'Death from Above': - Suspensions and Bans on Babble: Should Policy and Practice be Reviewed?

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NDPP

It's a slap in the face. Ease off the bans. Too many are leaving and it's largely for this reason. If we need a cop we'll call one.

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

I may not always agree with Maysie, but I agree with Catchfire - 'piling on' is simply not acceptable. If it takes a time-out or suspension to make that clear, then so be it.

6079_Smith_W

Not to muddy the waters any more, and I certainly know what a pile-on is, but I think part of the definition is that it involves more than one person.

(edit)

... If the word is to holster our guns, and all.

I should think we'd be careful talking about someone who is in no position to respond.

 

 

mark_alfred

NDPP wrote:

The purpose of this thread is to gather reactions to the use of bannings and suspensions. [..]

Is the use of the 'Zap' consistent with an open and progressive discussion board or is it over used and oppressive? When should it be used and when not?

Perhaps the time has come to review policy and practice. Please contribute your thoughts.

I personally prefer how the Globe message board does it, where comments that are deemed to breach their guidelines (as determined by readers flagging them as offensive) are simply removed (and in extreme cases, the commenter is removed from their system).  Here, it's like a public flogging with the moderators openly chastising the people, leading to discontent and arguments.

Fidel

Rebecca West wrote:

The "right way" is to attack the argument, not the individual.

Hear hear! When the uber-debater descends to the level of personal attack, they've lost the argument.

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

..i would say that moderation is one of the most difficult issues babblers face. i doubt we will ever get it “right” nor would i ever expect it to be as censure needs to be challenged often, i would think. what we can do is mitigate the damages or build safe guards against abuse which seems to be a constant process.

..not all bans are a slap in the face in my view and shouldn't be treated as such. i've seen people announce their own time out as they are telling someone to fuck off or some such thing. it seems also that some understand and take it in stride while others are blindsided by it. patience and an even temperament are required in dealing with babblers who are comfortable with challenging authority figures. not a job for the weak kneed.

Slumberjack

Boom Boom wrote:
I may not always agree with Maysie, but I agree with Catchfire - 'piling on' is simply not acceptable. If it takes a time-out or suspension to make that clear, then so be it.

I've gained much from both their analysis over the years, but I disagree that a pile on occurred.  A controversial assessment was rendered, which was subsequently held out in this instance as an unjust one by a fairly plausible general consensus.

Everyone involved might benefit from taking in breath or a spell if required, and return to see the leadership threads through to their ultimate destination.   I can't adequately relate to you how much they've informed my own politics of late.  Not with cranky mods laying about.

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

"Cranky mods"??? Christ, they're just doing their job.

mark_alfred

*deleted by user* -- off topic post that I considered frivolous.

Slumberjack

And lest we forget Gaian out on the clothesline...I better understand how difficult it must be to stitch together political coherence with so little time between such events.

ygtbk

The moderating on the site has gotten much more "sudden death" over the last couple of years, in my opinion. I don't know if that's a bug or a feature, although my obvious preference is to let a discussion continue rather than banning a participant for a perceived breach of policy that may well be inadvertent.

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

I'm always flummoxed that some folks act surprised that we have Moderators here.

Ripple

General consensus?  Of what and by whom?  When you say "controversial assessment" do you mean Maysie's or the moderator's decision?  Either way, I don't see consensus.

Sineed

Babble is the most control freak site I've been to, which is one of the reasons I've been coming here less and less. Allowing discussions to take their natural course without jumping down people's throats for minor or non-existent violations of a narrowly-defined orthodoxy would bring a greater diversity of people to the site and make this less of an echo chamber for the people who define themselves as the guardians of all that's progressive.

 

writer writer's picture

"Natural course" like reddit and KOS? Just so we're clear.

Ripple, I wish there was a way for us to connect! <Hint>

Malcolm Malcolm's picture

I have recently sent the following PM to several babblers who have commented on the recent unpleasantness.

 

Quote:

I want to thank all of you for your comments on the various threads dealing with recent events.

Because I think it is important to clarify, I want to make the point that Maysie twisted my comments to mean precisely the opposite of what I was saying. 

I described Saganash's leadership style as a negative, not because it is a bad thing of itself, but because I believe it will have a negative impact on his electoral prospects in this leadership race.  Because his leadership style (for lack of a better term) does not conform to the norms of the dominant culture, many people (whether due to overt or endemic racism or otherwise) will not view him as an appropriate candidate for the leadership.

