View Full Version : Banning and Negative Karma


bingle
11-12-2007, 06:06 PM
Wow. I don't follow MobileRead as closely as some others, but I'm really unhappy that both of these options exist in this forum and have been used. Perhaps I'm jumping to conclusions. I hope so.

One of the things that I admired about this place was the friendly, helpful attitude (especially towards newcomers) and a willingness to debate, if not necessarily accept, new ideas. I don't know what happened in any specific case, but here's a thought:

"If all mankind minus one, were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person, than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind."
-- John Stuart Mill, On Liberty

Nate the great
11-12-2007, 07:48 PM
No one has been banned (that I know of), and only one person has been noticeably hit with negative karma.

I am an argumentative and obnoxious person, and at my worst I have never gotten negative karma. That would require going way beyond any concept of polite behavior.

NatCh
11-12-2007, 08:10 PM
Wow. I don't follow MobileRead as closely as some others, but I'm really unhappy that both of these options exist in this forum and have been used. Perhaps I'm jumping to conclusions. I hope so.Hey, bingle, I can understand why you're alarmed.

First let me say that yeah negative karma and banning exist here, they're kind of built into the forum software. However, negative karma is only available to Editors and Admins, to limit its impact, and it's used extremely sparingly as a dissuasive measure.

Banning is almost exclusively reserved for Spammers, who oh so richly deserve it.

The case you're probably referring to is, as I understand it, the second time in the history of MobileRead in which a non-spammer has been banned. I wasn't around for the first one some years back, but I understand it was similar to this more recent incident.

In this case, if you'll have a look at the posts of the former user over the past couple of weeks, you'll see a consistent attitude on his part of abrasiveness, discourtesy, and disrespect. He mostly didn't cross into outright rudeness, but he skated that line about as closely as you can without crossing it too much. You'll also see a lot of effort to persuade him to comport himself in a manner consistent with the atmosphere that you refer to: one that's friendly, helpful and willing to entertain a very wide variety of ideas in a civil manner.

It got to the point where we finally concluded that we simply had no recourse but to ban the user in the interest of preserving that atmosphere. We agonized over it quite a bit, but reluctantly came to the conclusion that there just wasn't another option.

Robert Marquard
11-13-2007, 03:04 AM
My guess who got the negative karma was right on spot (wasn't really hard).

tribble
11-13-2007, 03:09 AM
Actually i got negative karma. And this was only because the moderator did not read, what i had written correctly. This misunderstanding (one that really offended me by the way.) earned me a negative karma entry.

Alexander Turcic
11-13-2007, 04:33 AM
Hi bingle,

Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us. MobileRead is all about communication, and we want everyone to feel welcome, comfortable and respected here. Unfortunately, in a large community of users with many different viewpoints, there will always be a few people who will not be happy with the way our community works.

We don't arbitrarily ban people we don't like, or ban people whose comments are even bitterly critical. Criticism isn't a problem. A problem it becomes when someone lives for stirring up trouble in the forums, someone who


feuds with other members and has the compulsive need to type things that will provoke a reaction;
continues to post the same material over and over again without changing his position or developing the discussion;
derails the conversation and community and has everyone focus solely on him.


Experience has shown that this behavior results in inhibiting productive discussion. Some readers are discouraged from contributing to the original topic, anticipating that they may also become the target of insults. Others may feel obliged to take a side and jump into the fray, adding kerosene to the fire. Once this happens, it becomes very difficult to return to the original topic of the thread. The exchange of thoughts, ideas, and experience comes to a grinding halt, and the topic of the thread no longer indicates what is contained in that thread. Once a thread has decayed to the extent that it becomes irrelevant to the vast majority of readers, it becomes a signpost to everyone that we are collectively incapable of intelligent discussion. That is not the way we want the rest of the world to perceive MobileRead.

When someone gets banned (as Nat mentioned, it happens only very *rarely* here), it's not to punished this person, but rather to remove a cause of constant friction from the community.

Regarding negative karma - I agree with you. We thought about it again and decided it's not helping anyone (whether someone "deserves" it or not).

Therefore, we have now completely disabled negative karma.

yvanleterrible
11-13-2007, 09:04 AM
To me, more than users, some subjects should be banned because controversial.
DRM comes to mind... :laugh4:

Kidding!

TadW
11-13-2007, 09:08 AM
To me, more than users, some subjects should be banned because controversial.
DRM comes to mind... :laugh4:

Kidding!

