Resolving Perceived Domineering or Bullying Behaviour

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Resolving Perceived Domineering or Bullying Behaviour

Postby Crunkus » 06 Nov 2012, 22:01

This thread is offered as a place to link to when someone feels that someone else is disrespectfully shutting off dissenting opinion, making a discussion needlessly personal, or even arguably bullying another forum member in the debate sub-forum area.

It is intended as a space to resolve issues, not to petition for moderation. Charges can be responded to, and the resulting dialogue will hopefully resolve the situation with minimum disruption to the original thread. Apologies can be offered, perceived insults will sometimes be reconciled with the actual intended meaning of the poster, and all the nonsense that usually goes on in thread can have a home elsewhere.

While I often disagree with the basis for the perception, it would seem some forum members feel like they are personally being attacked or suppressed. I have no doubt this happens on occasion. I'll even cop to behaviour which upon retrospect makes me guilty of it myself. But it is also extraordinarily easy to perceive personal insult when a perspective or point of view held is criticized. It is common to misunderstand the context or the meaning of a statement. Let's figure that out here instead of in the threads where such things happen.

I suggest:

  • Quoting and providing a link to the offending remarks. Explain what in particular you find objectionable. Make sure the interested parties have a link to the conversation either by linking the post here in the other thread or contacting the person by pm.
  • Keeping it civil. Keep in mind you might be incorrect about the nature of the perceived insult. This is not a place to argue, but a place to confirm whether or not you've actually been insulted. If you have, it is a place for reconciliation. If this is not possible, then what follows does not belong here and should be taken to pm or a moderator if necessary.

I encourage anyone who feels domineered, personally insulted, or bullied by any of my remarks in debate to take full advantage of this thread. These types of feelings are the last thing I want, and if I'm indeed guilty of something, I'd like to correct my own behaviour and apologize. If I've been misunderstood, I'd like to make sure that's established as well.
Last edited by Crunkus on 06 Nov 2012, 22:42, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: Resolving Perceived Domineering or Bullying Behaviour

Postby Constantine072 » 06 Nov 2012, 22:06

just posting to follow for now, I perhaps might chime in a later basis but for now I'll just mark this thread
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Re: Resolving Perceived Domineering or Bullying Behaviour

Postby rick.leeds » 06 Nov 2012, 22:32

Crunkus, I think this is a good idea and I will sticky the thread. I should also point out, as Crunkus and others have previously, that there is always the option of bringing a specific issue to a Moderator's or Administrator's attention; we take potential bullying behaviour seriously: the underlying basis of the Forum is respect. However, I should also reiterate what Crunkus has said (or implied) above: it is sometimes easy to perceive this kind of behaviour when none is intended, and that seems especially so in Debates. The nature of this section of the Forum means that sometimes discussions get heated - let's face it, a lot of the Debates are centred around politics and or religion, the two things that, in friendly discussion, we're often encouraged not to talk about!

This, then, is a good way to air views and, hopefully, resolve disputes, which Crunkus is obviously aiming for, without involving site management. The guidelines for the Forum as a whole are here. It may be worth noting the section in those guidelines about the Debates forum:
Debates section
This is the place where some quite heavy and often personal discussions take place (as well as some lighter ones). As such, opinions expressed may be strong and personal, and therefore threads may include material which may lead to members’ opinons, beliefs, etc being strongly challenged. As such, members should be aware that in some circumstances Moderators will have a higher level of tolerance in this section than in most others. However, the general guidelines still stand. Spamming and advertising will be subject to the same degree of monitoring; personal abuse is not allowed; posts which are purely provocative in nature may be removed.

