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    Hey, so… Speaking on behalf of the mod team, we aren’t quite ready to make a rule “no sex toys” or anything like that, but this post is on our radar as being borderline. I’m letting you all know so the community can think about what standards make sense for a place like this.

    I personally believe in sex-positivity, but I can imagine that we have many readers who work in corporate environments and wouldn’t particularly want their managers to see them reading this article. Also it seems to have brought out the worst in everyone humor-wise, so that’s a point against it… I’m removing the worst comments (mostly just sex jokes).

    We’ve had feedback recently, by the way, that people don’t realize we have a full team of moderators who coordinate on decisions. So we’re all trying to be a bit more visible - that’s why I’m the one posting this.

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      I’m absolutely in favour of on-topic sex-related content here. But even TechCrunch, hardly known for sober and sensible reporting, was able to cover this story without sniggering. And in my opinion, if managers have a problem with their software developers reading a serious, objective article about computer security like this one just because it’s about a problem with a sex toy, the problem is with the manager/company, not with the employee.

      If people aren’t able to discuss stories like this without making content-free comments with crude jokes, though, it doesn’t speak well for the community here.

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        The problem with bawd is that it is even more subjective than normal humor…and given the quality of jokes that were removed, I can’t disagree with a sort of broken windows approach.

        But, like, I can’t get behind the pearl clutching amd serious business aspect of this. The story is about an exploit wherein a dick gets stuck in a poorly programmed cage. That’s pretty fucking funny. Let us not give up our ability to laugh at the absurd.

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          Most of those jokes were dumb and disposable, but yours (at roughly 28 upvotes when I saw it) was very well done. Maybe a little crass, but given the subject matter hardly crude or offensive. I’m sure it was removed out of “fairness” or some high-minded ideal like that. Not a pearl to be clutched, but the site lost a tiny little… sparkly rhinestone or something, with the loss of that joke.

          (All you late-comers missed it, sorry. Please direct any feedback you may have to our hard-working mod dom team.)

          EDIT: typo fix

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            The problem with my joke–and thank you for the kind words–is that it shifts the Overton window a bit far on a direction that isn’t sustainable.

            I get pissy about advertising and marketing here for the same reason, even with submissions that are of themselves high quality.

            If a bawdy joke of mine has to be removed to spare us legions of copycats citing it as precedent, I can’t really in good conscience object.

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              All you late-comers missed it, sorry.

              I’d love to receive a copy in my email inbox if you don’t mind. First two letters and last six letters of my username at the big search engine’s mail domain.

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              Oh, I agree that it’s hilarious. I just think jokes like this have an effect, probably unintended for most people, of reinforcing the perception that the site is only for men. I don’t want that outcome, so I felt the need to step in.

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                As a woman myself, I don’t feel excluded by the particular sex jokes that were shared here because of my gender. I’m more concerned about the stigma that the jokes reinforce and the culture of mandatory conformity to conservative sexual standards they strengthen.

                To get personal, I’m involved in the BDSM community myself. (In my case, this isn’t a secret, but it’s also not something I tend to bring up in other social circles.) I know men, women, and those that lieth betwixt who enjoy both sides of this particular kink. I also know plenty of people in the community who are absolutely terrified that their work might find out about this part of their private life, because they’d lose their job (and possibly their entire career), have their children taken away from them by social services, etc. In most cases, even if sexual orientation (that is, basically, whether you fall under the LGBT+ umbrella) is a protected category under anti-discrimination laws, other kinds of sexual interests are not.

                Allowing jokes like these makes people feel like they’re a fair target for jokes when they’re already under serious and massive pressure about this aspect of their lives. We’re not asking to be ‘out and proud’ — we know that for most people in most contexts, an interest in kink is just TMI. We’re just asking for an environment where, if it does come out by accident, we know our colleagues and our bosses will just shrug and say ‘it’s your private life, whatever’ and not start making jokes at our expense. And if there’s one thing we can learn from the struggles against sexism and homophobia in the workplace, it’s that the road from stigma expressed through humiliating jokes to stigma expressed through firing someone is shorter than you’d think.

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                  I am unsure that ceding the space of sexual humor to males assigned st birth is anything but sexist, but here is not the place to litigate it.

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                    I’ve recently started spending more time on IRC, please feel free to send me a DM over there if you’d like to discuss that. I don’t expect that we’d necessarily come to agreement but if you want to know more about how I think about this topic, I’m happy to go into detail.

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                      I feel like your admission that you removed a bit of humour that you yourself found funny because you want to attract more women to the site reinforces the perception of (at least a contingent of) women as spoilsports of male humour, which is probably not going to do much to endear the people here to the new guests that are attracted here for that reason; you seem to have gone against your original goal.

                      I also find it quite unnerving that individual mods have the power to shift the direction of a thread for activism purposes. If it becomes a stated goal of this site to cater more to women and it achieves that by cleaning up what men like about the site… well, I’m a man. How far will this go? What kind of incentives for women that ruin the site for us men can we expect? It can’t just be down to individual mods with no checks in place.

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                        It is fair enough to raise those topics for discussion. There’s three things in it that I’d like to reply to.

