My enemies list

I made a pledge once to be civil. I shall try to do so in the following. There has been much discussion lately about who is welcome in the bloggernacle. I think that this is fruitless. Until such time as we begin to demand subscriptions for reading, there isn’t an effective way to ban someone from blogs. Even in the face of banning and comment deletion, people can effectively bypass most systems and comment if they so desire. It is often said that the only effective way to deal with a troll is to ignore them. In the internet, shunning is the most effective means for keeping the peace.

What peace is there to be kept? Well, we are all familiar with the flame-wars that regularly erupt in cyberspace. Something about the impersonality of the internet allows us to set aside some inhibitions, like alcohol does, letting us speak our own mind in ways that are simply unavailable to us in real life (that is, if we don’t want to get shunned, fired, or beaten up in real life). The consequences of being banned from a blog are minimal; there are a thousand other blogs out there and, if desperate enough, you can even start your own in an attempt to get your voice heard.

I have often argued that the nature of blogging means that anything you put up can (and likely will if you are on a popular blog) be criticized. If you are worried about what people will say regarding your post, health, sanity, hygiene, and so forth you should not post in Internet forums. As we have often revealed, our level of taboo (in disparaging the other guy) is very low. As with “bless your heart” in the South, you can say almost anything if you put a lightening emoticon after it ;) Sometimes we forget the emoticon we never intended.

Yesterday, a friend of mine tried to explain what he found troubling in certain areas of Mormon internet discussion. Some people read themselves into his post, which pointed no specific fingers. Others did not. I am curious as to why that is. It is not as if anyone here is entirely free of embarrassing moments of internet hyperbole (with the possible exception of the always level-headed RT). Another member of the community, whom I have always respected and hope to someday consider a friend, read herself into Stapley’s post, even though I don’t think she has demonstrated the characteristics he mentioned as troubling there (although, I am certainly not familiar with all that she does on the internet). I wish she hadn’t. I would have thought that the bloggernacle’s respect for her was self-evident. But now, she’s gone.

Much talk was made regarding acceptable behavior in the bloggernacle. I don’t know what to make of it. Certainly we should be polite. However, I don’t think politeness is a necessary criterion for participation. Some wondered if a certain level of belief was necessary. I don’t believe it is; certainly we have no dogma. I had thought at the beginning of this post that a certain level of trust should be given; but as I write it, I realize that I am unwilling to extend that trust to some of the participants in the discussion. There are some people who I wouldn’t miss if they didn’t come back. I assume that there are some who think the same of me.

In his essay, “Why the church is as true as the gospel,” Eugene England argued that the one greatest effect of the church is that it puts you into situations with people whom you would never voluntarily associate with. In these situations, if you are a good church member, or even if you would only like to be one, you are supposed to serve these people out of love. Serving in love, with all our heart, is the one thing really asked of us by Church service. And we have to extend that love to everyone, in and out of the church, but particularly in, where we are easily frustrated by the bigots, sexists, liberals, feminists, conservatives, and John Birchers among us. We’re supposed to love everybody.

The internet isn’t like that. Ultimately all internet participation is voluntary. We don’t ever have to be here (as spouses tell us all the time). Therefore, we tend to congregate in groups of like minded people. The argumentative among us will engage in excursions to the other side under the guise of dialogue, but usually with an understanding that we are doing this for fun or as a distraction. If real human emotion was considered to be in play, we wouldn’t discuss half the things we discuss and we certainly wouldn’t talk about them the way we do.

The bloggernacle isn’t a place where everyone is accepted with equal trust. Trust must be earned within it. Some people will always be viewed with suspicion, simply because of the questions they ask, the manner in which the questions are asked, and because of implied agendas (real or imposed) behind those questions. In other forums, they will be welcomed and embraced. I don’t truly know if this is a bad thing or a good thing. It simply is.

Attempts to define the bloggernacle are as pointless, ultimately, as attempts to exclude or include within it. People will come and go as they please. Hopefully, we are welcoming to those who are willing to sincerely journey with us. Hopefully, we are not unduly rude to those who are not. But being polite is not the same thing as welcoming and the two shouldn’t be confused.

Ultimately, the reason “The church is as true as the gospel” is because God, priesthood, and revelation run the church, insuring through divine guidance that the people we meet and are obligated to love are people who will grow with you in the process. In the bloggernacle, we have no priesthood, no authority. The company we keep is not always divinely inspired, instead it is personally chosen. It is well to remember that.

Comments

  1. Dang it. I forgot to run this by our extensive list of blog post titles for approval.

    Also, Kaimi, you’re banned.

  2. Anyone who quotes Eugene England is a friend of mine.

  3. Some people read themselves into his post, which pointed no specific fingers.

    It didn’t name names, but it was laden with judgement.

    I was horrified at the statement, “You can’t have angst and remain.” For a minute, I took it seriously and thought I was gonna have to leave the church, even though I have a testimony, etc. I still feel angst related to the church just about evey week. It pales in comparison to the influence of he spirit, but is nonetheless real.

    I was also unimpressed with the statement that, “…the difference between pain and angst is a choice.”

    First of all, the author refused to define what angst even was, which came across as very condescending that we must be stupid if we couldn’t follow what he meant. Several posters asked for definitions or clarifications.

    Second, in my experience the difference between angst and things like forgivenessand empathy is a DIVINE GIFT, not something we can choose to turn on and off at our own discretion. Yes, we can certainly choose to pray and ask for it, but the actual blessing of that change in heart is on the Lord’s timetable. (Or maybe your friend always gets answers to prayers exactly when and how he wants them, and I’m just a spiritual slacker?)

  4. I’m reminded of the opening from a local talk radio show (hey, the Bloggernacle is basically Church talk radio) that quotes Bryant Gumbel:

    “Someone … once told me that our founding fathers guaranteed everyone the right to be heard. It said nothing about being taken seriously.”

    Why can’t we just realize that people don’t have to take every post seriously? I’m guilty myself of taking things too seriously sometimes, myself, and I try to work on that. No one should let their testimony be impacted — positive or negative — on anything they read here. You shouldn’t gain or lose a testimony or friends or anything like that over anything you read here.

