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Reputation and Accountability

by chip (Curate)
on Jun 12, 2003 at 16:12 UTC ( [id://265400]=monkdiscuss: print w/replies, xml ) Need Help??

The reputation (XP) system here in the Monastery is mostly effective, I feel. But there seems to be a gap in the usual rule that what people do can be traced back to them: Chatterbox muting.

The other day I was using language somebody didn't like, and that somebody muted me from the CB for a while. I say "somebody" because I have no way to know who did it.

I don't mind the Powers That Be having the ability to mute people. I do mind their hiding behind a veil of anonymity.

PS: The anonymity of voting is the better-known exception to the accountability rules. But since one bozo can be outvoted by a saner majority -- and since an insane majority spells the end of the Monastery anyway -- that's not as big a problem as anonymous smiting from Olympus.

    -- Chip Salzenberg, Free-Floating Agent of Chaos

Replies are listed 'Best First'.
Re: Reputation and Accountability (tye)
by tye (Sage) on Jun 12, 2003 at 19:43 UTC

    To skip the suspense, it was me.

    You got a warning. You got two. In some places in this thread you say you don't need a warning ("I actually agree with you WRT warnings, there was no particular need for one") and in other places you say that you do need a warning (that have now been updated to say that you just wanted a warning so you could identify the culprit).

    You did not get a "Watch the language or *I* am going to *take away your chat privileges*" kind of warning. Would that have led to a better outcome or worse?

    Personally, trying to put myself in your "shoes" at that time (which I certainly can't do since I just have a few snippets of text to infer from), I think such a warning would have sounded very condescending to me. It likely would have made me more upset. It could have easily caused me to redirect (at least for a while) my outrage at being mass-downvoted into outrage at being insulted and treated like a child by a specific person.

    I find that it is a lot easier to stay mad at a person and keep up a good rant than it is to stay mad at a system.

    What would have been the best outcome in this situation? Well, you seemed quite upset to me so I think the best outcome would have been for you to realize that you were upset and take a break and come back to the problem when you were better able to interact with people and perhaps get some understanding of the original cause of you being upset.

    In fact, the (at least) two requests (from non-anonymous monks) for you to watch your language/attitude didn't curb your language but after being borg'ed I noticed that you used a euphamism in place of a curse word. So I don't think you were in a mood to interact civilly with identifiable people and needed a good swift kick from an anonymous system to get you to listen.

    When you came back, I "listened" and waited for an indication that you were ready to communicate rather than rant (and to let other monks respond so you could get a feel for what is expected around here so it wouldn't sound like, "Hi. I'm tye. I make the rules. Obey them." and so I could get a feel for how others felt as well). I never felt like you were ready so I just kept listening and then you had left.

    You lost chat privileges for a few minutes. I don't consider that a horrid "punishment" that requires a complete accounting system.

    The /borg command was added to deal with trolls. I think putting an accounting system on top of it would certainly be a horrid idea in the case of trolls. In this case, I still intended to identify myself when it seemed appropriate. I had started that process in private messages before you posted this.

    Would knowing that *I* took away your chat privileges for using foul language repeatedly after repeated warnings been better? I think it would have made the problem worse. But it is just a judgement. That is what I don't get paid to do.

    Yes, there should be a layer of accounting so that Power Users who abuse their powers can be identified and have their powers taken away. The next layer is the gods and there are enough bread crumbs that it is pretty likely that the culprit could be found even if he didn't confess (though not 100% assured -- put that on the huge to-do list -- update: sorry, this is actually logged quite precisely, no to-do item needed).

    Did I abuse my power? I don't think so. I just did what, in my judgement, was most likely to improve the situation and shorten the duration of ranting/cursing and, perhaps even help chip be able to deal with his frustration/anger (whatever it was, I try not to pin down emotion based on text-only communication because I know such is highly error-prone) sooner/better.

    Did it work? I'm not sure. I see some good signs.

    Would I do it again? You betchya.

    If I see anyone throw out a good curse word, see someone else complain, see another curse word, personally encourage the person to calm down/take a break/watch their language, and get a curse word back, then I'm going to /borg them.