                        First, it’s not down to individual mods. The mod team talked this over privately before doing it. I’m handling the public-facing communication today because I am closest to the issue and because I have the time. I understand that it’s not very visible to site members that that happens, which is why we’re trying to be more explicit about it, such as my remark that I was “speaking for the mod team” up-thread. To whatever extent things here are matters of my personal opinion and not the site’s position, I have tried to be extremely clear about that, as well.

                        Second, I’m trying to retain the women we already have by not driving them away with unchecked, gendered, sexualized humor. As a trans woman I promise that I have many hilarious observations to make about genitals, but I also recognize that were I to start doing that in a professional space, it would make many people uncomfortable. I think highly of lobste.rs community members, and I’m sure most people here can recognize that some topics are for private conversations where you know everyone involved. In a private setting, you can be sure you aren’t violating people’s boundaries and expectations. In a semi-public space such as this, you don’t really know who’s reading or how they feel about it.

                        Third, I don’t think this is a zero-sum thing. I think everyone benefits from trying to have a civil community where nobody has to be confronted with jokes about genitalia unless they want to. I think that makes things better for everyone, regardless of gender. If I truly viewed this as a thing with winners and losers, with one group’s happiness being possible only at the cost of another group’s unhappiness, I wouldn’t be taking the time to justify the decision and engage with discussion about it. I would simply have deleted the page - it would have saved several hours of work.

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                          Thanks for taking the time to respond.

                          First, it’s not down to individual mods. […]

                          Fair enough. I still have my apprehensions about the implicit activism angle, but you’re right, you were clear on the fact that this wasn’t just you and what was your opinion. I guess I just inferred from some of the comments that this would have probably gone differently without your influence; the rule applied seems arbitrary until you realise the views that are probably being represented in ‘the cabal’s secret meetings’ ;).

                          Second, I’m trying to retain the women we already have by not driving them away with unchecked, gendered, sexualized humor.

                          Just curious, is this something the women we already have (or used to have and then left) tell you is driving them away, or are you basing this on prior research/knowledge/beliefs of how women react to bawdy jokes?

                          As a trans woman I promise that I have many hilarious observations to make about genitals, but I also recognize that were I to start doing that in a professional space, it would make many people uncomfortable.

                          Sure, but lobste.rs isn’t really a professional space in the same way your average office workplace is. Most people understand the limits at a workplace are necessary to some degree to avoid making people uncomfortable, but restrictiveness in humour is itself often uncomfortable, and I don’t understand why you’d prefer that discomfort over the other in an online community like lobste.rs.

                          The community itself as it stands were apparently reacting quite favourably, so I’m not sure why we would restrict the community’s humour to appeal to some outsiders.

                          I’m sure most people here can recognize that some topics are for private conversations where you know everyone involved.

                          Yes, like swear words, some would say. But we don’t have to care about those people’s sensibilities. This site happily accepts swear words like “fuck” in submission titles, comments, etc, even though it makes some people uncomfortable.

                          The reality is that you’re implicitly saying that the set of people made uncomfortable by sexual jokes are more worthy of catering to than the set of people made uncomfortable by swear words, whether it’s because they are a (net) bigger set (big enough?) or because they seem to you subjectively to have a more ‘valid’ reason for being uncomfortable or whatever other reason.

                          If it were just about not making people uncomfortable, you wouldn’t be able to say almost anything interesting. When choosing whose discomfort to prioritise, you’re revealing your values or sympathies or allegiances (either it makes you uncomfortable, or you sympathise with those made uncomfortable by the joke more than by the restrictiveness in humour or other things you could have removed, or you are just catering to the biggest or loudest group).

                          In a private setting, you can be sure you aren’t violating people’s boundaries and expectations.

                          Not really. You can make an educated guess, but you never really know how someone might react to something. But we don’t let that stop us. Talking or joking about taboos or controversial topics or breaking taboos in general is always risky. Someone often has to be the first to set the tone to a riskier level (bit by bit) and the other person may always react negatively.

                          In a semi-public space such as this, you don’t really know who’s reading or how they feel about it.

                          Sure, I just don’t see how that’s relevant. There are people that feel offended when they read swear words, but the tone of this site is such that we allow them. The question isn’t why should we set rules around what’s acceptable and what isn’t, the question is why this particular rule? Why should we cater to people who find bawdy jokes uncomfortable over those who find they brighten their day?

                          Third, I don’t think this is a zero-sum thing. I think everyone benefits from trying to have a civil community where nobody has to be confronted with jokes about genitalia unless they want to.

                          Or stories about genital instruments? I’m sure there are lots of people that are quite disgusted by this story, or at least made uncomfortable by it. Why are jokes about genitalia any more uncomfortable than stories about genitalia? Hell, the title of this submission makes a genital joke (“cock-up”).

                          I don’t think everyone benefits. Not all the people missing out on the humorous comments that were removed are going to be happy about it or would have been made uncomfortable by them. That’s why we’re having this conversation. It quite literally is zero sum, at least in the way it’s been implemented currently.

                          If I truly viewed this as a thing with winners and losers, with one group’s happiness being possible only at the cost of another group’s unhappiness, I wouldn’t be taking the time to justify the decision and engage with discussion about it. I would simply have deleted the page - it would have saved several hours of work.