The suggestion alone is quite controversial :whistle: :tongue3:

yvanleterrible
11-13-2007, 09:18 AM
Any thing is good for a laugh.:grin:

andyafro
11-13-2007, 09:33 AM
I have broke many rules on this site (first few weeks here) and i have never got negative karma or been threatened with a ban.
The guys here are flexible, you get a warning if you post illegal content or copyrighted material but other then that they usually have a quiet word with you. The only reason for a person to be banned or get negative karma is if they continue to break the site rules even after they have been informed of there wrongdoing.

It has to be this way, this a good site that is a valuble source of ebook information, if they didnt keep people in line, this site would be banned itself or even worse it would not aquire the information it gets for us to read because no company is gonna share information with a site that doesn't keep to strick rules on such things as copyright law.

DON'T BREAK THE SITE RULES KEEP MOBILEREAD ALIVE

NatCh
11-13-2007, 10:56 AM
We don't really have all that many rules, actually, and they can probably be mostly summed up by the statement: Don't post illegal stuff and play nice. :wink:

That's a gross oversimplification, of course, but it's probably good as a rule of thumb. :nice:

JSWolf
11-13-2007, 11:50 AM
We don't really have all that many rules, actually, and they can probably be mostly summed up by the statement: Don't post illegal stuff and play nice. :wink:

That's a gross oversimplification, of course, but it's probably good as a rule of thumb. :nice:
That's a great way to put it. Works for me.

Azayzel
11-13-2007, 11:58 AM
Huh? I must have missed something in the past few weeks. Inserting my two cents... I asked about negative karma and banning quite a while back, not that I was concerned with it myself but simply due to the fact that I was curious about the matter. The response was the same as you've heard here and seems more than justified. A little while later I saw it put into action when some user did something that flagrantly violated the rules, I don't remember what but it was more than justified.

Your quote is quite interesting; however, one point being missed is that it's regarding opinions and not actions.

bingle
11-13-2007, 05:09 PM
Hi bingle,

Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us. MobileRead is all about communication, and we want everyone to feel welcome, comfortable and respected here. Unfortunately, in a large community of users with many different viewpoints, there will always be a few people who will not be happy with the way our community works.

We don't arbitrarily ban people we don't like, or ban people whose comments are even bitterly critical. Criticism isn't a problem. A problem it becomes when someone lives for stirring up trouble in the forums, someone who


feuds with other members and has the compulsive need to type things that will provoke a reaction;
continues to post the same material over and over again without changing his position or developing the discussion;
derails the conversation and community and has everyone focus solely on him.




Hi Alexander,

Thanks for responding.

Again, I don't know what went on behind the scenes in this particular case, which is why I'm trying to refrain from drawing any particular conclusions. However, what went on in public did not call for a ban, in my opinion.

The list of things you've posted, after all, could refer to me, too. I'm sure I made a lot of people unhappy with my dire predictions about the state of intellectual property business, and some people could have construed that discussion to hit at least some of the bullet points above. I may even be making some people unhappy with this topic! Am I provoking people, or just bad at coming across in a neutral way, or just discussing a topic near and dear to my heart? I imagine it's hard to say (and I experienced that firsthand in the aforementioned discussion).

bowerbird is obviously a person with strong feelings about many topics. He has a grating way of expressing himself - he occasionally pushes boundaries just to challenge them, or as a statement. That's not pleasant, but it got his point across really well, I think (At least I found his postings thought-provoking, especially when he explained his personal style and how it relates to his crusade on ebook formatting).

I guess I felt that despite his style, bowerbird was contributing to a discussion in a positive way. Especially his ideas (and implementations!) of ebook formatting tools. I'd rather see thought-provoking ideas than pleasantness, I suppose. (Of course, both together are even better).




Regarding negative karma - I agree with you. We thought about it again and decided it's not helping anyone (whether someone "deserves" it or not).

Therefore, we have now completely disabled negative karma.

I appreciate this. I think it's a great change for the better, and helps more than anything else to avoid users feeling attacked for their ideas, or oppressed by moderators.

bingle
11-13-2007, 05:15 PM
Your quote is quite interesting; however, one point being missed is that it's regarding opinions and not actions.

Yes indeed. And <philosophy_geek_mode=on> Mill was a big proponent of the idea that individuals should have perfect freedom, until the point where they began to harm others - and it's tough to harm others in speech (though not impossible).

Of course, that line where you start to harm others gets fuzzier and fuzzier the more you think about it, so maybe it's not so easy. In fact, we're seeing this in the current case, where the moderators believe that the speech of one member is causing harm to the entire community.

