Civilized Conversation: A Primer

In light of a few recent events where people have found it untenable to realize that there are politics in video games, and resorted to a number of tactics ranging from:

  • Registering an account purely to derail the thread and try to claim nationalism is at least as good as anything else
  • People then insisting this guy had the right to do that and it’s really someone telling him to “fuck off” that’s the real threat to the forum
  • Waiting for a thread to go toxic and then immediately demand that it be closed before any response can be offered to politics presented
  • Repeatedly derailing a thread by wanting to talk about how moderation makes you feel rather than address the content of the thread
  • A whisper campaign to encourage disregard for moderators and continue trying to subvert their expectations and waste their time

I thought it’d be good to run a thread on what is civilized conversation, in hopefully what will be a nice civilized conversation.

First and foremost

A civilized conversation is one that recognizes and respects that we live in a society, and hence that society consists of many people, many kinds of people and that all of those people are, in fact, humans. Thus deserving of certain basic human respect.

It is, therefore, not civilized to propose that x group do not qualify for human rights because it makes y group uncomfortable OR that x group is inherently deserving of ridicule because members outside it find aspects of their existence outside their control hilarious.

If it does not meet this basic criteria, there is no amount of eloquence or politeness that can erase that you’ve essentially disregarded someone’s humanity.

Examples of common acts of uncivility

Now I recognize that this forum is different to other forums many people may be used to - it touched my heart when someone described it as “the least toxic gaming forum” they’d been on. So I’m going cover a few key examples so that “normal” (from outside the forum) is not mistaken for acceptable (within the forum).

  • "Triggered" memes: These are uncivilized both in that the essentially ridicule and misrepresent PTSD triggers (which are essentially where your brain glitches and keeps replaying something so horrible that you couldn’t process it properly when it happened, in the hopes it’ll end up better this time) but also are generally a way to try to dismiss the other party by pretending they are simply having an irrational emotional response. That’s particularly bad thing to do if say - they are upset over human rights.
  • Let’s “debate” fascism/nationalism/genocide: This one has popped up countless times in the places I moderate and I promise you, it is never actually a debate, if you have the time I recommend checking out Philosophy Tube’s video here. Simply put though, the main purpose of such debates is to try to raise awareness and find more people who sympathise with the cause so they can unite. I’ve lost track of the number of times the person claiming “I’m opposed to the, but we must let them speak so we can discredit them” later admitted to someone they actually supported them and it was just fun to upset people and find more people like them.
  • Friendly abuse (in public): Affectionate rudeness between friends is a pretty regular and normal thing, I’m not interested in debating where the proper line for it is and if some of you want to get downright BDSMy with each other in private - go ahead. However, the problem with performing this in public on a forum for civilized conversation is - it’s not a private conversation so you do always run the risk of someone with no idea what you’re talking about dropping in or someone else who might genuinely find it upsetting coming along. Exceptions may be made where it 1. comical and 2. genuinely harmless but as a general rule - send them a PM so we don’t normalize this and don’t derail topics.
  • False reports: The flagging system exists so that moderators and members alike can help keep the community enjoyable - as such it works when people use it to enforce the forum guidelines and not petty vendettas or machinations. Do not flag posts in the hopes they’ll get rubber stamped, flag one party when clearly both are out of line but one’s your buddy, etc. Obviously nobody is expected to be 100% correct but at a certain point, the system will make it obvious to us by showing what percentage of someone’s flags are agreed by the moderators, and what percentage not.
    You want to avoid this: image
  • Private wars in public places: Whether you have a dispute with a moderator or another member, nobody else needs to be inconvenienced by it and there is no virtue in making it a public performance piece. Fights with moderators will get split into the appropriate topics, which will probably be this one and continued derails will end result in more direct action.
  • Gender assumption/parody jokes: The “did you just assume my gender” and “I identify as an attack helicopter” being the two obvious ones - these exist largely only to prevent people who have actual things to say on gender from being heard.

Please do enjoy the forum and the many opportunities for polite conversation.

24 Likes

You do – or attempt to do – what I did to get As in all of my English courseworks in school.

