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Please begin with an informative title:

Reading ComprehensionWe are very fond of describing this place as a "Reality Based Community". There are those who decry this description, alleging variously that people live in an alternate reality or that reality is, like beauty, in the eye of the beholder.

What is clear is that debate frequently degenerates into abuse, argument into ad homimen, cogent discussion and reasoned disagreement ... into pie.

Then comes the whining. Markos is mean. If A is to be banned, then what about the guy who uprated him? Have some of you ever listened to yourselves?

Take a moment please, and listen to me. Maybe between us we can start down the long road to fixing this.

Before we go any further, and certainly before you comment in the place given to us purely for the ritual abuse of people we don't agree with, you need to understand the Title.

Read The Fucking Diary

Intro

You must enter an Intro for your Diary Entry between 300 and 1150 characters long (that's approximately 50-175 words without any html or formatting markup).

Let me share my experience, that you may judge my qualifications, or lack of, to get all preachy.

I am just a Kossack, no different to thousands of others. No different to you. I have no formal training in "How to be a Blog Nanny". I am aware of the term "Netcop", although it's been many a long year since I have heard it used. I have no real track record of attempting to control the behaviour of others, although I may have dropped the odd hint about civility, from time to time.

Markos does not pay me. Markos does not even know me. I've seen him on the telly a couple of times and that is the total extent of our relationship. I have never met any of the Admin team, or Front Page writers, although from their writing they do all seem very sensible and nice. No, not you Armando, well maybe sometimes. That, by the way, is what passes for a joke.

I have zero official standing and any minor reputation I might have has been hard-earned through the words I am able to conjure from whatever critical thinking skills my teachers were able to drum into me. That is, when I was not staring out of the window wondering if the cold Yorkshire rain would ever stop. I can't spell for shot, and I don't do grammar ... so their! Grammar, in my family, is married to Grandpa.

In between the rain showers storms I paid enough attention to learn how to write in a style that didn't make my English teacher want to commit suicide, but that's about it.

I don't do cliques, period. Not only do I not go there, I don't even pay much attention to who does. I find myself in a constant state of surprise when one User points to another and accuses them of being in this gang or that. I don't suggest that everyone should be this way, it works for me. It does mean, however, that I am in the main, able to approach each Diary or comment on the merits only of what is written, and respond accordingly. I don't ever have to worry if I am addressing a roxxer or suxxer, because I am replying to what they say, not who they are.

There are a few exceptions to that because I have a second rule. I simply do not normally respond to those who I observe as commenting in bad faith. Bad faith includes those whose comments clearly indicate that they haven't actually read the Diary! I'm far from perfect and occasionally I get drawn in, but never far and always as politely as I can. There really are some knaves and fools around, and it's okay to help them expose their knavery and foolery (that doesn't really scan very well), but as I write with an English accent, they usually think I am complimenting them. Oh well.

What I do is write diaries, answer comments in my diaries and read and comment in the work of others. When I read a Diary I open it with a clear mind and as fresh a pair of eyes as I can muster. It would be very fair to accuse me of having a few favourite writers because I have been here a long time. I'm not going to tell you who they are. Doing so might make them complacent, and I want to read writers who are busting their ass to engage the reader. If you are a writer who has put your heart and soul into a Diary, then I can tell you that it will show, and you will have my attention.

Paying attention is key. The Diarist took the time and trouble to inform or entertain you on a matter of some interest. It is simply impolite to feel that you can produce an informed comment if you didn't take the time to actually inform yourself. This is pretty basic. No one minds if you misread something, and reply accordingly. Someone will point it out. They are not your mortal enemy for drawing your attention to a mistake you might have made, even if it is they who are wrong. If you treat them as if they are, then you are guilty of the aforementioned knavery and foolery or, to put it in terms everyone here understands, being a dick. Don't be a dick. Just say "thanks", and move on. This is a fast moving environment. In ten minutes, no one will remember your little mistake, unless you force them to. Sometimes I read comment threads where at least one person, and often it can be more, seems hell-bent on not simply on behaving idiotically, but spending hours confirming time and again that they didn't get it the first time. It had quite slipped my mind that you were a bit wrong, but thanks for the reminder, and the reminder, and the ... well you get it.

This reminds me of another decision I made way back when. I decided that it is not always required that you reply. Indeed, I'll go further ... There are times when the wisest course is to not reply. Write it on a Post-It, and stick it to your monitor. Yes, you, you know who you are! Here is the reasoning ...

Rarely, in threaded conversations, will you ever persuade the person you are arguing with, that you are correct and they are not. The closer this back and forth gets to the right margin, the less chance there is of your point being accepted. It's like a law of nature. There is probably a universal constant for it somewhere in elfling's desk drawer. You only really stand a chance if the sub-thread is really, really short, but there is an answer to this problem.

I find it helps to understand that your audience is not just the person you are fighting discussing with. There are a great many people who are reading the thread, but not participating. They are your audience. You stand a good chance of persuading them that you are correct, even if you are snarky, even if your wit is biting. Providing that you stop first! When you push an acrimonious thread to the right margin, you both lose the audience. They are pissed at everyone and they readily recognise who was the bigger person ... Much credit is given for that. You might not see it at the time, but one day, completely out of the blue an unknown user will remark to you that they like the way you handle debate. I am not guessing here.

There are some things that Diarists can learn too. I learned the hard way, and three hundred and fifty diaries later, I am still perfectly capable of getting it wrong. The people who comment in your Diary are not the enemy should they dare to offer criticism. They are your readers. They are the people who paid you the double compliment of first reading your stellar insights, then took the trouble to write you a note. Treat them like guests. If one of them happens to behave like the strange uncle that no one in the family will trust with the kids, or the cat, then consider carefully how you respond. One useful trick is to walk away from your Diary when you publish it. Just for a short time, thirty minutes is good. That way, if anyone is behaving badly, it is likely that others will have dealt with it by the time you return. The one exception is when it is quite clear that the commenter has not read the Diary. It happens and again, trust me on this. Those you are free to have a little fun with because they are not guests, they are gate-crashers and exposing that is just fine. Please though, remember the right margin.

No one is required to answer a comment. This is especially true when the comment is mean, uber-mean or downright Hide Rateable. Again time is your friend. Let others have your back because they frequently do, and it is a wonder to behold. Thank them for it and they will look out for you.

I have never paid much heed to people leaving this Blog in a fit of pique. Sometimes they are contributors I valued, others less so. The ones I worry about are the quiet ones. The regular posters who you suddenly realise you haven't seen around in a while. Many of them are the good guys. They came, they saw, they tried to join in and they left. Leaving a transitory environment is not always a bad thing. Lives change, needs change and we change with them. What I hate is when folk feel they have been driven away and I do not want you to be one of them.

Enough, I've said more than enough so please feel free to add your bit. I will not bite.

__

Extended (Optional)

Originally posted to Every Part of You Belongs to You on Fri Aug 23, 2013 at 04:53 AM PDT.

Also republished by Courtesy Kos and Logic and Rhetoric at Daily Kos.

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