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There has been a big hulabaloo lately about "mean people" on Dkos.  It's not the first time.  It's not the second time.  Hell is not even the umpteenth time.  It's a tale as old as Dailykos itself.  It seems every week there is a plethera of diaries about all the assholes that frequent our fine community.  And at least once a month are portents of doom about big orange falling to the opressive force of the angry mob and the obligatory "can't we all just get along" diaries.  It is a self perpetuating cycle and I am tired of both sides dragging it out way longer than it has to be and blowing it up way larger than it has to be.

Please, for the love of Kos, stop the cycle!

Clarification below,

Now, I'm not dissing anyone's right to say what they want.  Really I'm not.  My main purpose for this diary is not to chastise anyone, it is to highlight this overpowering negative meta-cycle that comes through here as predictably as a full moon and possibly explore some ways we can stop the cycle before it goes too far.

What the heck am I talking about?

The phenomenon that I am reffering to here on Dkos is called a "negativity sink".  A Negativity sink is a workplace term used to describe a clearly defined cycle of negative attitude and actions in a workplace environment that inhibits productivity and creates interpersonal tension. It is a self-perpetuating cycle that will worsen and worsen over time and can be difficult to escape once it's formed.  Kinda sounds like us huh?
             
So what causes this cycle?

There is not one action or comment that will cause a negativity sink to form.  It is usually the culmination of many people and many experiences that coalesce and builds slowly until it reaches a self perpetuating level, but it is such a common phenomenon around here you could set a watch to it:

INSULT
     RETORT  
          COUNTER-RETORT
               SUGGESTION TO SHUT THE FUCK UP              
                    QUESTIONING POLITICAL LOYALTY
                         IMPLICATION OF TROLL-NESS
          GRATUITOUS PIE REFERENCE
               SUGGESTION TO SHUT THEIR PIE-HOLE

And this happens on and on and on until someone writes a "why mean people are destroying Dkos" diary, which starts off a cachaphony of "can't we all just get along" diaries.

At Dkos, this cycle usually has 2 sides that feed off each other.  You have the "mean people" side and the "why is everyone so mean?" side.  They bounce back and forth continuing tensions and conflict between them until people get fed up for the time being or leave the site entirely.

How do you fight negativity on Dkos?

Here's the kicker, you don't fight negativity.  Fighting only produces more negativity and tension.  I call it Newton's Third SOCIAL law:  Every action has an equal an opposite reaction.  By confronting the negativity head on, or in some cases the negative person head on, you are only subjecting yourself to an ever continuing series of volleys of negativity allowing it to build more and more.  And that negativity doesn't just build for YOU, but for everyone who has to read your very public and drawn out argument.  Negativity makes people uncomfortable and it is very contagious.

So what's to be done?

Just becuase you can't FIGHT negativity doesn't mean there is no solution to the problem of negativity. But we first have to recognize that how we react in the face of negativity that makes the difference.  You can't control what other people say or do around here, but you can control how you react to it.  

