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I don't do meta like I used to -- and for those of you who have been here less than three years or so that was A WHOLE LOT -- and I missed most of the current uproar in real time.  I'm sad about it, but in doing more reading than I should have done today I realized something about myself as a member of this community that might point a way out of the problem.

That insight into myself is simple: there are some people to whom I will really listen about matters of deportment.  They are probably not the same people to whom each of you reading this will listen, but I'll bet that we all have our people here who, if they were to admonish us privately, would have our attention.  We tend to be a self-confident bunch in writing and interacting here, trusting in and honoring our own takes on the world, so the status of being someone who can quietly take us to the back room and tell us when we've gone beyond where we should be may be a special and rare one.  But it's a resource of which we might consider making more use.

These people might be seen as serving as unofficial site administrators or moderators, but quietly, in a limited range, and to a limited group.  Because their job would be to admonish people when necessary, from a position of friendship and respect, I'm going to refer to them as admonishtrators.  Surely that horrific of an appellation will quickly stimulate someone else to come up with a better term.

Note that "admonishtrators" will not be your closest friends (although they would generally be considered one's online friends) or your closest play pals on the site (with whom ones dances in excursions of wit, political analysis, glurge, and squee) or even the people whom one most respects (although surely that helps.)

Your admonishtrators are people to whom you'll listen closely when they suggest that you're out of bounds.  For me, among those on the masthead, if Susan Gardner, Hunter, and Georgia Logothetis all let me know that I was either wrong or so far beyond the question of "right and wrong" that I had entered the domain of "it doesn't matter if you're right you still have to stop," even as hard-headed as I am I would probably have to concede that there is a good chance that I'd just gone around the bend.  And then I'd probably stop before things got out of hand.

Nevertheless, as has been pointed out to me on more than one occasion (yes, I still remember, David Waldman!), it's not fair to presume that front pagers have plenty of time (and will) (and stomach) to -- as I've heard it expressed -- "babysit us."  (As Meteor Blades can attest, it is one suckeriffically sucky job.)  This really isn't a job for front pagers.  It's a job for each others.  This is what self-moderation means -- being willing to write that kosmail and ask for a quiet, private conversation with someone one respects because one is concerned that they're damaging themselves and the site.

I get the sense from some people that I may serve as one of their admonishtrators, although I am generally tactless enough to say something in a comments section itself rather than by kosmail.  (I'm not being cruel when I do so; I'm just being stupid.)  For me, if occams hatchet or clammyc wrote me about something in the old days, I'd surely have thought very deeply before continuing in a course of action; I hesitate to name anyone very active right now who could serve that admonishtrative function for me because I'm afraid that they'd be deluged with people asking them to somehow get me to hush up about one thing or another.  (If people really want to know, I'll ask permission to divulge a few of them.)

What I know about these people is that, having seen them in action for a very long time, I trust their sensibilities and their judgment.  As stubbornly hesitant as I am to substitute someone else's opinion for my own, for some of these now-longtime online friends, I know that I would feel strongly inclined to do so.  And isn't it handy to have people like that around?

This diary itself was prompted when I was reading another meta diary recently -- one that sounded good to me, but again I haven't been that active lately -- and deciding whether I should plant on it one of my relatively few daily recommendations.  I saw this person as a recommender and realized that if she thought that the diarist was right -- not about facts, which one should supposedly check onself, but about meta and values questions -- I was extremely likely to agree with her, even if she was admonishing me.  And that, in turn, let to my coining the extremely beastly word you see in the diary title.

This may be silly, I wish that on each of our accounts there might be a secret file with the names of our admonishtrators, behind a glass case labeled "break open only in event of emergency," that could be used to summon the wisdom and tact of those to which someone would listen.  I've been mistakenly chosen by aggrieved parties to be someone's admonishtrator in the past -- and I tried to comply -- and from those episodes I know that imposing that role from without does not work.  I also recognize that such a role might be abused by those with complaints, especially if the identities of one's admonishtrators were widely known.  (That's why, in my fantasy, it would be a secret file.)  I wonder if it could have served some role in tamping down some of the latest sturm und drang on the site.

