Damn the torpedoes

Earlier this month, I was reading Grimmtooth’s excellent post: The Art of Disagreeing. I encourage anyone to go read it in full, but to make a brief summary, Grimmtooth talks about the value of debate and gives some suggestions on how to disagree in a mature and profitable manner.

In the comments of Grimm’s post, a now-private blogger named Xeppe made a longish comment that I am going to quote here:

(Coming briefly out of the shadows.)

Your view on conflict (and mine) are culturally bound. And not the same. The internetz is a big place, with folks from many different countries and socio-religious backgrounds both playing WoW and blogging. I don’t find peace boring at all.

The other dimension worth noting is the power disparity that exists when a ‘big’ blogger chooses to deprecate the work of a ‘little’ blogger. And of course I’m writing from my own pain-point here.

I wrote my blog for myself, and for family/friends/guildies. Yes, I could have issued them all passwords – but who wants to remember passwords for a gazillion blogs? I never registered with Blog Azeroth or any other blog listing, and I never pursued any of those strategies which are intended to increase readership. Miss Medicina and Tam had both linked me and I’d picked up a small number of regular readers from those links. I posted a total of 82 posts, and until ’10 things that Keppe wants to do before Cata’, I’d had a total of 2 troll comments, and happily averaged around 40 hits a post.

When a big blogger holds up the work of a smaller blogger to ridicule, my experience of what happens is that a whole lot of the readership of the big blog go across and leave comments on the smaller blog. Not necessarily friendly ‘thanks for making me think about it comments’, but comments of a stronger tenor than the original, already-deprecating post.

A whole lot of people who have no idea of the context of the post, who’ve never read anything else I posted (and didn’t read that one very carefully either).

No, I was not grateful for the traffic. I was totally surprised (as the blogger in question hadn’t let me know her post was coming), appalled at the aggression on display, and in tears. And definitely feeling unreasonably persecuted.

Some bloggers want to increase their readership and love any kind of publicity. It’s fine to want this – but not every blogger does. I just wanted a quiet corner to post cathartic stuff for me and informative stuff for people I play with. And that got taken away. No, I’m not going to ’toughen-up’ or suddenly change the way I feel about conflict. Is blogging only the right of those from one particular value-set?

So when you’re taking that 10 seconds, remember that my shoes might be very different to your shoes. And yours may not suit me at all.

(And now I’ll go back behind the password-protection on my guild website. Thank-you for your post, and the opportunity to rant a bit on this topic.)

I didn’t see any of the original post or comments in question and would not have had any idea who the bigger blogger was if she had not come by and unapologetically outed herself. Without getting into the middle of the particular set of events that triggered that comment from Xeppe, I want to take a look at the response from the bigger blogger, who is Larisa from Pink Pigtail Inn.

I’ve tried to stay away from this discussion, putting scotch over my mouth as to shut up but bah… I can’t.

So: I’m the big evil blogger who scared Xeppe into silence. Yep. Yours truly. And I still don’t see that I did anything wrong to be honest! Sure, in one way I regret linking to her, since there were a ton of similar posts out there; it could have been any of those and they probably wouldn’t have been upset like Xeppe since most bloggers write for a public and not just for their closest friends. How on earth should I know that? It was just random that I linked to that post. However: as I linked I followed my blogging ethics – which I believe are rather strict. So no apologies from my side to be honest. If this makes me a horrible blogger, so be it. I can live with that.

Sometimes we disagree on things – oncluding blogging ethics. And it’s not dangerous; it’s allowed to have different opinions.

It’s not the end of the world that another blog disagrees with yours – even if that blog has a bigger audience than your own.

I don’t think a comparatively big audience should be a hindrance for bloggers to express their views.

Mmkay. Well, here’s what I think about that.

Blogging ethics, Don’t Be A Dick and the Greater Internet Fuckwad Theory

Blogging ethics is an interesting idea and one that I think most bloggers would do well to spend some time purposefully mulling over if they haven’t already. I knew I had my own guidelines for how I behave online and in my blog, but honestly hadn’t ever put any of that into words. As I have been thinking about this, my blogging ethics boil down to what is popularly termed the Golden Rule:

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

Honestly, it doesn’t get any easier than that. Do I like it when other people use their blogs that are ostensibly about WoW to cram their political views down my throat? Nope. So you won’t find my political opinions here. Have I enjoyed having commenters who only come by to complain about something that they clearly do not at all understand? No. I keep my feedback mostly positive and make sure I know the person who I give more negative feedback to pretty well before I give it.

In other words, I try really hard to not be a dick. I might not always succeed, but at least I am trying and not letting my anonymity here be an excuse to be an asshole.

Also, if I have inadvertently offended someone through something I’ve said and they tell me so, I will absolutely apologize for that despite whatever my intent was. I would want my feelings to be taken seriously in the same situation and apologies, to quote from Anexxia, are free. It doesn’t cost you anything, yet has so much value to the aggrieved person.

It’s how you disagree, not that you disagree

It is absolutely okay for bloggers to disagree on things without any regard for the relative sizes of your audiences. However, there are a lot of wrong ways to go about disagreeing. Mocking someone else is one of those ways. Ignoring what another person is even saying in order to push your own point is another. Bullying, I think we can agree, is never okay.

And guess what? If someone is bigger than you are, it’s really easy to feel threatened. To use a real life example, the skinny guy who wears glasses and weighs maybe 90 pounds isn’t going to get taken as a serious threat to anyone who isn’t, like, five years old or younger. The thirteen year old boy who already has a full beard, benches 150 and is built like a tank will be taken as a serious threat to pretty much any of his peers and possibly that 90 pound scrawny kid who might be several years older. All he has to do is raise his fists or his voice.

Size matters.

It absolutely matters in the blogging world, too. Look at Zel’s experience with a much larger blogger choosing the path of openly and fiercely attacking a post Zel made. There were plenty of other options for that blogger, including emailing Zel or leaving a civil comment with the reasons why they disagreed with Zel’s post.

Instead, it went catastrophically public. I’m sure everyone remembers. I didn’t really know Zel very well then, but I was sickened to read the comments people left on the bigger blogger’s site. They were vicious and they did not allow that someone else could make a mistake. Zel’s intent didn’t matter, nor did her acknowledgement that she made a mistake. Almost a year later, she is still getting crap.

There is no reasoning with a mob mentality and as much as I am sure they would like to deny it for their convenience, bigger bloggers do have a much greater chance of sparking, inspiring and turning loose that mentality on their smaller peers.

I did not ask for this!

Recently, I was talking about leadership principals with a few people on Twitter. In the course of that conversation, I admitted that one of my (undoubtedly many) failings as a leader is that I forget that other people will take me more seriously than I intend to be taken just because I have a title and a position of leadership.

As an example on this, I made a post just last week talking about raiding and how I was surprised at how much extraneous chatter went on over vent during the raid. I thought I was poking more fun at myself for being taken aback by that and reminding myself publicly that my own personal preferences for raiding are not exactly The Only Right Way To Do Things. And then I got approached by half of the raid team, each person wondering if I were upset at them for talking too much.

Another reminder that even though I see my GM title as being unimportant and just because I want to be able to be taken as ‘one of the team’ by everyone else doesn’t mean that everyone else will see things the same way. Like it or not – and I don’t – my words will have more weight to the rest of my guild and I have to keep that in mind. I can’t afford, in my position, to be careless.

