How to disagree without personally attacking other babblers

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Michelle
How to disagree without personally attacking other babblers

Probably many of us have either taken formal training, or read self-help articles or books, or simply learned through life experience, about interpersonal skills and conflict resolution.  I know I have!  And yet, this medium, of posting on a discussion forum with people that many of us haven't met in person, sometimes encourages us to ignore or abandon our usual practices and go at the faceless screen names, even though we have gotten to know each other very well.

Sometimes I think we're like a family of siblings - we get to know each other's online personalities so well that we know exactly what buttons to push and exactly where to slide the knife in, and any boundaries that we would normally not cross when talking to other people in our lives disappear, or get pushed way back.

So...I wonder if we can discuss ways we've learned of dealing with conflict without personally attacking the person we're dealing with. 

A note: it would be great if we could not drag fights from other threads into this one.  Perhaps the first rule of this thread should be: no using negative examples of OTHER people's behaviour - if we must use a negative example, we use a negative example of our OWN behaviour.

Can we do it?  Let's see. :)

Michelle

I'll start.  They're oldies but goodies - "I" and "me" statements, and labelling behaviour instead of people.

So, if I get really upset because someone has posted something I consider sexist, instead of saying, "You're so sexist!" or "You're a sexist fuckwad!" I could instead say, "It really upsets me / makes me angry when you say that because it sounds sexist to me.  The reason I think it's a sexist thing to say is because xyz."

That way, I am not labeling someone ("You are sexist!") but instead naming my own feelings ("I'm angry"), giving my opinion about the statement/behaviour ("that sounds sexist to me") and explaining why ("because xyz").

It would also require the person on the other end to hear "I am angry because I feel that what you said was sexist" instead of "I hate you because you ARE sexist".

Slumberjack

Michelle wrote:
  if we must use a negative example, we use a negative example of our OWN behaviour.

I find that if I pick my nose while posting...I wind up back editing to add in all the missing T's.  For the greater good of the board, I vow to work on this behaviour.

Weltschmerz

Good old active listening.  If you disagree with, or just don't fully understand, something someone has written, rephrase it in your own words: "So if I understand you correctly, you're saying....", and then go on to either refute it, or ask for clarification. 

Give people the benefit of the doubt.  If I say something wrong, or hurtful, or ignorant, or misguided (and I will), it's not because I meant to.  Feel free to point out my mistakes, or tell me how it made you feel, or just express a different opinion.  But don't assume it was intentional, or personal.

Admit that we all have things to offer, and all have things to learn.  Thesis -> antithesis -> synthesis.  We are here to improve ourselves and each other.  Work from that assumption.

Disclaimer: the views expressed here are mine and mine alone, but you are welcome to them if you like.

oldgoat

Something I've learned from 29 years and 50 weeks and 1 day of being married is that being right is overrated.  Too often on a discussion forum being right is what it's all about.  People bring more than their ego's to an argument (discussion), they bring their passions.  To quote Melville, "And he piled upon the whale's white hump, the sum of all the rage and hate felt by his whole race. If his chest had been a cannon, he would have shot his heart upon it." Look guys, it's an internet discussion forum. It's supposed to be a pleasant interesting and informative pastime. One can just agree that there are more than one point of view sometimes even if what you're really thinking is that the other person is sadly miguided. It won't really affect the course of world events anyway.

I'm reminded of a museum display I saw once, of two locked sets of moose antlers still with fragments of skull attached.  That's how they died, locked in combat.  There's a metaphore here for behaviour on this board sometimes.

 

Timebandit Timebandit's picture

If we could tone down some of the excessive interpretation of remarks and take them at face value, that would be nice.

oldgoat

Yeah, 3 different people just complained about me calling them a moose.

Timebandit Timebandit's picture

Laughing

Slumberjack

I 's always apprecia ed when complain s are addressed in a
imely manner.

Michelle

Agreed, Timebandit, and I think that ties into Weltschmertz's suggestion that we step back and ask for clarification before assuming that someone either meant what they said the way we interpreted it, or assuming the worst about people's motives or what they meant by saying xyz.

Unionist

oldgoat wrote:

Yeah, 3 different people just complained about me calling them a moose.

Probably the fathers' rights crowd - because you didn't mention unclers?

 

Unionist

Weltschmerz wrote:

If you disagree with, or just don't fully understand, something someone has written, rephrase it in your own words: "So if I understand you correctly, you're saying....", and then go on to either refute it, or ask for clarification.