Markos won't want to do this, of course (although who knows if Susan Gardner might be intrigued) and I can't blame him.  (For one thing, the coding would probably be expensive.)  So, if we can't formally nominate three-to-five names to be included on a secret list of one's "admonishtrators," maybe we just have to act as if we serve that role for those Kosters with which we have to most rapport.  When they're frantic and dug in, maybe we just need to send that message more often, unsolicited, ourselves, and let them know that we're worried about them, that we value their participation on this site, and that if they feel the need to go away for a while we want to help them do so on their own terms -- ideally their revocable terms.

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Comment Preferences

  •  If it's not too much to ask, please be gentle to (27+ / 0-)

    each other, and to those (however dearly) departed, in comments here.

    And by all means, if you want to compliment someone by identifying them as someone whose opinion you'd trust -- even if it might be their opinion that you were out of line here -- this would an excellent place to do it.  I'd do it myself, but again I expect that they might be flooded with an e-mail every other day asking them to rein me in -- and that's just from Markos!

    Plaintiffs' Employment Law Attorney (harassment, discrimination, retaliation, whistleblowing, wage & hour, &c.) in North Orange County, CA.

    "I love this goddamn country, and we're going to take it back."
    -- Saul Alinsky

    by Seneca Doane on Mon Jan 28, 2013 at 05:51:50 PM PST

  •  If Edscan kind of chided me (8+ / 0-)

    I might put on a clean housecoat.

  •  The death rate here is really Darwinian (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sfinx, Jane Lew, MRA NY, ER Doc, chantedor

    I think people can stay out of most trouble here by acting civilly.
    Instead of having 3 to 5 people to "talk you down" or telling you to chill, why don't people take personal responsibilty for what they say and don't say anything to someone you wouldn't say face to face
    and if soneone says something to you you don't like, read somethig else

    i know this won't be popular---its so much easier to blame other people for how you feel--- but its a lot simpler than what you suggest

    Happy just to be alive

    by exlrrp on Mon Jan 28, 2013 at 06:07:16 PM PST

    •  They don't because they don't (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ER Doc

      If you're not bothered by losing people as a result, that's not a problem for you.  If you are bothered, then you may want to explore options.  Except for the last bit, though, this is intended more as a thought experiment that as a proposal.

      Plaintiffs' Employment Law Attorney (harassment, discrimination, retaliation, whistleblowing, wage & hour, &c.) in North Orange County, CA.

      "I love this goddamn country, and we're going to take it back."
      -- Saul Alinsky

      by Seneca Doane on Mon Jan 28, 2013 at 06:11:40 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  We're Still in the Very Early Moments of Developin (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Seneca Doane, wader, Pluto

    human culture that operates healthily and successfully in the online world.

    The rec/hide system, I've said many times, is a big step forward since it provides the first community nonverbal feedback channel of which type realworld interaction provides many.

    Yours is an interesting angle.

    Assuming online interaction via text continues far into the future, I wouldn't be surprised if the number of moderation, advice and nonverbal feedback channels increased quite a bit in the most successful and productive forums of the future.

    I don't see how anyone designing these systems could know enough to get it all right at this early stage.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Mon Jan 28, 2013 at 06:11:15 PM PST

    •  I and others have proposed a feedback loop (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Seneca Doane, side pocket

      mechanism for attempted moderation during apparent spats, which would not require anything more than respect of the (hopefully) neutral roles such members are acting within during those moments - well-recognized for handling a moderation shift during that time of day or some other easily advertised condition.

      The most authority they might be granted would be to have a direct path to the Administrators of the site if certain situations were extreme, but generally they would be the reminders of site guidelines when needed.  Nobody must listen to them, but their roles could eventually engender some sort of respect and perhaps become useful for people to trust on any side of an argument as being a fair and helpful as possible.

