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Assume good faith?

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1timspalding
Edited: May 24, 2009, 2:09pm Top

I recently tweaked the wording and some of the features around talk-post flagging (see http://www.librarything.com/topic/65287).

One member wrote: "What about non-commercial solicitation (or the like)? More specifically, someone creating an account, not adding a single book, and posting 'I've got a great book blog here, come and visit me!'"

Members going after people for this sort of thing has long bothered me. Sure, it's... twirpy. But is it really a violation of the TOS? What if they said "Check out my great book on X"? That might be more spammy, but is it necessarily a sign of bad faith? Maybe that person would go on to become a productive member of the community.

So I wonder if we don't need to follow Wikipedia's rule: Assume good faith (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Assume_good_faith).

The application here of AGF would be for some member to write something like "Thanks for your interest in LibraryThing. It looks like you've got an interesting blog/book there." and then clue them in to the norms of community contribution on a site like this. Ditto when someone makes some idiotic edit to CK (I've come across members who are clearly invested in the site who make some idiotic edit, presumably to see what it would do).

So, since we tend to borrow norms from Wikipedia, how about making "Assume good faith" an official community norm?

2mckait
May 24, 2009, 2:03pm Top

I like it.

Well done Tim! ( as always )

3clamairy
May 24, 2009, 2:18pm Top

But wait! Don't you remember what that say? When you assume you make an ass out of you and, um, some other person. (Not me!)

Sounds like a great plan, Tim.

4hailelib
May 24, 2009, 2:24pm Top

I like the idea and hope we can put it into practice.

5timspalding
May 24, 2009, 2:25pm Top

I'm also rather fond of http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Don%27t_call_a_spade_a_spade

Not that I always follow it.

6Nicole_VanK
May 24, 2009, 2:27pm Top

But then you are being called Spaldo, not a spade...

7Aerulan
May 24, 2009, 2:33pm Top

Honestly I'd be very happy to see a less militant attitude to the not quite spam messages. Simply because (for me at least) it gives an aggressively unfriendly impression to see a post with poor grammar, chat speak, or an authors enthusiasm that could be well intentioned thoroughly and speedily eviscerated by some members. And I don't know how many new people lurk a while before posting but that kept me from speaking for quite a long time. Simply because I didn't want to get sucked into something unpleasant by the lack of grammatical perfection. Or whatever else.

I'm quite fond of the Ravelry.com suggestion "be excellent to each other" as a community guideline for behavior. It will be nice if this makes things a bit friendlier and more forgiving around here.

8timspalding
May 24, 2009, 2:34pm Top

Apparently that's a line from Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure.

9Aerulan
May 24, 2009, 2:37pm Top

Yes it is. Though I'm not sure if any of the head people at Ravelry are fans or not. It does work fairly well over there. And people can get just as worked up over yarn as books, which rather surprised me in the beginning.

10stephmo
May 24, 2009, 2:38pm Top

>8 timspalding: It's part of their overall philosophy that changes the entire Universe and makes Wyld Stallyns the greatest band that ever lived.

fact!

11thebeadden
May 24, 2009, 2:41pm Top

I am fairly new here and have contributed quite a bit to common knowledge, posted new covers. But I am always worried I'll mess something up. If I do I certainly would like to know that I have done something wrong. It is nice to know that people won't think or presume I am doing it on purpose.

This is probably going to sound stupid (or make me look stupid): I would contribute more but I don't always fully understand what some areas in the CK area is for. Is there a "for dummies" section?

I leave many areas blank for that reason, I don't want to mess up.

Thanks!

12sqdancer
Edited: May 24, 2009, 3:05pm Top

>11 thebeadden:

May I suggest : http://www.librarything.com/wiki/index.php/Common_Knowledge

and the Common Knowledge group: http://www.librarything.com/groups/commonknowledge

as useful resources.

ETA: Thank for all you have already done!

13Noisy
May 24, 2009, 3:33pm Top

I'm not sure why, but 'Assume good faith' just doesn't sound right for LibraryThing. I don't know if it's because it seems overly formal, or if it seems as if it's talking down to people. Wikipedia has to put up with such a wide variety of people that formalism seems necessary, (and I wasn't very happy with Jimbo's stewardship, which is why I departed) but LT has a much more co-operative feeling - perhaps because it is single-purpose.

I like the 'Be nice' slogan.

14jlelliott
May 24, 2009, 4:38pm Top

I love the idea. It should be site policy that we all assume that new users have good intentions and treat them accordingly.

15vaneska
May 24, 2009, 4:51pm Top

A good thing, Tim, that you've accepted there's no escape from knitting.

v

16foggidawn
May 24, 2009, 5:27pm Top

"Assume good faith" seems reasonable to me. I think your recent tweaks to the flagging system will go far . . . and I agree that some newcomers jump in with more enthusiasm than good sense, as far as promoting their book/blog/ideology goes, but flagging and/or berating them is probably discouraging not only to them, but to others who may be lurking, but hesitant to jump in for fear of just such a reception (even if they weren't planning on hawking their wares in a similar manner). I've probably flagged such posts in the past -- so from now on, I'll adjust my behavior accordingly.

17thebeadden
May 24, 2009, 6:16pm Top

#12 Thank you sqdancer.
I did did read the links and if I am still not 100% sure about something. I guess it is better to leap out and ask a question than it is to mess it up.

18lorax
May 24, 2009, 6:54pm Top

1>

I'm sorry, I can't do that.

I can avoid flagging these people who are clearly just seeking hits for their blog (Just for clarity, I'm not flagging them now.) But I can't bring myself to encourage them, with the "Thanks for your interest in LT", which gives them exactly what they seek and reward jerky, spammy behavior. It's clear to me that they aren't in the least interested in LT -- if they really are, they'll show that later, but a blog-advertisement post isn't indicating interest in anything more than hits. If it's all the same to you, I'll consider to "red X" those posts, and to go to the poster's profile and proceed to ignore them.