  5. Naismith,
    Far be it from me to define J’s terms for him. However, long acquaintance with Stapley and his acts about the bloggernacle should have given some idea regarding his intent and definition. If you are a relative newcomer, you don’t have that information, of course, nor should it necessarily have been expected of you. We all make mistakes (even J.). We all deal with and in generalizations and understand the value of conclusions drawn solely therefrom.

  6. You mean we don’t get to list our enemies?

  7. I was going to write a direct one when I started but never really got there. I hope that this makes them paranoid and therefore easier for the authorities to catch.

    More seriously, this was more an examination of how I write up my personal enemies list and how I think people get put on one in the bloggernacle in general (working under the assumption that if I do it this way, everyone does it this way).

    That said, I am now very curious about who is on your list…

  8. I think that J. Stapley deserves our respect for putting it out there. I don’t agree with his particular argument but I think that it started a fruitful exchange of views.

    It’s worthwhile to print J’s thread and look at each position on its own terms rather than judging it immediately.

    And thank you for following up, Daniel.

    The Internet is improving the Mormon experience. In the long run, freedom will improve anything, even religion. No matter how painful, as long as arguments have to invoke reasons people can communicate.

    The stereotype about the Internet is that smaller and smaller groups are finding voices at the expense of the public square. What Mormonism needs, however, is the town square where Mormons of all flavors encounter each other.

    You can go shopping in the town square. Sit in the street cafe and observe people. One encounters old and new friends and, may be, the love of your life. And every once in a while there is a row, may be, even a knife fight.

    But such events are seldom. You are much more likely to fall off the tractor on the homestead.

    Whether or not we can have at least the semblance of a townsquare is probably a much more important measure of Mormonism than the number of members in one part of the world or another.

    Looking at John Dehlin’s story shows us how difficult it is to sustain dialogue. Even though it’s difficult and unpleasant at times, it’s worth it.

    BCC isn’t mine. May be, you don’t like town squares. That’s your right. It would be sad though.

  9. I am sure glad that this blog will allow open participation. I have heard of blogs where people are queued, and would hope that isn’t the case here. To label people indiscriminately solely on the content and tone of their posts, is to fall prey to stereotyping. This type of forum should be above that. I consider myself an honest seeker. Many consider me a loose cannon or a combative nonconformist. Some would consider me a troll or a troublemaker. Like I said, I consider myself an honest seeker of truth. I try to get to the heart of issues and that makes some people feel uncomfortable at times. I really believe that the truth will make us free. I have been a DAMU participant and a FAIR participant. I have been labeled an “anti” by some, a “heretic” by others, and a newspaper columnist called me “respectful” today. So I guess I run the gamut. I am familiar with a few of the participants here. Maybe I will be considered a voice of reason here. Maybe not. Only time will tell. I agree with your post that you cannot really monitor or trust the participants on an internet forum. But the beauty of the internet, for me, is that it allows us to formulate our ideas and be totally honest without fear of reprisal or rejection. Absolute, complete honesty. No holds barred. That is a beautiful concept.

  10. DV, don’t get your hopes up. People get queued, and banned, at BCC just as at any other site on the internet.

  11. On queues, visitors ought to know that different platforms have different queue options. Typepad is all or nothing on the comment queue. WordPress allows IP addresses as well as key words (say “casino”) or comments with several links or comments from a new address to be shunted into a queue. Anyone who has had to deal with incoming spam understands — queues aren’t generally aimed at regular commenters, they’re mostly aimed at spam and trolls.

  12. Actually, freedom of speach which is far different than the right to be heard. A right to be heard implies that people must listen to you.

  13. Did someone say “knife fight”?

  14. I was one who “read myself into” J. Stapley’s comments yesterday, although it didn’t take much of a leap when he said quite bluntly that “without qualification” people who participate in the “DAMU” were not welcome here. J. later clarified the statement and I thought the ensuing discussion was constructive. The impression I got from that discussion was that I was welcome to post here as long as I am not trolling or spamming and adjust to the “Bloggernacle’s style of discourse.” This I have agreed to do. I was surprised, then, when I attempted to post on the Phillips thread several times and my comment won’t show up. Not sure if this one will go through. I hope so. If not, I am left to wonder: does a comment submitted to a blog but not published make a noise?

  15. Hellmut,

    In the long run, freedom will improve anything, even religion. No matter how painful, as long as arguments have to invoke reasons people can communicate.

    Additionally, people have to allow that while not all reasons are equally rational, they all may be equally heartfelt and therefore important.

    You can go shopping in the town square. Sit in the street cafe and observe people. One encounters old and new friends and, may be, the love of your life. And every once in a while there is a row, may be, even a knife fight.

    But such events are seldom. You are much more likely to fall off the tractor on the homestead.

    If we are the guardians of this particular square, are you saying that it is wrong for us to do everything we can to prevent knife fights? If you don’t stop the knife fights, people don’t come to the square.

    BCC isn’t mine.

    I don’t understand what you are trying to convey here.

  16. To label people indiscriminately solely on the content and tone of their posts, is to fall prey to stereotyping.

    DV, I fail to see how labeling people based on the content and tone of their posts is indiscriminate, especially in an internet forum. What other means do we have for discrimination?

    I believe that every internet forum has to enforce some conversational rules. Even those that claim to have no rules enforce the lack of rules and exist solely for people to get their flame on.

    But the beauty of the internet, for me, is that it allows us to formulate our ideas and be totally honest without fear of reprisal or rejection.

    If you really believe this, I fear that you are going to be sorely disappointed by your participation in the internet. As I said, trolls get shunned.

  17. HP, nice post. I think your summary of what goes into internet interactions is probably about right. One thing you said I find sad. “If real human emotion was considered to be in play, we wouldn’t discuss half the things we discuss and we certainly wouldn’t talk about them the way we do.” I think that’s true, and I think it’s also true that real human emotion isn’t considered to be in play in our online interactions. On the other hand, it unavoidably is in play; we’re all real people talking about things that matter a lot to us. Being online makes this easier to forget or ignore — but I’m just as real and just as human as if we were talking face-to-face.

    Hellmut, I don’t like knife fights, even metaphorical ones. There are ways of discussing any issue, any disagreement, with rationality and civility. As a community structured around Jesus Christ, I think it’s unfair for us to expect any less of ourselves than charity in our disagreements.