      Messaging channels could be the preferred means of using these roles to help others when a problem is recognized, before popping up in public conversations, sure.

      "So, please stay where you are. Don't move and don't panic. Don't take off your shoes! Jobs is on the way."

      by wader on Mon Jan 28, 2013 at 06:17:24 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  we evolved (6+ / 0-)

      about a hundred thousand years ago. we developed agriculture about 10,000 years ago. writing about 5200 years ago. the internet has been public for what- 20 years? this may take some time...

      The cold passion for truth hunts in no pack. -Robinson Jeffers

      by Laurence Lewis on Mon Jan 28, 2013 at 06:24:00 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  For me it'd be Meteor Blades 100%, (5+ / 0-)

    and close to that for Adam B. Both of them are in the comment section regularly, and to me it seems even if they do agree wholly, or even moslty with an position, if someone is being an ass about making that point they call them out on it - in an nice kind of way.

    If Georgia10 was able to participate in the "right side of the page"/comments she'd be right up there too - used to love what she contributed to this site, both diary-wise and common sense-wise.

  •  if bob johnson (8+ / 0-)

    writes a snarky diary about you, it may be that you've done something silly. or it may be that bob was just bored. the only person i ever listened to was major danby, because he was a military authority.

    The cold passion for truth hunts in no pack. -Robinson Jeffers

    by Laurence Lewis on Mon Jan 28, 2013 at 06:20:24 PM PST

  •  Meta is like CT. Very attractive. And sticky, (4+ / 0-)

    a pot of oatmeal that has boiled over.  I call it - The right margin slam.

    Maybe when your conversation goes past 5 or so indents, get a room should pop up and further margin slamming would be blocked.  

    Plus you can't reply to anyone or be in a diary of a person you have margin slammed with for, I don't know 60 days.

    My gun control petition was shot down.

    by 88kathy on Mon Jan 28, 2013 at 06:38:12 PM PST

  •  Dear Seneca, (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Seneca Doane

    You are one of my lights.

    As you know, LOL, I am one of the hard-headed ones,

    One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors." -- Plato

    by Jane Lew on Mon Jan 28, 2013 at 06:44:23 PM PST

    •  Thank you, Jane! (0+ / 0-)

      I don't recall your ever needing admonishing, though.

      Plaintiffs' Employment Law Attorney (harassment, discrimination, retaliation, whistleblowing, wage & hour, &c.) in North Orange County, CA.

      "I love this goddamn country, and we're going to take it back."
      -- Saul Alinsky

      by Seneca Doane on Tue Jan 29, 2013 at 10:29:36 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I think that focusing on UID's as (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Seneca Doane

    something outside the norm isn't the best way to solve the problem. We have tried this having a "responsible" person come in and moderate.

    What we need to do is ALL stop and look and try and determine for ourselves whether we are creating conflict in the comments or are we trying to educate. There should not be the expectation that someone else will do it. We need to be a community and act like one.

    Disclaimer: I'm not immune to being an ass myself.

    "Til you're so fucking crazy you can't follow their rules" John Lennon - Working Class Hero

    by Horace Boothroyd III on Mon Jan 28, 2013 at 07:07:25 PM PST

    •  Big tent vs. shared-norm community (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      chantedor, Seneca Doane

      Electing more & better Democrats depends on influencing many people, which depends on having a big tent, which creates tension with the goal of maintaining a community spirit, much less shared norms, and of course a big tent is easy for trolls to enter.

      Can this tension be balanced by adding tools to make it easier for readers to evaluate for themselves which commenters fall within one of the following categories?

      (i) trolls,

      (ii) over-impulsive although sincere, or

      (iii) considerate and credible.

  •  Another site I visit calls them Hall Monitors (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Seneca Doane

    Several long time members that are acknowledged by the site owner as being an "authority figure" that one should listen to.

