Toward Better Communications on the BBS

Interesting! I submit it is actually an inefficient way to communicate. Communication is as much non-verbal as it is verbal. I know some people have difficulty interpreting non-verbal cues and messages, but it’s definitely lost in text. One has to recreate it textually, which can be really hard to do by ordinary people who aren’t poets. And how much of the nonverbal stuff is subconscious, maybe even pheromonal, so that we wouldn’t know how to express it in text? I think that’s why emoticons and emoji were invented, to somehow represent those lost avenues.

I have an aversion to telephones for this reason. You get the words, and you get the emotions embedded in the words (stressed words, differences in pitch), but you don’t get the visual cues. For me it’s worse than text, because I feel like I’m getting a garbled message, only part of which I understand. At least in text I can just take it at face value. All my writing tends to be pretty unemotional for that reason. But I’m sure my choice of words and phrasing adds to the message – just not as much as talking to someone face-to-face.


One of the huge things I’ve been learning is HOW MUCH of communication is nonverbal. It’s like 90% at least.


I feel the same way. Conversation in person is a bit awkward but fairly easy; text I can consume quickly and easily; a telephone conversation is exhausting. I hate listening to podcasts for the same reason.


Time for this again:

Also: calling people bullies, however vaguely, is not a good way to encourage them to engage with you.


I have always loved the hover text of that. :slight_smile:


I mean consider. Think about what you do and where it doesn’t work well, figure out what you can to improve it, and certainly ask as needed. But that has to be with the honest intention of making communicating with you easier for them. For instance, this question doesn’t count at all because it is evidently rhetorical – you’ve started talking about how you want your communications to work before even hearing me answer.

It’s all well and good to say communication is between equals, but that doesn’t make accommodating different people less important. The robustness principle still applies. And at some point, there is going to be an inequality of interest – where one person wants to talk, and the others are tired of trying to work around their communication tactics. At that point, no, I don’t think the former has any “right” to a conversation just the they wanted, or the latter any “responsibility” to work even more to accommodate them.

You can claim you never said anybody should be doing anything differently to accommodate anyone, but you ask it all the time. When you say people should discuss things without making issues hotbuttons, or separate the writing from the personalities, or so on, you are arguing we should communicate in the way you prefer. And very often it’s done to blame your failure to have the conversations you want on it.

I mean, isn’t this what just happened here? You tried making a point comparing rapists to rape victims, from what I can tell because neither makes sense in a society like the Borg, and compounded it by using the word selfish for both. If you didn’t know that in English this means they were both excessively self-concerned, you were told immediately. So, why didn’t the conversation work out? Well, you came right here and started talking about how people make mistakes in arguments and it’s a problem that they take some issues as “hotbuttons”. Was any of that meant to apply to yourself?

And the reason you don’t get much indulgence is because it’s what we expect. I mean, at the old place you actually tried talking about eugenics with a different definition than English based on a false etymology, and when you didn’t like the conversation that resulted, you claimed it was dysfunctional because everyone else was using a logical fallacy. When this happens, do you consider what you could do differently to better communicate with other people? It isn’t evident to me; it looks like the same thing keeps happening.


I’m annoyed at the persecution complex syndrome that has arisen yet again from piss-poor communication, some of which may not be unintentional.

Ignoring people that one dislikes ≠ bullying; no one is ‘owed’ anyone else’s time and attention.
Claiming agency over one’s own body ≠ being selfish; again no ‘owes’ anyone else any access to their physical form.


What does that have to do with anything? I never indicated that people should just say anything, without consequences. I said that between equals, accountability goes both ways.

Sure, and then reprisals do so much to convince them otherwise. /s
I can observe that a social environment facilitates bullying. It’s not about “calling people” anything, what seems to be at issue is actual protocol, the processes by which we do/don’t communicate and/or get along.

Why do people need “courage” to enjoy the discussion, anyway? What factors influence whether you feel encouraged/discouraged to participate?