Careful - that's sometimes met by: "Straw man!! I never said that!! You put words in my mouth!!"

If you really want to be circumspect, you'll say: "Before I reply, I just wanted you to confirm my understanding of what you're saying..." Then, if s/he doesn't answer within 10 seconds, let loose.

 

Weltschmerz

Unionist wrote:

Careful - that's sometimes met by: "Straw man!! I never said that!! You put words in my mouth!!"

If you really want to be circumspect, you'll say: "Before I reply, I just wanted you to confirm my understanding of what you're saying..." Then, if s/he doesn't answer within 10 seconds, let loose.

I find the accusation of straw-man gets thrown around a lot when people start feeling they are under attack.  Again the term to me implies an intent to either deflect or derail the current discussion.  If I've completely misinterpreted your words, then just say "Actually, that's not what I meant at all...".  I don't mind.  My misunderstanding is completely ignorance-based, not malice Smile

And I don't want to be circumspect, or obtuse, obscure, or whatever.  I want to share, and learn, and contribute.  The rest of the world has enough competition and animosity in it.

Unionist

Here's a typical exchange:

Quote:
A: Your idea is wrong.

B: You'll say anything to discredit (me, the NDP, world peace, the Catholic Church...).

A: I have nothing against you. I'm just saying that I disagree with what (you, Jack Layton, the Dalai Lama, God) said/did in this particular instance. I think it's really dangerous/ill-advised/stupid/unworthy.

B: You're just a [pick your bad name].

A: Why do you have to resort to personal attacks? Why not just debate the issue that is under discussion?

B: That's rich, coming from the most disingenuous passive-aggressive person around here!

Comments?

 

Weltschmerz

Unionist wrote:

Here's a typical exchange:

Quote:
A: Your idea is wrong.

B: You'll say anything to discredit (me, the NDP, world peace, the Catholic Church...).

A: I have nothing against you. I'm just saying that I disagree with what (you, Jack Layton, the Dalai Lama, God) said/did in this particular instance. I think it's really dangerous/ill-advised/stupid/unworthy.

B: You're just a [pick your bad name].

A: Why do you have to resort to personal attacks? Why not just debate the issue that is under discussion?

B: That's rich, coming from the most disingenuous passive-aggressive person around here!

Comments?

Both posters are reacting to each other, rather than trying to figure each other out.  The implicit assumption in each person's response is that they already know what the other is trying to say or do, and they've gone on the offensive/defensive.

To say something I wrote is "wrong" doesn't tell me anything other than you disagree with me.  I would immediately ask for your opinion, and get you to detail what it is you disagreed with in my post.  Similarly, saying something is "dangerous/ill-advised/stupid/unworthy" is not of much use without explanation.  If you feel that the statement is self-evident ("If you don't already understand why, then it's not worth explaining to you") then you've begun making assumptions about me as a person, and the discussion can only get worse from there.

Caissa

What if we all just assumed new screen neames?

Infosaturated

Quoting Michelle from the other thread so I can respond in another post:

Well, my thoughts are as follows (and I have been talking about this with the other mods too).

I think Infosaturated is correct, that this place is intimidating to newcomers and, frankly, the amount of hostility and anger here lately is unhealthy.  babble culture has expanded to include nastiness, snarkiness, rudeness, hostility, anger, and I also agree that the mods (okay, I'll speak for myself - I, as one mod) have given a lot more leeway for this type of behaviour to some longer-term babblers than newbies or people who don't post as frequently.  It has resulted in a complete lack of self-control in some, and defensive reactions in others.

I also agree that long-term babblers who engage in this kind of behaviour get a free pass when it is seen by them, or some others, as "righteous anger".  All this "righteous anger" that gets a pass - and that even I as a mod engage in occasionally - is making babble a really scary place for all but the most outgoing, most thick-skinned newcomers and occasional posters.  Lately, there is so much fighting and anger.  Not pleasant.

I think that, even if people have a good reason to be angry with someone else, we should start really focusing on a "no personal attacks on other babblers" policy that really, really means "no personal attacks".

Not "no personal attacks on other babblers unless you get really mad at someone."

Not "no personal attacks on other babblers unless you do it in a really passive-aggressive, snide way."

Not "no personal attacks on other babblers unless you think someone said something really bad/non-progressive/against babble policy."