    Am I going to say it was me that did it? Only if it looks to me like the person is likely to deal well with this information at that time.

    I have a lot of respect for chip. Everyone has bad days.

    My best advice is to hang out and get to know the community before you start making lots of suggestions how to change it. The less you know about the "feel" of the community, the more cautious you should be in interacting with the community.

    I'll read what gets posted to this thread and I might learn something or decide that I could have done a better job in some specific way. Heck, the community might "decide" that what I did was horrible and I might decide to act differently even though I disagree (just to name a few possibilities). We'll see.

    I think it was a case of an irresistible force (really just the strong will of a confident person) meeting an immovable object (an established community) and chip will likely either bounce off into space, burn up on re-entry, land and move in, or teraform the planet. We'll see. (:

                    - tye
      Wow. This thread has run way too long (but has provided value -- I just learned about all the Orders). Anyway, if anyone is still reading, here's my proposal for a solution (I'm replying to tye because I trust he will read it, consider it, and pass the idea around as appropriate):

      Let there be a "policy" established among the folks who are or become members of "Power Users" (guardians of the CB):

      When you /borg someone who is a registered member of the monastery, you should, as soon as possible, /msg that person as follows: "You have been temporarily blocked from the chat box, because your recent posts are Stepping Outside the Bounds of Acceptable Discourse. Take a break, maybe eat something, and reply to this message when you feel ready to return, or if you need further information. -- Sincerely, The Management."

      There should be no need for such diplomacy when dealing with anonymous trolls. Also, it should be sufficient that the person taking this action speak for all Power Users, and that replies to this notice be directed (accessible) to all Power Users.

      This is intended as a sort of compromise: maintaining accountability among Power Users is an obvious need, and providing direct communication between Power Users (as a group) and the scolded monk should meet that need. But requiring that each individual Power User declare him/herself personally to the scolded monk does not serve any essential good, and at the moment when the monk in question is behaving badly, it's just as likely to increase damage to both parties.

      (I guess the only hole in the proposal is enforcement: how to make sure the notice is always sent?)

      update: (made some minor adjustments above -- grammar, added link in the proposed notice -- and... ) It may be a better compromise, from some people's point of view, if the notice is copied to the CB, as well as being addressed (/msg) to the /borgee. As pointed out elsewhere on this thread, comparing who's logged in and who the Power Users are will often give enough evidence to peg the /borger (to the extent that it matters at that moment); but it's important that the /borger announce the action with a Voice of Authority (the "official signature") -- for the same reason that it's a good idea for cops to wear uniforms and drive specially-marked cars. And of course, making the action "public" in the CB will give "the Community" a chance to voice their reactions (support for one side or the other, or puzzlement), for all to see (including the borgee).

      But none of this for anonymous trolls -- I mean, "initiates" who just created their accounts earlier the same day. It could egg them on to worse offenses; just shut'em up and be done with'em.

      I intend to comment at length after some consideration. For now: Thanks, tye, for taking responsibility for your actions (however unimportant they may have seemed to you at the time); and thanks also for explaining them.

      PS: I upvoted your node for the above reasons. Only. :-)

          -- Chip Salzenberg, Free-Floating Agent of Chaos

        My actions did not seem unimportant at the time. Just FYI. Had I more spare time at the moment, I might try to figure out what I mistated or could have expressed more clearly. As is, I'll wait.

                        - tye
      Okay, let's get the irrelevancies out of the way: Yes, I was in a really bad mood; a couple monks complained about my language; I didn't respond well to those complaints; and my borging was, arguably, justified. When tye borged me, he may well have done it entirely without malice, and most of those present in the CB may have approved at the time.


      The issue at hand is that borging is anonymous. No one should wield anonymous power over public conversation. When such power is available, abuses may occur without anyone realizing it. Nothing in tye's story moderates the danger of anonymous action to public conversation.

      Furthermore, tye's lack of malice is entirely beside the point because it is a fact of human nature that the worst of abuses are often perpetrated by misguided would-be saints. I do not suggest that tye is, or is not, such a person; I point out only that it does not matter one whit whether he is or not. Such people exist.