19lorax
May 24, 2009, 6:55pm Top

14>

Only if you extend the same courtesy to established users, as well.

I was vilified on another thread for something I didn't even do, just because I expressed sympathy with people who would prefer to keep the site a place for intelligent conversations.

20timspalding
May 24, 2009, 7:06pm Top

Which is more important, being right and annoying at least one person, and probably more, as well as probably wasting more of your time, or being minimally courteous and resolving the issue?

21lorax
Edited: May 24, 2009, 7:18pm Top

20>

Are you asking me? I want to spend as little of my time as possible dealing with spammers -- so hitting the "red X", rather than the faux-naive "Thank you for your interest in LibraryThing", is the way to do that. Rewarding that doesn't "resolve the issue" -- it exacerbates it.

(I'm not talking about people who just post in the wrong thread, or something; I'm talking about people who are clearly just trying to sell their book, or drive hits to their blog, or similar behavior.) I think it's actually more likely that they "go on to become a productive member of the community" if they realize that community culture discourages spamming than if they think it's accepted. If they're actual spammers, they'll go away, or cross the line and get flagged; if they aren't, they'll read a few posts, realize what the place is like, and hop right in.

22timspalding
Edited: May 24, 2009, 7:21pm Top

I think it's hard to know exactly what people are motivated by. If someone is driving you to a blog about kittens, you have a point, perhaps. If they're driving you to a book blog, there is a decent chance their just posting their blog about books because—this being a book site—they think that's okay. Sure, experienced members may think this irritating. But, as the Wikipedia article points out, most ducks don't think they're ducks.

Incidentally, it's widely said that LT is for book-related discussion. I don't think that accurately describes how it's used. Clay Shirky once said that when you go into an AOL sex chatroom, people are talking about sex. And when you go into a book room, people are talking about sex. The difference is that they're doing it with people who self-identify as book people. People post all kinds of "off-topic" things at LT. They do it because they're book people—a very wide universe, but not the widest—and want to relate to other book people.

23Suncat
May 24, 2009, 8:07pm Top

> 22 I think it's hard to know exactly what people are motivated by.

Perhaps so. Maybe the book hawkers do naively think that's what the site is for.

At the same time, I completely agree with lorax. My feeling (note that I say "feeling"!) is that if anyone is going to resort to spam-like tactics, they're spammers. I don't care what the topic is. I mean, yes, we don't know what other people's exact motives are, but do spammers themselves succumb to such tactics?

I'm either going to completely ignore such people, or at the most tell them (politely) that they are mistaken about the site. I'm in the camp of "don't encourage them". But I'll agree we don't have to beat them about the head and shoulders over it either.

24mckait
May 24, 2009, 8:12pm Top

Ignoring is better than lashing out. I red x a lot of thread that I am not interested in looking at. Nothing wrong with that. I don't think Tim is asking you to read something you are not interested in reading. He is just asking that we assume the best of people. Old and new members..

So x. No loss for either you or the poster.. right?

25foggidawn
May 24, 2009, 8:47pm Top

I've also noticed that "Hey, check out my blog" threads, even if they're not flagged, usually don't result in a lot of posts. I have no idea how many hits they generate for the blog in question, but I can find many examples of this kind of post, occasionally by people who post regularly, and hardly any generate more than one or two comments:
http://www.librarything.com/topic/61247
http://www.librarything.com/topic/60797
http://www.librarything.com/topic/59480
http://www.librarything.com/topic/65166
http://www.librarything.com/topic/64748
http://www.librarything.com/topic/63170

Easy to ignore, and even if you don't click the "x", they're soon buried by more active threads.

#22: "Incidentally, it's widely said that LT is for book-related discussion. I don't think that accurately describes how it's used. . . . People post all kinds of "off-topic" things at LT." -- Coming from the perspective of someone who mostly reads and posts on Hogwarts Express and the Green Dragon, truer words were never spoken. ;-)

26Heather19
May 24, 2009, 10:32pm Top

I have to agree with lorax on this one. I'm not saying it's a bad idea to "assume good faith" or what have you, but I'm not going to waste time "welcoming" someone to the site when they have done nothing (no cataloguing, nothing like that) except post about their blog or book. I won't flag them, but I certainly won't encourage them. If we "welcome" them to the site, they are going to assume that what they did is okay, and keep doing it. If no one responds, they'll be less likely to keep spamming.

27Carnophile
May 24, 2009, 10:34pm Top

If someone hasn't even entered a single book, but puts a blog link in Talk, flag their ass down. Why wouldn't you?

28lilithcat
May 24, 2009, 10:38pm Top

> 27

Why not just ignore them?

29Carnophile
May 24, 2009, 10:49pm Top

If they haven't entered any books, the current evidence says they're just here to advertise. It's good to enforce a "don't just come to LT to advertise" norm.

30Suncat
May 24, 2009, 11:36pm Top

Or, the only books they've entered are their own, which is what they're here to advertise.

31Aerrin99
May 24, 2009, 11:57pm Top

To my understanding, wikipedia's 'Assume good faith' does not mean 'against all evidence to the contrary' - if someone is clearly here to spam or shill, that's something different from an instance which could legitimately be a new user not quite understanding the ways Talk works, etc.

There's nothing in 'Assume good faith' that keeps users from flagging posts which are clearly against TOS. It just kind of emphasizes and underlines the importance of the 'clearly' part.

32FicusFan
May 25, 2009, 12:24am Top

If I understand Tim correctly he seems to be drawing a line between spammers who are pushing non-book items/services, and those that are (perhaps inadvertently) pushing their books/book blogs.

I say 'perhaps inadvertently' because although they may very well know they are pushing their stuff, if they are new to the site (not lurkers) and/or the internet, they may not be aware of the etiquette or rules of the site.