You use an extreme superfluity of information and verbose language to confuse and misdirect the reader and present the illusion that your arguments hold merit, when many of them are unrelated or only tangentially related to the topic and others are intentional untruths to paint me in an ignorant and untrustworthy light.

Very little you said about my previous comments there is correct, and anyone who cares to read them (assuming they haven’t been edited or deleted) can verify that.

You’re being misrepresentative of both my intentions and my very straightforward opinions in order, I can only assume, to support another user whose views you agree with more than mine through a grandiose show of intellectual superiority.

I’ve been coming to this forum for two years straight, and this is the first time I’ve ever been disappointed.

10 Likes

I’ve never been anything but unerringly polite to everyone here, and I’ve often been a peacekeeper, even when I strongly objected to something or someone.

If I’m banned, so be it; but people will know what happened.

10 Likes

It took that long?

1 Like

The first time I’ve ever been profoundly disappointed.

I’ve been “damn, I misplaced my keys” levels of disappointed a few times, as you’d imagine.

P.S. But I’m going to drop this now. I said my piece, which I didn’t want to have to say, and now I’ve had enough of the whole episode. Let’s get StanRobin’s excellent thread back on track.

2 Likes

Jarbinger, if you’re writing a message to me, please keep it concise and to the point so everyone, myself included, can understand it plainly.

That’s a genuine request and not a veiled insult. Please don’t read it as such.

I don’t do veiled insults; I rarely do veiled anything. I say what I mean.

2 Likes

I did that - then you changed your approach to personal attacks and conspiracy theories. The first step to getting the thread back on track would be to delete all those posts so I am (unsurprsiingly) going to have to do another clean up in this thread despite my best attempts to get you to reassess your behaviour.

If you don’t want to follow the forum guidelines, particularly while posting in topics about real world topics like politics - then you shouldn’t be posting period. You can stop reading here if you need to - that’s the primary point. However, I’m going to elaborate to prevent misinterpretation.

This is a Civilized Place for Public Discussion

Please treat this discussion forum with the same respect you would a public park. We, too, are a shared community resource — a place to share skills, knowledge and interests through ongoing conversation.

These are not hard and fast rules, merely aids to the human judgment of our community. Use these guidelines to keep this a clean, well-lighted place for civilized public discourse.

Improve the Discussion

Help us make this a great place for discussion by always working to improve the discussion in some way, however small. If you are not sure your post adds to the conversation, think over what you want to say and try again later.

Also, specifically your post is a rather blatant disregard for the following concept.

Be Agreeable, Even When You Disagree

You may wish to respond to something by disagreeing with it. That’s fine. But, remember to criticize ideas, not people . Please avoid:

  • Name-calling.
  • Ad hominem attacks.
  • Responding to a post’s tone instead of its actual content.
  • Knee-jerk contradiction.

And since you haven’t wanted to discuss how that works in PMs or reconsider it let’s have a look at your post.

This is a personal accusation against me, implying that I am attempting to establish something about you personally - that’s both literally responding to the tone rather than the content and a complete derail which you’ve continued in subsequent posts before calling for the derailing to ending because you’ve said what you want to say and that’s all that matters.

Literally all I said about your previous comments was that satire cannot be without commentary, this is pretty much agreed by everyone. Satire need not be funny, but it must always be derogatory in the a manner that might shame someone into improving.

Then in the post I was responding to you made some sort of vague statements that I pointed out had major problems - specifically things like games can’t get overtly political and the strange statement that HITMAN 2 isn’t getting overtly political. If there was a problem with my reasoning in those, I would think that you could simply respond with the counter points.

This is ironically an odd misrepresentation of me misrepresenting you (by quoting you directly) and claiming this must be to support Quinn"another user" which comes with the implications that:

  1. The Forum Guidelines that advocate for civilized discussion, improving the conversation, etc (as well as the ones prohibiting hate speech) somehow do not exist.
  2. I am somehow incapable of having my own political stance (such as that hate speech is bad, making excuses for people who come in trying to sneak in nationalist propaganda is bad, etc)
  3. This is all a personal dispute and not say, you stepping out of line and not wanting to admit it

This also fits within the personal/knee-jerk response that again tries to make this some sort of personal thing and not me trying to keep a political thread within the guidelines.