I suppose I could have framed that as "Saganash can't win because New Democrats are racist," but I didn't think that was either entirely accurate nor likely to generate any useful discussion.

So, ironically, I was trashed as a racist for attempting (however ineptly) to raise the very issue that Maysie was complaining later had not been discussed - or perhaps it was for doing so in a manner that was not self-righteous, pejorative and confrontational.

I take no accountability for the way that thread and subsequent threads became toxic.  That is entirely the responsibility of Maysie and Rebecca West.  Unfortunately these kind of abuses are inevitable when people are given a little authority with no accountability.

Now, all of that said, I will shortly post a copy of this on the "Death from Above" thread and then I will be departing babble permanently.

Twice in recent months I have been suspended by Rebecca West for having been the victim of another babbler's misconduct. I do not intend to give her a third opportunity.

To those of you who have been allies and to those of you with whom I've clashed, thanks for the memories.

If anyone wishes to contact me subsequent to this, I can be reached at [email protected]

Wilf Day

Babble has just suspended an anti-racist Anglican priest for his righteous outrage at being told "what you wrote was racist" when it was written with the very opposite intent.

I submit all concerned need to apologize to him. It may not get Malcolm to come back, but it will at least put a fair end to this shameful episode.

Unionist

Agreed, Wilf. Malcolm is owed an apology, as is Peter3. And we need their voices here, in my opinion.

ottawaobserver

Women get disproportionately piled on? Piffle. I was one of the most outraged barkers, boobs and all.

Ladies, if you're going to start an argument by accusing someone of racism or sexism, you better back it up, instead of backing away and shutting the person down.

What was done was cowardly, and had the effect of causing at least four quality contributors to a discussion (note: not all of whom I agree with all the time, but all of whom I learn from in the process of debating) to leave this board.

This is most assuredly NOT the purpose of moderation. If you can't stand the heat, ladies, get out of the moderating kitchen.

RevolutionPlease RevolutionPlease's picture

I hate to be critical of the mods (well, not really ;) ) but I also feel there could be more effort made here for dialogue.(Especially in the politics threads as there's always need for plenty of reminders) And since I know the mods don't get paid enough, I suggest more of us help to voice the dynamic. A lot of times I stay silent when I see stuff happening and should recognize it. We need to look out for each other. Malcolm did what I did recently and Maysie reacted as writer did to me. Fortunately, Unionist had my back until I returned and recognized why my writing could be turned around. Really, there aren't any better learning opportunities than those with close allies. If we squander them, it's to our own peril.

Having meta discussions aren't always fun or time-productive. When they're with our closer allies they're a lot more valuable.

So, to balance, is a 24hr suspension really a big deal? I guess if after 24hrs someone still can't even acknowledge why there wording might be challenged on babble, are we getting anywhere? I've been suspended. I like getting suspended. I ask questions, force myself to think and rethink. Deprogram. Would my sensitivities ever be so struck as to flounce from this board? I don't think so. Unless I was so obstinate in my position that I refused to even entertain the possibility that I need to listen.

If people personally attack you, contact the mods, otherwise lay waste to the argument.

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

I hate seeing good threads get derailed. I wish we had a rule here that if an argument develops, take it elsewhere, like PMs. That can only be enforced with full time moderators, though.

ottawaobserver

I don't think it's even been accepted by the majority of regular posters in that thread that Maysie was right. They disagreed with her position, she couldn't defend it, and her friends came in and protected her by arbitrarily suspending the people who were disagreeing with her.

Accusations like that should not be tossed around lightly. The resulting suspensions were childish and cowardly. The upshot has been a serious deterioration of an important discussion environment. Which is really too bad.

6079_Smith_W

@ RP

I'd say that is a question each person has to answer for his or herself, and that there is no one answer. 

No one has ever taken away my speaking privileges. 

I suppose how I would react to it would depend entirely on the circumstances, but I can tell you for sure that it is not something I would take lightly, as just a time out. What I had to learn would certainly not be the only thing on my mind.

Slumberjack

Malcom should reconsider.  Man....if I had a nickel or everything referred my way since way back on the board..much of it well deserved.....some of it still haunting me today...