Being welcoming and polite, or even ignoring them, which ever is right for the LT member at the time, is not a big sacrifice. This is a social site, and if you partake in the social part then there should be a minimal effort at being social. I don't understand the attitude that there should be nothing that happens on LT that you don't like ? As though once someone makes a mistake they are fair game for nasty, hateful behavior. A community means that there are many different views and the best way to get along is to allow other's their space, so you can be allowed yours.

Finally Tim's point about the book/blog spammers becoming productive members is being ignored. If you will remember he and the elves are working all the time to make the site better, to not only keep current members, but attract new ones. I believe the site has to keep moving to stay alive. If new members are routinely trashed, or lurkers see the fate of others, you are undoing all their hard work, and perhaps making the site less viable in the long term.

If the new and clueless book/blog spammer doesn't shape up or respond well to kindness and direction, there is plenty of time at that point to flag, report, remove.

33timspalding
May 25, 2009, 2:46am Top

I say 'perhaps inadvertently' because although they may very well know they are pushing their stuff, if they are new to the site (not lurkers) and/or the internet, they may not be aware of the etiquette or rules of the site., and the rest of 32

Oft said, but ne'er so well expressed.

34andyl
May 25, 2009, 5:04am Top

they may not be aware of the etiquette or rules of the site

Whilst they may not be aware of the etiquette they should be aware of the rules of the site. If not maybe the rules ought to be more prominent in the sign-up process.

I think generally people fall in to a couple of camps - those who are just shilling, and those who don't know any better. Most times it is reasonably easy to tell, even on a first post, which camp someone falls into (especially those who are new to the internet). One type of 'user' should be encouraged and one discouraged. However there are times when it isn't possible to tell - those cases I just ignore. Generally within a few posts it becomes clear what camp they belong to.

35mckait
May 25, 2009, 6:48am Top

Perfect ficus!

I have read some very sharp or mean spirited responses to newbie posts.
I have been "told off" myself for not finding a similar thread ( that had been dormant for weeks). People have to be more mindful. What harm to try to be nice?

This is a nice site.. Tim, dawg, abby and the others...nice. So who are we to step in and trounce someone who breaks a rule? And if we do try to show them say, a similar thread, do it nicely.

36Carnophile
May 25, 2009, 7:58am Top

I'm understanding of newbies who are feeling their way around.

But I see nothing in 32 or 33 that convinces me away from 27 & 29. As Aerrin99 said, 'Assume good faith' does not mean 'against all evidence to the contrary'. Again, I'm talking about a person who has not deigned to catalog a single book. Zero, nada.

37timspalding
May 25, 2009, 9:57am Top

>36 Carnophile:

Everyone must catalog books before they post on talk? What if I love the site, but I want to wait until my CueCat arrives, or I've cleaned a space on my desk, etc.

38FicusFan
May 25, 2009, 10:13am Top


Or if you are more social than bookie, and you want to make sure you like the site before you invest any time in cataloging ?

Backwards for me, but then I don't expect everyone to be be the same.

>33 timspalding: Tim, ooh Dead English. Thank you.

Thank you mckait.

> 34 Whilst they may not be aware of the etiquette they should be aware of the rules of the site. If not maybe the rules ought to be more prominent in the sign-up process.

I live on the edge, I have never read the rules.

So your thought is to set the site up with a honking software-type license on the front that you have to agree to before you can register or post ? Come to think of it, I don't read those either. Just take my life in my hands and agree.

>36 Carnophile: But I see nothing in 32 or 33 that convinces me away from 27 & 29. As Aerrin99 said, 'Assume good faith' does not mean 'against all evidence to the contrary'.

Because the site owner is asking you to give them the benefit of the doubt??

There is no reason to decide that 'All Evidence' has to be collected in their first post/few minutes on the site. Perhaps 'All Evidence' is after they have been around a while, and still don't get it ?

39cpg
May 25, 2009, 10:31am Top

Re #1: "Ditto when someone makes some idiotic edit to CK (I've come across members who are clearly invested in the site who make some idiotic edit, presumably to see what it would do)"

Some CK edits that may look idiotic are an attempt to work around the disabling of CK search. Entering "foo" into a CK field and then clicking on it may (depending on the field) bring up the first 50 matches for "foo". I've found this very handy in tracking down and correcting defective CK entries. As long as we remember to clean things up afterward, I've assumed that this sort of intentionally incorrect but temporary edit (just like those done by the combining mavens) is okay.

BTW, I think restoration of CK search would be a lot better than a pony. A database without searches isn't much of a database.

40mckait
May 25, 2009, 10:36am Top

Well said ficus!

(Oh, andI live on that edge myself. )

41Carnophile
Edited: May 25, 2009, 11:19am Top

>37 timspalding: Everyone must catalog books before they post on talk?

If what they're posting is just a blog link or "I'm an author; read my book," then yes.

>38 FicusFan: Because the site owner is asking you to give them the benefit of the doubt?

If and when he changes the LT rules to say we shouldn't flag that, I'll stop. Right now he's just discussing it.

Edit: Actually, I'm not sure "I'll stop" is appropriate, because I'm not sure if I've ever actually done this. But we're discussing hypotheticals.

42hailelib
May 25, 2009, 11:26am Top

If the same 'look at my _______" post shows up in lots of groups it probably is spamming. If it's only in one or two places we can wait and see and even point out a better place to post their message.

43jlelliott
May 25, 2009, 11:29am Top

-41 The point is, the owner of this site just said that there is no site rule that mandates book cataloging before posting.

I think often when people try to post a blog or book first, they are one of two things: proud of their creations and wanting to share or even trying to bolster their "credentials" as a person knowledgeable about and interested in books.

Sure it may annoy people who interpret these post as overly self-promotional, but that doesn't mean that the poster is violating the site rules, so they don't merit flagging.

44JulesJones
May 25, 2009, 11:52am Top

The number of groups a message is posted to is an integral part of the original Usenet definition of spam. The Breidbart Index is a formula used to decide when something is cancellable spam -- and the reason I went directly from moderately polite to "die, spammer, die" mode on a recent thread in Early Reviewers was that I'd discovered that the "buy my book!" person in question had well and truly gone past a BI of 20 in his ads posted to member's profiles.

