going against the crowd? ok? August 12, 2005 5:49 AM   Subscribe

I've been letting my inner Stalinst (the one that I pretty much abandoned in college) comment for me and it's been fun having an opposing viewpoint instead of saying "yeah, me too!" Because that part of me has all the answers where the adult tends to shrug a lot. But I've been getting hate mail for it. Which is okay, even if it surprises me that anyone cares enough to actually do that.

But that leads me to my question-- does expressing strong views that run counter to general trends really ruin anyone's afternoon? My feeling has been that this is entertainment and no one's preconceived opinions ever change at the end of a discussion anyway. So polarity makes for more interesting angles instead of everyone nodding... [MI]
posted by Mayor Curley to Etiquette/Policy at 5:49 AM (147 comments total)

But I'm wondering if it really makes for "negative energy" that lingers when one shuts the monitor off and sits down for dinner. It doesn't for me, but I don't want to cause lasting discomfort to anyone for the sake of having something to say instead of working-- so I'm wondering if discourse should always be as polite as you can phrase it and if you're obligated to hold your tongue when you know people won't want to hear it even if part of you feels it. That sounds rhetorical the way I phrased it, but I mean it earnestly.

(Please don't discuss any issues you have with me in particular-- that's what email is for. And contrary to what you might think, I don't want attention. I want discussion, in this case specifically about the questions I've asked.)
posted by Mayor Curley at 5:50 AM on August 12, 2005


I don't see how it is your responsibility if someone allows your opinions to "ruin their day." We are each responsible for our own "energy" and Metafilter is a volunteer activity. I haven't seen many opinions change here especially so I would think we're a strong-willed lot.

However, the need of some to drop certain non-polite words into the discourse always stands out like a stubbed toe. Even those tend to be overlooked when you realize it is just like a four-year-old looking for a reaction. Cue up the expletives.
posted by ?! at 6:08 AM on August 12, 2005


It depends on how personal you get, i think. If it's framed as an attack or insult on another member then it is spreading negativity, definitely.
posted by amberglow at 6:13 AM on August 12, 2005


does expressing strong views that run counter to general trends really ruin anyone's afternoon?

Probably not. But expressing strong views that you don't actually hold, purely for the purpose of stirring up shit, is generally frowned on, in my opinion with good reason. It poisons the well.
posted by languagehat at 6:18 AM on August 12, 2005 [1 favorite]


Expressing opinions that one doesn't really believe, knowing that one's statements hurt people's feelings (or even intentionally hurting people's feelings), because one thinks it makes for more interesting discussion? I'm not a big fan.

I thought it was well established that Matt wants the conversation here to remain friendly and civil. When I first started reading this site, one of the things I most valued was a culture that discouraged this kind of thing.

On preview: what languagehat said.
posted by box at 6:19 AM on August 12, 2005 [1 favorite]


I don't know. Playing devil's advocate when a thread is devolving into groupthink doesn't seem like a bad thing to me.
posted by Lazlo Hollyfeld at 6:22 AM on August 12, 2005


Well, I'll tell you ... in many of my comments, I tend towards brutal honesty, without much concern for the feelings of others. I can't speak for creeping negative energy, but I do suspect that the persona I project on Metafilter may have cost me the cultivation of friendships with internet people that would have enriched my life; people who know me only through my posts here. I regret that, and don't really know how to undo what has already been done.

In real life, I'm not really a curmudgeon. But I let that side of me out to play on Metafilter.
posted by crunchland at 6:22 AM on August 12, 2005


Well I know that a comment or series of comments, even a blatant troll from a troll account, can tick me off for hours. ~25% of the people I deal with doing support are both dumb as a stick and highly resistant to actually learning anything. These clients are the kind of people who as kids would whine about learning long division. Real "What do I need to learn this for? I'm never going to use it." types. It really ticks me off when people refuse to think and those occasional members who refuse to do so can get me worked up. I treat MF as a bit of a refuge from the idioticy that abounds all around me.

Mayor Curley posted "no one's preconceived opinions ever change at the end of a discussion anyway"

I've had my opinions affected by discussion here. Personally I think if a person never has why bother participating? You could get the same effect by reading the front page and writing in your diary. Not to offend but it sounds like your treating MF as a big RPG, playing a character and having fun from the reactions of others to the role you are playing.
posted by Mitheral at 6:29 AM on August 12, 2005


Strong views counter to the threads general trend? Not a big deal. If expressed in a way that is short on tact, does it ruin my afternoon? No, I wouldn't be so dramatic about it, but it does annoy me in a way that persists.

When I've gotten what I consider to be intentionally counterproductive or non-constructive comments to my posts, it ticks me off--just a little bit; moreso when it derails or totally misses the point or if I'm particularly fond of the subject matter. The more that happens, the more likely I am to spot that user's name in other threads and think, "geez, what a schmuck". With some it's gotten to the point where if I catch the name out of the corner of my eye, I skip it entirely: just not worth my time.

I interpret what you're saying as, "I derive entertainment from being contrary." Fine, go right ahead. Just don't be surprised if you get leapt on for inferred or expressed tone.

In short, contrary without tact: dismissed as a schmuck. Contrary with tact: thought provoking.

And to turn it around: supportive without apparent thought or depth: milquetoast. supportive with consideration: appreciated.

By the way, this is an intriguing topic.
posted by plinth at 6:30 AM on August 12, 2005


I am not commenting on Mayor Curley in particular, but I know that a particularly strong-worded post (especially if it's inflammatory) can leave me irritated or infuriated for quite a while after I walk away from the keyboard. It's easy to say "Oh, it's just the internet," but it also doesn't take much to remember that a person somewhere is expressing a view that (to me) is really wrong and counter to my own (strongly held) beliefs.
posted by trey at 6:32 AM on August 12, 2005


Also, the role of the contrarian is an important one for keeping debate honest. It's only after the contrarian becomes a troll does it do damage (Christopher Hitchens, I'm looking at you).
posted by trey at 6:33 AM on August 12, 2005


I think you're blurring a couple of things, and also making behavior choices a bit black and white.

There is such a thing as being respectful while disagreeing strongly. So it's not a question of holding one's tongue; it's a question of not being a jerk-nanny ass-hat douche-pants while one does it.

And let's not get all Objectivist about this. No, we're not responsible for other people's feelings, but if you think later, after posting, that you've crossed the line and been a dick, woman-up and cop to it.

Also, I like the new caring-and-sharing version of crunchland!
posted by RJ Reynolds at 6:34 AM on August 12, 2005


I've been letting.. [snip]

.....also known as Trolling.
posted by fire&wings at 6:37 AM on August 12, 2005


This behaviour is a net negative to the site, regardless of how amusing you find yourself.
posted by smackfu at 6:42 AM on August 12, 2005


Any one insult, nasty remark or comment doesn't ruin my afternoon. However sometimes it makes me concerned for the site as a whole devolving into nastiness to the point where I don't enjoy it anymore, or where other people just make fun of it and the nasty people on it, or where too many people say "Wow, that site was great and now it's just a haven for trolls who are allowed to roam unchecked"

I enjoy heated discussion on topics, even if someone is playing devil's advocate. However, there's a line between getting really heated up about a topic, and starting attacking or insulting other members because they disagree, or are trying to untangle a subject that may be more complicated for them than it is for you. The unkindness to the benignly clueless is what gets under my skin. Once the insults start, they tend to spread to both sides of the argument in a "Well if he's taking the gloves off then I will too..." and the site suffers.

Like Mithereal, I've had my opinions changed on topics through my interactions here, and if nothing else, I've become much more aware that my own ideas don't exist in a vacuum, or within the tiny liberal haven that I live in in real life.

And, from a moderation perspective, not that you asked, it's a pain in the ass. Every throwaway "Kill 'em all!" comment gets a lot of people unhappy and creates a lot of MeTa threads that seem to rile people up. Whether this unhappiness is lasting or otherwise important is a debatable point, but I'd like to really minimize it nonetheless.

I don't think being unfailingly polite is any sort of answer. I just think being more aware of the line between talking about a topic and insulting a person or group of people who have an opinion on that topic is a place to start.
posted by jessamyn at 6:48 AM on August 12, 2005


I'll say this - there are people on this site who seem to share you opinions about spirited discourse. Some of them manage to do it without coming off like an utter dickhead, some don't.

In my experience, you generally fall into the "don't" category. Strong opinions are one thing, but you often take it to the next level with insults, personal attacks and general sense of "aint it grand to be a jackass in America!" radiating from you.

I strongly feel that there is a creeping negativity here, and it can affect me for hours after I walk away from the monitor if I let it...

[on preview]

plinth just said it better that I can. You and several others are all on my skip list, because you all have the ability to piss me off with your brusque, abrasive, deliberaty insulting attitudes.

[on second preview]

What jessamyn said.
posted by Irontom at 6:53 AM on August 12, 2005


As RJ Reynolds said, it's perfectly ok to post strong and unpopular views. I think a lot of people even enjoy it since debate can be fun. But there's an enormous gap between posts that put forward an unpopular view and posts that are just personal attacks. There's absolutely no need to self-censor and I doubt that's what anybody wants. But if you remember even if it is "just the internet" that there are real human beings on the other side and you should treat them in the manner you'd want yourself to be treated with respect then you should be fine. Actually, scratch that. Just treat people with respect.
posted by nixerman at 7:09 AM on August 12, 2005


I appreciate Devil's advocacy. I appreciate detournement.

But outright trolling is grating and abrasive and significantly decreases the signal-to-noise ratio. It seems and/or feels like you've been mostly trolling for the sake of the rise and the bile - and your own amusement. Which tends to be mostly if not entirely destructive interference, not constructive nor instructive.