Because of the really unhealthy dynamic on babble lately, I think that it should be simply, "No personal attacks on other babblers, period."  No matter what.

How does it get enforced?  I would prefer to enforce it without any bannings or suspensions at all, except for obvious spammers and really, really nasty trolls.  Why no bannings or suspensions?  Because I think bannings and suspensions reinforce the culture of anger and temper tantrums on babble by regulars.  When the mods regularly use "the stick", people will feel they can engage in poor behaviour up to the point where the mods use "the stick".  I think it also encourages infantile behaviour - when you treat people like children with the whole "reward/punishment" thing, then they become conditioned to act like children.

I would say it gets enforced by the mods stepping in and naming the behaviour when we see it, and then, if we need to name it again for the same person several times in one thread, asking them to leave the thread (but not others) if the behaviour becomes extreme.

We would also, of course, step in and name it if we could see that someone was baiting people and hoping for a reaction so that the mods would come down on the people who react (and by that, I mean posting stuff against babble policy, as interpreted by the moderators).  But that would not absolve babblers of their responsibility to not respond with personal attacks.  We are all responsible for our own behaviour, and no one "makes" anyone insult people, no matter what they say "first".

It would also, of course, be the responsibility of the moderators to ensure that when we do step in, we don't take advantage of our privilege as mods to bend the rules and be snarky about it ourselves (something that I know I do on occasion).

Perhaps we could also have threads in rabble reactions that go back to basics when it comes to interpersonal skills - how to disagree without posting personal attacks, things to do other than a knee-jerk flame reaction to offensive posts, etc.

Would this work for people, at least for a while?  I know it will probably feel like a constraint, but I think it's possible to have passionate discussions without tearing each other down and intimidating all but the most thick-skinned of participants / potential participants.

 

Michelle

Unionist, are these examples of behaviours you yourself engage in and you're asking us for advice about how to handle it?  Or are you posting examples of other people's negative behaviour?  What tools do you think people on either side of that dialogue could use during that exchange?

Caissa: is assuming a new screen name a way to disagree without attacking other babblers?

Michelle

Infosaturated, I was kind of hoping this thread could focus on being sort of a group educational tool, a resource for babblers to come up with suggestions about how to interact with each other in ways that do not include personally attacking each other when we disagree.

Would it be okay if we continue the discussion about my post in another thread, like perhaps this one?

Lard Tunderin Jeezus Lard Tunderin Jeezus's picture

Quote:
How does it get enforced?  I would prefer to enforce it without any bannings or suspensions at all, except for obvious spammers and really, really nasty trolls.

With all due respect, it is the welcoming of the obvious yet pseudo-polite trollery that I find most frustrating here. They come in regular waves, and completely disrupt all intelligent conversation for weeks at a time, usually during elections and crises, the time when I'm seeking and appreciate the input and viewpoints of respected babblers most of all.

Michelle

Then why not ignore them?  That could be one way of dealing with people who aren't breaking babble policy but that you find you just don't agree with - ignore them.

Or, if you feel they're being pseudo-polite (e.g. being passive-aggressive and insulting people in "pretend polite" ways), then perhaps another way of dealing with it is by just flagging it for the moderator and bypassing it.  Or, if you feel the need to really respond, then just state (without personally attacking them) why you disagree with what they posted.

Would that work?

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

Having new screen names or maybe rotating screen names might cause some people to read less into posts and try to understand more of the actual meaning.  I think also that asking for clarification is a good idea.  I remember when I first started posting I did not put in as many qualifiers and tried to have a discussion the same way as I would with real people who know me and know my background and real life views and advocacy.  The nuance of ones views gets lost in a short post where people do not know you and therefore feel free to read in whatever the worst interpretation might be.  

So read carefully and don't presume the negative would be the first thing for me and then secondly if one is posting about a difficult issue then take the time to put in the nuances that show that you are not a right wing knuckle dragger but are tying to have a thoughtful discussion on a difficult issue.

martin dufresne

Weltschmerz: Both posters are reacting to each other, rather than trying to figure each other out. The implicit assumption in each person's response is that they already know what the other is trying to say or do, and they've gone on the offensive/defensive.

To say something I wrote is "wrong" doesn't tell me anything other than you disagree with me. I would immediately ask for your opinion, and get you to detail what it is you disagreed with in my post.

