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In order to make lobste.rs a more welcoming community, I propose the following addition to the moderation policy.

No tone policing. Telling people they’re “being aggressive” or “controversial” adds no meaningful information to a conversation.

Examples:

No pretending systemic racism, sexism, and bias aren’t a thing. Telling people their experiences aren’t real, or are caused by labels, or pretending that it just so happens that most people in our industry look a certain way just makes the problem worse.

Examples:

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    IMHO, I think tone policing should be allowed. Lobste.rs is more than just link aggregation, it’s a discussion community. The way a community becomes what it wants to be is by the soft pressure of discussing community norms. Disallowing tone policing would remove an important tool that allows us to decide the tone of the site without having to spell everything out in some sort of policy document.

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      Tone policing absolutely has a place in community building for communities like lobste.rs.

      I’d argue that it makes more sense to discuss tone in private messages than in comment sections. A comment criticizing tone is difficult to respond to, and when it does gets a response, it tends to create a great big derailed off-topic thread taking up 90% of the page, like in the discussion linked above. A private message about tone is harder to ignore and easier to resolve (at least for me).

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        By using the term ‘tone policing’, you have already made concession to the SJWs. The term ‘tone policing’ has an authoritarian implication, while the nature of normal human conversation is a lot more bilateral. When you make fun of your friend’s clothing, what you are saying is “from my experience, our society will not consider your choice of clothing to communicate high value, and you might lose social status and related opportunities by wearing XYZ”. You are doing this to help your friend, not to belittle him.

        The irony is that by trying to stop ‘tone policing’, the SJWs are themselves guilty of what they are charging, Because they want to BAN a particular type of comment. Just SJW things I guess.

        And of course they want to enshrine their world view as institutional a priori truth. ‘Pretending’ systemic bias isn’t real. Note that not only do they assume it’s real, they assume that everybody agrees. And only the trolls and alt-rights or otherwise bad-people just ‘pretend’ it’s not real.

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          🤔 but you don’t think there’s anything wrong with the tone of this comment?

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            Yes, and I also think there is something wrong with the intention of your comment.

            LibertarianlLama is arguing that ‘tone policing’ is not the right term and that those using it are shooting themselves in the foot, going off on a tangent where they attribute it to the assumed membership of tone policers to a certain social group (SJW’s) and certain properties of members of that group.

            Now there’s a whole bunch of things there that we can argue about, among which whether it’s unconstructive, inflammatory, etc,. but trying to shame them for hypocrisy (which is what your comment boils down to) is not one of them, because they weren’t arguing against commenting on the tone of comments.

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              Are you tone-policing?

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                I think @lorddimwit’s point is that the answer to your question is “YES”. Your comment is objectionable to me as well.

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                  I don’t think his comment was particularly rude or unnecessary at all. In fact it’s quite a blunt, indifferent explanation of how “tone policing” is quite a loaded expression.

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                    And it absolutely is. Having, myself, gone through a fairly radical positive attitude transformation over the last few years, spurred in large part by feedback from others, I personally believe gently nudging people away from unproductive negativity and conflict-seeking towards a hopefull and cooperative attitude can have a positive impact both on the life of that individual (e.g. me), and the lives of the individuals that person goes on to interact with. To conflate this with “tone policing” and suggest that it should be avoided is simply innacurate. Words matter. Tone matters.

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                  Of course. I think tone policing is fine, and your comment is not.

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                    Well I think your comment is not either.

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              Little late to the discussion, but this was my exact purpose in replying to that comment. My base assumption was that monokrome might not have been aware of how their question could be received and to provide pointers so that they could get their point across more successfully.

              Now, I am not an expert at internet communication, nor do I have any power on this site to enforce my views on communication. I have been in a number of internet arguments over the years and suspect I will be in more.

              Instead, I intervened because I think the community is filled with intelligent and engaged people who want to have open discussions and learn from one another. I thought that a valuable discussion could come from monokrome’s comment and I did not like the direction the comments were taking. I don’t know if my comment succeeded the way I hoped, but I hope that a constructive comment sucked some of the air out of the destructive ones.

              As a community I think that we need to enforce norms. I don’t want us to become as caustic as the orange site. It stresses me out. Lobsters, by comparison, is place where people have their differences, but reasonable conversations seem to be the default.

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              Telling people they’re “being aggressive” or “controversial” adds no meaningful information to a conversation.

              It’s an important meta point to make, either signalling to them that they can say something more constructively or signalling to other users “hey this person is probably not going to engage in good faith, head’s up.”

              No pretending systemic racism, sexism, and bias aren’t a thing.

              I don’t think anybody seriously believes that in the abstract those aren’t things, or that concretely in other places they do not exist. However, we aren’t really prepared to talk about those things here with any sort of rigor and clarity, and if we were the discussions would take a whole bunch of space away from the bread and butter of the site. There are many, many places elsewhere that do a better job discussing these things.

              Telling people their experiences aren’t real, or are caused by labels, or pretending that it just so happens that most people in our industry look a certain way just makes the problem worse.

              My lived experience is that there is a concerted effort to politicize technical spaces and also to shutdown conversation in cases where people disagree with those politics. Is my experience not real to you?

              When it comes to “most people in our industry looking a certain way”, this is a whole thing, right:

              Times being what they are, though, I think that you probably meant “why are there so many cis white males in programming?” Not only is your statement loaded, it is reductionist and erases the unique identities of hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people–something theoretically you are against!

              There is gigantic implicit provincialism in the discussions around race in tech, which is understandable given that the background of the people talking can influence things so much (for example, Germans developers talking about the plight of blacks may be somewhat lacking in first-hand experience). Since Americans do represent a plurality (right now) of the software engineering demographics, it makes sense that the conversation is going to be heavily slanted in favor of the issues of race in the United States–but those issues are very different once you look at any other diaspora. Issues of racism in Japanese technology companies look very different from Oakland.

              One can make similar arguments about perspective for any other problematic partitioning. On sex I’ll only point out that you have to really get deep into the demographics and sociology to make compelling points, and that’s again a lot of space to spend here away from our core content–and space that ultimately won’t fix anything. If you want just more women, fire some men and hire women; don’t post on Lobsters. If you want to be more inclusive, go counterbully the people that are directly bullying women on Twitter instead of freaking out here when somebody says “guys” instead of “folks”.

              ~

              I really dislike this suggestion because not only does it stifle discussion, it establishes a beachhead for politics in this community that isn’t deserved or earned, and perhaps most importantly it doesn’t even fix the problems those groups actually have.

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                My only regret is that I have but one upvote to give to this comment. Thank you for putting it in succinct, respectful, terms.

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                  I don’t think anybody seriously believes that in the abstract those aren’t things, or that concretely in other places they do not exist.

                  I have seen people arguing exactly that, yes.

                  There are many, many places elsewhere that do a better job discussing these things.

                  I agree with this - infinite-nesting discussions are not good at discussing these topics.

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                    Bit offtopic, but thanks for those links, especially the qz one. I had been searching for such numbers more than once already.

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                      On sex I’ll only point out that you have to really get deep into the demographics and sociology to make compelling points, and that’s again a lot of space to spend here away from our core content–and space that ultimately won’t fix anything. If you want just more women, fire some men and hire women; don’t post on Lobsters.

                      This constitutes illegal gender-based discrimination under current American civil rights law. Talking about whether this kind of gender discrimination is good or bad is inherently political, since it necessarily involves questioning whether a specific body of law is good or bad.

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                        I am not trying to politicize lobste.rs. I am saying that everything is political (in terms of “how power is distributed”) and so it’s already political in a particular way.

                        I do not recall saying anything about the word “guys”, though.

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                          I am saying that everything is political (in terms of “how power is distributed”)

                          I strongly disagree with that idea (eg how “A simple to use Java 8 JWT Library”. is about power?).

                          But even if it were true, the power dinamic could only be relevant in your circle and in your city/country, and the world is much much bigger than the USA.

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                            “A simple to use Java 8 JWT library” is not about power. Saying “this article is OK, this isn’t” is about power.

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                              No, it is about focusing the discourse on the target discipline. There are others places where things like the power struggle as described in critical theory can be discussed.

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                        The general pattern in which I’ve seen “tone policing” used is usually something like this:

                        • “Something offensive, abrasive, insulting, or otherwise unpleasant”
                        • “Hey, that was pretty offensive, abrasive, insulting, or otherwise unpleasant!”
                        • “Stop tone policing me you troll!”

                        I am not a fan.

                        A better solution would be to just not say something offensive, abrasive, insulting, or otherwise unpleasant. Or if you do (we all do sometimes) then just either own up to it or have a conversation about it, instead of going “tone policing!” full defence mode.

                        As a general point, I’ve found that almost every time I see someone use “that’s [fallacy X]” they’re not really interested in having a meaningful conversation. It’s just trying to “win the argument”. Checkmate atheists, or something.


                        As for your second point … sometimes people disagree on complex social issues 🤷‍♂️ If I look at this comment you linked then the good-faith interpretation of it is that they actually agree on the basic premise that there are problems with disadvantaged groups, but they just disagree on the solution. I don’t think being wrong[1] is automatically “sexist”, and certainly not a “hostile sexist troll” as you said on Twitter. Why not just engage in conversation?

                        It seems to me that making any conversations or scepticism verboten would be far more harmful for your cause. How do you know you’re 100% right in your analysis of the situation and proposed problems? I’m all for calling out sexism or whatnot, but this is really just a disagreement.


                        [1]: although I do think there is a kernel of truth in it, based on my own personal experience (which this margin is too narrow to contain); but I think they’re focusing on small details rather than the larger far more important issues.

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                          All you to have to do is actually, like, talk to some women in tech and hear the shit they go through. When told “it’s just the label that is screwing you over, just get over it” most people who have better things to do with their life will just go somewhere else, not waste time debating. So you lose people.

                          I can’t say that Hillel trying to debate this person made any difference.

                          “You should debate people who say you are less worth/less human/just making stuff up” is not how you make a welcoming community.

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                            I’m not going to go in to the matter itself here. My comment was not intended to take any position on the matter as such, mostly because typing out an entire essay here with the appropriate nuance and such which will take several hours to get right, and I have other things to do as well.

                            But I will reply to this:

                            people who have better things to do with their life will just go somewhere else, not waste time debating

                            Who started the debate? That entire story had no bearing on the position of women in open source until someone rather forcefully and a abrasively injected it (and yes, the question comes off as a pretty abrasive challenging, almost an accusation).

                            people who say you are less worth/less human/just making stuff up

                            No one said anything like that. Do you really think those people think that woman are “less human”? I mean … like … what?

                            1. 1

                              No one said anything like that. Do you really think those people think that woman are “less human”? I mean … like … what?

                              I didn’t mean that someone said that in this particular context. Rather, that is an explanation for why I think the second proposed moderation policy is useful, rather than saying “You should just debate those people.”

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                                Well, we’re discussion specific examples, so if you say something like that I think it’s reasonable to assume it’s about those specific examples we’re discussing.

                                I think very few – if any – people here would be against banning overt sexism or the like, but the examples you’ve posted don’t really seem to exhibit that. As I said in my top-level comment: being incorrect is not the same as being sexist.

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                                  I think you and @itamarst may have gotten at a core disagreement, that he sees more expressions as overt sexism.

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                                    Indeed; perhaps there’s an even more fundamental disagreement: whether or not these people are acting in good faith or not.

                                    Generally speaking I tend to assume people are acting in good faith unless there’s a decent indication that they’re not, even if they say something stupid, harmful, or otherwise spectacularly wrong. This is perhaps a bit naïve because clearly there are bad-faith trolls – and I’m not afraid to call them out if there’s a good indication that they are – but I’d rather be a bit naïve than write people off as trolls so quickly.

