Forum Decorum: Civility and Debate

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Mar 16, 2016
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Wow....I think this is the best place to post this:

Yesterday I was out of town all day for my dad's memorial tournament (golf). I did not expect to see go down what went down. I've aways loved this place because the discussion, even when heated, was very respectful. I'm not sure what happened recently that made that slip some. But man I really did not expect to see that and I really hope we don't go far down that road.

I made a post voicing some of my thoughts in the Project 2021 thread, but I almost feel like I need to re-express some of those. But it's amazing to me how people want to rip on someone not perfectly relaying public information. Especially (and I don't think this is a ParkFans exclusive issue sadly) when there's people so stuck in their opinions that they wen't even acknowledge that something like that was said in a public forum. And if you haven't seen it, don't comment on it.

In the particular case a few people posted the link to the video (I know I personally did my best to live transcribe the video); and @Zachary @Nicole and @Gavin (if anyone else did work to set this up I'm sorry for not acknowledging you) have set up an awesome system that drops you off where you last read to, so there's no excuse for missing that. And I get the feeling that when I see some of these posts that the person shooting back didn't actually keep up with the discussion. Like I know it's hard at times. Yesterday I left with 135 in my "What's New" tab. This morning I wake up to 334 in the "What's New" tab. And its a challenge to keep up with the 200+ posts. And I'm not even a mod or admin that has to keep up with it.

I know sometimes it comes off as 'rude' but when I haven't kept up with a thread in some time, or I'm simply too lazy to read all my missed posts, I'll just ask "Where's the proof" or "Where's that from". It's not that I don't believe someone, but it's more that I just flat out missed it. And sometimes it's easy to skip right over something important when you got so many to read through, especially the way some people post links as a single word, or just reference something. Sometimes simply asking someone where something came from, and importantly paying attention to where the source is from is what can help so many of these situations.

/rant

I feel better.
 

Nicole

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I think there is a universe of difference between asking for proof, especially given the propensity of many members to present opinions as facts, and nitpicking a person’s explanation of his or her sources. What I saw yesterday seemed like a pack of dogs ripping at someone for how he explained himself, which was apparently not up to their standards.
 
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Zimmy

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Sadly I am afraid what we are seeing my be a microcosm of what at the macro level we are seeing around the world and worse in our republic. Aggressive behavior and by extension nationalism and rule by the bully seems to be quiet in vogue these days. I truly fear that this mode of aggressive leadership is filtering down to a much, "closer to home," universe and we are seeing its impact here.

I am not saying that there have not always been raging ass hats, because that would be a bold face lie, but I do think they are feeling enabled. (C-Ville being a terrifying and very close-to-home example.)
 
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b.mac

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Sadly it's a natural occurrence on media mediums like this, especially with how small and active we as a community are. New voices and opinions come as a shock to the system, and it's natural that those new actions create a stronger reaction from an extant community.

I've been on forums, chat rooms, and other media formes which have handled it in a variety of ways, and I've seen similar methods that worked with one community fail in another. I respect the opinions of extant members who have been around for a while, and I hope that we continue to set that example for newer users coming in or who have been around and are recently becoming comfortable with contributing to discussion. I don't think vitriol and harshness towards a user's opinions is exactly the best way to handle things, but in the midst of the harsh reactions I see users at least trying to educate and respond to new users on equal terms. I am fine with that, in fact I fully support that. Users eventually adapt and find their way into a community. I've done it twice here and multiple users have come and gone who have done the same thing.

I tend to draw the line when users just seem not to get "it." It being an operative word for the driving force of this community. I like the idea of community members bringing forward problematic users or topics that may not directly hit off the rules and spirit of this community, I however don't think outright banning them from discussion for 6 months is the best solution. Removing them from being able to reply for a small amount of time I feel would be a better move to force them to take a step back and re-evalutate how they are interacting and broadcasting themselves to us. While this community previously was rather isolated, in the past few months I noticed Parkfans has gained a lot more attention in other communities like Reddit and some of the discord enthusiast communities. I can even name a few users who contribute to this forum that I also talk with on discord. I think that's a good thing and it enables this community to grow and hopefully expand in the future, but it's natural with that growth to have some rough patches and treading lightly through progress is the best move to make as Parkfans pokes itself into the industry at-large further and further.
 