I disagree with the vignette and W.'s interpretation. No one ever limits him or herself to typing "You are wrong." The quote the statement in question and explain why they feel it is wrong. (Ok sometimes, they'll throw in a little ad hominem and that's wrong.) I do think that most of us react to statements, trying to ferret out their implications, not to people, and that banning personal attacks would help those that don't fall into line.

This ferreting out of implications may be where the rub lies. It takes a fair deal of collaboration and respect to agree to engage in this exercise. Not available between people who would rather focus on where the Other is Wrong than examine the underpinnings of their statements and what they can lead to.  Of course, it's a fine line between actual underpinnings and consequences and building a straw man from what someone wrote. But we ought to be able to recognize a trial of intent when we read one and turn it down as not kosher here.

 

 

Caissa

Michelle asked: Caissa: is assuming a new screen name a way to disagree without attacking other babblers?

 

My light-hearted point was Michelle, that if the environment has become incredibly personalized, possibly not knowing who each other was might help us to focus on arguments rather than past encounters.

martin dufresne

Actually, we practically DON'T know who most people are already, which leads to frenzied speculation about who are folks and how bad they "really" are under their cute monikker. Multiplying these would just multiply the problem. It seems so much simpler to keep focussed on the arguments and avoid the  paraphrasing-to-better-skewer pattern.

 

Sineed

Another thing to try is not to assume the worst about another person.  If somebody posts something that is ambiguous enough to be interpreted in a couple of different ways, assuming that the poster had the worst possible intentions before labelling them sexist/racist/homophobic/whatever doesn't advance the discussion in a helpful way.

Example: typical of the folks here, I'm extremely opinionated.  And when it comes to health care, my bread and butter, I'm arrogant as hell.  So when I opined that all alternative medicine is one big steaming load of crap (or words to that effect), another babbler told me I was racist, because I was disrespecting Chinese traditional medicine, First Nations healing, etc (even though I said nothing about folk medicines).  

Basically, this other babbler disagreed with me, and found a particularly creative way to launch a personal attack.  What's more useful is to say you disagree, and here's why, and here's how you're wrong; to actually argue rather than just name-call.  Like what Michelle said in post #2.

 

genstrike

Michelle wrote:

Unionist, are these examples of behaviours you yourself engage in and you're asking us for advice about how to handle it?  Or are you posting examples of other people's negative behaviour?  What tools do you think people on either side of that dialogue could use during that exchange?

Perhaps we need to all stick to the issues instead of speculating on each other's motives.  I've probably been on the dishing out end of this a few times, and have often been on the receiving end.  But I think this is also difficult because we tend to see issues from a broad perspective.

And, maybe we need to tone down the passion a little (this is something I am definitely guilty of).  I think we are all passionate people - if we weren't, we wouldn't be trying to advance leftie politics and we wouldn't spend our spare time talking about it on the internet.  And we put a lot of time into these issues, and have some expectation of solidarity with other leftie activists.  So, we get very frustrated when people either don't support or oppose us on our issues.  As a student activist, I often get frustrated when people try to tell me that my issues don't matter or that my position is wrong.  And maybe some of my real world experiences have caused me to be a little on the paranoid side, especially when dealing with members of a certain political party.

And as we are all passionate lefties, I think one of our responses when we don't get the support of people is to challenge their left cred and say they aren't as progressive, etc.

Although, I also think excessive partisanship is a problem here as well.

But, I don't have a quick fix, so maybe the above was pointless.

Michelle

I'm not sure I agree about the excessive partisanship - I think that we can be as partisan as we want (it IS a political discussion forum, after all) or as non-partisan as we want, as long as we don't attack people who are the opposite.

Other than that, I agree with your post, genstrike.

Caissa, I agree that when we get to know each other (and perhaps feud with each other for a while) it seems to become less about each individual point of disagreement and more about keeping up the feud.

Unionist

Michelle wrote:

Unionist, are these examples of behaviours you yourself engage in and you're asking us for advice about how to handle it?

Yes, Michelle. I thought you would recognize me as "A" in that exchange. And Weltschmertz, your response missed the point. I was giving a very abbreviated version of a dialogue. When A says, "your idea is wrong", it's just shorthand for A disagreeing with someone's viewpoint, with or without lengthy explanation, perhaps after a long string of posts. Likewise with saying, "What the Dalai Lama said is stupid", for example - pretend it was surrounded by reasons, examples, etc. I hope you understand what I'm asking.