                          You can justify the decision all you want, it’s not going to make everyone on the other side of the debate happy. If you’re talking about fielding compromises, then perhaps instead of removing these kinds of comments entirely, they could be quarantined in some way. Still not gonna make everyone happy, but might go a good way.

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                            Thanks for your patience. This is a lot to respond to!

                            Ultimately, yes, some people are clearly unhappy with this decision. To those people, I say that I encourage you all to view this as a chance to reflect about how important sex jokes are to you, and treat it as an opportunity to change course.

                            Once again, I believe that this isn’t zero-sum and that everyone benefits. However, to whatever extent there has to be a choice between priorities, I am choosing to side against people who feel that making sex jokes on this site is a fundamental attribute of who they are, which they are not willing to surrender.

                            I think the unifying theme in your concern was really that I can’t make everyone happy. To whatever extent that turns out to be true, I take full responsibility for it. I think that cost would be worth it in this particular case.

                            I think that addresses most of the substance of your long comment. What it doesn’t address, I’m not sure I have anything particularly interesting to say about, that I haven’t already said. There’s one exception, which I’ll respond to directly:

                            Just curious, is this something the women we already have (or used to have and then left) tell you is driving them away, or are you basing this on prior research/knowledge/beliefs of how women react to bawdy jokes?

                            Both.

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                              This doesn’t address the meat of my comment (or my other comments), which is about the seeming inconsistency in reasoning:

                              However, to whatever extent there has to be a choice between priorities, I am choosing to side against people who feel that making sex jokes on this site is a fundamental attribute of who they are, which they are not willing to surrender.

                              This trivialises one side’s feelings on this. No one feels it’s a fundamental attribute of who they are. Some people are reacting strongly because it’s an application of a nonsensical rule in pursuit of a gender activism agenda that degrades the quality of their experience. People can deal with limiting rules, but it stings more when it’s done in the name of reasons that would be shot down in any other context.

                              I could just as well say, ‘however, to whatever extent there has to be a choice between priorities, I am choosing to side against people who feel that swearing on this site is a fundamental attribute of who they are, which they are not willing to surrender’. People would be bemoaning how stupid these rules are and all to please some dumb puritanical and/or religious agenda, why should we acquiesce to this?, etc.

                              I think there’s a certain contingent of people who see certain activist rules as just as nonsensical as certain bureaucratic rules and their mind rebels just as it does when faced with silly rules in any other context; they react quite strongly to what they see as the inability of humans to think clearly when their mind has been infected by bureaucracy/activism/religion/patriotism/whatever.

                              I’ve responded to your other comment on bitrot and dpk having articulated your reasoning clearer, so that’s where I’ve addressed that.

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                                The point I’m trying to make is that I’m not taking a side against “men” or any larger group. I’m specifically only taking a stance against the making of sexual jokes here on lobste.rs. Whether you’re part of that group - of people who make those jokes, here on this site - is entirely within your control.

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                                  Just to be clear, when I say that people don’t like nonsensical rules that come from a gender activism agenda, I’m not insinuating that you’re taking a stance against men.

                                  I’m saying that (a few) people are reacting strongly because they’re pattern matching on [imposition of annoying new rule that prioritises some outcome that they struggle to care about] [with justifications that they believe make no sense, and were they applied to anything else, would not fly] [for a cause they’ve had previous experience with that seem to constantly do this].

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                                    I do appreciate the clarification. I feel like I’ve done everything I know how to do to defuse such fears, by explaining the rule and why it’s important.

                                    I do believe that the rule is straightforward; I note that the people who are objecting are not the people whose jokes were removed.

                                    If there are truly people out there for whom this is complicated or ambiguous, I’m happy to continue to clarify, but it kind of sounds like you’re expressing concern about the possible fears of a group that’s mostly hypothetical. I’m trying my best to help, regardless, because I feel an obligation to, but at this point I don’t have much to say that isn’t just repeating myself.

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                                      Yes, you have (explained). People (including myself) will disagree strongly, but as you said, there’s not much left to be said.

                                      I do believe there are deeper layers of thinking and disagreement we could take this to, but I’ve been avoiding that, as I don’t think it’ll do much good for me to make this even more protracted than it already is, especially as I’m quite new to the community myself. I also don’t have enough information to make an informed case tailored to you.

                                      I will say, I don’t think it’s much relevant that the rule is straightforward; I mean, better than it being a contradictory or hard-to-follow mess, but it’s only necessary, not sufficient, for a good rule.

                                      I also don’t think it’s much relevant that the people complaining aren’t those who made the jokes. Just as the rule is being implemented for the sake of people who might read the comments and be negatively affected, the people complaining want the rule to not be implemented for the sake of people who might read the comments and be positively affected (people like themselves), not just for the people who write the comments (who they might be among in the future).

                                      If anything, by that metric, it’s worse for you; you, the person pushing for, implementing, and enforcing the rule, are not someone who is negatively affected by the jokes, as per your admission elsewhere in this thread. It doesn’t make your position any less valid or important, so why should it make ours (if we even were unaffected by the rule just because we’re readers not writers)?

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                                        I haven’t argued that your position is invalid or unimportant. I consider it, at the very least, important enough to merit a response.

