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> how can we share out most wonderful and beautiful ideas with each other

The trick is to create channels with limited audiences, where you can set an expectation of which ideas are acceptable and which are not.*

It always has been, but the the arrival of new communication methods has disrupted the traditional channels, and now every idea is propagated to a much larger and looser audience, which aren't aware or don't share the expectations of the sender.

We need to rebuild the architecture of communication channels around this principle of limited audiences sharing a common understanding, and reshape the current "free" massive communication tools so that they respect this principle instead of exploiting the benefits of popularising aggressive messages for their shock value.

This compartmentalisation of channels would do much more for freedom of expression than the current "everyone gets a distorted and contextless version of the original message and can have their say".

* By the way, this is the reason why explicit Codes of Conduct are a good thing for online projects. Without them, you simply get a default implicit code of conduct based on the expectations of the dominant group; which is not a good solution for people coming from any other group.




This ignores that the web has birthed a global culture of people where participation in online discussion is the majority of their lives. And they sit around looking to be offended to raise their own social value amonst their online peers.

Being offended is about obtaining value and for mobs to obtain power.

The two way street of both trying to not offend AND the listener trying to honestly interpret what is being said goes out the window

Whenever you have a bad actor on either side of communication, it breaks down.

The common wisdom, though, is that the bad actor is always the speaker.

And its simply not true.

The other problem is, as a culture, everyone is responsible for everyone else's emotions. No one is asked to be responsible for their own.

I don't have a problem with codes of conduct per se.

I do have a problem with a culture that constantly asks people to not be responsible for how they process information. Even negative, even offensive information.

Relationship therapists teach couples to use "I" language vs "you" language to express feelings (Google it if you don't understand)

This way you take responsibility for how external stimuli makes you feel rather than making your partner wholly responsible and thus making discussion adversarial

This problem is happening in FOS projects or even just social media in general.

Everyone is a soccer player, falling down, grabbing their leg hoping to get the most people feeling sorry for them, claiming 1% if the bullies and edgelords out there are some dominant social group. It's crap


Hit the nail on the head. This culture has no concept of "thick skin" and interprets any nuanced position in the most unfavorable light. Then they put on a dramatic show of being offended, hurt, or outraged in hopes of accolades from their peers.


This is so great. We have lost the art and skill of critical thinking and exposure to all ideas because some say free speech is fine so long as you only say things that I agree with. We're regressing intellectually and fast.


> This ignores that the web has birthed a global culture of people where participation in online discussion is the majority of their lives.

I'm not ignoring that, I'm describing what I see is an underlying cause. If online discussion tools respected the principle of setting proper expectations for each communication channel, the problem would be much milder, as the problems you describe would be limited to smaller groups of interaction, instead of being escalated to viral dimensions.


Rules and expectations are helpful

But all the rules in the world can't solve for bad actors - both speakers and listeners.

There's a fluidity to human interaction that rigidity of rule sets will never totally compensate for.

And too many rules can be counterproductive and be empowering to bad actors who thrive in increasing beaucracies, at the least by making it difficult for everyone else so they look good by comparison. Then the whole focus gets lost. More time is spent navigating, adhering to, debating rules than the primary focus...

And trolls love thst shit.


I should know that, I'm a regular Wikipedia editor.

Despite that, for groups where people come from very different origins and cultures, it is better to spell out the expected rules of behaviour to some degree. "No rules" only works when participants are homogeneous enough that all them already know the rules.


> Relationship therapists teach couples to use "I" language vs "you" language to express feelings

On the other hand, when a statement is made about you ("what you did is wrong") you always have a chance to discuss the facts. When a statement is made about personal feelings ("I feel offended by what you did") no discussion is possible any more: I can counter your interpretation of facts, but I cannot possibly argue about your stated feelings. You won, period. This seems to me the danger of the "I language".


The point is to work towards mutualism. I language assumes you're both interested in moving forward together.

If you're not interested in moving forward together then I or you language doesn't really matter.


> The trick is to create channels with limited audiences, where you can set an expectation of which ideas are acceptable and which are not.

Do you mean that a community could allow argument X, but disallow counter-argument Y? That sounds like a recipe for an echo chamber.

I definitely see the benefit in saying that certain topics are out of scope for a given community. But saying which ideas are acceptable and which are not sounds like codifying the dominance of an official viewpoint.


> I definitely see the benefit in saying that certain topics are out of scope for a given community. But saying which ideas are acceptable and which are not sounds like codifying the dominance of an official viewpoint.

Yeah, exactly. But any anthropologist or sociologist will tell you that any social group works exactly that way, it's an inevitable reality of being social humans.

The trick to support freedom of expression isn't forcing all possible communication forums to accept all possible topics and ideas; it's to create cross-pollination groups where some ideas that are taboo in other forums can be discussed in an adequate context.

University used to be such a forum intended for cross-pollination and having a different set of taboos than the mainstream society, before it was hijacked by the dynamics of social networks.


Every stable community already has things you can and cannot say (try arguing the merits of pederasty, war, or heroin and see how far you get!)


Challenge accepted.

Pederasty is so far from our cultural norms it’s current form is meaningless compared to a socially accepted version. In a society with active mentoring of youth by people across the gender and sexual orientation spectrum pederasty would reduce the stigma’s associated with homosexuals thus increasing social cohesion.

War is a stress test for societies. By destroying less efficient social structures it promotes long term progress and reduces inefficient practices like slavery.

Heroin is an opioid and can be used as such. It’s current stigma is associated with recreational uses, but it can easily be used for chronic pain in a hospice instead of similar opioids.

PS: IMO the real reason to segregate ideas across forms is to avoid having the same conversations everywhere. Bringing up politics means people talk about politics rather than whatever the original subject was.


> Pederasty [...] would reduce the stigma’s associated with homosexuals thus increasing social cohesion.

Increasing acceptance of gay people by checks notes encouraging adults to have sex with minors.

And before you accuse me of cutting out a part of your argument, you haven't actually given a definition of pederasty that's not the one everyone understands, which is "adult men having sex with minors".


Technically I believe the argument for it is even more fucked up ironically social mobility. Without pederasty the relationship to the mentor would be more encouraged along social clan lines and could lead to a rise of effective caste doms. The recognized costs of the shame and protectiveness towards one offspring means the lowest would be more likely to take such "opportunities" as fucked up as it sounds pimping out your sons is the best way to give them a better life.

It has obvious terrible effects involved with it and the very fact it is being considered is a sign that things are deeply wrong but bizzarely winds up a lesser evil in some ways. Which arguably just makes it more insidious which is a whole other moral topic.


It’s gender specific so men having sex with boys, from ~17 down to pre-pubescent.

Anyway, the point was not to convince anyone just to discuss the topic in a positive manor without provoking a massive negative response from HN. Consider taking some issue you strongly disagree with and making a single positive argument about it. For example, the upside of infanticide?


> War is a stress test for societies. By destroying less efficient social structures it promotes long term progress and reduces inefficient practices like slavery.

War destroys progress and is incredibly inefficient. The mere threat of war creates an endless arms race resulting in half of discretionary spending going to defense.

The reason for submitting to government authority is for protection of life and liberty. War results in destruction of life and reduced liberty, so it's a major failure in that regard.

"Sorry ma'am, but your son died in the Great Stress Test of 1861. I know you just spent your last nineteen years raising him, but we weren't sure if slavery was efficient or not, so we needed him to help settle the question on the battlefield."


For clarity the argument goes like this:

The global average military spending is 2.2% of global GDP, the US spends 3.4% of GDP. In a vacuum that looks like a dead loss, but over the last 10,000+ years even minor increases in progress could easily make up for that. Consider the USSR was destroyed by failing to manage that expenditure, in a world without war it could easily still be around. Now extend that back to every poor use of resources eliminated by war like Aztec mass human sacrifice or the southern states use of slavery.