    The road to excess leads to the palace of Wisdom, I must not have excessed enough

    by JenS on Mon Jan 28, 2013 at 07:07:58 PM PST

    •  We've tried that and I don't think that it (0+ / 0-)

      fully works.  The idea is that different people have different others whose opinions they respect and to whom they will listen.  In some ways, I think that an "official" authority figure becomes less effective because one may presume that they are doing or saying something because they have to do so -- it's part of their job/role.  When it comes from someone who doesn't have to do it, it means much more -- and it's less of a burden on that friend to deal with fewer people.

      Plaintiffs' Employment Law Attorney (harassment, discrimination, retaliation, whistleblowing, wage & hour, &c.) in North Orange County, CA.

      "I love this goddamn country, and we're going to take it back."
      -- Saul Alinsky

      by Seneca Doane on Tue Jan 29, 2013 at 10:34:30 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  AU (Admonishable User) status, for user who has (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Seneca Doane

    designated 5(?) TUs as Admonishtrators, would be a useful status,

    especially if AU status is visible alongside the AU's comments,

    because inflammatory comments by a non-AU could be more easily presumed by most readers to be trollery, and each AU, knowing this, would feel more confident ignoring non-AU inflammatory comments, which could be left alone to discredit the commenter in the eyes of discerning readers.

    This recommendation reflects my impression that suspicions of trollery, and angry reactions to accusations of trollery, seem central to the most counter-productive flame-wars.

    •  It's a clever idea (0+ / 0-)

      Letting someone in so long as others surround him or her with electric probes?  I don't think that Markos would use it, but it would be cool to see a site that tried that, to see how well it worked.  My guess is that, especially with some people who are having a bad day/week or whose social skills are weaker, it would.

      Plaintiffs' Employment Law Attorney (harassment, discrimination, retaliation, whistleblowing, wage & hour, &c.) in North Orange County, CA.

      "I love this goddamn country, and we're going to take it back."
      -- Saul Alinsky

      by Seneca Doane on Tue Jan 29, 2013 at 10:38:32 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Nurse Kelley has been an effective moral voice (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tmservo433, Seneca Doane

    for the disabled.

    look for my eSci diary series Thursday evening.

    by FishOutofWater on Mon Jan 28, 2013 at 07:25:43 PM PST

  •  All I Can Do is Be Me (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Seneca Doane

    Don't know how to be anybody else and I'm too old and crotchety to learn.

    Anybody who sticks around long enough, I'll piss off, eventually.

    If I haven't gotten around to you yet, keep waiting, I'll get there.

    Strange women lying in ponds distributing swords is no basis for a system of government.

    by The Baculum King on Mon Jan 28, 2013 at 07:55:57 PM PST

  •  In the end, we must be our best selves (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    chantedor, Seneca Doane

    That's the reality.   No matter what powers you put with moderators, a big part of it requires the users to act like adults.  

    It also means that the users have to set the overall tone.   There simply can't be enough staff to watch over all the users posting all the time.   It would be economically impossible, Kos would have to be earning far, far, far more money then it is.  

    Gandhi's Seven Sins: Wealth without work; Pleasure without conscience; Knowledge without character; Commerce without morality; Science without humanity; Worship without sacrifice; Politics without principle

    by Chris Reeves on Mon Jan 28, 2013 at 08:22:18 PM PST

  •  Count to ten (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    chantedor, Seneca Doane

    before you post.

    If you're not sure, don't post it.

    Or walk away. The best advice I ever got from a longtime user (one who I'd consider to be a good Community Conscience) was "You do not have to reply to every single post".

    And he's right. It's not always easy to walk away, but it's usually best, particularly when dealing with a serial disruptor. We know they exist here. Give 'em a wide berth and move on, whoever you know them to be.

    btw, maybe Community Conscience is a wee bit nicer than Admonishstrator? When I first saw Admonishstrator, I though of those Lecture-y Scold-y Diarists. You know, the really insipid, patronizing, overinflated-sense-of-self-importance Wannabe Supervisor-types? The ones you'd slap the simper off their faces if only they were standing in front of you, preaching at you about what a Bad (insert label here) you are?  

