Posted by Dinah on March 4, 2004, at 9:53:50
In reply to Re: Ignore above post please » Dinah, posted by mair on March 4, 2004, at 8:07:43
Mair, I have gotten in so much trouble over the past few weeks over things I had no idea were troublesome. I'm really doubting my judgement here, and worry that this will be one more example where it's lacking.
But I'll try, and hope I don't live to regret it. :(
I fully trust Dr. Bob to tell me if my observations are incorrect.
About the "I" statements. I'll use a movie as example as it might be clearer. These two statements are not identical, and in no way appear identical to me.
I was offended when I saw the movie.
The movie was offensive. (Or I found the movie offensive. Or The movie offended me.)
The first statement is a statement about me, about my reactions, and really isn't about anyone or their movie. I could be offended for many reasons, and I could list them all as long as I didn't accuse the movie or the movie maker while doing so. But my being offended doesn't mean that the movie was objectively offensive. My being offended is a statement of my values, not an indictment of someone else's. Now, could the moviemaker feel put down by my remarks about being offended? Yes, certainly, so the thin civility lines get a bit blurred there.
But if I turn from giving a statement of my own values to a negative statement of someone else's, I've left the "I statement" format behind. Even if I include the word "I" in it. Because the "I statement" doesn't refer to the words used, it refers to the subject or object of the descriptors. So if I change it to "I was offended by the movie" or "I found the movie offensive" I am changing it from a statement totally about me to a claim that the movie was to blame for offending me. The subject is still me, but there is now an object added, the movie (or moviemaker). It's no longer a statement entirely about me, it's now a statement about me *and* the movie. If I move it to "The movie was offensive.", that's now a statement entirely about the movie, and not at all about me. I think there is no doubt on the board about a statement entirely about the movie. I think the trouble comes when the statement includes I *and* the movie.
I think the trouble is compounded by the fact that enforcement of the rules appears more arbitrary than it is, in fact. Sometimes I'm surprised (in both directions) but generally I see a method to Dr. Bob's "madness". If Dr. Bob comes to the board and sees an emerging situation, and there is an uncivil post and some replies that use statements that include both "I" statements and statements about the post or poster, especially if they're subtle, he probably won't flag the posts that are subtle. But after an administrative action is given on the thread, scrutiny by Dr. Bob gets a lot more close. So every post after that, no matter how subtle the inclusion of non-I statements, are more likely to get a PBC or a Please Rephrase. I wonder if Dr. Bob would like us to consider that a PBC or block is adequate commentary on the post he's already noted as uncivil? But if we choose to comment on a post or on a thread that's already received an administrative action, it's wise to double and triple check our replies (more than we usually would) for statements that don't meet "I statement" criteria. In other words, statements that are not solely about "I" but include references to he she or it.
And of course anyone who's been around Babble for any length of time knows that once a person has received a PBC on a subject, or on a thread, even really slight infractions directly after that (especially on the same thread) will bring down a block. Perhaps because that is seen as a direct flouting of the PBC? I don't actually think it is in many cases. In many cases, I just think it's a misunderstanding about "I statements" or a misunderstanding about what Dr. Bob found offensive, because Dr. Bob isn't always crystal clear, I'm afraid. So the wisest choice after a PBC is either an "I'm sorry" if you are, or silence if you aren't. But really really careful scrutiny of your posts for possible infractions to be sure. I have a civility buddy, and those who have off board contact might consider having a civility buddy. Or it might be wise to email Dr. Bob, although it usually takes him days to get back to you by which time the moment has passed (perhaps not a coincidence?).
And finally, most unfortunate PBC's and blocks take place when someone is trying to protect or help someone else, or feels offended on someone else's behalf. It is perfectly fine to post to Dr. Bob on Admin, perhaps a link to the post you find offensive with a request that he check it out. Or you can email him. I don't think he gives blocks or PBC's for emails to him. And if you want to express support for the poster, the safest way to express support is a post that doesn't refer at all to the post that might be considered uncivil.
"I have never ever found you, X, to be a doo-doo head. I have always found your contributions to be very valuable. (possibly adding your belief that most posters would agree that X has never been a doo-doo head)."
Second safest would be a post that is careful about "I statements".
"I have never ever found you, X, to be a doo-doo head, and I was surprised and saddened and angered to see a post in which you were called a doo-doo head."
Marginal, and probably unwise after the poster who called someone a doo-doo head has already been admonished by Dr. Bob would be
"I have never found you, X, to be a doo-doo head and I was very angry at the unkind post (or poster)."
Even more marginal, and depending on Dr. Bob's interpretation would be
"I have never found you, X, to be a doo-doo head, and that post (poster) made me angry."
And of course, a PBC'able offense whether or not Dr. Bob has already done something would be
"Y is a jerk. I can't believe Y called you, X, a doo-doo head, and you should just ignore that filthy post."
But that's just my interpretation, and may be way off. And I hope no one is offended either by my presumptuousness or by my observation of Da Rules, because they are just observations, nothing more.