This works both ways -- if someone is posting hither and yon, they're unquestionably a spammer, but if it's a single misplaced post, it's as well to give them the benefit of the doubt.

45gwernin
Edited: May 25, 2009, 12:10pm Top

I'm all for not jumping on people for posting in the wrong group or providing incorrect information, or innocent flagging due to misunderstanding a post; someone I won't name jumped on me last summer for that when I was new to the forums, and I stopped posting for a month. (I didn't go away because I came here to catalog, not chat.)

On the other hand, book-spamming authors annoy me because they are breaking the rules I take care to follow. If there are no consequences to that sort of behavior, why shouldn't anyone do it?

46PhaedraB
May 25, 2009, 12:11pm Top

Of course there will be consequences. Your credibility will suffer, with or without flags.

47gwernin
May 25, 2009, 12:13pm Top

Well, I know that, but some people don't care.

48FicusFan
May 25, 2009, 12:19pm Top

And if its something the person continues to do, when politely asked not to, then there will be flags, and whatever other consequences spamming accrues. Its just asking us not to jump on them the first thing we do.

49Carnophile
May 25, 2009, 12:50pm Top

I remain unconvinced by these arguments, but believe that we've reached the "going in circles" phase, so will cease posting. I will continue to lurk with interest, though.

50SylviaC
May 25, 2009, 12:59pm Top

I noticed that Tim posted a "cease and desist" comment on the profile of the author who has been spamming Book Talk the last few days. That author had been told politely, and repeatedly flagged, but continued posting.

The message clearly is not that author spamming is fine, but to try politeness first, and if that doesn't work, then go ahead and flag.

Personally, I don't see anything wrong with an author making an announcement to the world that they wrote a book. But if they have to tell us over and over again, then I figure that not only are they being pushy, but the book probably isn't very good anyway.

51Esta1923
May 25, 2009, 4:45pm Top

Suppose an author offers 15 (or any number) copies as ER books. Algorithm picks recipients, author bears the cost of distribution. Would that circumvent the situation?

52infiniteletters
May 25, 2009, 5:05pm Top

51: Uh, that's why Member/Author Giveaway was created? So authors could have a sanctioned way to promote their books instead of spamming Talk and profile pages.

53stephmo
May 25, 2009, 5:21pm Top

Can I ask a minor favor for the "Assume Good Faith" on the site?

We have some minor snarkiness in the instructions for author "never-ing" -

I know an author is separate, but some infernal idiot keeps combining them. Can I take a name off the combination list?

I just want to go on the record as saying this has always rubbed me a little wrong. Not so much in the instructions themselves, but because I see it repeated when a mistake is made. Not everyone that makes a mistake is an idiot.

I just think it might be nice to remove the phrase infernal idiot. Perhaps others might follow suit when they come across mistakes and not scare folks away from at least trying to help - those that make mistakes early can actually go on to do a lot of good later. Well, provided they're not discouraged by an environment that okays them being called idiots.

54Aerrin99
May 25, 2009, 9:05pm Top

> 36, 38

Just to be clear, my statement ('Assume good faith' does not mean 'against all evidence to the contrary'.) was meant in /favor/ of assuming good faith - I meant to point out that if there is clear evidence that someone is doing something against the TOS, there is nothing in 'assume good faith' that stops us from dealing with them.

What good faith does do is make us stop to ask whether or not there is /clear evidence/ that someone is doing something against the TOS, rather than suspicion, personal feeling, or personal preference.

56rsterling
May 25, 2009, 9:45pm Top

53 - I was thinking the same thing the other day, especially because the epithet then gets propagated in Talk discussions about combining/separating.

57lorax
May 26, 2009, 12:16pm Top

53>

Of course not everyone who makes a mistake is an idiot.

But someone who combines the complete works of Shakespeare into a single thing, or combines two totally unrelated authors into one because they own a book with contributions from both, is not making a mistake. They're willfully disregarding the very clearly stated combination rules, which makes them either a vandal or doing something idiotic. I want to say I've never seen anyone specific referred to this way -- it's not like anyone says something like "stephmo combined J.K Rowling with J.R.R. Tolkien, the infernal idiot" -- they say "the infernal idiot combined Rowling and Tolkien, help!" It's an archetype.

Frankly if I didn't have the escape valve of referring to the Infernal Idiot I'd do a lot less work on cleaning up the site -- the presence of that statement is a reminder that LT does at least have some concern for data quality.

I'm getting discouraged that all this happy fluffy bunny stuff is really going to harm the site in the long run. If I can't even say that no, clearly, Tolkien did not write Hamlet without being accused of hurting someone's feelings, what's the point of a cataloging site?

58CarolO
May 26, 2009, 12:23pm Top

I think there can never be enough happy fluffy bunny stuff...maybe too many tribbles but not happy fluffy bunny stuff :)

#54 'What good faith does do is make us stop to ask whether or not there is /clear evidence/ that someone is doing something against the TOS, rather than suspicion, personal feeling, or personal preference.'

Agreed and maybe if we are all assuming good faith then we will all live up to that expectation as well?

59Aerrin99
May 26, 2009, 12:27pm Top

> 57 If I can't even say that no, clearly, Tolkien did not write Hamlet without being accused of hurting someone's feelings, what's the point of a cataloging site?

I see nowhere that anyone has suggested that this is the case.

Again, good faith does not insist that we completely ignore clear violations of the TOS - or instructions regarding combining or anything else.

60Suncat
May 26, 2009, 12:28pm Top

I know that early on after joining the site, and coming across the "infernal idiot" reference, I got a little giggle.

I also felt a sense of relief that this site cared about data quality, particularly in data that would be shared. Overseeing quality in shared data is a major part of my day job and of my volunteer job. I would never dream of publically referring to anyone else at either place as an "idiot". But thinking it--like lorax says--is a necessary safety valve.