I believe the same thing goes for bloggers with larger audiences. They might not have asked for the responsibilities of having to watch very carefully how they say whatever it is they have to say, but whether they like it or not, people out there will give them more weight. And it is easy, if you see someone you admire mocking this or praising that, to simply agree with them, fall into line and become part of the mob.

No, a blogger can’t really control how people will react to what they say, nor do I believe that in Zel’s experience Anna is personally responsible for every hateful or hurtful thing one of her readers flung at Zel. But she was careless and she did unchain that whole reaction with the way she chose to address things and plenty of people have pointed at her and at that post as being the tipping point in making a situation that didn’t need to be so ugly get so out of control.

If you don’t want the responsibility of having to watch how you say things then my advice to you is this (because I am on a roll with the stock phrases today): If you can’t take the heat, get out of the goddamn kitchen. Seriously. I don’t want to hear you bitch about it.

Kick them while they’re down, right?

I’ve been thinking for months about writing this post because I have seen a certain amount of bullying that goes on from less scrupulous bigger bloggers to the smaller fish in the pond. Every time I started composing it in my head, though, I admit that my own status as a smallish blogger tripped me up. How could I dare to take on the big dogs or make a call for them to pay attention to the power that they do have and that they know they have even though they are all fake smiles and rapid denials when called on it?

Then DinoTam blew up in my face and I have had a lot of very lovely people come by to tell me that I was very wrong, very bad to make mistakes I had already admitted to making. Well no shit, Sherlock! But is that any reason to rub my face into it? I also made the grievous error, I am now aware, of not reading anyone else’s mind. Shame on me.

You should have known, I’ve been told, that you were making people uncomfortable.

Even as I ended the DinoTam jokes and apologized to Tam for any distress I might have caused him, that just wasn’t enough for a lot of people. They had me in an indefensible position and so came round to kick me and spit on me a little bit. No one will ever see those hateful and hurtful comments because I am not interested in seeing my own corner and my own space being used as a platform for other people to shame me.

Not only that, but the people who said they were sorry to see DinoTam go were also attacked. Because that is how bullies disagree online. If I don’t like it then you are not allowed to like it either. Conform or else.

So yeah, kick away while someone is down. That is, if you want to remove all doubt from other people’s minds that you’re a petty bully.

Being attacked – and trying to escape being a victim forever

And when you are being attacked without warning, what can you do? I can tell you from my own experience, it seems like a pretty hopeless business. In my case, I at least had the forethought to turn on comment moderation because I was aware that some pretty wild assumptions had already been made.

Even with most of the nasty comments never seeing the light of day, I didn’t really know what to do with all the vitriol that came my way. If I didn’t publish the comments, that would make me a coward, right? And if I did publish the comments, anyone who came by would be able to observe someone else shaming me. If I tried to defend myself, someone else could easily point the finger at my post and remind me I had already admitted to making mistakes so what defense did I have?

Lose. Lose. Lose.

There is not a good way to deal with an attack because attacks are meant to be vicious and the people attacking want to see you squirm. Mob mentality. No matter which choice you make, someone will think it is wrong and I am quite sure they won’t be afraid to tell you so.

For me, in the end, I decided that the mob isn’t worth it. I don’t blog with the aim that my audience should be large and would rather see my subscriptions go down if it means that I have lost people who only wanted someone to troll. (And this is my formal invitation for all such persons, particularly those of you who left me hateful comments, to please shove off. I’d be delighted to see you leave.) So I moderated. I deleted. And I added a lot of various lines to my blacklist because I think ‘spam’ is a fitting heading under which to file blind anger and holier than thou righteous indignation.

I find it’s all a matter of perspective. This perspective was hard-won, true, but that’s all the more reason to cling to it. So if you treat me like shit, expect for me to consider your opinions in the same light: worth a flush so they don’t stink up the place.

This is my call

In closing, small bloggers, I encourage you to be true to yourselves and don’t let your smallness be an excuse to behave like a raging asshole. It’s not all about size, you know.

If you’re a big blogger and you’re lying to yourself and lying to others that you don’t hold more power, then stop it. Because you do. Quit pretending that it’s numbers and not your words that made someone else bleed. Stop throwing your weight around and acting like your number of subscribers gives you the right to be above basic human decency. State your opinions, but refrain from ridiculing someone else to do so.

There are any number of big bloggers who know how to comport themselves with dignity and who have shown genuine care in cultivating real relationships with the people that make up their communities. People you would never see ridicule someone else for a cheap laugh or to make themselves feel even bigger.

Big or small in subscriptions, isn’t that the sort of blogger person you would want to be?

PS

Am I going to moderate the hell out of this post? Oh, you bet. Play nice or don’t bother commenting. I’ve got one hand on the flusher already. And this is not meant to be an opportunity for anyone to debate who was “right” and who was “wrong” in any of the examples I’ve mentioned.

PPS

Many, many thanks to everyone who volunteered to pre-read this, who did read it and who gave me the valuable feedback that they did. This post is one meeelion times better with your assistance than it was as the insomnia-fueled post it started out as.

Comments

Damn the torpedoes — 66 Comments

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  2. While I completely agree with the main thrust of your post, don’t be a dick, I think you’re off-base with the situation you used as an example to introduce this. Disagreeing with a post isn’t bullying. I just went back and re-read Larisa’s post – not only was there no bullying (no matter how many readers she has), she was hardly even disagreeing with Xeppe – the post was more self-deprecating than anything. So, I don’t think it’s really fair to hold this up as an example on how to behave (or not behave on the internet).

    • Err, I don’t believe I made any commentary that said I thought Larisa was being a bully. I used that pair of comments to springboard off of because, between them, there was the whole basis of the idea for my post. Xeppe’s comment states the big bloggers shouldn’t hold up smaller bloggers for ridicule. I agree with that – but that doesn’t say anything about my personal opinion of Larisa’s post. Larisa’s comment states that bigger bloggers should be able to say what they think just as much as as anyone else. I also agree with that, but I do think they have some responsibility to be careful how they go about it. I never said she went about it incorrectly and I don’t want my opinion to be inferred when I didn’t put it in there.

      Again, I don’t want this post to be about who was ‘right’ and who was ‘wrong’ in any of the situations I used to draw a point. The fact is, there’s probably a lot of grey areas in every example and if a person picks a side in any of it, I am sure they will have a million reasons to justify it but it’s also likely that the other side will have their million reasons and the two may never meet.

      • Yes, I noticed that you did not include any personal judgement on the situation. However, starting out with an example where a big blogger says something that upsets a smaller blogger, follwed immediately by your opinions that ‘big’ is inherently threatening and more popular bloggers need to be more careful about what they say, it’s pretty easy (as a reader) to jump to the conclusion that the bigger blogger is in the wrong.

        Or maybe it’s just my fear of gnomes that makes me reach that conclusion.

        • Gnomes are frightening. I have one in my guild that bites me all the time.

          I do wish I could prevent people from jumping to conclusions or write something clearly enough that there was no room for it. I do not have the skill for either though, so all I can do is try to clarify my intent and hope people aren’t too married to their point of view to try to look through the same lens I was looking through.

          • I read it the same way as Jasyla: a small blogger reported being viciously attacked and the big blogger “attacker” refusing to apologize. You’re not passing judgement, but the representation is misleading.

            But, at the same time, it’s important to talk about these things because perception is very personal. On a number of occasions, I’ve had tearful, newer bloggers come to me, asking what to do about a horrible troll comment. They’d show me the comment and I’d scratch my head, trying to figure out what is so awful about what looks like an ordinary comment to me. While I don’t believe in walking on eggshells because someone SOMEWHERE might be offended, it’s important to keep in mind that different people have different levels of sensitivities.