Lolers

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I apologize for taking this thread on a tangent again (please feel free to delete/move this post if you're so inclined), but over the past few weeks I've been reading a snowballing amount of vitriol on this site, similar to several of the posts above. I understand many ParkFans members are accustomed to experiencing mostly vitriol and division on social media, to the point where our natural response may be to immediately attack someone's post without really taking the time to understand what they're trying to convey -- or in some cases, without even taking the time to fully read a post before responding. Part of this vitriol seems to stem from an "attack before being attacked" mentality pervasive across the Internet today. When we experience today's divisive, angry Internet environment on a regular basis, our natural instinct for self preservation often causes us to (intentionally or not) assume this angry and divisive social behavior ourselves, carrying it over into ParkFans. Human nature is both interesting and terrifying within the context of communication, groupthink, and other sociological and behavioral matters.

ParkFans has proven that humans actually do have the ability to resist the seemingly inevitable defense/attack behavior and subsequent downward spiral into a cesspool of negativity that occurs elsewhere online, but it takes a tremendous amount of effort from each and every member to keep the site civil, useful, and a generally pleasant place to be. This effort includes continuously striving to understand what other members are trying to convey through their posts -- an extremely difficult effort in itself since many of us are both personally unacquainted and anonymous -- and, most importantly, to understand ourselves. I view ParkFans discussions as shared "pools of meaning," where park enthusiasts excel at enhancing each others' experiences by adding to those pools of meaning. Viewing ParkFans in this way can help members stop and think whether something they are considering posting will add to the pool of meaning, detract from it, or be completely useless. (I think it could also be argued that, although useless posts seem on the surface to neither add nor detract from the shared pool of meaning, they actually detract by taking valuable time away from members who are forced to sift through useless posts before arriving at anything substantial.)

Returning to the conversation above (and there have been many conversations like this recently, continuing even after Zachary's forum etiquette post), I feel the spiral of negativity that followed Warfelg's initial post could have been avoided by taking a moment after reading his post to consider whether the meaning he was trying to convey was fully understood, then determining whether any response to his post would add or detract from the discussion, and finally, crafting the responsive post in a manner that doesn't come across as an attack.

I'm going to be honest (sorry I'm in a ranting mood today):

People asking for daily updates is getting old already to me. Yes BGW is moving amazingly fast, but starting to pour footers (if that's what they are doing) is going to be slow going, and we're better off with a 7-10 day wait between updates on the constriction site. Honestly. Only so many times I can look at a video of the field from the train with so few changes before I start dreaming.

Ok, small rant but it's over.

(Sorry @Coolguy15 that's not directed at you, just an in general thing to see daily people asking for an update)
Can't really blame people for being excited though..

All the folks asking for updates shows, to me, how much interest/excitement there is in this new coaster.
In view of adding to the shared pool of meaning, what if Jahrules' response had been something like:

"I feel people asking for updates shows they are excited and how much interest/excitement there is in this new coaster."

A simple change in wording often allows a member to post their thoughts to the shared pool of meaning without coming across as attacking the previous poster. I don't necessarily think Jahrules meant to accuse Warfelg of blaming people for being excited (after all, none of us would even be on this site if we weren't excited about the content), but it seemed to come across that way, unnecessarily putting Warfelg on the defensive. When communicating solely through writing, I believe we often need to tweak what we say to ensure it doesn't come across in a way we didn't intend because we don't have the in-person advantage of body language and other physical/vocal signals to assist us. As humans, we have evolved to depend on these signals more than we realize, which poses a huge problem during an online discussion.

You're acting like you're the boss and can set the rules. I have just as much right to say that I don't see a problem with update requests as much as you have a right to say that you don't like them.

Requests are requests. They are not mandates and don't have to be followed up on. If people are at the park and feel like taking update shots, they will.

I don't think it's necessary to come on here and suggest that people should only request every 7-11 days.
Does this post actually add anything to the pool of meaning? When I read it, it seems like an "attack before being attacked" moment. Personally, if someone tells me what I'm "acting like," it immediately puts me on the defensive. If someone tells me they "don't think it's necessary to come on here and suggest" something, fine. You're entitled to that opinion. But does it add anything to the conversation to express it? For me, this sentiment made the post read like an attempt to direct what Warfelg should/shouldn't post. Lately I've seen many posts that seem to exist only to try to direct others' posts, which comes across as unnecessary, aggressive, and certainly detracts from the pool of shared meaning. Reading the post above, I felt there was no attempt to really understand Warfelg's point, but simply to argue for the sake of arguing.