61SylviaC
May 26, 2009, 12:32pm Top

Even though I probably qualify as one of the promoters of happy, fluffy, bunny stuff, I have to say that I am not bothered in the least by the prospect of being labelled am "Infernal Idiot". I just consider it an amusing LT quirk.

62stephmo
May 26, 2009, 12:52pm Top

I fail to see how calling someone an idiot on the site is somehow necessary.

Call me crazy, but I was flagged in the inappropriate flagging thread for calling anonymous drive-by flaggers "common bullies" and it was pointed out that phrasing was considered a "personal attack." What, prey tell, is calling someone an idiot?

I've seen enough instances of individuals springing to calling individuals idiots (and other variants) the first time they see an instance of a mistake. I've seen it used for rather small things. It was cute at first - now, it's permission for some users to make personal attacks without fear of repercussion. After all, if it was put on the site by the developers, how can we possibly hold the users accountable, right?

This is really sad to me - that adults would really be saying they need the "right" to publicly call others "idiots." And before anyone thinks I haven't dealt with behavior that mucks up data and is frustrating to clean up - where I've posted about it - I have. I even managed to do it all without calling anyone an idiot:

http://www.librarything.com/topic/58573#1103600
http://www.librarything.com/topic/58573#1105738

(By the by, not only did I have to fix the combination issue, but I had to fix the Series information and verify the CK information that I had access to through my owned volumes as well.)

63timspalding
May 26, 2009, 1:34pm Top

I see the phrase as being meta-humor. The site isn't saying it. It's ventriloquism for what members often think or say.

I'm glad to change it, but doesn't anyone see that about it?

64Helcura
May 26, 2009, 1:38pm Top

>63 timspalding::

I got the joke, Tim, and I thought it was funny. I don't have any problem with it. I agree that there's a difference between referring to the generic "infernal idiot" and calling someone an idiot.

I'll repeat what I've said elsewhere - kindness encourages diversity, and diversity makes for better ideas about great books to try, which makes LT an even more wonderful place.

65JulesJones
May 26, 2009, 1:38pm Top

Tim @63: that's pretty much what I assumed when I first saw it -- and it did give me a giggle, in part because it acknowledged the frustration people feel at times.

66lorax
May 26, 2009, 1:38pm Top

62>

As I thought I said in #57, I've never called anyone specifically an idiot. I've referred to the archetypal Infernal Idiot who is responsible for all combining woes.

63>

Yes, I see that, and I like it very much. Please don't change it.

67staffordcastle
May 26, 2009, 1:39pm Top

doesn't anyone see that about it?

I did, but I agree that it should be changed to something more neutral. It doesn't bother me when people use the phrase in an impersonal blanket manner to refer to the person who just gave them a ton of work; as I think lorax said, it's a safety valve. But having it in the instructions is more "official" sounding, and therefore more offensive.

68stephmo
May 26, 2009, 1:41pm Top

>63 timspalding: Once upon a time, sure.

But we have members that call other users "idiot" on a regular basis when they come across errors on the site. I don't find that part funny at all. It's permissive at this point.

Or is it okay to call people idiots? And if so, where I can I get the official list of names I'm allowed to call other LT members?

69gwernin
May 26, 2009, 1:42pm Top

63: I like it. Please don't change it.

70lorax
May 26, 2009, 1:44pm Top

68>

Show me.

Show me where someone called another member, by name, an idiot. I don't doubt you, but I haven't seen it.

Look, attacking groups of people, or saying negative things that aren't directed at specific users, is not against the TOS. If I can't flag someone for calling my marriage a threat to society because she didn't call me out by name, you can't flag someone for calling the anonymous person who combined Hamlet and Macbeth an idiot, either. It's not a personal attack.

71_Zoe_
Edited: May 26, 2009, 1:58pm Top

>70 lorax: The thing is, "the person who combined Hamlet and Macbeth" is still an individual, even if you don't state his name. If the description is specific enough that the person can recognize himself (and can't other people find out his name by checking the combiners log?), then he shouldn't be called an idiot. I'd say if it refers to a specific person, then it's personal, regardless of whether a name is explicitly stated.

72FicusFan
May 26, 2009, 1:57pm Top

Absolutely there needs to be communication about TOS violation, and mistakes, what this thread is about is not assuming they are a) morons, b) evil, and asking or commenting politely and in a manner to help the other person, not just vent your frustration on them.

73timspalding
May 26, 2009, 1:58pm Top

Okay, I'm changing it. And entertaining alternate suggestions that simultaneously get the message across and convey the whimsical spirit that is LibraryThing tra la la.

Anyone?

74timspalding
May 26, 2009, 1:59pm Top

>72 FicusFan:

Can you rephrase that? I'm not sure what you're saying. We need to communicate more who is violating the TOS, or what the TOS is, or what?

75stephmo
May 26, 2009, 2:00pm Top

>71 _Zoe_: What Zoe said.

And I didn't name names when I called people bullies. Honestly, there are threads in Combiners! asking individuals to post examples of "idiocy" - and this is my favorite part - where people have to remind the "experts" that sometimes, it has nothing at all to do with a person doing anything and that it was a system combination.

Or my other favorites - where people call users idiots because they're not using LT the way that they think LT should be used. I've seen threads where individuals are concerned that some "idiot" will make the wrong collections (how this impacts the other user is beyond me).

My point is that this is some nastiness and I'm not at all thrilled with it. I think some folks are taking advantage of something that should have been nothing more than internal monologue and are running around as if they have carte blanche permission to call others names.

76stephmo
May 26, 2009, 2:02pm Top

>74 timspalding:, I always turn to the comics in these times for inspiration.

I know an author is separate, but some !#@?@* keeps combining them! Can I take a name off the combination list?

77gwernin
May 26, 2009, 2:06pm Top

73: I'm sorry to hear that. I thought it was funny, but some people seem to have a sense of humor bypass.