                                        On the other topics: Fair enough.

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                                          Okay, I may have misunderstood your intent.

                                          What’s the relevance of the people complaining not being those whose jokes were removed? Why’s it noteworthy?

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                                            It’s noteworthy in that you’re arguing about a harm that, as far as I can tell, is entirely theoretical.

                                            Just to restate my understanding as fairly as I can, the harm you’re talking about is a loss of trust. Correct me if I’m wrong?

                                            I do ultimately have to make my own assessment of what I see evidence for and what I don’t. We appear to have a factual disagreement about the degree of harm and the size of the affected group, and I think that’s relevant.

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                                              Loss of trust would be a problem if, for example, mods were removing posts simply for holding or arguing a position that people didn’t like. I wouldn’t trust this place to give me all the facts.

                                              We’re talking about jokes; I actually thought you were at least on the same page here, that there is a harm to removing jokes. People derive pleasure from jokes, therefore removing them denies them that pleasure. It’s pretty direct.

                                              Again, it’s just the flipside of what you’re saying. You’re saying there are people who derive discomfort from these jokes, so you’re removing them to prevent that discomfort.

                                              The harm is a simple dulling of the culture, a shifting of the dynamic, sucking the humour out of certain threads. Even if I never consciously notice for the rest of my stay on this site, the impact is felt. A joke is removed, and I never knew it was removed, but it still means I’m a chuckle, a giggle, a belly laugh, a snicker poorer that day. Compound that across threads.

                                              Just as I imagine you might say the harm to keeping these jokes is a simple juvenilising of the culture, a shifting of the dynamic, sucking the comfort out of certain threads. Even if a woman never consciously notices for the rest of her stay on this site, the impact is felt. A joke is made, and she never imagines the site without it, but it still means it’s just another discomfort she has to go through that day. Compound that across threads.

                                              (Now I’m thinking of looking into the intersection of juvenile and sexual humour and gender differences around them; there are certainly stereotypes. As a man, I’ve never observed women being asked to change their style of humour to make men comfortable, except for the sake of equality as opposed to the humour intrinsically making men uncomfortable.)

                                              The fact that this was motivated by gender activism does also make me suspicious of what future changes could be coming that are a problem beyond just jokes, since that motivation does often lead to extreme censoriousness, IMO. That’s just not what I was arguing here, since that is genuinely theoretical.

                                              But since you brought it up, would the Damore memo be allowed on here, for example? That made a lot of women uncomfortable, even mad, but I read through that, and I don’t think he said anything worthy of ostracism or job loss.

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                            Thank you for trying to shift the culture.

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                  Coming to this from when I posted the comment, likely after some pruning has been done: I think the post itself is very on-topic and worthy of discussion. If objectionable comments were made, that’s a shame, but I can understand the tendency to go after “trivial points scoring” for internet funbucks karma. I’d hate to see this type of submission removed/censored.

                  To bring some level of technical discussion: I’m reminded, amusingly enough, of nuclear reactors. AIUI, to keep the rate of reaction low, you insert/remove control rods into the reactor core. Those rods are made of boron and other elements that are very good at hoovering up neutrons. That’s an obvious need because too many neutrons make nuclear reactors get spicy.

                  In these reactors, your fail safe is gravity: the rods are lifted away from the core with electromagnets. Something goes wrong, power gets cut, and all the rods slam down into the core and quench the neutrons, halting the reaction. And in many reactors, the routine shutdown process is “press the button to release the electromagnets”: a safety critical system becomes integral to routine operation.

                  We could learn from this in software. We could certainly learn from it with locking sex toys, and it’s remarkable that someone didn’t say “do we want this to fail open or fail closed” at the very beginning of the design process.

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                    it’s remarkable that someone didn’t say “do we want this to fail open or fail closed” at the very beginning of the design process.

                    Unfortunately, I think this is a case of fantasy getting the better of reality. ‘100% inescapable!!’ is a sexy marketing point for the device’s target market. Safety, on the other hand, is just a spoilsport.

                    (Not that this excuses the manufacturers, who should certainly have known better.)

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                    I would like to express both that I am in favor of such subjects being posted here and my displeasure of the perceived inability of the community and the security community to discuss them in an appropriate fashion.

                    The teledildonics industry has bad security standards and this should be as openly discussed as security flaws in other industries. We should also discuss the particular space these suppliers are in, in which they operate in an environment where high trust is needed and consent on all levels is necessary. But we, as a community, on the other side should not use this as a “finally, a place to make dick jokes for fun”, but rather make an effort to discuss the underlying issues in a sober and direct fashion to allow people the space to discuss in a space that is full of emotions, fear and literally things that people keep secret for good reasons. Every joke here about chastity locks rules out discussions with people that do for example use them and get pleasure from them. This makes the conversation not only worse, but impossible.

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                      This. The whole product sounds like an ethical failure from the get go: How can one not have hardware fallback? How can one willingly write software knowing the consequences of bugs lacking that fallback? And that’s even before you get to this security issue.

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                        I couldn’t agree more. Thank you.

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                        I understand. I posted this because it was an actual on-topic technical analysis; not the possibly bawdy blogspam that pops up around this kind of thing.