I see discussing social issues as being like a “town meeting” or other forum. A moderator we agree has authority to grant or take our voice. But us trying to silence a peer ourselves is a political act, with deeper implications than many seem to recognize. The contradiction is that of demanding informality, and then pushing for informal accountability by making a big noise (flags) rather than making actual accusations. It fosters an environment of mutual resentment, where perhaps people hope the person will get kicked or leave instead of their alienation being “an issue”. Also it ties into the Discourse “trust level” where it directly affects a person’s ability to participate, again without any accountability involved.

Is pushing for mutual accountability what this “free speech” comic is about? Not unlike other kinds of free speech, judgemental statements do affect people and communities.

Who says that they are equivalent? Flagging posts and topics into oblivion is not ignoring, it is actively hostile. Nobody here needs to justify not talking with anybody. Unless, arguably, they are talking about that person in public, which suggests that their boundary issues are not as clear as they say they are. Erecting a barrier is fine, but taking shots from behind it is, quite literally, offensive. People trying to end discussions because somebody they don’t like or agree with is talking is not ignoring. It is acting as a moderator, deciding what is best for everyone based upon your own preferences, and selfish because it prevents participation by those who might find value in what you do not. And lets people informally reenforce norms where they have no right to do so, it’s populism where the loudest complainers need to be catered to or the forum doesn’t function from the additional moderation load.

You have also stepped beyond that entitlement to tell new posters at BB to not engage with me, making active efforts to influence how I am perceived by others is again a political act. If you or others choose to frame somebody as a missing stair, then that BY DESIGN does not affect only you. Not to mention frequent topic policing by posting in a topic only to complain about other people’s discussion. That judgemental attitude lashes out from behind where you claim your “clearly stated” boundaries are.

You yourself have agreed that some people you just deem to be toxic personalities, and need to be pushed to leave by any available means. Is that not so? I don’t feel persecuted by you, but I do appreciate the sentiment.

“Funny” how people put forth the effort to end a discussion, but still need to get a last word in. I would argue that that statement is a libertarian position. It might not be consistent with your other professed views. I don’t subscribe to libertarianism, and observe that personal physical autonomy does have some limitations/conditions. Don’t shoot the messenger! It’s like people are saying that it’s a topic worth discussing - provided that we all already somehow agree about the details…

Many of us have personal reasons to hold sexual consent sacrosanct and don’t need to retraumatize ourselves or violate others’ trust by retelling these stories here. You are a good, interesting poster here much of the time but your views on sexual consent get downright scary and, honestly, cause some concern about how you might be acting on opinions such as that people can’t control access to their own bodies.


The bottom line is a lack of respect; for self agency, for personal boundaries, for commonly observed standards, and for the community at large.

It’s ludicrous to demand respect as a unique, atypical being when one displays no respect for anyone else.


I can appreciate that. Although, to be fair, I think I have never been able to clarify what those views actually are. A lot of that scaryness I think is part of re-thinking what what it means to be a person. For millennia the concepts of personhood, organism, individuality, selfhood were taken for granted as being the same thing, but it is now apparent that there are overlaps, but they are not essentially the same. That is weird, and kind of scary. Not unlike when you see experiments where people insist they are acting consciously, but you can measure that their body created the impulse before they rationalized it. Even more sacrosanct I would argue than the notion of sexual consent is that of the self… itself. Knowing that I am just cleverly programmed to think I have a personal identity does freak the hell out of me, but I accept it. That’s kind of hinting past the immediate issue of communication, but it is recognizing that this kind of consideration IS an “existential threat”, only not in the obvious ways one might suppose. I am looking for help and companionship in figuring this out also. To me it seems universal, not that I am confronting a group of normal people with personal weirdness. But I can respect that others perceive it as such.

I don’t understand how that’s supposed to work. If a person in a discussion says that it might in some circumstances be acceptable to take a life, does everyone judge them as a possible/probable murderer? Why not pursue those concerns with questions? Or accusations? I am not by nature a judgemental person, so it’s hard for me to relate to holding a person pseudo-accountable for how they might be acting towards others.