75: You called me very unpleasant names the other day for something I didn't do, and I haven't seen you apologizing.

I think I'll stop reading talk for a while, I'm losing my patience with the ultra-PC crowd.

78FicusFan
Edited: May 26, 2009, 2:10pm Top

>74 timspalding: Tim,

Sorry my message in 72 was in reference to

Lorax in 57:

I'm getting discouraged that all this happy fluffy bunny stuff is really going to harm the site in the long run. If I can't even say that no, clearly, Tolkien did not write Hamlet without being accused of hurting someone's feelings, what's the point of a cataloging site?

I started and then went to lunch, and when I came back and posted the topic had moved on, and I didn't note what I was replying to. Sorry.

My point is that being nice and fluffy bunny-ish doesn't mean you can't talk to others about problems (mistakes, TOS violations). It just means do it politely and to be helpful, rather than vengeful.

79lorax
May 26, 2009, 2:14pm Top

It's a pity that established, long-time users aren't considered as worthwhile as new users are.

80lorax
Edited: May 26, 2009, 2:17pm Top

If LT is going to become the Happy Land of Nicey-Nice, can we also add "racist, sexist, and other bigoted statements" to things that violate the TOS? I think it's ludicrous that people can spew all kinds of offensive garbage and be in the clear, but vent about someone creating hours and hours of work for combiners and you're a horrible person.

81Suncat
May 26, 2009, 2:16pm Top

>73 timspalding: I'm sorry to hear that too.

From >60 Suncat: and >63 timspalding:, apparently the phrase had exactly the desired effect on me when I joined.

82andyl
May 26, 2009, 2:16pm Top

#72

I would say that someone who keeps combining two completely separate works is either a a) moron or b) evil.

For me when I read the original wording I seem to put far more emphasis on the keeps than others have expressed. Getting it wrong once or twice is no problem - it may cause a fair bit of work but hey, we all make mistakes (even me). If someone keeps on combining the works despite others separating (and probably using disambiguation notices) then they are an infernal idiot.

83damsel58
May 26, 2009, 2:16pm Top

This message has been deleted by its author.

84timspalding
Edited: May 26, 2009, 2:19pm Top

>80 lorax:

No.

All we are asking is that members not crucify someone for posting about books you think are beneath you, for using lower case letters, for posting innocently about their blog, or any other action which, though possibly annoying, is not proof the user is irredeemably malign.

85FicusFan
Edited: May 26, 2009, 2:27pm Top

> 79, I think its unnecessary as certain long time established users think way too much of themselves without LT enshrining it. Something about confusing themselves with LT in terms of dictating what is OK and how it has to be done.

>82 andyl:
I would suspect that someone who keeps re-doing what has been undone is doing so because no one has mentioned anything to them (politely) about the problem, and just removes their work.

86richardderus
May 26, 2009, 2:27pm Top

I myownself like "Assume Good Faith" as a life rule; I also like to be given the benefit of the doubt; and from what I have seen around here, most others seem to be like me.

As to infernal idiots, the presence of those words in an official, instructional place could be considered licence to call someone an idiot by what reasonable person? "He did it, so I can too?" I sincerely believe most, not all but most, people are adults and persons of good intention. That sort of lets out the use of such a puerile excuse for bad behavior, and I really don't think the site should have this humorous little touch removed in the name of "setting a tone." That's really the job of those using the site, come down to it, since we are the site, not Tim and company.

YMMV, of course.

87andyl
May 26, 2009, 2:49pm Top

#82

A disambiguation notice would tell them. Also we are talking about 'repeatedly' not just once or twice. I am firmly of the opinion that someone who fits that profile is either acting in bad faith or is completely clueless.

Infernal idiot has a strong literary tradition going back to Thackeray and other respected Victorian writers. Also it is probably my idiolect but idiot isn't that forceful a word - after all many people refer to the idiot box in conjunction to themselves.

88FicusFan
May 26, 2009, 3:06pm Top

#87 Some one who repeatedly redoes what you undo is sending you a message. They are not going to put up with their work being wiped out. Its a pissing contest.

They are not in the right, but if you want it fixed rather than moaning about it you probably need to chat with them about why they think they are in the right. That person is probably thinking the same about the person that keeps undoing it.

You know that saying about repeating the same actions and expecting a different outcome ?

89andyl
May 26, 2009, 3:18pm Top

A disambiguation notice is the appropriate communication.

Anyway I have said nothing that would preclude a polite note to their profile assuming one is capable of wording something appropriately polite - Tim has already come out against rude private messages.

Also I'm not sure how many revert wars there have been on combines/splits but I would guess not very many. As an experienced combiner I would always flag the issue to the Combiners group when I start to see repeated behaviour just to check I'm not wrong.

90Carnophile
May 26, 2009, 3:20pm Top

>73 timspalding:

I know an author is separate, but some (well-meaning but) deplorably uninformed person keeps combining them! Can I take a name off the combination list?

I know an author is separate, but someone who's been using airplane glue in an enclosed area keeps combining them! Can I take a name off the combination list?
(Just kidding. But following Dave Barry, "Airplane Glue in an Enclosed Area" would be a great name for a rock band.)

91timspalding
May 26, 2009, 3:37pm Top

Oh, I like deplorably uninformed.

92Carnophile
May 26, 2009, 3:40pm Top

>84 timspalding: All we are asking is that members not crucify someone for...posting innocently about their blog....

I disagree Tim, but it is your web site, obviously. Two points of clarification:
Is this intended to discourage flagging of people with no books catalogued who post blog trolling messages?
If yes, even the blog is not remotely book-related?

What about the member to whom you recently gave a warning? (I would have been less patient with him if I had known what he was up to on other threads.)

93lorax
May 26, 2009, 3:54pm Top

I like deplorably uninformed.

I suspect it won't pass muster, though, since it is after all critical.

94timspalding
May 26, 2009, 4:06pm Top

>93 lorax:

Um, did you read >91 timspalding:

>What about the member to whom you recently gave a warning? (I would have been less patient with him if I had known what he was up to on other threads.)