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                          Thanks for replying. Yeah - when I saw the post I also didn’t immediately know whether it belongs here or not. It’s a judgement call, and I can see several defensible positions about it.

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                          people don’t realize we have a full team of moderators who coordinate on decisions

                          Um, how big is this “full team” honestly? I read the mod log as often as I read anything else on this site, and I only ever see you and The Boss in there. You tidy things up and occasionally make high-minded statements while wearing your Sysop hat; he’s a bit more terse, deletes stories he doesn’t like and bans people. I think that’s all there is to your team. Everything else is automatic from “user suggestions”.

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                            There’s three of us who make decisions pertaining to the site, and a couple more who focus on the IRC channel. I think that’s exactly the right size for a community like this. It’s enough to provide redundancy, but not so many that we can’t talk things over and make sure there’s consensus on big decisions. Your tone is accusatory, but I’m not seeing anything in what you described that I consider to be misconduct. Everything you mentioned is working as intended. Thank you for taking an interest.

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                            Maybe it’s worth having some sort of nfsw tag. Then if people don’t wish to see this type of content they can filter the it out.

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                              This to me feels like the most practical way forward.

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                              I don’t understand:

                              Regarding the link: I think that simply displaying the post title cannot be considered not safe for work, and it is up to each of us to choose whether or not to open the link.

                              Regarding the comments: they are not adding information to the link, so I assume they do not meet the rules, and it is fair to remove them, but how are they excluding? If I remember correctly they were mere puns: their only comical value was in the double meaning of words, not in some judgement of value on this or that practice,

                              Maybe we should envision having a “NSFW” tag, or by default blur, but saying this is borderline for a tech website feels wrong. This is dealing with security, ethics and the impact our decisions can have on users.

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                                I tried to engage with this a bit in my longer comment responding to habibalamin, but briefly, when people see a community tolerating sexually explicit remarks they have to also wonder whether that community would tolerate more targeted forms of sexual harassment, should they receive any. It’s a safety issue.

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                                  when people see a community tolerating sexually explicit remarks they have to also wonder whether that community would tolerate more targeted forms of sexual harassment

                                  Are we to understand that bawdy jokes are a less targeted form of sexual harassment? Please tell me this is just a poorly phrased sentence.

                                  Also it seems to have brought out the worst in everyone humor-wise, so that’s a point against it… I’m removing the worst comments (mostly just sex jokes).

                                  The worst comments, mostly just sex jokes. They’re the worst, yet they’re just sex jokes.

                                  “They were the worst comments.”
                                  “Why, what was so bad about them?”
                                  “Nothing, they were just sex jokes.”
                                  “Why’d we remove them?”
                                  “It was the combination of the fact that they were about sex and they were jokes. The story’s about sex, but it’s fine. We allow jokes in comments, too. But don’t ever put them together.”

                                  We’re not talking about the quality of humour here or how mean they were, since friendlysock’s joke was removed, which, rumour has it, was pretty hilarious, and most of the jokes were just puns.

                                  Now I’m wondering how mean friendlysock’s joke was; it can’t have been that bad, right? It was just a sex joke. You yourself didn’t say any of them were mean or anything like that. Just the fact that they were jokes about sex was enough. Were the puns not funny enough and friendlysock’s joke hilarious, but a little too mean?

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                                    I apologize for not replying at length today, I’m still trying to find time and hope to get to you on the other stuff. This part I can address quickly:

                                    Are we to understand that bawdy jokes are a less targeted form of sexual harassment? Please tell me this is just a poorly phrased sentence.

                                    Yes. In the legal sense, if you made those jokes in a workplace they would constitute sexual harassment in most jurisdictions. That has been upheld many times. Lobsters, obviously, is not a workplace, but if it makes sense to talk about sexual harassment outside of that context at all, it makes sense to let that understanding inform these discussions.

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                                      No worries, I’m not in any rush.

                                      I would say that bawdy jokes are legally sexual harassment in the same sense that a corporation is legally a person. I was asking for your opinion, not a particular legal system’s (or family of legal systems’).

                                      I could pull out all sorts of definitions from legal systems that would define rape as only penis in vagina, but outside the legal system, I think there are a lot of people who would object if someone said, “well, he penetrated her mouth, not her vagina, so it’s sexual assault, not rape” even if they weren’t saying so to downplay the crime (maybe they were asked why they don’t use the term that activists might want them to use in their coverage of the event).

                                      Of course, for people who care about men’s rights, there’s all sorts of bias in strictly technical definitions, such as the fact that, until as recently as 2011, by the FBI

                                      “Forcible rape” had been defined by the UCR SRS as “the carnal knowledge of a female, forcibly and against her will.” That definition, unchanged since 1927, was outdated and narrow. It only included forcible male penile penetration of a female vagina.

                                      An Updated Definition of Rape | OPA | Department of Justice

                                      From your own opinion, would you really say that what friendlysock said could be defined as sexual harassment without doing some injustice to the concept or to friendlysock?

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                                        I phrased it in the careful way that you noted, precisely because I have no desire to take any firm stance for or against that position. I think a full answer would involve a lot of work parsing out the context of what power dynamics exist here on the site, vs. what power dynamics exist in a workplace. The situations have some similarities but they are not the same and I certainly don’t think it makes sense to pull rules from the one context into the other without some examination of the degree to which it makes sense.