And what Irontom said. I can't take anything you say seriously unless it's clearly plain common sense, and that's not always wit or insight. (And by "common sense" I do not simply mean "statements that agree with me".)
posted by loquacious at 7:10 AM on August 12, 2005


It is not the opposing opinion, rather it is the delivery which causes the anger, and the bad feelings it generates can spill over into future threads and you will feel attacked for seemingly neutral comments. Just ask a few of the right wing provocateurs around here.

The generally civil attitude here drew me in. I think we still have it but there are cracks. OK, sometimes they are crevasses, but still there is a general level of respect. So fire away with your unpopular opinions Mayor, just be nice and no one gets hurt.
posted by caddis at 7:17 AM on August 12, 2005


I don't have a problem with people with opposing viewpoints, not even opposing viewpoints expressed strongly. Viewpoints that are full of personal attacks and general vitriol and hatred and nastiness I do have a problem with. Not that I go about the rest of the day feeling angst over them, but I tend to read them and think, 'Wow, that person is an asshole.' If you're going to be blunt and honest and whatever in expressing these opinions, genuine or otherwise, take caution that bluntness doesn't become bludgeoning.
posted by jacquilynne at 7:28 AM on August 12, 2005


... no one's preconceived opinions ever change at the end of a discussion anyway ...

What I hear when I read this is that your preconceived opinions are never going to change. You're making quite a big assumption (one that proves false, I believe) with that statement.

So, what I hear you saying is something that reflects solely on your personal position, that you have decided what you think, and everyone else here, for your purposes, doesn't "exist" in a real sense.

Nice....
posted by odinsdream at 7:36 AM on August 12, 2005


Also, having posted this, the, er... game is up, so to speak.
posted by odinsdream at 7:38 AM on August 12, 2005


I absolutely hate the idea of voicing opinions not your own for the sole purpose of keeping a conversation going. Argument for argument's sake is childish and silly. Its result is a pointless shouting match at best and damaging disinformation at worst.

Knock it off.
posted by eamondaly at 7:45 AM on August 12, 2005


It seems that for some folks this is just a website, while for others this is a community. It would be interesting to compare users' posting styles with their views on the nature of this place.
posted by spaghetti at 7:55 AM on August 12, 2005


I absolutely hate the idea of voicing opinions not your own for the sole purpose of keeping a conversation going.

No, you don't.

Argument for argument's sake is childish and silly.

No, it isn't.

Its result is a pointless shouting match at best and damaging disinformation at worst.


No, it isn't.

On preview: No, it wouldn't.
posted by mr.marx at 7:57 AM on August 12, 2005


I have been known to be extremely unpleasant towards some ideas and posters, especially those who've commented positively on New Age subjects like psychics and auras and "quantum healing" shit, but I wouldn't - couldn't - imagine saying anything like this:

And you're as thick as you are self-centered-- my "guess" was a device to suggest that you're as self-absorbed as a stereotypical baby boomer.

But if I had to guess for real, I'd suggest that there's a big clot of ill will from cancer patients who are appalled that you liken your problem to theirs.

And that clot is blocking your wife's cervix.
posted by Mayor Curley at 9:54 AM PST on May 13


That is totally hideous and indescribably trashy. Cut it out, please.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 8:04 AM on August 12, 2005


I never would have joined this site if it wasn't for an inflammatory post by ParisParamus (about how Europe is teh suck, or something to that effect) many moons ago. It bothered me enough to join, and in my first few weeks of membership I would occasionally get bugged by things. But I think you get calloused after a while. I certainly did. I can't imagine people still getting bothered by the regular pile-ons and insults after spending enough time here.
posted by Ljubljana at 8:14 AM on August 12, 2005


Q: Hello! Is this the right room for an argument?

A: I've told you once already.
posted by jonson at 8:23 AM on August 12, 2005


I love devil's-advocacy, but I think it is more useful to the discussion to begin: "To play devil's advocate..." then put forth an intelligent argument that is respectful of the forum. This feeds good discussion--abrasive baiting does not.

Directly to Curley: I don't think of you as playing any kind of advocate, or as putting forth a sincere or thoughtful opinion. I think of you as a troll, and I do my best to skip your posts entirely. You don't ruin my day, you ruin your own credibility. I've been pleasantly surprised by a couple of your posts lately, including this one, but if I had ever managed to get the greasemonkey killfile working, I wouldn't have seen it.

I'd still like to get the killfile working, but it would be nice to have one less name to add to the filter.
posted by frykitty at 8:27 AM on August 12, 2005


does expressing strong views that run counter to general trends really ruin anyone's afternoon?

In and of itself? No. But what bothers me here is the same thing that bothers me in the real world: That it's no longer enough to simply say "I disagree with you, and here's why." Now, when someone makes a point, it has to be, "I disagree with you, here's why, and by the way, you're a complete asshole for thinking what you're thinking."
posted by NotMyselfRightNow at 8:34 AM on August 12, 2005


... no one's preconceived opinions ever change at the end of a discussion anyway ...

It's official. I'm no one.
posted by juiceCake at 8:38 AM on August 12, 2005


I just start from the point that nearly everyone here is a socially-cripped fuckface. It makes it so much easier not to get arsey about things...
posted by i_cola at 8:43 AM on August 12, 2005


does expressing strong views that run counter to general trends really ruin anyone's afternoon?
yours - why think it if not true?

no one's preconceived opinions ever change at the end of a discussion anyway ...

When discussed than argued, no personal feelings can change a view.
posted by thomcatspike at 8:46 AM on August 12, 2005


Apparently my feelings on the subject are shared by many here. It's one thing to advocate for an opinion that I don't agree with. That gets me thinking, and writing, and it's part of what I come here for.

But stuff that's making fun of particular people, and attacking the POSTER and ignoring the acutal topic of discussion bother me. I carry that negativity away with me. Why would someone want to be such an asshole? What do they get out of that? And I'm one that likes the community aspect of MeFi, and trashing individuals, ongoing feuds, etc. detract from that. Who wants to have a serious conversation when others are tossing around school yard insults?

Discussion can (sometimes) change my mind. Arguements can't.
posted by raedyn at 8:51 AM on August 12, 2005


Predictably, there will be lots of different opinions about this. Personally, I find the conflict and the rowing entertaining, for the most part. It adds spice to what might otherwise be dry, anal, interactions. And dry anal interactions aren't a lot of fun. I imagine. Ahem.

This ain't a debating society. It ain't a gentleman's club. And it certainly, thank the Lord, ain't the letters page of The Telegraph. It's a website with a humungous membership of people of all political, religious and other ideas, from all over the world. It's fairly open. The result will involve fire and fury, no matter what Matt may or may not have said about what he personally likes. Sites evolve to suit the membership and the level of moderation and fortunately I think Matt has recognised this and thus generally takes a fairly relaxed attitude to things.

I came here after spending ten years on a message board that has no moderation whatsoever. None. Nothing - and I do mean nothing - is ever censored. I loved that site very, very much until it dwindled to become what it is today: a bunch of maybe 30 or 40 regulars who have become weirdly associated by dint of sheer familiarity. Even those of us who hate each other like each other, if you know what I mean. But it has become tired, stale and predictable. What MeFi offers is numbers. With numbers comes variety and passion. If it ever becomes a painfully "respectful" site with people being censored or barred for getting a bit punchy and abusive it'll be a damned shame.

And honestly, the endless complaining about this inevitable aspect of MeFi is just tiresome and utterly pointless and behaving like King Canute without the self-awareness. Deal with the way it is or go elsewhere, already. Because you won't change a goddamned thing. No, really, you won't.
posted by Decani at 8:57 AM on August 12, 2005


Oh, and just to give an example:

That is totally hideous and indescribably trashy. Cut it out, please.

Don't listen to him, Curley. That was a highly amusing and wholly justified smackdown of someone who was being a complete ass. I laughed like a twunt when I read it. Keep it up.
posted by Decani at 9:00 AM on August 12, 2005


What frykitty said.
posted by tr33hggr at 9:01 AM on August 12, 2005


Strong views are fine. Stupid views are not. Stupid views are those that are so illogical or inhumane as to not be worth consideration in the least.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:07 AM on August 12, 2005


And what frykitty said.

If you were intelligently argumentative, posing facts and quality theories that really challenge our assumptions, you'd be gold.

But you don't. You just bait. And you bait stupidly.

See Monty Python, "This is Not an Argument!"
posted by five fresh fish at 9:09 AM on August 12, 2005


I don't think hate mail is appropriate. Ever. Mayor Curley doesn't say if its from members or visitors. He has the ability to knock a tack in with a sledgehammer. Sometimes justifiably, in my opinion and I find him amusingly blunt; Sometimes he comes off as an arsehole. Some people on this site seem to have very thin skins or are very touchy on some subjects; so others wind them up. Why not?
A short interjection often deflates pompousness.
posted by adamvasco at 9:15 AM on August 12, 2005


five fresh fish: See Monty Python, "This is Not an Argument!"

yes.
posted by jonson at 9:23 AM on August 12, 2005


Why would it matter if there's "negative energy" that lingers? Isn't that it might be building here enough? I'm perfectly comfortable leaving MeFi at MeFi; there's no creeping there. But on days where there's a seemingly overwhelming sense of bad vibes, I just tend to leave MeFi behind entirely for a while.

In other words, does any one case of jackassery really bother me? No, not really. But do I have any conception of why anyone would want to be one on a regular basis? No. I can't say that I do.
posted by .kobayashi. at 9:26 AM on August 12, 2005


jonson - will this be a five-minute argument, or the full half hour?
posted by yhbc at 9:38 AM on August 12, 2005


I've had my opinions affected by discussion here.

You're a clay-headed fool.
posted by angry modem at 9:39 AM on August 12, 2005


Right then, time's up. I'm sorry, I'm not allowed to argue unless you pay me.
posted by jonson at 9:41 AM on August 12, 2005


Being the devil's advocate is something that seems incredibly witty when you're young, and becomes increasingly tiresome as you age.