                                    This seems to be a general issue I’ve seen many times, both here and elsewhere.

                                    I hate to use the term because it’s so often used by right-wing trolls (I can’t think of a better term), but this is probably what distinguishes a “Social Justice Advocate” from a “SJW”.

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                                      Basically what you seem to be saying is that “sexism and racism is OK so long as it’s in good faith.” If someone is sincere in their beliefs, and not particularly trying to get a rise out of anyone, you are saying that is reasonable discourse that is acceptable in a community you’re part of.

                                      From my perspective it’s not about good faith or bad faith, it’s about how certain positions inherently force you to choose which people are welcome. And I would argue that “don’t make sexism or racism allowable” is the better choice.

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                                        That’s an extremely ungenerous reading of what I said. To quote myself from the top comment:

                                        Sometimes people disagree on complex social issues 🤷‍♂️ If I look at this comment you linked then the good-faith interpretation of it is that they actually agree on the basic premise that there are problems with disadvantaged groups, but they just disagree on the solution. I don’t think being wrong is automatically “sexist”.

                                        As I mentioned I always do my best to engage in good faith, but you’re giving me a hard time here…

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                                          There’s two questions:

                                          1. Should sexist or racist comments be allowed if they’re in good faith?
                                          2. What counts as sexist or racist.

                                          I am willing to discuss #2 if you are willing to say to #1 “should be not be allowed”, but otherwise there’s no point.

                                          (Edited, original version got the negative wrong.)

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                                            Should sexist or racist comments be allowed if they’re in good faith?

                                            I literally answered this question already in my top comment: “I’m all for calling out sexism or whatnot, but this is really just a disagreement”. What more do you want? A bloody “I am not sexist” club membership card? Do I need to take a test? Is there certification involved? Can I put it on my CV?

                                            I am retiring from this discussion as I’ve grown weary of it. I don’t need to prove a damn thing to you, especially not if your implied accusations are based on bad-faith readings of posts I carefully spent some time writing. Talking to you seems like playing a game of “avoid being called sexist”. There is no value for me here at all, and only frustration and accusations.

                                            Somehow you managed to misconstrue everything I said completely different from the first reply with your ridiculous “people who say you are less worth/less human/just making stuff up” comment which is apparently about hypothetical other people or something, rather than the people and comments we’re discussing. What kind of debating tactic is that? Sjeez…

                                            So yeah, I’m done with it. The only thing that has turned me off from social justice is the last few years have been its proponents, not its detractors. Ya’ll impossible to engage with.

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                                              At no point did I say you were sexist.

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                                              If I read this correctly, you’re willing to “discuss” one point if the other party is willing to cede the other without question?

                                              I don’t believe I could agree to such terms, and I’m pretty sure nobody seriously interested in engaging in genuine discourse could, either.

                                              (And I say this as somebody who believes that sexist or racist comments categorically don’t belong here on lobsters, good faith or not, because they are not relevant to the subject matter.)

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                                                They didn’t say that anyone had to agree.

                                                They said that they are willing to discuss IF that is the case. It is likely meant to be a nice way of saying that if you don’t agree with that then the conversation need not continue and it is likely not someone trying to force you into a decision.

                                                People are allowed to state boundaries without it being a requirement of some sort to concede.

                                                Furthermore, this person has already stated that they are “turned off” from “social justice”. Their intentions here are clear as freshly cleaned glass. Nobody else has said it, but they are being sexist if they think that supporting women being treated equally is something that you can be “turned off” from.

                                                As I have mentioned elsewhere, the only thing that has turned me off from social justice is the last few years have been some of its proponents and not its detractors.

                                                https://lobste.rs/s/lpvcsm/proposal_for_moderation_policies_no_tone#c_97hpgq

                                                Interestingly, this person has also joined in the last couple years during the time that I’ve noticed the worst degradation of discussions on this site. Maybe a coincidence since it’s just my experience, but at some point I guess that every community becomes another HackerNews, Reddit, whatever…

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                                                  Furthermore, this person has already stated that they are “turned off” from “social justice”. Their intentions here are clear as freshly cleaned glass. Nobody else has said it, but they are being sexist if they think that supporting women being treated equally is something that you can be “turned off” from.

                                                  Do you really think it’s impossible for someone to completely burn out because of the people behind the mission and want nothing to do with it in spite of wanting the core of the mission to succeed? That there’s no difference between supporting the methods and arguments for a cause vs supporting the cause?

                                                  Your paragraph right there is phrased as such and I find that kind of weird.

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                                                    Furthermore, this person has already stated that they are “turned off” from “social justice”. Their intentions here are clear as freshly cleaned glass. Nobody else has said it, but they are being sexist if they think that supporting women being treated equally is something that you can be “turned off” from.

                                                    The problem isn’t the cause, it’s having to deal with people like you. But yeah quote me out of context all you want to confirm your witch-hunt.

                                                    1. -1

                                                      interestingly, in my view, Lobste.rs is already far worse than HN/Reddit, etc. I think these threads are pretty instructive of why – the balance of active and engaged users along the political spectrum is off. most of the hard left is gone, and the rest of the site is center-right to hard right. and it can be seen easily in which topics are labelled as political and which aren’t.

                                                      there’s probably also something to how small the lobste.rs community is I think and how that makes the imbalance so much more glaring.

                                                      EDIT: actually, the issue is quite obvious now that I think about it. a website for whom membership is invite based needs to have a diverse group of “seed users”. I’m fairly sure you could track the rightward slide of the site with a gigantic tree view of users invited on a timeline.

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                                                        We could test that at a single data point right now, you know. We were invited by the same user (what are the odds, eh?). I’m not sure if it would hold true for the rest of the users though.

                                                        I would be center left based on wikipedia’s explanation. I don’t keep track of this stuff tbh.

                                                        I would like to add that the information that I can glean from the comments and stories on this site is greater than what I can gather on Hackernews and Reddit. The conversations are higher quality most times as well.

                                2. 1

                                  I don’t think being wrong[1] is automatically “sexist”, and certainly not a “hostile sexist troll” as you said on Twitter

                                  The Twitter thread, for context: https://twitter.com/itamarst/status/1279366605185613827

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                                  The disagreements in this thread may be a result of different concepts in participants’ heads about what tone policing is. “Talking past each other”, as pushcx says. Let’s get crisp about it.

                                  Just as an example, I think it’s OK to ask someone to be civil when we’re on the same footing. To me, that’s not tone policing. But it’s not OK to do that when I have an advantage over them that is related to why they are upset, in which case their voice may really need to be louder than mine. To me, policing implies marginalizing, and that’s where I might draw the line.

                                  I don’t know how to make a rule out of that. The rules of civility in general are imposed by ruling groups and serve to marginalize. But I do think it’s important to forgive people for their anger in a way that is equitable more so than equal, and maybe there is a way to codify that effectively.

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                                    over them that is related to why they are upset,

                                    But I do think it’s important to forgive people for their anger

                                    People could just learn to not take disagreement as personal attack and control their emotion.

                                    But it’s not OK to do that when I have an advantage over them

                                    The only people here who have any advantage are the mods. So unless this specifically addresses mod’s behaviour, I don’t see how it applies.

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                                      But I do think it’s important to forgive people for their anger

                                      People could just learn to not take disagreement as personal attack and control their emotion.

                                      While individuals must take responsibility for their actions, forgiveness, too, is of critical importance to a social group. Control of feelings is a journey of different lengths for each of us, and as a goal it doesn’t correspond with everyone’s value system. Even if it did, we have to continue to function with the people who are here now, or else there is no more group. An argument can’t end cleanly if both sides try to corner one another instead of offering a way out, and one reason people get upset and post about it is because they felt cornered in the first place. If people want a group to exist, it’s on everyone to help others remain part of the group. (Edit: In rereading, this applies to one-on-one relationships too, which might help clarify my perspective.)

                                      But it’s not OK to do that when I have an advantage over them

                                      The only people here who have any advantage are the mods.

                                      I’m referring to advantages bestowed by things like socioeconomic background, gender norms, etc., in line (I think) with OP’s examples. I’m not sure you mean to deny that such inequality exists, or that it has an impact on a site like this, but if you do, please say so plainly.

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                                        An argument can’t end cleanly if both sides try to corner one another instead of offering a way out […] In rereading, this applies to one-on-one relationships too, which might help clarify my perspective.

                                        What do you mean by “offering a way out”? Both in the context of online groups (like here) and one-on-one relationships.

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                                          OK, sure. That was in context of “we have to continue to function with the people who are here now, or else there is no more group”:

                                          I mean like, when two people debate, each person needs to hold the possibility that the other has a point, or that a compromise can be reached, or else they will be debating in bad faith, really just trying to win, rather than seeking a solution together or earnestly exploring each other’s viewpoints. Bad faith debates don’t maintain a community, they damage it.

                                          Or like, if I disagree with my partner, it won’t do for me to make them feel like they have incurred some permanent demotion or diss. Even if I’m rightly pissed, I must always leave a way for them to get right with me, or else I’m just attacking or retaliating, and that’s going to create resentment. So like, character attacks are off the table, but I could ask for an apology or a change in behavior. I also have to be open to accepting blame. Bad faith arguments don’t heal a relationship, they break it up.

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                                            I mean like, when two people debate, each person needs to hold the possibility that the other has a point, or that a compromise can be reached, or else they will be debating in bad faith, really just trying to win, rather than seeking a solution together or earnestly exploring each other’s viewpoints.

                                            Would you then say that trying to convince the other person of “biases that [they] seem to not want to be made aware of” is an act of “seeking a solution together or earnestly exploring each other’s viewpoints” rather than that of “just trying to win”? If so, how exactly?

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                                              The link in your reply goes to what looks to me like the tail end of a flame war. I didn’t read the whole thing because I don’t think I’d enjoy it. But to your point, flame wars (if such this is) are not what I’d call good faith debate. They lack compassion.

                                              I understand and identify with the motivation you pointed to, to try and convince someone that bias is real, that we need to be aware of it in ourselves in order to avoid doing harm, etc. But if someone’s goal is really to make a difference, if they want to actually get through to the other person instead of just fighting, they have to avoid making the recipient defensive. Not an easy task with a topic like this! At the same time, the recipient has to try the first person’s perspective on for size.

                                              A failure on either side can make a debate unproductive. It takes two, and it takes compassion.

                                              (Edit; not sure if you are asking about this part but:) As I said at the top of the reply thread, I think it’s important to forgive people for their anger equitably. For instance, you might try on someone’s perspective even if they did make you defensive, if you can spare the emotional bandwidth, because maybe they have a point but you just don’t see it yet.

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                                    From my perspective, these kinds of behaviors seem to creep up more on culture, person and practices threads. Could we try marking those tags as inactive and see if the site behavior improves/number of flags on comments drops?

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                                      I expect for at least a while they’d be submitted and tagged with just programming. How much content relevant to culture/person/practices would prompt you to remove such a story? Would your answer change if all the comments are about that aspect of the story? Or if it’s the elephant in the room?