                                        No decision that I made on this thread required me to come to a conclusion on that question, nor do I expect that any moderation decision ever will. So the site has no official position on it, and doesn’t need one. I have my personal views, which I’m still happy to talk about.

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                                Honestly I think most people would react much better to a “no sex toys” rule than a “no dick jokes” rule, because humor is a much more personal thing than topics. Having your joke removed might feel like a personal offense, having your link removed because the topic is banned is much more “oh okay whatever”. So not even having the link (the context for the jokes) in the first place would prevent more anger.

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                                  I disagree and am quite on the opposite of the spectrum: humor is a function of the group and setting you are in and negative reactions from the group are on you.

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                                    That doesn’t contradict anything I said? Sure, yeah, that’s the group side of things. I was talking purely about how whoever writes a post perceives moderator action against that post. (Especially when the group reaction was positive generally)

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                                The comments in this thread are a shame to this website. Come on, people, grow up.

                                Just having to post this makes me feel like an advertisement on a London bus. ‘Some people have kinks, get over it!’

                                1. 3

                                  Some people will laugh at your kinks, get over it. FWIW, I think your underdeveloped sense of humor is itself just a little too funny to be shameful.

                                  1. 9

                                    I deleted the sex jokes. I agree - they’re no credit to anyone here. Whatever my own beliefs about taboos on sex, this kind of humor is unprofessional and doesn’t belong in a place as public as lobste.rs. It’s important to know the difference between joking behind closed doors, and joking in a public way that excludes people.

                                    With that said, it is also legitimate to disagree on that point, and to discuss that disagreement. Try to be polite about it please.

                                    1. 11

                                      this kind of humor is unprofessional and doesn’t belong in a place as public as lobste.rs

                                      This seems to imply that professional conduct should be adhered to in any public place, not just work. I bet there are people here that do drugs, even publicly, that they wouldn’t do at work. I don’t think professional conduct is about what you do in public vs. private (even though, of course, there are certain ways you might conduct yourself in private that you wouldn’t in public).

                                      More seriously, it seems like personal opinion masquerading as professionalism. What makes something unprofessional or not? Because if professionalism is the standard for lobste.rs, there are a lot of people who would say that swearing is unprofessional, so should we get rid of all the submissions that use the word, “fuck”, like these?:

                                      (I’m not accusing you of being inconsistent per se, maybe you’re a new mod; I don’t know, since I’m relatively new myself.)

                                      A lot of professional conduct is just about making sure to be inclusive to the lowest common denominator that has enough sympathy or political power, and sometimes about not offending or disgusting. Someone who might do certain drugs, even while working as a lone wolf in a bootstrapped startup of one, might not do them in a company where he’s working with others, so as to allow the office environment to be palatable to good workers who can’t be around drugs.

                                      I think that’s the kind of professionalism that people are talking about when they say, ‘that’s unsuitable for this place because it’s unprofessional’. Obviously, professionalism demands not writing obfuscated code, for example, but no mod here would remove a submission for an entry to the Obfuscated C Code Contest.

                                      That said, when people say, ‘this is unprofessional and therefore not suitable for this place’, what I hear is, ‘this seems like behaviour a professional person — i.e. a member of polite society — wouldn’t stoop to or do in polite company, as judged by my standards of what’s acceptable for polite company or at all[; at all if I’m the lowest common denominator being catered to]’. (I don’t mean “lowest common denominator” as an insult; we’re not necessarily talking about desirable traits here, such as intelligence, just anything that affects compatibility with others.)

                                      In that sense, simply justifying something as unacceptable in polite company or at all due to its unprofessionalism can be quite circular, like justifying something because of policy; okay, but why is that the policy or why is that what should be accepted as professional? You’re essentially just saying, ‘this doesn’t belong here because it’s either unacceptable or unsuitable for present company in this context’. For that reason, to me, it sounds like a smokescreen for a personal or political opinion the person has who’s removing the offence citing professionalism.

                                      Please bear in mind, I’m not necessarily opposed to there being a rule against immature jokes. I just think your current stated reasoning of professionalism is shallow.


                                      Also, the stated reason left for removing sex joke comments:

                                      Sex jokes exclude people

                                      Do they? As a matter of course?


                                      Try to be polite about it please.

                                      Is this in reference to @minimax’ statement?:

                                      Some people will laugh at your kinks, get over it.

                                      1. 3

                                        Ah - I replied to your other lengthy comment before I saw this one. I think you raise some good philosophical points, but I’d prefer to not have two open discussions between us, it could be hard for others to follow.

                                        I will say at least that I think figuring out how to define “professionalism” - or any other policy - is an exercise in making choices about a particular space. In some cases there are several right choices, but you still need to make a choice. We can get into that in more depth another time if you want.

                                        1. 2

                                          I will say at least that I think figuring out how to define “professionalism” - or any other policy - is an exercise in making choices about a particular space.

                                          Yes, this is my point. But I’m not just asking in general, I’m asking why this choice was made in particular? Why are we setting the bar for professionalism to removing genital jokes?