It would have been interesting to see Mill's incredibly liberal speech philosophy tested by placing him as the moderator of an internet bulletin board. I wonder if he would have given up after the 14th goatse link, or C|-|34p C|al|s ad. ;-)

nekokami
11-13-2007, 08:55 PM
Regarding whether words can hurt-- I've been sued for defamation as a result of an email. So the US courts apparently think words can hurt (though the outcome in this case was that the jury decided the words in question hadn't actually done any damage).

Separately, I think spam does harm the "commons" -- it disrupts actual conversations, ties up internet resources, and may ultimately drive away conversation participants if the noise to signal ratio gets high enough.

I think the situation with bowerbird, though not nearly as bad as spam or as severe as defamation, was difficult. His posts had always been negative, but this had become rather extreme in recent weeks. I sort of wonder if something happened in his life that tipped the balance toward negativity. It would be nice to think that he might eventually be able to rejoin us... or some civil online community, anyway. I see it as a sign of poor health when someone can't interact with others except by arguing. :(

mogui
11-14-2007, 12:05 AM
@neko, I think words can hurt. A case in point was a poster who is now notably absent, and was given to gratuitous obscenity and, even worse, ad hominem attacks. I don't recall that he was banned or even de-karma'd. The case under discussion now doesn't even come close.

It seems the discussion under contention was not started by bb himself, but by a moderator who was concerned with modifying bb's behavior. Bb insisted on his authorial feedom, but to my knowledge maintained decorum. It would have fit my values better (not that that is important here) to take a live-and-let-live approach.

That he was given negative karma and even banned is a greater detriment to the community than a little aberrant text formatting. Thanks, someone, for banning the negative karma! Bb did not even know who nicked his karma, whereas if we get karma, we always understand the identity of the donor.

I think this discussion (and the other one) is about freedom of expression. Bb was criticized and became defensive. Many of us do. I, personally, am allergic to criticism and have actually left jobs where the company culture was negative in that sense.

We have a good community of interesting and compassionate people. But perhaps we failed bb in some way. He was guilty of stubbornness but stubbornness in the face of criticism is a face-saving mechanism I can perfectly understand. I am not a stranger to it. I would not be surprised if he now felt humiliated.

We are often addicted to being "right". Sometimes we like to watch a good fight as long as nobody is really hurt. But winning an argument by gagging the opponent is, well, think about it . . .

NatCh
11-14-2007, 01:02 AM
I was going to leave this topic alone, but I feel that folks are being left with the wrong impression about what has happened.

The real reason that bowerbird was banned had little to do with his post formatting idiosyncrasies. Rather it was more for the attitude he openly displayed to other members before the formatting really became an issue, in the threads on the Kindle, Page Numbering, and Gutenberg Text formatting, in particular.

The formatting thing was part of the ending of how things played out, yes, but there were also some goings on behind the scenes at the same time that are not publicly apparent, and which I won't presume to make public. The point of concern was less the way his posts looked but rather the effect his attitude was having on the way this community works together. More folks announced that they were putting him on Ignore in ten days than I've seen in the preceding twenty-one months of my time here at MobileRead -- that wasn't simply a reaction to his formatting his posts oddly.

We were looking at a situation where a single person was negatively affecting the open, polite exchange and exploration of ideas that is so unusual in the cyberworld and so valued here, not by the ideas he was sharing (which were quite good and interesting), but by the attitude with which he was presenting them.

Unfortunately, in this case the action we had to take has caused some disruption to that same sense of community. We didn't take that action lightly, and as I said above, so far as I know it's only the second time in MobileRead's entire history that someone has been banned for reasons other than blatant spamming. In fact, we perhaps erred too much on the side of patience, hoping to give him the opportunity to amend his attitude, which he instead used to move on to less visible means of disruption. Had he been banned a few days earlier, his last posts would have been much more obviously disruptive, those posts are still there, they're just back a bit farther, and extend for about two weeks back.

As for not knowing who gave him what karma, everyone can see their own karma receipt records on their User Control Panel (http://www.mobileread.com/forums/usercp.php) page (towards the bottom left), it doesn't show the number changes, but it does show the names and comments. A lot of folks never notice that it's there at all, so it's probably not surprising that he hadn't.

As Alex said, the intent behind this was to shield the members who were conducting themselves in a courteous, open, respectful manner from one member who seemed to feel he didn't have to observe those things, and who as a result was inhibiting others from participating as they normally do.