I don’t think it’s acceptable trade off for the direct suffering of war, but it is a defensible argument.


War certainly destroys somethings, but in other ways it spurs invention -- radar, cyrptography, jet engines, computing were all products of world war 2.

And sometimes destroying leads to improvements - the blitz destroyed a lot of slum housing in the London east end, which was rebuilt en mass in a way that wouldn't have been possible without the widespread destruction.

Massive losses felt across the population in the UK led to a national unity and a desire for improvement of everyones lives, leading to things like the welfare state and healthcare for all.

Looking further back in history, the US war of independence is deemed to have had desirable outcomes.

You can still think war is a failure but acknowledge that it can lead to benefits as well as drawbacks.


> War destroys progress and is incredibly inefficient.

Please explain the monumental advancements of technology witnessed during both world wars. Even if they were not a direct result of the war effort, they still succeeded in spite of all technically and scientifically advanced nations being on a war footing during those time periods.

> The mere threat of war creates an endless arms race resulting in half of discretionary spending going to defense.

Please explain why we have not seen a significant drop in defense spending during the periods when the threat of war has lessened. Especially after the fall of the Soviet Union when the world was decidedly unipolar for more than a decade.

> The reason for submitting to government authority is for protection of life and liberty.

I would argue that ceding some liberty to government is necessary for peaceful defense of life and property (backed up by the threat of collective force) but I don't believe that a government inherently defends liberty. To the contrary I think that liberty must be actively defended from the excesses of government, preferably by building those protections in to the legal foundation of the governments power so that if they are violated it invalidates the mandate granted and provides legal recourse against the government in favour of those wronged by it.

To be clear, I don't support war and I think that there are much better and less destructive ways to stimulate technological and societal growth but I don't hold with weak arguments either.


> Please explain why we have not seen a significant drop in defense spending during the periods when the threat of war has lessened. Especially after the fall of the Soviet Union when the world was decidedly unipolar for more than a decade.

But we have. See the second chart, covering Defence spending of the United Kingdom from 1900-2020. https://www.ukpublicspending.co.uk/past_spending

Spiked over 45% of GDP during WWI, and over 50% during WWII. Took a small bump over 10% that I believe was the Korean War, and has been fairly consistently drifting downward since, and is roughly comparable to 1900s pre-war spending.

The United States has a similar graph https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Military_budget_of_the_United_... and while it's still nowhere near pre-war spending, there's been a similar downward trend over the last 50 years.


> Please explain the monumental advancements of technology witnessed during both world wars

The problem is that you can't counter this by showing the monumental advancements that may have happened without the destructive nature of those wars on lives, economies, etc. because, well, we have no idea.

> Please explain why we have not seen a significant drop in defense spending during the periods when the threat of war has lessened.

Because "the mere threat of war" still exists - except instead of Russia, it's now terrorists, Middle Eastern countries, North Korea, etc. Also because the military industrial complex has an ungodly hold over governments.


> By destroying less efficient social structures it promotes long term progress and reduces inefficient practices like slavery.

Sorry, what? Slavery was never "inefficient." The problem is that humans have rights and holding slaves deprives them of those rights. To the contrary, slavery was, is, terribly efficient for the slaveholder.


Slavery definetly is inefficient on the labor level long term. Especially as a generational state that cannot be worked and bought out of. Slaves are effectively encouraged to work only hard enough to avoid punishment and their individual efficency winds up being ignored. There isn't really any reason to try to get better over time except at plotting escape or how to murder every last master around you, even the children.

The really fucked up part is that the advent of slavery was an improvement over stone aged bands warfare of genocide where at best some of the women and children might be forced into concubinge and human sacrifices to dispose of unsustainable mouths to feed.


Agreed! Alexis de Tocqueville had similar arguments about slavery and it's economic inefficiencies. Sadly part of his argument was not based on civil liberties and rights rather his argument was the expense of the "up keep", housing and feeding slaves, versus an individual worker who is free has to provide their own cost of living for which that burden is then lifted off the master/owner. The business owner simply pays the worker for his/her labor, and no more feeding and housing. It saves expenditure burden on the owner and transfers the cost to the worker, maximize profits.

Wonder what he would say to the mechanization of labor through technology and its benefits of ending the institution of slavery and providing owners cheaper or eliminating labor expenditure?

So just another view point on the issue of "inefficiency of slavery" argument.


Your heroin argument is kinda strawman. You should address addiction, health aspect, and criminalization vs legalization.

Modern war not only means crazy lot of civilian casualties, and environmental destruction. It is literal breeding ground of hate, human misery, all of worst qualities of people. Only a defence contractor would advocate for war.


>> "War is a stress test for societies. By destroying less efficient social structures it promotes long term progress and reduces inefficient practices like slavery."

The struggle between people who believe in this and people who don't is more or less the plot of Babylon 5. The show actually moved me closer to the Shadow position: excessive stability is as much a problem as excessive chaos. Civilization seems to find a balance on the long view.


I agree that there are almost always some guardrails in place, and certain viewpoints that are considered beyond the pale. And so there is a balancing act between an Overton Window that is too wide and wastes people's time with nonsense, and one that is too narrow and prevents bad orthodoxies from being challenged.


How are implicit guardrails better than specified guardrails?

Surely explicit guardrails act as therapeutic discourse, in that it seeks to clarify systematic self-deception. By self-deception, I refer first-and-foremost to the myth of objectivity that often surrounds contemporary debate.


Because moderators are trying to stop flamewars - not jump into the middle and fight both sides.


I suppose that's a matter of definition and, in any-case, falls victim to the is-ought problem.

I fail to see why moderators should police tone over content and I'm not convinced this is even the case.


Tone drives people away faster than content. A civil discussion with someone you disagree with is very different than the all caps hate fest you see without any form of moderation.


> Every stable community already has things you can and cannot say

My point is that every stable community has a different subset of things that you cannot say.

It's easy to create a group where pederasty, war or heroin can be freely discussed or praised. The problem nowadays appears when utterances aimed to that specific group are picked up and propagated by the general network, reaching people who were not their intended targets and who didn't share the original channel's assumptions for what can and cannot be said.


I can't think of many instances of someone sharing a "controversial" opinion where they weren't just regurgitating tired old arguments that are trivially discredited. The easy response is: well if they're trivially rebutted, why not just rebut them?

That works once. Twice. Twenty times. It doesn't take long before these "just raising the controversy" comments overwhelm sincere and thought-provoking discussion. A rhetorical DDoS/DoS works the same way a technological one does.

There are a few small, well-moderated communities/outlets where people have gone a level or two past propaganda and stereotypes, but they come into the discussion with an open mind. I can at least feel like, if I found the right angle, I might persuade them toward my viewpoint.

And most importantly: people come into those spaces knowing what to expect. I expect to see some serious discussion over whether or not I deserve equal rights, for example, but I don't feel like it's futile the way I do with people coming in with a roster of thought-terminating cliches and propaganda as a cover for hate.


By "trivially discredited" do you mean just slapping some "-ist" label and boom, it is done?


> regurgitating tired old arguments that are trivially discredited

who judges this? fundamentals of human right are often old, who decides they are tired or outdated?

If they are constantly repeated, then either they aren't considered rebutted, or the rebuttal rarely spreads, and that is the thing that needs to be investigated.

We need to identify "thought-terminating cliches and propaganda" via a bipartisan standard. The current standards seem to be "your propaganda is propaganda, my propaganda is defence".


I find codes of conduct meaningless. They will go on in very general terms about 'hate speech' which is just synonymous with 'anything that anyone feels offended by' now.

I would argue that code of conducts were a symptom of the start of the problem.