      In the end, what should matter to the Monastery is not one little incident with a crabby guy who used swear words in an online chat. What should matter to you is that the crabby guy was silenced by someone who did not have the courage to show his (virtual) face. Yes, tye has come forward now, after I wouldn't let it die. Would he have done so if I hadn't made a stink? More to the point, can we suppose that every Power User, ever, will own up to what he does? If so, what is the objection to removing the veil of anonymity on borging?

          -- Chip Salzenberg, Free-Floating Agent of Chaos

        The issue at hand is that borging is anonymous. No one should wield anonymous power over public conversation.

        I disagree. First, borging isn't completely anonymous. There's a relatively small number of "community elders" who have been vested with that power and who have been charged with the responsibility to use that power wisely. From what's been said here, it seems that there's no issue with responsibility in this particular case.

        Next, in any civil society, there needs to be some mechanism for enforcing a "time out" when things get out of hand. The benefit of that enforcement coming from "the system" is, as tye has said, that it's harder to pick a fight with the system. The fight gets defused. At most, it gets turned into a meta-argument (like this one). Meta arguments are healthy, if they're undertaken civilly.

        Perlmonks remains a remarkably civil place for several reasons, among them being feedback. When somebody comes in here and acts badly, they get feedback, ranging from negative votes, to replies pointing out the error of their behavior, to verbal (CB) reminders, to borging, to banning. Without those mechanisms--particularly without an escalation path that includes temporary CB silencing--I believe this place would be a mess.

        A reply falls below the community's threshold of quality. You may see it by logging in.

        Mercy, chip, you're making a liar out of me. I told you I was through with you, and yet, here I am, replying to you again. This time, however, I will expend the energy to reply thoroughly to one of your petulant missives. I should also note that these messages from you appear at such a furious pace that some mechanism to assist you must surely be employed. Indeed, it could be no other way, for surely no reasonable man, no well-and-good man, no man of solid moral character would spend such time stewing in his juices over such a regrettable tempest-in-a-teapot that he would churn out screed after vehement screed upon the topic. I say these things simply as de facto evidence -- that persons giving such importance to the issue would not be fully mentally healthy -- and not to impugn on your character.

        The issue at hand is that borging is anonymous.
        I don't think it's much of an issue for anyone except you. I don't care what rights you'd like to assign yourself at perlmonks, you don't get to know who borgs you when it happens. All I see when you suggest this as a burning issue is Chip Salzenberg, Freefloating Agent of Chaos raising a stink; a stink over non-existent rights as a pretext for complaining about his anger at being silenced.

        No one should wield anonymous power over public conversation.
        The conversation may be freely available to read, but it's certainly not open to public participation. Chatterbox is not public, chatterbox is not democratic, ok? Let us say it again : The Chatterbox is Not Democratic. In light of this apparent revelation, what is your complaint? Perlmonks is not ruled by a shadow conspiracy, but it does have a set of administrative users. Any information system (a system made of computers as well as people) will have trusted users, sysops and administrators, because without them, the system breaks down. Your actions were taken as hostile to the perlmonks system and they were squelched. Maybe you think this was fair, maybe you think this was unfair. Who cares? When an agent decided that your actions needed to be addressed, they were addressed. Who was it that actually did the deed? Who cares? Borging is the most ephemeral, least serious punishment in the perlmonks world. Your suggestion that this slap on the wrist should be subject to such auditing is without merit at all.

        In the end, what should matter to the Monastery is not one little incident with a crabby guy who used swear words in an online chat. What should matter to you is that the crabby guy was silenced by someone who did not have the courage to show his (virtual) face.
        I disagree. Neither of these things matter, regardless of how many times you say it does.

        Would (tye) have done so if I hadn't made a stink?
        Who cares? It doesn't matter.

        (C)an we suppose that every Power User, ever, will own up to what he does?
        "owning up" to actions occur when those actions are bad. In this case, the action -- borging a user -- is a service. Your statement that power users owe a confession to people whom they borg is hyperbole.

        If so, what is the objection to removing the veil of anonymity on borging?
        Simply put : it doesn't need to be removed.

        Yes, tye has come forward now, after I wouldn't let it die.