    DV, on the internet and everywhere else, clear and open expression of our own ideas is a direct invitation to rejection. Not everyone agrees about things; just look what happens whenever I write a post about economics and the gospel! What you get online is a space to talk, but people are still people and they may not choose to listen or understand.

  18. JDC,

    I must say, I’m disappointed. When I saw the title of this post, I expected something like this: “I have here, in my hand, a list of 50 card-carrying members of the damunacle who are known to use pseudonyms on BCC.”

    Just kidding, I think this is a very good post, and one that makes important distinctions which occasionally need to be made. I also appreciate the reminder that this is a self-selecting community where trust is earned, not assumed.

  19. HP/JDC, you keep saying “but we want civility, so we have to enforce rules, and we have to ban trolls.” As if Hellmut or DV or Naismith or anyone else were asking for incivility to be the norm, all rules to be chucked, or for trolls to reign free upon the blog. I don’t see them asking for that.

    Look at the last part of #16. DV says how great it is that he can be honest online without fearing rejection, and HP/JDC warns him that trolls are shunned. Honesty=trollishness? Huh? Since when?

    Maybe all non-permabloggers should change our screennames to Presumed Trollish, since that’s how you see us anyway.

  20. Actually, Beijing, I am assuming that Hellmut meant that rules should be chucked (why else mention freedom as a source of improvement or draw the analogy of the town square at all). If rules introduce constraints on freedom of expression, that seems to be what Hellmut is disappointed in here. I may be misreading him (I suspect that I often do that with Hellmut), so if he would like to clarify, that would be fine with me.

    Regarding what I said to DV, I think that RT said what I was trying to say, only better. I was saying that just because the internet allows anyone with a computer to add to a conversation, there is no guarantee that you will be included. Some particularly bad participants, known as trolls, are regularly excluded. I mentioned trolls as an example that showed that his expectation was inaccurate; not as an attempt to condemn DV personally.

    Finally, I really don’t see why you should exclude permabloggers from Presumed Trollish status. At least as far as Aaron Brown is concerned.

  21. Mark,

    “I have here, in my hand, a list of 50 card-carrying members of the damunacle who are known to use pseudonyms on BCC.”

    Really 50 pseudonyms would barely cover the permabloggers here, much less the damunacle.

    RT,
    I agree that it is a sad fact that we don’t usually consider human emotion in our online interaction. In my head, I am always well-reasoned, thoughtful, considerate, and jovial. In my prose, I am often only a few or none of these things. Human emotion is denied us on both ends of the conversation here. I don’t know a good way to overcome that liability.

  22. I have to love John Birchers? Okay, after all my life motto is “What would HP do?” You are more feisty at BCC. Again, another brilliant post: You are my hero.

  23. Steve Evans says:

    Beijing: “Maybe all non-permabloggers should change our screennames to Presumed Trollish, since that’s how you see us anyway.”

    You know, it’s remarks like that which cause others to view some of your behaviors as trollish, Beijing.

  24. after all my life motto is “What would HP do?”

    If only everyone were so enlightened…

  25. Eugene V. Debs says:

    I was introduced to the bloggernacle by a good friend who is now a permablogger at another brand-name Mormon blog. I lurked for a while and found myself disagreeing with quite a bit of what was said politically, though I consider myself to have a strong testimony. So, I became a troll. I read this blog, Mstar, and Times and Seasons once in a while and, when the spirit moves me, post responses that are intended to be both within the bounds of propriety and easily ignored. It’s cathartic, really, being able to openly talk back to my supposed peer group of educated, committed Mormons without fear of social consequence.

    So should I be banned? I try not to engage in personal attacks or thread-jacking, just state my piece and walk away. I am a troll, and I do hide behind various aliases. But then again, if people like me were not allowed because they could not, for whatever reason, bring themselves so far into the community that they engage in the type of “you da man (or woman)” exchanges that occur between permabloggers, the number of comments would be greatly reduced. And sometimes, people like me can say interesting things.

    What do you think, Mr. Crawford? This time I’ll actually check back in and see what you have to say.

  26. After several grinding Settlers sessions, I think I’d like to be put on your enemies list, JDC. >:) (And make sure I’m not on annegb‘s!)

    I don’t know what DAMU is all about, but I have to say that I like the sound of it.

  27. Bro. Debs,
    Do I think that such people should be banned? It would depend on the nature of what they post. I am not familiar with the vast majority of your work, so I cannot comment on whether or not you would meet my criteria.

    It appears that you feel your function is to prevent us from sitting around and patting ourselves on the back. I don’t know why you see this as the majority of bloggernacle conversation, as I see plenty of disagreement. But I have my own blinders, too.

    To be honest, I think that if you of such a bent, one can live a happy life as a troll. It helps such folk that they either don’t care to look at how their comments have influenced conversation or they don’t care how their comments have influenced conversation, I think. So, Bro. Debs, you are within your rights to continue your trollishness. Please also understand that I am in my rights to ignore trollish comments and we shall get along swimmingly.

    That said, anything determined to be offensive, petty, overly personal and so forth will of course be deleted. Also, possibly, comments I don’t like.

  28. Debs: “I lurked for a while and found myself disagreeing with quite a bit of what was said politically, though I consider myself to have a strong testimony. So, I became a troll.”

    Of course! I disagreed with what was said — so OF COURSE I became a troll. What other course of action was possible?

    Bro. Debs, there’s simply no need in any context for anyone to be a troll. It’s inexcusable internet behavior.

  29. Eugene V. Debs says:

    HP/JDC–I’m glad you support my basic premise–I can be a troll as long as I’m operating under some restraint. I’m glad to see that you feel free to ignore me since, as a troll, I’m rarely actually participating in the conversation and I wouldn’t want to waste your time.

    I feel that I need to moderate my “you da man” comment. I did not mean to imply self-congratulation–though I see why you took it that way–but rather the kind of chummy closeness that comes from a level of like-mindedness and familiarity that the bloggernacle does not inspire in me. In a semi-public forum, in other words, there will be insiders and outsiders. Outsider discourse will be different than insider discourse in terms of familarity and status within the group.