The strategy of the grievance class:

- Propose a code of conduct which surely nobody can disagree with, it's great to have rules and be nice to each other.

- Design the code of conduct so any perceived offence falls under it

- Wield it as a tool to push out any dissenters


That was always implicit in group discussions. As others have said, Codes of Conduct aren't creating new rules, they're just making them explicit instead of implicit.

Let me give you an example: you have a group of friends. Two of your friends have recently experienced a miscarriage. The implicit rules in your group have now expanded to include "no dead baby jokes" (depending on how dark your group's humour was, this might always have been a rule). The reason for this expansion is that two members of the group will now be hurt, upset and offended by those jokes. Making a "dead baby joke" is now a good reason to think the offender is an insensitive idiot, who probably isn't someone you want to be friends with.

This is no different from "no jokes about fags" when your group includes gay people. But sometimes, some people insist on being able to make "fag jokes" because "snowflakes are over-sensitive". Of course, they may not know the group includes gay people, and the gay people in question may not want anyone else to know their sexual orientation (none of anyone else's business). So it's better to spell it out explicitly that "fag jokes" are not allowed, even though there are apparently no gay people in the group. This is what a Code of Conduct does.

Yes, there are Purity Spirals that end up pushing this to extremes. But that's a separate issue. Codes of Conduct are still a really good idea.


I agree that if there are rules, it's much better to make them explicit instead of implicit. I also think your example makes sense, but I'm not sure it applies to larger groups or public forums. There are simply too many people to avoid discussing every topic that could offend someone. I'm not saying overt racism or homophobia is okay, but especially when it comes to humor it's almost unavoidable that it can hit too close to home for someone who sees it.

In public discussions there has to be some baseline ability by the reader to accept that they can be offended while the value of what was said to the rest of the audience may outweigh their own feelings. The implicit rules of what is acceptable to talk about, especially online, have been getting stricter to the point of being ridiculous in my experience.


I agree with that. But like I said, that's a different problem. The "stricter to the point of being ridiculous" is a Purity Spiral, and that's a known phenomenom in human commnication that occurs in all sorts of settings. It's not new, and it's not restricted to online conversations. Also hard to escape.

The core reasoning behind Codes of Conduct is sound.


I totally agree. What can taint the idea is having the Code of Conduct intentionally vague or selectively enforced, but the core idea is much better than unspoken norms.


> In public discussions there has to be some baseline ability by the reader to accept that they can be offended while the value of what was said to the rest of the audience may outweigh their own feelings. The implicit rules of what is acceptable to talk about, especially online, have been getting stricter to the point of being ridiculous in my experience.

Quite agree. Thus my proposal to create smaller, more controlled discussion groups. The larger the group, the more difficult it is to build a code of conduct that will satisfy all participants.


I think that's a great idea, at the very least it filters out a lot of spam and ideally gives you more context about each individual so if something controversial is said you can put it into context with them as a whole. I just worry that these smaller discussion groups are becoming more and more rare online, but maybe the current craziness will lead to their resurgence.


Can you point to examples where you feel they're done well? Whenever the subject comes up it's always the egregious ones that are pointed out so I'd like to see the other side.


Anything you see in the news are the egregious instances that get pushed to ridiculous levels. If you've seen a sign saying "wash your hands after using the toilet", that's an explicit code of conduct done well.


I do not think so. A group of friends vs a group of people collaborating through internet is very different thing. I would be okay if rules simply say no discussion or talk outside of work we collaborate on.

But it is very likely same sensitive people will jump and say "how can one be quiet when XYZ minority group is getting harassed/attacked/bullied/doxxed ? Say something don't be quiet on grave injustice." By saying something most likely means always in favor of over sensitive folks. If one tries to bring in different POV which does not fit the offended person's worldview, the person who said something is now racist or some kinda anti-minority douchebag.

So to me COC have one main point that is to attack on people who you do not like.


Like I said, CoC's are being weaponised by Purity Spirals. It doesn't make CoC's useless.

Try organising an event without one and with one, and you'll see. They an extremely useful tool. The fact that (like most tools) you can also weaponise them doesn't make them not useful.


Do we not already have several examples of someone new coming in, pushing the adoption of a Code of Conduct, and then there is a sudden attack on the founders due to some minor quibble? Then there is the usual backroom meeting and whoosh, they're gone. Didn't we see that in, if I recall, Drupal?


I think you are focusing on clear examples, and not the grey areas that can easily be abused.

Should a CoC have a "no politics" rule? No profanity (in an 18+ group)?


It depends on the purpose of the group. There are lots of 18+ groups that discourage politics, and lots more where no profanity is expected. As long as there are other different groups where those are allowed, everything is OK.


This.

In any group you will need to agree on a set of rules about these things. A Code of Conduct doesn't change that, just makes it explicit.

The reason that Codes of Conduct are good is that it makes the life of an organiser so much easier. If Bob is being weird around the ladies (again), then an organiser can take him to one side and point to the "no being weird around the ladies" clause in the CoC. This is a massively easier discussion than without the CoC, where they would have to explain to Bob that his behaviour around the ladies was causing them distress, etc.

Yes, this includes "grey" areas, because it involves human feelings and emotions. Charles might behave in a similar manner to Bob, but not be "weird" about it, and people find him funny not creepy. Therefore he's not breaking the "don't be weird around the ladies" rule. That's down to human perception, unfortunately for Bob.

But that rule already existed, and was already "grey". Without the CoC, the organiser would still need to take Bob to one side and have the chat. Because weirding out the female members of the group is a dick move regardless. And Charles would still get a pass because he wasn't being weird. The CoC hasn't changed anything, just made it explicit.


It also makes an explicit commitment by the organizer that they'll react in some way to complaints covered by the CoC, and tells people how/where to make such complaints. I.e. if an organizer ignores something, they can be pointed to "but you committed to upholding these rules for your event".


yes, good point :)


> Charles might behave in a similar manner to Bob, but not be "weird" about it, and people find him funny not creepy.

So it's all down to the interpretation (of both the CoC, and whether behaviour falls within it) of the organiser? Especially under such vague standards as "being weird" or "being creepy?

This sound like the exact problem with CoCs. And the "rule-breaking" aspect goes both ways. It's eventually a way to streamline the process by shutting down group dissent. Work fine if the rules, and their enforcement are just; not so much otherwise.

> But that rule already existed, and was already "grey"

No it didn't. The reasoning behind the rule did, but not the rule. Once the rule exists people can appeal to the rule directly without considering the reasoning behind it; Much like arguing that abortion is bad because it is murder, without reconsidering why murder is bad in the first place and re-engaging with that logic in the context of abortion.


> It's eventually a way to streamline the process by shutting down group dissent. Work fine if the rules, and their enforcement are just; not so much otherwise.

What you're missing is that this is something that will happen anyway, explicit CoC or not. Someone with power will always be in a position to judge the rules and enforce them in his own way on someone without power, by definition.

But if there is an explicit code, you are warned in advance of the actions that will more likely trigger enforcement, instead of finding them after the fact.

Therefore, you can decide to avoid those actions, or avoid the event entirely. In some ways, an explicit CoC is giving more power to participants over the organizer, not the opposite.


> Someone with power will always be in a position to judge

True, but maybe a CoC gave them that power. A CoC is a sufficient-but-not-necessary condition for such abuses.

> an explicit CoC is giving more power to participants

In the sense that it gives an opportunity to self police. The biggest army never needs to fight.


I was part of a group that had a policy of apolitical(ity)

Until a topic (think BLM kind) came along that people thought should be an exception; The usual arguments: this wasn't politics, this was basic human rights / existence; It was offensive not to allow, is was oppression to not discuss.