  1. When faced with an asshole, just ignore them.  If you see a poster or diarist insult someone or respond in an overly negative fashion, there's no rule that says you have to engage.  There are people around here who do go around picking fights. They come onto a diary and insult the diarist or namecall or what-have-you. They want people to engage them.  They want to raise tensions.  But you can't have a fight with just one person.  Let them be.  They're only dangerous if you feed them.
  1. If you must say something.  Make it short, make it count, and walk away.  There are going to be times when you feel you need to respond, but a lot of people get in the "last word" trap in those situations. I know I have many times.  Each side feels they HAVE to get the last word in, as if the entire argument were nothing more than a contest of stamina and whoever flinches first loses.  Make your stand, word it very carfully and deliberately, and don't respond to anyone who responds to you.
  1. Learn to avoid the garbage.  At least 50% of the diaries on this blog are garbage.  There is no reason to subject yourself to garbage.  Learn to tell the gold from the garbage in the first 3 sentences, if it's garbage, just don't finish it.  If you see comments that are getting a bit hot and flamey, skip them.
  1. Avoid your hot-spots.  If there is a particular topic or person who ignites anger or negativity in you, avoid them.  You're not going to get anything from it so why torture yourself and everyone else by walking into a situation where the only outcome is you being pissed off?
  1. Add a positive to counteract the negative.  Instead of writing that "why mean people suck" diary (which in their own way can be as negative as hostile comments/diaries), write a positive diary.  Or at the very least a constructive one.  Instead of telling people to come together or be nice to each other, create a space to bring people together to laugh and smile.  Such diaries are as important to the aspect of this blog as the serious political or policy diaries.  Who doesn't love Phillygal's pooties or Buhdy's ponies?  I'm not saying you have to grin and bear it, I'm saying when things get too heavy it is better to lighten them up then make them even more heavy.  (and yes the irony is not lost on me that this is in fact a heavy diary.  I'm sorry.  I'll throw a cute cat picture in here somewhere.)
  1. It's never as bad as you think.  There are over 100k users on this blog.  If even one percent of them were utter and absolute bastards, that is still 1000 people who run amok sowing negativity and it always seems worse than it really is.  But do not dispair.  We are not doomed and we are not falling to mean-ness.

Anyway, maybe it's futile, maybe nothing will come of this.  I'm just tired of watching this play over and over and over and people think it's the end of the world because there are (gasp) mean people at Dkos.  And people devote days and sometimes weeks to the discussion of how bad the mean people are and how it's bringing them down and continuing the cycle further.

You know what?  Mean people suck.  Why torment yourself belaboring it over and over and over again.  

Please, just please, can we just stop the cycle?

Originally posted to DawnG on Sat Dec 09, 2006 at 03:44 PM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  LOL! (13+ / 0-)

    Great diary, and oh, so true.

    Now if you could write something up to stop the impeachment diaries all will be right with the world, lol.

    "But your flag decal won't get you into heaven anymore"--Prine Pay attention Georgie - 2900+ dead Americans. Jesus Christ, make it stop already.

    by Miss Blue on Sat Dec 09, 2006 at 03:49:05 PM PST

  •  Are we imploding yet? (6+ / 0-)

    Will there be a

    "Warning! DKos Implosion Pending!"

    sign?

    "Computer. End holographic program...Computer? Computer?"

    by kredwyn on Sat Dec 09, 2006 at 03:51:09 PM PST

  •  well said and timely (6+ / 0-)

    seems to me this happens any time we are anywhere near a Presidential Election or a major topic.

    Thanks for a very well done article.

    •  Or bored. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Ellicatt

      My take is that a lot of people have been stirring up stuff two years out of boredom.  Boredom that comes out of the post-election void.

      I do live shows and when they are done those of us who work out hearts out on them always go through a withdrawl from the intensity.  Post-show blues.  This conflict is probably as much as anything a result of people having sustained a high energy and anger for months during the run up to the election and now have few places to direct it.

      The thing is that we need to turn to much more level-headed and in-depth policy discussions if we really want to influence the coming year.

      •  I don't know (0+ / 0-)

        if it's even just boredom.

        What it is, I think, is that the elections, to a degree, fostered a sense of unity that is false.

        I think it's safe to say that just about everyone here (well, at least the non-trolls) agreed that it would be a good thing for the Democrats to retake control of Congress.

        That is the ONLY thing we agree on.

        While the vast majority of people are Dems here, there are some Greens, independents, even the odd disaffected Repub. And, within that, even within the Dems, there are ultra-liberals, liberals, left-of-centers, moderates, and even a few old-fashioned Eisenhower conservatives.

        And that's before I even get into specific issue disagreements.

        The elections brought us together--we all agreed on that wider goal. And the presidential election of 08 will most likely do similar (*after* we have a nominee--there will be no unity until then).

        But right now? The false unity has collapsed. And what we're seeing now is the backlash.