    Steve–

    I did not say that I had to become a troll. “So” is not as strongly causal as you imply. I was shooting for something more sequential that expressed limited causality. What, and I ask this sincerely, would you have done? I did not want to get into lengthy arguments with people in an environment that often leads, as has been abundantly pointed out, to flaming and other bad behavior. And, as HP somewhat unkindly pointed out, I don’t post that much–the majority of my work is not vast. This is on purpose. I want my level of pestering to be that of a fly that occasionaly buzzes in and out of a room and not that of a two-year-old demanding ice cream. If I were vigorously debating points I disagreed with, I think I would be much, much more annoying.

  30. Bro. Debs,
    I apologize for appearing/being unkind. I didn’t intend to be. I meant to say that I don’t know you from Adam and therefore I don’t know if you really are someone that I would consider a troll. I really didn’t intend it to be a commentary on your contribution to the ‘nacle at large. I just don’t read a lot of the blogs, so I don’t know everyone’s tendencies. Does that make sense?

  31. Debs: “What, and I ask this sincerely, would you have done?”

    I would have started my own blog.

  32. Richard Nixon says:

    It’s tough, boys, but you still have old Dick to kick around anymore. Any gutless creature that promises an enemies list, but then comes up with this kind of pap

    The company we keep is not always divinely inspired, instead it is personally chosen. It is well to remember that.

    deserves to be at the top of my enemies list (which had the cojones to name names so we could kick ass), far ahead of Walter Cronkite and Daniel Ellsberg and Fulbright and Hoover and all the rest.

  33. Eugene V. Debs says:

    HP–Makes perfect sense. I see what you mean. I was probably being overly sensitive.

    Steve–Not everyone has the time to start his own Blog. I am an untenured academic and I need to write things that journals in my field would be interested in. Furthermore, I can’t have people thinking about funding or publishing me googling my name and coming up with rants about, say, why David Bednar’s talk about offending people proves that he is a postmodernist without peer. I also need to grade the papers generated by a 4/4 load (something I should be doing now). So think of allowing people like me to be trolls as a kind of service. It’s actually appealing to think about being a Mormon Rude Pundit–without, of course, the x-rated content. Since I can’t do that, however, I’ll be a troll. I get to rant about LDS culture in ways that don’t really bother anyone and won’t hurt my career. If you were my home teacher and I asked you if I could be a troll on BCC, you’d probaly let me.

  34. Okay, Dick. You’re public enemy number #1.

  35. “If you were my home teacher and I asked you if I could be a troll on BCC, you’d probaly let me.”

    I don’t think so. Ask D., I used to be his home teacher. There’s a reason his comments are always well-spoken and coherent: FEAR.

  36. “You know, it’s remarks like that which cause others to view some of your behaviors as trollish, Beijing.”

    I assume you’re joking, and that the unspoken essence of the joke is that you admit I’ve never done anything at your blog to deserve to be treated as a presumed troll? If I’m misreading and you really are telling me to leave, just say so.

  37. Beijing, you’re doubly misreading: no, I wasn’t joking, but no, I’m not telling you to leave.

  38. You’re not going to tell me what you did mean?

  39. Beijing, I meant precisely what I said: that some of your comments, such as the one I highlighted earlier, are such that they cause others to view your behavior as trollish on occasion. I meant nothing more nor less than that.

  40. Steve,

    That’s no way to treat a lady. Beijing is the polar opposite of “trollish.” Beijing’s remarks, in the main, are nothing if not articulate, moderate in tone, intelligent, constructive, and well considered. She has a long history of posting around the Bloggernacle. It seems to me she is one of the folks who has earned enough trust to be given leeway to make an occasional snarky comment. Beijing was treated poorly by some yahoos in the DAMU (some of whom I know personally) who regret that their unkind words led her to abandon some of the places where she used to post regularly. It is sad to see her receiving similar maltreatment here.

    It seems to me that your insults are in direct contradistinction to the things you said yesterday in the Angst thread. As is the silencing of Equality by queuing his comments, none of which were less than respectful and courteous (or even argumentative or disputatious). If y’all want to ban people who are denizens of the DAMU from posting here without respect to the content or tone of their comments, you should go ahead and just do it. But don’t institute a de facto policy that accomplishes that purpose even as you speak of being open to receiving different viewpoints temperately delivered by “alternative voices.” Your words in the comments on the Angst thread say one thing; your words in this post and the actions of the admins here deliver a different message.

  41. In response to the sidebar of “What the hell is Jim Caviezel saying?”

    He’s speaking in Aramaic. The first part at least is, le bar enash, “to the son of man.” Second part sounds like minnach, but I can’t make it out exactly.

  42. Eric, I am with you on much of your comment excepting the part where you refer to Beijing’s comments as constructive. While I do believe Beijing to be articulate and often very nice, I do not often see her remarks as being constructive. It is this impression that gives her comments an air of “trollishness” that isn’t based on bad behavior per se. I have no desire to drive Beijing away and yet I have no desire to promote her agenda (as I understand it).

    Regarding Equality, I agree. I don’t think that he did anything worthy of moderation in that comment thread. I can only say that I don’t think his overall body of work in the bloggernacle has led me to have a great deal of trust for him. Again, in saying that, I am assuming that he is a swell dude, kind to children and pets. I just don’t yet believe that he and I represent a similar agenda. Our varied approaches to the church have put us on opposite sides of drawn lines too often. Perhaps a similar position would be for me to show up on a political blog run by Matt Evans, Frank Mcintyre, and DKL and demand that the treat everything I say without suspicion. It is too much to expect, especially in the polarized world of online discussion.

    I actually believe that Eguality’s comment didn’t appear because of the spam filter, in any case. As always we are having much ado about nothing.

  43. Elephant Mayan says:

    Beijing, a troll? Now that is some funny stuff right there. She aint no troll. But if you insist on thinking that I suggest you take it up with my wife, she would appreciate the laugh and I would love to see her defend Beijing.

    You might have to start a new list, a list of those that consider YOU an enemy. That is a greater measure of things, no?

  44. HP/JDC,

    I actually have it on good authority that Equality hates cats (though he won’t deliberately speed up if he sees one crossing the road in front of him).

