (i.e. 'you're nothing but a fanboy' is a popular phrase) with no substance or relevence to back them up as well as straw man arguments, which he uses to simply avoid addressing the essence of the issue.

It's much easier to criticise and inflame than it is to be creative and stimulating.

This is as true for the blogosphere as it is for the real world.

Not all trolls are loud, obnoxious and obvious though.

One of my favorites subset of trolls is one that does not fit this specific criteria.

The "polite" troll. You know exactly what I'm talking about.

These are usually the ones railing against opression and all about their right to spew whatever nonsense they are peddling that day.

They usually offer up blisteringly polite, well written 'snake under the rose' posts that are perfectly within the bounds of decency, but create unrest

and dissatisfaction with cutting accuracy.

Disruptive people, who keep themselves just at the edge of acceptable behavior.

They can drive away the sane people just as much as the loud and obnoxious obvious trolls.

These are the posters all too often cry innocence and hide behind the very worthy excuse of  open discussion, but are frequently just trying to stir up

trouble.

Those are usually the ones accusing trusted and long time users of promoting censorship and trollish behavior.

I'm pretty sure some of those will turn up in the comments.

They are predictable like that.

Blogs have to walk a fine line though.

- Heavy handed mods find themselves with a dead community, because people do not want to be dictated to.

- Mods that exercise too little input also find themselves with a cobweb, because trolls come in and run people off.

This last point is the one in which I'll expand in this diary.

I came across this very interesting article.

Which tries to apply the Broken Window theory to the blogosphere.

The book is based on an article titled "Broken Windows" by James Q. Wilson and George L. Kelling, which appeared in the March 1982 edition of The Atlantic Monthly.[2] The title comes from the following example:

"Consider a building with a few broken windows. If the windows are not repaired, the tendency is for vandals to break a few more windows. Eventually, they may even break into the building, and if it's unoccupied, perhaps become squatters or light fires inside.

Or consider a sidewalk. Some litter accumulates. Soon, more litter accumulates. Eventually, people even start leaving bags of trash from take-out restaurants there or breaking into cars."

A successful strategy for preventing vandalism, say the book's authors, is to fix the problems when they are small. Repair the broken windows within a short time, say, a day or a week, and the tendency is that vandals are much less likely to break more windows or do further damage. Clean up the sidewalk every day, and the tendency is for litter not to accumulate (or for the rate of littering to be much less). Problems do not escalate and thus respectable residents do not flee a neighborhood.

The theory thus makes two major claims: that further petty crime and low-level anti-social behavior will be deterred, and that major crime will, as a result, be prevented. Criticism of the theory has tended to focus only on the latter claim.

Original in The Atlantic (1982).

This was in the news again because of a recent article in The Economist in which the theory is proved correct in an experimenal setting.

A PLACE that is covered in graffiti and festooned with rubbish makes people feel uneasy. And with good reason, according to a group of researchers in the Netherlands. Kees Keizer and his colleagues at the University of Groningen deliberately created such settings as a part of a series of experiments designed to discover if signs of vandalism, litter and low-level lawbreaking could change the way people behave. They found that they could, by a lot: doubling the number who are prepared to litter and steal.

How does this theory apply to blogs you ask?

Kottke says a bit like so :

Much of the tone of discourse online is governed by the level of moderation and to what extent people are encouraged to "own" their words. When forums, message boards, and blog comment threads with more than a handful of participants are unmoderated, bad behavior follows. The appearance of one troll encourages others. Undeleted hateful or ad hominem comments are an indication that that sort of thing is allowable behavior and encourages more of the same. Those commenters who are normally respectable participants are emboldened by the uptick in bad behavior and misbehave themselves. More likely, they're discouraged from helping with the community moderation process of keeping their peers in line with social pressure. Or they stop visiting the site altogether.

Hmmm...

Unchecked comment spam signals that the owner/moderator of the forum or blog isn't paying attention, stimulating further improper conduct. Anonymity provides commenters with immunity from being associated with their speech and actions, making the whole situation worse...how does the community punish or police someone they don't know? Very quickly, the situation is out of control and your message board is the online equivalent of South Central Los Angeles in the 1980s, inhabited by roving gangs armed with hate speech, fueled by the need for attention, making things difficult for those who wish to carry on useful conversations.

I wonder if we could test this theory out.

Maybe track a blog and see how things develop over time.

Heh.

Other than the quasiracist South LA dig I agree with the author 100%.

I get a more Medieval vibe from it though.

Kind of Braveheart meets The Warriors meets 9/11 truthers thing.

We all know what the end result of a poorly moderated blog is.

But few people know their is a Law in monetary economics that can be applied to this phenomena as well.

Gresham's Law

Gresham's law says that any circulating currency consisting of both "good" and "bad" money (both forms required to be accepted at equal value under legal tender law) quickly becomes dominated by the "bad" money. This is because people spending money will hand over the "bad" coins rather than the "good" ones, keeping the "good" ones for themselves.

Gresham's Law of trolls:

Trolls are willing to use a forum with a lot of thoughtful people in it, but thoughtful people aren't willing to use a forum with a lot of trolls in it.

Which means that once trolling takes hold, it tends to become the dominant culture.

Let's not let that happen here peeps.

What do you say MyDD?

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Memeorandum

Today The Guardian does a write up of one of the sites that is indispensable to the work I do here at MyDD -- Memeorandum.

If you want to know what's happening in the world, then Memorandum will tell you - at least in a couple of areas. It's an automated news clipping service, known in the trade as a "news aggregator". It provides headlines and short texts updated every few minutes, with links to the original sites, much like Google News.

Memeorandum is based on the idea of "memes" or ideas that spread across the web (along with a pun on memorandum). Someone publishes an interesting story, other people find it, discuss it, and link to it. That's how the web works. Small stories come and go quickly, while big ones generate lots of comment and dominate the page for hours.

[...]

Google also follows links and assesses content, but Memeorandum is embarrassingly better than Google News. Google reckons that the more coverage a story gets, the more important it is. Unfortunately, broad coverage takes a long time to develop, so Google News can run hours or even a day behind Memeorandum. This is fine for casual consumers, but if you're a news junkie - or a journalist - it's hopeless.

There's seldom a day that goes by, whether a day or on the weekend, that I'm not on Memeorandum at least a dozen times. While I'm able to cycle through my normal slate of blogs and news sites in my favorites, catching a great deal if not the vast majority of the day's major stories, Memeorandum more than fills in the gaps, catching stories I otherwise wouldn't have a chance to see. Of course the way I found the article above... was through Memeorandum.

For more on Memeorandum, read Joe Gandelman. But for now, how are you getting your news these days (outside of MyDD, that is)? What sites aren't we reading that we should be reading?

Update [2008-12-1 16:51:9 by Jerome Armstrong]: Memeorandum has been the best-kept secret on the web. Here's the other like-minded sites I use:

Memeorandum.com (aggregates top stories on political blogs)
BlogPulse.com (tracks trends)
ShiftingTheDebate.com (tracks popular political videos)
BuzzTracker.com (tracking buzz on blogs)

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Is there space in the Democratic party for conservatives?

I'm a conservative Democrat, a former elected official and a current elected county party official.

I could not get behind Obama, so I followed the advice of Old Thom Paine ("Lead, follow, or get out of the way.")  From convention to election, there was no lurking, no trouble making, no trolling and no sock puppetry from me.

Now that the election is over, I'm back and still a Democrat.  But, I still haven't bought "the dream".  I didn't fear the apocalypse, but I don't anticipate the rapture.

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