                                      Some test cases, in the hopes that they’re useful for figuring out how to draw a line:

                                      • A famous programmer dies
                                      • A famous programmer joins or departs a project and writes about technical issues they will/did encounter
                                        • and they were forced out for discriminatory behavior, though the post never mentions or refers to it
                                      • A study (academic or ad-hoc) of bug rate by language
                                        • and by development methodology (agile, scrum, tdd, etc.)
                                        • Would your answer to the previous change if it was a one-sentence mention of a correlation vs half the study?
                                        • How about if it was a one-sentence mention suggesting it for future work?
                                      • A retrospective on the author’s contributions to an open source project
                                        • that was paid work for their employer
                                        • and the employer is accused or held liable for discriminatory behavior, is a political party, or is a political advocacy group
                                        • Or the author thanks a business like Patreon or Github Sponsors for making their work possible
                                      • A blog post about the author’s first contribution to fix a bug in an open source project
                                        • and the PR is rejected
                                        • and the submitter believes it’s for discriminatory reasons
                                        • or the reasons given are explicitly discriminatory
                                      • A blog post about x86 minutiae from a programmer who famously advocates for discrimination
                                        • A blog post about why nobody should contribute to that famous author’s project because of their political views
                                      • A blog post about using ML to locate humans in video
                                        • in surveillance video from a military drone
                                        • that refers to the military or political conflict it will be or was used in

                                      And of course this all comes up again in comments.

                                      How do you feel about culpability? I’m thinking of sayings like “the standard you walk past is the standard you accept” that cast a failure to act as a position in favor of the status quo.

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                                        Good test cases. Ones I’ll point at in particular:

                                        and they were forced out for discriminatory behavior, though the post never mentions or refers to it

                                        If the post is about the technical issues they encountered, I think it should stay. Them getting kicked out (or brought in!) due to discriminatory behavior is drama and only leads to poor discussion.

                                        and the employer is accused or held liable for discriminatory behavior, is a political party, or is a political advocacy group

                                        We had this happen with a newbie lobster who worked at Palantir–they were roasted with pointy questions before they could really represent their work. That was super shitty.

                                        A blog post about the author’s first contribution to fix a bug in an open source project

                                        I think this is fluff, and attracts fluff, unless the framing is explicitly “here is this super interesting technical thing that also happens to be my first contribution back”. Further subpoints all boil back down to drama.

                                        A blog post about x86 minutiae from a programmer who famously advocates for discrimination

                                        If it’s valid x86 minutiae it should be tagged assembly, and commentary about their political hobby horses is just as relevant as speculation on what configuration of genitals they prefer during intercourse. Users repeatedly dragging that up she be flagged and if needed encouraged to find communities with a more humanitarian focus elsewhere.

                                        ~

                                        I’m thinking of sayings like “the standard you walk past is the standard you accept” that cast a failure to act as a position in favor of the status quo.

                                        I think those sayings are troublesome because they by definition assume bad faith on the part of the people walking by. Also, I dislike them because they remove all shades and alternative interpretations of interaction in favor of plain “you’re either with us or against us”…and if folks keep asking for that sort of conflict, I think they’re gonna be rudely surprised by the outcomes they get. Blind tribalism doesn’t lend itself to healthy discussion.

                                        1. 5

                                          If the post is about the technical issues they encountered, I think it should stay. Them getting kicked out (or brought in!) due to discriminatory behavior is drama and only leads to poor discussion.

                                          I infer from this that you think drama should be removed. Can you define that term? Is it a heckler’s veto, such that any reading of “drama” into a post means it should be removed? Same for “fluff”? Especially with those being new, unspecific terms, I think the questions about where “how much content” mean a comment or story should be removed are vital.

                                          1. 5

                                            “Fluff” is the easier one to define here: pieces that are based in exceptionally common experiences but which are also going to probably get sympathetic upvotes. The example of “my first PR” is fluff because a) a lot of people have their first PR and b) what kind of asshole would flag such a thing. Fluff tends to have an advantage against other content in any memetic ecosystem lacking explicit pressures against such simple content. That simplicity is also why I have the exception for framing it as a real technical issue that just so happens to be somebody’s first PR.

                                            “Drama” is much harder, but as I use it: content that is significantly about the internal politics or disagreements inside some community. A test might be “if you replaced the people with other people could the problem be made to go away?” Donglegate could have been resolved with either party being replaced, Heartbleed could not. I believe that the corollary to this is that any discussion involving drama will ultimately involve calls to remove or reprogram other humans, and thus are inherently corrosive for a community such as ours to engage in.

                                        2. 3

                                          I personally feel that either all of your “discriminatory behavior” test cases should be in-scope for discussion within this community, or there should otherwise be an outright ban on anything that breaks the meta barrier (or not-strictly-about-hard-tech barrier), emulating something akin to a dry technical journal with a strictly-moderated comments section.

                                          But let’s be honest: there’s already precedent on this website for discussion of topics that intersect with computing; I’ve seen a number of well-upvoted/discussed stories including:

                                          • blog posts and updates from prominent community members about things happening in their lives
                                          • posts discussing history and context of open source projects
                                          • news stories about prominent community members
                                          • (this one may sound a little salty, but:) fluff pieces, rants, and straight-up advertisements written by darlings of the community
                                          • meta-tagged posts such as this one that explicitly encourage us to think critically about the community

                                          So IMO it’s at best not self-reflective and at worst intellectually dishonest to value critical engagement with topics that intersect in interesting ways with computing, except for the cases in which those intersectional topics touch on problems of discrimination and representation in tech. A strong message is sent to newcomers and passersby when they hop into the comments section, and see that many of the well-upvoted comments on this website are in fact hostile and intended to trivialize and demean when the topic at hand is actually critical to community health. Whether it’s meant to or not, this sends an unkind message to marginalized members of this community, and it will – as it has – homogenize participation on this platform over time.

                                          1. 1

                                            I distilled these examples to express a couple problems with defining and enforcing topicality.

                                          2. 5

                                            +1 from me.

                                            I’ve had a number of long discussions with 35 recently over whether retiring those tags would skew the amount of incidents back down to normal.

                                            1. 3

                                              I agree with you those tags lead to toxic discussion more than others, but I think it’s worth emphasizing that a lot of @itamarst’s examples are in a person thread.

                                            2. 16

                                              Thanks for drafting these and trying to get at a pattern. (For context, this came out of a twitter conversation.) It’s been particularly frustrating for me that meta conversations (even tag proposals) rarely propose a practical definition of where they’d draw a line, or make a list of stories/comments they’d put on either side of it so we’re actually sure we’re not talking past each other. We very often are. And most proposals are leave the important bits vague, which gives mods huge power to play favorites… and huge workload to carefully investigate and infer repeatable principles for ambiguous situations.

                                              For tone policing: Would you restrict this to political topics? We regularly get meta comments like “There’s a better way you could’ve said this” or when someone vents about their story/comment being flagged, explaining what happened. Would, and how would you draw a line for something like “I actually think that he’s too harsh on Objective-C”?

                                              How about meta comments like “I flagged this story because…” which sometimes is followed by a reason? I think it’s useless flamebait when there’s no reason because the comments inevitably come off like sounding like “My opinion is so popular I don’t have to explain it” or “You’re not worth explaining things to”. The codebase has a lot of little UI touches (not showing scores at first, not showing flags until there’s a couple, not showing replies in flagged conversations) that try to damper meta conversation outside of the meta tag, maybe there’s a broader rule worth writing/enforcing.

                                              Systemic issues: I think a useful test here is: would even the person whose comment is being deleted agree that they’ve violated the rule? They don’t have to like the rule or agree on the larger political topic, but they need to recognize while writing that they’re about to break a rule* so that they can avoid it, and so that every enforcement of the rule doesn’t turn into whataboutism or plausible allegations that it’s a mod enforcing their personal politics. So I see where you’re going with this and why, but I think we’d need to get more specific or find a different angle to have a practical tool here.

                                              • And yeah, people try flimsy excuses like “oops I didn’t know calling someone a fucking moron was an insult” but I’m not worried about that as a failure mode because it doesn’t matter to predictable enforcement of the rule.

                                              Maybe a theme in your proposals is “dismissiveness”? Though I’m not sure how much you’re saying you don’t want to see it at all, or in relation to specific political topics, or if recognizing it as a theme will lead towards a better draft of a policy.

                                              1. 12

                                                Maybe a theme in your proposals is “dismissiveness”?

                                                +1. After perusing the thread linked by the OP, I had arrived at the same word. And dismissiveness cuts across ideological divides; I see both ‘progressives’ and ‘libertarians’ (for lack of better terms) resort to it, here and elsewhere.

                                                A similar tactic I see especially often here is the one used in the comment the above thread was in reply to, I.e. “Why are there no women on this list?” I’m sure there’s a name for this: Responding with a short question that attempts to invalidate the entire statement without giving context or proposing any improvement. Kind of like Socratic dialog, implying the other person needs to be educated by re-considering their statement. I have seen this go on for three or more rounds here (sorry, I don’t remember where exactly.) There’s a strong implication of superiority: “I am so much more intelligent/woke/cynical then you that I shall simply pose koans that you might educate yourself by answering.”

                                                “Dismissive” may or may not be specific enough to use in a moderation policy, but it seems a good starting point.

                                                1. 4

                                                  Going to pull in a reply to @dsc that I posted over in the thread that’s linked from this story because it’s an extension of this conversation:

                                                  We don’t have temporary bans as a feature. It’s possible to add, of course, though I’m unsure of the value. Right now the mod tools in this area are pretty much only ‘delete comment’ and ‘ban user’. A temporary ban might be a useful series of escalating punishments. I do think may be a benefit to the mod tools being the fairly harsh ‘deletion of your work’ and then jumping way up to ‘death penalty’ in that people will self-police to avoid them… but maybe that’s just not working.

                                                  Recently I added a “standing” page that’s linked from the warning about being heavily flagged (and PMd all users seeing the warning - add /standing to your profile URL if you’re curious) on the theory that part of the dysfunction is a failure to contextualize and take seriously the community/moderator feedback. Now that it’s had a month to guide actions, and now that its added feedback eliminates excuses about ignorance/non-seriousness, I should probably reach for user bans more.

                                                  And there’s another big reason those mod actions may not be working. I’m recently back on a working schedule after being badly disrupted by the pandemic, so I haven’t been very active since ~February. Probably a reason feedback is not working is lack of enforcement, which is my fault as the admin, either for not doing or not delegating it. I’ve been thinking about posting to recruit more moderators; I’ll do so in a week or two. I think it’d be helpful to finish this meta conversation and otherwise improve the explicitness of mod activity before bringing more on. (And on the technical side, create a reddit-like work queue system for mods; the current dashboard doesn’t effectively prevent things from slipping through the cracks.)

                                                  1. 2

                                                    Worth noting that this comment is seemingly inspired by a simple question trying to incentivize people to think about how women are treated in open source which led to dozens of people deciding that I was trying to attack them instead of taking a big picture look at the question.

                                                    This also has led to me having a very exciting warning in my reply inbox which seems excessive because a few people have fragile egos and think I’m attacking them because they need to assume negative intent. Maybe the site shouldn’t be giving me a slap on the wrist for that in the first place.

                                                    People are now suggesting temporary bans, so now we are here where someone is trying to incentivize that we are the kind of community who punishes bad behavior such as trying to get people to think about how people that aren’t like them are cast out of their industry.

                                                    This is the largest bunch of BS. People are trying to use a thread about not tone-policing as a way to promote a heavier ban process as a way to directly tone-police me because they assumed my intentions and can’t have a regular discussion about it.

                                                    https://cdn.monokro.me/images/why_are_there_no_women_on_this_list.png

                                                    First thing that we see here is that 42 people in this situation agree with tone policing, because that’s the basis for people leaving negative flags on this post. Specifically citing in multiple cases that I’m being “aggressive” because they see a direct attack and don’t recognize that I’m trying to point out something that is representative of the bigger picture. I also can’t help but wonder if my gender plays into the responses having seen similar responses to women in the workplace and open source environments in the past, but I’ll digress from that as it is no better than a guess…

                                                    I can agree that maybe I could have been a bit more verbose to prevent people from assuming, but preventing people from assuming is also not really my job. Surely people should be smart enough to realize that their assumed intent isn’t always the true intention. Come on, are y’all for real right now?