  3. Obviously, the sentiments herein are copacetic with my own.

    I have never considered it to be a bad thing to moderate comments. Part of me – the evil, nasty one – likes the idea of the world seeing these people for what they are. The other part – the sadistic one – enjoys starving trolls.

    But the point is that I enjoy a good debate with someone a lot more than dealing with rampant asshattery, so not publishing them helps me achieve the goal of having the right sort of debate. My damned blog, my damned rules, and if they wanna post that crap, they can do it on their own blog and revel in it all. Whatever ‘it’ comes to be.

    I’m not squelching anyone’s god-given right to be a jerk, nor in their right to pee on the floor. Just, in both cases, they gotta do it at their own place.

  4. I had always thought the DinoTam thing was a mark of affection. How can that be a bad thing? I’M ALL CONFUSED NOW!

    It’s interesting that you say recommend following the “do unto others” mantra, while writing a post about a completely different notion, the notion that what one person is comfortable with isn’t necessarily what another is comfortable with.

    I definitely see what you’re saying. While I strongly support vehement discussion between bloggers, one thing I’ve discovered over time that you can save a lot of people a lot of grief if you ask for permission before writing about them. This goes for speaking about guild matters and guildies too. If I’m writing about anything that might be private or negative, I run it through the individuals in question. Most of the time, they’re totally fine with it, but appreciate getting to negotiate wording and avoiding waking up to a cold shower.

    And writing in anger…it’s never a good idea to write in anger. When I left Conquest, I had a lot of pent up rage. I’m not powerful enough to taint Matt’s reputation, but I know him well enough that I can give him a few ulcers. But what good would it have served? I would have screwed up my chances of being accepted into a new guild (no one likes a drama queen), I would have hurt the people I do appreciate in Conquest by slandering the guild’s reputation and I would have caused a lot of grief to someone who screwed up but doesn’t deserve to be attacked on the internet. When I was finally thinking clearly, I was glad that I held back. I’m still angry and probably always will be, but I saved everyone, including myself, a lot of trouble by watching my words.

    • DinoTam was indeed a mark of affection. And actually a decent example of how I live out the “do unto others” rule in my blogging.

      I don’t agree with anyone who is not Tam that they had any right to cry foul over DinoTam. After all, he wasn’t named after them and really had nothing to do with them. On that side of things, their comfort levels were very different than mine. However, because I do try to ‘do unto others,’ I did end the DinoTam jokes as a result of that discomfort. I don’t have to agree with it in order to try to have a good response to it.

      Had someone out there, say, named a pet Napoleon and turned him into a little, angry guy determined to conquer the world and I was uncomfortable with it because Napoleon is my ancestor (he’s not, just trying to make an inoffensive comparison here) and I said something about it because it was really that important to me, I would want them to consider my feelings as being real and valid and important to me, even if they don’t necessarily share the same feelings.

      I hope that makes sense. I attempted to put something along these lines in the post, but it’s sort of difficult to find the right words.

      And I do hear you about writing in anger. I wrote a post in anger not all that long ago and said some truly harsh things. There’s still enough residual emotion in me that I don’t fully regret what I said and I won’t retract it because it was also true, but I do regret going back on my basic rules for conducting myself on my blog and will think many more times in the future before bending my own rules again.

      • On the DinoTam thing, I find it weird that you stopped when people other than Tam gave you trouble about it. I would have been all “MIND YOUR OWN BZN NOOBS!!!!11″ and then done it more. There are few things that spark my annoying brat side more than people who don’t mind their own business.

        What I explained really poorly in my comment is that what you’re describing in your post ISN’T “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

        I mean, I love it when people get into discussions with me. Had I been Xeppe, I would have been THRILLED to have Larisa disagree with me. I love getting “in your face” comments that I know I can reply to without having to beat around the bush. I don’t have thick skin, but I do have a sense of humor and love of vehement discussion.

        So in my case, doing unto others what I would have them do unto me would probably upset a lot of newer bloggers.

        • Well, I didn’t stop the DinoTam thing because of those other people. I stopped because Tam himself admitted he felt some discomfort over it. And then he stopped blogging the next day, the rotter! If Tam had not expressed his opinion on it, I likely would have kept going with it, although likely not with the less diplomatic “MIND YOUR OWN BZNS” and more with the “Sorry you feel that way, but so long as Tam is okay with it and other people are still getting entertained by it, I’m not willing to give this up.”

          I’m a wuss like that!

          As to ‘doing unto others’ – it is a real problem that what I want done unto me is probably not the same thing you want done unto you. But for the overall scope of it, I think most people want to be treated with respect and, y’know, not outright attacked. All of which, I think, goes back to Grimm’s post where it would be nice to have a world where people can disagree with ideas while not attacking the person behind them.

          For the record, I do think what I have seen of the WoW blogging community meets that ideal more often than not. When it doesn’t, though, everyone notices and it can get quite ugly. And some people probably really don’t want even their ideas disagreed with, and that’s just a recipe for drama.

      • Warning, long comment incoming, but I felt I should reply to this:

        DinoTam was indeed a mark of affection. And actually a decent example of how I live out the “do unto others” rule in my blogging.

        I might suggest that it’s also a good example of why “do unto others” is often a very unhelpful rule.

        DinoTam did, in fact, make the real Tam very, very upset for quite a long time. He felt that it misrepresented him and appropriated his identity.

        Now do be very clear, I do not think that you had any way of knowing this, nor could you have been expected to predict how upset Tam would be, but that did not stop you causing him real and serious distress by your actions.

        A lot of people did feel that DinoTam was inappropriate and they too followed the “Golden Rule” and did what they thought they would want somebody else to do in their situation, they defended a person who they thought had been badly treated and called you out on behaviour that (from their perspective) was dickish.

        I understand that you felt bullied by people over this incident, but Tam felt equally bullied by you. Bullying is not always about the big kids threatening to beat up the little kids, sometimes it’s the little kid spreading nasty rumours about the big kid (which is what many people felt you were doing with DinoTam).

        This is not to say I disagree with your sentiments, of course people should try to treat each other with respect, but the problem is that people have vastly different experiences and perspectives, and what I view as respectful, you might view as insulting or even hurtful (again DinoTam is a very good example of this – you saw it as a mark of affection, but Tam and many others saw it as a personal attack).

        “Don’t be a dick” is fine on paper, but angst and drama almost always results from situations where both sides believe, with absolute certainty, that the other side has a monopoly on dickishness. You feel that you behaved reasonably, and other people were dicks to you, other people feel that you behaved like a dick, and they behaved reasonably to you. Neither of these interpretations are wholly correct, or wholly incorrect.

        The problem with “don’t be a dick” as an ethical guideline is that it is ultimately hollow, it’s like those signs in shop windows that read “no reasonable offer refused”. If somebody says something in a public forum which you consider to be morally wrong, is it wrong to denounce it? If you see somebody doing something that you believe will hurt somebody else, is it wrong to suggest that they stop or consider the consequences of their actions?

        Harm cannot be seen as evidence of malice. The mistake people made in the DinoTam incident is exactly the mistake you make in your original post: they looked at your behaviour which they judged (correctly, as it turned out) to be hurtful and upsetting, and assumed that it was a deliberate attack, that it was “meant to be vicious” and that you “wanted to see [Tam] squirm”.

