When is it name calling? October 28, 2003 2:58 AM   Subscribe

When is it name calling?

OK, I did call skallas a "putz" in a thread recently. That this is name calling, there is no doubt and I am in the wrong. But where is the line drawn? Is this name calling? More Inside
posted by Dagobert to Etiquette/Policy at 2:58 AM (23 comments total)

I am using skallas as an example not as a platform of attack (my 'putz' usage got me thinking about this issue).

There is a level where name-calling is apparent but the actual line that is crossed, like most things, is very grey so who defines the insult? The giver? The receiver? Community consensus? Is simply calling someone a 'troll' an insult?
posted by Dagobert at 2:58 AM on October 28, 2003


All of the above.

Some insults are intentional. Some are not. Some people feel insulted every time someone disagrees with them. Some people have skins like rhinos. 'Community consensus' on a webboard is a function of both whoever can yell the loudest and longest and whoever is the most articulate. Both overridden by the board's owner, if he wishes.

You and skallas both insulted each other. *yawn*. Please let's not have a MeTa callout every time one Mefite insults another.

Is simply calling someone a 'troll' an insult?

In the case of some Mefites, calling them a troll is an insult to trolls.
posted by Slithy_Tove at 3:32 AM on October 28, 2003


I'd like to hear what putzface_dickman has to say.
posted by Space Coyote at 4:54 AM on October 28, 2003


But where is the line drawn? Is simply calling someone a 'troll' an insult?

I believe that the line is drawn with the following definition on the About MetaFilter page.

Comments: These are the heart of discussion at MetaFilter. Once a thread is started on the homepage, any member can contribute their voice to a conversation by posting comments. The best comments often include not just the member's opinion on a subject, but new links that relate to the topic being discussed, or personal experiences that might let other members see the topic in a new light.

With that definition in mind, name calling has no place in comments whatsoever.

What does name calling contribute to a conversation? Did it let other members see the topic in a new light or just the person doing the name calling in a new light?

What is added to the community when we call someone a 'troll'? I think that most MeFi members are intelligent enough to recognize a troll without having to be told and most are net savvy enough to know that ignoring a troll completely is the best way to make a troll go away.

Dagobert, please understand that I am not casting stones because I am in no position to cast stones. I have made many comments on MeFi that run afoul of what is written above - comments that I am not proud of and wish I could change.

I would just like to put forward the suggestion that, from now on, if we draw the line at the definition of a good comment and eliminate name calling altogether, a lot of time can be saved and Metafilter would be a lot closer to the ideal community weblog that Matt envisioned.

If the 17611 members of MeFi all spent only five seconds each looking at a name calling post, the combined time stolen from the community would be very close to one entire day. Wouldn't that time be better spent looking for new, interesting and valuable links?
posted by cup at 4:58 AM on October 28, 2003


takes one to know one, dagobert.
posted by crunchland at 5:13 AM on October 28, 2003


Sorry, but I'm a bit confused... Are you asking if calling someone a "religious apologist" is name calling? "Putz" definitely is (though almost genteel by MeFi standards), but to me "religious apologist" isn't.

Calling someone a "troll" is just tired. So very, very tired. The phrase as applied here has lost all meaning.
posted by taz at 5:28 AM on October 28, 2003


No. I am not refering to the 'religious apologist' line but rather the 'head-in-the-sand' prefix.

Slithy, I am sorry that I didn't make it clear: This is NOT a call out.

And Crunchland, don't let all the adulation in that other thread go to your head boyo.....I've seen yer bowling style. putz
posted by Dagobert at 6:05 AM on October 28, 2003


oh, well in that case, I'd say you're ok to call skallas a putz, because you obviously use it as a term of endearment.
posted by crunchland at 7:26 AM on October 28, 2003


An interesting tidbit regarding the word putz:

When Walter Matthau called George Burns a putz- a Yiddish word literally meaning penis but used commonly to denote a jerk-NBC dubbed the word with shmo-another Yiddish word for jerk or boob. Later, when Burns wrote the word putz on a mirror for Matthau, the shot was cut altogether.

From 13 More Outrageous Moments Of U.S. TV Censorship [Google cache]
posted by mr_crash_davis at 7:45 AM on October 28, 2003


once a person resorts to personal attack - which encompasses more than namecalling - their case is lost. It is one thing to call someone a name face to face in the heat of a moment - but there are very few hot moments here that don't go through Preview. Where they should die.

