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Andrew

civility

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I just wanted to comment that I'm finding the lack of civility in some threads lately to be distressing.

Please:

- Comments that insult artistic creators or those who love these creations serve no useful purpose. I think most of us here in our better moments are interested in stimulating discussion, not in marking our territory. If a work seemed formulaic, insipid, dull, or morally offensive, by all means please say so, but explain your reasoning and please explain it charitably.

- Pithy dismissive comments seem equally fruitless. If that's what I'm looking for, I'll read some acerbic twitter posts. If it's not worth explaining to some degree, it's probably best to post it later when you have more time.

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Andrew's remarks are well taken, particularly for those of us who may be new to the A&F community. I want to emphasize that newcomers are welcome. Newcomers are also asked to recognize that they are joining a discussion with roots going back a dozen years, with a number of original and/or long-term members still participating. There is a culture and a history here that is different from many online fora. This is not the wild West.

Nobody here will pretend that this is a perfect community or that we haven't had acrimonious conflicts over the years. We have. Some participants have left, temporarily or permanently, and some of us bear the scars of those conflicts and departures. But in spite of our faults, we really are more like a big, unruly extended family than a typical Internet discussion board. An ethos of courtesy and respect is less enforced than taken for granted here. This ethos has been challenged over the years, but has taken hold so firmly that I literally cannot remember the last time that someone has been disciplined, officially warned, or banned. (I can certainly remember all of those things happening, but it's been so long than I have no idea when those actions tapered off.)

So, take a step back, observe how others here interact with one another, and join in the conversation if you find it appealing. If not, there's a lot of other places you can go. Cheers.

P.S. You might enjoy reading up a bit on the history of A&F.

Edited by SDG

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I echo Andrew's sentiments. Much is being said in the world outside A&F about civility, but it always seems to come off as a plea to the other guy. Civility can only start with what one wants to say and carefully, not with one's impression of what the other guy said. The former takes practice. The latter, a willingness to ignore the worst reading of the other guy and simply address the point in question. Civily. In a nutshell, that's the key for those new to the forum.

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Thanks for posting this, Andrew — definitely agree. And it's something that's not exclusive to new members, either. Old-timers need to make sure we don't fall into the this too.

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Guest Pax

I have no idea what you're trying to say or how it relates to the rest of this thread, but the BBC website won't let me play that video. I get a message stating that it's not available in my area (USA).

Hmmm, I wonder who this could be aimed at? Are civility and civilisation related? If so, this is worth a look.

Edited by Pax

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Hmmm, I wonder who this could be aimed at? Are civility and civilisation related? If so, this is worth a look.

Don't take it too personally, Ambler. This thread is not about one person.

Regarding your question, are you really in doubt about the expectations of civility? Is your question like the dodge of the man cross-examining Jesus about the obligation to love one's neighbor as oneself: "And who is my neighbor?" Or in this case "And what is civility?"

My friend Mark Shea, a well-known Catholic writer and blogger, is a passionate opponent of torture. When torture defenders and obfuscators challenge him by questioning how anyone can draw the line between torture and non-torture, how anyone can presume to know what torture is, he likes to say that the question is only a practical problem for those who want to get as close to torture as they possibly can without crossing the line. If you make it your goal to treat people humanely and with dignity, you won't accidentally torture them. Something similar applies to civility and incivility.

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- Pithy dismissive comments seem equally fruitless. If that's what I'm looking for, I'll read some acerbic twitter posts. If it's not worth explaining to some degree, it's probably best to post it later when you have more time.

This is a fine, but important line for A&F. I really enjoy the rare times a thread devolves into pure comedy before getting back on track. But even in days when creating and reading long posts was a bit ungainly, there still seemed an unwritten rule that snap judgments about a film should be backed up by a few sentences that would provide grist for the mill. It is hard to respond to "this movie sucked," or "I hate this movie." While such a sentiment may be true, A&F has always been mostly free of the internet tendency toward this kind of comment box trivia.

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Hmmm, I wonder who this could be aimed at? Are civility and civilisation related? If so, this is worth a look.

Don't take it too personally, Ambler. This thread is not about one person.

Much better to name names than leave us dangling. I'm happy to go elsewhere if that's the consensus.

In truth I never got over the sneaking feeling that I should be paid for what I write. Old fashioned, I know.

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Thanks, Andrew. It's a good reminder for all of us.

Sometimes when you've known people as long as we have, you can assume to know too much about them already and jump the gun on their opinion. I know that I need to remember to evaluate an idea or opinion, no matter where it comes from, and respond in civility. But there is sometimes a fine line between a long-standing friendship that forms and the snarkiness that naturally develops there, and being uncivil. Or something like that.

I almost ended this note with "so screw you" but changed my mind. :)

I love the tone here, I think it is golden and worth cherishing and preserving. I have especially loved the tone over the past year and a half or so. It feels like a good time in the life of this forum.

Hmmm, I wonder who this could be aimed at? Are civility and civilisation related? If so, this is worth a look.

Don't take it too personally, Ambler. This thread is not about one person.