        I quote myself:

        I still intended to identify myself when it seemed appropriate. I had started that process in private messages before you posted this.

        It is not true that I came forward because you wouldn't let it die. You said "after" but I still read that as "because" (it doesn't make sense to say "after something didn't happen" and mean "after in time but not as a result of", that I can tell).

        If there is an abuse, there is a system for responding to it (one part of which is posting just like you did). A guarantee that the silenced one will immediately know who the culprit was is not part of that system. I think it would be a mistake to make that a part of the system.

                        - tye
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Re: Reputation and Accountability
by Ovid (Cardinal) on Jun 12, 2003 at 16:25 UTC

    The monk silenced you must have been on the Power Users list. Generally, these people are are there because they are trusted not to abuse this authority. To date, I believe I've only used this ability twice. Both times I gave warning to the offending party that I was going to silence them if they didn't watch their language. Personally, I am very tolerant of offensive language. I have only stepped in when profanity starts getting directed at another user in anger.


    New address of my CGI Course.
    Silence is Evil (feel free to copy and distribute widely - note copyright text)

      If only the monk who slienced me had given me warning of imminent silencing, I wouldn't be here complaining. So apparently one of the Power Users is abusing his power. Which one? Gee, I don't know. That's my point.

      update: I use 'warning' as an example of something that would reveal the identity of the /borg-er. I don't think a warning of a temporary mute is important.

          -- Chip Salzenberg, Free-Floating Agent of Chaos

Re: Reputation and Accountability
by BrowserUk (Patriarch) on Jun 12, 2003 at 17:53 UTC

    I'm not much of a CB'er, and I haven't as far as I recall ever been Borg'd, nor do I have any special powers here at the monastery, but from my persepctive, your post and this thread explain and justify the reasoning for the anonimity of these powers. What else could you do with the knowledge of who borg'd you, other than barate them regarding the injustice and/or bear them a grudge for a judgement call?

    If you were able to barate the wielder of those powers for using them in what, from your testimony, was a ligitimate circumstance, then that person would now be subject to your indignation and argument. That Borg'ing is only a temporary measure limited to minutes or maybe hours, and the only restriction it places on you is your ability to use the CB, then the only lasting "effect" it has upon you is to serve as a warning--hopefully anyway.

    Being Borg'd is your warning, I see no reason for the issuing of a preemptive written one.

    Examine what is said, not who speaks.
    "Efficiency is intelligent laziness." -David Dunham
    "When I'm working on a problem, I never think about beauty. I think only how to solve the problem. But when I have finished, if the solution is not beautiful, I know it is wrong." -Richard Buckminster Fuller

      I actually agree with you WRT warnings, there was no particular need for one. Anonymity of the /borg-er is my beef.

      And "merely" berating someone is an important ability to have in any reputation-based society, as the Monastery (full of unpaid volunteers) itself is. You may poo-poo it, but it is necessary. Or else why did you find any need to berate me (which you of course are entitled to do)?

          -- Chip Salzenberg, Free-Floating Agent of Chaos

      "Who just shot me?"

      "Some cop."

      "Which one?"

      "I don't know. They are allowed to carry guns, and you probably deserved it. What good does it do to know who it was?"

      "They at least could have warned me."

      "The shot was the warning."

      "Does anyone review police shootings? Perhaps there's somone who's overstepping their bounds a bit."

      "Nope ... they got a gun, they can do whatever they want with it. You don't wanna get shot, stay at home."

        Amusing, but...

        I hardly equate revoking ones CB privaleges* with revoking someones right* to life.

        * Please mark the contrast between a privalege and a right.

        PerlMonks, and by implication the CB, is a privately owned site which its owner(s), be that vroom, YAS, or whomever, grant us the privaledge to use. This, like all privaleges, should not be abused. What constitutes abuse is within the grace of the owners, just as granting us the privalege of use is.

        By the same token, the owners bestow the responsibility and powers of sanction upon the gods and others, that they may use their judgement in applying those sanctions in an equitable manner so that the site may remain the haven of polite, if not democratic, debate that is so rare elsewhere on the web.