        "This site is the suckiest suck that ever sucked a suck"--Thomas Kalinowski

        by ChurchofBruce on Sat Dec 09, 2006 at 07:12:32 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Thank you, Miss Manners (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kredwyn, Molly Martinez

    We forget them so easily.

    But sometimes that's fun............

    "Son, you're making the same mistake in Iraq that I made with your mother. I didn't pull out in time..." Bush 41 to Bush 43

    by 4Freedom on Sat Dec 09, 2006 at 03:52:28 PM PST

    •  I don't care about manners as much. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      sobermom, TiaRachel, Simpletonian

      I'm just tired of hearing people complain and complain and complain about everything.  It does no good and just furthers the problem.

      If a democrat demands accountability in the Capital and no one covers it, does he make a sound?

      by DawnG on Sat Dec 09, 2006 at 04:14:04 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Complaining is bad manners to a Quaker (0+ / 0-)

        Maybe if we stuck more to their "Never complain, never explain" guideline for a peaceful society, we would have less complaining and more productive discussions.

        But pie fights and digressions can be fun and lighten the seriousness of some of what is discussed. I don't find most threads filled with invective, or maybe my eye has trained itself to skip over the more extreme unpleasant exchanges.

        Either way, the Quakers have a very good suggestion.

        "Son, you're making the same mistake in Iraq that I made with your mother. I didn't pull out in time..." Bush 41 to Bush 43

        by 4Freedom on Sat Dec 09, 2006 at 09:28:15 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  And a lot of people are turned off enough (14+ / 0-)

    by all this that they leave, or stay and just quit writing and commenting. Not everyone enjoys the mob aspect.

    I hesitate to even express an opinion any more, but I think the route to People Magazine starts with all theses stupid polls that seem to be taken seriously. Once it starts, yeah I vote in them too. (There are a few exceptions, like the one quite some time back that simply assessed the age of respondents.)

    •  Suggests the possibility of (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      kredwyn, ormondotvos, Rob Cole

      the site degenerating as it gets larger.
      Everyone can join the site, just like everyone can read. But are we reading comic books, simplistic partisan screeds?

      •  Critical mass in reverse, maybe? n/t (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        melvin
        •  Or just evolution? (0+ / 0-)

          Don't wanna inaadvertantly jinx nuthin' with my question...but it sure is interesting.

          I've been reading this site since late 2003. And I've been more involved with it in the past year, as a lurker and now poster. The cycles it goes through are intriguing in some ways.

          But I do wonder where its headed as it grows and grows, and how that growth will shape, encumber, and/or strengthen its mission.

      •  See DawnG's point 3. (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        sobermom, iliketodrum, Molly Martinez

        As Dkos expands, the volume of crap will increase but presumably not the gold/crap ratio.

        What will happen is the rec list will become unnattainable, sooner or later, to anyone but "stars" . . . for the simple reason that it'll take 500+ recommends to make the rec list, and only star-power will make the jump from 100 to 500 recommends.  (There will be exceptions, of course.)

        Point being: I'm not instantly calling that a bad thing.  It'll just be different.  We can all post to the recent list, and that's fine.  (The real danger is not never getting to the rec list but that the recent list will scoot like an F-16).

        Or . . . on the other hand maybe Dkos has a "Carrying capacity" . . . after "x" number of frequent users it just becomes too useless and frustrating for new people to join.

        Final point: I have no doubt that Kos has thought about all this far more than you or I have, and Kos 4.0 will have some clever scheme in place.

        "Space. It seems to go on and on forever. But then you get to the end and a gorilla starts throwing barrels at you." -- Fry, Futurama

        by LithiumCola on Sat Dec 09, 2006 at 04:13:11 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  LOL! (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          sobermom, LithiumCola

          The gold/crap ratio.  I like that.  I wonder if someone can quantify that statistically.

          I look forward to 4.0.  I hope it's awesome seeing as how he's making us wait a WHOLE YEAR. Sheesh.