As spaghetti alluded to, I consider this a community, not just a random web forum. If i wanted mindless drivel and pointless screaming, I have a myriad of choices.

As I've mentioned before, MeFi is the only general interest community site I participate in on the entire web. Any other forum I am on is very, very specific, like motorcycles or video games, and that's all that is discussed.

For well reasoned discourse (most of the time) MeFi is about the best choice I've found. Everything else is either too narrow or unacceptable signal:noise.

I occasionally genuinely LEARN something here. And I do get affected, sometimes strongly, by people who are being asshats.

Knowing that people purposefully piss in the orange juice, though not a surprise, is incredibly annoying and discouraging.
posted by Ynoxas at 9:48 AM on August 12, 2005


It's a good question you've asked. Strong views of opposition don't ruin my afternoon. Insults against me can make me feel uncomfortable and I find it difficult not to take it personally and that's part of the reason I kind of try to be moderate....well, somewhat. So it doesn't happen much. Play the ball and not the man. I don't like trolling or provocation for the sake of it, but smart contrariness can be hilarious or thought provoking and can add positively. I'd rather be a clay-headed fool that learns than an angry modem any day, however.
posted by peacay at 9:51 AM on August 12, 2005


First of all, Mayor Curley, thanks for bringing this up, it's a really insightful question IMO, seriously - it's all very meta but we don't usually get to that level of reflection, even in the grey. Thanks.

Devil's advocacy can be quite a fruitful (not to mention ejoyable) stance and a cure for groupthink; I employ it very often in face-to-face exchanges, to the occasional frustration of my friends. However, I would advise against it here: even in a pseudo-anonymous environment such as Metafilter, you have an identity that is represented by your username and that gets shaped by your contributions and the opinions and insights therein.

In fact, you could say this is more important online because it's all you have - it's only letters on a screen, we're clutching at straws. That is, if you care about such things, and the level of discourse and community spirit is of such a level here on MeFi that I do, which partly explains why I love such things as meetup photos, the voice thread on MetaChat and the podcasting plans. It extends and deepens the characters and the bonds.

If the opinions/attitudes/beliefs expressed in your postings differ from the o/a/b you really hold, and especially if this discrepancy changes over time, your identity gets misrepresented, or at best, diluted. Effectively you're turning yourself into a sock puppet of yourself. Some people might go as far as to say that you're lying. I don't mean to offend and would like to again thank you for asking this question, but this is what I think.

On a sidenote, without wilfully deceiving devil's advocates around you won't necessarily have *everyone* nodding - that's what we have dios and ParisParamus for.

(The magic ingredient in my kidding is love. And a grain of salt.)

posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 10:00 AM on August 12, 2005


See Monty Python, "This is Not an Argument!"

yes.


indeed.
posted by mr.marx at 10:35 AM on August 12, 2005


...I have a myriad of choices.

The older, still-kicking and decidedly more interesting construction is "...I have myriad choices."

I try not to do that sort of thing, but (a) this discussion is about contrary positions, (b) I really like the word 'myriad', and (c) I'm not being an arse about it.
posted by cortex at 10:49 AM on August 12, 2005


see, marx, when I first read yours, I thought that'swhat you were referencing, but your quoting of others words threw me off. I thought you were actually engaging or making a point, not just referencing the argument sketch. Now I see I've overthought this.
posted by jonson at 11:11 AM on August 12, 2005


No no no no. Don't let the "bad vibes" and "negativity is nasty--keep it away" people win.

And what Decani said, over again twice.
posted by dame at 12:36 PM on August 12, 2005


"expressing strong views that run counter to general trends
...
polarity makes for more interesting angles instead of everyone nodding"


Lots of people who get hell for being jerks like to cast their contributions as intellectualy challenging, non-conformist ventilation of this closed-minded, lockstep borg-mind, but most of the time that's just self-aggrandizement and denial. These pompous blowhards imagine that they're not doing their job unless the feathers of the establishment get ruffled, and they look on insulting others as a way of freeing them from their mental shackles. Riiight.

There are plenty of points of view here and much interesting discussion without anyone's "inner stalin" at the table, thank you. Go save some other website/culture/race/nation/universe from its lockstep-stupid-self-loathing-conformist-pea-brained self.
posted by scarabic at 1:27 PM on August 12, 2005


everyone else here, for your purposes, doesn't "exist" in a real sense

Yeah, I think this is at the core of it. For some of us, other MeFites exist (we may even have met some of them), and we apply similar standards to those we use in "real life." For others, it's all "just words on a page," and they feel they can behave like assholes with no repercussions. They may wake up one day to find that—surprise!—they are assholes, and will have to enroll in Assholes Anonymous, but that's down the road. Right now, they think they're just the greatest thing since sliced bread. Nothing the rest of us can do about it, of course.

The older, still-kicking and decidedly more interesting construction is "...I have myriad choices."

It most certainly is not older; "a myriad of" was used as early as 1671 (R. Knevet, "Shee might have in terrestriall blisse, Exceeded a whole Myriade of yeares"); furthermore, it was used in 1824 by Walter Savage Landor, a better stylist than anyone here. I have no idea what you mean by "more interesting"; if anything, "a myriad of" is more interesting because it reminds you that the word is in origin a noun, not an adjective. The Merriam-Webster Concise Dictionary of English Usage says of the controversy over "myriad":
Have we witnessed the birth of a new usage dispute? All the usual markings are there: opinion asserted in contradiction to use—much of it rather literary—and in contradiction to previous comment.
If you're going to be pedantic, get your pedantry right.
posted by languagehat at 1:31 PM on August 12, 2005


Don't let the "..." people win.

An even more threatening population to immediately take aim at would be the "this-isn't-actually-some-kind-of-win-lose-competition" people. DON'T LET THEM WIN!!!
posted by scarabic at 1:31 PM on August 12, 2005


I don't know that that's entirely it, scarabic. Some of us just don't get all bent out of shape when other people are dillholes in imaginary internet land and find it odd that others let it affect their lives. I mean, yeah, sometimes I continue arguments with people from here in my head as I go about my day, but that's my problem, not some instance of bad vibes bringin' me down or anyone harshin' my mellow.
posted by dame at 1:35 PM on August 12, 2005


Yeah, I think this is at the core of it. For some of us, other MeFites exist (we may even have met some of them)

This has always been a stumbling block for me when it comes to communicating online and why being an asshole just to shake things up bothers me so much. I have never been able to view the people I interact with online as just words on a website. I am always aware that there is another person on the other end. And I don't get why people think that this sort of communication is any different from face to face communication. If you wouldn't be a dick to someone's face, why be a dick online? You're still talking to a human being. I admit that I tend to be oversensitive at times though so grain of salt and all that.

That's not to say that one shouldn't play devil's advocate or advance unpopular opinions from time to time. It makes for good discussion. But there are ways to do it without being a jerk. There is a strange sort of pride that certain people take in being as calculating and disconnected as possible, in proving that they are above caring about the person on the other end of the line, and I admit I just don't get it. Talking to those sorts of people leaves me more confused than anything. Why interact at all if you truly don't care whether the person you are talking to is real?
posted by LeeJay at 1:49 PM on August 12, 2005


Metafilter: harshin' my mellow ; >

(and the California girl comes out)

dame, you say some of us don't get bent out of shape, and then you say you continue arguments in your head all day sometimes (which means you're bent out of shape)...which is it?
posted by amberglow at 1:52 PM on August 12, 2005


Good question, amberglow. I guess arguing with people in my head entertains me enough that I wouldn't call it being bent out of shape. That is, it doesn't strike me as bad, so much as sometimes it leads to me annoying myself. Does that make sense?
posted by dame at 2:01 PM on August 12, 2005


An even more threatening population to immediately take aim at would be the "this-isn't-actually-some-kind-of-win-lose-competition" people. DON'T LET THEM WIN!!!

Do you feel better now, scarabic? But yeah, if there are two opposing points of view and one changes his behavior to suit one camp--based no doubt on the eloquent and compelling arguments--then that side has "won." Both things can't coexist and so one must triumph. What is the problem with that? Does it make you feel sad?
posted by dame at 2:05 PM on August 12, 2005


Well, isn't this revealing? Some people are stuck at being contrary, belligerent two-year-olds because they like shit. They like making shit, they like how it stinks, they like how other people wrinkle their noses at it. They giggle with delight at it. Because, for them, the world is shit and so the only fun is in stirring it up.

And then there's the folks who aren't two-year-old children. Most of the rest of is. That Mayor Curley and Decani and dame belong in the brat room? No surprise.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 2:07 PM on August 12, 2005


Oh, and you are always so careful of others' feelings, EB. You never assume the worst or go out of your way to pick on others, do you? How is not to have shit that stinks at all?

I've never been a big fan of the eternal adolescent idea, but every time you go on about adulthood . . . Well, if we're defined by our enemies, being on the top of your list ought to make my mommy proud.
posted by dame at 2:15 PM on August 12, 2005


Sup.
posted by Pretty_Generic at 2:16 PM on August 12, 2005


I don't think that was deserved, EB. I have interacted with dame before and even though we may differ on our opinon of this particular situation she's always struck me as someone who just honestly states her opinion as opposed to trolling to stir things up. I don't think calling people names is any way to rise above the "shit".
posted by LeeJay at 2:16 PM on August 12, 2005


WHAT
THE
FUCK
ETHEREAL BLIGH?
posted by loquacious at 2:20 PM on August 12, 2005


re: myriad

If you're going to be pedantic, get your pedantry right.

This, of course, is one of the reasons I don't do that very often: goddam languagehat comes along and knows what he's talking about.

However:

I have no idea what you mean by "more interesting"; if anything, "a myriad of" is more interesting because it reminds you that the word is in origin a noun, not an adjective.