Not everything that comes into our minds needs to actually be said (or in this case, written). Part of the magic of this site comes from its members' ability to consider, before creating a post, whether what they're saying adds to the shared pool of meaning, and then writing their post in a style that makes people feel welcome to join in the discussion, whether they agree or disagree. In other words, not writing their post in a way that comes off as an attack. If we all focus on how we ourselves come across, rather than immediately attacking others, I fully believe we can preserve the "magic oasis of civil discussion" that ParkFans usually embodies.

For anyone who isn't interested in civil discussion, or in making a personal effort to ensure your posts add to the shared pool of meaning, you are free to go pretty much anywhere else on the Internet and launch as many attacks as you want. ParkFans has plenty of members who understand and appreciate the tremendous effort the admins and many members exert to maintain the civil, productive discussion that keeps them returning to the forum on a regular basis. To anyone who believes they can run a site better than the current admins: no one is stopping you from trying. You are perfectly free to leave here and do so.

For ParkFans, however, I believe The Dude says it best:

16186
 

Nicole

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Given recent events and a growing concern among members, panelists, and admins with the increasingly aggressive tone on the Forum, I am creating a thread dedicated to debating those issues. It is sort of a companion piece to ten Forum Etiquette guide. I plan to move other relevant posts here, as well. This will centralize discussion and clean up other threads a bit.
 
Mar 16, 2016
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I want to add some personal things that parlay into this but are of a somewhat personal note:

I'm seeing a lo of times someones personal opinion played off as telling someone what to do, as though it was fact, or many many other things. Written word is hard to convey tone. But I think it's still not hard to get across where the post is mindset wise. And I think that there's lots of those 'markers' that are being missed recently on here.

Like when someone says its a rant or uses /rant; understand its most likely all opinion that's being stated. Like I defended my rant in the MMXX thread, but I did count, and I came out to 26 posts since the initial field clearing asking for daily updates on where the construction is. Yes I should have been clearer that it's more about the people doing the pictures than anything else, and I don't want to temper excitement, but at the same time it's not at the point where things on site will change so significantly every day that we absolutely need it.

But I thought it was pretty clear that it was my personal opinion. Those people that are actually providing that content for us can state their feelings. I know I tend to be very active here and post quite often, and when I see me "What's New" counter tick up, I get really excited. But going into a thread and seeing that it's 6 posts of really nothing that's discussion, I feel let down. Where that ties not the picture thing is with more space, there's actually more to talk about as a forum. Day by day updates is 'oh that tree came down', 'oh the dirt pile moved 5 feet'. Think about the Finnigan's Flyer updates. 10-14 days apart each. We got some great conversation out of that.

Going deeper into things....and this shouldn't be a forum etiquette thing, but maybe we should have it, but when I'm using an exact quote I like to use:
The wonderful quote box that the powers that be provided for us to use
And then when you are paraphrasing from there, just use the typical ' ' and " ". I think that helps give a little 'definition' to what is being said. But like my OP for this thread said....if you aren't sure where the statement is coming from, just either ask, look for it, or admit that you don't know. I think there's a tendency to not want to be wrong than just accepting it and moving on.

Like a few weeks ago, people got into deep conversation over my use of language to describe women, and @Nicole expressed her feelings on it. Considering I realized that the way I was using it could be seen the wrong way I decided to change it, apologize, and do my best to avoid doing the same. I took it as a learning moment rather than an attack. And I hold no ill will towards it, yet there were some posts defending what I said and acting like I should be mad at Nicole for pointing it out. So what? And I'm not saying that we need to be super PC and never offend anyone, but rather there are some times you can learn and when you should push back. Clearly when you say something that can be degrading to anyone you should change how you express something.

I'm always trying to improve as a poster and as a person. I've learned from the times when @Nicole and @Zachary have called me out. I hope I've changed with that time (I hope you two agree with that!!). There's been times I've even PM'ed to apologize for it and got rid of the part that triggered the response. I think far too many people see that as 'weak' and 'bowing down'....but really to me it's understanding that there's an image and a culture they want associated with ParkFans.net; and if people keep breaking that image and culture then ParkFans will get a bad rap. So if making sure it maintains the image they want means I need to learn from a mistake, edit a post, or even delete a post entirely, then that's what I'll do.
 
