Enough

Mar. 18th, 2015 09:21 am
liv: cast iron sign showing etiolated couple drinking tea together (argument)
[personal profile] liv
Stark, you are no longer welcome to comment here. You were never really welcome, because you almost always make the conversation worse rather than better, but doing anything about you was a hassle so I didn't bother. But really I should have done this ages ago.

There's an argument against posting this publicly, partly because I suspect Stark considers it a victory in whatever pointless game he's playing if he actually annoys people enough they exclude him. But letting him continue because I don't want to give him that satisfaction is still playing his game and I'm done with that. Partly because it's saying negative things about another person in public, which is potentially gossip and that's something I avoid. However I have quite enough evidence that what I'm saying is true and relevant to many people whom he might target, because he's known for exploiting any sort of benefit of the doubt offered to get more and more obnoxious.

Also the post needs to be public because the people most affected will be those who don't have DW accounts. I am not going to go into details of what I will to do to get rid of Stark's annoying comments because he has a habit of gaming that sort of thing. It's going to be ad hoc, and I might get it wrong sometimes; I'm mainly just going to slightly shift my defaults of what's ok and what gets removed. The best way not to get mistaken for Stark is to avoid posting comments that are aggressive or look like part of a badly run debating contest where you get points for identifying supposed flaws in your "opponent's" argument. In fact aggressive and nitpicking comments aren't very valuable anyway so if I accidentally remove some that are not from Stark I won't cry over it.

It probably also helps if you identify yourself in some way as not Stark. I am fine with anon comments, and I'm not talking about connecting your comment to the sort of personal details that the tax authorities or Google would expect. I'm fine with just a use-name, a handle or an initial. I have commenters I value, regulars and drive-bys, who don't have DW accounts and I know OpenID doesn't always work reliably. And I'm fine with, indeed grateful for, comments about sensitive topics where you don't want to give any hint who you are, just call yourself "anon1" or a random collection of letters or whatever. If you feel ok doing so, contact me by a back-channel to let me know if I mistakenly think you're Stark and remove your comment (he does sometimes make reasonable comments).

I am aware that several of my friends are friends with Stark. I apologize if it upsets you that I'm being negative about your friend. I have been assured many times that he's much less unpleasant in person. I consider the internet to be part of real life, it's a medium that real people use to talk to eachother, and being an obnoxious bully is phenomenological. So even if his demeanour is entirely different face-to-face, it remains true that he keeps making needling comments until he gets a response and has on several occasions I know about crossed the line into bullying when being merely annoying didn't get a rise out of targets, so I don't want to know him.

A big part of my problem is that I'm personally pretty thick-skinned and easy-going, which is why I've let this go for far longer than I should have. I rarely moderate my comment sections at all, because I'm interested in what people have to say and I love the discussions we have here, and also I'm way too lazy to actually try to make this journal a properly safe space. However, if I let bullying go on in my comment sections I'm culpable, and I want to stop doing that. A friend recently described my DW as your own little bottom half of the internet and I was quite hurt, because I really love the conversations we have here and I feel like we've got a really good level of respectful, thoughtful disagreement. But I do acknowledge the criticism, it's often more debatey than supportive in my comment threads. I want to keep the advantages of that, even though I do understand it means some people won't want to participate. I think I can do more to make more people feel comfortable here, and part of that is being stricter about letting obnoxious people poison the well.

In particular, I apologize to [personal profile] davidgillon and [personal profile] electricant, both of whom got a bit of Stark going on at you recently and I didn't intervene. I partly didn't because you were both making thoughtful, interesting comments, assuming that the person you were talking to was a bit ignorant but basically discussing in good faith, rather than just trying to annoy you, and I found your comments valuable. I also apologize to those of my friends who were quicker than I was to take action; I did read your accounts of why Stark is a problem, I just took longer than I should have to do anything about it.

Just to note: things that always have been, and are still, allowed:
  • Disagreement, including strong disagreement about topics I care about.
  • Pointing out errors; I don't mind at all if people pick up typos, mistakes in HTML, unclearly phrased sentences, places where I'm mistaken about a question of fact etc.
  • Swearing. This is an informal blog conversation, I often use swearwords myself, and I'm not interested in enforcing a standard of politeness based on policing language.
  • Anon comments, as indicated above, as long as you find some way of indicating you're not Stark, and you're not using anonymity to attack individuals.
ETA: I know this isn't a good general principle for surviving in the internet jungle, but for this particular post, please don't feed the troll! I'm not surprised by Stark showing up to justify himself in a post that's about him, but the whole point is that he's not welcome to comment here, so I'd really appreciate it if people don't get into discussions with him. I'd also appreciate if we could keep speculation about his motivations, character etc to a minimum; he may be annoying but he's still a person and I don't want this to turn into a pile-on of everybody dissecting his flaws in a space where I've just said he can't reply. Ta!
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