        You can argue with the owners of the site that this perogative should be more open or democratic, but you cannot insist that they accept your argument. Personally, I am happy with things as they are--others seem less so--so I'll shut up now:)

        Examine what is said, not who speaks.
        "Efficiency is intelligent laziness." -David Dunham
        "When I'm working on a problem, I never think about beauty. I think only how to solve the problem. But when I have finished, if the solution is not beautiful, I know it is wrong." -Richard Buckminster Fuller

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Re: Reputation and Accountability
by Elian (Parson) on Jun 12, 2003 at 17:32 UTC
    /borg-ing, as well as any other action that globally affects a user (including things like account deletion), ought to be audited and the actions noted in a public place. If the actions was inappropriate this is the only way for it to be generally known that it happened as well as who did it so there is some measure of accountability.

    At the very least, if the records are deemed to be transient (lasting, for example, only as long as the sanction is in place), the user who was affected should be /msg'd and any transient tracking nodes (such as Borg's Belly) should note who did it and when. Borging warrants an automatic message in the chatterbox as well, I'd say.

    Nothing wrong with drastic actions. It's just the anonymous drastic actions that are worrisome.

      Not addressing the real heart of the issue, but strictly from a technical point of view: A message does appear in Chatterbox now when someone is borged, with a random punch line, like

      NodeReaper has swallowed Elian. Elian was tasty!

      I'd prefer to keep the message coming from NodeReaper (hey, we could use a little more humor) but it would be pretty straightforward to privately /msg the borg-ee with something like

      root says You were borged by Elian

      Now, as to the "should": to me this would be a reasonable compromise. I think it would be only polite to tell someone privately who chastised them (I sometimes /msg people when I downvote their writeups) but I don't really see the need for an audit trail.

      It's only chatter, for root's sake...

        While I do realize that it's chatter and isn't that important in the grand scheme of things, it is still a public sanction, and public sanctions of all sorts should have public notice made of them, as well as some means of tracking them over time. For things like being borged, a simple note of the user in the belly node is sufficient along with notice to the user in question. For deleted nodes, the deleter and reason in a permanent form is necessary (and, I will add, already done, which is good). Deleted users warrant the same treatment as deleted nodes, perhaps a bit more. (I don't know if there's a deleted users node anywhere)

        Borging someone is temporarily revoking someone's ability to speak in public. While necessary it is still subject to abuse and as such the information necessary to detect that abuse and the abuser (when it happens) is also appropriate.

        There is some legitimate concern that the borg-ee may well decide to go on some sort of vengeance spree against whoever shut them up, but that's not particularly likely, the damage they can inflict is minor, and there are already mechanisms in place to deal with that damage. There aren't, so far as I can tell, many folks who're prone to vandalisim anyway, and of those who are I doubt knowing who was responsible for squelching them is going to make much of a difference in their actions. (And even if it does, as I said, there are mechanisms in place to deal with it)

      Your reply at its follow-up show a much deeper understanding of how such accountability is essential to a free society.

      While some may consider it silly to go into such depth about such a seemingly simple anonymous silencing of a user on "just" an online forum, the discussion does serve a very important purpose. These type of policies should not be put into place without careful consideration. As recent (and not-so-recent) history has proven, when we allow these "trivial" things to go unquestioned they quickly spread to the highest levels in our society.

      Your position is very admirable. Thank you for articulating it so well. People are listening :).

Re: Reputation and Accountability
by Mr. Muskrat (Canon) on Jun 12, 2003 at 16:23 UTC

    Individual Monks can /ignore anyone they like. No one has to listen to anyone at all if they don't want to, they simply have to issue a /chatteroff. This is explained in Chatterbox FAQ.

    Power Users can send disruptive individuals to Borg's Belly so that they cannot "speak" in the chatterbox. See What are PerlMonks Orders?.

      Yes, yes, this is all obvious. But you're missing the point. How can one tell which of the Power Users /borg'd? How can the reputation for good or bad /borging accrue to the one doing it? It can't.

      Anonymous power leads to abuse, always. The fact that this particular anonymous power is part of a select group whose membership is known doesn't address my point: individual reputation.