Now I need to stress here: I do not care about your personal opinion of me or my forum. You are going to feel whatever you feel anyway, and I have bigger things to do with my life.

What I do care about is this forum and the standard of the community, which requires that (regardless of your opinion of me personally) you respect the guidelines and instructions from the moderation staff (which includes me). Because when you disregard it to go on posts like that one it derails the conversation, lowers the standards of the conversation and impedes the people who actually want to have the civilized conversation that the forum is here to facilitate.

If you are unable to accept that - all I can suggest is you find another community.

6 Likes

Understood. Thank you. I think I know everything I need to know now.

My posts are instantly flagged and hidden, what is going on, man? Is anyone else seeing this?

2 Likes

The administrator who just cleaned up 300+ posts of derail earlier today is very much not interested in you trying to resume the derail with this bait and pretend you’re innocent nonsense.

4 Likes

@Jarbinger … I apologize; I want to remain part of the forum because I’ve met many good people here, but I cannot, in good conscience, hold my tongue. Suspend me or ban me if you wish, but I’ll leave with my head high and my conscience clear.

Jokes and extended tangents (almost all of which were related to politics, in this case) are a natural part of any debate, and, as Accidental Kills correctly says, even comments of lesser substance are often important in providing the context that frames an argument.

You derailed this thread, Jarbringer, by insulting people’s intelligence whilst framing their oft valid or harmless opinions as obscure breaches in forum law, forcing them to scramble to justify comments that should require no justification (or, in my case, forcing me to spotlight the fallacy of your entire interjection because I won’t expend the energy to debate with someone who won’t debate fairly, even if that someone makes one or two fair points – as I freely admit that you did).

A key problem is that you’re using your authority as a moderator to assert subjective opinions.

You’re like a lion who approaches a herd of gazelles. You tell the gazelles that the grass is blue, and that the sky is green, and of course they’re inclined to agree because they don’t want to get eaten. I’m the gazelle who maintained that the grass was green, and now my life, metaphorically speaking, is at risk.

Of course you’re more than welcome to debate, and you’re obligated to keep the peace, but to do those jobs well you should separate your two personas to be best of your ability. Moderate as an alert and altruistic lion, and make debate as a garrulous gazelle.

But to do both at once, and be respected rather than feared, is an impossible task.

11 Likes

Separate post so I an clean up later

It is actually my forum yes - if you want to quibble endlessly over the best method to run it then you’re more than welcome to start your own, I’ll even share the Google Docs with you that I made to simplify installing and running the software.

Yes, I am actually in favour of upholding actual civility and “certain opinions” do not endanger that, it actively combats it. When a forum allows an individual to “share their opinion” that various people do not deserve the right to live or enjoy basic basic human rights provided they do not use a rude word - it sends a message: Those people’s basic humanity is not a given, it is a topic for debate.

Ironically, the people most in favour of this are always the people who think their privileges such as membership on a video game forum, are completely sacrosanct and unquestionable. They also then tend to think they should be granted immunity from judgement on such issues like racism, sexism, etc because they some sort of super-people who cannot do wrong.

However, from a more rational point of view - when someone comes in and announces that they don’t think some of your fellow forum members, possibly some who are good friends, maybe someone in your family, maybe a life partner, maybe you - is not human and doesn’t deserve basic considerations granted to humans - then all civility has already been thoroughly expunged from the conversation.

The subsequent “fuck off” does not diminish the civility of the conversation because it’s already purged - abolished in a wave of dehumanization and a giant “fuck off” to everyone who doesn’t meet that poster’s standards for human. “I don’t think people with your arbitrary trait deserve to exist and that you did in the first place disgusts me and makes me assume you are the cause of all my problems” will always be infinitely more offensive and uncivil than “fuck off”

That is not always perceived that way by some people because too many places don’t actually care for real civility, they care for the veneer of civility that allows them to pretend they’re better than others and give them an excuse to disregard them. It’s a political stance, one that normalises a set of behaviours that are easily maintained for people in protected status (and hence don’t have to worry that someone will pass a law dehumanizing them tomorrow) and punish the already disadvantaged for having very human reactions to people denying their humanity.