Maybe you can see how it might seem alienating to me that people are discussing a thing we all deal with, except I get singled out for coming to terms with it differently than others. As far as communications go, it feels like being punished for not having come to the same conclusions as others, which I don’t know what I can really do about. What is my recourse? Repent? Go away? Don’t talk about myself or my experiences? It seems like the walk is a consensus that we all need to be more able to listen to each other. But any of my story surfaces and there are instantly cries that I am “dominating the conversation” with “self-important nonsense”. Whereas in reality I have only made a few posts to the topic.

In HR departments, gossip about how somebody “may be problematic” is considered a form of harassment, because people do use it that way. So they need to push people to actually accuse the person of something, or drop it. Because that’s what’s fair. A person cannot prove a negative. And outrage over someone you barely understand is likely to not be well-founded.

It is, or it would be? IS somebody demanding your respect? One elephant in the room is that people do not all “display” respect the same ways. I suspect that you are well aware that there are class, cultural, and other differences which are anything but universal. Again, people like to treat fora like this like a big informal clubhouse, but then they don’t seem to have the patience to codify the particulars, because that’s not as fun. Declaring that one’s norms are COMMON SENSE is an evasion and has never been sufficient to avoid misunderstandings.


I would be curious to see the society where using words like “bully”, “bickering”, or indeed sentences like the second-last one in your post are indicative of respect.

Electronic communication has been around since the 1970s. Letter-writing dates back 10,000 years. Being respectful in written form has many conventions around the world, but they tend to all agree on the same very basic principles. The salutations and sign-offs may differ, but generally people can make themselves understood.

I’ve worked with people from all around the world. Two of my colleagues circumnavigated the globe on extended business trips. Most of the people I worked with every day, I never knew what they looked like. Yet we all managed to show mutual respect with minimal fuss. We didn’t always manage to get along – I was infamous for a while for telling a colleague in the Midwest “Oh, I haven’t even started shouting yet” – but we could respect each other on some basic necessary levels.

Without passive-aggression. By taking joy in words’ shades of meaning, rather than using them for one-upmanship. By constantly striving towards more clear communication.

It was a journey I am proud to have been on, and I am still on it. I strongly recommend it.


I’m going to shut this thread down for a while. I think we need a cooling off period on this discussion.


Some interesting perspective here

This thread:


That thread is awesome. I move to just include the whole thing in the BBS regs. With attribution, of course.


Because I have run into this both here and on the original site:

Person A: I like thing X. These are things I enjoyed about thing X.

Person B: Thing Y is far superior to X. X is boring compared to thing Y. Hell, thing X is just boring. [Cites specific thing A said they liked about X]. Yeah, that’s real fun. Almost as fun as watching cement set.

People like different things. This is the wonderful thing about life.

Why is the above a problem? Because it implies that A has bad taste, or that A is boring, or that their opinions are somehow lesser, when A is simply getting something out of X that B did not. It’s gatekeeping. It’s saying “you’re not cool enough to hang with us.”

Things B can say that don’t do that?

B: I didn’t enjoy X. I liked Y a lot better. (This doesn’t imply that by liking X, A somehow has poor taste).


B: If you liked X, then you will probably really love Y. (Still shows that B thinks Y is superior, but by inviting someone in, not treating them like they’re not cool enough).


B: [shrugs] I tried X but it really wasn’t for me.

All of those three allow B to express their opinion on X and how they didn’t like it, without insulting the tastes and enjoyment of A.

Now, obviously I am not talking about the big, problematic stuff. If something is racist, sexist, -phobic, etc., we can and should call that out. But when it is something like the writing style, the genre, the animation, the acting, the gameplay… People shouldn’t be made to feel they enjoy things the wrong way.

This is also not saying you can’t have or express negative opinions. This is specifically due to cases of one person saying first that they enjoyed something, and someone else interjecting to be negative, about how the thing wasn’t any good.