                                                    Even with +29 upvotes, I still end up flagged for this comment because of 28 people flagging this without any good reason. To make that clear, most of these flags don’t even make sense. Let’s break down a large trail of intentional ignorance, shall we?

                                                    • There are 17 who think I’m trolling? Trolling shouldn’t even be a flag, because it’s so easily abused to mean anything that doesn’t fit the rest. This is obviously defensive men being angry and down-voting for no reason and generally acting like this is Reddit.

                                                    • There are 10 “off topic” when I’m providing commentary regarding the nature of patterns exhibited obviously in the list made in the previous comment.

                                                    • One is “unkind” because they they assumed a meaning and flagged me? At least if you take the assumed meaning, this is the single one that makes the most sense - even though it does rely on a big and wrong assumption to get there.

                                                    This is a mob acting mindlessly and that’s the real problem here. My guess is they are also probably a majority of people who got here after the site lost it’s invite-only nature, which is really something that should be reconsidered because the entire site is going downhill fast without the invitation pipeline in place.

                                                    So, it seems that - at least in this case - even when someone tries to defend the culture of how women are treated by making a simple observation, nearly half of the people who respond to that comment can’t reason about it and have to resort to attacking because they seem to feel like having women recognized is somehow taking something away from them. In reality nothing is being taken, but we see a bunch of defensive men.

                                                    Just to clarify so someone doesn’t think I’m being sexist here, this is of course among many men who are thoughtful and agreed with my point - as can be seen in the comments.

                                                    Maybe making votes public would be a good thing, because it’s worth being able to look further into who are doing this. I can’t substantiate my assumptions without that information, so I’ll just sit back and see if anyone else figures it out.

                                                    This will be seen as my most aggressive comment. Mostly because my comments are rarely aggressive. However, this comment is intended to defend against a pattern of poor behavior that I’ve seen consistently on this site since it stopped being invite-only. My point in this post is to offer reasoning on why we should be invite-only and why we should publicize people’s voting history. All statements made are in attempt to realize this situation, and I am only defending what has turned into my profile showing a giant warning about “too many flags’ because some people are being defensive when there isn’t anyone attacking them.

                                                    TLDR; A stronger ban policy is an immature, reasonless solution. The only way that stronger ban policies can exist for content is if we as a community are able to honestly flag content for what it is instead of bringing personal emotions into the mix and not meeting them half-way with logical reasoning. If you can’t define “good” and “bad” behavior objectively, then you end up with the worst people in your community having the most power because they have no empathy or means of reasoning about other people. You create a system that brings the worst to the top. If we wanted that, we could go to Reddit or Twitter.

                                                    This is likely the result of a culture problem. My guess it that it’s from when the site was invite-only this was rarely a problem. Instead of inventing new solutions for fixing the problem, maybe we can address that getting rid of the invite-only nature of this platform negatively affects it. The culture here has gone downhill steadily after this occurred and seems to not be self-adjusting. When people can just sign up for a new account without recourse whenever they feel like it, they are less likely to be thoughtful about what they say and how their account looks. More people who are just casually browsing and don’t intend to be part of the community show up. It’s not good.

                                                    1. 14

                                                      For my part, I flagged it as off-topic because someone just listed four of their favourite Open Source authors and trying to shoe-horn a particular social issue in to that is just, well, off-topic. I might be more forgiving if there was some substance as that would provide value in spite of being off-topic, but as it stands it just comes off as a challenge to person you replied to, at least in my reading of it. I appreciate this was not your intent, but that doesn’t change it.

                                                      I most certainly do think it’s your job to ensure your intent is conveyed clearly. There’s been plenty of times where I’ve been misunderstood, and this has always almost been a failing on my part in not being clear enough. I don’t think it’s the reader’s job to guess or assume your intent: it’s the author’s job to clearly convey it.

                                                      If half the community has a problem with your post then there is probably something wrong with your post, and not with half of the community. I appreciate that you feel attacked and that this is a shitty position to be in, but I wish you’d spend some more effort in trying to understand why people have a problem with your challenging question. I find it ungenerous to dismiss that as a “a mob acting mindlessly”, “fragile egos”, “defensive men being angry”, “angry babies”, and so forth. It’s funny you complain about “assuming negative intent”, because there’s a whole lot of that in your post here.

                                                      My guess is they are also probably a majority of people who got here after the site lost it’s invite-only nature

                                                      When people can just sign up for a new account without recourse whenever they feel like it

                                                      I’m confused, because as far as I know Lobsters is still operating on an invite-bases, just as it always has?

                                                      1. 0

                                                        Lobsters was open registration for a while. If you don’t think that the cultural issues in open source that have lead to this list aren’t on topic when talking about a list of people in open source then oh well, I guess. It’s absolutely on topic and worth taking a moment to think about.

                                                        1. 6

                                                          It’s absolutely on topic

                                                          You’re now just contradicting arp242 without providing any reason.

                                                          Not every thing that is related to some subject is necessarily ‘on topic’. If you would scour the internet for people posting all-male lists of their favorite somethings and ask that same question every time, would you then always be ‘on topic’? All the time, for everyone, not matter who the audience of the list?

                                                          I would say your comment would have been appropriate and ‘on topic’ on an article with a top 4 of most important open source people as voted by a large group of open source people. Then it would be a clear demonstration of cultural issues in open source and would be worth pointing out. On a comment by someone musing about something done by 4 personal heroes: no, not so much. And doing it in the form of a passive-aggressive rhetorical question didn’t help.

                                                          1. 5

                                                            I never said it’s not worth thinking about. I’m also not injecting my veganism every time someone mentions something vaguely related to meat, and on the extremely rare cases that I do I make sure it’s something of substance (which, hopefully, is helpful in explaining my viewpoint) rather than just a challenge. I don’t like these kind of challenges on any topic as the main reason of a discussion/conversation is to better understand a point of view (and maybe, perhaps, also adjust your own). Challenges like this are not conducive to that.

                                                            I would also not be impressed if someone injects “Free Software vs. Open Source” debates on every story that mentions “Open Source” instead of Free Software.

                                                            And so forth, and so forth.

                                                            As mentioned, I probably wouldn’t have flagged it it was actually something interesting; I’m not especially pedantic about “off-topic discussions” because interesting conversations are interesting conversations. The off-topic flag is a calculation of offtopic + substance.

                                                            1. -2

                                                              Unfortunately for you, the community is not not wholly focused on or interested in only following the behaviors that impress you.

                                                              Your responses show that you think it’s not worth thinking about, regardless of how you want to defend that statement. Your assumption that there’s no substance to it shows that you care little about thinking about these things, and that’s revealing enough.

                                                              Furthermore, your reply right here has less substance than even my initial comment.

                                                              And so forth, and so forth.

                                                              1. 10

                                                                I don’t even know what to say to that … If you’re hell-bent on making assumptions about anyone who doesn’t agree with on what are actually comparatively minor issues then there’s not much else I can say 🤷‍♂️

                                                                As I have mentioned elsewhere, the only thing that has turned me off from social justice is the last few years have been some of its proponents and not its detractors. You can’t fight a toxic culture with toxicity. I strongly suggest you reflect on how your words are being perceived, because you’re not just being ineffective at improving the position of woman in Open Source, but are actively harming this cause. This entire thread has left me exasperated and frustrated, and I don’t think that exasperating and frustrating people is an effective way to promote a cause (quite the opposite), and the only thing that this thread has done for me is ensuring that I don’t want to touch this topic with a ten-foot pole, rather than actively trying to spend effort in improving it (which, in spite of your assumptions, is something I do care about).

                                                                virtue signal all day about how you gave money to girls who code

                                                                You are confusing me with burntsushi.

                                                                1. -4

                                                                  the only thing that has turned me off from social justice is the last few years

                                                                  Just to be clear, you have now agreed to not care about this any more.

                                                                  I actually edited that out and didn’t mean to submit with it because it wasn’t productive, but either way I’m uninterested in hearing what you have to say because you are only seeking confirmation of your own biases against this topic. I’m tired of it. 🥱

                                                                  Have fun running around providing unsolicited advice to everyone you talk to. I’m done with it, though, and hoping that you are as well. I will not respond to any replies, though. Waste of both our time to convince you of the biases that you seem to not want to be made aware of.

                                                        2. 7

                                                          For more reasoning here, we can look at my recent flags:

                                                          https://cdn.monokro.me/images/flags_on_lobsters.png

                                                          The only one here that is actually accurate is where I said “Seems about time” in reference to the Perl language not existing - which feels pretty troll-like in retrospect - although my intention was more based on there not really being a lot of movement in the Perl world any more. The language has been barely thriving for nearly 20 years at this point with few companies adopting it and many throwing it away, but I digress…

                                                          The rest are all someone saying “I disagree” by flagging “incorrect” or similar childish behavior and behaving like we’re on Reddit. Even though Reddit even has a global site-wide rule against that, they can’t really control the behavior unless they can read your mind.

                                                          It seems pretty unnecessary to toss a giant warning in my inbox and worry me when I wake up to it in the morning when the reasoning behind the warning is so very based on subjective nonsense.

                                                          https://cdn.monokro.me/images/2spooky4me.png

                                                          Is this really how we want to treat nonsense? A giant warning that only serves to shut people up and preserve the insecurity of those who say your posts are “incorrect” because they disagree or don’t want to hear it but also don’t want to have a civilized discussion about it? No thanks.

                                                          I haven’t caused any problems in 6 years here. What is going on?

                                                          1. 3

                                                            It seems pretty unnecessary to toss a giant warning in my inbox and worry me when I wake up to it in the morning when the reasoning behind the warning is so very based on subjective nonsense.

                                                            I currently have that same warning on my inbox, and I can empathize with being disturbed by it. I don’t think that getting that warning because of a bunch of politically-motivated downvotes necessarily makes you or me a bad person or a bad contributor. I do think that most of those downvotes you’ve shown in that picture strike me as unfair. Even the perl comment, while not exactly the most productive comment imaginable, is not what I would call trolling.

                                                          2. 7

                                                            Worth noting that this comment is seemingly inspired by a simple question trying to incentivize people to think about how women are treated in open source which led to dozens of people deciding that I was trying to attack them instead of taking a big picture look at the question.

                                                            I engaged your post with good faith. I thought you were trying to start a fight and wrote my response to mitigate it. The difference between trolling and good faith is often writing a single sentence vs writing four. If you wanted to incentivize people to think about women in open source, you could have written more than just one sentence.

                                                            My guess is they are also probably a majority of people who got here after the site lost it’s invite-only nature, which is really something that should be reconsidered because the entire site is going downhill fast without the invitation pipeline in place.

                                                            The site’s still invite-only.

                                                            1. 1

                                                              If you wanted to incentivize people to think about women in open source, you could have written more than just one sentence

                                                              I agree and even said this in another post somewhere :)

                                                              At some point, it wasn’t invite-only, right? That was for a while, I think…

                                                              1. 4

                                                                IIRC that was only during the april fools gag a couple years back. I remember @pushcx being pretty miffed because a couple of spamming rings joined then. There might have been another no-invite period, but that’s the only one I definitely remember happening!

                                                            2. 10

                                                              This is obviously defensive men being angry and down-voting for no reason

                                                              I voted your post as “trolling” because it appeared to be a content-free attack on the prior poster for simply listing a few developers they liked. Your comment did not even vaguely suggest you were making some bigger point: it’s a line of text, approaching it like that leaves innumerable possible questions embedded in those 8 words. It was unnecessary and kinda lame. Your gender has nothing to do with it.

                                                              1. 4

                                                                Can whoever downvoted this as “troll” tell me why?