    To your point about the “constructiveness” of Beijing’s comments, I note that this was also one of the things J. Stapley mentioned in his OP on Angst. It may be that there is a disconnect among some of the participants here about what constitutes a “constructive” comment. I tend to think anything that does not denigrate or insult another can be constructive. To the extent that someone posts a comment that represents a viewpoint different from the permablogger’s or the majority of those who may frequent the board, I don’t think it is necessarily unconstructive. I suppose if one is seeking some sort of unity or harmony among the crowd that post here, anything like that would not be constructive. But to the extent that one of the goals is to understand each other, I think comments from someone with a different “agenda” can be constructive. Likewise, if one of the goals is for faithful members to have their beliefs reinforced and strengthened, I think comments representing opposing viewpoints considerately offered can also be constructive. Perhaps we have different ideas about what constitutes constructive dialogue.

  45. Elephant Mayan says:

    oh, spam filter shpam filter. but, like that poser mayan elephant said, its your playround, do as you see fit.

    you guys are fun and funny over here. did anyone tell you that?

  46. Likewise, if one of the goals is for faithful members to have their beliefs reinforced and strengthened, I think comments representing opposing viewpoints considerately offered can also be constructive. Perhaps we have different ideas about what constitutes constructive dialogue.

    Eric, it is entirely possible that we do. For me, a constructive explanation of one’s own position is one that doesn’t delve into (as amri might put it) Ichibanity. I agree that it is possible to simply explain one’s approach without doing that and I agree that this is what Beijing usually does (and what I occasionally do). However, I am sufficiently aware of Beijing to have seen times where this wasn’t the case and I have some idea regarding what her agenda might be. So, I view her comments more critically than I view…um…yours. This doesn’t mean that I think she is a horrible human being. It just means that I have some blinders on when I read her comments. If it makes you feel any better, I generally despise georgeD’s comments more and treat bbell’s comments with a roughly equal amount of suspicion.

    Crap, mayan, don’t call me funny. I’m trying to despise you over here.

  47. does a comment submitted to a blog but not published make a noise?

    Equality, I am glad that you finally got through. I don’t know that we are engaged in anything here aside from sound and fury so, yes I guess.

  48. Steve Evans says:

    Eric S., you’re not reading what I’m writing. I was speaking as to a specific comment Beijing made, not to her as an individual or as to her general demeanor. Don’t blow what I said out of its proper proportion.

  49. Elephant Mayan says:

    hey hp/jdc, i am trying to hate you too. how am i doing on that? cmon man, use the spirit and look, deep, deep, deep into my eyes and tell me.

    i do not love georgeD and bbell a ton. but seriously, i had no clue we could really say that over here.

    hey evans. how can anything be blown out of proportion when it is quoted? did he change the font or something?

    dont forget, mayan elephant got banned for being in the damu, good thing Elephant Mayan never played over there. remember, its the content not the person, and versa visa.

  50. ME, Eric didn’t quote me. And you didn’t get banned for being in the DAMU.

  51. mayan,
    um, are you looking to get rebanned or something? seriously, at this moment, you have tone issues and you have personality issues. What you posted elsewhere around here don’t mean much to me; I’ve seen worse. But now you are just being belligerent. If it is important for you to be around here: Cease and Desist now. If it isn’t…

  52. Elephant Mayan says:

    yeah yeah. i hear ya. ill cut the sarcasm on this one. no worries, mate.

    bff?

  53. “I was speaking as to a specific comment Beijing made, not to her as an individual or as to her general demeanor.”

    Actually, Steve E., you did speak to more than the one specific comment. You said: “some of your comments, such as the one I highlighted earlier, are such that they cause others to view your behavior as trollish on occasion.” My internet demeanor consists of my comments; you spoke of “some of” them. “Behavior” more or less equals demeanor. And “on occasion” refers to more than one occasion. Everyone can judge my demeanor for themselves. I’m not worried about how you think others perceive me.

    The wisdom of Wikipedia: “Often, calling someone a troll makes assumptions about a writer’s motives. … Some have suggested that instead of calling somebody a “troll”, they should focus on specific behaviors that a group finds uncomfortable, and enforce behavioral rules to consistently and fairly prevent such behaviors. The idea is to focus on the undesirable behavior itself, rather than on the motivation for the behavior.”

    More wisdom of Wikipedia: “In forums where most users are similar to each other, outsiders may be perceived as trolls simply because they do not fit into the social norms of that group. It can sometimes be difficult to distinguish between a user who merely has different values, views, or ideas, and a user who is intentionally trolling. This can lead to genuinely hostile behavior, including flame wars.”

    I need to exit this thread while I still have neutral feelings toward Steve E. and HP/JDC. Unless I’m told to leave BCC altogther, though, I’ll stick around the blog.

  54. Steve Evans says:

    Fair enough, Beijing. In the future, I will try harder to focus on specific undesirable behavior instead, and try to understand better whether you simply don’t fit into social norms of this group, or whether you are really a troll. I don’t know why you mention demeanor.

  55. Steve,

    You seem to be saying that she’s either a misfit or a troll. Are those really the only two options here? That’s a pretty harsh characterization.

  56. Kaimi, those seemed to be the options she laid out in her comment. But again, I don’t really think she is a troll at all. She’s made a trollish remark or two in the past, but that’s about it. This whole brouhaha is pretty lame.

  57. I have absolutely NO feelings toward Steve Evans, as he is a Mets fan, and they swept my beloved Dodgers . . . you guys need to lighten up here.

  58. LET’S GO METS!

  59. Somehow I think JDC was hoping his post would smoother things over.

  60. For heaven’s sake, who hasn’t made a trollish remark or two? I’ve asked you guys over and over to define it for me so I wouldn’t do it, but nobody ever answered me. Perhaps we need a definitive definition once and for all of trolling.
    I’ve never read a comment by Beijing or Ann that resembled what I thought trolling was (I think about the thing under the bridge, or Bill fishing in the boat).

    “whether you don’t fit the social norms of this group” is kind of a mean thing to say, Steve. It would should smart if somebody said it to me. And since none of us is/are normal, it doesn’t even fit. We’re all abnormal. Or were you making a joke?