        To put is another way, a very important corollary to “don’t be a dick” is “don’t assume that other people are being dicks”.

        • There’s a few things here I want to respond to.

          Firstly, I think you took my comment that you quoted out of context. Nevertheless, while I agree with your ending statement of:

          To put is another way, a very important corollary to “don’t be a dick” is “don’t assume that other people are being dicks”.

          I have to say a few things about how you got there. Firstly, as you say, I had no way of knowing that DinoTam was perceived as dickish behavior until Tam himself brought it to my attention. Since I had asked in advance and made it clear that I was open to his feedback on how he DID feel about it, I think I was not wrong to assume it was fine and therefore not dickish.

          Now, when he did tell me it made him uncomfortable my response was what I would have wanted someone else’s response be to me in the same situation: I apologized and I quit. It was only at this juncture that everyone else who thought that Tam needed defending from my wholly unintended dickery decided to tell me I was dick, that I was a jerk and that I was stupid for failing to read minds.

          I’m sorry if you see it differently, but that was uncalled for and nothing more than bullying. I had already apologized for making a mistake. I already acknowledged I was wrong. There was no need for anyone else to come by and call me names for it -or retro-bash me for it- when I was already displaying a very real regret and trying to rectify what I could of the situation. From where I sit, intentional dickery is a whole lot worse than unintentional dickery.

          • I think you have a different memory of this situation to Tam and me. The way I remember it, Tam talked to you about the situation *after* other people had voiced their concerns about DinoTam, and had been called oversensitive and humourless for having those concerns. Tam only weighed in at all because he felt the need to defend people who he felt were being attacked for defending him.

            I appreciate that this situation had been stressful and upsetting for you, but it has been stressful and upsetting for all parties. Your actions upset Tam (and many of Tam’s friends), other people’s actions upset you. It seems unfair to me for you to draw a distinction between your actions, and the actions of those who criticized you as a result of them.

            Different people can interpret the same events differently. It is unfair for you to ask us to accept that DinoTam was an innocent mistake while at the same time insisting that people’s responses *to* DinoTam were intentional bullying. When you make this distinction, it feels as if you are saying that your feelings are somehow more valid than Tamarind’s, that the fact that people made you feel bad for hurting him somehow negates the original hurt. This upsets me.

          • Yeah, I’d say there was some difference in how you think things went down versus how I do. To my memory, only one person (Issy) ever wondered in my general direction via a tweet how Tam felt about DinoTam. To that I replied that since he hadn’t said anything to me, I assumed he was okay with it. I did not at all call her oversensitive or dismiss a direct concern. After that, I heard nothing until Tam emailed me saying people had spoken to him about it and he was concerned that it was making people uncomfortable. That was the same afternoon I apologized and stopped. Only after that apology did people who were so eager to defend Tam come by and tell me what a dick I was. So there’s that.

            I’m sorry people were upset. I’m sorry I hurt anyone. But I am not going to grovel for it (or allow other people to try to shame me) when I’ve already made my apologies and tried to fix what I could.

          • I can see that this has got very mixed up, which I’m sorry about and ultimately I think this whole thing got blown out of all proportion.

            The point I think I was originally trying to make is that, from my perspective, what basically happened was that a lot of people tried to stand up for people they cared about and a lot of people got hit in the crossfire. I’m genuinely sorry if you felt bullied, but I think accusations of bullying are kind of the blogging nuclear option. I mean if you say “these people bullied me about this” then it feels to me like you’re asking Tam to apologize to you for being upset. I don’t think that’s your intent, but that’s what it feels like.

          • It’s not my intent. I would never ask Tam to apologize for how he feels. But I didn’t think it fair to myself to sit and take bullying just because Tam has the right to feel upset over a joke gone out of hand.

          • I understand that, and if you genuinely feel that people have bullied you then obviously you have my sympathy, but I think it’s important that we cannot assume that any situation in which a larger blogger upsets a smaller blogger is a priori bullying. Anna did not bully the Cranky Healer, Gevlon did not bully Tamarind, Larisa did not bully Xeppe. Oestrus does in fact regularly bully people, but nobody calls her on it because she’s not got a big readership, and apparently that’s the thing that matters.

        • The thing with DinoTam…I have to believe that Tam knew Alas was not doing this to be hurtful on purpose.

          If it were some random stranger, then okay, maybe the motivations would be unknown. Or if it were someone with a possible bone to pick with Tam, an ex-guildie or the like, then it could be construed as intentionally malicious.

          But there’s NO WAY Alas would purposefully do that to Tam. I refuse to believe that anyone who knows both of these parties would think that.

          Was there harm? Yes. It seems it was a mistake. But was it intentional? God, no. But how is she supposed to know that unless the person involved tells her?

          To relate it to myself, I “guest-starred” in Liala’s comic a while back. Same deal, it was meant as a tribute, a compliment. If I had been upset by the appearance, I would tell her. I would have to! Otherwise, how would she know?

          Accidents are accidents. They’re no big deal. But it has to be open, two-way communication on both sides for people to realize their mistake so they can apologize, so both can move on, content.

          • I did leave a comment about this on Alas’s previous post on the subject – but ultimately I didn’t want to give Alas any more shit, so I asked her not to publish it.

            Alas wrote to me when she wrote the original post – when the joke was, in fact, akin to you starring in one of Liala’s comics – and in response people may recall I tamed a revenge-turtle and named her Alas. And, yes, I took it as a mischevious mark of regard, which was why I had no problems in turning the joke back on the joker.

            However, things escalated from there, I think, in a way that made it a joke at me rather than a joke with me. I mean, how do you interact with a caricature of yourself? Damned if I know. And you say it wasn’t random strangers but nobody knows who ran the twitter account. Of course you can put one’s faith in the good intentions of your friends but an anonymous person who appropriates your identity?

            The reason I am so hesitant on speaking up is because a) it’s none of my business what people write on their blogs b) I don’t want to upset Alas. However, I think what makes the situation a bit difficult at the moment is that there’s a lot of hostility directed at people who didn’t like DinoTam but equally, in the previous post, there was quite a lot criticism directed at those who didn’t like the joke and spoke up against it.

            The only people I explicitely spoke to about my discomfort with DinoTam were Larisa, Issy and Chas – I don’t know who the rest of the angry mob are because I presume their comments got removed or censored, but I certainly can’t imagine any of the above people attacking Alas, or trying to kick her when she was down. I am, to be honest, quite confused.

          • Tam, I had a feeling that’s why you didn’t want to say anything to Alas, because you’re too nice a guy and didn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. I didn’t want to suggest this in my comment because I don’t ACTUALLY know you and didn’t want to make assumptions about you (even positive ones, like that) but I can definitely understand why that put you in a tough position.

            I have to admit, the main reason I was surprised you didn’t like DinoTam was because I remember the Alas turtle. Heck, at this point, I don’t even remember who did it first.

            But with the Twitter account being anonymous, well, that’s quite understandable why you were uncomfortable.

  5. I had wondered what happened to Xeppe. I was surprised to go visit one day and find that I could no longer access her content.

    I didn’t see Larisa’s post that referenced Xeppe, but I would be a little bit shocked if Larisa was malicious or impolite, as I don’t really see that to be her style. Perhaps I’ll have to dig back in her archives and read the post in question for myself.

    Of course none of that is here nor there, I suppose. I guess maybe I just keep my head down – or blog about what I want to and let things slide off if they seem bothersome. Or maybe I just blog about boring things that don’t attract many nasties! I don’t know.