NorthReport

Thank you Catchfire for your well chosen words, difficult as they may be for some of us here to hear. Had the priviledge years ago of participating in group designed for men to work on their sexism. One of the premises was when there was a difference of opinion between the sexes we were to side with the women. And interestingly enough the woman's position usually turned out to be the accurate one. Strange that.

Slumberjack

writer wrote:
Ripple, I wish there was a way for us to connect! <Hint>

You're going to elaborate upon 'general consensus,'...aren't you?

Sven Sven's picture

wage zombie wrote:

People talk about how suspensions are heavy handed.  I don't really understand this perspective, and maybe it is because I have never been suspended.

[SNIP]

But, I have never been suspended so I don't know if it feels like being punched in the gut, or that broken-hearted, I think I need to puke feeling.

Can some who have been suspended before comment on this?  Does it seem like the end of the world?  For a 24 hour period at least?  Is it a slap on the hand or is it a slap in the face?

As someone who has been suspended in the past, and this is just my opinion, I would say that suspensions (as opposed to banning) can serve a useful cooling down period.

6079_Smith_W

There is also the question of how it is that people wind up getting themselves suspended. 

While in some cases it comes out of the blue (I can think of at least one case that made no sense whatsoever to me) I'd say in most cases it comes down to losing your cool, and not knowing to follow the rules, and direct orders. 

Perhaps it is a time of reflection for some people, but I doubt it would be that for me

I don't mean to imply that there is nothing to be learned here - quite the opposite. But I wouldn't say that the prospect of a ban, or the rules have taught me anything other than how to follow rules. 

I can't think of too many occasions when I learned something by force, except lessons about the nature of force.

I am quite aware that I disagree with some people on some issues, and there have been a few occasions when I have not said certain things because I know they would be at best pointless and at worst get me canned.

On the other hand, if someone doesn't know well enough to follow a direct order when it comes from a moderator, that person should not be surprised when he or she winds up getting suspended. I am sure we have all seen enough cases where people were asking for it.

 

Hunky_Monkey

Malcolm, we've seen eye to eye on some things... not so much on others :) But I really appreciate your participation on here. I hope you reconsider.

BTW, OO... I have a feeling some moderators make assumptions on the race, gender and sexual orientation of babblers and their backgrounds.

Sven Sven's picture

mark_alfred wrote:

Here, it's like a public flogging with the moderators openly chastising the people, leading to discontent and arguments.

Along those same lines, I would say that, often times, the moderation doesn't "moderate" the discussion (as in "cause to become less extreme or violent") but, instead, tosses gasoline on the fire.

As Sineed noted:

Sineed wrote:

Babble is the most control freak site I've been to, which is one of the reasons I've been coming here less and less. Allowing discussions to take their natural course without jumping down people's throats for minor or non-existent violations of a narrowly-defined orthodoxy would bring a greater diversity of people to the site and make this less of an echo chamber for the people who define themselves as the guardians of all that's progressive.

Too often, a moderator can appear overly eager to display his or her progressive bona fides by really "going at" a babbler with guns a blazin' if the babbler steps outside the bounds of, what Sineed calls, "a narrowly-defined orthodoxy".  In my opinion, a more effective and useful approach would be to more dispassionately address matters (akin to Old Goat's approach, where he just quietly and calmly takes care of matters -- without needlessly further amping up the emotions).  In other words, "to moderate" the discussion.

NDPP

 We are after all not barbarians but supposedly free thinking progressive people here -  sharing info, carrying on discussions, conversations and yes even arguments - not unruly children playing in a standbox requiring 'timeouts' or public humiliation to teach 'discipline' or to follow orders. Taking away the right to speak when an authority decides you don't speak 'correctly' is something that is not appropriate very often here. When the intervention of a mod is truly required, it is quite  likely someone will ask. 'Zap' and punish less. It is not the best way and there are alternatives and suggestions proferred to that end. Dial down standing babblers in the corner.  Too many have left already. Things will be easier for all, mods included if the chill and manner of these interventions can be moderated.

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

"public flogging," "sudden death," "control freak," "banning," "cowardly," "guns a blazin'"

I've said just about as much as I can on this topic, and I don't expect to say any more, but can I ask for a bit of perspective here? One babbler was suspended for 24 hours. And this is the response. Does any one care to actually engage with my post above? As far as I can tell, folk still think Malcolm was suspended (for 24 hours!) for having a wrong opinion or tone or whatever. I still suggest listening to each other is the best option, but what about the above are Rebecca and I meant to actually absorb?