He did it repeatedly, heedlessly. Just because I don't want people to lose a hand for sampling a grape at Whole Foods doesn't mean I can't support prison times for jewel thieves.

95lorax
Edited: May 26, 2009, 4:10pm Top

94>

I didn't mean with you -- after all "infernal idiot" was fine with you until someone complained. I suspect stephmo, for instance, will consider it to be too harsh.

I also think you're engaging in a wee bit of hyperbole here; saying that the anonymous person who combined all of Terry Pratchett's works into one was an idiot is hardly cutting off their hand. Kicking them off the site forever for that level of offense would be overreacting, but saying "oh, geez, the infernal idiot has been at it again" hardly rises to that level.

Edited to fix reference number

96mckait
May 26, 2009, 4:18pm Top

#84 Tim.. you seem so young to be so wise. I do like the way you think, and I am pleased and relieved that you have a sense of humor.. and have never shown any arrogance or foot stomping that I have seen. Thank you for all of that

Ficus.. You are very well "spoken " and logical.. and I agree with your thoughts. All of them I think.. Not niceness is what I have come to expect from certain users.. and they rarely let me down. By this I mean not name calling, but condescending responses. Very not nice. Whats the point? And who do they think they are to talk down to someone who asks a simple question or makes a simple point?

#86 rd said "I myownself like "Assume Good Faith" as a life rule; I also like to be given the benefit of the doubt; and from what I have seen around here, most others seem to be like me."

I could not agree more. The not nice users I mentioned are very much the minority.

I have nothing more to add, it looks as if it has all been said, and with more clarity than I might have said it.

97Carnophile
May 26, 2009, 4:20pm Top

98Bookmarque
May 26, 2009, 4:24pm Top

I do find it amusing that the folks that are sternly lecturing us to be adults are shepherding us back into nursery school at the same time. Oh noes! I just read something vaguely negative! How ever will I cope?? {faints}

99Kocoanut33
May 26, 2009, 4:25pm Top

cool you guys have to add comments on my profile! make them private please!!!

100Kocoanut33
May 26, 2009, 4:25pm Top

cool you guys have to add comments on my profile! make them private please!!!

101mckait
May 26, 2009, 4:28pm Top

LOL @ 98

102stephmo
May 26, 2009, 4:28pm Top

>95 lorax: Lorax, why, I'm too new a member to have an opinion! Your post #79 made that quite clear.

It's your site, clearly I've overstepped my bounds. At least that's the way you've made me feel today for not liking the fact that you want to call people idiots for making mistakes.

Unfortunately, I can't ever be anything but "new" to you, so I'll stop. Clearly, I don't have a horse in this race unless you say so.

103ianreads
Edited: May 26, 2009, 4:40pm Top

>73 timspalding: I know an author is separate, but overnight the gnomes keep combining them. Can I take a name off the combination list?

ETA: As a child, the gnomes always were the ones who cleaned up my toys overnight :-)

104lorax
May 26, 2009, 4:39pm Top

102>

I certainly don't think of you as "new" -- you're in my mental "has been here forever" bin. Nor did I think disagreeing with you was attacking you; I'm sorry that our senses of "attack" are so woefully miscalibrated. At any rate I certainly didn't intend to attack you, but I can't promise to refrain from disagreeing with you in the future.

In #79 what I was actually talking about was the developing tendency to require established users to walk on eggshells, to grit our teeth and put up with spam, and to avoid publicly venting about the actions of the "deplorably uninformed" (if that phrase is too strong for you please substitute a gentler one) so that we don't frighten off even one potential new user -- better a hundred longtime users like yourself get so frustrated that they abandon Talk than even one newbie get scared off, right?

105timspalding
May 26, 2009, 4:40pm Top

>103 ianreads:

"Gnomes" is a well-known slur against Swiss people.

106CarolO
May 26, 2009, 4:48pm Top

Words can have different meanings or connotations depending on your age or your location. We are a global site and want to attract everyone so I'm OK with a little kid glove treatment of the wording in order not to offend any of my LT mates.

107CarolO
May 26, 2009, 4:52pm Top

I don't think it was the gnomes...I think it was the roombas. I'm suggesting "deplorably uninformed roombas"

108FicusFan
May 26, 2009, 4:53pm Top

> 103, if we are going with a northern feel how about The Groke (from Moomintroll)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moomin

109mckait
May 26, 2009, 4:54pm Top

it's always the roombas........

110clamairy
May 26, 2009, 4:57pm Top

I still say someone has been tampering with all the LT water coolers. Adding some concoction that thins the skin, perhaps...

111infiniteletters
May 26, 2009, 5:21pm Top

I think roombas are a good plan.

112Carnophile
May 26, 2009, 5:21pm Top

After reading 84:

I know an author is separate, but some irredeemably malign person keeps combining them...

113staffordcastle
Edited: May 26, 2009, 5:40pm Top

"I know an author is separate, but somebody keeps combining them! Can I take a name off the combination list?"

Alright, already!

114Carnophile
May 26, 2009, 6:44pm Top

Spoilsport!
:)

115drneutron
May 26, 2009, 7:16pm Top

#110 - That's why I'm sticking with mojitos!

116FicusFan
May 26, 2009, 7:22pm Top

> 115, I have never understood them. It tastes like liquid toothpaste. Ick.

117clamairy
May 26, 2009, 7:28pm Top

I am still a Mojito virgin. This Summer, as dawg is my witness, I will have my way with one. (Or maybe it will have its way with me.)

118mckait
May 26, 2009, 7:41pm Top

ditto clam

I keep meaning to try one but Guinness gets in the way~

119PhaedraB
May 26, 2009, 10:22pm Top

117 >

Does that mean you assume good taste?

120richardderus
May 26, 2009, 11:47pm Top

>117 clamairy: clamairy, try a mint julep first. A little less twee and silly than mojitos.