    I guess maybe a little bit I sort of feel that if you put something controversial out there, you should be somewhat prepared for any heat that may, or may not, come out of the kitchen. That being said I also pretty firmly believe in being respectful. That doesn’t mean that I don’t think that people should disagree – because I do – I just think that people ought to be respectful in their disagreement and that disagreement in and of itself isn’t something that is inately disrespectful.

    I get that sometimes things get blown out of proportion, and that’s unfortunate, but I also think that perhaps it’s not always the “bigger bloger” that directly causes that to happen (although sometimes that’s not the case).

    • I agree that if you’re writing something controversial you should be prepared for some heat. It’s when you think you’re writing about something you think is innocuous and suddenly there is drama and anger and you find you inadvertently stepped on someone’s else toes (but they won’t hear it) that it gets a bit overwhelming.

      I’m speaking mostly from the DinoTam thing when I say that because I thought everyone understood well enough that he was a joke and really nothing to do with Real Tam. In fact, Tam and I exchanged some emails after the fact and I whined a bit in one that I wasn’t prepared for the heat because I don’t tend to blog about polarizing issues to which he said that someone could say they liked sunshine and candy and someone would likely take exception to it.

      Which is true, but also sad that people feel the need to disagree in the way they do. Without respect, as you say.

      I certainly would hope I didn’t seem to imply anywhere that I think big bloggers are always a direct cause of drama. That would be a ridiculous theory. I just do think they have more opportunity to spark something off with so many more eyes watching them.

  6. Sing it, sister!

    I could just leave it there but…. it’s odd how sometimes I read things on blogs that parallel my own experiences. Last week in guild chat, out of nowhere there was a very nasty blowup aimed at Reversion and me from a couple people who I’d been aware weren’t that fond of us but I didn’t expect that invective. One of them specifically mentioned our blog in a very derogatory way. I believe he read something I wrote earlier in the week and took it to heart. Now, I went back and read it again and couldn’t figure it out; I didn’t mention names or even enough details for anyone who wasn’t already in the horrible raid I’d been describing to know, but clearly he’d been offended.

    Am I going to stop blogging about things where guildies might get offended? Nope! I’m open about blogging and I have my own code of ethics. I don’t “name and shame”. I will say “Healer X and I were the only ones cleansing”. I will not say “We told Healer Y to cleanse and he totally failed, here’s the logs”. A subtle difference perhaps but meaningful.

    As a Christian I have run into this sort of “You must conform to my expectations, if you do something I don’t like you’re sinning” which in Christian circles is usually based on a misinterpretation of 1Corinthians 8; basically the idea is that if something you do strikes someone else as being a sin, it must be a sin. But that’s not actually what the Bible is saying here; what it’s saying is that your behavior may be all right but if it’s causing problems for someone else, back off.

    “Do unto others” is a good rule. There’s a reason why it’s a good rule. But it only works if you pair it with “Turn the other cheek” and don’t strike back when someone is mean to you. It works both ways, for people who want to kick others while they’re down, or people wanting to use their super power status against others, or even “victims” looking to play the offended card.

    • Very good point about needing to pair those rules together. The big drawback of ‘do unto others’ is that very often it’s easy to feel that one’s own thoughts, opinions or feelings are being trampled and you can’t even look heroic about it! I kid, of course. :P

      More seriously, I do wonder how people reach the point where they feel it is appropriate to tell other people that they need to change their way of thinking or their behavior to get in line with the Right Way. I mean, every so often I feel like saying something along those lines to someone, but then I remember that what is right for me probably isn’t right for them and I hate it when people “should” me.

      Internet or no, dealing with other people is always a tricky business.

  7. Hugs.

    I am not fond of the internet mob mentality, lemmings jumping on negative bandwagons to gank other bloggers. It feels too much like preteen mobs of my school time past.

    I blog because writing is sort of a compulsion for me. I comment positively to encourage other writers. Perhaps it is because i deal with trolls and the like on a forum during my day job, but I just don’t writing negative stuff.

    • I love that you are always so positive! Even your rants leave me feeling upbeat. ;)

      The mob mentality is most definitely the poop. And you are kinder than I am when you compare them to preteens. I was thinking spoiled toddlers. With the screaming and the tears and the instant response: “NO!”

  8. I wonder, sometimes, why people get surprised when comments they make in a public space get…discussed in public. Especially the blogging circle, where it’s often one big circle jerk of content as we flail around for something to write about.

    While an outright attack is of course reprehensible, commentary on your work is really only to be expected.

    • I can totally see this consternation and even agree with it to a point. I think it should be expected that people may comment on your public comments.

      I think, for some people, the surprise comes when something that barely seems worth a comment at all not only raises many comments but also negative ones. Maybe. I can only speak from my own experience, but sometimes the mere fact that a reaction is so different from what you expect that it can knock you off-kilter and then, in turn, that can shade your own reaction and interpretation.

  9. I think it’s one thing to disagree with someone – it’s another entirely on how you do so. And that’s where the crux is. It’s all fine to disagree and have a discussion about whatever you’re disagreeing about, but you have to think about how you say things – especially if you’re writing an entire blog post about it.

    A lot of times it’s fine. A lot of bloggers manage this really well – and I see a lot of cross-posts that are just interesting to read and well thought out from both sides. But then sometimes you see someone just plainly tearing someone else apart.

    Now, that wasn’t the case with Larísa (and I know it’s not implied that it was), but I believe the point does stand to a certain extent that if you have a bigger blog with more readers you may have to think for that extra moment before mentioning other bloggers.

    The reason for that being that there are just so many people out there who seem willing to rip others apart at the slightest notion that they disagreed/wronged their “favourite” blogger.

    Which is silly.

    But then people are silly. Just look at the Dino Tam thing. I still can’t understand how anyone could a) take it seriously and b) think it was malicious in any way. But then I guess we have different ways to look at things.

    Anyway, wrapping this comment up now and just wanted to finish with a little note saying that I thought this was a really good post and I enjoyed reading it :)

    • The reason for that being that there are just so many people out there who seem willing to rip others apart at the slightest notion that they disagreed/wronged their “favourite” blogger.

      I think this is perhaps a very key point to this whole discussion. I’ve found myself getting all hot and bothered that someone disagreed with something my favorite blogger said because I do feel a natural urge to want to defend that person. After all, I agree with them so they must be right and how dare this other person think otherwise?

      Ridiculous!

      But the more popular a blogger is, the more they have a chance to have their fans do this to someone who comes along and disagrees with an idea. And I think quite often the blogger will be touched that someone wanted to spring to their defense because, really, how sweet is that? It’s a subtle and perhaps unwitting encouragement of the behavior, but there you have it.

  10. <3

    Enjoyed this post. To add another popular catch-phrase:
    "With great power comes great responsibility"

    That doesn't mean you can't continue to kick ass and take names as the responsibility and titles are piled on. But whether you want to recognize it or not, the more titles and responsibility you have attached to your name, the more weight will be attached to your every word and action. Trying to ignore the additional weight by feigning ignorance or claiming that you didn't ask for the additional burden does not absolve you of the responsibility you have already been dealt.

    • Well said!

      And now I am totally wishing I had worked in that catch-phrase because it fits so well and is so true.

      • Hah! I almost used that phrase in my initial response, but, well, getting blog-post-length there, so I edited.