NDPP

I support your option of listening to each other without reservation. My answer to your last question would be try no more suspensions for a start. I'm sure others will make additional suggestions and absorbtions if the contributions already offered aren't clear or understandable to you.

RevolutionPlease RevolutionPlease's picture

6079_Smith_W wrote:

@ RP

I'd say that is a question each person has to answer for his or herself, and that there is no one answer. 

No one has ever taken away my speaking privileges. 

I suppose how I would react to it would depend entirely on the circumstances, but I can tell you for sure that it is not something I would take lightly, as just a time out. What I had to learn would certainly not be the only thing on my mind.

Correct Smith. But as I'm sure you read of what you snipped, I disagree with the suspensions. As to how you would take it, I'd say get over yourself. This is about a community. It's not about ourselves.

Hunky_Monkey wrote:

BTW, OO... I have a feeling some moderators make assumptions on the race, gender and sexual orientation of babblers and their backgrounds.

And that would have what to do with hoover? That's the mandate of babble. Did you even read the policy you accepted?

RevolutionPlease RevolutionPlease's picture

NDPP wrote:

I support your option of listening to each other without reservation. My answer to your last question would be try no more suspensions for a start. I'm sure others will make additional suggestions and absorbtions if the contributions already offered aren't clear or understandable to you.

I agree. The suspensions are too much, although I will admit there were other extenuating circumstances I'd prefer not to mention.

Sven Sven's picture

Catchfire wrote:

...but what about the above are Rebecca and I meant to actually absorb?

It goes without saying that that I only speak for myself but I think that babble is at its most interesting when there are (1) free-flowing ideas from a broad spectrum of views that are (2) discussed thoughtfully without personal attacks (even if the viewpoints are vigorously asserted). There are a lot of bright babblers who often have interesting insights into a variety of issues.  But my sense is that over the last 18 months or so the boundaries of acceptable discourse have narrowed considerably -- and that is a function of the moderation. 

And, maybe that's what babble should be. But, for me, the vibe here has become much more doctrinaire and restrictive (in a very top-down, authoritative manner) -- and I think that makes it a less useful place to learn. 

RevolutionPlease RevolutionPlease's picture

Sven wrote:

And, maybe that's what babble should be.

I think you're onto something. Perhaps, if we get beyond the complaints of ideology police. Folks just need to own their words. Internet text is much different than interpersonal skills. You're a good sport, I appreciate and respect that Sven.

RevolutionPlease RevolutionPlease's picture

You know, it'd be one thing if babblers were being banned all over. The other day started with ageism and sexism against a former NDP MP with respect to a floor crossing and then had a WOC attacked for challenging poorly written language. The mod's are poorly under-resourced and it's up to us babblers to take responsibility for our words.

Disagree with the suspension, I'm in your corner, disagree with being asked to re-examine your language and you're on your own.

6079_Smith_W

@ RP

You asked an honest question. Not sure why you are telling me to get over myself, because beyond my honest answer it's not really any of your business.

As for this being a community, I agree to a point - in that we all have an interest in participating in good faith and trying to make it work. But it is also a place with its own set of rules, and and it is up to each one of us to decide if we want to work within them or not. Certainly no one is forcing any of us to be here.

Of course there are some things which I disagree with, and depending on the circumstances I have no problem pointing those things out. But regardless of how I feel about the moderators, or or whether I think some of the actions they have taken are right or wrong, I recognize that it is a very difficult job, and they have been chosen to do it. 

(edit)

So no, I am not in favour of heavy-handed suspensions, but I think it is important that moderators have that option. As for questioning their motivation, I don't like it when people make personal assumptions and judgments about me, and I don't expect anyone else likes it either. Shit like that belongs in a PM, as far as I am concernedm if anyone really feels the need to say it at all.

 

 

 

RevolutionPlease RevolutionPlease's picture

6079_Smith_W wrote:

@ RP

You asked an honest question. Not sure why you are telling me to get over myself, because beyond my honest answer it's not really any of your business.

As for this being a community, I agree to a point - in that we all have an interest in participating in good faith and trying to make it work. But it is also a place with its own set of rules, and and it is up to each one of us to decide if we want to work within them or not. Certainly no one is forcing any of us to be here.

Of course there are some things which I disagree with, and depending on the circumstances I have no problem pointing those things out. But regardless of how I feel about the moderators, or or whether I think some of the actions they have taken are right or wrong, I recognize that it is a very difficult job, and they have been chosen to do it. 