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Sorry for the double post...as much as I love the 'facebook like' like functionality, I think the 'negative' response likes tends to feed back into this some as well. When you see a post that makes a good point, and people do the 'thumbs down', 'eye roll', or 'angry' response, things do tend to get personal IMO. I've just noticed a slight correlation between the two.
 

Nicole

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I have been pondering the same dynamic, @warfelg. Of all of them I think the eye roll is the worst. This view is probably fairly ironic, since I was actually known for my eye rolls, before I was asked to join the staff. In my defense, PFN was a very different place back then.

Regardless, the Advisory Panel May need to consider the reactions and if all of them are really useful.
 
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Zachary

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Sorry for the double post...as much as I love the 'facebook like' like functionality, I think the 'negative' response likes tends to feed back into this some as well. When you see a post that makes a good point, and people do the 'thumbs down', 'eye roll', or 'angry' response, things do tend to get personal IMO. I've just noticed a slight correlation between the two.
I've seen a correlation drawn between the two of these things before. I'm certainly not saying it's not justified—my position isn't even fully formed in my own head yet—but I wanted to provide my rational for why I think negative reactions may actually be a good thing for the overall health of discussion.

Negative feelings towards certain posts are always going to be present from time to time. I believe things like the thumbs down and eye roll reactions can act as a healthy safety valve for those feelings.

There are times when I'll see a poster making an immature or even boarding-on-rude joke that I believe should be recognized by passers-by as something not looked upon as being a good example of discourse on ParkFans. Expressing that negative impression through the use of an eye roll reaction instead of a post criticizing the content allows the discussion to continue uninhibited while still allowing the dissatisfaction about a certain post be made clear.
 

Nicole

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Let me add something else. I can’t speak for the other Admins, but if I go to trouble to object to a specific post, it is very probably because I am concerned about the affect it will have on other people. We have a loose standard of not calling out people or issuing warnings in response to attacks against ourselves. In especially egregious cases, we will defend each other. Generally, however, I believe that as we are in a position of power on the Forum, we are morally obligated not to strike back against our members.

I recently, however, came to the conclusion that while most forms of discrimination are already fairly clearly outlawed, there is little we can do officially to address more subtle forms of bigotry. I have in particular seen an uptick in casual sexism. Especially as a female Admin I think I have an obligation to address misogyny, when I see it, because it is so hard to fight, when you are the victim. (The structural assumptions make any response appear to prove the aggressor’s case.)

I have seen eye rolls, been told to learn to take a joke, and heard the inevitable “you misinterpreted my intent.” Perhaps people should take responsibility for not expressing themselves properly, rather than expecting others to absorb their insults.

Regardless, none of my comments are ever meant as ad hominem attacks. I am merely responding to specific comments.
 
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To be honest I have no idea what has happend to bring all this on the past few days and im not going back to try to find it. Over the past few weeks every time I have come here to see what is new in the parks that I may have missed all I have seen is threads on this problem or that problem and nothing to do with what I come here to read. Its really the resaon I havent posted much here lately because quite honestly I could care less. Also its gotten to the point on this group that when I post something I dont check back to see what others have added but more to see how many people gave me eye rolls or told me my opinion was wrong or what I had seen in the parks was not really happening, I was simply coming back to defent my posts. There are some here that I dont know why they are not park president because no matter what is said they seem to know more. I was on this group many years ago quite a bit and same things were happening then although to a much less extent, I basically gave up on this until Invadr was being built and became active again....but it looks like its again time to logout for a few years.
 
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May I also add that the few threads I have looked at seemed to have numerous if not pages of useless crap or memes in them. Even when I did see the rare lets get back on topic that seemed to lead to more usless comments.
 
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@WDWRLD Your post makes me think of something, and maybe this is something that the Advisory Panel can take into consideration that can have a good impact on civility and debate:

With the way the top bar can be “stickied” maybe the 1st post of any thread should float the same way, or a link to the BGWFan/KDFan, or a link to a “news dump” for that topic can travel with it. Or maybe just a “stub” thread of the news and construction updates that is locked and can only be updated by people with permission.

In that case the news portion is sorted out some from the debate portion. I think being able to find or have a one stop for all the updates, rumors, and news would be easier to redirect someone to where information came from. I know y’all try to do that when you have the time, but even if the OP has a link from important news to reference back to (as in a redirect to the post) we can have an easy way to refer back to it.