Basically, enough people cared more about <topic> than their continued membership, or even the continued existence/stability of the group, that may become fractured by <topic>, that they where willing to leave and make a big stink about doing so, enough to potentially give the group a bad reputation, and leveraged this threat against the policy.


That's politics.

If social norms change and you want your group to have continued legitimacy, you may need to change with them. Not having a code of conduct doesn't make things any different.


What "social norms change" require groups wishing to be apolitical to not be, except the most extreme?

The you'd describe being apolitical as not being "legitimate" is chilling.


Put another way, if as a leader you don't take time to recognize the priorities of those whom you are responsible for, they'll eventually revolt.

In some sense, what I'm saying is that it's not possible to be apolitical. Politics is just lens through which we analyze human interaction. You can't have social groups without politics.

If you mean specifically "politics" in the US democratic/republican party sense, that's in theory a more attainable goal, but keep in mind that under that definition you excuse what is objectively bad behavior (IBM supporting the Nazis, as an example). Not to mention that the political parties in some sense have a vested interest in making things that shouldn't be political issues "political".

And you also get into the question of what is political? Are facts political? Is saying "black people are killed by police at a higher rate than white people" political? You're ultimately just advocating for a different form of censorship, which is fraught with all the same problems as any other form, but additionally with the duty to appear unbiased in how you define what is or isn't political.

That's an inherently conservative position to take. Which you should recognize if you want to take it.


Any social group has a code of conduct. Classic codes of conduct have been in place for generations and are implicitly taught to members accepted in the social class.

The difference now is that these codes are being challenged by outsiders to the former dominant class; and making the new groups work requires the code of conduct to be enumerated explicitly, in order to define and coordinate the new, non-classical values.


How do you manage reading every code of conduct and honoring it?

The trouble I'm having with social changes, expectations, per person pronouns, and other things is that managing all of these interactions can be a crushing amount of cognitive load.

Now that I think about it, it's the same challenge I have with microservices. Formerly simple interactions are now hellza complicated. I'm not fighting the trend. I'm just fatigued.


>How do you manage reading every code of conduct and honoring it?

I don't think perfect adherence should be expected. If there's a code of conduct and someone runs afoul of it, just give them a gentle poke and point them to what they ran afoul of. If they're cool with the code of conduct, great. They fix their behavior and everyone's happy. If they don't like the code of conduct, then they're welcome to join a community with a code of conduct that better matches their outlook. If they continue to stick around anyway and violate the code of conduct after being informed what they're doing wrong, they get the boot.

Where this gets stickier is when you build monolithic communities like Stack Overflow where "the boot" is actually seriously punishing. I only ever moderated little game forums where the consequences of a ban were far less severe. Which is why I tend to think it's better to have small distributed self-managing communities rather than monolithic communities. Makes it easier for diverse outlooks to live-and-let-live without requiring minorities to conform to the majority.


Who polices those giving the "boot"? Who polices those police? What about nuances and interpretations and lack of context?


Given small enough communities: no one, and that’s okay. If you start behaving in a way I don’t like after inviting you to my home, I’m well within my rights to kick you out, and there isn’t (and shouldn’t be) anyone policing me on that.

No, this doesn’t work at Facebook scale. I think we had a good thing going on the early web with lots of small discussion boards.


Exposure to unfamiliar ideas is exhausting. Doubly so when the social behaviour that typically becomes second nature in adolescence no longer fits (IMO that’s why video calls are exhausting too - the usual subtle social cues don’t apply).


That's the truth. New + important = hard.


For some of this stuff, I'm pretty sure the difficulty of keeping up with it is the whole point - it's effectively a way of signalling that you're part of the right group of people with the right views and connections, and what stops outsiders from just learning to imitate the signals is the way things which were mandatory suddenly flip to horribly offensive without rhyme or reason.


> The trouble I'm having with social changes, expectations, per person pronouns, and other things is that managing all of these interactions can be a crushing amount of cognitive load.

Are per-person pronouns really such a big deal to manage? I've known more people who have changed their name in marriage than changed their pronouns.


I can't always remember what a person's name either. No one gives me crap for asking what their name is. I don't feel like asking what someone's pronouns are is a safe question yet.

I'm more concerned about getting crap from someone who only thinks there should only pronouns for their notion of binary genders. For now I just use "they/them" for any given person if I'm not sure, because it's safer than asking in many cases.


"changing your pronouns" has a link to "tying your identity to how you are being referenced" (i claim this from observation). Using the wrong pronoun is such much more likely to be seen as a personal attack than using your pre-marriage name.


Have you seen anyone personally take offense, or just high-profile cases? I've definitely seen a few of the latter (e.g. Jordan Peterson) but the common denominator there seems to be antagonistically refusing to use pronouns or doing so to make the point that you reject them, which is different from an honest mistake.


Yes, i left Open Source projects because referring to co-contributors is such a minefield. I don't wish to work with self-identified transgender people due to this anymore. They take everything so personal even if its not about them.

And just for saying this, same people will accuse me of hating trans people and rejecting their right to exist. But you know what - people with successful HRT who also pass don't exhibit this behavior. They also don't self-identify as trans.


> They also don't self-identify as trans.

A lot of them do.

> They take everything so personal even if its not about them.

Is this an actual experience? I've worked with/interacted with quite a few queer people. And I've misgendered people on more than one occasion. Nothing a "shit sorry" hasn't been able to fix.

This forces me to wonder why our experiences are so different. Do the queer people I work with have different norms than yours? Do I have some level of legitimacy among them that you don't? Or is there something else at play?


Assuming you are from the US (im not) and work at Google, i guess its that your ideas about the LGBT community might come from people who actively participate in identity politics. If they do, they have interest in not passing and constantly outing themselves to demonstrate their minority status, because this is what they think makes their voice 'valid'.

If you go trans because you suffer from gender dysphoria, your 'fix' is to become accepted as the gender you identify as. To achieve it, you do HRT and a surgery (if you suffer from bottom dysphoria), and you present yourself as the gender you identify as, NOT as trans. This goes so far that these people correct you if you call them trans - they are a "Man" or a "Woman" now. If these people pass, they also pass as cis and are thus not easily recognizable as having undergone transition.

I'm active in a fan community of an Anime that features dissociation, so it accidentally attracts people with gender dysphoria. I had affairs with some people from this community and, this way, also got into the gay/trans community, which has an significant overlap. This is how i learned that identity politics is not representative of queer people. Heck, even the CSD/gay pride with the rainbow flags isn't representative of the gay community - many sexually deviant people just want to live a normal life and not be associated with pants where your butt cheeks peek out. I'm one of them.


> If they do, they have interest in not passing and constantly outing themselves to demonstrate their minority status, because this is what they think makes their voice 'valid'.

This is a bit of an outdated view on being "trans". I'll elaborate a bit because this old view on transness I think is the main difference in our views.

As background, I assume we'll both agree that gender is (in western society anyway) stereotypically expressed as a binary: masculine and feminine. The extent and degree of this binary has shifted over time. At one point women wearing pants was unacceptable.

The historical view of transness was that people who are trans wanted to present as the other part of the binary. "I want to be seen as a man instead of a woman". This raises a question: why? The answer follows: "Because I feel like I should be a woman."

If you stop at the first question, your view of trans identities make sense: a trans identity is only valid if it fits snuggly into the existing gender binary. You are a biological male who identifies as a women, or a biological female who identifies as a man. And while both of those work under the second framing, gender nonconforming identities, which don't feel like they should be a woman, but instead feel like they shouldn't be a man (or a woman). I'll note that I'm intentionally simplifying here which has the consequence of erasing some identities like gender-fluidity. The framing still works for those, but the answers are different.