          If a democrat demands accountability in the Capital and no one covers it, does he make a sound?

          by DawnG on Sat Dec 09, 2006 at 04:23:59 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  Don't presume Kos has the magic (0+ / 0-)

          answer to scaling DailyKos.

          It may be an inevitable problem.

          As social rewards decrease for any individual poster, and as recommends become less valuable, boredom and frustration set in.

          Then the site becomes more rowdy, it becomes less interesting to the serious posters and readers.

          I never did receive any acknowledgement of the suggestions I made for  bubbling the better recent diaries up through the rapidly descending Recent Diaries list.

          But that's alright, mama.

          INVESTIGATE! SPINE UP!

          by ormondotvos on Sat Dec 09, 2006 at 05:50:13 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  I agree.... (4+ / 0-)

    I can't begin to discuss some topics here well- since I get flamed-so I avoid those topics.  I was flamed for saying a rising tide floats all boats and an unemployed person was offended.  But more jobs would not have helped this person- they just thought I was trite.  I let it go, but when truisms get flamed....well you get what you pay for and I am not paying them anything.

    You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad. Aldous Huxley

    by murrayewv on Sat Dec 09, 2006 at 03:54:31 PM PST

  •  Obligatory snide reference to (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    unterhausen, kredwyn

    kumbaya (sic) singing in here, before an actual meanie comes along.

    Nice diary DawnG.  I try to practice what you're preaching.

    Seattle 8-4, Pittsburgh 6-7. Just sayin'.

    by MTmofo on Sat Dec 09, 2006 at 03:56:20 PM PST

  •  Hey, Fuck You! (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DawnG, sobermom, MO Blue, marykk

    Just kidding. :)  Someone had to say it, and I figured it may as well be me.

    I tend not to get worked up anymore about the pie war du jour.  I think passion is a good thing.  It shows that people really care.  In fact, I think apathy coupled with ignorance is our country's Great Problem.

    But around here, I hope we can engage in very spirited debate without personal attacks.  And I also hope some of the more delicate Kossacks can thicken their skin a little bit.

    It's all good in the 'hood. We're all on the same side (mostly).  I hope we can all remember that going forward.

  •  Thanks for explaining the 'negativity sink' n/t (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sobermom, isis2, Molly Martinez
    •  I am having the hardest time... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      sobermom, fiddlingnero

      ...finding reference to it on the internet.

      I read an article about it years and years ago, specificly about a lady in seattle that had just such a problem in her office.  The lady would take her lunches at fisherman's warf and see how happy the fish-mongers where throwing fish around and having a jolly time.  So she tried to figure out what made THEIR jobs so enjoyable to them and tried to duplicate it in her office.

      I don't remember the details but the main focus was "you can't control what happens to you, or what other people do, but you can chose how you react to it"

      And I forget the rest.  Honestly I am not even 100% sure it was reffered to as a negativity sink but that is what I remember.

      If a democrat demands accountability in the Capital and no one covers it, does he make a sound?

      by DawnG on Sat Dec 09, 2006 at 04:19:16 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Negative sink! (0+ / 0-)

    Damn, I never knew there was a word for it.
    Ours resigned in July.

    -9.0, -8.3. I'm glad they've got a study group, but you know what? The test was three years ago. -Jon Stewart

    by SensibleShoes on Sat Dec 09, 2006 at 03:59:24 PM PST

  •  pie (0+ / 0-)

    And remember that if you feel like pie, cook it in your own kitchen for god's sake, instead of on this blog.

    And, impeach Delaware Dem! :-) (j/k)

  •  just relax. (8+ / 0-)

    do i look like i'm gonna get an ulcer over this crap?

    sleepy kitty

  •  Whatever, y'all are dicks... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Caldonia

    ...having a deep spiral of negativity and leaving me completely out of it!

    Fine.  Y'all be that way...

    The urge to save humanity is almost always a false face for the urge to rule it. ~ H.L. Mencken

    by Jay Elias on Sat Dec 09, 2006 at 04:17:12 PM PST

  •  This comment from nyceve's diary (4+ / 0-)

    is worth repeating, I think.  It's from a wise old dKos soul.

