|> a strict no-insult policy..Is it what folk here want? [Linz]|
I'm glad this Fred and Peter exchange came up. Case studies are helpful:
I just read the entire Frank Lloyd Wright thread, which (so far) has petered out and ended in the repeated exchange of insults.
What touched off the ill will and the negative ending to the thread was Peter Cresswell's response to those, including Jennifer Iannolo and Fred, who were asking him [I gather than he is an architect?] if some of the criticisms of Wright's construction methods (at Fallingwater for example)were valid: "People just love hearing stories that tear down great men; seems it doesn't even matter if they're true...Feel free to look for more. As I'm sure you will." And this which Peter directed specifically at Fred (who had said he couldn't believe a particular organization would spread falsehoods about Wright): "He probably figured you'd be happy enough to do it for him, Fred." And a shot aimed at Jennifer for not having devoted enough thought to her post, when all she did was ask in a single sentence whether the charges against Wright were accurate.
Once Peter had displayed a lack of benevolence in accusing two people who were only asking -questions- of bad character, ignorance, and falsehood or dishonesty, the thread rapidly went downhill and has ended with insults. (And I suspect Peter's overreaction probably obscured for some the very good answers he actually gave to unfair criticisms of Wright!)
If you read the thread, you'll see that the insults were clearly not intended as "light banter". The problem in this case was not one of name-calling - that was the last step. It was of questioning the honesty or character or stature of someone who disagrees with you.
I don't know anything about Peter C. Perhaps he doesn't do this sort of thing frequently. In which case he is not constantly sabotaging threads. I think if I went to the trouble of running a discussion list, my main goal would be to have quality and benevolent discussion on my board. And therefore I'd prevent anyone from destroying that - whether by stupidity, malevolence, grudge holding and vendettas, or posting nine million times in a row.
So I would definitely deal in some way with people who repeatedly sabotage threads however blatantly or subtly or unintentionally that is done (foul language or a formal insult may not be the criterion - as it would not be in this case). I'd probably only notice there was a problem after there had been some complaints or I had seen the person "hijack" a lot of threads. But I'd warn them first. And I'd only warn Mr. Cresswell if he had a habit of doing what he did above:
It's understandable that people do this sort of thing thoughtlessly on occasion, as opposed to it being a pattern. It's possible to lose your cool or be really angry because a hero or value of yours seems to be being questioned.
Ayn Rand would do this, as we all know. But this is not one of her habits we should emulate in building a community.
(Fred wasn't really at fault here, even though he was on a technicality the more insulting of the two. It's sort of when somebody slaps you and you hit him back...harder.)
(Edited by Philip Coates
on 6/16, 10:14pm)