Much better to name names than leave us dangling. I'm happy to go elsewhere if that's the consensus.

In truth I never got over the sneaking feeling that I should be paid for what I write. Old fashioned, I know.

I think the whole idea was not to name names because that's the kind of gentle spirit Andrew and SDG have. Why name names -- if there even are names to name -- when a gentle reminder is all that's needed?

Your tone seems to be looking for a fight. We've done all that in years past, and frankly I think most of us are over it.

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Much better to name names than leave us dangling.

I can see where you might feel that way. Someone else might appreciate being given the opportunity to take a hint. An awkward silence or a cleared throat can be a word to the wise, if the wise are willing to see it. If you're not the only relevant party, your feelings may not be the only ones that matter.

Not to say I'm against naming names, if it becomes clear that it's necessary and the best way to deal with the situation.

I'm happy to go elsewhere if that's the consensus.

I believe you. I thought you had a chip on your shoulder when you came in the door. Please feel free to take it off with your jacket and stay awhile. Or, if you want to walk around bumping into people waiting for someone to knock it off, you might prefer to keep your jacket on. But it's not necessary, and no one is pushing you out the door.

In truth I never got over the sneaking feeling that I should be paid for what I write. Old fashioned, I know.

It's nice work when you can get it.

Edited by SDG

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An awkward silence or a cleared throat can be a word to the wise, if the wise are willing to see it.

Wouldn't the wise hear it? Or in the case of silence not hear it? Though this being an internet forum, I suppose the hypothetical wise party in question would actually see the internet forum equivalent of a silence and/or cleared throat, as it would exist (or not exist, which is to say it would exist by virtue of absence) in a form that could be sensed via IP.Board technology. Let's file this away for further investigation.

Edited by M. Leary

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Mike: The occasional sprouts of playful humor delight me, too, a la the merkin and Herbie-goes-Bananas-meets-Ordet.

Stef: Yep, the reminder is for me, too, as I am quite capable of behaving in an asinine manner. I want to do my best to stay civil and charitable, even when disagreeing about Ikiru's greatness.

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(or lack thereof)

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I'm not sure what thread sparked Andrew's post here as I don't even try to keep up with all the threads here. I find this place very civil in comparison to other online places I've been active in the past.

However I do find a fair bit of in-jokes and cliquishness here among the long-term members. I am NOT saying that I've been made unwelcome it's just that it sometimes feels hard to catch up. I've felt a lot more comfortable here since taking Overstreet's Glen film seminar last summer because I now feel I have more of the "sensibility" that many of you have.

I am probably guilty of maybe too-short Twitteresque posts but I either post short or rarely at all.

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However I do find a fair bit of in-jokes and cliquishness here among the long-term members. I am NOT saying that I've been made unwelcome it's just that it sometimes feels hard to catch up. I've felt a lot more comfortable here since taking Overstreet's Glen film seminar last summer because I now feel I have more of the "sensibility" that many of you have.

That is fair, and probably an inevitable consequence of the history of this board. I hope that we try to be welcoming to newcomers but there's no doubt that a lot that passes between old friends leaves others out. For example, I know that if I talk about stabbing a doll in the eye, several readers of this post will know what I'm talking about and others will not.

That's the nature of community, history and memory. To "belong" here is like "belonging" anywhere else: It takes time. That doesn't mean being suspicious or stand-offish with newcomers -- that's as may be, and I hope, confidently, that we aren't like that. In any culture, there is a duty on old-timers to be gracious and accommodating to newcomers. Equally, there is an obligation on newcomers to accommodate themselves to the ethos of the culture.

Either side can screw this up: Old-timers can close ranks against newcomers and wield their history like a weapon, and newcomers can dig in their heels and defy the community ethos. Neither needs to happen.

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SDG wrote:

: That is fair, and probably an inevitable consequence of the history of this board. I hope that we try to be welcoming to newcomers but there's no doubt that a lot that passes between old friends leaves others out. For example, I know that if I talk about stabbing a doll in the eye, several readers of this post will know what I'm talking about and others will not.

And just to make things worse: if memory serves, the original eye-stabbing comment wasn't even made on this board, but on one of its predecessors (before A&F, before Promontory... back in the Novogate days, I think? or was it even earlier, in the Chiafilm days?).

LibrarianDeb wrote:

: I'm not sure what thread sparked Andrew's post here . . .

FWIW, the thread that came to MY mind was not one of the threads that has been cited in this thread yet.

And, to sort-of tie this back to SDG's point, it seems that one of the threads that HAS been cited or alluded to in this thread involved an exchange between two people, one of whom is very new to this board and one of whom is only semi-new... so there was possibly a history between those two people that was being invoked in that exchange, which the rest of us here were not familiar with. Kind of the inverse of SDG's eye-stabbing example, where the basic idea was that newcomers might find exchanges between A&F old-timers kind of bewildering.

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And, to sort-of tie this back to SDG's point, it seems that one of the threads that HAS been cited or alluded to in this thread involved an exchange between two people, one of whom is very new to this board and one of whom is only semi-new... so there was possibly a history between those two people that was being invoked in that exchange, which the rest of us here were not familiar with.