    If we don't have fairness and social justice as part of our platform, there is no real reason to be a Democrat. inclusiveheart

    by station wagon on Sat Dec 09, 2006 at 04:37:44 PM PST

    •  That was awsome - kudos to you (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      sobermom, Caldonia, station wagon

      for linking it sw!

    •  thanks! I would've missed it otherwise; (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      sobermom, Caldonia, station wagon

      God, I truly love Bill -- I start most mornings in his Cheers & Jeers, and the goodwill he generates, and the warmth and the wit of the folks in there, as well as getting the news, etc., is just truly priceless! Cheers, Bill :)

      The Grinch stole my sig ...

      by PhillyGal on Sat Dec 09, 2006 at 04:52:11 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  while I don't frequent the comments in (5+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        PhillyGal, sobermom, nancelot, Caldonia, isis2

        C&J nearly as much as I'd love to, it is one of the best things about dkos.  It attracts many of the funniest, smartest community members here.  I read BIPM's contribution almost everyday though.  He is a TREASURE!  It hurts me to hear him say that he feels C&J is the least respected place on dkos.  I strongly disagree.  I think it's an especially generous place, and so the mojo is given freely.  I think that is the root of the very few negative comments about it we may see.  Well, I say screw the disrespecters.  They can have their narrow little bleak worlds!  Long live C&J!

        If we don't have fairness and social justice as part of our platform, there is no real reason to be a Democrat. inclusiveheart

        by station wagon on Sat Dec 09, 2006 at 05:07:26 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  My contribution: (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sobermom

    Just stay out of the impeachment diaries.

    Like, forever.

    My early New Year's Resolution.

  •  But Fighting Works So Well In the Middle East (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Caldonia

    We have to remember that our enemies respect only strength.

    What we need is a doctrine of pre-emptive pie!

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy....--ML King, "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Sat Dec 09, 2006 at 04:55:40 PM PST

  •  One thing I frustrating (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sobermom, Caldonia

    about the rancor and seemingly knee-jerk reaction into snarkiness is that it can derail an attempt at honest dialogue with someone who has an (obviously wrong!) opinion.

    In one of the abortion diaries last week, someone posted that they were anti-abortion, except for a "life of the mother" exception.

    I replied that that very narrow exception was a nice sound bite, but avoided some very important considerations: the health and reproductive future of the woman, and the health of the fetus -- that life was more than breathing.

    I shoulda left off that last bit, because it led to a snarky side road about Terry Schiavo.  Instead of responding to the honest issues (which I have used before to at least make those with adamantly anti-abortion opinions think about, and, perhaps, soften their views on the issue), the original commenter was able to escape the real discussion entirely.

    Leave the cat alone, for what has the cat done, that you should so afflict it with tape? - Ian Frazier, Lamentations of the Father

    by Frankenoid on Sat Dec 09, 2006 at 05:25:26 PM PST

    •  an argument is only as good as the people... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      sobermom

      ...arguing.  Seriously.

      I love to argue stuff.  Not because I'm mean or anything but because I like flexing that old logic gland in my brainpan.  I love it when people disagree with me.  But having disagreements is only really enjoyable when the other person is willing to put forth the effort of arguing intellegently.

      If they're going to get all reactionary and namecalling and crap then it's a pain in the patootie.  even worse when people start breaking out the ad hominem attacks.

      Brutal.  Takes all the fun out of disagreeing.

      If a democrat demands accountability in the Capital and no one covers it, does he make a sound?

      by DawnG on Sat Dec 09, 2006 at 06:15:29 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I Never get Flamed at FireDogLake (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Caldonia

    I communiblog in several places.  Only here do I see/get flamed.  I have begun to avoid DKos for that reason.  Oddly, I am new here.  Hell, I even get flamed for a tipos (I dare you) in my replies.

    DawnG has the dynamic summarized in crystalline fashion. I promise to abide. Join me?