Quote:
Or are you posting examples of other people's negative behaviour?

Well, as I said, I'm A, someone else (more than one person) is B.

Quote:
What tools do you think people on either side of that dialogue could use during that exchange?

I think neither one should characterize the other. I've been saying so for years. But it seems that when I (for example) say some things, like: "I think the Dalai Lama is an ass", or "I think the NDP support for Harper's omnibus crime bill was a betrayal of every progressive idea about dealing with crime", then attacks begin. So, I'm asking you - should I stop saying those things? And if that's the price of peace, is it worth paying?

 

genstrike

Michelle wrote:

I'm not sure I agree about the excessive partisanship - I think that we can be as partisan as we want (it IS a political discussion forum, after all) or as non-partisan as we want, as long as we don't attack people who are the opposite.

Other than that, I agree with your post, genstrike.

Well, that is pretty much what I meant - the problem with the excessive partisanship is when it leads to us vs. them attitudes and turns babble into a battleground instead of a place for discussion, debate and learning.

Not that I want us to sit around agreeing with each other (it's no fun!) but this battleground often descends into personal attacks, speculation about other posters, and occaisionally conscious attempts to derail the thread.

Michelle

Unionist, I was saying that if we find ourselves feeling angry over someone's post, angry enough to personally attack them, then there are ways of expressing our disagreement, or even our anger, without personally attacking the other person.

This is why I asked you whether the negative behaviour you were posting in that example was your own or other people's.  Because, as I said in bold in the opening post, I was thinking it would be more constructive to, instead of posting examples of other people's poor behaviour, to discuss ways that we can improve our own skills at avoiding personally attacking other babblers.  If you feel that you do not ever personally attack anyone (and that's legitimate) then perhaps you might want to share with us some of the discussion tools you find helpful when you are tempted to post a personal attack and then don't actually do so - without using examples of poor behaviour on the part of other babblers.

In answer to your question about whether you should stop saying things like those two examples you gave about the Dalai Lama or the NDP - no, I don't think there is anything wrong with either of those sentences.  You have expressed an opinion and that is legitimate.  That is not the sort of thing that this thread is addressing.  We're addressing ways to express disagreement without personally attacking people.

Prophit

This is a good discussion. I have learned much. I do find that when it comes to any threads dealing with the Middle East all civility goes out the window. Even progressive leftists who are Zionists have been personally attacked at times. In fact it has led to personal back and forth that can get very ugly. Im hoping this thread helps us all.

Michelle

Prophit, are you naming negative behaviour you have personally engaged in (personally attacking leftist Zionists), or are you using negative examples of other people's behaviour? 

Let's keep this thread for discussing ways that we personally can learn how to disagree without personally attacking each other, and if we must use examples of negative behaviour, use examples of our own negative behaviour instead of that of other people.

George Victor

I'm going to try to explain why I used the term Great Unread (note the past tense, it's now Great Misled) by posting a book review of Susan Jacoby's The Age of American Unreason.  Jacoby's position  (and Al Gore in The Assault on Reason) I'll use to explain why I use either term.

The average American (and Canadian) has become damned vulnerable to the propaganda handed them by the media, as Jacoby  so very well outlines in a short history of communications. 

I'm explaining this because a prominent poster has sworn not to exchange ideas with me directly while I use such "elitist" language.I've managed to bear up while in Coventry, but I hope to present another perspective in which one can talk about the changes taking place in "understanding" our world - the "objective" description of a public that is not a putdown of a "class".

 

janfromthebruce

Virtual group therapy 5 cents

Michelle

As long as you're not referring to other babblers as "Great Unread" (which would be a personal attack and not allowed) then I don't see why you shouldn't use such a term to describe society in general, or the "average Canadian" or "average American".

People who disagree with you on that description of our society may also say so, and say why, without personally attacking you. 

janfromthebruce

I could not stop myself

Michelle

This is the problem with bringing in arguments from other threads and examples of issues we have with other people, George and Unionist.  Could we not do that, please?  I'd really like this to be a productive thread rather than just a rehashing of the same arguments and fights.  Thanks!

Life, the unive...