Where greater tolerance is exercised is in the area of what may be termed personal opinion. In this section players are encouraged to express a personal opinion. This may lead to some members feeling offended. If so, then there are a number of courses of action; amongst others a member might:
- Stop reading the thread;
- State your case, explaining your own point of view;
- Report the post(s).
The latter, of course, is always an option. BUT please consider the context of the post and discussion. Moderators will act on their own discretion. If a post is felt to be generally abusive, rather than stating a personal opinion, action may be taken.
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Re: Resolving Perceived Domineering or Bullying Behaviour

Postby jayahr » 06 Nov 2012, 23:13

Is there a clear line between heated debate and "bullying"? These forums are freely entered, and someone who is hurt by the comments they receive can leave at any time. If someone then pursues them through PM or elsewhere, I could agree that it's bully behaviour. But in these forum debates I frequently use analogies, absurdities and other techniques that could easily be construed as "insulting" by someone with strongly-held (but in my opinion illogical) beliefs.

Let's not stifle debate and disputation in an attempt to stop people from hurting each others' feelings.
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Re: Resolving Perceived Domineering or Bullying Behaviour

Postby Constantine072 » 06 Nov 2012, 23:16

jayahr wrote:Is there a clear line between heated debate and "bullying"? These forums are freely entered, and someone who is hurt by the comments they receive can leave at any time. If someone then pursues them through PM or elsewhere, I could agree that it's bully behaviour. But in these forum debates I frequently use analogies, absurdities and other techniques that could easily be construed as "insulting" by someone with strongly-held (but in my opinion illogical) beliefs.

Let's not stifle debate and disputation in an attempt to stop people from hurting each others' feelings.

But on the same token, must you say things in the way you do? It is always possible to reword those things to sound less offensive.
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Re: Resolving Perceived Domineering or Bullying Behaviour

Postby Crunkus » 06 Nov 2012, 23:43

jayahr wrote:Is there a clear line between heated debate and "bullying"? These forums are freely entered, and someone who is hurt by the comments they receive can leave at any time. If someone then pursues them through PM or elsewhere, I could agree that it's bully behaviour. But in these forum debates I frequently use analogies, absurdities and other techniques that could easily be construed as "insulting" by someone with strongly-held (but in my opinion illogical) beliefs.

Let's not stifle debate and disputation in an attempt to stop people from hurting each others' feelings.


This is intended specifically not to stifle debate. People are complaining. Sometimes they are complaining in thread and disrupting threads as people clarify their original remarks. This is simply a place to do that. If someone says they feel insulted by something you've said, you can simply link them here and continue. If they feel strongly enough about it, they will make a specific what their issue is, and you can point out that none of this is personal there.

Just because something is a heated debate doesn't mean its okay to make personal insults directed toward the person you are frustrated with. But I agree that actual cases of personal insults are rare. People commonly have difficulty separating heated criticism of a position from heated criticism of the person holding that position. They take it personally, often when they really shouldn't. That's going to happen, might as well give it a spot to play out. If we begin detecting trends here, perhaps people will reflect upon whether it is appropriate to infer base motivations so quickly.

I see this as a means to open debate up, colourful antics and all. If the discussion occurs in one place, it will be easier as a community to discuss what does and does not cross a line.

You now have the following option the next time someone seems to get rubbed the wrong way or vaguely accuses you of being unfair:

Got a beef? Take it here.

At least here we have a set standard that people need to be specific and clear as to what they have a problem with and why. People can reference similar issues within this thread and how they were resolved. If someone is insulted by having the position criticized as completely deranged, it can be pointed out here that this is not a personal comment, but one criticizing a held belief, position, or argument. If someone make a sacred cow out of a given belief, that's their right, but according to the very specific forum guidelines and comments by rick.leeds here, it must be pointed out that your right to be offended at certain beliefs being criticized is not enshrined in a debate forum, and shouldn't be. But let's do that here, instead of elsewhere so people can read through other user to user resolutions, community discussions, and reconsider their position first.
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Re: Resolving Perceived Domineering or Bullying Behaviour

Postby Crunkus » 06 Nov 2012, 23:51

Constantine072 wrote:But on the same token, must you say things in the way you do? It is always possible to reword those things to sound less offensive.


There is nothing necessarily wrong with saying something that offends someone personally.

