I’m still fighting Noah’s Boy, though actually I’m fighting the crud, which is trying to make a comeback. Yesterday I worked full time and got 1k words between revision and writing. For me, that’s a sign I’m running a high fever… and I was.
Before you get horribly worried, this seems to be a recursive virus, both from my friends, who keep coming down with it again and again and again, and from talking to the people at the con. It seems to be one of those that comes back lighter and lighter, till it stops affecting us.
Some years in Colorado Springs, we get these even when the rest of the country doesn’t, though this year the rest of the country seems to be RIGHT THERE with us. (Thanks guys, we do appreciate the solidarity.)
This time does seem to be lighter, and my guess is I wouldn’t have got it at all except for the con straining the system, and other than making me late on NB where I CAN’T afford to be later, I’m trying to take it easy.
It occurred to me that though I exercise high and low justice around here, and the privilege of the banning hammer, I never explained the rules whereof the justice comes, which is very unfair of me and also somewhat un-libertarian. Of course, this blog is not a democratic republic, but an absolute monarchy, in that I own the space and can eject whomever I please, BUT I’d still like to have people know when they’re stepping over the line and also to do a post laying it out, so in the future, you can say to a newby “You’re being a bonehead” and link the post.
The term comes from the Baen fan/author conference, known as the bar, which Jim Baen said had only one rule “Don’t be a bonehead” – only he didn’t say BONE.
Instead of defining it clearly, Jim had moderators who had the gist of what made for a lively conference. This is important, because in my online life I’ve seen perfectly good blogs either made unbearable or even subverted by boneheads who came in and squatted over the comments section like poisonous spiders, making life living hell for the regulars.
RES has explained this effect best when calling it “the drunken uncle at a wedding.” I don’t know if other people have experience this. Not everyone was blessed with my mom’s relatives, which gave me a wide panoply of life experience. However, this was immediately understandable to me, having experienced it from about age six.
You know, everyone is having a great time and then uncle someone or other gets drunk, and starts loudly making inappropriate jokes to every female of all ages, and calling them prudish when they complain or following them when they try to move away. Later, for added diversion and depending on how intellectual he is, he will try to argue politics with other men, and take the most extreme positions possible, and shift the goal posts all over, and preen himself on how smart he is.
No matter how much you like uncle someone or other and understand he’s been a little funny since the war/his wife left/that incident with the mating weasels, at some point you realize other people are excusing themselves, developing sudden headaches, remembering dental appointments, or whatever, and leaving a party that was otherwise great fun.
Wise hosts learned that when uncle so and so started to get what he called “fun” and “relaxed” you tried to lead him away to have a little nap, and if that were impossible, you drove him home. And if he insisted on doing this EVERY TIME you stopped inviting him.
It took me a while to learn to do this to the drunken uncles of the blog world, because I had some odd idea that I should allow free speech. Only, I’m NOT a public utility. I pay for the blog. It’s my living room. And the regulars here have mostly become friends I don’t like seeing upset.
Mind you, I encourage and welcome newbies and first posters – as long as they aren’t boneheads.
I realize some people aren’t being boneheads on purpose. At least one of the occasionally regular posters periodically goes off his meds and goes from helpful to “OMG, WHAT?” Other people just have really bad social skills, particularly in the SF/F field. So I’m going to try to give some helpful hints.
You might be acting like a bonehead if:
1 – You come in, a poster’s comment presses one of your hot buttons, and you decide whatever the comment casually referenced is the most important thing in the world. You then proceed to:
a) Comment on it by insulting the poster’s race/religion/sexual preference, which you can’t possibly know, but you’re SURE must be x y or z which you hate. You do this completely unprovoked and it will seem to other commenters as though you’re coming out of the blue. This is called “hitting.”
b) Anyone else who comes in and even mentions this tangential point, in answer to you or not, you decide MUST be the original poster, even if they’re saying something different, so you immediately jump on it with “Ahah, I knew you’d concede.”
c) Refuse to give up on your hobbyhorse, even when it becomes IN YOUR FACE OBVIOUS that you’re just upsetting people and not winning any converts to your cause.
d) Refuse to give up on your hobbyhorse, even when it’s pointed out to you you’re filling the comments section with something that has nothing to do with the post and which unlike say hair dye or shoes, which have taken over comment threads before, is OFFENSIVE to a bunch of people who were enjoying themselves, and who have never done anything to you. (I’m not saying my posts can’t offend people, nor that your comments can’t – I’m saying if it’s not related to the post and is going after people who’ve never hit you, you’re out of bounds.)