    “you don’t fit” are pretty harsh words, just doesn’t sound like you at all. I’d be hurt. I didn’t know you guys ever banned anyone or queed them, whatever that means.

    #5 Queno, I love what you said. I think I’ll put it on my fridge. I enjoy blogging, but it is sort of funny a lot of the time. I must take it seriously since I do it a lot, but then I also watch a lot of reality TV.

    Mark IV, I was sort of wanting to read his enemies list, also. I wouldn’t list anyone on the blog as an enemy, but I have real enemies. One is at the prison. I always tell people, if I ever get murdered, there will be a long list of potential suspects. I am not the person of which one would say, “she had no enemies, I can’t imagine who bludgeoned her and spit on her body.”

    Hellmut has always, always been nice to me and we disagree about almost everything. His blog, which why haven’t you posted recently?–is the model of civil disagreement.

    But so has everyone else been nice to me (well, there is that one person, but . . .I’m sure God still loves that person) and I’m getting distressed at this situation. Just genuinely distressed.

    FHL, I always thought DAMU meant a bad word, but I think it’s a genuine group of people, some who are my friends. As I said, no blogger is on my list, but I was looking forward to waxing poetic about my stake president. That guy is so chauvinistic, oy, and we need new tables . . .if he had to move them. . .

    And I just have to say as a final word that if I have to give contructive comments, I am so screwed. I’m just happy to be here, basking in all this love and friendship. And the arguments, those get pretty interesting also. I’m just upset. I thought we all liked each other.

  61. And I just have to say one last thing. The Cardinals are the most self-defeating, potentially great team in baseball and I used to love them, but I have no hope. Or is it over already?

  62. Thomas Parkin says:

    Sorry to offend, but this place is a field of daisies. I’ve been reading a bit for the last couple months – and while I’ve seen some snarky comments that were taken hard, and noted some familiar internet community dynamics, I wasn’t aware that I’d even seen a flame … I posted on alt.gothic and some other remote reaches of Usenet for about 10 years* – we had flame there that felt like fire, hatred that read like hatred.

    So, neener you pansy Mormons and ex-Mormons!!

    ~

  63. annegb, you’re right. that was a meanish thing for me to say. Mostly I was making fun of Beijing’s earlier comment. I hadn’t considered that none of us are normal. I apologize to Beijing, and thank you for the reminder.

  64. Steve, I just knew you couldn’t mean it like that.

    BTW, why did you get banned from Times and Seasons? There’s your next two topics for you, the definition of trolling and “why I got banned at T&S”

    Thomas, we will think of your comment while we are eating your liver with the fava beans. And smile quietly.

  65. DV, I fail to see how labeling people based on the content and tone of their posts is indiscriminate, especially in an internet forum. What other means do we have for discrimination?

    Judging a human being based on a few internet posts can be indiscriminate and haphazard. It’s difficult to impossible to accurately judge the character of others based on a few random comments. I understand that a forum such as this needs rules. What I fail to understand is the need to discriminate. If people are labeled solely on the content and tone of their posts, then a beautiful human being could possibly be banned or ignored simply for a misstatement or poorly verbalized thought. This would be unfortunate in my view. Many who enter these fora may have minimal internet experience or poor netiquette, yet their ideas may be very insightful. Some, who may be considered trolls, may actually just be rough around the edges, rough stones rolling, if you will. I would suspect that as we forgive church leaders their errors in judgment, so we should also allow posters some leeway for errors in judgment. Should people be shunned for an error in judgment trying to properly compose their thoughts? That’s the only point I was trying to make. Many new people who enter the bloggernacle may not be as finely tuned as others with more experience.

    “But the beauty of the internet, for me, is that it allows us to formulate our ideas and be totally honest without fear of reprisal or rejection. DV”
    If you really believe this, I fear that you are going to be sorely disappointed by your participation in the internet. As I said, trolls get shunned.

    This seems to indicate that someone who is being totally honest, without fear of reprisal, is categorically considered a troll. How unfortunate. I’m sure this blog welcomes people who want to be totally honest. I have enjoyed the time spent on internet blogs and discussion boards, because I am honest with my feelings. I think you may have misunderstood my point, or I wasn’t clear. I do not fear reprisals or rejection because I expect people to have varying opinions. Someone who rejects my opinion does not reject me personally. I can easily see the difference. So, I enjoy stating my honest opinion without fear of becoming offended by others who may reject my ideas. The internet, for me, remains the best place (outside of marriage) to openly discuss honest beliefs and concerns. In real life, it can be difficult to impossible to discuss many of these topics in a completely honest way, due to fear of rejection and/or repercussions. But on the internet, all of you folks are real, yet intangible, so there is an element of safety not achievable in real life. That’s all I was trying to say.

  66. Anne,

    We banned Steve for two reasons, primarily. First, because he was responsible for the deaths of James and Lily Potter. Second, for the use of unforgivable curses.

    Of course, he has always protested that it wasn’t his fault — that he was acting under the effects of the Imperius curse when he did those things, and that DKL is the real culprit.

  67. Kaimi,

    When someone commented above about how they always ask themselves what would HP do, I was going to make the requisite Harry Potter joke, but after spending the 10 minutes to read all the ::lovely:: comments in this thread, I get to the bottom and see that you’ve already made a HP joke, thereby making me look like a copy cat.

    Foiled again! ;)

  68. Richard Nixon says:

    Okay, Dick. You’re public enemy number #1.

    HP/JDC, you just don’t get it.

    My “enemies list” was personal. Nothing public about it until those sniveling b*******s at the Post got ahold of it.

  69. In the movies, it’s always the nicest one who is the serial killer.

  70. Judging a human being based on a few internet posts can be indiscriminate and haphazard. It’s difficult to impossible to accurately judge the character of others based on a few random comments.

    Who said I was judging a human being? For all I know mayan elephant is Elder Scott trying to bring the disaffected back in a very unorthodox manner. Internet communication is not the same thing as human communication. Based on what I have seen from the internet communication of some individuals, I don’t trust their internet personae very much. That is entirely different from knowing them in real-life. In real life I would have some idea of how they actually behave, how they actually treat their neighbor and the church, and how they actually think (whether they mean a given remark seriously or jokingly and how to take either meaning). All of that is missing in internet communication, where typed words are all we have to go on and, therefore, we read things into what other people say. If you have an easy solution to this problem, please state it.

