Brad Wardell's views about technology, politics, religion, world affairs, and all sorts of politically incorrect topics.
A starter's guide
Published on December 8, 2006 By Draginol In Blogging

It's not often I have to ban people from The Terms of Service (linked below) spell out the definite no-no's.

But that doesn't stop some people from trying to play victim if they get banned. I'll be the first to admit that the rules are not universally enforced. That's mostly an issue of the administrators only being able to read a tiny % of the articles on the site. So statistically, what happens is that banning occurs in discussions in which an administrator is a participant.

The quickest way to get banned is to start personally attacking an administrator. So what exactly is a personal attack? Like "porn" most people know it when they see it.  One on-line person once put it "A personal attack on-line can be reocgnized as words that would get the speaker of those words punched in the nose in real life."

What won't get you banned:

  1. Having a different opinion on an issue than an adminstrator
  2. Having a different life philosophy or political philosophy than an administrator
  3. Vigorously defending your position with regards to an Admin
  4. Vigorously attacking the position of an Admin


Acceptable exhcange:

Admin: I think pulling out of Iraq immediately would be absolutely insane!

User: What's insane is thinking that staying the course is good. Your position will result in the deaths of more American soldiers!

Unacceptable exchange:

Admin: I think pulling out of Iraq immediately would be absolutely insane!

User: Anyone who thinks we should be in Iraq should sign up for the army right now. Admin, you're a chickenhawk. You are nothing that a pathetic coward.

Upon an unacceptable exchange, the admin will normally provide a warning:

Admin: Attack the message. Not the messenger. Do not personally attack users. If you do so again, you are history.

This is where one of two conclusions are reached:


(a) The user takes a deep breath and moves on.


( Accuses the admin of being unable to handle "the truth" and telling him to F Off. (and gets banned).

As a general common sense thing, it's just not a good idea to personally attack or insult anyone on-line. But it's particularly not a good idea to personally attack the admin of a given site.

Some people I think honestly can't make the distinction between the person in the debate and the issue they are debating. They personalize a given issue to the individual.  I freely admit that my real world views are not nearly as strident as what I post on JU.  I want to post thought provoking topics but my actual views on the topic are not nearly as passionate as what I write. Or put another way, I care about politics but I don't care care about it. 

But some people really get consumed by their opinions and so they don't make the distinction between the issue being discussed -- the issue they disagree with -- and the person writing the position they disagree with. I.e. the classic "shoot the messenger".

One person recently banned had just finished calling me a "weak minded pathetic coward" because I supported the Iraqi invasion but had not personally joined the military.  Personally attacking me does not move the discussion forward. And let's assume that I am a week minded, pathetic coward. Okay. Now what? Does that change the validity or non-validity of removing Saddam?  That is why malicious personal attacks are forbidden.

People do get frustrated. I certainly do. In the above exchange the poster had already called me "dumb" in about a half-dozen ways. He was frustrated that he couldn't convince me of his point of view. But he didn't get in trouble for it. There is a threshold of venom obviously.

The other behavior that I don't like on JU is the tendancy of people to create personal attack posts about other people on the site. I understand the rationale for them - user A gets black listed from user B's site and it's the only way they can respond. I still don't like it though even if we don't vigorously enforce it.

My advice is this: Life is short. Blogging is for fun. If you're getting upset, take a day off. Take a few days off and regain perspective. I have had to do that hundreds of times over the years. People piss me off too.  Just try to avoid targeting the person as an individual. No one's perfect. Everyone slips given enough time. And your body of contribution to the community does matter when deciding what to do about it (i.e. if most of your posts are just nasty hate-filled personal attacks you'll be treated differently than the person who posts thoughtful discussions but gets pissed off and name-calls).


Comments (Page 5)
on Dec 15, 2006
Why should he have to? It's his site. I guess you don't do things in your house you wouldn't tolerate other people doing?
on Dec 15, 2006

I know your article is addressing banning issues but within it you mention some decorum that you claim to follow. You profess an etiquette for focusing on the message not the messenger and the avoidance of name calling. Yet it seems to me that I've read many comments you've made where you've resorted to demeaning the messenger rather than the message.

Furthermore, I don't seem to remember your mentioning of any change of heart on your part. All I am hearing, in this article, is a call to others to rein themselves in without recognition of your own shortcomings in that respect.

hey - just be happy he lets you play with his toys!

They are his toys to chuck out of his cot!!!!