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General Guide to Blogging, #127:
In a moderated comment thread, there is a 50% chance that any commenter who is given a warning for being uncivil will argue that they were not uncivil, demand an explanation of what exactly they did that was deemed uncivil, and seek an explanation of why others have not been warned when they did more or less the same thing.
NYU2lb:
First
2.11.2009 3:56pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):
Yeah? Prove it! :-)
2.11.2009 3:57pm
EricPWJohnson (mail):
Only 50%?
2.11.2009 4:00pm
Randy R. (mail):
Then let's settle our differences the old fashioned way: I challenge you to a duel.
2.11.2009 4:02pm
wm13:
The Nazis had that same #127 in their general guide. I guess Prof. Kerr is the same as they are.
2.11.2009 4:04pm
CFG in IL (mail):
See also p. 1, Handbook of Parenting.
2.11.2009 4:06pm
TCO:
That's cause they are whiney sealawyer pussies. I take my spankings like a man.
2.11.2009 4:07pm
Gabor (mail):
Ever teach in a Jr. High or High School? If a student is caught by a teacher doing something against the rules, the teacher will first hear that the the student was not doing that, then that if they had been doing it, others were doing it as well, and then demand an explanation as why the others were not being warned, reprimanded or punished.

I've often thought that if someone could come up with a mechnism for getting out of this cycle of kids getting their backs up for the seemingly arbitrary or even prejudicial application of the rules and the incentive it creates for lying, and instead develop a culture in which the value of taking more immediate responsibility for actions was established less circuitously, the benefits to society at large would be huge.
2.11.2009 4:09pm
Nick056:
#128: the other 50% ignore the warning altogether.
2.11.2009 4:10pm
MarkField (mail):
I demand that the first post in this thread be deleted as irrelevant.
2.11.2009 4:12pm
Calderon:
Commenters in my high school used to do complain about warnings for being uncivil all the time. It was no big deal.
2.11.2009 4:17pm
pete (mail) (www):
Why are you blogging about this instead of the bailout?

And you call yourself a libertarian blogger.
2.11.2009 4:19pm
Dan Weber (www):
Because of this post, you know owe me a beer.
2.11.2009 4:22pm
poohaed (mail) (www):
50% are supposed to be wrong? I'd say that is a fairly good indicator that something is wrong on the administrator's side of things.

Facilitating Online Communities
2.11.2009 4:24pm
CJColucci:
This post has been deleted on civility grounds.
2.11.2009 4:25pm
Splunge:
So, these pests logic-chop on whether the evidence is insufficient for conviction, file tiresome habeas corpus petitions, and then demand that sentencing guidelines be proven not to violate the Equal Protection Clause et cetera? Tsk.

Hearing this complaint from a law professor...priceless.
2.11.2009 4:26pm
Thief (mail) (www):
And there is a 100% chance that OK will subsequently ban them. Because that's just how he rolls.
2.11.2009 4:30pm
Bruce McCullough (mail):
"any commenter who is given a warning for being uncivil will argue that they were not uncivil,"


THEY were not uncivil?

Is there some unknown group of persons who is implicitly referenced?

Or does the plural "they" refer to the singular "commenter"?

I thought lawyers valued precision, not confusion, in their use of the language.
2.11.2009 4:48pm
Happyshooter:
In a moderated comment thread, there is a 50% chance that any commenter...

True that.

I read a paragraph in novel years ago that rang true with me, it was something like:

"No one is ever the bad guy in his own mind. You should try to understand his point of view to see if you can work with him. If you can't, then at least you can kill him without hatred or remorse."
2.11.2009 4:57pm
hawkins:

I thought lawyers valued precision, not confusion, in their use of the language.


What's the alternative to "they," "he/she"?
2.11.2009 5:02pm
Oren:
Well, clearly I am the only person here following the rules.

[OK: Even if you are there's no reason to blow your own horn.]
2.11.2009 5:12pm
DrObviousSo:
True Fact: Robert E Howard accounts for those 50% of reprimands calling a commenter uncivil. He thinks they are a compliment.
2.11.2009 5:13pm
Oren:


I thought lawyers valued precision, not confusion, in their use of the language.

What's the alternative to "they," "he/she"?

The MLA suggests that the third person singular take the gender of the speaker/writer.

[OK: My, another erudite comment!]
2.11.2009 5:13pm
lucia (mail) (www):
Thief
And there is a 100% chance that OK will subsequently ban them. Because that's just how he rolls.


I applaud Orin for setting a good example.

If a blogger won't ban a commenter who is making a nuisance of himself, and who argues he should be permitted to continue making a nuisance of himself, the blogger will eventually contemplate murder. I don't think anyone could argue justifiable homicide on the grounds that the corpse was an unrepentant, annoying troll who induced a psychotic episode which compelled the blogger to kill him. (What with all the lawyers blogging, maybe I could find a lawyer who would be willing to argue the case? Still, banning seems a better choice.)
2.11.2009 5:18pm
david's lats:
Gentlemen at my preparatory school routinely made such protestations, and often demanded a full and expeditious account of their malfeasance in addition to an explanation for why fellow malefactors were not castigated in like and equal measure. It was not a conspicuous event.
2.11.2009 5:18pm
Alligator:
Internet lesson #3 (courtesy of Sarcastro): Disapproval on the Internet is like a switch, with silence on one side and Hitler references on the other.