    •  (HUGS) (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Caldonia

      I'm sorry you got flamed.  Just remember, most people here really aren't that bad.  It really is better to just ignore the flamers like they don't even exist.

      Still it seems you get some good response from your comments as well.  So keep up the good work!

      If a democrat demands accountability in the Capital and no one covers it, does he make a sound?

      by DawnG on Sat Dec 09, 2006 at 06:19:07 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  can't flame effectively at fdl (0+ / 0-)

      since the comments aren't attached to each other like they are here.  Each comment thread is like a C&J diary with lots of snark and not much substance.  I used to read the comments at Atrios just for the snark, it's fun.

  •  Someone called me a freeper and a troll... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DawnG, Caldonia

    ...the other day because I mentioned that "Daddy is a turkey baster" is not a cool thing to be saying in the presence of lesbian parents.

    I have mixed feelings, on the one hand believing that speaking up when people need to be educated is necessary, while on the other hand intensely disliking conflict.

    Teacher's Lounge opens each Saturday, sometime between 10am and 12 noon EST

    by rserven on Sat Dec 09, 2006 at 06:33:40 PM PST

    •  buh? (0+ / 0-)

      oh I have GOT to see that!  Do you remember the name of the diary?

      Would it be bad of me to peek in and laugh at them?

      That's actually kind of funny in a tragic and ridiculous way.

      I have never ever had that problem.  Maybe it's my UID but I have never been called a troll on here before.  Heck I consider it one of my shining acheivments that when Dood was doing one of his diaries with the photoshopped pictures he asked people to tell him what we thought.  I said I thought it was "juvenile and unconstructive" (I didn't care much for the subject matter involved) and he gave me a 4 for it!  and 13 other people gave me 4s for it.  I couldn't believe it!

      If a democrat demands accountability in the Capital and no one covers it, does he make a sound?

      by DawnG on Sat Dec 09, 2006 at 06:44:09 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Being somewhat of an outsider (0+ / 0-)

    as I read often, but comment rarely, I must say this cycle has to stop.  All I see anywhere lately is either a fight in the comments, GBCW diaries, or diaries about all the fights here.  (please, don't take this as a hit on this diary; I do appreciate this).

    I think everyone in this community has realized, and if they haven't they need to realize, that these little fights are a problem and they need to stop.  With that, I think all of these discussions need to stop so that everyone can get on with actually doing something, other than talking about fighting.  Even though we won Congress, those repubs are still there. Whether impeachment happens, whether you want it to or not, W is still in office.  WE NEED TO FIGHT THE REPUBLICANS.  WE NEED TO FIGHT FOR DEMOCRATS AND THINGS WE BELIEVE IN!!! We don't need to fight each other.  Turn the other cheek if you have to, just stop the fighting!

    I move too slow and I think too fast

    by draggingyourfeet on Sat Dec 09, 2006 at 06:43:09 PM PST

    •  the problem isn't just the fights... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      draggingyourfeet, fiddlingnero

      ...but a combination of the fights, and the diaries complaining about the fights thereby dragging out the fights, and then the diaries begging for a higher discourse as a result of the fights thereby reinforcing the negativity that came out of the fights.  And then you have the diaries saying that Dkos is turning into some intellectual SLUM thereby furthering tension and dread on and on and on.

      It all gets blown up into this beast that cannot be fed and it really isn't.

      It's okay to argue, it's okay to disagree, heck it's even okay to fight every now and again.  But can't we just leave it at that? Why do we have to have replays and blow-by-blows and grudges and crap?

      If a democrat demands accountability in the Capital and no one covers it, does he make a sound?

      by DawnG on Sat Dec 09, 2006 at 06:58:32 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I couldn't have (0+ / 0-)

        said it better myself...that's exactly what I was trying to say...it's fine to have a fight-but just leave it at that and don't hold a grudge about it.  Well said!

        I move too slow and I think too fast

        by draggingyourfeet on Sat Dec 09, 2006 at 07:25:42 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

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