So "old" trans was about perception, "new" trans is about identity. Passing (or not) doesn't make someone's voice valid. Identity does. If you identify as trans, you are and that identity is valid is really how I'd summarize things. There's the potential for abuse of this, but in practice it doesn't happen.

So I reject the notion that one need to be visibly non-passing to be valid in any circle. This I think also addresses much of your second paragraph: there are many people who choose to identify as trans even though they are passing or mostly passing, if only because the shared experience is useful to identify. And they may do so only in certain circles (e.g. Be "out" only in queer circles where they feel more free to discuss their trans experiences).

> many sexually deviant

I'd be careful conflating sexual deviancy with LGBT identities for two reasons. First, "sexual deviancy" has historically been used as a pejorative for LGBT people in the US, and I assume elsewhere. And second, it's not particularly relevant. In psychology, "sexual deviancy" refers to paraphilias or kinks, which are explicitly sexual in nature. But a trans or gay person could be totally asexual. Even still, they could be romantically attracted to same sex people or have some gender dysphoria. Neither implies anything about the act of sex itself.


> The historical view of transness was that people who are trans wanted to present as the other part of the binary.

This is still how trans people think today. And if you are into language details, you'll realize that 'transgender' literally says that - getting across to another gender. Same way like transport meant getting to another harbour.

> I'll note that I'm intentionally simplifying here which has the consequence of erasing some identities like gender-fluidity.

> So "old" trans was about perception, "new" trans is about identity.

If the identity of gender-fluidity can be externally erased by your wording, its perception, not identity. I'm sure the same applies to trans.

> Passing (or not) doesn't make someone's voice valid. Identity does.

The wrong assumption here is that your LGBT status can make your voice valid or invalid. The idea that interpretation sovereignty for things comes from your subjective identity is appalling. I'm not sure how you read that into my posting.

> Identity does. If you identify as trans, you are and that identity is valid is really how I'd summarize things.

Only a very privileged person (or lack of social experience) would be in the position to even assume that this is how things work in reality. Subjectively identifying yourself does not work for anything except your name. Its all about how others perceive you.

And i tell you, they explicitly told me that they want to be seen and accepted as women. This is like, the greatest wish of people with gender dysphoria. This is definitely "perception".

> There's the potential for abuse of this, but in practice it doesn't happen.

What about Jessica Yaniv?

> I'd be careful conflating sexual deviancy with LGBT identities for two reasons [...]

I meant 'deviant' literally. As in, "deviance". Remove the "sexual" if it bothers you. I don't have contact fears with that word and will use it to refer to myself to reclaim it. You better not have any problems with that.

You are repeating the mistakes of identity politics. Like, if it was just a random opinion, fine. But identity politics are (due to their observably wrong dogma) alienating to both LGBT people and allies. If people go on like you, acceptance might fall enough that LGBT rights will be rolled back (already happening in the US). And this will hit LGBT people, not you.


> This is still how trans people think today.

Some trans people find external validation important, yes. But being trans is not defined by external validation (and certainly not external perception), but instead self perception.[0] This is obvious: it would imply that a man in drag is a trans woman, which is obviously untrue.

> If the identity of gender-fluidity can be externally erased by your wording, its perception, not identity. I'm sure the same applies to trans.

No, gender-fluidity can be erased only due to the simplification that feelings are permanent. If we accept that how one self-perceives can, for some, change over time, then that leads obviously to gender fluidity. Like I said, I was simplifying, and specifically the simplification erased some identities. Removing the simplification doesn't erase any other identities. The identities were never invalid. The simplified definition I was using just didn't extend to them.

> Its all about how others perceive you.

Self perception certainly isn't all about how others perceive you. It may indeed be influenced by external factors, but I identify as a man not because of how others perceive me but due to my innate feelings about myself. Dysphoria is a mismatch between self-perception and external validation. The self-perception isn't defined by the external validation, if it were you couldn't experience dysphoria.

So I'll reiterate: trans people are trans based on how they identify, not based on how they are perceived. A biological male who is a closeted trans woman is still trans, no matter how I perceive them. The same person is still trans if they eventually become a passing woman.

> The wrong assumption here is that your LGBT status can make your voice valid or invalid.

When discussing the experience of being LGBT, of course it does. In general, of course it doesn't. You seemed to imply otherwise when you said "because this is what they think makes their voice 'valid'."

Which, like I said, isn't the case. None of the trans people I work with or know believe that being physically non-passing makes their voices any more valid than it would be if they were passing. Let me just reiterate that: None of the trans people I associate put any particular weight on being non-passing, this was something you invented, and it entirely contradicts how the trans people I know define their transness.

In other words, to make that claim is to misrepresent what being trans is for many trans people.

> This is like, the greatest wish of people with gender dysphoria. This is definitely "perception".

Yes, for some trans people that is absolutely the case! I'm not denying that people who are "classically" trans are trans. They absolutely are. Their dysphoria is still driven by a self-perception mismatch.

Let try to approach this another way: if we agree that classical trans identities, those that align closely with the gender binary, are valid, then the question is what about people who have less severe dysphoria? Like if we accept that it is possible for someone's self-perception to completely mismatch their body, why do we reject the idea that there can only be partial mismatch. In other words, they don't perceive themselves as either strictly a man or a woman. This is where you get various non-binary trans identities.

Again, all I'm doing is adding more people under the trans umbrella, I'm very much not denying any particular trans person's experience.

> What about Jessica Yaniv?

I'm glad you asked! Here's Contrapoints again to dive into the concept of "trans-trenders" and specifically Yaniv better than I ever could.[1]

> acceptance might fall enough that LGBT rights will be rolled back (already happening in the US)

If you honestly believe that LGBT rights are at risk because of a perceived backlash to "identity politics" (which, to be clear is a phrase I still don't understand the meaning of), and not simply the US religious right doing the same things it's always done, you haven't been paying attention. Education and normalization does more to protect LGBT people than staying silent.

[0]: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n9mspMJTNEY

[1]: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EdvM_pRfuFM


> But being trans is not defined by external validation [...]

Did i say so?

My observations and your 'definitions' are different.

> Like I said, I was simplifying, and specifically the simplification erased some identities.

Language is inherently symbolic and thus an simplification (an reduction). This makes "Identity erasure" an very toxic concept - you are guilty of it because there wasn't a way to comply with it in the first place.

> The same person is still trans if they eventually become a passing woman.

Wow. You can't say that - that's really rude and a offense to transitioned people. They are a woman - becoming so was the whole purpose of transitioning. You should know that.

> and it entirely contradicts how the trans people I know define their transness.

If that's so, fine. The trans people i know don't even "define" themselves, because here people aren't obsessed with self-identity as in the US. They only want to be accepted as Women.

> [...] they don't perceive themselves as either strictly a man or a woman. This is where you get various non-binary trans identities.

Only in identity politics. In the outside world you get people that don't conform to various gender expectations, and the majority of them does not need to make up their mind around that being an identity. They "can be".

> Education and normalization does more to protect LGBT people than staying silent.

Yes, but then do it correctly. Identity politics as it is now has resulted in a large number of "shit liberals say"-outrage-memes. People are making fun of self-identifying because it is so absurd - does "I sexually identify as an Apache Attack Helicopter" ring a bell for you? I'm sure you have good intentions for LGBT people, but if you unironically argue with concepts like self-identification or identity erasure, people will be driven off. I'm driven off. Its neither how things work in practice nor how we will get LGBT acceptance in the future.

> "identity politics" (which, to be clear is a phrase I still don't understand the meaning of)

In the US, identity politics is the most vocal view on LGBT issues. Its core feature is the strong emphasis on self-identity and that it must be 'respected'. How the latter happens in detail is subject to being abused as leverage to control other people. Its only a power play if you see through it, and it rejects the normal-ness of LGBT people, segregating people into groups.