What, the thread where and Ambler and I talked about Argento films (Top Horror Movies)?

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Yep. Or at any rate, I assume so, based on Ambler's comments above.

Ambler and I are acquainted with one another from other internet forums, but the comment that caused SDG to raise his eyebrows wasn't any sort of in-joke.

Edited by Ryan H.

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the comment that caused SDG to raise his eyebrows wasn't any sort of in-joke.

No. It was a most serious offence. Heresy by thought, I'd say.

EDIT: yet another typo.

Edited by Ambler

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Ambler, when Andrew began this thread I must admit I didn't think it was about you. Or, at least, not just about you. There were probably several places where we've all slipped a bit lately, and what he posted was a good reminder for all. But I think some of it has become about you. I think you've made some of it about you.

Here is what I know of you. You introduced yourself as a person who was here because he'd been kicked off some other film board somewhere else. One of your first comments I remember was about pubic hair that you were glad some certain actress had. Apparently the merkin comments saved you at that point. In the book section, you were wanting to read a book that you hoped was as offensive as you'd heard. It made me think that perhaps offensive people liked offensive things. Most of your appearances have been in putting things down, or even putting other people down. I admired Ryan quite a bit at the restraint he's shown you so far. Then you barged into Antichrist just tonight with nothing of value to say about the film, but called other posters "self-righteous" in their comments. Wow. Self-righteous? You've done nothing here but fit the definition so far.

You have shared very little. The times you've mentioned an actor you've enjoyed, or a book you liked have been one or two sentence phrases here or there. Everything else is like a giant spew of negativity.

Why not find a film you love and talk about it? Why not try to share a joy you've found somewhere? If I'm to take anything someone says seriously, it's not just going to be from someone that barges into a room with a weight of negativity on their shoulders.

You seem to read and see a lot of deep art that I might be introduced to, and even appreciate, but why would I care with what you've offered so far?

If you want to share with this community, I think we might be interested. But the name-calling and put-downs from the get-go have been a real turn-off to me personally.

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I'm not sure what thread sparked Andrew's post here as I don't even try to keep up with all the threads here. I find this place very civil in comparison to other online places I've been active in the past.

However I do find a fair bit of in-jokes and cliquishness here among the long-term members. I am NOT saying that I've been made unwelcome it's just that it sometimes feels hard to catch up. I've felt a lot more comfortable here since taking Overstreet's Glen film seminar last summer because I now feel I have more of the "sensibility" that many of you have.

I am probably guilty of maybe too-short Twitteresque posts but I either post short or rarely at all.

Deb - I appreciate your comments. I know I could do better at welcoming and including the folks with whom I'm less acquainted here. I'm glad you're part of the community here.

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Ambler, when Andrew began this thread I must admit I didn't think it was about you. Or, at least, not just about you. There were probably several places where we've all slipped a bit lately, and what he posted was a good reminder for all. But I think some of it has become about you. I think you've made some of it about you.

Here is what I know of you. You introduced yourself as a person who was here because he'd been kicked off some other film board somewhere else. One of your first comments I remember was about pubic hair that you were glad some certain actress had. Apparently the merkin comments saved you at that point. In the book section, you were wanting to read a book that you hoped was as offensive as you'd heard. It made me think that perhaps offensive people liked offensive things. Most of your appearances have been in putting things down, or even putting other people down. I admired Ryan quite a bit at the restraint he's shown you so far. Then you barged into Antichrist just tonight with nothing of value to say about the film, but called other posters "self-righteous" in their comments. Wow. Self-righteous? You've done nothing here but fit the definition so far.

You have shared very little. The times you've mentioned an actor you've enjoyed, or a book you liked have been one or two sentence phrases here or there. Everything else is like a giant spew of negativity.

Why not find a film you love and talk about it? Why not try to share a joy you've found somewhere? If I'm to take anything someone says seriously, it's not just going to be from someone that barges into a room with a weight of negativity on their shoulders.

You seem to read and see a lot of deep art that I might be introduced to, and even appreciate, but why would I care with what you've offered so far?

If you want to share with this community, I think we might be interested. But the name-calling and put-downs from the get-go have been a real turn-off to me personally.

Lots of misconceptions and misinformation in your post but none is worth arguing about as I suspect much of your antipathy to me is down to a simple difference in cultures. I'm hardly the first to observe that England and America are divided by a common language yet it's a shame about your humour bypass. Then again, the idea that I require your approval or am here for your education is amusing. As for pubic hair, it's interesting that it disturbs you. Oddly enough, it's its absence that tends to disturb me. No doubt you are a follower of Ruskin.

I will grant that you are correct in one respect, however: I have no intention of 'sharing', as you put it, with a bunch of strangers: emotional incontinence is one social inadequacy I'd prefer not to develop. I came here to discuss the arts not my latest crisis of faith, divorce or other disappointment. Unfortunately, I see you are incapable of separating the personal from the philosophical so I must find another land. Perhaps I'll adopt 'Persona non grata' as my next nom de plume. wink.gif

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