          -- Chip Salzenberg, Free-Floating Agent of Chaos

        If someone is borged, it's temporary (at least until that person shows a history of disruptive behavior).

        What does reputation have to do with it? I've been borged before. Does that matter? Nope. Did it affect my (personal) reputation? Nope. Did it affect the reputation of my nodes? Nope.

        You could always /msg [Power Users] Who borged me? They don't have to respond but they might if you ask nicely.

        If you feel the Power Users are abusing their powers, then it becomes an issue for the gods to deal with.

Re: Reputation and Accountability
by KPeter0314 (Deacon) on Jun 12, 2003 at 16:33 UTC
    This is a civil society and the Monastery has historically more civil (at least in language) than most places.

    If you can't restrain yourself from 'language' that somebody else muted you for, then go to a chat room that accepts chat like that. Many people just don't like being in conversations like that. If they happen to have the ability to mute you, bully to them for doing it!

    I'm not a prude, but I AM a father. I also know that there are some monks who are quite young from whom I have seen pretty good code - teens and in one case only 12. Take that into account when you talk on the CB and perhaps you would avoid whatever language got you muted.


      You may note that I haven't complained about being muted per se, because maybe the muting was socially appropriate. In any case that's a question for another thread.

      The issue on this thread is the anonymity of the muting. Please try to stay on topic. It's only polite.

          -- Chip Salzenberg, Free-Floating Agent of Chaos

        Summary of my off topic post: Don't start and you have nothing to worry about.

        Would you expect a bouncer to toss you out of a biker bar for bad language - NO.

        Would you expect somebody to confront you in other public places for bad language - YES, I'd hope they would.

        I agree you should probably have been given a warning but I do support the fact that the power is there and has been given to the Power Users for use at their discretion.


Re: Reputation and Accountability
by sauoq (Abbot) on Jun 12, 2003 at 20:15 UTC


    I've read all of the posts in this thread (that existed prior to me writing this at any rate) and I do understand your point. I don't, however, entirely agree with it.

    While accountability is generally a good thing, human societies, this one included, are flexible enough to survive some measure of imperfection. Even an imperfection that undermines accountability.

    In real life, accountability doesn't always exist. If it did, we'd have no need for criminal trials. We'd just have sentencing hearings. So, I don't believe you will sway me into believing it is an absolute necessity.

    That said, I'd actually like to know what you were /borg'd for. If you were really "punished" for the use of profanity, I'd like to complain about that. I think we all have a responsibility to the community to speak maturely, but I don't think anyone should police us. If we use language that others don't like we'll experience the repercussions directly, in the way others listen to us. I'm a parent as well, and my take on the children-may-be-listening argument is that, if they are old enough to spell they've probably already heard (and perhaps used) most "bad words" anyway and trying to shield them from it isn't a worthwhile endeavor. In the long run, they'll learn to use language appropriate to their social environment.

    Just the other night on the CB, I was verbally assaulted by a saint with a very high rep who actually sunk so low as to use words like "fuckhead" and "asshole" (the latter in all caps, too.)¹ Although his abuse was base and childish, I would never have censored him even if I were able nor would I have wished him to be censored. So, if this is some sort of "policy" I hereby announce my dissent.

    1. In a fit of paranoia, he also went on to accuse me of being, first, Tom Christiansen and then gnat. Go figure. Whether his XP was affected or not, I don't know. But I'm pretty sure that he lost some real respect in the eyes of a small handful of people who witnessed his lunatic raving.

    "My two cents aren't worth a dime.";
      sauoq, I witnessed parts of the conversation on the CB, and I also looked over the transcript. The discussion was getting very heated (cough), and possibly abrasive to other monks, I don't feel anyone should have been censored either. That would probably have made it worse. I do feel, OTOH, that the conversants should have been smacked fairly hard (all of them), and made to think about what they were saying and doing. I don't know the context of chip's situation, so I can't pass judgement, but maybe a better solution would have been one where chip would have been pulled into a private conversation with the person who silenced him (now known at this time). e.g.: slap a '/msg tye ' to the start of all his CB input. This way, the person can be 'talked down' as a more stern warning. Maybe this is a better idea than just silencing a person. But anyway, what do I know, IANAS