I regret that all this occurred, I regret that it came to the end it did in the way it did. However, I am also confident that there simply was no other option remaining but to watch lasting harm done to the MobileRead community spirit, which you all so clearly hold as dearly as I do. The fact that folks are expressing concern over the matter suggests to me that they are worried that this action is a sign of risk to that spirit, the truth is that what was done, was done to preserve it, knowing that it might cause some concern, but as the only path left open for preventing greater harm.

I know not everyone will agree that his earlier posts were disruptive, nor do I mean to persuade you of it, particularly. I do want everyone to rest assured that this was not simply a petty squabble over formatting.

jbenny
11-14-2007, 01:34 AM
everyone can see their own karma receipt records on their User Control Panel (http://www.mobileread.com/forums/usercp.php) page (towards the bottom left), it doesn't show the number changes, but it does show the names and comments. A lot of folks never notice that it's there at all, so it's probably not surprising that he hadn't.


You're right. I never noticed it. I just looked and I still don't see it. I have javascript enabled for this site, but I do not see the karma option that you mentioned.

JSWolf
11-14-2007, 01:47 AM
When you click the link Natch supplies, you'll see at the bottom Latest Reputation Received and there is where you can view all your reputations (karma).

NatCh
11-14-2007, 01:59 AM
Yes, sorry, my bad. I hadn't noticed that it calls it "reputation" rather than "karma" or I'd've noted that. :smack:

jbenny
11-14-2007, 02:36 AM
I do see the "latest reputation" item. It is shown more or less in the center, underneath other things, but not at the very bottom. When you said that it was at the bottom left, I assumed you meant on the menu panel to the left. Also, I only see two items listed. Should there be more? If so, how do I view those?

Edit: I just got some karma for asking my previous question. Apparently I wasn't the only one who was confused :)

Alexander Turcic
11-14-2007, 04:28 AM
bowerbird is obviously a person with strong feelings about many topics. He has a grating way of expressing himself - he occasionally pushes boundaries just to challenge them, or as a statement.

I don't really want to spend any more time talking about a person who decided for himself that it'd be best to leave our community; still, one thing I need to point out. Everyone may (and is encouraged to) have his own opinion or feelings about a topic; but it's important to remain civil and respectful to others - otherwise, this community would be destined to fail. Bb has not shown this required civility. He attacked respected MobileRead members, and he ignored opinions of others by simply dismissing them as "nonsense" and "speculation." Worse, when others didn't immediately agree with him, he openly questioned their intelligence.

He ranted, completely unasked for, against David and Robert of TeleRead, both whom we highly respect and owe a great deal. He called theirs and our reporting about the Amazon Kindle a "sham", "lies" and "dirty journalism", unfounded accusations that we obviously don't take lightly.

Despite everything, we tried to remain understanding. We asked him to be polite. Instead, he blasted at us and continued his verbal assaults.

In future, should this situation arise again (let's hope not :fingersx:), we'll act more promptly. We owe it to everyone who joined MobileRead to engadge in pleasant and friendly conversations, without rants and personal attacks.

Alexander

mogui
11-14-2007, 08:31 AM
Yes NatCh, now that I have read the other threads, I see it as an interesting character study. I wonder if anyone remembers the original Jerry Lewis version of the Nutty Professor. When he drank the potion he was transformed into Mr Arrogant -- but he was cool!

Actually it is clever writing (assuming you are writing against character) to bring forth such self-righteousness in a monolog. The next time I need such a character for a story, I will be sure to re-read these posts. Or I could re-read Jekyll and Hyde :)

NatCh
11-14-2007, 09:19 AM
I do see the "latest reputation" item. It is shown more or less in the center, underneath other things, but not at the very bottom. When you said that it was at the bottom left, I assumed you meant on the menu panel to the left. Also, I only see two items listed. Should there be more? If so, how do I view those?I said "toward the lower left" I meant the lower right -- I sometimes confuse left and right, especially late at night. Oddly, I don't seem to have that problem with north, south, east and west. :shrug:

You should see at least the five most recent entries, assuming you have that many. I'm not sure if it shows more than that for everyone or not.

UncleDuke
11-14-2007, 10:03 AM
i just read his stuff, the guy's no poet, he needs ... well i won't follow his course

i praise the efforts, these things are hard, they hut the gut, you lose sleep at night. don't think that they did it lightly, these things hurt if you have a soul

JSWolf
11-14-2007, 10:41 AM
It was not a decision the staff takes lightly. We don't like banning any active member.

HappyMartin
11-15-2007, 07:41 AM
What would this forum be without at least a couple of banned people for us to agonize and argue over? It would not be a proper forum at all.