                                                                1. 1

                                                                  Seems like it’s not downvoted any more

                                                                  1. 2

                                                                    Now it has two unexplained troll votes, and one unkind vote. I can’t see how the comment is either of those.

                                                                    1. 2

                                                                      Weird, it doesn’t show for others I guess?

                                                                      1. 2

                                                                        Yep, it shows to authors and moderators, though there are some caveats for authors to try to prevent discussions from veering into meta.

                                                                        1. 1

                                                                          Flags and flaggers should be public.

                                                                2. 0

                                                                  You are still the one who assumed the worst, though.

                                                                3. 6

                                                                  Worth noting that this comment is seemingly inspired by a simple question trying to incentivize people to think about how women are treated in open source which led to dozens of people deciding that I was trying to attack them instead of taking a big picture look at the question.

                                                                  Here was your mistake, I think–having done it myself. If you have come out and said something like, “Hey, I notice there aren’t any women on your list–I don’t think you’re sexist, but can you think of any that might make it on there or alternately how could we do better?” then you would have both been clear to people who wanted to engage and you would’ve set a good tone for a starting point for discussion. People who responded like assholes to that would’ve in fact been assholes.

                                                                  By asking a pointed, leading question and not making clear your intentions, though, I think you both signaled that you were trying to trick lobsters into thinking a particular way (even if that way is reasonable introspection) and that you didn’t actually care enough to put effort into crafting a comment that could’ve take into account context and been positive. I’ve done the same thing, and have only gotten away with it on occasion by the charity of the audience.

                                                                  Don’t ask leading, pointy questions if you can’t read a room or play off the response.

                                                                  One is “unkind” because they they assumed a meaning and flagged me? At least if you take the assumed meaning, this is the single one that makes the most sense - even though it does rely on a big and wrong assumption to get there.

                                                                  They who live by the sword….

                                                                  This is obviously defensive men being angry and down-voting for no reason and generally acting like this is Reddit.

                                                                  This is a mob acting mindlessly and that’s the real problem here.

                                                                  This appears to me to be the same category of error as people assuming that, say, downvotes of shilling for Urbit or something is the result of mean old antifa. You have dehumanized the people who disagree with your actions, whether or not they disagree with your aims and whether or not you yourself actually did the correct thing.

                                                                  If you can’t define “good” and “bad” behavior objectively, then you end up with the worst people in your community having the most power because they have no empathy or means of reasoning about other people.

                                                                  Again, please refrain from dehumanizing your fellow users. It may be the case that specifically because they have means of reasoning about other people they recognize objective claims of good and bad behavior are a poor fit when real people are involved. It may be because of their empathy they are willing to give people a little more room in decorum than would otherwise be afforded.

                                                                  When people can just sign up for a new account without recourse whenever they feel like it, they are less likely to be thoughtful about what they say and how their account looks.

                                                                  We briefly flirted with open registration, but as far as I know it’s been invite-only for quite some time.

                                                                  1. -1

                                                                    I shouldn’t be getting a ton of unsolicited advice for this, but apparently that’s where we’re at now.

                                                                    “Hey, I notice there aren’t any women on your list–I don’t think you’re sexist, but can you think of any that might make it on there or alternately how could we do better?”

                                                                    This recommendation is completely against my intentions. My intentions were to point out a cultural issue instead of pointing at the person posting the list. Your suggested response is even closer to pointing at them than I expected the intentions to be. There is no expectation for the person who made the list to include women, but I was simply trying to point out that open source culture as a whole seems to exclude women. Not any specific individual.

                                                                    They who live by the sword….

                                                                    I got the irony of me having added the commit for the unkind option to the site, but honestly I think this - just like the rest of your reply - is more harmful than it is helpful.

                                                                    Having an “unkind” flag is still valuable, and people would just call it “troll” or some other in-genuine thing if we didn’t have it. Having not added an unkind flag doesn’t stop the community from using the downvote as a “I don’t agree” instead of what it is intended for.

                                                                    You have dehumanized the people who disagree with your action Again, please refrain from dehumanizing your fellow users

                                                                    No, I haven’t dehumanized anyone. This is a human behavior that they are exhibiting and I am pointing it out. I’m only speaking of those who have already flagged for reasons that are complete nonsense and based on unfair assumptions. People who behave like that are the worst people, and the fact is that bad people tend to end up in positions of power. I even got a private message from someone based on my recent posts from someone who said that they don’t come here any more because of these problems and said thanks for being human on a site that has a culture of hostility.

                                                                    Maybe someone should consider all of us who actually care about the human side are leaving, because ignoring that obvious fact is exactly how we end up with people flagging posts due to assumed negative intentions, giving unsolicited advice, and being generally hostile towards others.

                                                                    This community has been slowing dying for 2-3 years now and it has been descending extremely fast for the last 9 months. I’m sure that someone’s going to say “that’s only because people have been stressed a lot this year” but that’s honestly not a good excuse.

                                                                    Anyway, are we done with the unsolicited advice now? If not, could the advice at least be useful and not repeats of things that I’ve already personally called out next time? Also, are you a mod on this site? If this is the behavior that comes from mods then I’ll probably just drop the site completely. I’ve already removed it from my homepage. Seems like anyone who gives a shit is leaving, so maybe someone should start recognizing it.

                                                                    If I wanted to be on Reddit, I’d just go to Reddit.

                                                                    1. 7

                                                                      Also, are you a mod on this site?

                                                                      I am not a mod! I don’t think anybody would abide by that–and more generally the people who want to be mods shouldn’t be mods.

                                                                      1. 4

                                                                        This community has been slowing dying for 2-3 years now and it has been descending extremely fast for the last 9 months.

                                                                        Could you elaborate on what you mean by dying and descending? What do you see happening, and what feels especially different about the last nine months?

                                                                    2. 3

                                                                      Lobsters has never had open signups and still requires an invite; users can’t trivially sign up for an account. The last couple significant changes in the invitations and signups controllers were in Feb 2020 to restrict new users’ ability to send invites, in May 2016 to allow admins to disable a user’s ability to send invites, and in Feb 2015 to disable the invite queue system.

                                                                      Edit: Oops, @hwayne reminded that the 2018 April Fools’ Day gag had open signups and, yes, it strongly reiterated the anti-spam value of the invite system. That spammer later wheedled fresh invites out of Lobsters users on Twitter to re-establish his voting ring twice.

                                                                      1. 2

                                                                        Worth noting that this comment is seemingly inspired by a simple question trying to incentivize people to think about how women are treated in open source which led to dozens of people deciding that I was trying to attack them instead of taking a big picture look at the question.

                                                                        Implying that there’s something wrong with a group of men working in a group on some kind of project without going out of their way to include a woman is an attack on men. I don’t think you incentivized people to think about how women are treated in open source, but rather, how men are. I will say that I don’t think your post should’ve been moderated away, but neither do I think that about the various people who responded to your post disagreeing with it, and those response posts are what this meta-thread is about.

                                                                        Even with +29 upvotes, I still end up flagged for this comment because of 28 people flagging this without any good reason. To make that clear, most of these flags don’t even make sense. Let’s break down a large trail of intentional ignorance, shall we?

                                                                        I agree that the vast majority of the downvotes on your post were surely submitted in a spirit of political disagreement with it, rather than out of a sincere desire to mark content that is genuinely trolling, off-topic, etc. I think this is true of a lot of politically-controversial posts on lobsters, as well as on other sites with some kind of downvote system. It’s pretty easy for a motivated reasoner to convince themselves that some post they have a strong political reaction to is incorrect or trolling or otherwise downvote-worthy.

                                                                        Trolling shouldn’t even be a flag, because it’s so easily abused to mean anything that doesn’t fit the rest.

                                                                        Agreed. I don’t think your post constituted actual trolling. I often don’t think other posts on lobsters I see with troll downvotes constitute actual trolling either.

                                                                        First thing that we see here is that 42 people in this situation agree with tone policing, because that’s the basis for people leaving negative flags on this post. Specifically citing in multiple cases that I’m being “aggressive” because they see a direct attack and don’t recognize that I’m trying to point out something that is representative of the bigger picture. I also can’t help but wonder if my gender plays into the responses having seen similar responses to women in the workplace and open source environments in the past, but I’ll digress from that as it is no better than a guess…

                                                                        I doubt it - I assumed you were male until I read this paragraph, and it would be easy for other people to have done that as well. Certainly there are plenty of people who are (well-known to be) male who make arguments similar to yours, and receive pushback in a similar way to how you have.

                                                                        1. 2

                                                                          I agree that the vast majority of the downvotes on your post were surely submitted in a spirit of political disagreement with it, rather than out of a sincere desire to mark content that is genuinely trolling, off-topic, etc. I think this is true of a lot of politically-controversial posts on lobsters, as well as on other sites with some kind of downvote system. It’s pretty easy for a motivated reasoner to convince themselves that some post they have a strong political reaction to is incorrect or trolling or otherwise downvote-worthy.

                                                                          I always find myself questioning (but not really weighing in one way or the other) the need for an upvote/downvote system for comments. I understand using the functionality for topics, and I understand moderators specifically taking actions against posts, but I feel that if a comment feels inane, snarky, or something you disagree with (or on the flip side, you find yourself angry and reply with a short, pithy acerbic reply rather than a well thought out response that you would have produced under better emotional circumstances), then the comment chain can just end there. Of course I also go back to the other side of thinking of the destructive behavior that can be wrought without a user-based form of QC on posts, and that makes me question my original question.

                                                                          1. 2

                                                                            Implying that there’s something wrong with a group of men working in a group on some kind of project without going out of their way to include a woman is an attack on men

                                                                            Sure, but I never said that. I simply made a statement suggesting that there’s probably a stronger reason why men are the only ones who tend to be in these list or even more so who even tend to get popular in open source as a whole. A lot of this isn’t because someone only included men, and more about why women have such a hard time “rising in the ranks” as it were. You are making assumptions in order to come to this conclusion, and they are defensive assumptions based on another assumption of negative intent on my part - which is absolutely not the case and never was.

                                                                            I agree that the vast majority of the downvotes on your post were surely submitted in a spirit of political disagreement with it, rather than out of a sincere desire to mark content that is genuinely trolling, off-topic, etc

                                                                            That’s my main point here. We can’t be banning people or doing anything too over-the-top (I think even the warning I got is too much tbh) until we have established an ability to objectively weigh the content of people’s posts, which is unlikely to happen any time soon.

                                                                            Agreed. I don’t think your post constituted actual trolling.

                                                                            Neither did I, although I do counter my own argument there by providing an example of a previous post of mine that I think feels like trolling even if it wasn’t my intention - so maybe my argument isn’t too strong here 🤷 lol

                                                                            I doubt it

                                                                            I agree with everything that you said here, although what I was getting at was more of the reaction to this kind of behavior than the initial response itself. Like, if I see that half of the people who voted on my post don’t care about women in tech then that’s pretty disconcerting. After 6 years of lobste.rs being my homepage and never really immediately after seeing an official banner in my replies warning me about these flags. Even if it wasn’t meant to be used this way (I hope), it’s still a slap on the wrist over someone else being defensive about their misinterpretations.

                                                                            I decided to put it back, though, because I’d rather just defend myself than give the angry babies what they want.

                                                                            1. 13

                                                                              Like, if I see that half of the people who voted on my post don’t care about women in tech then that’s pretty disconcerting.

                                                                              I am a reoccurring donator to Rails Girls. I encourage others to do the same. I participated in the first Increasing Rust’s Reach program. My wife is a programmer, to whom I lend my unconditional support. To say that I “don’t care about women in tech” is to not know me at all.