I’d also add: it’s not hard for people to ask for clarification on what was meant.
 
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This was mentioned in the Advisory Panel post and since I cant comment there here it goes, there was mention of teenagers with unlimited internet and so on.....ive said it here before but hardly anyone used their photo, they hide behind a avatar. Im pretty sure many of the people here wouldnt be spewing the crap they do to others on here if they knew that someone could pick them out in the parks.
 
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Lolers

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Let me add something else. I can’t speak for the other Admins, but if I go to trouble to object to a specific post, it is very probably because I am concerned about the affect it will have on other people. We have a loose standard of not calling out people or issuing warnings in response to attacks against ourselves. In especially egregious cases, we will defend each other. Generally, however, I believe that as we are in a position of power on the Forum, we are morally obligated not to strike back against our members.

I recently, however, came to the conclusion that while most forms of discrimination are already fairly clearly outlawed, there is little we can do officially to address more subtle forms of bigotry. I have in particular seen an uptick in casual sexism. Especially as a female Admin I think I have an obligation to address misogyny, when I see it, because it is so hard to fight, when you are the victim. (The structural assumptions make any response appear to prove the aggressor’s case.)

I have seen eye rolls, been told to learn to take a joke, and heard the inevitable “you misinterpreted my intent.” Perhaps people should take responsibility for not expressing themselves properly, rather than expecting others to absorb their insults.

Regardless, none of my comments are ever meant as ad hominem attacks. I am merely responding to specific comments.
I'm actually curious about different views on situations like the one between Nicole and Warfelg. I had read the issue you had taken with Warfelg's post, and I certainly respect your opinion, but I didn't take the post that way at all. Personally, as a grown woman, I don't find it disrespectful if someone calls me "girl" or see it as casual sexism. I don't see it as any different than calling a man "guy," or whatever. If the term had been used in a different context, maybe I would have felt differently, but in this specific case I didn't find anything misogynistic about the post.

That's not to say that your view is incorrect, or that my view is incorrect - just that we both took it differently. So I guess my question is, when does a personal assumption become a structural assumption? I'm using this as an example since we are both female and read the post completely differently.
 
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I'm actually curious about different views on situations like the one between Nicole and Warfelg. I had read the issue you had taken with Warfelg's post, and I certainly respect your opinion, but I didn't take the post that way at all. Personally, as a grown woman, I don't find it disrespectful if someone calls me "girl" or see it as casual sexism. I don't see it as any different than calling a man "guy," or whatever. If the term had been used in a different context, maybe I would have felt differently, but in this specific case I didn't find anything misogynistic about the post.

That's not to say that your view is incorrect, or that my view is incorrect - just that we both took it differently. So I guess my question is, when does a personal assumption become a structural assumption? I'm using this as an example since we are both female and read the post completely differently.
I can explain the reason I changed that one (hey we're having civil debate!) is I sat and thought about it for a few minutes and if someone referred to where I work as "The GOLFTEC Boys" I think I would have the slight twinge of feeling disrespected.
 

Zimmy

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...A simple change in wording often allows a member to post their thoughts to the shared pool of meaning without coming across as attacking the previous poster...
...When communicating solely through writing, I believe we often need to tweak what we say to ensure it doesn't come across in a way we didn't intend because we don't have the in-person advantage of body language and other physical/vocal signals to assist us. As humans, we have evolved to depend on these signals more than we realize, which poses a huge problem during an online discussion...
THIS, this is the key.

Far to often we (I am including myself here) are in such a rush to respond to what we see as an egregious error or affirm what someone else has said that we are just not thoughtful enough.
This happened to me a few hours ago. In a different thread I was so focus on a witty turn of phrase that I ended up not saying what I meant. Fortunately @b.mac had my back and able to correct me without being as ass about it. I genuinely appreciate what and how he said it. In my case I was writing on my phone and that set me up to probably rush too much. Frankly I find, and maybe it is just me, that when I take the time to sit in front of my much beloved PC that I am more careful. Maybe it is the additional real estate, I don't know, but I do feel like I am in a more expansive environment and as such write with greater expanse. It is this expanse that gives me the room to impart, what I hope is, greater depth of meaning. I do know that my ability to type like 100x faster on a real keyboard does make me tend to have an uptick on my word count. (But then I hate typing on every phone since the last of the slide down keyboards and BlackBerrys.)
 
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