Prof. Kerr, thank you for keeping comment threads from turning into a cesspool.
2.11.2009 5:23pm
Ex-Fed (mail) (www):
Of all the moderating methods I have seen, I have to admit that my favorite (revealing my fundamentally unserious and sophomoric nature) was a site where if you pissed off the moderators, they would edit your profile picture and caption and name-tag and such to say demeaning things. You were free to continue to misbehave thereafter, but you'd be misbehaving with a user tag that said "whiny little bitch," or some such.
2.11.2009 5:23pm
Tony Tutins (mail):
I was incivil once, and Orin was kind enough to let me know.
2.11.2009 5:45pm
Richard A. (mail):
On the he/she/they issue, the Language Log has an amusing post making the case that Jehovah himself thought it was acceptable: http://158.130.17.5/~myl/languagelog/archives/003572.html
2.11.2009 5:51pm
Anon Y. Mous:
Addendum: If the moderated comment thread is on a legal blog, the 50% will increase to 99%.
2.11.2009 5:58pm
Doug Sundseth (mail):
I'm rather a fan of Making Light's practice of disemvowelment. If you care enough, you can still figure out why the person was disemvoweled, and responses don't become complete non-sequiturs. If you don't care, it just looks like greeked text and is easy to pass by.
2.11.2009 6:00pm
Xanthippas (mail) (www):
In other words, smart-asses turn into whiny bitches when they get called out. So basically the internet is like real life.

(I hope that wasn't uncivil of me.)
2.11.2009 6:03pm
Michael Drake (mail) (www):
If calling other commenters "addle-brained, fascist lunatics" a few times is "uncivil," well, then call me uncivil.
2.11.2009 6:07pm
Profane (mail) (www):
But, but, but, HE STARTED IT!
2.11.2009 6:36pm
Prof. S. (mail):
What did I miss and where can I see the aftermath?
2.11.2009 6:42pm
Crimso:
You forgot the assertions of censorship from the accused. IANAL and I am far from the smartest person in the world (or even the room, as my dog is lazing behind me as I write this), but even I understand the difference.
2.11.2009 7:11pm
LM (mail):
Consider this my preemptive demand for an explanation.
2.11.2009 7:14pm
LM (mail):
What did you, EV, et al, decide about the various suggestions for self-moderation, slashdot-style or otherwise?
2.11.2009 7:25pm
Roger Schlafly (www):
Just delete the uncivil comments. I would suggest that your co-bloggers do the same.
2.11.2009 9:08pm
NR:
If this post is directed at me, I demand a retraction and apology. If it is not directed at me, I demand an apology and a clarification that it was not directed at me. In either event, I demand a full accounting of all instances in which commentators have been warned for being uncivil by you and every other VC blogger, along with a peer-reviewed empirical analysis of the factual bases and asserted grounds for those warnings. Only a hypocritical fascist jackass would fail to show me these common courtesies.
2.12.2009 12:13am
John Burgess (mail) (www):
Why Orin Kerr! Several years ago, you e-mailed me to tell me that you had deleted one of my comments because I was, in effect, being an asshole. And you were right.

I took that lesson to heart and have not only reduced my assholery to near zero--at least while blogging or commenting--but have never again had a comment deleted here or elsewhere.

Yes, people can learn! Yes, people can change! If they choose to do so.
2.12.2009 12:28am
Allan L. (mail):
On "he/she", vs. "they". Try "she-he-it". It has a nice ring to it.
2.12.2009 2:19pm
Bill Mullins (mail):
Happyshooter quoted:

"No one is ever the bad guy in his own mind. You should try to understand his point of view to see if you can work with him. If you can't, then at least you can kill him without hatred or remorse."


That would be from Robert A. Heinlein, probably from his Notebooks of Lazarus Long.
2.12.2009 4:38pm
Ryan Waxx (mail):
Right. Because a moderator has never, ever been known to single out one person's comments, nor have they ever applied standards unevenly. It says so right in the moderator's handbook!

And before the monkeys begin to fling poo, I have never (to my knowledge) been given a warning on this blog for being uncivil. So you can just stop the ad hominems before they start, thankyouverymuch.
2.13.2009 7:47am
ChrisTS (mail):
Bill Mullins (mail):
Happyshooter quoted: "No one is ever the bad guy in his own mind. You should try to understand his point of view to see if you can work with him. If you can't, then at least you can kill him without hatred or remorse."

That would be from Robert A. Heinlein, probably from his Notebooks of Lazarus Long.


Really? i thought it was Oliver Wendell Holmes.
2.13.2009 7:34pm

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