So no, I am not in favour of heavy-handed suspensions, but I think it is important that moderators have that option. As for questioning their motivation, I don't like it when people make personal assumptions and judgments about me, and I don't expect anyone else likes it either. Shit like that belongs in a PM, as far as I am concernedm if anyone really feels the need to say it at all.

 

 

 

Sorry Smith, just thought you were reducting my position. (I don't like suspensions, they don't work, really) I shouldn't have been personal.

Wilf Day

Catchfire wrote:

Maysie was subject to a pile-on in the last thread for having the temerity to say that something someone said in relation to a FN candidate and in a discussion with minimal emphasis on racial politics was racist. I want to underline that it doesn't matter if she was "right" or not (I tend to think she had a point, but this is beside the fact). So when Maysie was victimized by a very sizeable pile-on, we took notice. . . The pile-on is completely unacceptable, particularly when the victim is trying to introduce a perspective normally invisible to dominant male, white hegemony. If mods are supposed to do anything, this has got to be it, hasn't it?

No. Not unless Malcolm caused the pile-on. It was caused by reaction to Maysie's posts, not by Malcolm.

Malcolm was the victim of Maysie's attack. You're blaming the victim.

Catchfire wrote:

Does any one care to actually engage with my post above?

Done. Now, do you care to engage with Malcolm's post at #66? Also, please get your supervisor to do so, since you are a party to the dispute and have a conflict of interest.

Catchfire wrote:

what about the above are Rebecca and I meant to actually absorb?

That babble should apologize to Malcolm.

6079_Smith_W

@ RP

Yeah, I expect we're all a bit on edge about this, which is part of the reason why I don't want to get into the nuts and bolts of this latest incident right now, Sorry for being a bit testy myself.

And I agree with you about suspensions not teaching anyone anything, or serving as punishment. The only valid purpose they serve in my mind it to stop someone who refuses to do so voluntarily.

 

RevolutionPlease RevolutionPlease's picture

Wilf Day wrote:
Catchfire wrote:

Maysie was subject to a pile-on in the last thread for having the temerity to say that something someone said in relation to a FN candidate and in a discussion with minimal emphasis on racial politics was racist. I want to underline that it doesn't matter if she was "right" or not (I tend to think she had a point, but this is beside the fact). So when Maysie was victimized by a very sizeable pile-on, we took notice. . . The pile-on is completely unacceptable, particularly when the victim is trying to introduce a perspective normally invisible to dominant male, white hegemony. If mods are supposed to do anything, this has got to be it, hasn't it?

No. Not unless Malcolm caused the pile-on. It was caused by reaction to Maysie's posts, not by Malcolm.

Seriously, you're a lawyer? And have read babble's terms of use? And support them? Maysie challenged Malcolm on his use of language. That Is All. And yes, Malcolm finished the pile-on with his "vile slander" rhetoric. A lawyer must recognize the hostility of those words, NO?

Quote:

Malcolm was the victim of Maysie's attack. You're blaming the victim.

Catchfire wrote:

Does any one care to actually engage with my post above?

Done. Now, do you care to engage with Malcolm's post at #66. Also, please get your supervisor to do so, since you are a party to the dispute and have a conflict of interest.

Too cute by half.

Blaming the fucking victim? Where the fuck have I heard that before?

Quote:

Catchfire wrote:

what about the above are Rebecca and I meant to actually absorb?


That babble should apologize to Malcolm.

I'd say Malcom might deserve that should he show some contrition himself. But I guess he's not a turn the other cheek kinda guy.

FFS. Y'all are wack. I need to go way back.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8PaoLy7PHwk

Y'all are doing a fine job of destroying burgeoning NDP membership. Good grief.

RevolutionPlease RevolutionPlease's picture
RevolutionPlease RevolutionPlease's picture
RevolutionPlease RevolutionPlease's picture
RevolutionPlease RevolutionPlease's picture

Changes:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o8Y9-JlSRXw&feature=related

Dude never thought we'd see a black president.

RevolutionPlease RevolutionPlease's picture

To all the departed babblers, have a listen:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o8Y9-JlSRXw&feature=related

RevolutionPlease RevolutionPlease's picture

I'll finish up with the Ghetto Gospel:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q-l-Ja5ItAY

RevolutionPlease RevolutionPlease's picture

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