121MerryMary
May 27, 2009, 1:13am Top

Dan Jenkins had a great recipe for mint juleps in You Gotta Play Hurt. I'm paraphrasing, but he said to combine sugar and water into a thick gummy syrup, add a lethal amount of bourbon and a sprig of mint. What you get is a taste that is a unique blend of cough syrup and jockey piss. "No wonder people like it."

122clamairy
May 27, 2009, 8:18am Top

Oh, I didn't know they were sweet. I don't usually like sweet drinks, unless there is some sour in there, like a Margarita or a Mai Tai.

123drneutron
May 27, 2009, 8:39am Top

A good mojito shouldn't be overly sweet - it should be more mint and lime than sugar. Unfortunately, most mojitos made at your average gin joint use a pre-fab mix that's this neon green color and of questionable content. Avoid those at all costs!

124Bookmarque
May 27, 2009, 9:20am Top

Agreed...if you can't watch the bartender muddle the mint, it is to be avoided.

125clamairy
May 27, 2009, 9:29am Top

#123 - I'll dredge up your actual recipe, then. Or ask you for it a third time. Heh heh.

126Donogh
May 27, 2009, 9:42am Top

(as an aside I'd suggest using "eejit" instead of "idiot"
I know it's the same word really, but it seems to be more associated with judgement than intellect)

Anyway, for me Andyl in #82 hits the nail on the head. "Keeps" is the vital word here.
Is it still out-of-bounds to write a nice note on people's profiles explaining why you're undoing their combination/CK edits etc.?

127Bookmarque
May 27, 2009, 9:43am Top

I'm all for idiot. Too high-falutin a phrase will be lost on those for whom it is intended. Idiots understand idiot.

128MrAndrew
May 27, 2009, 8:06pm Top

I know an author is separate, but my nemesis keeps combining them! Can I take a name off the combination list?

I know an author is separate, but my evil twin keeps combining them! Can I take a name off the combination list?

I know an author is separate, but some raving loony keeps combining them! Can I take a name off the combination list?

I know an author is separate, but some flamin' galah keeps combining them! Can I take a name off the combination list?

I know an author is separate, but some diabolical fiend keeps combining them! Can I take a name off the combination list?

I know an author is separate, but some infernal idiot keeps combining them (bless his heart). Can I take a name off the combination list?

I know an author is separate, but some ill-favoured knave keeps combining them! Can I take a name off the combination list?

I know an author is separate, but some ham-fisted do-gooder keeps combining them! Can I take a name off the combination list?

I know an author is separate, but Darth Sidious keeps combining them! Can I take a name off the combination list?

I know an author is separate, but Poochy keeps combining them! Can I take a name off the combination list?

129jmnlman
May 27, 2009, 8:56pm Top

128:Somebody has combined an author, worst combining ever.... Thank you.

130DevourerOfBooks
May 27, 2009, 10:12pm Top

I definitely like 'ill-favored knave'

131MerryMary
May 27, 2009, 10:24pm Top

I'm partial to (bless his heart).

132Carnophile
May 27, 2009, 10:26pm Top

I know two authors are separate, but...

>128 MrAndrew:
MrAndrew, don't blame it on your "evil twin." We know you're the evil one.

133Carnophile
May 27, 2009, 10:28pm Top

I know two authors are separate, but some miscreant, whose high-spirited japery will land him in no end of trouble, keeps combining them!

134staffordcastle
May 27, 2009, 10:55pm Top

"flamin' galah" has a certain ring to it ...

135timspalding
May 28, 2009, 1:31am Top

I've made my choice(s).

136MrAndrew
May 28, 2009, 3:32am Top

Poor elves. No matter how many shoes they make, or christmas presents the manufacture, they always get blamed for mishaps. No "assume good faith" for fictional creatures, huh?

137timspalding
May 28, 2009, 3:33am Top

You sure it's elves?

138MrAndrew
May 28, 2009, 3:36am Top

and now they've disappeared. Typical elves.

139MrAndrew
May 28, 2009, 3:37am Top

oh! nemesis! :-D

140MrAndrew
May 28, 2009, 3:37am Top

If i keep refreshing it, will my name eventually appear there?

141PortiaLong
Edited: May 28, 2009, 7:30am Top

Good choice Tim - has the right flavor.
(although a "Bless their heart" version would have made me chuckle each time... and "flamin' galah" has such panache)

142Carnophile
May 28, 2009, 8:29am Top

Oh, you made it cycle at random each time it's refreshed! That's cool! Also, I enjoy imagining the reaction as people who weren't following this thread gradually discover the change. "What the...? Gremlins? Miscreants?"

143clamairy
May 28, 2009, 8:38am Top

Bwaa haa haa!
I love it.
Well done, Tim.

144anglemark
May 28, 2009, 9:19am Top

Great. Now there are a few hundreds of us who add to the server load by sitting and refreshing an Author page over and over... ;)

145stephmo
May 28, 2009, 9:31am Top

You might want to finish the thought on the author page - add the "Can I take their name off the combination list?" to finish it off.

The A: Yes you can? doesn't make as much sense now...it's got a great build-up, it's just sort of incomplete. :)

146myshelves
May 28, 2009, 11:29am Top

I love it!

This no longer matches up:

"Q: I am the infernal idiot and I'm right!"

147timspalding
May 28, 2009, 12:12pm Top

148MrAndrew
May 28, 2009, 7:09pm Top

Tim, re #145: that's true for the "miscreant, whose high-spirited japery" one. The others read Ok.

149vaneska
May 30, 2009, 11:02am Top

Much good this thread has done. There are today 3 different threads where the OP is being made to feel somehow in the wrong (the term 'harassed' is perhaps a bit strong although the recipient of such criticism may well feel so) for writing in a manner which doesn't fit with the author's perception of correct English. Sigh.

v

150timspalding
May 30, 2009, 12:16pm Top

Link to them if you have them handy next time. I'm sure people will go to help.

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