    This seems to indicate that someone who is being totally honest, without fear of reprisal, is categorically considered a troll. How unfortunate. I’m sure this blog welcomes people who want to be totally honest.

    This is going to depend on what you are honest about. I know that we have made a behind the scenes pact regarding certain topics that should not be discussed openly on this blog by the permabloggers, even if honesty is involved (at the moment the verboden topics are graphic sexual details and tampon stories (nothing against FMH)). All conversation is bound by standards of taste, which is determined by the participants in the conversation. We have found a comfortable standard of taste for most of our participants. If you are comfortable here, good. That means that your taste likely approximates our taste. That doesn’t mean that we are kindred spirits or that you are obligated to be interested in everything I am interested in and it doesn’t mean that people cannot be occasionally trollish. It means that we try and get the determinedly trollish out so that the rest of us can think in peace.

    Now if you are looking for an example of determinedly trollish behavior, take a look at mayan elephants comment here. He is being belligerent, looking to pick a fight. He is being insulting while simultaneously playing the victim. Also note that he isn’t saying anything substantive about the post or the thread. I suppose that it is possible that I am misreading him (I know that he is intelligent enough to defend himself and that he could likely rationalize his behavior). I have seen his behavior elsewhere which I believe is always borderline trollish when not outright trollish.

    What is borderline trollish? Take a look at mayan’s comment here. Note the judgment at the beginning, regarding how the thread is wierd and how he feels a need to refute. Then he makes a fair point, telling the story of a good friend who was gay and who was also the adoptive father of two good kids. It is a fair point because the thread is about adoption and so gay adoption isn’t (to my mind) very far afield (I didn’t follow the thread and therefore cannot judge how far afield it may have been). However, it is borderline trollish both in the judgmental tone and in the general air of victimhood in the end of the comment (though we do appreciate you editing out those snarks; thank you for taking the time to be nice and then explaining how tough it is for you).
    There is also the case of mild trollishness. A prime example is DKL, who rather prides himself in it. Generally speaking, DKL often enters threads in order to pick fights, making him a troll. However, DKL is articulate, well-known in the community, well-liked in the community, and usually has something to say about the actual topic beyond “You’re stupid/deluded/ugly” and so forth. If you ask him why he is making an argument, he always has a reason beyond “I don’t like you”. You may not agree (I often don’t) but he is happy to defend himself and his position on the topic at hand. DKL has been banned from several sites because of his trollishness, but he hung around and people generally are willing to put up with him because he contributes things that other people don’t.

    Then there are the people who are always nice, who are always respectful, and who always operate from a position that the Church and those affiliated with it operate from the worst possible motivation for any act. Hellmut, who knows that I think this of him, is a prime example of the phenomenon. He is articulate, well-reasoned, very polite, very interested, and, to my mind, almost always wrong (just because, natch). Actually, I often agree with Hellmut on the facts and on the implications, it is the motivations that he sees and that I don’t that lead to our estrangement. So there is that.

    That is a brief rundown of possible trollish behaviors that appear on the bloggernacle. Now, the thing is, the Hellmut example isn’t trollish behavior. It is what you would expect to find in civil discussion. While I don’t trust Hellmut 100%, I do have some idea of where he is coming from. I respect his input because he often sees things that I don’t see. But I am suspicious of his motivations and very likely shall remain so. Those who I know who have met him in person tell me that he is a very, nice man. I don’t doubt it, but nonetheless I know that he has a different agenda than I do on the blogs and that makes me suspicious of him.

    The internet, for me, remains the best place (outside of marriage) to openly discuss honest beliefs and concerns. In real life, it can be difficult to impossible to discuss many of these topics in a completely honest way, due to fear of rejection and/or repercussions. But on the internet, all of you folks are real, yet intangible, so there is an element of safety not achievable in real life.

    This is the point I want to get across. The freedom from repercussions in internet discussion cuts both ways. Sure, some people feel like they can be more honest because of the internet. Others feel like they can get away with more. Because all we have are words, the ability and opportunity to deceive are great (I should state that all of the above mentioned peoples are not people whom I would consider deliberately deceptive; they are all pretty open about their agendas). You cannot believe everything or everyone you read here. The internet is not actually any safer than the rest of existence.

  71. Thomas Parkin says:

    annegb,

    That would be ‘what is left of my liver …’

    And I’ll remember to pass you only soft paper, no pencils or pens, nothing with a paper clip or staple in it. If you try to pass me anything through the glass, I’m afraid I won’t be able to accept it.

    wheee…

    ~

  72. I agree with HP in #70. Mayan Elephant is a master of playing the victim while hurling insults, picking a fight and posting gibberish. Mayan Elephant ought to have the courtesy of using his (her?) real name so that at least we can see who it is that is constantly whining casting judgmental aspersions. What good is it to claim that one has been victimized by the big bad Mormon Church while hiding? Worse, Mayan Elephant doesn’t even have the courtesy of letting those he claimed are victims to speak for themselves — he is an all purpose whiner who purports to whine, bitch moan and complain for others.

  73. Now you see, that’s a fairly trollish comment, too. Just because you agree with me, that doesn’t protect or prevent you from being a troll. So, remember to be nice.

    (if case you were wondering, I was commenting on the nature of specific posts when discussing mayan, not the nature of the man himself)

  74. DKL and mild just don’t seem to fit in the same sentence.

    Sometimes I’m bored and I pick fights. And the rest of you do too, don’t deny it.

    That makes us all trolls.

  75. anne, I don’t deny it. Usually people are kind enough to ignore us under those conditions.

  76. Hm, I suppose that the difference between mild and borderline trollishness is probably so minimal that it likely doesn’t exist at all, on further consideration.

  77. I. for one, am happy to see a little boundary maintenance being done. BCC and DAMU are two different things, and we are just kidding ourselves if we blur the distinctions and pretend that differences don’t exist. It is actually beneficial to both communities to unapologetically insist on distinctions. Respect is reciprocal, and I have to wonder how much respect people who make wisecracks about Breed ‘em Young and the International House of Handshakes can reasonably expect in return.