                                                                              And yet, I downvoted your comment for trolling. Because I knew it was going to lead to a spiraling and pretty unproductive discussion. And because, despite your intentions, it did come across as an underhanded and unwarranted attack to me. My downvote of your comment was me expressing, “this is not the kind of discussion I want to see at lobste.rs.”

                                                                              If you assume that everyone who disagrees with you is acting in bad faith and can’t be anything more than an “angry baby,” then it’s too easy to turn it into an Us vs Them issue where the people who disagree with you are totally unreasonable people, and therefore, shouldn’t be listened to at all. I am exposing myself as one of your downvoters with the hope to counteract that perception. I am not against you because of your gender. I am not someone who doesn’t care about women in tech. I am not against you because I’m angry. I am against your comment because of the kind of discourse it promotes, which I think ultimately hinders the cause of progress and makes it impossible to have good faith discussions.

                                                                              1. 0

                                                                                “Trolling” assumes intention. I thought this community to be a more positive space than it actually is, and mentioned this because I thought it was something worth thinking about. Apparently y’all disagree.

                                                                                I had and still have no intent to troll anyone.

                                                                                1. 6

                                                                                  and mentioned this because I thought it was something worth thinking about. Apparently y’all disagree.

                                                                                  That’s very clearly not what I said. I told you precisely why I downvoted your comment, and it had nothing to do with my interest in the topic. You’re making my point for me. You’re going out of your way to make this Us vs Them by trying to draw a bright dividing line between Good and Evil. My whole point of exposing myself as one of your downvoters was to show you that there’s more to it than that. There’s nuance.

                                                                                  And if your definition of trolling requires intent, then it’s almost impossible to flag anyone for trolling because people almost never say, “my intent is to troll.” Without that, you can’t know intentions.

                                                                                  Intentions count for something, but they aren’t everything.

                                                                      2. 3

                                                                        “Political” has a bunch of meanings. One of them is “how power is exercised and distributed.” In that particular sense (as opposed to say, party politics) moderation is inherently political, and moderation decisions will inherently have to pick one or the other side of certain issues.

                                                                        1. 3
                                                                          Tone policing

                                                                          “Tone policing” means focusing solely on the tone, instead of the content. The “why are there no women on this list?” was mostly responded to with comments saying it was “aggressive”. I’m sure there are plenty of other comments that are aggressive on lobsters that don’t get that response. And it’s pretty clear why.

                                                                          If someone says “This is technology is a flaming pile of useless garbage”—a response saying “why are you being so aggressive” (however unlikely it is) doesn’t add much. A response saying “technology is about tradeoffs, it’s rare that something is that useless” or “well, once you understand the organizational context” is useful.

                                                                          I flagged this story because

                                                                          friendlysock specifically seems to have the modus operandi of saying NO POLITICS and then injecting his politics everywhere (see below—you can’t not be political. I disagree with his politics, but the relevant point here is that I think his stated “NO POLITICS” is disingenous).

                                                                          Not sure how general of a problem this sort of comment is.

                                                                          Systemic issues

                                                                          “Would even the person whose comment is being deleted agree that they’ve violated the rule?” as motivated by “plausible allegations that it’s a mod enforcing their personal politics”—I think this is highly misguided:

                                                                          1. People who genuinely don’t realize they’re hurting other people are given a free pass.
                                                                          2. Bad actors will of course give you “whataboutism” and rules lawyering. That’s how it goes.
                                                                          3. You have to enforce a political point of view. There is no way around it.

                                                                          That last point is the fundamental one I keep trying to get across.

                                                                          As an example: either you allow sexism, and then you get less women participating (not to mention all the men I know who very deliberately aren’t participating in lobste.rs because they also consider it toxic.) If you disallow sexism you will lose some sexist people.

                                                                          On some issues you have to pick a side, and you are going to have to exclude someone. There is no way around it, no way to avoid politics. If you say “I don’t want to exclude anyone” then you’re excluding lots of people by default. (See also “torelance is a peace treaty”: https://extranewsfeed.com/tolerance-is-not-a-moral-precept-1af7007d6376).

                                                                          1. 5

                                                                            friendlysock specifically seems to have the modus operandi of saying NO POLITICS and then injecting his politics everywhere (see below—you can’t not be political. I disagree with his politics, but the relevant point here is that I think his stated “NO POLITICS” is disingenous).

                                                                            I would be as fascinated to know what you think my politics are as I would be certain it would be off-topic for this site. DMs are open.

                                                                            EDIT:

                                                                            I missed something that bears pointing out.

                                                                            You have to enforce a political point of view. There is no way around it.

                                                                            This is an axiom of your belief system. There are a great many of us here that clearly do not share this axiom. Without stating whether or not the axiom itself is correct (it’s an axiom, so that doesn’t really matter) we can state there will be inevitable and continuous conflict between two belief systems (effectively, realities) that differ by construction.

                                                                            It would probably be better were you to spin up your own instance so you wouldn’t have to keep dealing with this. It might well even become more popular!

                                                                            1. -2

                                                                              I would be as fascinated to know what you think my politics are as I would be certain it would be off-topic for this site.

                                                                              Your stated position is that it’d would be totally cool to have people who want to murder me on lobste.rs so I’m going to say “misguided.”

                                                                            2. 2

                                                                              As an example: either you allow sexism, and then you get less women participating (not to mention all the men I know who very deliberately aren’t participating in lobste.rs because they also consider it toxic.) If you disallow sexism you will lose some sexist people.

                                                                              The original post was sexist against men (or at least it was reasonable to interpret it as such; I’ll grant that that might not have been the post-writer’s intention), and none of the posts arguing against it were sexist. You are falsely claiming that they were sexist because you adhere to a political ideology that doesn’t treat sexism against men as morally relevant, but still want to use the existing societal understanding that sexism is bad and can be legitimately socially punished as a tool to enforce your personal politics.

                                                                              On some issues you have to pick a side, and you are going to have to exclude someone. There is no way around it, no way to avoid politics. If you say “I don’t want to exclude anyone” then you’re excluding lots of people by default.

                                                                              Communities that intend to be broadly inclusive should always pick the side of the people who aren’t demanding that existing members be excluded as a condition of their own membership.

                                                                              1. 2

                                                                                The original post was sexist against men (or at least it was reasonable to interpret it as such; I’ll grant that that might not have been the post-writer’s intention)…

                                                                                The question “why aren’t there women on this list?” is not sexist, nor is it reasonable to interpret it as such. It’s clear that many others felt it was brusque or dismissive and that it could have been framed with extra clarity so as to avoid those appearances, but it’s factually dishonest to refer to that question as sexist. If you are genuinely concerned about “sexism against men” then I suggest that you don’t harm your credibility by mischaracterizing instances of sexism. However, I’m struggling to imagine that you are concerned with sexism as a social problem, because…

                                                                                …and none of the posts arguing against it were sexist.

                                                                                You yourself wrote “Because none of them has come out as trans yet.”. Which is genuinely one of the most vitriolic things I’ve ever read on this website. I’ve seen dogwhistling and whataboutism; I’ve seen users with biases against social justice due to bad experiences and lack of opportunities for learning. We can work on that. On the other hand I can not recall having actually seen content so explicitly demeaning here. The OP of this story calls for “No pretending systemic racism, sexism, and bias aren’t a thing” which I agree with, but it appears that lobste.rs will have to tie its shoes before it can walk. I’ll call on @pushcx to clarify that lobste.rs in fact does not stand for forms of hatred and bigotry that include racism, sexism, transphobia, ableism, and anti-semitism. And I’ll call on the moderators of this community to ban users such as yourself that make engage in overtly violent forms of communication such as this.

                                                                                I think that frankly enough is enough. This is a question of basic human needs. If the desire is to welcome new members and cultivate diverse discussions on a range of deep technical topics, we need to first make sure that this website is not a platform for hate and bigotry.

                                                                            3. 1

                                                                              How about meta comments like “I flagged this story because…” which sometimes is followed by a reason? I think it’s useless flamebait when there’s no reason because the comments inevitably come off like sounding like “My opinion is so popular I don’t have to explain it” or “You’re not worth explaining things to”. The codebase has a lot of little UI touches (not showing scores at first, not showing flags until there’s a couple, not showing replies in flagged conversations) that try to damper meta conversation outside of the meta tag, maybe there’s a broader rule worth writing/enforcing.

                                                                              I would personally love this addition.

                                                                              Very often when my comments are flagged as something like Incorrect or Troll if I don’t understand why they did that I’ll try to reach out and ask politely. It’s resulted in some very useful feedback and a better shared understanding on both sides.

                                                                              I think it would also help discourage off the cuff flags that actually reduce to “I disagree”.

                                                                              1. 4

                                                                                On tildes.net you can “label” posts as “Exemplary”, “Off-topic”, “Joke”, “Noise”, and “Malice”. For the “Exemplary” and “Malice” labels you can leave a reason which is presented to the author anonymously.

                                                                                There are no downvotes like Reddit/HN, this is how Tildes does “flagging”.

                                                                                What I like about this is that you can leave feedback anonymously, without getting embroiled in a discussion about it. The author of the post that you flagged can then take it or leave it.

                                                                                The downside of this is that people can leave insults in the feedback (“this is fucking stupid”, or whatnot), so there is some potential for abuse and would probably require some moderation. AFAIK this isn’t a problem on tildes as the community is very small, but it may be on Lobsters.

                                                                                1. 2

                                                                                  The downside of this is that people can leave insults in the feedback (“this is fucking stupid”, or whatnot), so there is some potential for abuse and would probably require some moderation. AFAIK this isn’t a problem on tildes as the community is very small, but it may be on Lobsters.

                                                                                  I’d argue that anyone who put an insult in a space for feedback has shown themselves to not be interested in contributing to any meaningful community.

                                                                                  1. 4

                                                                                    Indeed. My main concern is that people will see those insults, and if people leave real nasty comments it might be bordering on abusive. It’s just one more thing that would require some amount of mod involvement (flag the flag? meh)

                                                                            4. 20

                                                                              I think tone policing is very valuable. People need to learn to act politely, respectfully and productively, even if they feel negative emotions inside. This is something that is already taught to children, but becoming better at dealing with emotions is a life-long process. Negative emotions can be turned into something productive by using the energy to actively address an issue. For example, maybe it bothers you that an open source program has a certain bug. Then go on and fix it, rather than complaining about it. OP does not put forth any good arguments against tone policing.

                                                                              1. 1

                                                                                I agree with what you are saying. But tone policing can also be misdirected, if the “tone” detected is one’s own intuition, rather than coming from the person being policed.

                                                                                • A is frustrated; writes a comment. B senses A’s frustrated tone, and indicates so.
                                                                                • A is feeling neutral; writes a comment. B intuits a frustrated tone in A’s comment, and indicates so.

                                                                                The former is appropriate, in regards to facilitating civil discourse. But the later is not; in fact it only hampers civil discourse.

                                                                                Intuition is only as good as flipping a coin.

                                                                              2. 18

                                                                                Totally aside from anything else:

                                                                                This thread getting flagged off-topic makes no sense, since it’s a meta discussion, and I have a similar issue with the spam flag. Come on folks–whether you agree or disagree with the proposal, this is the correct way of having this discussion in the community.

                                                                                1. 7

                                                                                  i haven’t flagged this, but i think many people (including myself) are really tired of these things when it should be easy: just be nice.

                                                                                  it would help if people wouldn’t have such a short fuse and holier-than-thou approach these days, and instead would try to discuss things in a civil manner first.

                                                                                  1. 9

                                                                                    Can you define ‘nice’ such that even the author of a comment would agree when they’ve crossed the line? That’s the valuable thing this post is trying to do; generalities don’t advance the conversation.