        But I do want to make a serious point; as you mentioned, sometimes the cry will go out, “but I didn’t sign up for that kind of responsibility!” This may be true, but if one goes about promoting one’s blog, I assert that that person is, in fact, shopping for a posse. They may not realize or acknowledge, but one does not promote one’s blog to AVOID getting the word out.

  11. I remember when the whole kerfuffle over Zel’s blog post happened, because I was a new blogger at the time and SAN was shiny and new. I saw Anna’s post in response to Zel’s and it blew me away. I thought that though she has a fair point, she went about it entirely the wrong way (imo) and said as much in the comment I left. It may have been lost in a sea of mob mentality self righteous anger at Zel’s RP suggestion. It’s fine to disagree, to have a different viewpoint, but to me, what this big blogger was doing was going “OH EM GEE, look at what this blogger (here, follow my helpful link!) is suggesting for RP funz! How tacky! How wrong! I cannot believe my eyes!” when she could have simply left a comment on Zel’s blog saying “Hey, just so you know, since maybe you’re new at this, but I think you should reconsider your plans…here’s why” or even emailed Zel and privately said her peace. I haven’t been back to Anna’s blog since, it just left me with a bad taste in my mouth.

    I’m down with disagreement, but there’s good ways to do it and bad. I’m a smaller blogger myself, and so far, have avoided nasty dramaz or troll infestations, but it’s always a possibility. Whenever I post something, I try and keep in mind how I’d want to be treated (gogo Golden Rule!) or how others have made mistakes (showing me what NOT to do) and in the end, keep it classy. If someone were upset by something I wrote, I’d like to think I’d be sensitive to that and at least apologize that they took it in a way I didn’t mean if nothing else.

  12. I’m small enough and have inane enough content that I don’t think I’ve ever had a troll outside of one jackass when I made a big post about rape and why rape jokes aren’t funny. It’s hard to remember that one day, it’s almost inevitable, I’ll say something, or someone will link to me, and suddenly there will be trolls.

    Of course, it’s my space, and unless a troll is fail enough that I just fall over laughing, those comments are never going to see the light of day. *shrug* I am not ashamed. I’ll probably seethe and flail and cry and rage over them to friends, but they will not be published.

    That’s one of the upsides to people having to have commented before to get a comment past the filter. :)

    • I just saw this Apple – I love having first time commenters go through moderation too!

      So rent-a-troll from Raging Monkeys will have to wait until I get around to laughing at him before he can incite riot in my comments section… but YOU can come by and troll me anytime you want.

      Er, that came out wrong.

  13. I’ve now started three different comments on this post, and deleted them, because this is a prickly subject. There’s a robot in the background going DANGER DANGER WIL ROBINSON, and he’s probably got a point. But, in the spirit of this post’s title, I shall damn the torpedoes.

    How you treat people who can’t do anything for you speaks more about your character than any glib words. I like taking interviewees out to lunch both because I like to eat, and because I want to see how they treat the waitstaff.

    This is not about size. I think that’s where I disagree with this post: I honestly think it’s not about size. It’s about how you treat other people, and not bullying them, and I agree very much with you, Alas, on that point. It’s about disagreeing politely with people, which takes effort and a willingness to converse, to not take offense, and really understand what the other person is saying. It doesn’t matter about the relative size of the bloggers involved. 

    Should you be aware of how you are percieved by others? Absolutely, and that’s a life rule, not a blogging rule. Will you not get it right all the time? You betcha.

    No matter how much traffic my pages get, there’s still just me back here, writing these words, drawing these maps, trying to explain and teach what I’ve figured out. One single solitary person. Just me, writing to you.

    If you keep in mind that there’s a real person behind the blogger, big or small, and treat them accordingly, you’re on the right track.

    Interesting post, Alas. Thanks.

    • Wow. I can’t even edit your comment to get the formatting to play nice. Oh well.

      I would say that this issue is not all about size, but that size is a factor that does need to be taken into consideration. I just see that it’s one that tends to get glossed over in all the other “why can’t people just be nice to other people” discussions I’ve seen. I think we see how important a consideration it can be in the Zel/Anna incident.

  14. /applaud

    I think whoever pointed out that it’s often “defending your favorite blogger” that triggers these awful drama wars was right on the money. It seems to then devolve into who has the most “fans.” Granted, the blogger with the most fans can’t be responsible for nasty invective they didn’t fling, but I guess it’s worth being careful, just in case you have a fanbase of normally sweet people who turn out to be poo flingers when under fire.

    I have, on occasion, felt compelled to defend my favorite bloggers. I was more sympathetic to Zel than to Anna in the great RP asplosion, being a newcomer myself I totally understood how that all came about. I sided with Tam and Chas vs Adam in the great sexism kerfuffle of 2010, but I hope I didn’t say anything nasty in either of those events.

    That said, maybe the real lesson isn’t to bloggers but to blog readers? It’s not meant to be personal. Zel/Larisa/Alas/Tam/Gnomeaggedon/Grimmtooth/BRK [insert name of blogger you adore here]
    doesn’t need you to defend them, they’re big kids, they can take care of it themself. Nobody’s trying to hurt each other, just appreciate the content for what it is (agree or disagree), but don’t get personal.

    :) Thanks for the thoughtful post.

    • This. I’ve been deliberating over how to respond, but Rhii just said it more eloquently than the gibberish I was tossing around. If Rhii writes a post and I disagree with it, and you’re a friend of Rhii, don’t come to my blog and tear me a new one because of your friendship. If you disagree with my point, fine, say so! But blindly defending someone simply because you like them does everyone a disservice.

  15. I reckon this is a case by guilty by association? While you don’t say straight out that I was evil and bullying Xeppe, it’s the lasting impression of the post. I’m glad that at least Jasyla spotted this and stood up for me.

    To be honest with you the reactions in this story, which I think are rather out of proportion, are examples of things in the blogosphere that currently wear me down and that might lead to that I will close down my blog. I’m sick and tired of blog politics. I’m sick and tired of “but she said and he said” gossiping and backscratching. It reminds me of the worst sides of high school. I don’t want to be a part of that crap.

    All I can do is to link to my post http://www.pinkpigtailinn.com/2010/12/preparing-for-cataclysm-nope.html

    and you can judge for yourself if I was “bullying” xeppe (or Kurn, who also was mentioned but didn’t freak out and make her blog go private because of it.

    TLDR version: Sigh.

    • Regarding your other comment, I’ve just been busy this morning and only now getting around to approving comments. I’ll leave the duplicate one out unless you have strong reasons for wanting it up, at which point just let me know.

      Regarding this comment, I am sorry you feel that way but I stand by how I replied to Jasyla regarding my intent. I’m really not asking anyone to judge anyone else, but I do think bigger bloggers have an obligation to be mindful of their weight and the influence they have with the community at large.

    • I would like to think that this topic isn’t about you (Larísa) vs Xeppe as much as it is about how we treat each other when we disagree.

      Now, I’ll freely admit that as far as disagreements go the one in your post (which is barely even a disagreement, to be fair) was probably not the best example out of the many ones we’ve had through the years (others mentioned on your own blog would quite honestly fit this better).

      I don’t think anyone here thinks you did something horrible to Xeppe, or at least I don’t. From what I remember of the post you didn’t even explicitly disagree with her, and I’m quite surprised that people went over to her blog to (what I assume, considering she passworded it) disagree with her much more strongly than you had.

      I went back to read it again even as well as the comments, and must admit that I was a bit surprised at how quick the tone turned sour in the comments. I still can’t quite believe the post made people run over to Xeppe’s and tear her apart – but the blog world is fickle in that way I guess.