                                          1. 2

                                            I think that’s been addressed at this point. I would particularly draw your attention to the comments by bitrot and dpk, who I thank for saying that stuff better than I could have.

                                            In response to your remark that “This seems to imply that professional conduct should be adhered to in any public place, not just work.”, I do not agree with that stronger proposition and will not attempt to defend it. However, I think that significant aspects of professionalism in the workplace are worth importing to Lobsters in particular. That’s because we are trying to be a place for nuanced conversations among people with deep knowledge of technical subjects, and that sort of thing is significantly easier when people behave professionally.

                                            1. 1

                                              I’ve read all of both bitrot and dpk’s comments already, they both say quite a few things. What, in particular, do you want to draw attention to?

                                              I understand dpk’s reasoning of feeling excluded when the jokes stigmatise a kink that the reader happens to have. I don’t see how this is relevant to your gender-based reasoning, which she specifically said does not apply to her.

                                              I don’t quite understand bitrot’s point about making gendered jokes being alienating to gendered minorities without qualification. Surely, that’d depend heavily on the joke (or the person, but recall the rule about catering to the lowest common denominator)? No one is the butt of a joke in a pun, which is what most of these jokes were, according to other comments. I guess we’re just doing a blanket ban on gendered jokes just so there’s no grey area, which… okay, I guess.

                                              I’ll ignore the comments about the biases of the users here, except to say that I don’t know why technical ethics would be off-topic here, and if it is, I’m against that as well.

                                              1. 2

                                                I think the entire comments are worth reading; all the background they discuss was in my mind and informed this decision.

                                                The reference to technical ethics was because there have been a lot of previous conversations as to whether it’s a subject that belongs on lobste.rs. My personal opinion (not the site’s official position) is that it does. I am, I think, in the minority with that view, so I’m pleased to learn that I agree with you. However, with that topic we are trying to wait until there’s something closer to a consensus among community members; if we ever impose any top-down rules about it they will be informed by those discussions.

                                      2. 6

                                        Well, I’m glad to have had a chance to appreciate them before you “tidied up”.

                                        Your (and I do mean the plural “you mods”, although anyone here can read the mod log and see who the “mod team” really is) tireless efforts at sanitizing, “professionalizing”, and generally gentrifying this site will be its eventual demise, because you are quite literally excluding people. I find it quite ironic.

                                        Carry on, though. I’m sure whatever remains will be quite to your taste.

                                        1. 6

                                          You are entitled to have those positions.

                                          1. 4

                                            And you are so very entitled to tell me how entitled I am while wearing your big hat. What a nice discussion this is turning out to be.

                                            EDIT: I think what I meant is “THANK YOU MA’AM MAY I PLEASE HAVE ANOTHER”

                                            1. 6

                                              Hey man, let’s not do it this way. It’s beneath you.

                                              1. 6

                                                Telling someone they are entitled to their opinion is just passive aggressive — they know that, so you’re obviously trying to communicate something else — and I think an aggressive response is no worse than a passive aggressive one.

                                                To be fair, minimax’ initial comment was itself quite harsh, but really, if you don’t want to engage with the person, just don’t engage; never close with a “you’re entitled” as the sole response, that’ll definitely fan the flames.

                                                1. 5

                                                  I see your point, but unfortunately it’s part of being a mod that you don’t always get to simply “not engage”.

                                                  Sometimes you need to acknowledge that somebody has raised points for consideration, but that continuing the current discussion is unlikely to add anything new.

                                                  I think that’s especially true when you have the unenviable job of moderating a thread on a contentious topic like this and are responding to multiple people on different fronts.

                                                  Personally I didn’t read it as passive aggressive, but hey! Communication on the internet is hard, so let’s give people a little room for error.

                                                  1. 4

                                                    What would have been lost if Irene had simply not responded to that particular comment of minimax’? Her comment doesn’t acknowledge that minimax has raised points for consideration.

                                                    I’m sure she didn’t mean to be passive aggressive, but I don’t think passive aggression requires intention. It’s just a way of communicating explicitly politely but implicitly sending messages of contempt, either deliberately or accidentally (though of course, it’s possible to misread the implicit).

                                                    In this case, Irene’s comment explicitly communicates that minimax is entitled to his position. Well, we all know that, so of course, her comment explicitly communicates nothing new and therefore might as well have communicated nothing except the implicit.

                                                    What’s the implicit? Well, she’s communicated that she’s seen the comment. She’s communicated that after seeing it, she decided it’s not worth her time to truly engage with the points that minimax raised. She’s communicated that she still felt compelled to respond. She hasn’t communicated the reason she felt compelled to respond, but it’s not a major leap — for someone maybe struggling with applying the principle of charity due to being in a bad mood caused by her own mod actions in this very thread — from there to, “she has contempt for me or my position and wanted to communicate that fact and even wanted to do so in a dishonest way”.

                                                    1. 4

                                                      I was probably too terse, and I regret that. My goal was to communicate that dissent is welcome. (Edit to add: I also wanted to communicate that I disagree with the position I was responding to, of course.)

                                                      There was nothing else to say; I wasn’t going to change anybody’s mind by continuing to argue.

                                                      1. 1

                                                        I think that’s communicated by just not removing minimax’ comments.