Contrast it to the other parts of the LGBT community, where people are like, normal people. And happen to have transitioned or a having partner of the same sex. That's as normal as chewing gum. Nothing 'special' that needs any kind of extra things to be respected. Just personal life choices.


> Did i say so?

I've isolated the statement I was responding to at least twice: "because this is what they think makes their voice 'valid'." You seem to think that trans people believe that, even if you yourself don't.

> Wow. You can't say that - that's really rude and a offense to transitioned people.

I don't see how differentiating between passing and non passing when we're talking about the impact of external perception is offensive, but please elaborate, I'm open to criticism.

> They only want to be accepted as Women.

And as I explained, this limits the definition of Trans to only a very specific type of trans person. It seems like you're saying that those are the right kinds of trans people. Perhaps that's why you're met with friction with those people: you're choosing to invalidate their self-perception because they don't conform to how you think a trans person should be.

In your mind, the trans "identity" is someone in one gender role who swaps to another gender role quietly.

After this point, the rest of your post was really just a rant about how you don't want to accept trans people who don't conform to your perception of them. That's you playing identity politics, it's forcing an identity on to them. And this is why I mentioned that I don't get identity politics: it's not a liberal or US-centric thing. It's a lens. It's a form of analysis of the world, a framework for looking at interpersonal interactions. Forcing someone to conform to an identity is identity politics just as much as identifying with an identity in a way you disagree is. They're two sides of the same coin.

The argument that identity politics forces you to be controlled is the exact same argument that the US religious right used for years to push back against all the "personal life choices" you mention, like marrying a same-gender person. It's the same argument that the US religious right pushes when they try to ban trans people from using the right bathrooms. The argument that respecting someone else's personal choice is an imposition on you. It's the same argument.


> I don't wish to work with self-identified transgender people due to this anymore. They take everything so personal even if its not about them.

> And just for saying this, same people will accuse me of hating trans people and rejecting their right to exist.

I mean, what you posted is a textbook example of transphobia, no matter how light it may be. I've worked with many trans people and have many trans friends, none of them have gotten angry when I've had to ask for their pronouns if I can't remember or need clarification.


Did you read my second paragraph?


Yes, I did. It doesn't change anything. It's still transphobic to lump them together and then attempt to justify your attempt to avoid them on your perceived notions.

As a thought exercise, if you were to change your argument to be one about race, it would be a racist thing to say 'I don't wish to work with black people because they take things so personal'.


You probably missed what i meant with "self-identified", in context of an online community.

A better analogy than the one you provided:

If someone comes to an online community and announces that they are cisgendered and must be referred in way X, i don't want to work with them, either.

This isn't a question of gender, race or sexuality. Its a question about not being self-absorbed prick that forces everyone around them to walk on eggshells.

Experiencing gender dysphoria is a driving force for engaging in this kind of behavior, this is why my complaint is focused on these few trans people.


> If someone comes to an online community and announces that they are cisgendered and must be referred in way X, i don't want to work with them, either.

This literally happens all of the time, though? It's the 'default'. If you called a cisgendered man 'she' or a cisgendered woman 'he', they would likely politely correct you in the same way anyone else would. The only way you'd avoid that is by collectively referring to everyone in gender neutral pronouns which is certainly possible.

> Experiencing gender dysphoria is a driving force for engaging in this kind of behavior, this is why my complaint is focused on these few trans people.

And this is objectively wrong. People experiencing gender dysphoria is not a driving force in engaging in this kind of behavior (ie what you call 'taking everything so personal') considering, again, I have friends who have dealt with such issues and do not behave in the way you claim.

It really sounds like you're stretching your argument in attempt to justify your own transphobia. At best you're unfairly stereotyping them based on your own experiences and at worst you're behaving in an irrational manner by attempting to avoid them because you seem to think of them being 'self-absorbed pricks'. You're essentially arguing that people should shut up and not mention who they are at all.


> This literally happens all of the time, though? It's the 'default'.

No. Our conversation is a good example of that. The default is to state your business, not your sexual identity or race.

Normal people don't want to be judged by their skin color or sexuality or things like that, this is why they don't lay it out.

Stop taking sexual identity so seriously - its not central to anything.

> People experiencing gender dysphoria is not a driving force in engaging in this kind of behavior

I say, craving validation is the connecting factor. If you have different experiences with that, so it be.

> I have friends who have dealt with such issues and do not behave in the way you claim.

No one of the trans people i had relationships with acted in this way, either.

But in online communities around open source software, there are always a few black sheep that turn really emotional if you accidentally don't "respect their identity", and this includes alot of otherwise innocent behavior.


> No. Our conversation is a good example of that. The default is to state your business, not your sexual identity or race.

Is it? You started your conversation literally around identity, and claiming you chose to avoid people based on that identity. Regardless if they self-identify or not, you're the one that brought identity into this debate. The fact that you seem to choose to downplay sexual identity is rather funny, considering I'm willing to bet if you went out of your way to refer to a cisgender man or a woman as the opposite gender they would eventually get angry. So claiming it's not 'central' is bullshit.

> I say, craving validation is the connecting factor. If you have different experiences with that, so it be.

People want to be identified as who they are. Not sure how this is controversial. If you're talking to someone named John and you keep referring to him as Johnny when he says he doesn't want to be called Johnny, that's 'craving validation' by your argument. Remembering 'John wants to be called by John and not Johnny' is about as difficult as 'Remembering [Person] wants to be called by She and not He'.

> But in online communities around open source software, there are always a few black sheep that turn really emotional if you accidentally don't "respect their identity", and this includes alot of otherwise innocent behavior.

Yes, there are always a few assholes in open source development. This isn't exclusive to transgender people, I've met my fair share of cisgender people that turn emotional if you don't follow their rules. Does that mean I should start avoiding cisgender people all together?


You might come from a social environment where people are much more fragile than in my environment.

I tried to outline a specific behaviour that predominantly comes from self-identifying transgender people. If you haven't experienced these behaviours, we won't find a common ground there.

Yes, there are always some difficult people. There are red flags to watch out for, and "self-defining as trans" is one of them. Putting much emphasis on your sexual identity is also a red flag in general.


It's funny that you claim I come from a social environment where people are 'more fragile' when I consider it simply basic respect to call people what they want. It seems like you managed to completely ignore my John / Johnny example as well, so I think it's becoming clearer that you're not really here to debate in good faith.

Also personally, one of the red flags I find in difficult people is those that choose to stereotype an entire group. Usually they'll end up causing further problems down the line by not wanting to work as a team or ostracizing said members they stereotype.


I think I love you.


Thanks, but i don't wish for fanboys or a cult around my person.


Before understood more about gender identity, yes. I think it's likely more that I was speaking to a person when they were low on patience for reasons that had little to do with me. But it's amazing how vividly remember upsetting the person, and how afraid I can be at times at doing it again.


Have you seen anyone personally take offense

As a parent of a teenage child, I see it reasonably often between teens and "boomers". Teens absolutely use offense of misused pronouns as a weapon against older folks. But in fairness, older folks also refuse to use preferred pronouns as a weapon back.

But, of course, this is all typical generational strife, and the pronouns are mostly an irrelevant detail to the actual hostility.


The actual hostility is key.

So many social and cultural interactions are covers for hostility of various kinds that attempting to sanitise a relatively small subset is bound to fail.

Hostility runs on a spectrum from over-reaction caused by previous trauma to outright aggressive narcissism and sociopathy.

Unfortunately we don't have the social sophistication to reliably identify and call out hostility, or to accurately parse the difference between conscious ill intent, unconscious hostility and ill intent, over-sensitivity, personality disorder issues, criminal issues, and other forms of power play.