I'll grant you that a person could take interest in the more senior role of nouniness to which I was until now ignorant , but what I find more interesting about myriad-as-adjective is the role it plays as a member of a less well populated set of words.

I mean, c'mon. Nouns? We've got nouns coming out our ears. Of names for groups of things alone we have plenty. But "myriad" as a flavorful alternative to "many" or "a whole lot of" or "various" (and so forth)? There's a place where the word has a chance to shine! I feel that "myriad romantic proposals," for example, has more charm and reads better than "a myriad of romantic proposals."
posted by cortex at 2:21 PM on August 12, 2005


dame - trying to limit my comments to the bare polite minimum, but I think you make a poor poster child for being mellow and unruffled on a personal level around here.

Of course my psyche isn't unhinged by what goes on here, but inasmuch as I like MetaFilter and it adds something to my life, sure, I don't like seeing bad behavior here. I'm additionally grossed out by people who characterize their bad behavior as Pan-like, the rantings of the fool that transform the policies of kings. But that's nothing more annoying than people who pick their nose in public, fail to use their tun signal, put "hooters" bumper stickers on their cars, etc etc....
posted by scarabic at 2:31 PM on August 12, 2005


Thanks, LeeJay. But see, Bligh's problem with me is that he sees in my behavior some reflection of his younger self--a self of whom he is now ashamed. And I'm not sorry for being a shithead sometimes. This inflames him.

Anyway, on topic, I did want to point out that I have been at the recieving end of a Mayor Curley hatefest (one in which he misinterpreted my motives in a very frustrating way). And it annoyed me--for about a day. But even if that happened once a week, I would still prefer it to a land of rule by niceness, because the way people deploy "civility" as a weapon seems to me to have worse repercussions than people being assholes with words.
posted by dame at 2:32 PM on August 12, 2005


"I'm additionally grossed out by people who characterize their bad behavior as Pan-like, the rantings of the fool that transform the policies of kings."

Yes. And, for me, it's not just that they are wrong and self-indulgent--it's also that they offend my aesthetic sensibilities. How pitifully easy is it to fuck with people by shouting out something that will annoy them? None of these people have any artistry, they're bulls in a china shop. They're smug because they're transgressive without realizing that trangression, alone, is almost the easiest thing in the world. What's much, much harder is to be truly subversive. But that takes effort and something more than an infantile masturbatory impulse.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 2:45 PM on August 12, 2005


MetaFilter: Something more than an infantile masturbatory impulse.
posted by loquacious at 2:46 PM on August 12, 2005


Okay, fair enough, dame. I'm hardly advocating for any kind of "rule" or "policy" around this. I'm perfectly happy to simply engage and destory offenders as I have spare time.
posted by scarabic at 2:48 PM on August 12, 2005


But has anyone else figured out yet that Mayor Curley is basically asking for permission to continue his ways? I'd measure my response to that if I were y'all.
posted by scarabic at 2:48 PM on August 12, 2005


I don't think he's even asking persmission. I think this post is no more in good-faith than his recent behavior. He's making sure we've noticed because without that validation, it's not as much fun for him.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 2:56 PM on August 12, 2005


dame - trying to limit my comments to the bare polite minimum, but I think you make a poor poster child for being mellow and unruffled on a personal level around here.

Well, thanks for that. But I wasn't arguing that I am unruffled or mellow. Rather, I don't have a problem with people being vitriolic assholes in their posts, sometimes. And like I said above, I have more issues with social regulation than with harsh words. And I guess what you are calling bad behavior doesn't make MeFi worse to me. In fact, it makes it better. I wouldn't want MeFi to only be such comments, but I wouldn't want it without them, either.

I'm additionally grossed out by people who characterize their bad behavior as Pan-like, the rantings of the fool that transform the policies of kings.

To an extent, I agree. And I don't characterize my shitheadedness as such. I will fully admit that I am merely too lazy to attempt to stem my anger and frustration when they arise, and frankly, I don't see any benefit in doing so, both because it doesn't bug me when other people don't and because doing so does nothing for me. There are those who will hate me for it and those who won't and well--someone is always going to dislike you for something, even if it's trying to make everyone like you by not offending, you know?

How pitifully easy is it to fuck with people by shouting out something that will annoy them? None of these people have any artistry, they're bulls in a china shop.

Just because you wind up pissed off doesn't mean pissing you off was the goal, sugarpie.
posted by dame at 3:05 PM on August 12, 2005


You've said a few things that burned my ass, but apparently that's your point. Where's that killfile?
posted by puke & cry at 3:18 PM on August 12, 2005


Sorry Mayor, but you've been a downright asshole much more often than the situation has warranted for the past few months. As such I'm not surprised at all that you're getting hate mail, and you shouldn't be either.

You're not just "expressing strong views that run counter to general trends". You're making very intentionally-hurtful visceral statements which have many times gone way beyond the pale in just trying to push other peoples' buttons. Now of course you don't find that you're affected by this sort of behaviour because let's face it, it's mostly coming from you.
posted by clevershark at 3:22 PM on August 12, 2005


What eamondaly said -- in my experience, some people find this

idea of voicing opinions not your own for the sole purpose of keeping a conversation going

...amusing, even required if you want to be thought of as "cool" (part of that whole 'ironic detachment' which by default considers any sincerity and passionate enthusiasm suspect).

Some people love the sparring -- but I hate it.

Also, what NotMyselfRightNow, raedyn, Ynoxas, goodnewsfortheinsane, scarabic and Ethereal Bligh said.
posted by Rash at 3:33 PM on August 12, 2005


He's making sure we've noticed because without that validation, it's not as much fun for him.

I only see two ways out of this one. Either you don't really believe what you've said here, or you just gave someone you characterize as a two year-old his way by paying attention to him.
posted by trondant at 3:36 PM on August 12, 2005


I think this post is no more in good-faith than his recent behavior.

Eh, I dunno. I think MC acts like a complete prick sometimes, and I don't think his MeFi behavior is fully in alignment with the merely-contrarian mode he asks about up at the top, but that doesn't mean this post wasn't asking in good faith. Maybe MC is genuinely interested in people's take on the idea regardless of the assholeishness of his personal execution. He could be a perfectly reasonable person behind the blustery flames, neh? He might even be in some (however unlikely) larval stage, considering the worth of a more civil pursuit of contrarianism if people don't see such as a waste of energy.

But if your attitude is based on the notion that he should be doled out the benefit of the doubt only in proportion to the mean of his behavior on MeFi, and not in accordance with imagined potential behavior, I can't fault your cynicism, because when you get down to it he does act like a total fucker. So, hey.
posted by cortex at 3:36 PM on August 12, 2005


I occasionally have trouble keeping the names straight around here, and in fact was just this week wondering whether the Mayor Curley whose posts I've found so dreary of late was the one who who used to be so amusing -- or was that somebody else?

No, it turns out to indeed be the same person. Thanks for clearing that up. Mark me down as another "time to terminate this failed experiment".
posted by Aknaton at 3:59 PM on August 12, 2005


Dame wrote upstream: Some of us just don't get all bent out of shape when other people are dillholes in imaginary internet land and find it odd that others let it affect their lives

That is just it, isn't it? Imaginary Internet land is not imaginary just because I can't see your face. As has often been said here, people who treat this place like their playground (see: Mayor Curley and this thread) and who get their jollies on by fucking with "imaginary" people (or at least not playing nice) and can't understand why people get so bothered by it (see: Mayor Curley getting hatemail) do a lot more harm than good for the community. If you wouldn't act like that in a face to face situation, why treat this any differently?

I am very tolerant of opposing opinions (I am a staunch lefty while my grandfather who I am really close to was actively involved in the early days of the Canadian Reform Party, which then became the Alliance Party which is now the Conservative party), but I am not as tolerant with this kind of thing.

Get your kicks somewhere else. (Though, if I am being honest, I didn't notice MC's "change").
posted by Quartermass at 4:15 PM on August 12, 2005


MC, What is the true purpose here of this thread?
You didn't even apologize in this thread. If you have, please excuse me for missing it.

Are we here for discussing a commenting behavior in order to see if it is rude? Or, you coming forward and discussing amends here yet you may just be doing this for attention like you have done with your said commenting here.

Also this thread is about you, so why e-mail you? Other than no one should put you down here since you have come forward on your own about the matter.

Saying that, I do miss what I thought was the real you.

If you need to stir your life up, have a rebellious "Tea Party." I hear you're near the right spot for it.
posted by thomcatspike at 4:19 PM on August 12, 2005


(Though, if I am being honest, I didn't notice MC's "change").
It would come out of nowhere and at times it flew under the radar.
posted by thomcatspike at 4:24 PM on August 12, 2005


None of these people have any artistry...

Faze, I see, continues to be overlooked.
posted by juiceCake at 4:54 PM on August 12, 2005


I guess I don't pay close enough attention. Nothing that I recall Mayor Curley saying has ever bothered me. Some others who have posted in this thread, though -- hoo boy, they fuck me off like chrome-plated steam-powered off-fucking machines.

Each to their own.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 4:54 PM on August 12, 2005


I don't get it curley. You see how sincere dissent is treated here, and you're volunteering to be the site's devil's advocate? While you've displayed traits that may be well suited to the task, the fact that you'd enjoy that role is your strongest disqualification.
posted by klarck at 5:01 PM on August 12, 2005


I think this post is no more in good-faith than his recent behavior.

Bingo. You all just got meta-trolled by an attention whore. Not exactly, but it's all just a social experiment. If everyone weighs in on how they feel about MC, we should be all set.
posted by yerfatma at 5:05 PM on August 12, 2005


If everyone weighs in on how they feel about MC, we should be all set.