                                                        It’s all good.

                                                        I don’t mean to attack your comment — I’m not that angry, and I understand that you are dealing with a lot of comments and a response here or there can easily come out in a way that can be misunderstood — merely explain minimax’ response, since he doesn’t seem to be doing a good job of humanising himself judging by friendlysock’s response to him, and he’s roughly representing my position on this matter.

                                                        1. 3

                                                          That makes sense. The exploration of why it was received badly was helpful, thank you.

                                                          I also realized belatedly that there’s two meanings to “entitled”; I wasn’t trying to comment on minimax’s mental state. I’ll know to avoid that word next time.

                                          2. 2

                                            “Gentrifying”?

                                    2. 9

                                      Adding my thoughts on the meta topics. I’m seeing a lot of black and white thinking in some of the comments here as well as mixing up of concerns. Most can agree that sex positivity is a good thing, and that we should probably allow for articles like this, if not flagged nsfw out of respect for those that would rather not see them.

                                      I think an important point has been brushed aside, which is that it’s pretty rare that a gender minority enjoys the experience of being in a space dominated by a gender majority in which the gender majority is actively joking about sex or other gendered topics. Especially when the gender minority is already putting in the work of navigating a space with little representation in order to discuss topics that are normally far removed from gender. Nobody needs to have malicious intent, but the effect can be alienating, and if we can’t recognize that, and don’t put in the work of making space for the gender minority, then I don’t think we’re prepared to engage in these topics at all.

                                      The other point I want to raise is that the users here make crystal clear their biases in terms of what they deem on vs off topic, and the way they engage in various tech-intersecting topics. For some reason we can’t discuss technical ethics, but dick jokes are in-scope. I’ll note that despite the plausible defense of sex positivity on this thread, many comments have been made on this site that are anti-LGBTQ+ and explicitly transphobic.

                                      1. 5

                                        Whenever this hit, it had to be the worst day ever to be manning the help desk.

                                        “Well sir, you just need to get an angle grinder out, and ….”

                                        1. 4

                                          if it’s not already a thing for people to get off on being dommed by technology, it will be

                                          1. 3

                                            Plz open 51°10′44″N 1°49′34″W Willing to pay…

                                            1. [Comment removed by moderator Irene: Sex jokes exclude people.]

                                              1. [Comment removed by moderator Irene: Sex jokes exclude people.]

                                                1. [Comment removed by moderator Irene: Sex jokes exclude people.]

                                              2. 2

                                                Maybe, just maybe, there should at least be a backup unlock mechanism. Failure to engineer here, folks!

                                                1. 2

                                                  What an embarrassment of conversation here.

                                                  1. 2

                                                    I’m sure there are plenty of people who want to see this type of stuff, but I really don’t. Can we add some sort of nsfw tag? Not as an encouraged topic (i.e., a story would need at least one topic other than nsfw), but as a means of filtering unwanted content.

                                                    1. 1

                                                      I had a relatively benign double entendre joke removed and that’s okay! I have been trying to improve myself in this regard for several years now, and making good progress. But I stumbled here and I appreciate the mods lifting me back up. Thank you.

                                                      1. [Comment removed by moderator Irene: Misogynistic manifesto with a lot of sexually explicit terminology.]

                                                        1. 8

                                                          What the fuck

                                                          1. 0

                                                            Why are you swearing at biology? Nature documentaries are cool–even ones about human beings.

                                                          2. 1

                                                            I’m leaving your comment in place, even though I’m deleting the other sex jokes, because it’s sufficiently bizarre that I do not feel that I could adequately describe it in a mod note. That being the case, I prefer for the community to be able to see what was here rather than papering over it, as a transparency thing.

                                                            Your comment is inappropriate because of the explicit sexual references. I don’t understand what serious sociobiological point you might be making, but I am prepared to believe that there could be one. If you are going to say that kind of thing though, it is your responsibility to say it in a way that people can understand. I imagine the main reason you got downvoted is that your comment was simply bewildering.

                                                            1. 3

                                                              Update: I figured out what you were saying. Misogynistic manifestos are not appropriate here. I have deleted it.

                                                              1. 2

                                                                It was not a manifesto, it was an observation. A manifesto is a declaration of policy and aims. The comment declared neither policy nor aims. Humanity has at least several million years of evolution behind it–allowing us to blur and waver over the line between the pack and the hive. Pointing this out is in no way misogynistic. There was zero sexually explicit terminology. That you had to “figure out” what I was saying (not that you ever did) only proves my point.

                                                                It is bad enough that you have obscured the only novel comment in this thread, but your summary of:

                                                                Misogynistic manifesto with a lot of sexually explicit terminology.

                                                                is a libel, and you know it.

                                                                1. 4

                                                                  Several times now, both here and in private messages, you have attempted to tell me how terms should be defined. It has always been a definition that would be favorable to you. In this case, I hold that the sociological framing of your point inherently pushes a certain world view, for example by moving the discussion onto these ideas of “pack” and “hive”.

                                                                  If you want to start using legal terminology, fine: To whatever extent my description in the mod log contained an assertion of fact, I contend that it is factually accurate.

                                                                  There really isn’t much more I can say than that.