      I’m also not saying that Xeppe did the wrong thing in passwording her blog, it was obviously the right thing for her – and we should all do what is right for us.

      I can’t help but feel this is all a bunch of misunderstandings and intentions taken wrongly. Suddenly everything is spiralling out of control.

      In any case, I want to say that I enjoy reading everyone’s blog in question (including Tam’s – which of course sadly is no longer active). I don’t think Larísa’s blog was the best example of a disagreement, but I also think that the general idea and sentiment behind the post itself by Alas is a valid one.

      That said, I don’t think Larísa did anything wrong. I’ve linked to people myself – and I’ve been linked by people with far more of a disagreement. It’s sad that people ran over to Xeppe the way they must have done, but in this particular case I don’t think it really could be faulted to Larísa since her post really was very tame compared to a lot of other things I’ve seen (and again, I still don’t see a big disagreement in there).

      TL;DR
      Alas has some very interesting, good points.
      Larísa specifically was maybe not the best example to use (but I guess the most recent one surfaced?).
      I don’t think we should disregard what Alas said because Larísa was a bad example, the general sentiment is still a valid one.

      • Again, I was not using Larisa as an example of a blog bully. I’m sorry so many people took it that way (and continue to take it that way, conveniently ignoring what I am saying). I didn’t want to have to even say this because it just isn’t relevant – but I’m tired of being whined about for an opinion I never professed to have (not by you, Saga).

        So, here’s my opinion on Larisa/Xeppe. I don’t think Larisa bullied Xeppe. I think Xeppe feels differently and I respect and support her right to have whatever feelings she might have on it.

        All this talk about everyone being allowed to have different opinions… but I don’t think the people shouting the loudest actually believe it.

    • Has is come to the point where one blogger mentioning another is ‘bullying’?

      I’m really confused.

      To be perfectly honest I’m also confused about DinoTam. I thought it was just a dinosaur 0_0 OK a dinosaur originally named after another blogger, but a dino nonetheless. Was I naive to assume that the actions of DinoTam bore no actual resemblance to the actions of his namesake?

      It’s a problem that being a ‘dick’ is actually pretty subjective. What is entirely dickish to one person isn’t to another, and when all that disagreement is played out on blogs and in comments it can be… awkward. Sometimes I guess you just have to accept that other people have a different opinion than you and really, it’s their right to talk about that on their blog if they want. You also have the right to point out anything you aren’t happy with, but it would be unrealistic to assume that everyone will automatically change their opinion to suit yours.

      p.s. You in this case is generalistic ;)

  16. The ‘do unto others’ rule works great… Except that some people are short sighted as to how others take their words and others over react to thing many are not bothered by. At some point people’s over reaction or disporportionate responses are their own responsibility. One example is your blanket implication that talking politics is something people that are dicks do. But many people think it is entirely reasonable. The whole concept of telling people to be less mean implys your standards of what is mean are universal.

    Just because a blogger is ‘small’ does not mean they should be able to say hurtful things. And just because one is big should not force them to hide their real opinions.

    (I blame all typos on this iPhone keypad)

    • Well, the point I was trying to make about politics is not that I think anyone who talks politics is a dick. It’s more that I won’t retaliate in a like manner when someone does something I personally don’t care for. And obviously everyone is going to have different things that they personally don’t like. The point is to let it go and not take it so personally.

      Again, I think the blanket statement of “do unto others” is to watch what you say and how you say it. Maybe I write something about how I personally dislike playing a warrior because I prefer to be able to self-heal. You might love warriors beyond anything else in the world, but that wouldn’t mean it was okay for you to come and tell me I’m a fucking douchenugget for disliking them. That sounds a bit extreme, but it’s also is very much along the lines of how people don’t think about the Golden Rule when disagreeing with someone online. If people were thinking “How would I want someone who disagreed with me to reply?” they might say something more like, “Well, I disagree that warriors aren’t fun and here are some reasons why I think they are great.”

      And of course a small blogger doesn’t have any more right to say hurtful things than a big blogger. My whole point in talking about bigger bloggers is that they do have greater responsibility to be careful with how they say things because they have the power to influence a great many more people. It doesn’t excuse a smaller blogger for behaving badly that only a dozen people see it. It’s more likely to just contain it.

  17. Happy that I am only a blog reader and sometimes blog commenter.

    Blogs are basically an outlet to express opinion and provide commentary on something. There are as many opinions as there are people. Opinions, by there very nature, cannot be right or wrong because they are an expression of your personal feelings.

    Unless people are throwing personal insults around or misrepresenting facts on their blog, people need to chill out about the fact that people can disagree with them.

  18. @ Rades

    “If I had been upset by the appearance, I would tell her. I would have to! Otherwise, how would she know?”

    I tried to reply but the javascript demon won’t let me do a reply directly to a comment so my poor comment is down here.

    I feel like you’re reading my mind, or maybe my posts but…

    1) Some things we just don’t know until people tell us; and
    2) The quality of our response *when we get told* is what counts.

    You can tell a lot about a person by how that person reacts when hurt feelings are brought to light. If your friend were standing in front of you, you would probably say “oh crap, I had no idea, my bad.” With blogging, some are more likely not to consider that there is a real human behind the name and consequently dismiss the feelings and stubbornly stick to their guns. We all have principles, but in blogging, it seems like we put principles before people, and IRL it’s the other way around.

    http://murlocparliament.com/2011/02/16/conflict-grudges-and-personal-responsibility-in-game-and-out/

    • And when you make someone aware that they have indeed upset you or hurt your feelings and they can’t muster up an apology, that tells you a lot about them. I’m always impressed when someone apologizes, and I forgive them and get over it. When someone not only doesn’t apologize but repeats the behavior, those are the people I make a point of not being around.

  19. It seems to me that perhaps the Silver Rule is more appropriate:

    Do not do unto others that which you would not have others do unto you.

    Reading that, it kinda looks like ‘Don’t be a dick’. At any rate, the Golden Rule is active, where Silver is passive and I find it easier to apply.

  20. To paraphrase President Lincoln, “You can please all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you can’t please all the people all the time.” No matter how careful you are. No matter how thoughtful, how circumspect, how polite, or how patient. And while I believe it’s good for all of us to take care not to tread on each other’s toes, I also believe it’s important that we not be too thin-skinned when we post on the Internet.

    Some people have compared posting on the Internet to dancing in the town square. But really, that’s far short of the truth: When you write something and post it on the web, you’re not just dancing in the town square, you’re dancing in every town square in the world simultaneously, and thanks to the miracle of automatic translation, that even includes squares in towns where they don’t speak the language you wrote in. For anything you write, even a comment on a small, low-traffic web log somewhere, you might as well act as if the whole world is going to see it. Maybe they won’t! On the other hand, maybe you’ll get linked on WoWInsider where every punk with spare time and an ax to grind will see it and come trolling. You just have to accept that this is possible.

    On a whole, I completely agree with you, Alas: People should avoid running rough-shod over each other. We should consider what we say, and how it will be interpreted, before we say it. In the end, though, there will be times when we don’t get it right, and we may hurt each others’ feelings. That’s not fun, but we can’t completely avoid it. The best thing we can do is what all the relationship counsellors advice: Breathe in. Breathe out. Communicate with your partner.

