1. 114
  1.  

  2. 44

    Thanks for posting this. It takes courage to be introspective like this in a public forum.

    1. 9

      Admitting you might be wrong is one of the hardest things, and add to the fact that now it is essentially permanent when posted on the internet, and it can be almost impossible to have open introspection. It’s easy to succumb to blowback and continuously brush people off because of their tone, but this gives me a lot more respect for someones opinions. It takes a lot of courage, I want to see more of this.

    2. 29

      This is pretty wonderful. I’m happy to help you run stats like these for a quantitative post, but the moral of this story is the importance of human connections, I think you have captured here most of what there is to learn.

      I still was routinely downvoted as “troll”.

      This surprises me a bit. I hope the incidence was much lower, but perhaps it can be explained as reputation carrying over, people read comments in your old tone. Then perhaps we’d see them on posts a sentiment analyzer judged as ambiguous or intermediate. Hm.

      1. 15

        but perhaps it can be explained as reputation carrying over, people read comments in your old tone

        I’m guilty of doing this. I thought the friendlysock name change was one big troll. It wasn’t until reading this post that I even knew it was an earnest attempt to be nicer. Sorry @friendlysock :-(

        1. 9
          I still was routinely downvoted as “troll”.
          

          This surprises me a bit. I hope the incidence was much lower, but perhaps it can be explained as reputation carrying over, people read comments in your old tone. Then perhaps we’d see them on posts a sentiment analyzer judged as ambiguous or intermediate. Hm.

          At first blush this surprised me too, but honestly I think there are some people who mis-understand what “troll” is for and are a bit too quick to pull this particular trigger.

          1. 12

            I get downvoted as troll most often in contexts where I’m replying earnestly and constructively. It doesn’t get used well and the only way to avoid it is not to disagree with anyone and avoid posting in threads where people you disagree with might be reading.

            1. 3

              I would love to see downvotes only when commenting (so you can explain downvotes). Sometimes I see totally valid comments (for my point of view) being downvoted, and as a reader I don’t know why… it’s probably frustrating for the commenter and the readers.

              1. 5

                I’m not sure that’s a good idea. If I disagree with someone or maybe I don’t understand their position, I write a comment, and don’t downvote.

                Requiring a comment for a downvote can lead to the following undesirable behaviors:

                • Trolls feed on attention, someone actually sitting down and writing a disagreement will only ensure they have been succesfull.
                • It attaches a username to a disagreement, possibly leading to harassment, retaliatory downvotes, etc.
            2. 4

              I still was routinely downvoted as “troll”.

              This surprises me a bit. I hope the incidence was much lower, but perhaps it can be explained as reputation carrying over, people read comments in your old tone.

              Could have been me. I’ve downvoted @friendlysock and other’s posts as troll before when I thought they were politely defending/promoting caustic attitudes, discrimination, or other behavior damaging to a community. I realize there are a lot of folks who prefer a written explanation, but I rarely have the bandwidth to sit down and compose a response.

              That said, I do appreciate @friendlysock’s reflection and change in communication style despite our differences in perspective on other subjects.

            3. 28

              I actually super appreciate your work on engaging with people friendlier than you have in the past. I agree with a lot of your points, but have been usually put off from how you frame them. I’m glad to see this change and it sounds like it’s worked out favorably (sans the downvotes).

              1. 12

                I found myself keying off immediately on people being overly negative or starting a reply off with some kind of grumpiness or just plain being impolite. Part of me wondered (wonders?) if that’s how folks read my own work.

                Yes, that was how I read your comments, until I started deliberately ignoring them altogether.

                I’m impressed with your experiment, and I appreciate you’ve decided to continue. You have a lot of valuable things to say, and I’m glad to resume reading your content. I wish everyone else would do the same as you.

                Also you mentioned it’s more challenging to phrase things without undue negativity. I agree, and I’ve found I even enjoy the challenge.

                1. 9

                  Thank you for trying this experiment, and for writing it up!

                  I know, firsthand, how hard it is to change something so deeply ingrained. It’s a journey that never really ends. I’m happy to count you as a fellow traveler.

                  1. 7

                    As long as you keep that unflinching honesty I’m happy to have it friendly-style.

                    1. 7

                      I think every single downvote I’ve gotten has been marked as “troll” even though I’ve never trolled on this site. I think people who disagree with you use “troll” because they don’t know what else to put.

                      1. 3

                        I’ve been tempted to suggest a “snark” reason to be added to the list of downvote reasons.

                        1. 2

                          Good snark = funny, upvote

                          Bad snark = troll, downvote

                          Do we need a new thing?

                          1. 2

                            Probably not.

                      2. 14

                        It was frustrating for me to read this because you still seem to miss the fundamental—point, for lack of a better word. You write “a degree of toxicity is helpful for preventing blooms of stupidity” as if blooms of stupidity were an Ur-evil that need to be prevented. They aren’t! They’re the inevitable product of a healthy ecosystem with lots of fresh blood making experiments. Blooms of stupidity are ultimately constructive, and necessary reagents for progress.

                        But toxicity, in contrast, and despite intent, is destructive. And toxicity left to fester in (for example) a single anointed member of a community can destroy that community, by pushing away the experimental young blood it needs to stay alive.

                        I’m glad you’re going to change tack. But you still don’t seem to grasp that “harsh and unadulterated opinion” (or however you want to frame it) is not only strictly unnecessary, but actually destructive. I hope the next iteration of your introspection will get you closer to this truth.

                        1. 5

                          Fewer direct replies were aggressive in tone, and in general were more polite.

                          That seems to be a nice primary goal.

                          1. 5

                            Thank you for this article. Without knowing it, I’ve needed to read something like this.

                            1. 3

                              Thank you for doing this.

                              1. 3

                                Thank you very much for this. I wish that more people had the self-control and introspection to undertake this experiment.

                                1. 3

                                  Thank you for the experiment and the thoughtful retrospective. An interesting side effect of reading this is an increased empathy toward those I few as trolls. I am looking back at times people have commented on my things and not necessarily dismissing them due to their tone. I hope my troll detector might become more finely-tuned and I am not throwing the baby out with the bath water.

                                  1. 1

                                    Kudos on the new username and post. Maybe consider a new domain too, just a thought.