      (saint) ;)

      P.S. Yes, sauoq, I had previously overlooked some very pugnacious posts from the person in question the other night, but that was just insane! You are right in the assumption that the observers have lost some amount of respect for him. (Frankly, I'm surprised he hasn't bitched me out in a reply to one of my posts yet ;)

      mhoward - at -
      I find much to agree with in your comment, and little to disagree with. I think we agree that anonymity warps reputation. Your response that many such warps exist and must be compensated for (e.g. with courts) is well-taken. But I would simply argue that, all things being equal, less warping is a Good Thing that's worth striving for.

      update: Forgot to say: Yes, it was just profanity, that's all. OTOH, I realize that community standards differ, and so I didn't want to mix the two issues in one thread. OTGH, I agree also with you that profanity isn't always trolling and shouldn't be automatic borg bait.

          -- Chip Salzenberg, Free-Floating Agent of Chaos

Re: Reputation and Accountability
by Moonie (Friar) on Jun 12, 2003 at 17:42 UTC
    I find this situation interesting. The power to mute is more than likely in responsible hands, but I think it's only fair that they at least inform the user that is being silenced that there is a reason why they're silencing them and that ..they are indeed going to be muted for a bit. Is there a timelimit on being silenced? Does it timeout after a day? Those are just idle questions. Anyways, I don't think the person was hiding behind their power user status - probably didn't think. Key word, think. If you must mute, do so.. but at least be kind enough to inform the user. Just an opinion.

    - Moon
Re: Reputation and Accountability
by cidaris (Friar) on Jun 13, 2003 at 13:50 UTC
    Forgive me for coming into this late.
    I have a sure-fire solution... When a new user joins PerlMonks, somewhere on the account creation form, there is a standard disclaimer.
    Something like the following would suffice, and entertain the hell out of me as a new user:

    Welcome to PerlMonks. Here at PerlMonks, we appreciate and encourage open communication between members. However, you should be aware that PerlMonks is not a free forum, and your communication can and may be censored. A reasonable level of quality is expected here, and the enforcement of that level of quality is what has kept PerlMonks from turning into Slashdot or a hundred other crap forums that people with too much time on their hands or too little attention from real, physical people latch onto and often sour for users with honest intentions. A system has been put in place that we find works very well. We're even gracious enough to allow you to post messages like "I don't think this system works. Here's my suggestion for changing it." Wiser ( but not necessarily older ) users who have been around and most likely are charter members of the forum have been given special powers to moderate the content of the site. Mostly, they were here and have been here since the beginning of Time(tm) and are trusted members of the community, and doubtlessly have no intent to ruin other people's enjoyment of the site. If they did have that intent, it would've been flushed out long ago and they'd have moved on before ever reaching Saint, or whatever the level they've EARNED is. Here, the Constitution does not guarantee you any rights, nor do the Bible, the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, or the Perl Cookbook. You are here on our ( the general population ) good graces alone, and if you don't like it, there's probably some un-moderated, spam-overrun, script-kiddie infested community out there who would love to take you in and pipe your idiocy out to a thousand more people just like you. Thank you, and enjoy.

    Note: This should not be viewed as a specific message to chip or anyone else. chip has earned his 2000+ XP with a lot of quality posts. I disagree that anyone should be forced to fess up to squelching, just as I would disagree that no more Anonymous Monk posts would be allowed. Many people post anonymously and may be 10th level members even, because they'd like to avoid starting a conflict, real or imaginary, which may turn into some long-held grudge between members. The ability of one of our trusted members ( they don't get much more trusted than tye ) to squelch someone being offensive to other users is something that should be maintained, and helps keep up the quality of the site. Their ability to do so anonymously ( or not, in this case ) should also be upheld... Now will chip forever have a chip on his shoulder for tye? I really hope not. This place thrives on people working together and enjoying the site, not lurking in the shadows nursing a grudge.
Re: Reputation and Accountability
by Itatsumaki (Friar) on Jun 12, 2003 at 22:11 UTC

    I'm pretty new here, so I might be sticking my head where it doesn't belong.... But in my mind, there are two things being balanced here. Some see anonymity as a way to "cool down" tense situations. Others see it as a mask behind which to hide. Is there any reason both can't be accomodated by having the borg-er revealed after some delay? So, perhaps a list of people borg'd and who they were borg'd by, or maybe just a /msg or something of that nature. By enforcing that delay period (6 hours, maybe, or 24?) it would give the person time to cool down, but avoid the "facelessness" that can arise.