Don't like 'im.
posted by Quartermass at 5:15 PM on August 12, 2005

But I'm wondering if it really makes for "negative energy" that lingers when one shuts the monitor off and sits down for dinner. It doesn't for me, but I don't want to cause lasting discomfort to anyone for the sake of having something to say instead of working-- so I'm wondering if discourse should always be as polite as you can phrase it and if you're obligated to hold your tongue when you know people won't want to hear it even if part of you feels it. That sounds rhetorical the way I phrased it, but I mean it earnestly.
You've sort of answered your own question. You speak up because you don't want to hold your tongue because "part of you feels it". But I don't think MeFi's a place where (a) no one is allowed to be hurt by what you say, while (b) you are allowed to say anything you like to make yourself feel better.
posted by fleacircus at 5:34 PM on August 12, 2005


He can suck a fart out of GWBs ass.
posted by puke & cry at 5:34 PM on August 12, 2005


this thread is so boring i don't even think i'll weigh in.
posted by Hat Maui at 5:34 PM on August 12, 2005


oh, fuck! i did anyway.
posted by Hat Maui at 5:35 PM on August 12, 2005


He can suck a fart out of GWBs ass.

He can?! Tenacious!
posted by loquacious at 5:41 PM on August 12, 2005


no one's preconceived opinions ever change at the end of a discussion anyway

That pretty much sums it up, doesn't it? The good Mayor doesn't think there's ever a discussion here that should be taken seriously. Does that about cover it?

Where can we possibly go from that?
posted by mediareport at 6:08 PM on August 12, 2005


To the beach?
posted by ODiV at 6:54 PM on August 12, 2005


Only if they DON'T have WiFi at the beach.
posted by wendell at 7:26 PM on August 12, 2005


My inner Trotsky has a bad feeling about all this...
posted by Dick Paris at 7:28 PM on August 12, 2005


Not believing in the "devil", I must assume that the "devil's advocate" is nothing more than a recreational liar. While we can never enforce a Sincerity Rule, the less 'playas' participating in this site, the better.
posted by wendell at 7:34 PM on August 12, 2005


/sharpens icepick
posted by yerfatma at 7:52 PM on August 12, 2005


Well, to limit myself to the questions posed initially:

Mayor Curley : "But that leads me to my question-- does expressing strong views that run counter to general trends really ruin anyone's afternoon? My feeling has been that this is entertainment and no one's preconceived opinions ever change at the end of a discussion anyway."

Expressing strong views that run counter to general trends probably ruin some people's afternoons. It depends on the person, it depends on how the view is expressed, and it depends on what the view is. For example, someone writing, "The reason I can't sail to California is because the world is flat and I'll fall off the edge, dammit!" is expressing a strong view that runs counter to general trends. It probably won't ruin anyone's afternoon. "I think the invasion of Iraq is wholly justified because of the economic advantage it provides us" is a strong view that runs counter to general trends. It will probably ruin a few people's afternoons, but it is civil and polite, and the ruination is unfortunate but unavoidable. "Niggers are all fucking thieves, I wish they'd die of AIDS" is a strong view that runs counter to general trends, and would ruin a few people's afternoons, and is being a big goddamn asshole.

Your feeling that no-one's preconceived opinions ever change at the end of a discussion is incorrect. I can state that absolutely, having direct experience of changing my mind at the end of a discussion. If that's a pillar of your reasoning behind the way you've been posting lately, you really need to take into account that this assumption is incorrect.

Stepping a bit away from your direct questions, jessamyn and others put it well: the issue isn't just if something ruins my whole afternoon, but if something is damaging to MeFi. The internet is full of boards filled with unsupported and emotional arguments. I like MeFi because it has a higher than average ratio of supported, reasoned argumentation and discussion. If someone drags MeFi down such that it's identical to all the other crap out there, it won't ruin my afternoon, because I won't look at MeFi anymore. It will, however (in my opinion) ruin MeFi, which would be a shame.

There are a few members of MeFi whose comments I haven't found exactly worth reading. Until this thread, I'd always assumed this was unintentional (I'm not just talking about you, MC). Reading this, I realize now that the way they've come across was intentional, and that they have no intention to change...they want to come across as the assholes they come across as. So I guess I'm going to have to fire up my unused kill file.
posted by Bugbread at 7:55 PM on August 12, 2005


Decani : "If it ever becomes a painfully 'respectful' site with people being censored or barred for getting a bit punchy and abusive it'll be a damned shame. And honestly, the endless complaining about this inevitable aspect of MeFi is just tiresome and utterly pointless and behaving like King Canute without the self-awareness. Deal with the way it is or go elsewhere, already. Because you won't change a goddamned thing. No, really, you won't."

Right back at you.
posted by Bugbread at 8:11 PM on August 12, 2005


For the record, and I just again had to correct an old comrade about this on Usenet, on Metafilter I only post what I genuinely think, feel and/or believe. (It's been several years since I bothered doing anything but that on Usenet either.) I get angry when people accuse me of "trolling" because that casts doubt on my honesty and sincerity; I also don't understand why people can't recognize that who I am and what I say and do is more important to me than whatever anyone might think of it.

So I still wonder if, given the frequency with with so many Mefites accuse others of trolling, the common run of Metafilter really is so unimaginative that they can't conceive of disagreeing with someone or something except to get a reaction by it? Or is it that most Metafiltristes really are so sheep-minded that it's hard for you to imagine having an opinion that is not on "the 'Approved' list"? Or is that here too so many people don't bother saying what they really think, "metooing" the majority from ingrained cowardly habit?

And for those who go "It's not the opinion, it's the offensiveness!", are you "nice" (or not) because you mean it, or because you think it will earn you a backpat from your "peers" and "cohorts"? That is, how much gorm have you got? Are you trustworthy and respectable -- or a weak fake reed?

This is why, though I don't always agree with Curly and Paris and others of that type I get a kick out of many of their posts and comments, and why I'd be so disappointed as to lose all respect if it turned out someone was simply typing for effect without meaning what s/he says.

So anyway: I'm not assuming that Curley is confessing to "trolling" or "being an 'attention whore'"; I'd like to believe that he's just letting go and stretching out a bit, expressing here what one has to choke back so much in "real life". Even Walter Mitty has to have some cojones someplace, even if he has to go through all his drawers to find them.
posted by davy at 8:27 PM on August 12, 2005


If you have the "cojones", you express what you need to express in real life and don't indulge yourself in a false sense of courage and integrity because you "tell it like it is" on a website pseudonymously.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 8:37 PM on August 12, 2005


To the beach?

*packs blanket, towel and mimosas*
posted by mediareport at 8:41 PM on August 12, 2005


davy : "I still wonder if, given the frequency with with so many Mefites accuse others of trolling, the common run of Metafilter really is so unimaginative that they can't conceive of disagreeing with someone or something except to get a reaction by it? Or is it that most Metafiltristes really are so sheep-minded that it's hard for you to imagine having an opinion that is not on 'the "Approved" list'? Or is that here too so many people don't bother saying what they really think, 'metooing' the majority from ingrained cowardly habit? "

I'd say (for the most part) "none of the above". It's not that people can't imagine others disagreeing, or that people don't say what they think. It's just a passive form of insult. "That opinion is so incredibly stupid that you must be trolling." Kinda like saying "Are you blind?!" when someone talks about how attractive some celebrity you find ugly is. It doesn't really mean they believe the guy is blind.

davy : "And for those who go 'It's not the opinion, it's the offensiveness!', are you 'nice' (or not) because you mean it, or because you think it will earn you a backpat from your 'peers' and 'cohorts'?"

I'd say I'm relatively nice, though somewhat blunt.
posted by Bugbread at 8:59 PM on August 12, 2005


MC wrote:"Because that part of me has all the answers where the adult tends to shrug a lot."

This is the answer to your question. If the adult part tends to shrug [because a)there is no answer, b) you don't know the answer, or c)the issue is only somewhat interesting to you], the non-adult part having "all the answers" should be a clue that the putative 'devil's advocate' role is really an immature persona "thinking" that its views are mature and worthy of equal consideration in mature discussion. I use the adjective 'mature' - not 'polite', nor 'civil', nor 'gentle' - not because mature discussion can't (often shouldn't) be those things, but because that is what seems to me to be the goal of MeTa. Mature discussion can be impolite, and sometimes it requires being impolite, but impolite discussion is only sometimes mature.

Thus, posting a contrarian view simply to extend discussion is immature. The discussion has petered out (apologies to the "Peter"s on the board - I don't even know the origin of this expression, but it fits) on its own.

Posting a dissenting post simply to stem the tide of agreement is akin to a 2 year old saying "No". It doesn't constitute a mature rebuttal of a disputable point.

The whole point of maturity is to have a panoply of experience against which to judge the merit, rationality and persuasiveness of a particular idea/comment/argument. If you are consciously ignoring the mature element of yourself to 'authorize' a post, you do the site a disservice.

I consider myself a person of strong beliefs, weakly held. Your impugned comment "no one's preconceived opinions ever change" seems to indicate that your beliefs (strong or weak) are strongly held. Mature discussion is conducive to the strengthening or weakening of beliefs. Immature discussion addresses the 'holding' of the beliefs. Your 'Stalinist' persona often attacks the holders, rather than the beliefs. It can be amusing on the Grey; it is noise, or worse, on the Blue and Green.

I have posted previously that I considered you a half-troll. I was in the midst of revising that posted opinion to full trollhood when that thread was closed. I hope that opinion is disproven. As I wrote, my beliefs are weakly held, so counter the weight of your previous history, and I'll easily change my view of you, if you care. This site will be better for it, which is what I care about.
posted by birdsquared at 9:00 PM on August 12, 2005


Quartermass: That is just it, isn't it? Imaginary Internet land is not imaginary just because I can't see your face. . . . If you wouldn't act like that in a face to face situation, why treat this any differently?