I don’t care for that paper-thin, fake veneer of civility and if you’re on this forum and enjoying how it runs, then you should probably consider that part of the reason you enjoy it is because of that.

If, upon consideration, you would prefer a community where you can advocate for whatever atrocities you like so long as you don’t use a naughty word - I invite you to look elsewhere.

David… you’re derailing the thread to make a public show of telling me I’m not allowed to participate in the thread and pretending that I’m “forcing” you to justify something when you could leave it be or respond to one of my PMs about this - I really don’t think you’re in a good position to tell me I’m derailing this thread.

Well that’s an interesting metaphor in terms of choice of imagery but I really don’t see why you’d feel the need to resort to such an abstraction rather than just say outright what color the grass is unless there is no way to advocate the color of the grass without breaching guidelines.

Furthermore I find the meladrama of the lion who kills not to eat - but to punish opinions of grass hilarious because it implies there is some sort of shared ownership to this area and it is but by an accident of chance that I have the moderation powers over this forum.

Try thinking of it in these terms - you are in a bar owned by the bar tender, who likes to chat with the patrons from time to time. However, when a patron steps in line one of the staff (Kent and Watson) put them back in line or take them out, or sometimes the bartender does too.

A discussion starts and then some weirdo off the street comes barging in to announce that they shouldn’t have the discussion and how dare they think he’s a bad person for supporting racism. Eventually the bartender shoves him out, and reminds people of the ground rules of drinking in his bar - including having a quiet word to a couple of patrons before also mentioning something on the topic.

Your response to this, is to loudly interrupt that discussion with accusations that the barman is some sort of lion declaring that grass is blue and you cannot allow for it to stand? How dare this barman both want to converse with his patrons and want the right to say what does and doesn’t go in his bar!

And yet, I have been accomplishing it for over fifteen years - it has in fact, been the method by which this forum that you’ve been enjoying for the past two years was shaped since I’ve been the only consistently active admin for ten and been the primary enforcer for fifteen.

Perhaps you may want to consider some of your presumptions, also be very careful of who you keep company with - there’s sadly still some very bad influences on this forum who love to tell you that you’re doing great and they support you when they really just want to try to normalize killing other gazelle over the colour of their fur.

5 Likes

55 posts were split to a new topic: General Tidy up of Civilized Conversation

Thank you for your thoughts but you will not be teaching me how to be civilized sir

3 Likes

I assure you that none of it is negotiable.

1 Like

I think you may have sorely misinterpreted this man’s comment

It reads more like an attempt to inject humour into this discussion through the ridiculousness of the statement made and the blatant lack of respect as well as care for the OP; the character posting that message is one whose stubborn nature is so extreme and exaggerated that he acts as not just a parody of many of this forum’s users but also as a critique of the concept of rebelliousness and close-mindedness as a whole. I don’t think it was supposed to be a genuine insult towards Binger nor a show of unwillingness to follow forum guidelines. He is playing a character.

This is evident not just in his disrespect of the OP but also the way in which the post is structured. The lack of correct grammar presents the idea that the character is stupid and largely uneducated (a trait which ties into his stubbornness). The “sir” at the end of the post acts a contrast to the rest of the message, which gives off largely negative vibes and showcases a lack of respect; but we all know “sir” is one of the most respectful things you could call a man. The scrambled nature of the post suggests that this character does not know what he wants nor how to achieve it and acts as the “punchline” of the post.

He can do whatever he wants(Like me, you or another person), if he refuses to obeying rules then that’s Jarbinger’s issue and he decides will he banned or not.

Well, he doesn’t have to be an absolute dick about it and act melodramatic

2 Likes

Well unless he has Histrionic Personality Disorder. That would be a good excuse. But no his probably being reactionary and castrati over it, ironic since he is being a dick.

I don’t agree on everything in the OP but this makes it easier for me to see what is expected from me than the Forum Guidelines alone.

2 Likes