    That seems like a reasonable compromise, but maybe this is brutally hard to implement, or I'm missing some hidden gotcha?

Re: Reputation and Accountability
by CountZero (Bishop) on Jun 13, 2003 at 06:12 UTC

    A thing which seems to have gotten lost in this long discussion is: Does there indeed exist an audit trail?

    Can the Gods check later who borge'd whom?

    If not there is no use to appeal to the Gods anyhow for a wrongful action and then I tend to agree with Chip that such actions should not be conducted under the veil of anonimity.

    However, if there is an audit trail -al be it not available to us mere mortal monks- then I can live with the present situation.

    Perhaps one of the Gods can enlighten us? Please?


    "If you have four groups working on a compiler, you'll get a 4-pass compiler." - Conway's Law

      Can the Gods check later who borge'd whom?

      I addressed this in my original reply. I knew most of an audit trail was already in place. Since then I've found (thanks to theorbtwo) that a full audit trail has always been in place.

      So, yes, it is not that much work to come up with a complete list of who borg'd who and when for the last several months (depending on log rotation, which depends on number of server errors, etc.).

      One item missing from the audit iswas the duration of the borging, so I'll added that. And, of course, the entire context of the conversation is not recorded in the log. Public chatter is retained (though only available to the gods) for about 1 day and backups mean that (with some work) public chatter for about a week is usually available (not counting the numerous private archives of public chatter).

                      - tye
Re: Reputation and Accountability
by spartan (Pilgrim) on Jun 12, 2003 at 19:06 UTC
    Slightly off topic here, but I think this node has gone way down hill anyways...
    I was "silenced" (or /borg'd if that's what it is indeed called) for typing something like "/me trips NodeReaper". At the time I got the
    NodeReaper has swallowed spartan. spartan was tasty!
    I thought it was something that happened purely out of coincidence because I was messing around with NodeReaper... Now that I've figured out (through this node) that I was silenced by a person (albeit for a VERY short time), I too would like to question the anonymity of someone allowed to /borg somebody. It just doesn't seem right, as chip points out.

    Very funny Scotty... Now PLEASE beam down my PANTS!

      I'd hate for this non-censoring form of borging to change its flavor. Its a permajoke as is and it loses what bit of humor it has by injecting all the anonymising stripping features. Borging of short periods shouldn't be decloaked. Say... a second?

      Humpf ... would anyone care to explain that does the "trip" mean in that sentence?

      Update: Would anyone care to explain why /s?he/ downvoted a genuine question from a non-native english speaker?

      Always code as if the guy who ends up maintaining your code will be a violent psychopath who knows where you live.
         -- Rick Osborne

      Edit by castaway: Closed small tag in signature

        In that sentence, "trip" means "to cause to stumble or fall".
Re: Reputation and Accountability
by boo_radley (Parson) on Jun 12, 2003 at 18:25 UTC

    I do mind their hiding behind a veil of anonymity
    Why do you think it's neccesary that you know?

    And later, when you say in response to Ovid :

    If only the monk who slienced me had given me warning of imminent silencing, (...) So apparently one of the Power Users is abusing his power.
    Why do you think a warning is required? Why do you think this is an abuse of power?

    If you feel that some of your previous posts have reasonably explained these questions, please summarize your answers in a response to this post.

    update : Sorry, chip, I submitted this accidentally before I wrote all of it.

    update : through pandering to you and your desire to act inane in the CB and then complain about your rights to know who shut you up. Hope that helps.

      I believe I've already explained that: Reputation-based societies (i.e. just about everything human) only function when people know who's done what.

      update: This node answers the original version of the parent. As for a "summary": No, thank you. This is a discussion, not an essay.

          -- Chip Salzenberg, Free-Floating Agent of Chaos

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