    Sheeit, if I want to hang around with people like that, I'll stay in my office. I come here to give a damn, to think, and to talk to other like-minded folks. It shouldn't feel like "work" or, y'know, junior high school, to hang out and post here.

    (I could do without the Weekend Trial Balloons, too, but that's a whole 'nother diary... ;))

    It is time to #Occupy Media.

    by lunachickie on Mon Jan 28, 2013 at 08:42:29 PM PST

    •  I liked Meteor Blades input on comments (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Seneca Doane

      I think he said something along the lines of each comment should come with an "are you sure" button along with the preview button.  If people could, just for a second, step back and look at how others may perceive their comment and perhaps cancel those thoughts that are unkind or do nothing to add to the discussion at hand.

      •  Honestly, sometimes it doesn't matter (0+ / 0-)

        I know that many times here I've said things that were unpopular -- either with the site management or with large portions of the readership (and writership.)  It's rarely because I've wanted to tweak people's noses; it's because I thought -- possibly deluded, but honestly -- that those things ought to be said.  I think that most longtime Kosters who flame out feel that they are willing and able to take the heat for their views.  We are a very stubborn group (and often brave.)  It's just generally a waste when it happens and leave us diminished.

        Plaintiffs' Employment Law Attorney (harassment, discrimination, retaliation, whistleblowing, wage & hour, &c.) in North Orange County, CA.

        "I love this goddamn country, and we're going to take it back."
        -- Saul Alinsky

        by Seneca Doane on Tue Jan 29, 2013 at 10:45:44 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  I don't propose this as a official position! (0+ / 0-)

      We've tried that.  It's effect on me was to lead me to discount more of what MB (whose opinion I greatly respect) had to say as "well, he's just doing his job, he may not really even mean that, he doesn't know the stakes."  (The last of these is usually me fooling myself, of course.)  In my fantasy, each of us would choose our own support system, whom we invite and trust, not have anyone imposed on us.  

      Plaintiffs' Employment Law Attorney (harassment, discrimination, retaliation, whistleblowing, wage & hour, &c.) in North Orange County, CA.

      "I love this goddamn country, and we're going to take it back."
      -- Saul Alinsky

      by Seneca Doane on Tue Jan 29, 2013 at 10:42:19 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  If the goal of a post is to provoke, (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Seneca Doane

    which is often an inflammatory post's goal (conscious or subconscious),

    then ignoring it is the most effective way to avoid rewarding the flamer.

    •  In a group conversation, though, it is (0+ / 0-)

      very hard to get everyone on the same page.  And then, even if you stay out of it personally, the advantage of ignoring the post is lost anyway.  So....  ;7)

      Plaintiffs' Employment Law Attorney (harassment, discrimination, retaliation, whistleblowing, wage & hour, &c.) in North Orange County, CA.

      "I love this goddamn country, and we're going to take it back."
      -- Saul Alinsky

      by Seneca Doane on Tue Jan 29, 2013 at 10:47:53 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  A way to control yourself would be (0+ / 0-)

    to take your own comment you are about to write and shout it out to your worst real life political enemy but still being a friend, get the reaction, and then think again if it's a good idea to post your comment.

    Now who has such a person available in real life? Not me.
    I just realize there is a lot I like to talk about but don't because I know it wouldn't be taken easily online and can just be said in real life.

    I try this now sometimes with my son ... boy it helps me getting discouraged and shut up...:-)

  •  "Be kind, for everyone you meet... (0+ / 0-)

    ...is fighting a great battle."

    --Philo of Alexandria

    "The true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals." - Barack Obama

    by HeyMikey on Wed Jan 30, 2013 at 06:49:08 PM PST

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