We all have hot buttons and most adults are at best walking wounded. Most of us, though, learn not to attack total strangers who’ve never done anything to even lead us to believe they don’t like us. The question here is “What exactly are you hoping to accomplish with this behavior?” If you’re just making people upset – why do you want to continue? It’s a wide and free internet. Go somewhere else.
2 – You come in and define people’s religion/nationality/sexuality/political beliefs for them, even when they try to tell you that you’re wrong. You then proceed to:
a) Tell us how superior your nationality/religion/sexuality/political beliefs are to the ones expressed in the post or held by most posters. (And you often misinterpret these, or use reasons no one in his right mind would.)
b) Tell us we’re stupid to be upset over a development in our own country, which you only know about from your country’s incredibly biased press.
c) Act in the way my grandmother called “Having G-d in your belly” – i.e. someone gave you the sole ability to look into the hearts of everyone and you get to define everything.
Again, the question is “what do you hope to accomplish?” If it’s to p*ss off people, don’t be astonished at the troll-hammering
3 – You come over to educate us in Marxist anything. No. This one doesn’t need aggravating behavior. I don’t care what illogical beliefs you have, I had a bellyful of it and more in my schooling and I’m not going to give you a forum for a theory that has caused millions of dead and is looking to cause millions more.
An exception to this is if you are willing to listen and engage in honest discussion on why it’s wrong.
PRETENDING to engage in honest discussion and shifting goal posts brings on the troll hammer, because I don’t find this stuff amusing anymore.
4 – Another instant troll hammer is if you come in and preach at us — usually completely unprovoked — that some race/nationality/religion/sexual preference is inherently evil and needs to eliminated forthwith.
My favorite variant of these are the white supremacists, who might perhaps want to take a look at the blog owner’s photo before peddling their rotten fish. (Some day I’ll share with you the gems in one of these blogs which I followed back, including the fact they thought Portugal had gone down the drain because the population had become “miscegenated” – to prove this, they used pictures of the Portuguese Royalty in the 18th and 19th centuries… who were, like everyone else, relatives of Queen Victoria and had nothing to do with the population in general. If they’d gone back far enough, they’d have found Prince Henry the Navigator was swarthy and rather Jewish-looking [His mother was Phillipa of Lancaster, but his father was an illegitimate son of the king by a lady from a converso family.] and was also possibly the brightest star that Portugal has ever produced so while they can be amusing and their delusions “adorable” – I don’t have time to mock them as deserved every time and also they highjack threads. So, instant troll hammer.)
5- Never had to use troll hammer for this, but came close to it one time – I don’t care how infelicitously someone expressed something. Before you accuse a regular of being a troll and chase him/her all over the threads, PARTICULARLY when you’re a relative newby, kindly search for that commenter’s name and see how often they’ve commented and what kind of comments.
Persisting in harassing people who have been commenting here for years about an irrelevant point of linguistic expression AND ignoring the blog owner when she says “So and so is NOT a troll” will get you banned. (Getting offended at the owner saying “So and so is often a pain, but is not a troll” leads to self banning and puzzles the owner who thought most of the comments AIMED at being a pain — at least half the time, when it comes to odd puns and weird theories.)
Understand, I’m not saying you can’t have lively discussion or even – if you’re both regulars – tease each other. I’m not saying even that comment threads must keep to the topic (Ah! Like any of you could do that.)
I’m saying that unprovoked hitting – say making fun of someone’s religion which hasn’t even been mentioned before, then doubling down when the person is offended – and pursuing hobby horses that are upsetting everyone else, and making the comment thread all about your particular obsession even though EVERYONE else is getting upset at you is likely to get you banned.
In fact, think of it this way, if you’re behaving like a kindergartner and the discussion has devolved to “did not” and “did too” at some point I’ll come in and ban the one of you who is not a regular, or who has done this more than once. (And yes, I totally know you guys are going to do this in the comments just to get my goat. Behave. Goat blood is a b*tch to get off the floor boards.)
Feel free to ask questions or suggest additional rules in comments. BE AWARE that I can’t require the guys to all wear quilts and that some of the women are allergic to fishnet stockings. I can’t enforce that kind of rule. (Or even put the guys in fishnet stockings.)
And now excuse me, I have a novel to finish.