    I think when Stapley said we either get over our angst or we leave, he wasn’t speaking imperatively, in the “shape up or ship out” sense. Rather, I think he was simply making the routine observation that the foyer is a place we pass through on our way in or out, and not a place to set up permanent residence.

    Robert Frost said that good fences make good neighbors. I love my neighbor, and I love my neighbor’s dog. I love him even more when he remembers which side of the fence he lives on.

  78. Eugene V. Debs says:

    In comment #72, HP notes that “we have found a comfortable standard of taste for most of our participants” and then goes on to talk about eliminating egregious trolls so that “the rest of us can think in peace.” This assertion seems to suggest that BCC is something like a social club, albiet one with admirable intellectual and spiritual aspirations. If that’s the case, then I am in the wrong and should never post here again.

    And yet, I think there’s more going on here. BCC has ties to Dialogue, and no less a figure than Levi Peterson posts here regularly. So one could also think of BCC as an extension of Mormon Studies efforts, and therefore more open to *polite* comments from people who are not insiders and do not feel that their tastes are reflected. When Dialogue runs an article, they get mail. Obviously, some of that mail respectfully critiques the articles. It would, however, bankrupt any journal–and bore its readers–to print every piece of mail recieved. So most of the critiques are simply put in the recycle bin. But a blog is different. Respectful outsiders can send in their letters to the editor and they can be posted and ignored at essentially no cost. This has two benefits. It increases the site traffic for BCC, T&S, etc. The permabloggers aren’t just talking to their own small circle. Trolls are, after all, part of your audience–if combined with their timid cousins the lurkers, the majority of your audience. It also lets people like me, who do not interact with thoughtful Mormons in our daily lives, think about Mormon Studies topics.

    So it all depends on what y’all want. I still don’t know what to make of the bloggernacle, but if you tell me it’s a virtual dinner party, I’ll cease my boorish behavior. But if it is part of the general project of Mormon Studies, I think I’ll stick around.

  79. #71: I think that is the only time anyone has ever conflated Mayan Elephant with Elder Scott. I think it’s a toss-up as to which of the two would be more aghast at the comparison.

  80. Elephant Mayan says:

    all i can see is WOW. and i dont mean word of wisdom, i mean holy cow. me? the victim? thats a good one. i like that.

    when it comes the the bloggernacle, apologetics and society in general, i cant help but laugh when people consider it ill mannered or out of line for pointing out another point of view or perceived inequality.

    the reality is, none of us are really victims. we all have time, internet access, liberty, families and a venue to discuss these and many other issues on the wild wild web. we are not victims. none of us. if we were victims of much we would be working on survival, not practicing some silly debate on the net.

    that said, i find it very interesting that my comments have made such a stir, especially since i have been banned from here for a long time.

    and as for the love, hate, and whatnot comment….. cmon, really, it was a response to a previous post and if you cant lighten up over that, perhaps we should go back to the first line… WOW, you may need to reconsider the word of wisdom after all.

  81. Elephant Mayan says:

    2006 was a good year, i shared a table with that elder eyring guy and nannap and equality in the same year. not simultaneously, obviously.

    i cant say that scott and i would have as much fun as i had with equality or ann. but i suppose you just never know.

  82. #73, I know Mayan Elephant IRL, and to call him “whiney” is the funniest thing I have seen today. He is the epitome of NOT whiney. (Or is Mayan a “she”? – knowing Mayan’s real name would not positively identify his/her sex, believe me.) If you were to meet Mayan in the flesh, you would become his friend, unless you drive a BMW like a maniac or call him a her.

    I do wish he could learn to capitalize proper nouns and beginings of sentences, however.

  83. Steve Evans says:

    Debs: “BCC is something like a social club, albiet one with admirable intellectual and spiritual aspirations. If that’s the case, then I am in the wrong and should never post here again”

    Debs, then I think you should never post here again. We’re not an academic journal; there is no peer review process, no screening, no real duties undertaken. We share Dialogue’s goals of bringing our faith into dialogue with the larger stream of world religious thought and with human experience as a whole. Similarly, we try our best to to foster artistic and scholarly achievement based on our respective cultural heritages. But you think because we’re a blog, that trolls are a part of the cost of doing business and that we have some kind of obligation to let n’importe quoi post their thoughts. Not so.

  84. Bro. Debs,
    What it means is that I view it as a social club and that I believe that that is the healthiest manner in which to view it. In saying that, I don’t mean that I want you to go; I just mean that this is how I view it.

  85. Elephant Mayan says:

    nathan, for you, anything is possible. though the shift key thing aint all that probable. sorry to disappoint you.

  86. a random John says:

    As long as we’re throwing out accusations of poaching…

    Of course I’m all in favor or Eugene England getting referenced as much as possible.

    From my post:

    In his essay, “Why the Church is as True as the Gospel” Eugene England makes an interesting claim that resolves my earlier conundrum and ties all of this together. The basic idea is that the church is structured in such a way as to use our imperfections, and those of the people around us, in order to make all of us more perfect. It gives us a way of interacting with each other that helps shape us to be more tolerant of one another, more loving of each other, and remove our own sins. How does this happen?

    and from this post:

    In his essay, “Why the church is as true as the gospel,” Eugene England argued that the one greatest effect of the church is that it puts you into situations with people whom you would never voluntarily associate with. In these situations, if you are a good church member, or even if you would only like to be one, you are supposed to serve these people out of love. Serving in love, with all our heart, is the one thing really asked of us by Church service. And we have to extend that love to everyone, in and out of the church, but particularly in, where we are easily frustrated by the bigots, sexists, liberals, feminists, conservatives, and John Birchers among us. We’re supposed to love everybody.

    You be the judge! And yes, he did add a comma that I incorrectly omitted.

  87. Mark IV (#78) said, “I think when Stapley said we either get over our angst or we leave, he wasn’t speaking imperatively, in the “shape up or ship out” sense. Rather, I think he was simply making the routine observation that the foyer is a place we pass through on our way in or out, and not a place to set up permanent residence.”

    Well said. I’ve been pondering this same question; in fact, I just wrote a blog post about it: http://sunstoneblog.com/?p=151

    I’d love to see you comment on why you see no middle ground between “in” and “out.” Thanks.

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