It's also not a big deal to accidentally get someone's last name wrong. There is way more social pressure around knowing and always using the correct pronoun for everyone you know.


Most of the people I know are LGBTQ with a large contingent of nonbinary people and trans people. The common theme when people bring this up from the other side is it's nice when people get it right on their own, but it hurts more when people assume wrong and then double down.

Using the wrong one can activate a low-level fear response for people trying to "pass" on the binary, but it's easily quelled by generally being kind. The fact that you're concerned about being wrong tells me you aren't the kind of person they worry about. Conventions wouldn't hand out pronoun stickers and pins if the widespread expectation was that people would just know.

Most of the social pressure you perceive comes from well-meaning cisgender allies trying to use their privilege to mold the world into something a little safer. Sometimes they go overboard. Have you ever seen a cisgender person try to argue with a nonbinary or binary trans person about their own identity not realizing they're talking to a person they're arguing about? It's surreal. They mean well.


I agree that some good will can go a long way. It's also surprisingly easy to just not use pronouns at all.

I was friends with a couple of trans people on college, and I would always either directly address them as "you", or use their name where I would normally say "he/she". It's not a big deal, I just hate that there is a subroutine in the back of my brain shouting "Don't say the wrong word! Don't say the wrong word!". I think that's the cognitive load OP was talking about.


If learning new pronouns was really that difficult, none of your peers would speak more than one language. This is just the way society deals with issues that are personal or to do with respect: you don't ask people why they use Ms., you don't ask why someone hasn't had children, you (probably) don't fistbump strangers, and you feel guilt when you forget someone's name. Similarly, in most of these cases, it's worse to be on the other side.


Does every person speak differnt language?


No


You are describing a structured echo chamber. Or worse an internet of endless safe spaces to get just the view of the world that pleases you.

I mean facebook is already doing this, on purpose or not (right now the blame is on the algorithms). Either way this is not the right way forward.


> You are describing a structured echo chamber. Or worse an internet of endless safe spaces to get just the view of the world that pleases you.

I'd ask you to think how this is any different from anything we had before the internet.

I actually think there is a difference in current communication patterns, but it's not being a structured echo chamber (we already had plenty of those before), and it's not something to be proud of.

The novel effect of social networks is amplifying and concentrating in a single point the worst instances of biased and unsubtle discussion, causing the recipient to burn up from the concentrated heat.

It's a process that replicates the dynamics of lynch mob; at least those were local effects, while now we get to have world-reaching lynch mobs. We need to put up firewalls so that inflammatory speech won't set everything on fire; and structured small communities is as good a solution as any.


In what sense is this not the right way forward? This seems to be the trend that’s been with us for at least 20 years. People increasingly pick the news they want to hear.


People might pick the news they want to hear; but thinking this is "fine" is an appeal to ignorance.

Ignorance is not strength.

For whatever it's worth I was raised dirt poor, central Britain in a city that had been in rapid decline for many decades- Yet I believed, fiercely that Europe was less than Britain, that Muslims were coming for our benefits and our women and that Britains colonial past was something to be admired, we had brought civilisation to the world. I believed that I was born "rich" compared to the rest of the world and I had a birthright to be taken care of.

I don't have to tell you how much it hurt me to learn how ignorant, bigoted and wrong I was.

How much taking in things that were true conflicted so concretely with what I believed that I rejected it outright.

Obviously my opinions have changed, but allowing me to hide from the world would not have done that. Only stepping forward and being exposed to that which causes discomfort allows for it.


Right, but did you believe these things because an algorithm on social media was giving you a limited view of the world?

My own view is that I could limit my intake of knowledge to just a handful of people, but if they were the right people, I’d end up with a more original worldview than if I tried to read “both sides” since “both-sides-ism” tends to reactively assume the people shouting old views loudly represent an entire debate.


I did not believe those things due to an algorithm, I believed those things because I was never exposed to anything outside of my "bubble". People in my City tend not to leave especially if they are poor.

Exposure to the real world had a painful destructive effect, and if I had clung back into my safe little cubby hole I would have done so swiftly.

--

I believe "both sides" is important; but you're right that people scream and drown out any modicum of moderation; but it noble to attempt to at least understand the spirit of the arguments on every side of a debate.

Make your own reasoning about the facts based on the perspectives that are given, but other than that don't allow yourself to be emotive.

Really, this is what journalism is supposed to be, but that kind of journalism dies out because humans love to _feel_ so selling feelings about things is quite easy; this fuels divides. Since news is no longer fact it's merely "view" of the facts, and often not all of them.


While I agree that at first all sides should be considered, often I find people view both sides with equal merit when it is easily worked out that one side holds more merit than the other. (Some examples of arguments holding less merit being ones that go against scientific evidence without evidence to back them up, arguments made in bad faith, arguments made with wilful ignorance of evidence)

I feel you on the growing up in a dogma infused environment, in my case rural England rife with homophobia, transphobia, xenophobia and all that sort of general ignorance-based hatred and revulsion. Luckily I also had an internet connection from a relatively early age so I had exposure to outside perspectives or I would've likely had more years of repression and self loathing than I had and wouldn't have had anywhere near the opportunities I've had.

In my mind, journalism should focus less on giving all sides equal weight and staying neutral but more on finding all the evidence, giving you said evidence, and then discounting lies and manipulation of evidence. Or at least on giving you all the evidence for you to digest and come to your own conclusions rather than just a match of he-said, she-said type reporting. I find the issue I've described especially prevalent in some BBC news stories..

Edit: I forgot to add that I also strongly agree with you in the many news organisations and journalists overly sensationalizing and giving opinion as "news" and/or trying to incite emotions rather than broadened perspectives/informed opinions.


There's a concept known as steelmanning - most people aren't good at arguing their case, but their case usually has some kind of merit. You steelman an argument by trying to build the strongest, most defensible form of an opponent's argument, read it charitably and presume good faith and tgen try to take it down. That usually involves understanding why a stance forms and its emotional truth, and engaging with that has a funny effect of making people feel heard.


Nice, thanks very much for the pointer- I had never heard of this before I will look into it. :)


Not because of social media or a formal algorithim but a less formalized one referred to as "socialization" and decided by prior actions of those who came before, some long dead and some still alive today. It was madd up in part of thoughts of thinking people in different contexts and in part unthinking set in stone doctrines. Just like an algorithim essentially with the tweaks by programmers ans input sources providing the "thinking" and the content and program providing the "unthinking".


Three out of three best ideas that improved me as a human being were very offensive to me when I first encountered them.

I mean, so offensive that I closed book and put it away. Stopped thinking, stopped listening, stopped learning. Hurt me a lot.

And yet, I am so happy they entered my mind and I returned to them when I got older.


You basically describe Soviet "obkoms". The commitee of people who decided what is ok to say/sing/write, and what is not.

Needless to say, they became corrupt very soon, because no one was allowed to say a word against them.


> You basically describe Soviet "obkoms".

Not really. That would assume that the only existing channels are official channels. My description works as well for self-organised, distributed, unofficial channels.


Having an obkom would be helpful -- it's really hard to tell what you are allowed to say. It'd be nice also to have a grace period so there is some fair warning when certain ideas or words will become banned. Orderly authoritarianism is preferable to random, chaotic outbursts of censorious violence. But even just an official obkom rather than unofficial 'volunteer' versions of it would really reduce confusion here.

The Saudi Arabian religious police enforcing public edicts are preferable to ISIS pulling you out of a truck, giving you a theology pop quiz, and then shooting you when you get some answers wrong. The Anglican sacramental Test Act is preferable to a fake regime of toleration.


The problem with explicit code of conduct is that there is always a implicit interpretation of what the code of conduct say and how it should get enforced.