Argue the point, argue the politics, but leave the person alone.
posted by UncleFes at 8:11 AM on October 28, 2003


Exactly right.
posted by rushmc at 9:02 AM on October 28, 2003


I think we need a new Metatalk thread to discuss how dagobert is a filthy racist. I'm phoning the Italian Anti-Defamation League as we speak.
posted by keswick at 9:18 AM on October 28, 2003


I thought you only did that for earthshaking CD price news...
posted by y2karl at 9:47 AM on October 28, 2003


skallas ISN'T a putz???
posted by quonsar at 9:55 AM on October 28, 2003


"Head-in-the-sand religious apologist" may carry some bile, but at least it describes a point of view. Perhaps it's reductive, or pejorative, but it's more than name-calling. It characterizes the target as having a narrow worldview that favors the church. That's a fairly qualitative statement, one that can be supported or refuted through evidence.

"Putz" is name calling because it carries no information about the arguments being traded, and serves only to humiliate and denegrate the target.
posted by scarabic at 10:44 AM on October 28, 2003


"Head-in-the-sand religious apologist" may carry some bile, but at least it describes a point of view.

The point of view, in my opinion, is that of a non-thinking, verbally active religious person who hasn't fully thought through their point of view. Essentially a non-thinker. Or an idiot.

"Putz" is name calling because it carries no information about the arguments being traded

The point of view, in my opinion, is that of a non-thinker. Or an idiot.

What's the difference, aside from the window-dressing? Both insults can be made more descriptive, but by themselves, they're both insults. That's it. I thoroughly enjoy how a large vocabulary can help you avoid direct confrontation with others. It's so arrogant and unnecessary.

"This person" is a sophist who engages in supercilious arguments.
=
"This person" is a putz.
posted by BlueTrain at 10:54 AM on October 28, 2003


Can't we just conclude that we're a bunch of unapologetic, circle-jerking, come-hither-roll-thither, self-aggrandizing wankers and be done with it?

Except that guy, he's a douche bag, incapable of the intellecual integrity to come hither or roll thither.
posted by The God Complex at 12:35 PM on October 28, 2003


Except that guy, he's a douche bag, incapable of the intellecual integrity to come hither or roll thither.

THAT'S IT!....IT'S ON BITCH!

or

Gosh darn it, The God Complex, why must you hurt my self-esteem so? I feel like we should all just get along.
posted by BlueTrain at 12:39 PM on October 28, 2003


SlithyTrove:You and skallas both insulted each other. *yawn*. Please let's not have a MeTa callout every time one Mefite insults another.

Sorry? Dagobert just went through my posting history to find that comment of mine directed at another for his post here. Personally, I see nothing wrong with "head in the sand" or "religious apologist."
posted by skallas at 7:37 PM on October 28, 2003


Please let's not have a MeTa callout every time one Mefite insults another.

!#@$#%#!$@%@#$^$%%#&
posted by insomnyuk at 8:27 PM on October 28, 2003


Personally, I see nothing wrong with "head in the sand" or "religious apologist."

And that's one of the reasons I generally don't read your posts.

If you think someone is excluding important information from their world-view, there's about a hundred better ways to tell them than saying they have their 'head in the sand'. Putting it in those terms is certain to infuriate them, and closes off all communication. If they respond at all, it will be with a reciprocal insult.

The other thing wrong with what you said is that it's an ad hominem. You're attacking the person, not addressing the content of what he said.

If you don't care about communicating, okay, but if so, why post to MeFi? Unless your only purpose is to tick people off. I.e., unless you're a troll.

I don't think you're a troll, skallas. But I do think you are so dismissive of opinions that don't match your own that you tick people off right and left without realizing what you're doing.
posted by Slithy_Tove at 7:18 AM on October 29, 2003


There is a difference between ad hominem attack and characterizing someone's viewpoint or behavior in a negative light, though the line between may not always be entirely clear. Sometimes the same terminology can be used differently to achieve each end. For example, someone can refer to another Metafilter user as a "troll" in order to insult and discredit them and their comments because one disagrees with them; conversely, one can refer to them as a troll because it is a known short-hand term that describes a certain behavior set that an individual practices. Sometimes I think people believe they are doing the latter while unconsciously doing some of the former as well. As with any judgement, people can be right or wrong in their negative assessments of others, but even when they are mistaken, I don't think it equates with insult and personal attack.

Characterizing someone negatively is not the same as insulting them, and it is sometimes useful or even necessary to do so, particularly when their sins are habitual and egregious. But I think it behooves us all to think very careful before doing so, because of a) the ease with which one can cross that line, intentionally or otherwise, and b) the fact that it is an approach that rarely advances the discussion, more often just triggering rancor, defense, and further recrimination.
posted by rushmc at 7:49 AM on October 29, 2003


Perfectly put, Slithy_Tove! I think I'm going to have another dream about you tonight:-)
posted by orange swan at 1:55 PM on October 29, 2003


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