There is something wrong with saying something specifically meant to insult a person and not a position or argument being debated.

There's a difference.

People who are offended can suss the difference out here as examples pop up and we develop that discussion as a community here.

Nobody should feel any need to walk on eggshells to avoid offence. People will become offended when they really shouldn't. People will see insult where there is none intended. People will also target the person instead of the argument, belief or position without really realizing it. Respect does not mean free from possible inference of offense. We do not have to re-word anything to avoid the possibility of offense. That's just not reasonable or appropriate to a debate atmosphere. We do have to remember that calling somewhat a dimwit is not debate. It's just an insult. There's lots of grey area, and that's what you can work out here instead of jamming threads full of it.
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Re: Resolving Perceived Domineering or Bullying Behaviour

Postby Constantine072 » 06 Nov 2012, 23:56

I am just saying there are ways to avoid the problem if we so desire, but I agree with yourself and Jayahr to some extent being direct and tactful instead of polite is surperior, but I do not think it hurts to reword things at time. On the same token, semi just offering an counter opanion to help fully formulate what we are doing here.
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Re: Resolving Perceived Domineering or Bullying Behaviour

Postby jayahr » 07 Nov 2012, 00:06

Constantine072 wrote:
jayahr wrote:Is there a clear line between heated debate and "bullying"? These forums are freely entered, and someone who is hurt by the comments they receive can leave at any time. If someone then pursues them through PM or elsewhere, I could agree that it's bully behaviour. But in these forum debates I frequently use analogies, absurdities and other techniques that could easily be construed as "insulting" by someone with strongly-held (but in my opinion illogical) beliefs.

Let's not stifle debate and disputation in an attempt to stop people from hurting each others' feelings.

But on the same token, must you say things in the way you do? It is always possible to reword those things to sound less offensive.


Well, sometimes I say things the way I do in the heat of the moment. I'm pretty sure I have been able to avoid making personal attacks, but I seldom hold back on attacking a belief or position that I disagree with, and as others have noted it's sometimes hard for the recipient to tell the difference - especially if they consider their beliefs to be a fundamental element of their person.

But there are also times when I deliberately use arguments intended to be shocking, which may often seem offensive, as an attempt to force someone to consider their position from outside a comfortable context.

Our behaviour on the forum should be similar to a guideline for parenting: criticize the act, not the person. I sometimes said to my son "that was a pretty stupid thing to do", but I would never say "you're stupid". Everybody makes mistakes, and everybody has beliefs that are hard to justify. Except me, of course. ;)
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Re: Resolving Perceived Domineering or Bullying Behaviour

Postby Dar Krum » 07 Nov 2012, 04:47

If someone is being bullied, that is serious stuff. A mod/administrators need to be called in to investigate and take action.

If someone is offended in the Debates thread of this forum, well, that is going to happen. Nobody has the right to expect not to be offended. Positions will be attacked. Vehemently sometimes. If a person is too timid or wishes to play the persecution card or is simply unwillingly to attempt to defend their position further after a vehement attack, that is their choice; not one that is being forced on them.

I too would prefer to see positions attacked rather than persons. That said, sometimes there are issues that folks feel pretty damn strongly about. And maybe it is because I have been the one who has called folks out in the past and purposefully used offensive language, but sometimes it is warranted. It says something about a person, the individual, who would defend an organisation that engages in a decades long (centuries long?) cover up of child raping. It says something about a person, the individual, who would agree with, in the face of all scientific evidence, that women who are raped don't get pregnant or have a way of "shutting that down." And in the heat of the discussion, sometimes those persons, those individuals, are going to be called on it, vehemently. Sometimes it is warranted, as distasteful as it is.

If someone (I am looking at myself here.) crosses a line they should be called on it. If the offense is serious enough, then mods and admins should step in. But it is a case by case situation.

Bottom line, folks will be offended. These things happen and should happen. If dearly held ideas that are being challenged aggressively are not causing offense, then someone is not doing it correctly.
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