Well, because it isn't the same thing, is it? The worst thing anyone is going to do to anyone else here is be mean. And that's not so bad. Besides, if I close Metafilter and never come back again, it's gone--poof! I'd say those are pretty fundamental differences.

But if it cheers you up, I'm not terribly nice in person either, and I'll argue against the rule of niceness in pretty much any situation. And I get all wrapped up in how I feel arguing and make people feel weird because I got all wrapped up in it and forgot manners. So I don't actually treat this so differently except my feelings are less hurt when people I don't actually know are mean in writing.

do a lot more harm than good for the community

Huh. I'd say busybodies who are so concerned with protecting the community and regulating others' behavior are much worse. In fact, the community I most appreciate having belonged to was the one where we were stuck together regardless. I don't love 'em all, but I could never hate them. And that perhaps is the essence of the difference: I don't think it's bad for MeFi, so I don't think getting all righteous about it is worth anything. As long as someone is making an argument, I don't care if he really believes it.
posted by dame at 9:19 PM on August 12, 2005


True E_B, but ya gotta start someplace. There're a lot of weaklings out there.

Now, me, I come at it from the other direction: "on a website pseudonymously" people who don't like what I say or how I put can't literally smash my face in (or at least not without getting up from the computer and hunting me down). On the other hand, for many years I used to get the shit beat out of me just for the way I couldn't help looking: I didn't have to open my mouth to be "offensive", I was assumed on sight to be a "fag" and bashed accordingly. So early on I decided that since it doesn't matter what I say or do then I will say and do what I want, not what is expected of a "normal person" -- which "they" wouldn't believe I was anyway. ("You're jus' sayin' you like the Orioles so we'll stop beatin' on you for bein' a fag, fag." [*WHAP*]) So I quit giving a damn whether anybody might like or agree with what I had to say and sat down and figured out what my take on things really is. (Ergo, sometimes I must acknowledge ParisParamus ain't always wrong.)

That's why weak people amuse me so. "Gee, is the wind blowing in a 'considering the Downing Street memo I've re-evaluated my support for occupying Iraq' way?" If I can have cojones it can't be THAT difficult. And what's the point of strong beliefs if you let them slip at the merest frown?

As to "maturity", that usually equates to "cowardice" -- or "going along to get along" (if they're not the same thing). You know, "I've learned that if I hold to opinions like this it will lead to difficulty, so I'll change my mind right quick." This is not the same as recognizing you were wrong about a fact, such as where Perth, Australia, really is; it's just too bad that so often facts are not the point, but opinions and styles and attitudes are. "We think it's 'trollish' to disagree with wherever the blindfolded dart thrower determined Perth might as well be."

And bugbread, most often "He's a troll!" really does mean "He says things I disagree with in a way I don't like." So when you find seven or twelve people agreeing someone is a troll you've found a groupthink hive, whether the "troll" really believes what he says or not, and whether or not they really care whether he means it or not. So then usually "We agree he's a troll!" means "We affirm that we are The In Crowd around here."
posted by davy at 9:33 PM on August 12, 2005


Oh by the way, I'm really a nice sweet person deep down inside; I just take some getting used to. Really!
posted by davy at 9:40 PM on August 12, 2005


davy : "As to 'maturity', that usually equates to 'cowardice' -- or 'going along to get along' (if they're not the same thing). You know, 'I've learned that if I hold to opinions like this it will lead to difficulty, so I'll change my mind right quick.'"

Evidence? The people I personally find mature are the folks who can disagree with the status quo belief and provide reasoned support for their position. Agreeing with everyone is, in itself, neither mature nor immature. Disagreeing with everyone is, in itself, neither mature nor immature. There are people I agree with on MeFi who I find immature. They bug the hell out of me, even though they have the same beliefs as I do. There are people I disagree with on MeFi who I find mature. They don't bug the hell out of me, even though I disagree with them.

What I like about MeFi is that it has a higher-than-average amount of mature people (i.e. people who provide reasoned, rational responses, instead of insulting people they disagree with). It's not all mature, by any means. If I wanted to be pessimistic, I would say it has 10% mature folks, and 90% immature folks. That's still twice as good as the internet average, which might be 5% vs. 95%. Either way, immature outnumbers mature, but what makes MeFi somewhat more interesting to me than other places is that the ratio is better.

davy : "And bugbread, most often 'He's a troll!' really does mean 'He says things I disagree with in a way I don't like.'"

Yes. I'm agreeing with you there. I'm just saying that people don't use the term because they can't imagine folks disagreeing, they use the term as an insult by pretending that the opinion offered couldn't be an actual opinion.

davy : "So when you find seven or twelve people agreeing someone is a troll you've found a groupthink hive"

I've always found the definition of trolling on MeFi (and most places since the late 90's) to be wrong. Trolling means "saying something you don't actually believe in order to enjoy the anger expressed in response". People here use it as an insult to mean "saying something I disagree with". But, by the same token, I've also found the definition of "groupthink" to be wrong. "Groupthink" means agreeing with everyone else because it's the majority opinion. But in MeFi people use it to mean "multiple people agreeing with eachother about something I disagree with".

We all think the world is roughly spherical. We think so because we've experienced things like flying in an aeroplane in both directions and reaching our destinations. However, I would be spectacularly unsurprised if a flat-earth proponent came in here and charged us all as engaging in "groupthink".

Stating an opinion that differs with your own ≠ trolling.
Stating an opinion that others agree with, but that differs from your own ≠ groupthink / hive mind.

I suspect that these two definitional gaps (and the underlying ideas behind them) are where we get the immaturity that appears on MeFi. Immature folks think that anyone who disagrees, no matter how logically or calmly, is a troll. Immature folks think that any group that disagrees with them, regardless of their reasons, is engaged in groupthink. The end result is a bunch of immature people who agree eachother insulting any individuals who disagree, and a bunch of immature individuals insulting any bunches of people who disagree. Either way, there are plenty of other sites where this is far more common, so there's no reason to drag that practice (further) into MeFi. It's the blanding of the internet: trying to make everywhere the same as everywhere else. I'm not a big fan of that.
posted by Bugbread at 9:56 PM on August 12, 2005


davy : "Oh by the way, I'm really a nice sweet person deep down inside; I just take some getting used to. Really!"

Judging from some personal correspondence with davy via email, this appears to be true. Which makes the whole thing ironic, because davy is one of the people (sorry, davy) that I'm considering putting in my killfile: not because I disagree with him (in fact, our correspondence, based mostly on disagreement, was pretty darn interesting to me), but because of the way he expresses himself occasionally on the blue. If only he wrote (consistently) on the blue in the same way he writes in email, he'd be one of my favorite posters.

(And, yeah, davy, I know you probably don't give a damn, and, no, that was not some sort of veiled stab at you or a passive-aggressive attack. Think of it more this way: I have friends with which I don't discuss religion. That doesn't mean that I think they're subhuman assholes or anything, just that it's a field where discussion proves to be a bad thing. In the same way, I don't think you're a subhuman asshole or anything, I'm just suspecting that the blue is to you what religion is to those friends)
posted by Bugbread at 10:02 PM on August 12, 2005


I'm reminded of a roommate I had once in college. She would absolutely pride herself on being blunt, "telling it like it is", and, like dame, eschewing "the rule of niceness." No one could stand her. Every interaction with her reinforced her selfishness and egotism.

Trying to be "nice" in how you express yourself isn't necessarily saying that you're going to be namby-pamby and warm & fuzzy in re: one's beliefs. Rather, it's showing respect for your audience -- not to mention your own points of view, because you're presenting them as ideas which succeed or fail on their merits and own intrinsic qualities, rather than a "like it or lump it" proposition.

True interpersonal communication only happens when the recipient understands the message that the communicator meant to send. This means that if one is to communicate effectively, one should consider one's audience; how you think a thought to yourself may not be the best way to communicate it to your intended audience, and it's incumbent on you to find the best way to send the message that you mean to be sending.

In real-world terms, I interpret that as trying to not be a dick. Because if I come across as a jerk, then people are going to react more to my behavior, affect, and tone as subtext than to my original point. It's not that I wish we'd all sing "Kum Bah Ya" at each other, but rather that we'd try to evaluate what we're all saying on the merits of the points we bring up.

It's like etiquette. Etiquette is not just some stuffy code concerned only with what fork to use and how to greet the Duchess of Whatever at her garden party -- it's a system for people to live and interact with each other and show concern for each other's feelings.
posted by Vidiot at 10:13 PM on August 12, 2005


(Please don't discuss any issues you have with me in particular-- that's what email is for. And contrary to what you might think, I don't want attention. I want discussion, in this case specifically about the questions I've asked.)

This request is highly disingenuous. Your behavior here has been purposefully abrasive, not just argumentative. But then you tried to spin it as playing the devil's advocate when you were, in fact, just being a dick. The questions you asked were based on false premises, and that makes them harder to answer.
posted by anapestic at 10:20 PM on August 12, 2005


Exactly what I was thinking Vidiot, well said.

Dame wrote: I'd say busybodies who are so concerned with protecting the community and regulating others' behaviour are much worse. In fact, the community I most appreciate having belonged to was the one where we were stuck together regardless.

Huh.

Like I said above, I have a really high tolerance for differing opinions, and I can appreciate a good argument, but why should we have to tolerate those who purposely play dirty at the expense of everyone else who play fair? This has nothing to do with what they are arguing and everything to do with how they are arguing.

And no, I am not naive enough to believe that people will always be on their best behaviour and play fair, all I am saying is that they should at least make an effort. And if they aren't willing to make an effort, then they shouldn't be welcome here anymore.

I do not favour regulating the behaviour of the group, but I am in favour of removing people who only want to fuck around with people "for kicks" or for some half assed thought experiment.