As an infrequent poster, turned off by the excessive nastiness on both sides I have to say it is beyond hilarity to see one of the worst offenders acting like the poster boy for innocent, constructive discussion.  Too funny.  You only need to look at the thread linked to in the OP to see how that babbler operates by using tools to attack others, but in such a nice, innocent way.  Or by announcing they are ignoring someone, instead of just ignoring them, and then encouraging others to do it.  Or look at his attempts to merely get a rise out of other posters in this thread http://www.rabble.ca/babble/canadian-politics/liberal-mp-defection-pool

My two cents would be to ban both sides in those disputes because rarely is their an innocent party and that until one particular poster, who always brings the tone down in threads and is always in the middle of these things is dealt with with something stronger than kid gloves it will continue because it sets an obvious double standard that gives people a feeling of license to respond in kind.

Michelle

Life, the universe and everything, did you read the opening post?  Particularly the bolded part?

Once again, I would ask you not to use this thread to continue fights from other threads.  This thread is for people to discuss constructive ways to disagree without personally attacking other babblers.

If you want to discuss how you think personal attacks should be moderated once they occur, this would be a good thread for that - but do not attack other babblers when doing so.  It's not helpful or constructive.

Life, the unive...

So you have followed every single post I have made since joining babble - and every single one of them is an attack is that it?  Or is it more that you can't resist yourself by actually just ignoring and have to point out to the world you are ignoring so that you can get you digs in just shy of the line of bannable behaviour.  My guess would be that latter because you sure seem unwilling to be called out for bad behaviour, but are more than willing to do it for others.

Life, the unive...

Yep the double standard continues

 

Michelle

Okay, Unionist, once again, I'm going to ask you to stop discussing specific issues you've had with other posters.  The whole point of my suggestion that we not post examples of other people's poor behaviour or fights from other threads is to avoid continuing fights from elsewhere in this thread.

And reposting someone else's attack on you in this thread by quoting it is also not helpful.

Please stop.  I would really like this thread to be reserved for people who would like to discuss constructive ways of avoiding personal attacks on other babblers instead of simply carrying old fights forward.

Thanks.

Michelle

Life, the universe and everything, once again, I'm going to ask you to stop fighting in this thread.  That is not what this thread is for, and your posts continue to be off-topic.  Please stop.

Unionist

[deleted - using IGNORE instead]

Unionist

[deleted - continuing to IGNORE]

Life, the unive...

Okay I'll take what I hope is a positive suggestion and move it to the other thread.

wage zombie

So is this a thread for posting about what strategies work for people to keep their hostility in check, or is this thread for posting about how much other people are unnecessarily hostile towards us when we're being 100% reasonable and fair?  I can't really tell from the responses.

Anyway...i am a rare poster, because of a how emotionally intense things can get in posting exchanges here.  BUT, i think that what helps me keep emotional responses in check is that often when reading or posting on babble i indulge in herbal relaxants.

Also, i tend to think that if it's pretty clear to me that someone has their head up their ass on a particular issue, or a particular heated exchange, then it's probably pretty clear to everybody else.  So if someone is being a complete ass then probably everybody else is already aware of it, and since calling out the ass rarely has much effect (often escalating things) at dealing with the assness, why bother?

Where i think this is difficult for some people is in situations where they feel that oppressive language needs to be punished.  Not simply censoring or blocking, but full on retaliating and vanquishing.  Usually this passionate (although at times ugly) retaliatory behaviour is rationalized as being necessary for changing people minds.  I'm not so sure myself.

Infosaturated

removing my post because Michelle requested it be discussed elsewhere.

martin dufresne

(In response to the thread tile) It's often a fine line, and one for the mods to arbitrate, I think, rather than have people veer off into oneup meta-debate.

One can merely take on a statement but with all rhetorical stops pulled, making a rant appear like a personal attack or opening it up to be discredited as such.

Or one can ever so snidely impugn an opponent's person rather than what he or she has posted.

Maybe we should have a wider range of emoticons and trust the little yellow critter to make certain points for us. Kiss

 

CMOT Dibbler

We were  having  these  discussions about  poster etiquette  six  years  ago  when  I joined. 

They  haven't  helped.  

The  problem with  banning  regulars is that  they are, well,  regulars.  They  keep  the  site  going.  If  we banned  every  regular  who made  an  ass out of  himself/herself,  the board would be empty and  it would  be impossible  to attract  new participants.I think this  place is toxic,  but  I honestly  can't  see a way to solve the problem.  Even when  Babble  was a thriving  concern,  people  still gave  newcomers  a pretty  hard  time. 

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