    Maybe a good rule of thumb would be this: If you disagree with something a blogger wrote, by all means, write a post that expresses your disagreement with their post. On the other hand, if you disagree with the blogger herself, it’s probably better not to air out your laundry in public. If you find yourself responding because you’re worked up about it, you’re probably responding to the person rather than the idea, and maybe you should sleep on it first.

    Even so, any of us who post something on the web have to accept that sometimes people aren’t going to be polite to us, and sometimes they’ll say hurtful things. As unpleasant as this can be, we’re better off learning to tolerate it than returning venom with venom. Maybe it’s trite, but it’s true: An eye for an eye leaves everyone blind.

  21. Alas, I’ll repost my comment now that I’m back at a proper computer and see if this fixes the formatting. You can delete this thread (and repost your comment reply to my repost).

    Sorry about the trouble my phone has caused. :-(

  22. I’ve now started three different comments on this post, and deleted them, because this is a prickly subject. There’s a robot in the background going DANGER DANGER WIL ROBINSON, and he’s probably got a point. But, in the spirit of this post’s title, I shall damn the torpedoes.

    How you treat people who can’t do anything for you speaks more about your character than any glib words. I like taking interviewees out to lunch both because I like to eat, and because I want to see how they treat the waitstaff.

    This is not about size. I think that’s where I disagree with this post: I honestly think it’s not about size. It’s about how you treat other people, and not bullying them, and I agree very much with you, Alas, on that point. It’s about disagreeing politely with people, which takes effort and a willingness to converse, to not take offense, and really understand what the other person is saying. It doesn’t matter about the relative size of the bloggers involved.

    Should you be aware of how you are percieved by others? Absolutely, and that’s a life rule, not a blogging rule. Will you not get it right all the time? You betcha.

    No matter how much traffic my pages get, there’s still just me back here, writing these words, drawing these maps, trying to explain and teach what I’ve figured out. One single solitary person. Just me, writing to you.

    If you keep in mind that there’s a real person behind the blogger, big or small, and treat them accordingly, you’re on the right track.

    Interesting post, Alas. Thanks.

  23. I could have written 2 or 3 new blog posts for my own blog in the amount of time I have spent trying to write a comment here. This is such a sensitive subject, but one that is so universal.

    (Edited per Elfi’s request to point out that “you” means “you the reader” and she is not taking pot-shots at me specifically, although if anyone wishes to read it that way I can’t stop ya. -Alas)

    It’s hard not to be passionate about things we believe or people we believe in. And we should be passionate about those things; but not at the expense or ridicule of others. You are entitled to your opinion. You are entitled to state your opinion. But keep in mind that we all have that same right.

    Everyone here keeps discussing “do unto others as you would have them do unto you” and that’s a fine rule if you’re talking about physical pain or personal attacks. But when you’re talking about views and opinions it gets a little sketchy. I sort of live by “you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar”. You want someone to listen to you? Stop screaming at them. You want someone to consider your opinion on something? Consider their opinion.
    Yes, please leave comments when you disagree with someone. But pretend you’re trying to bring them around to your point of view. Or at least explain your point of view calmly and coherently. Calling people names and trolling them doesn’t punish them as much as it makes you an ass. And it gets friends of both parties sucked in, swelling the monster. An attack leads to an attack almost every time. And if the original post was written as an attack? Well maybe you should respond directly to the author via email instead of leaving a comment that just draws other people into the drama. Lead by example. I’m not saying don’t be mad if you are indeed mad. We all get mad. Just take the time to re-read what you’re writing. Step away from it for 10 minutes and read it again. Sometimes the worst thing you can do to a person is to not let their words have any power over you. Kill ‘em with kindness. It does work. Sometimes instantly, sometimes eventually.

    Maybe it’s not as cut and dry as that for most people. Maybe I’m special. It’s not that I don’t get mad or never say things I shouldn’t say. I do, I have, a lot. But I’ve grown wiser with age and now when it gets to that point, I try to keep it as private as possible. I haven’t had a blog long, but one of the first few blog posts I wrote was about a guild split where the GM, the co-GM, and most of our core raiders left. In that post I talked about why I was angry about the way things were handled. The GM I was referring to obviously recognized the post was about her and my anger hurt her feelings. She had some things she wanted to say to me in defense of herself. But instead of leaving a comment on the post, she actually whispered me in-game, asked if I had time to talk and then after a quick friendly conversation we started discussing how my post made her feel. I respect her so much for doing that. If only more people were mature enough to handle things maturely, we wouldn’t constantly feel like we never left high school.

    I sound all preachy. I don’t mean to. And I’m really not even sure I’m still on topic with Alas’ post exactly. But this is my opinion on opinions. If it makes sense to at least one person, then that’s a start. A single drop of water can start a wave.

    /cheesey

  24. I’ve discovered as I blog hop through all the WoW blogs to basically read only those blogs that don’t inspire negative troll behavior… *The personality of my toon just punched me for putting that down cause she believes goblins should be attributed to that type of bad behavior not trolls*… anyway, as I was saying. I stay clear of blogs or posts that would inspire me to feel angry or annoyed about something that in the larger scheme of things I’d forget as soon as I close my browser window. Instead I like to visit the places that make me think and examine my WoW experience… your blog is a place I love to visit because it gives me a lot to think about minus the need to rant and rave at how much I disagree with you.

    I did, however, want to tell you that if I ever took to being a serious blogger I’d apply many of the rules you’ve set down in this post. Respect, as you have stated, is very important. Another thing I think is important to remember is to be courteous. I know in the heat of a discussion if I’m not reminded to “be nice” I can be downright vicious… and where does that lead one? Nowhere. Because we can hide behind anonymity and some people use it to create a persona online being respectful and courteous is the only way to handle bad situations because you never know if the person you’re interacting with is even being serious. I know a few people in my real life that love to go online and cause trouble just to see what will happen… which confuses the hell out of me why anyone would WANT to do that :| But the fact that these people exist will always ensure that the internet is supplied with dickish behavior.

    Once again thanks for this great post. It has given me a lot to think about.

    • Wut. I give people something to think about? I had no idea!

      In all seriousness, I do thank you very much for the compliments. It means a great deal to me to hear that this is a corner of the internet someone else likes coming to. And if I am making people think at all – even if it’s just how much they disagree with me – then I am glad. I do like to hopefully entertain more than anything else, but the rest is a nice bonus.

      If you ever take to blogging, let me know. I’m always happy to find something new to read!

  25. I’m a bit late to the party. A red eye coach trip south from edinburgh with a hangover after our defeat at the hands of the irish largely is responible as well as changing work commitments. Please filter the below misguided rambling through this disclaimer.

    A couple things. Zel is crankyhealer? If so, glad you kept going.

    Regarding larisa, I honestly looked up and down her blog looking for something to be offended by. Unless it’s been edited greatly I cannot for the life of me see how it’s a criticism.

    “It’s a great list and I won’t belittle anyone following it, not at all. It was just that it became clear to me how little I have done.”

    I’m not exactly a fan boy of Larisa. I don’t really go in for her style of blogging greatly, although I sometimes check in if she’s raised a good point, but the above is possibly the only mild negative in the entire mention. This as with a lot of shit in this circle jerk we call a blogosphere is a storm in a teacup.

    If some of the retarded fanboys that accumlate around any halfway popular website chose to go to xeppe’s blog and troll then big deal. Xeppe has chosen to make it private and tbh if she has such a problem with being linked to then perhaps a disclaimer on her site would have been an idea.

    A little bit of communication goes a long way. There’s reasonable things people can do, and then theres the unreasonable.