Go ahead and argue until you are blue in the face, but show some class and show some respect for people who you might happen to disagree with.
posted by Quartermass at 10:45 PM on August 12, 2005


I think there's something to be said for just ignoring a comment which is obviously only meant to stir shit around. Nothing sends a message quite like having a bait comment go unanswered.
posted by clevershark at 10:49 PM on August 12, 2005


Also: There are lots of people on MetaFilter with whom I disagree. There are lots of assholes, too. But that doesn't mean that everyone I disagree with is an asshole.

I agree that, the way it's used around these parts, "troll" has gotten away from its original meaning. But I think that it's still being used in a somewhat valid context. F'r instance: Many self-described conservatives will post their viewpoints and be called "trolls" for doing so. But the people who are labeled as such tend to be posting their views in a hostile, insulting fashion. (Not that there aren't lots of jerks on the left around here too.)

I'm a bleeding-heart liberal, and I wish that there were more conservatives around here who weren't jerks. I can think of people who argue the right-wing line, but don't seem to be able to bring anything other than talking points, derision, thread derails, and insults to the table. We need more people like UncleFes, and caporal and fewer asshats like ParisParamus et al. (My problem with Paris and his ilk is not their points of view -- it's the fact that they won't rationally argue them, instead preferring to take a public shit in a thread and then run away while whining about being disrespected and outnumbered.)
posted by Vidiot at 11:16 PM on August 12, 2005


"Nothing sends a message quite like having a bait comment go unanswered."

I'm sorry, did somebody say something?
--

As Vidiot, far as "etiquette" goes, I think you'll find I'm usually polite with people who are polite with me, and even when I get into with people I don't stay impolite at them very long if they don't insist on it. Similarly, concerning how I put my opinions, note that if the opinion is the point, such as my anti-Islam diatribes, I don't really need to attack the person too; as far as I'm concerned, that somebody was raised up in a religion started by a thieving murdering pedophile doesn't mean s/he is automatically an horrible person.

My take on etiquette however does not mean that I have to take "you can't understand the Qu'ran unless you learn Arabic and are taught the Qu'ran by a qualified Muslim expert" as anything but a circular evasion, especially since one cannot be taught the "real meaning" of the Qu'ran in Arabic by such an expert unless one has first converted, nor should I be constrained by "niceness" from pointing out the inanity of that circular question-begging argument.
posted by davy at 11:45 PM on August 12, 2005


Still, I'd like to see quonsar watch Mayor Curley and ParisParamus go at it. I bet his lip would tremble and his chin would sweat.
posted by davy at 11:47 PM on August 12, 2005


I wouldn't. Mefi isn't the WWF. Some people act as if it is, and do their best to make it so, but, nevertheless, it isn't.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 12:01 AM on August 13, 2005


*hands out meth and guns*

quonsar would crush them all. Have you seen pictures of that guy? He's huge. I know for a fact he breakfasts solely on engine blocks and vicious, screaming two year olds armed with machetes.

...so, but, nevertheless, it isn't.

I think you forgot a comma in there somewhere.

*flying dropkick off the top rope, tags davy in*

(Hey, I would know. There's probably only one person who abuses the comma more around here than me, and it's you.)
posted by loquacious at 12:28 AM on August 13, 2005


MC, here's the thing: you're a geniunely funny guy. You used to make me laugh all the time. Then you started taking cheap personal shots and I found myself losing interest. It's too easy.

That's what I don't get about the "I'm just a blunt truth-teller and you can't handle the truth" line of reasoning. Do you really think that what you have to say is so compelling, so much more brilliant than anything anyone else has on offer that you're entitled to speak with total disdain? That's so...high school. You know, how smart but socially inept people feel better about themselves before they develop real self-confidence. It's an utterly transparent way of elevating yourself because you know don't know how to engage people. It doesn't ruin my afternoon, but it doesn't make it any more fascinating, either.

If I thought it was because you geniunely didn't care what people thought of you, I wouldn't bother replying. But clearly, you do, and so do a lot of people like you, who make grandiose claims about how little they care for the common herd but spend a lot of time justifying themselves to the herd anyway. If you were really that self-assured, you wouldn't bother to present elaborate reasoning for being an asshole while the rest of us cows content ourselves with our unimaginative reluctance to insult someone's cervix.

By all means, don't stop being blunt and bracing, but there's a way to take the piss without actually slicing open someone's back to remove a kidney, and that's by keeping the visceral personal attacks out of it. It's much tougher to challenge the substance of others' thoughts than to toss off an insult based on your perception of their personal deficiencies. I'm seeing less and less of that kind of interesting give-and-take and more of invective on metafilter generally, and it's too bad, because invective is so easy to sample everywhere; it's a frigging invective buffet out there. All I have to do is turn on basic cable or am radio if I want the invective grand slam breakfast. The geniunely challenging, amusing, and stylish is so much harder to come by. You've proven you can be more substantive than that, and with some elan, too. So do it, won't you?
posted by melissa may at 1:01 AM on August 13, 2005 [2 favorites]


"I'm seeing less and less of that kind of interesting give-and-take and more of invective on metafilter generally, and it's too bad..."

What you said in your whole comment. This statement, in particular, though is interesting to me because while I agree with you, I've also always been puzzled as to why it is the case that mefi continues to remain better-than-average in this regard.

My basic nature is to be very earnest, to really like people, to form relationships, and to care about what other people think. Whenever I find a community that is very intelligent and thoughtful, I always eagerly join and participate with a good dose of naivete. Usually, very quickly, I become disappointed and my feelings are hurt.

I've managed to stay on mefi by becoming more like MC and dame, rather than less; and, yes, I resent and am ashamed of this. I won't go all the way and take a completely dim view of the conversation--that it's all, in the words of stav, "performance art". Nor will I adopt the very cynical view of everyone else that mostly dismisses hoi polloi as ignorant jerks. But to survive here I've been forced (or, to take responsibility for it, I've chosen) to strongly reduce my natural empathy for other people--I care less that they're hurtful to me because I care less about them. I think that most every mefite that is inclined toward earnestness and wearing their hearts on their sleeves very quickly is forced to become somewhat calloused, or they leave.

But even so, somehow metafilter continues to have more earnest, informed, civil, thoughtful, and respectful discourse than the average internet discussion site. I wonder why that is.

It seems to me that there's a strong division here between the "it's all a game, it's about conversational sparring, wit and put-downs" crowd and those like myself who feel the opposite. This divide is reminiscent of the divide between the newsfilter and anti-newsfilter camps in that it can be argued that both viewpoints are correct regarding what metafilter is because, obviously, both camps are represented and both contribute to each opposing atmosphere.

There is a corrrelation between the discussion of ideas and the abstract (which characterize political and intellectual discussions), argumentation for argument's sake, lack of empathy, and an over-representation of men and the masculine viewpoint. The alternatives to metafilter that are considered to be "nicer", such as monkeyfilter and metachat, tend to discuss the personal more than the abstract, emphasize an exchange of viewpoints over conflict, are sympathetic, and have a larger proportion of women and feminine viewpoints. And those who denigrate these alternatives, those who avoid them, almost always describe them as "insipid" or the equivalent.

I don't understand, and have never understood, why this opposition exists, or at least is supposed to necessarily exist. In my real life, in keeping with my values and temperment, I tend to discuss both the abstract and the personal, I tend to always be honest and speak my mind, yet I do so--especially when I know my ideas might be offensive or make other people uncomfortable--with as much kindness and respect as I can muster. But in the online world, especially, there seems to be almost no room for this middle-ground. I think this is the case because in the online world, far moreso than in the real world, there is nothing that really acts as a check against those who are naturally aggressive. In the online world, you are forced to aquiesce to an aggressive environment, or leave and find an explicitly non-aggressive environment. And this is why I resent the Mayor Curleys and the dames of the online world: because, in the end, they are imposing their worldview on the rest of us, forcing us to experience life and other people as they do. It's as if it is their goal to convert us to misanthropy by ensuring a misanthropic environment. And they're so smug about it, almost always having the attitude that those of us who don't see things their way are fools, dupes, and sheep.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 1:50 AM on August 13, 2005


Groupthink is boring. Trolling is boring too. They reinforce each other and make MeFi less interesting.

Actually, opinions in general are boring. Ideas are interesting, but it's hard to talk about ideas when everyone thinks the conversation is about their opinions.
posted by fuzz at 5:46 AM on August 13, 2005


Everyone who disagrees with me is a big stupid poopyhead. Or possibly a coward with no balls and a big stupid poopyhead, depending on how much they disagree with me.
posted by darukaru at 8:06 AM on August 13, 2005


I'm afraid we'll just have to disagree, Quartermass. The only thing people should be banned for, in my opinion, is gigantically derailing threads pretty much every time they write something. Beyond that, I think community is better served by leaving people to behave as they prefer. You don't have to like them, just live with them.
posted by dame at 9:22 AM on August 13, 2005


So...my net access has been down for a coupla days. What's I miss?
posted by jonmc at 9:37 AM on August 13, 2005


If everyone weighs in on how they feel about MC, we should be all set

I like him, but then, I generally agree with him. A swift kick in the pants can be helpful, on occasion, but you have to keep reminding yourself of that on occasion part.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 9:58 AM on August 13, 2005


bugbread, melissa may: I love you guys. I agree with everything you say, and you say it so well the only reason I'm adding a comment is because I feel chatty. And because I want to respond to davy:

on Metafilter I only post what I genuinely think, feel and/or believe


This is clear to me. It wasn't at first; when you showed up and started... how did whatsizname put it?... letting your inner Stalinist out, I was on the fence about whether you were just another asshole of the "look at me, I'm edgy and provocative" type we've already got too many of or whether you were expressing genuinely contrarian views. When I realized it was the latter, I relaxed and enjoyed your bracing intrusions into excessively mellow threads. I hate groupthink and don't think people need to be "nice" (as distinct from having a basic respect for each other), and I think MetaFilter would be the poorer if you withdrew from it.