If we could get an explicit code of conduct with explicit interpretation with explicit enforcement then yes, they work quite well. Sadly most communities leave interpretation and enforcement up to the dominant group with an often explicit desire to not have those parts visible.


Wouldn't it be better ti provide people the tools to create their own channels, through personalized filtering algorithms? The idea that a central authority gets to decide what is acceptable and what is not is, in my view, only acceptable in extreme cases which are already covered by law.


Yes, that's why it's important to have decentralised social networks. You can have authorities to decide what is acceptable, but only for small groups.


You bring up some really interesting ideas, but there are certain times where communication is mission critical - and deeply considering complex communicational structures before posting/conveying information can eventuate in serious injury or loss of life. During those times, you simply need to be able to "get the message out" without worrying about the potential offense that you words may cause to a certain individuals.

Again, I sympathize deeply that some people are hurting badly right now, but what should we do when we're dealing with life-and-death situations and there isn't time to craft the perfect message on the perfect platform?


> You bring up some really interesting ideas, but there are certain times where communication is mission critical ... During those times, you simply need to be able to "get the message out" without worrying about the potential offense that you words may cause to a certain individuals.

True, but in those cases, you limit the participation in that channel. They didn't allow everyone to call in on the communication channels of the Apollo project, right?


Can you give me an example of an urgent, mission critical communication that could be offensive to people?


Of course - and thank you for asking. One of my friends is a paramedic who primarily works in ambulances in LA.

One day, he arrives at a scene after a passer-by called 911.

A homeless man is lying on the street on top of garbage and cardboard boxes. There is urine and feces everywhere - it's a bad situation - and there are used needles lying next to the man.

The man is obviously in medical distress, and is unable to respond. When they try to attend to him, he wakes up and swears at them and swats at them, but then says he feels like he's dying and wants help. When they come close again, he again swears at them and swings at them.

As a matter of protocol, they have to radio in to headquarters and explain their situation.

This is tricky - they have to be politically correct about how they describe him. He's visibly degrading quickly, and may soon die if they don't intervene, but instead, they have to spend previous time on the radio making sure they use all the politically terminology so that no offense is caused - describing the homeless in California is a very politically charged subject and they could be disciplined if they use the wrong words.

If he is going into cardiac arrest, seconds can be the difference between life and death, and they're using them on trying to remember all the correct terminology and socially-acceptable phrasing.


Radio protocol is extremely specific. As is medical terminology.

If they're required to use a term for a person, but haven't been briefed on what term to use, then I think there are bigger problems there and "political correctness" is not the problem. Basic communication is. They will also not be penalised for using the wrong term when there's no briefing on what the correct term is.

If they can't remember what term to use when they have been briefed on it, then they have bigger problems (there are thousands of medical terms they presumably also struggle to remember).

So, were they briefed on the correct term or not?


I don't understand. Why does it matter if it's a specific communication protocol? If you have to filter your language when you're in a life and death situation with a potentially dangerous person who has used needles lying around, you've used up precious processing power that could otherwise be used to keep yourself safe and the sick person alive.

For the record - I checked with them - and they told me they were asked to take a test to check if they harbored "unknown biases". They were then sent to diversity and inclusion training, and came out totally confused about what to do and say, but they were assured that the hospital and the ambulance services were monitoring comms and wouldn't look favorably on "potentially offensive" terms.

Trying to describe a homeless man sleeping on rotten cardboard boxes who is covered in urine and feces with needles strewn around everywhere, who is both asking for help and attacking them is VERY HARD to do without using a term that someone could potentially find offensive.


I don't understand: you just did that. What was difficult about it?

(and I'll note that you spent a bunch of time mentioning ultimately irrelevant details. Being homeless, or in an area with feces and urine and cardboard probably aren't relevant to anyone responding. The important facts are that there's a person in need of immediate medical assistance, the area is potentially hazardous, and the person is being uncooperative).

Those are the three things that need to be conveyed.


They're relevant details because they directly affect the health and safety of the ambulance staff, and protocol dictates that they call in on anything that could be hazardous to them. Not to mention that those details could affect the treatment of the patient.

See? This is the problem. The filtering is more important to some people than actually doing the job correctly.

This is why speech must be free, because I don't want a paramedic who's treating me to be debating exactly how to define me to dispatch. I just want them to save my life.


No, I don't see. Precise communication is of the utmost importance in life and death situations. Consider pilots. The communication is extremely structured so as to precisely convey relevant information. Pilots are trained specifically and at length on how to communicate over radios in normal and emergency situations. This is done to make communication more efficient and effective. And these choices are data driven.

You're arguing for essentially the opposite of that.

> They're relevant details because they directly affect the health and safety of the ambulance staff

A person being homeless is not relevant to the health and safety of the medical staff. A person sitting on wet cardboard is not relevant to the health and safety of the medical staff. The area being hazardous is relevant, and was conveyed. You may argue that "the area has feces and needles" is necessary to communicate. And that's fine.

> This is why speech must be free, because I don't want a paramedic who's treating me to be debating exactly how to define me to dispatch

No, if this is your goal what you want is paramedics who are well trained in how to communicate effectively over radios, much like pilots are. This has nothing to do with free speech. Restrictions and regimentation on speech in this context would actually make the communication more effective. For example, specific guidance on what things should be communicated about the hazardous area: that feces and needles are relevant but that cardboard boxes and homelessness aren't. This way, there are fewer wasted words.


> For the record - I checked with them - and they told me they were asked to take a test to check if they harbored "unknown biases". They were then sent to diversity and inclusion training, and came out totally confused about what to do and say, but they were assured that the hospital and the ambulance services were monitoring comms and wouldn't look favorably on "potentially offensive" terms.

The tragedy of that is that IATs don't even measure what they purport to or, generally, work: https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/174569161986379...


"conditions are unsanitary and dangerous to the crew and patient is confused and ucooperative yet is requesting assistance"

That seems better than "there's a homeless guy with a bunch of needles and feces" in terms of descriptiveness.

Edit: aren't communications protocols a very standard thing among first responders / military / hospitals / etc?


In Germany we have a similar phenomena too. Hard to translate, but unemployed people are now called employment-searching people for example. I get it, there are some people that think they are lazy, instead almost everyone wants to get a job. The terms are constructed to counter these prejudices, but unemployed people actually feel more discriminated against because of the blatant paternalism from academics that have no idea about being unemployed or actually working in a free economy.

Social sciences call that framing and I think it is really not constructive in many ways. Euphemisms don't help the people in question. Their last crusade is of course the gendered nature of our language, so every maskuline term has to be changed to be neutral. They could open their own mental asylum by now. To be fair, there are many social workers that really put in effort and have long since given up to fight against this insanity. But those are the one who actually have contact to patients.... CLIENTS! I am sorry, we don't call them patients anymore if their suffering is due to mental conditions....



Communication around birth control and abortion comes to mind.

You can always pretend we are right about this and those who are offended are biggots, but then you would make your parent's point.


The usual problem is when a message from such private channel gets spread publicly usually without context and author's consent. We see it often with leaked tapes from politicians' private meetings.


> The trick is to create channels with limited audiences

I truly feel that HN is a safe haven for such notations. It's a provable, working example where first and foremost is to regard the other's words in a positive light, rather than assuming the worst. Anything deliberately otherwise gets moderated. I figure @dang sends a lot of personal emails struggling to adhere to this.

It's a system that can and should be replicated elsewhere imho.

Ironically, parent's comment here on HN has alerted me (& presumably others) about this diabolical practice (thanks @AHappyCamper), again proving HN as good, receptive platform.


People looking to start outrage mobs aren’t going to care that what you said was acceptable on the channel where you said it. You’re still the speaker, they’re still going to make it expensive for your real-world contacts to implicitly endorse your views by continuing to associate with you.


Reddit already does this via subreddits




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