                                                                                    1. 2

                                                                                      Can you define ‘nice’ such that even the author of a comment would agree when they’ve crossed the line?

                                                                                      it isn’t hard to not be an asshole, and every culture i interacted with of has kind-of the same rules regarding this. this requires a bit of “not being offended easily” though, questioning if the other person really tried to offend me, or if it is just a communication problem.

                                                                                      generalities don’t advance the conversation.

                                                                                      i don’t know if discussing another coc (or whatever we should call it) is more productive. those things are like tax laws: 10k rules which have to be adhered, and 100k ways to weasle around them.

                                                                                      maybe i should just accept that 13k-user-lobsters isn’t 3k-user-lobsters anymore and only read the articles via rss and ignore the discussions.

                                                                                      edit: added link.

                                                                                  2. 3

                                                                                    I haven’t flagged the post, but I’d guess those flags are an attempt at having a vote on the issue. So I’d say it’s the fault of the voting system for being asymmetric or maybe the problem is perceiving that count as the result of a poll. With sensitive matters like this, it’s hard to tell what percentage of that number means “I think this is relevant”, vs. “I agree with the suggestion” but I believe it mostly means the latter, so I’d say the problem in this instance is that you can’t simply downvote a post to imply “I disagree”.

                                                                                  3. 9

                                                                                    The first comment ( https://lobste.rs/s/gigoo8/end_redis_adventure#c_say5sq ) you give as an example of “pretending systematic racism, sexism, and bias aren’t a thing” is absolutely not an example of that. The point made in the linked comment is valid.

                                                                                    Statistics vary, but open source contributors skew heavily male, for instance one survey by GitHub and some academics came up with a value of 95% being male. If we assume open source maintainers have the same gender ratio (I expect it’s similar) than 4 randomly selected projects have a 81% chance of all being maintained by men. Trying to shame some random poster posting on a non-gender related post for not deciding to include an “affirmative action” item in his list of projects is ridiculous. Including an affirmative action item at all has questionable value.

                                                                                    Nothing about the above is related to systematic bias of any form, there is nothing systematic about a single list generated by a random poster. At best you could be trying to argue not that this is an example of pretending systematic bias isn’t a thing, but an example of pretending a particular poster isn’t biased. The evidence doesn’t even support the idea that they were pretending that a particular poster wasn’t biased, since the evidence points to that poster actually not being biased.

                                                                                    1. 8

                                                                                      I have a few things to say:

                                                                                      • As someone else pointed it, it’s pretty obvious that you’re having a problem with the poster’s position, as opposed to them policing the tone of the parent comment. Besides, “tone policing” should be allowed—if you sound like a dick, people will call you out on it. Cause and effect.
                                                                                      • The comments you’ve linked to aren’t explicitly denying that those issues exist—they’re merely disagreeing.
                                                                                      • Lobsters is a discussion site, and you can’t have discussion / debate without disagreements. @monokrome (very poorly, might I add), initiated one such discussion and that gave birth to disagreements. Would you like everyone to simply agree? That’s not a discussion any more then—that’s circlejerking, for the lack of a better term. There are other sites that are better suited for this (hint: it’s where the “karma points” system began).
                                                                                      • You do realize that the issues you’ve highlighted generally sit in the US political climate, and not everyone is from the US (including me)? Ergo, not everyone knows / cares enough about it. Let’s stop pretending otherwise.
                                                                                      1. 10

                                                                                        What, exactly, am I denying in the first example of denying systemic sexism? I’m denying that the guy who put together an open source dream team has any obligation to include any women on it. Why would there be any women on it, given how few of them run major open source projects?

                                                                                        Under these rules, what percentage of the cause of the lack of women in tech are we allowed to assign to reasons other than systemic sexism? Is it just 100% or will people be allowed some room to “pretend” there are other factors at play?

                                                                                        1. 6

                                                                                          No tone policing.

                                                                                          It seems like what you disagree with in the the two examples that you listed under this point are not listed because you disagree with their tone, but because you disagree with their position.

                                                                                          It’s a mis-characterization to call this “tone policing”.

                                                                                          What you are really against is not Tone but the actual position these commenters hold .e.g saying it is Tone imples something is wrong with the way/manner they responded - i gather than any comment that opposed/challenged the parent comment, no matter the tone, would’ve produced a a similar criticism from you.

                                                                                          1. 1

                                                                                            It’s tone policing which is being pointed out as a problem - not the tone itself, e.g. don’t call a comment aggressive because you read it like that.

                                                                                            1. 1

                                                                                              So to be clear, in this instance of [don’t call a comment aggressive because you read it like that], from a moderation perspective, you’re OK with disagreeing with a comment (or with the implied meaning of a question), as long as one doesn’t make reference to the comment’s form directly (e.g. ‘this is aggressive’) or make an ad-hominem reference (e.g. ‘this commenter is aggressive’)?

                                                                                              1. 1

                                                                                                Yes absolutely

                                                                                          2. 11

                                                                                            No tone policing

                                                                                            You saw what they were replying to, yes? You saw how useless of a comment it was? That tone policing was in addition to multiple commenters pointing out the flaws in the approach of the offending commenter. It was not an innocent question. It was not simply “Why are there no women in this list?”. The commenter is not a child and knows that asking such a question is inflammatory. Is that a stupid cause and effect combo? Yes. But they could’ve avoided the entire chain that you’re referring to and in fact helped both the women and men frequenting this site by putting forth a bit more effort into what they submitted. Instead of this:

                                                                                            Why are there no women in this list?

                                                                                            We could’ve had a fruitful discussion on female influential thinkers and programmers. A discussion that I would have relished on the many other people who could help us along in our collective programming slog. But instead we get a shitty one line question that is neither enlightening nor broadening of thought. Instead it’s just another injection of the same tired school yard to work place to life to internet argument.

                                                                                            Just try harder and help us. I really don’t know any openly female open source authors that contribute a heck of a lot to anything. This is not an insult, this is an admission of my own ignorance and one that monokrome did not help to alleviate but was easily able to.

                                                                                            So no, I don’t think tone policing should be banned. I have no issues with your other thing.

                                                                                            1. 2

                                                                                              What policy would you write to prohibit the parent comment? (Or would you?)

                                                                                              1. 15

                                                                                                We already have one, it’s trolling and I down voted that comment as such. It was purposefully controversial and low effort. I’m pretty sure that’s trolling even if it’s by accident.

                                                                                                1. 5

                                                                                                  I wouldn’t, but if I had to I’d throw it under the bucket of bad faith questions that if genuine would make more sense to ask in private, unless the goal is to score points with onlookers.

                                                                                                2. 2

                                                                                                  You saw what they were replying to, yes? You saw how useless of a comment it was?

                                                                                                  I don’t think that was a useless comment. I think it raised an excellent point via a pointed question.

                                                                                                  1. 8

                                                                                                    an excellent point

                                                                                                    I disagree. It was a interjection that derailed the discussion of possible members of an imaginary league of open source leaders. There was no discussion of gender anywhere near the remarks of the opening poster. The names, save RMS, were sprung from the mind of a single person. The comment that you’re defending didn’t help and didn’t add to the discussion. There was positivity in that chain before it was sucked out with 8 words.

                                                                                                    If it provided names or projects then maybe it would help but by the end of that short question what’s coming up in my mind is that they want to attack rather than help. I’m already defensive. That criticism is something a lot of other men feel as well. Is it really so difficult to approach the commenters with a guiding hand rather than a slap to the nuts?

                                                                                                    pointed question

                                                                                                    I disagree here as well. A pointed question would arrive at the core of the problem the opening poster was trying to solve which I can only assume would be to build a team of open source visionaries that get things done. The comment you’re defending is a quibble and considering the fallout from it includes the rest of that chain and this completely separate thread where most people seem to agree that we don’t need what’s being proposed is also inflammatory. The proposals of course support the kind of comments that you’re defending.

                                                                                                    I don’t want arguments. I don’t want to start or be in arguments. I want to educate and be educated. Sometimes arguments are helpful but that comment started a flame war, didn’t help solve the issue that it was a reply to and even got the mods involved on a 3rd party channel.

                                                                                                    It’s a fucking useless, low effort, troll comment. We don’t need them. The orange site and everywhere else is filled with them. If I wanted to read them I would go on twitter, which btw is where this meta (read: nearly off topic) thread found its launch pad. Take this comment for example. You see how upvoted it is regardless of the fact that it’s pointing out the same type of biases that the flame bait you’re defending is? That’s a useful comment. That’s what we should be trying to aspire to.

                                                                                                    I’m tired of this. I would like to ask you to stop defending flame bait because you very clearly are.

                                                                                                    1. 6

                                                                                                      It was a interjection that derailed the discussion of possible members of an imaginary league of open source leaders.

                                                                                                      I’ll disagree with you here for the very reason that I don’t believe it’s possible on the medium of this website to interject or derail.

                                                                                                      Consider the fact that you get to write a comment in your own time, edit it, and click the “Post” button without interruption. This is not a realtime chat app, nor is it linear; since discussions are in fact trees, if you don’t want to engage in a path through the comment tree, then you don’t have to. If you see others following a comment path in favor of one you’d rather engage with, then consider the fact that they’re doing so on their own free will. They might want to comment on something that you don’t. Who is policing who?

                                                                                                      There was no discussion of gender anywhere near the remarks of the opening poster.

                                                                                                      And so what? Suppose we have a comment thread discussing memory performance, and someone brings up security. There was previously no discussion of security. Are you going to be as angry with that poster as you are in this instance? Or what if, in the case of the thread at hand, the “interjecting” comment brought up natively spoken language instead. Would you be as upset, and as driven to engage in this case? Who is the judge of what is and is not relevant to a discussion? For a community nominally focused on intellectual pursuits, are you not interested in exploring associations, obvious or not, at the cost of some comments that you yourself don’t like?

                                                                                                      Further up the thread, you wrote:

                                                                                                      It was not an innocent question. It was not simply “Why are there no women in this list?”. The commenter is not a child and knows that asking such a question is inflammatory.

                                                                                                      You seem to pose that either: a) the poster is a “child” asking roughly: “excuse me I am confused that there no women on this list. could someone kindly clue me in?”, or b) the poster is an instigator, keen on “interjecting” and “derailing” discussion, someone who in bad faith wishes to expose the innocent wish-list parent comment as a misogynist. Since a) couldn’t be the case, it must be b) with evil intent!

                                                                                                      I’m not a mind reader either, but consider that the poster simply wanted to open up a discussion; that they actually meant what they wrote. Why are there no women in the list? This is a prompt for discussion. In fact, it’s one that we ought to be interested in. Why are the overwhelming majority of household open source names men? Prominent intellectuals, academics, and creatives in other fields seem to have a much more even distribution of gender. Why get defensive when we could think critically? It’s a good question.

                                                                                                      edit here’s a follow-up post clarifying intent.

                                                                                                      We could’ve had a fruitful discussion on female influential thinkers and programmers. A discussion that I would have relished on the many other people who could help us along in our collective programming slog. But instead we get a shitty one line question that is neither enlightening nor broadening of thought.

                                                                                                      We could have, and we still can. Since you’d “relish” a discussion of prominent women in tech, please go ahead and start that thread.

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                                                                                                        I don’t believe it’s possible on the medium of this website to interject or derail.

                                                                                                        We’ll have to agree to disagree that it’s possible to derail a comment tree. When the branch is off topic even for the website that we’re on I would consider it derailing.

                                                                                                        Who is the judge of what is and is not relevant to a discussion?

                                                                                                        From the about page:

                                                                                                        Lobsters is a computing-focused community centered around link aggregation and discussion.

                                                                                                        From the wiki about Downvotes:

                                                                                                        Troll - These are used when a comment is made specifically to get a rise out of other users with no attempt at sharing new information or engaging in honest discussion.

                                                                                                        Why get defensive when we could think critically? It’s a good question.

                                                                                                        This is where there is a problem with the question’s framing. In the majority of online conversations you’ll see these types comments and would be justified in assuming the worse - that the commenter is going to start an argument with little for us to gain from it. In Lobste.rs from what I’ve seen is that the signal is missing because the questions are presented in a more developed manner. There’s typically context provided. Ideas are given along with the question for some sort of guidance on how they arrived there and why they’re asking it. Or hey, you know, the question is actually related to the topic of the site.

                                                                                                        We could have, and we still can. Since you’d “relish” a discussion of prominent women in tech, please go ahead and start that thread.

                                                                                                        I won’t because I don’t start threads on things I don’t know much about. If the thread comes up I’ll be asking questions though.

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                                                                                                          From the about page:

                                                                                                          Lobsters is a computing-focused community centered around link aggregation and discussion.
                                                                                                          

                                                                                                          Right, and you’ll note that to many members, a “computing-focused community” centered around “discussion” should be prepared to discuss computing-focused communities.

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                                                                                                            The community is prepared but the question doesn’t give the impression that it’s made in good faith. Like you said, we’re not mind readers. You’ve already seen that many of us will put effort in. You still haven’t answered my question btw.

                                                                                                      2. -5

                                                                                                        There was no discussion of gender anywhere near the remarks of the opening poster.

                                                                                                        That was indeed the point of the comment?

                                                                                                        I want to educate and be educated.

                                                                                                        Hmm, facts not in evidence ;)

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                                                                                                          That was indeed the point of the comment?

                                                                                                          But why does it matter? In the criteria laid out in the opening comment we had:

                                                                                                          1. They cannot be easily manipulated
                                                                                                          2. They do not want to manipulate others
                                                                                                          3. They are visionaries
                                                                                                          4. They express themselves through software (on both technical and conceptual levels)
                                                                                                          5. They work very hard, for very long time, based on a believe and passion alone
                                                                                                          6. They are not afraid to challenge ‘status quo’

                                                                                                          Please tell me which if any of these qualities is exclusive to either gender. Why would gender be a part of the equation rather than the content and caliber of their minds? I see no link, therefore I saw a useless derailing comment made by someone who ignored the list above.

                                                                                                          1. 2

                                                                                                            Could you point me to the rule of engagement describing the idea that in order to reply to a comment, you must respond to it within the framework of analysis that the OP has constructed?

                                                                                                            1. 0

                                                                                                              There is none. But why would you ignore it entirely when your answer probably lies in that list?

                                                                                                              1. 2

                                                                                                                your answer probably lies in that list

                                                                                                                So in other words, you claim that the answer to “why are there no women in this list?” is “probably” because:

                                                                                                                1. They are easily manipulated, or
                                                                                                                2. They want to manipulate others, or
                                                                                                                3. They are not visionaries, or
                                                                                                                4. They do not express themselves through software (on both technical and conceptual levels), or
                                                                                                                5. They do not work very hard, for very long time, based on a believe and passion alone, or
                                                                                                                6. They are afraid to challenge ‘status quo’

                                                                                                                Yikes

                                                                                                                1. 0

                                                                                                                  THIS IS WHAT I WANT. Instead of that shitty little comment why couldn’t you have come along and said something?

                                                                                                                  I don’t know whether it’s probable or not. I haven’t done studies and I haven’t seen any either. It would stupid to think that all of the reasons there are no women on that list is because of one of those six reasons. But you still missed my question. Why would it be ignored entirely?

                                                                                                          2. 4

                                                                                                            Hmm, facts not in evidence ;)

                                                                                                            Flagged unkind. This does not leave much room to build on, doesn’t cite relevant examples to learn from, and generally doesn’t seem (to me) to improve the discussion.

                                                                                                            1. 1

                                                                                                              That feels to me like an unreasonable response to a substantial (if pithy) reply to the comment + a clearly indicated joke as a post-script. Please re-assess your criteria for flagging.

                                                                                                              1. 3

                                                                                                                I too flagged your comment as unkind. It did not come across as a joke at all (more like sarcasm, which isn’t kind). Rather, as an unilteral “do this, or else!” vibe. OP also does the same, right now on Twitter:

                                                                                                                many (likely vast majority) of the women programmers I know would not participate on http://lobste.rs after reading some of the threads there.

                                                                                                                How does he know that “many (likely vast majority)” would not participate for this reason? Why don’t these women directly complain about it, so that we know for a fact that it is indeed “many (likely vast majority)” that are put off by the current discussion (and that it is not OP exaggerating it for whatever reason)? If you ask him that, we would probably be accused of being a sexist or a troll. I am actually glad that pushcx notices what’s going on.

                                                                                                                I want this community to remain tech-focused, and not get dragged into culture wars.

                                                                                                                1. 0

                                                                                                                  The fact that you dismiss topics and comments like this as “culture war” stuff rather than meaningful, topical, and endemic problems in tech-focused communities that need to be addressed is, I think, good evidence towards the OP’s Twitter point.

                                                                                                                  1. 2

                                                                                                                    So now merely mentioning the phrase “culture wars” is enough to be shouted down as sexist without even explaining why? None of the things you’ve said can be deduced from what the previous poster wrote, you made you own conclusions about that on no evidence what-so-ever.

                                                                                                                    This is incredibly toxic. And yes, even if you cause is a good one you can still be toxic.

                                                                                                                    1. 1

                                                                                                                      So now merely mentioning the phrase “culture wars” is enough to be shouted down as sexist without even explaining why?

                                                                                                                      No, but dismissing relevant points by handwaving “culture wars” is evidence that a community is immature in that dimension, and likely unwelcoming to the affected minority.

                                                                                                                      This is incredibly toxic.

                                                                                                                      “Toxic” isn’t a catch-all pejorative that can be used when someone advances an argument you don’t like.

                                                                                                                    2. 1

                                                                                                                      That’s a very uncharitable interpretation of my comment.

                                                                                                                      These things should be discussed, but with good faith assumptions, not by unjustly accusing others as “nazi” or “sexist” or “racist”, which only perpetuates an “us vs them” mentality (a telling characteristic of culture wars), that in turn divides the community with toxic influence rather than build it based on fellowship regard.

                                                                                                          3. 4

                                                                                                            The question was as pointed as it was irrelevant. It could just as well have been ‘why are there no left-handed people on this list’ or ‘why are there no Hindus on this list’ or ‘why are there no Freemasons on this list’. Identity politics is politics no matter whether the identity is sex, dextrality or religion. It only serves to split communities in factions and factions into a power struggle. As far as I can see this is far from an ‘excellent point’ unless you happen to be a competitor to the community or its goals.

                                                                                                            1. 2

                                                                                                              As far as I’m aware, there is no systemic under representation of left handed people or Hindus in software, so the comparison you’re drawing is not effective.

                                                                                                        2. 4

                                                                                                          Seriously, none of these comments demonstrates that the Lobsters community is not welcoming. At best it shows that some people disagree or do not fully agree with other people, which is perfectly fine isn’t it ?

                                                                                                          At this point this does not look like a moderation policy but a thought policy. Opinions and experiences preaching that there is a systemic racism/sexism must be encouraged and undiscussed. On the other hand, experiences and opinions that oppose it, or barely question it are forbidden.

                                                                                                          Why a “computing-focused community” should police some political views ? (As long as it does not threaten someone to death or something)

                                                                                                          I mean I am radical communist for which everything in this world is determined by the class struggles and where currently the capitalist class oppresses the proletariat.

                                                                                                          There is a high probability that lobsters do not think the way radical communists do, but why on earth would I want to police everyone message that are not class-struggle-friendly ?

                                                                                                          Folks, I really love to read and interract on Lobsters everyday: people here are passionate, curious and very welcoming. Please don’t go on the thought-police road, everyone will have something to lose.

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                                                                                                            My 2 cents - tone policing is actually a really useful term of art, but you do have to flesh out what it means a bunch more if you are going to use it in a community that isn’t already familiar with it. There is a habit that I have observed (not exclusively) amongst programmers to take some unfamiliar term and just make up a meaning for it in their heads without ever bothering to check, as some of the commenters here have done.

                                                                                                            The clearest explanation that I can think of (and this would need to be fleshed out even more if used as part of the moderation policy) is that ‘tone policing’ is when you avoid engaging with someone’s point by making a big deal about how they made the point, often involving suggesting changes to their message that actually serve to get rid of the point entirely. For example, if I were to say ‘C is a badly designed language because it is unsafe by virtue of x y z and I am angry that people still recommend it to people’ and someone was to reply ‘Why are you so angry? I’m not going to listen to that. But maybe if you had said “C is a language for experts, because x y z, and should be used by experts and people who want to be better programmers” then I would listen.’ then that would be tone policing, as it avoids engaging with the point while suggesting a change that gets rid of the point in the original comment.

                                                                                                            Edited to add: Replying ‘I actually think x y z is good’ or ‘x y z is a problem, but as long as you are in a b c environment you don’t have much choice but to use it’ isn’t tone policing, it is engaging with the point of the thing.

                                                                                                            Even if you ban tone policing, you can still tell people that they are being too aggressive or even controversial - for instance if I posted about ‘tabs v spaces’ or ‘best editor’ seriously presupposing that the community already agreed with me, a reply about how I was being too controversial might help me to understand the flood of ‘Incorrect’ flags on my post :-). And more seriously, occasionally there are flamey replies, and telling the poster something like ‘hey that was too aggressive’ can sometimes be useful in pushing people to keep lobste.rs less flamey.

                                                                                                            1. 0

                                                                                                              To take it by example, is this OK to answer to this:

                                                                                                              Why are there no women in this list?

                                                                                                              with this:

                                                                                                              Why are there no aliens in this list?

                                                                                                              Why or why not?

                                                                                                              1. 2

                                                                                                                I think that I agree with you. In my opinion this question should never have been considered aggressive. It actually is a good question in my opinion, however it’s not particularly related to Redis and there is so much to say about this that we could consider it as off-topic.

                                                                                                                I’m not saying that the person who asked it wasn’t aggressive, I’m saying that we have no proof of this supposed aggressiveness through the internet so let’s consider it peaceful and focus on giving a good, polite answer.

                                                                                                                Answering politely an aggressive question usually won’t cause much trouble and defeats trolls, while answering defensively a pacific question is a lot more risky.

                                                                                                                1. 2

                                                                                                                  I wouldn’t answer that way, because that would be taking a question nonseriously that was likely asked seriously, which would then be received as teasing. Then bear in mind the societal context that who is taken seriously and who isn’t is part of gender issues, and it’s gonna get ugly.

                                                                                                                  And now I’m thinking of Smokey the bear saying “Only you can prevent flame wars.”

                                                                                                                  Now, is that something you can make into a rule with consequences? I’m not sure. But as motet-a says, things work better when we assume earnest, positive intent and respond in kind.

                                                                                                                  1. 1

                                                                                                                    Thanks for the reply.

                                                                                                                    that was likely asked seriously,

                                                                                                                    How do you know this?

                                                                                                                    1. 1

                                                                                                                      I don’t, but that happens all the time in communication, especially when it’s not face to face or not someone you know. It’d be a little much to moderate as a consequence of their asking that question alone. It’s better to assume it’s not necessarily trolling until you can really tell. So in the meantime I’d approach the question as an earnest one and give them an earnest answer. If the person is really trolling, I think a mod would be able to tell within a reply or three.

                                                                                                                2. 1

                                                                                                                  Come to think of it, are existing policies, or a code of conduct, published on the site someplace? I have looked around a little and not found them.