But I don't understand the nasty anti-Islam jibes; it puts you in the company of the knee-jerk assholes who ruin most every religion thread, and I wish you'd cut it out. All religions are pretty much the same from a rationalist viewpoint, and Islam is no better or worse than any other; to treat it the way you do is to range yourself with the worst elements in today's world of discourse, and I don't see why you'd want to do that. Have you ever known any actual Muslims? Oh, well, I'm probably wasting my breath. But at least I don't know I am, which makes it different from talking to whatsizname.

Oh, and I almost forgot dame:

I'm not terribly nice in person either

Don't listen to her, people. She wants you to think she's an Evil Queen Bitch, but she's actually a sweetheart in person. Sorry to ruin your reputation!
posted by languagehat at 11:03 AM on August 13, 2005


She wants you to think she's an Evil Queen Bitch, but she's actually a sweetheart in person.

I can vouch for this, too. Your rep is ruined, ruined I say!
posted by jonmc at 11:06 AM on August 13, 2005


..but cheeky!
posted by peacay at 11:51 AM on August 13, 2005


Trolling and playing devil's advocate have very little in common. If you have a contrary theory, let's hear it. If you just want to stir up shit, block arguments you don't like not with ideas but with noise, then prepare to be personally disliked, not for your opinions, but for your behaviour.

And what fuzz said.
posted by dreamsign at 12:31 PM on August 13, 2005


Imaginary Internet land is not imaginary just because I can't see your face ... If you wouldn't act like that in a face to face situation, why treat this any differently? - Quartermass

Thanks, Quartermass. I am one who is always keenly aware of the person on the other end. I forget sometimes that it is 'imaginary' to others that are here. One other thought occurs to me, though. Maybe some of those people are equally abrasive and distracting and rude in person.
posted by raedyn at 2:35 PM on August 13, 2005


Maybe some of those people are equally abrasive and distracting and rude in person.

I absolutely am.
posted by jonmc at 2:42 PM on August 13, 2005


it's hard to talk about ideas when everyone thinks the conversation is about their opinions.

Wow. That may be the single most useful criticism I've ever seen of MeFi. Thanks, fuzz.
posted by mediareport at 8:27 PM on August 13, 2005


LH, my "nasty anti-Islam jibes" are no worse than those I direct against pro-war "patriots", people who insist the U.S. Democratic Party is "progressive" or "leftist", born-again Christians or their "liberal" Christian adversaries, those who insist fundamentalists of one Abrahamite religion are somehow qualitatively different from those of another, Zionists who equate criticism of Israel with Hitlerism, practioners of identity politics of whatever stripe, those who scar themselves for "beauty's" sake, or anything else I get a bug up my butt about.

Note too that I said ( above) that "as far as I'm concerned, that somebody was raised up in a religion started by a thieving murdering pedophile doesn't mean s/he is automatically an horrible person"; this also applies to any of the other categories I go off about (for example my Grandma, who was born, bred and died a right-wing racist fundy, but was otherwise a basically decent human being). And to answer your question, yes, I've met Muslims of various persuasions, as I've known people into various kinds of other religions, and though I've never actually been intimate with any non-secular Muslims (especially of course militant Wahhabis), as previously indicated I am familiar, from personal relations with Reaganist Falwellites and Likudist Lubavichers, with the "religiofascist" mindset.

So why you keep being singly sensitive to that fraction of my diatribal repertoire that negatively references Islam is beyond me. If you think so highly of Islam why don't you convert, if you haven't already? I agree with you that Islam is basically no worse than Christianity or Judaism, with the same range of views and types (from "I was raised in that faith but have ceased to practice it and find much of it unpleasantly medieval" to "anyone who insults my Scripture must be slain on the spot!"). I've said that myself in various threads around these pages all along. Why aren't you also defending Christianity and Judaism from my nastily-jibing self? Do you really have a preference for one gutter religion over the others, or is it just that you see Muslims as this era's underdogs?

--
Oh: mediareport and fuzz, differentiating between "opinions" and "ideas someone holds" is actually farcical. Please continue! It's stuff like that makes Metawhatsit a decent source for chuckles.

And Ethereal Bligh, re this, nobody's forcing you to experience anything online. Really. I myself am up here arguing with the "progressive heathers" and other fascists because I choose to, because I think it's something that needs doing that's also big fun. If "it hurts when [you] do that" there's an obvious way to handle it (besides getting Curley & me to take 'em out & shoot 'em).
posted by davy at 9:32 PM on August 14, 2005


it's hard to talk about ideas when everyone thinks the conversation is about their opinions.

Totally on the money.
posted by Quartermass at 11:35 PM on August 14, 2005


davy: I singled it out because you singled it out. I have no problem with your bashing Islam equally with other religions. And it's certainly not that I "think so highly of Islam" -- I just don't like joining a lynch mob, which is what Islam-bashing has become in the oh-so-civilized West these days. You say:

I agree with you that Islam is basically no worse than Christianity or Judaism, with the same range of views and types


Great! So why make bring up "a religion started by a thieving murdering pedophile" when we weren't even talking about religion? Not that I care, I just wanted to explain my reaction. I don't hold any brief for Islam in particular, I just think attacking it in this place and time is choosing to function as part of a mob, which didn't seem like you. But thanks for the explanation. Carry on.
posted by languagehat at 6:21 AM on August 15, 2005


Hey languagehat, I didn't post this in answer to your criticisms here, but I believe it might help in some degree anyway.

"So why make bring up 'a religion started by a thieving murdering pedophile'", you ask? Isn't that as relevant as $cientology being a religion started by a third-rate Sci-Fi writer and second-rate bullshitting con man? (I specify 'second-rate' because a first-rate bullshitting con man would've gotten elected President.) I mean if you really believe the moral character of the prophet of a system of "morality" is irrelevant there's no point in arguing with you, but I don't think that's what you think. Nevertheless, I'll be happy to quit dragging subjects, themes and motifs from one thread to another if everybody else agrees to do the same.

And you did tacitly answer my last question: you too have an instinctive soft spot for underdogs. I see nothing wrong with that, not even when it ain't me doing it, as long as we don't get too carried away. Sometimes the underdog ain't automatically right.
posted by davy at 11:53 AM on August 15, 2005


Oh by the way: Yoohoo, Mayor Curley, I've successfully hijacked your thread and turned it to a discussion on ME and MY "poisonality", views and tactics. Nyaah nyaah!
posted by davy at 12:34 PM on August 15, 2005


Don't tell anybody, but I'm not even sure the Prophet existed. Those biographies were written a long time later, and some scholars suggest Islam started out as a branch of Judaism (they originally prayed facing Jerusalem) and the Arabs only developed their own religion after they'd taken over most of the Middle East and were trying to figure out how to run it.
posted by languagehat at 2:59 PM on August 15, 2005


differentiating between "opinions" and "ideas someone holds" is actually farcical.

*laughs*

Dude, thanks for reminding me to ignore you.
posted by mediareport at 8:55 PM on August 15, 2005


Oh dear. I see Ethereal Bligh thinks I belong in "The Brat Room", wherever that might be. Why? Because I don't have a problem with variety of expression? Because I accept that there are different styles on this site, not all of which I happen to like? Well, pass the water pistol and let's play cowboys.

I might take your lofty condescension on board, EB, if you showed the slightest sign of having noted that I don't exclusively - or even frequently - indulge in the behaviour I'm defending. But frankly I'm never inclined to pay attention to people who don't do so themselves, so as far as I'm concerned you may take your dismissive opinion, have it tattooed around your forearm in a pleasingly artistic helical fashion, smear a copious quantity of intimate lubricant around said appendage and then autofist yourself with all the vigorous fury I could reasonably hope your sneering superciliousness might generate; you pompous, toffee-nosed prig. And I mean that in a very loving, giving way.

Tee hee. Who's for a game of conkers?
posted by Decani at 6:38 AM on August 16, 2005


Boy, you sure told me off, didn't you?
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 7:29 AM on August 16, 2005


languagehat, will you share a bibliography?
posted by davy at 9:18 AM on August 16, 2005


LH: Besides of course Ibn Warraq.
posted by davy at 9:22 AM on August 16, 2005


Sure. The basic text is Patricia Crone and Michael Cook, Hagarism: The Making of the Islamic World (Cambridge, 1977); I'm afraid it's out of print (I snuck a copy out of the NYPL and xeroxed it), but it's full of snotty scholarly goodness attacking just about everything people think they know about early Islamic history. Crone has gone on to write other books such as God's Rule: Government and Islam and Meccan Trade And The Rise Of Islam that I haven't read but would love to. On the history of the Koran, there was an interesting article in The Atlantic some years ago but the bastards have only left a teaser online. This looks interesting but I haven't examined it carefully.

If you're interested in Hagarism and can't find a copy, drop me a line and I'll mail you mine, trusting you to return it, you contentious scamp you.
posted by languagehat at 9:56 AM on August 16, 2005 [1 favorite]


Actually, I already read Hagarism, they have it at the UofL library. (I got a UofL community borrower's card to supplement the Louisville Free Public Library's meager collection; between the two we have half a decent library here.) I also read Slaves on Horses, but Meccan Trade And The Rise Of Islam sounded too damn dull. And John Wansbrough's The Sectarian Milieu, was fun, but his Quranic Studies was (like Crone's Meccan Trade) a shade too "technical" to get into.

For some reaon Louisville's city library does have all the Ibn Warraq books, which I've also read. And as I'm sure you noticed I've been cruising the web for al kinds of interesting stuff, but I hadn't yet run across the debate.org.uk thing. (They posted a scholarly item in Windows Write format? WHY?)
posted by davy at 2:50 PM on August 16, 2005


« Older Metafilter meetup in San Francisco   |   Login redirect to referring page? Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments