21 votes

[META] I feel like I trolled: an apology

About 6 hours ago, I posted a thread with the suggestion that "guy" should be turned into a nongendered term. I did this after reading @Deimos' thread about how much of ~talk is "what's your favorite" type posts. So I took something I had noticed a bunch around here -- how the term "guy" gets tossed around a bunch, often to be corrected with "I'm not a guy," and I figured I'd make a post about how there really isn't an adequate word ("person" just sounds too formal to be a replacement for the gendered "guy").

Instead of saying "Hey, what word can we use in this instance," I framed it as a "Let's just use 'guy' for everyone, change my mind" and listed the ways the word "guy" already fit the bill. I did this in an effort to make the thread engage more than just the language nerds. This is where I feel I crossed the line into trolling, and regret having done so in this manner.

I did try to point out the problems with generalizing a male-gendered word, but a few commenters have pointed out that it read euphemistically. It was meant to be upfront about the issues inherent to what I was suggesting, but reading it again now it reads at best like a wink to the people who are already on the side of the argument I was hoping for and at worst it reads like a disingenuous ass-cover.

The thread blew up.

There is some good discussion in there. In fact, most of it seems to be, like most of the discussion on tilde, constructive and respectful. And all of it was genuine, or at least appears to have been so.

I won't try to walk it back and say it was satire, or a social experiment, or even a mistake. Mainly, it was something I felt clever for thinking of (and something I was to curious to see unfold). Sure, the thread got a lot of comments, but it also rustled some jimmies. And I think there was at least some subconscious part of my that recognized that as I was typing it.

I'll edit the OP with the clarity of 6 hours' hindsight, but I wanted to make a separate post apologizing for presenting an argument in an inflammatory manner. I've been a member of this community for a couple of days now and am very fond of it, and do not want to contribute to its degradation.

23 comments

  1. eladnarra
    Link
    A lot of folks are saying they don't think it was a troll, and I agree-- I liked that you brought it up, and I got where you were coming from, even phrasing it the way you did. I also really...

    A lot of folks are saying they don't think it was a troll, and I agree-- I liked that you brought it up, and I got where you were coming from, even phrasing it the way you did.

    I also really appreciate this meta thread and your apology, though. The original one was a bit more inflammatory than necessary, and I'm not sure the fact that the discussion below it turned out okay washes that away, at least not completely.

    I mentioned the original thread to someone, and they immediately connected "change my mind" to that meme of the dude with the male privilege sign. I don't think this was intentional on your part, but it sort of shows how framing matters; if someone makes a connection like that, warranted or not, they may be less able to see your underlying point.

    I'm not exactly sure where I'm going with this. But I thought your first thread brought up some interesting things, some of which directly relate to the type of community tildes could be. And this follow-up does the same thing. You probably didn't cross a line worthy of reprimand, but I think your reflection and instinct to live up to a higher standard is good. We need more of that on the internet.

    18 votes
  2. [3]
    eladnarra
    Link
    Another thought: I think by simply putting a cap on this experience by saying "no hard feelings, it wasn't a true troll post," we miss an opportunity to use this type of event to talk about the...

    Another thought: I think by simply putting a cap on this experience by saying "no hard feelings, it wasn't a true troll post," we miss an opportunity to use this type of event to talk about the types of discussions people want to foster on tildes.

    For example:

    Instead of saying "Hey, what word can we use in this instance," I framed it as a "Let's just use 'guy' for everyone, change my mind" and listed the ways the word "guy" already fit the bill. I did this in an effort to make the thread engage more than just the language nerds.

    One thing I've seen mentioned several times is that tildes in general doesn't have growth as its goal. It's more about substantive conversation than becoming a new reddit and attracting as many people as possible. What if topics are treated the same way?

    A topic that asked people what word(s) they think would work in this situation might not have gotten as many replies, but would that necessarily be a bad thing? The conversation it started could have been just as worthwhile. And it might have gone in different places; there were a lot of interesting little conversations in the thread we actually had, but maybe if it had started from a different place with slightly different people, it would have wandered into different areas.

    9 votes
    1. [2]
      BuckeyeSundae
      Link Parent
      One of the principles I've been trying to stick to with all these political discussion threads I've been making lately is a simple one: whatever the framing question, make sure that there is room...

      One of the principles I've been trying to stick to with all these political discussion threads I've been making lately is a simple one: whatever the framing question, make sure that there is room for reasonable, and well-reasoned debate (and that is not the same as disagreement).

      I think with so many of these types topics, there is no binary response where you have only two options available. While CMV style posts often create the opening for multiple avenues for persuasion (and persuasion is the explicit goal), the type of posts I've been looking to foster are more about somewhat open-ended discussion about concrete topics. As the OP, I'm trying not to nudge the debate very hard ideologically to make it so people of all ideological stripes can feel comfortable participating (or, in other words, an intentional lack of the contentiousness that often comes with reddit).

      Is this kind of similar to what you're talking about more generally?

      4 votes
      1. eladnarra
        Link Parent
        Yeah, that's definitely similar, and I really like what you've been doing with those threads. I do think that there is also a place for threads that aren't necessarily ideologically neutral (but...

        Yeah, that's definitely similar, and I really like what you've been doing with those threads.

        I do think that there is also a place for threads that aren't necessarily ideologically neutral (but still not intentionally provocative). For example, my instinct is that a neutral thread discussing HR620, the ADA, and disability accommodations could end up with a different discussion than one which takes the continued existence (and strengthening) of the ADA as a given.

        Both threads would be interesting, but I feel like the neutral thread lends itself to policy discussion and people arguing for and against various levels of regulation, while the latter might branch out into related topics (healthcare, SSI/SSDI, institutionalization, etc). These are things that someone arguing against the ADA might not think of, but are actually very connected to the more general idea of "how do we enable disabled people to live full lives with as much independence as they desire."

        Or I could be wrong, and they'll attract the same people and the same discussions, haha. It just feels like there might be worthwhile discussions that start by taking certain things for granted instead of being open to any and all opinions.

        2 votes
  3. [5]
    Gatonegro
    Link
    I don't think that thread would qualify as a troll, since your intention wasn't to rile people up. "Rustling jimmies" also isn't necessarily a bad thing, it can happen unintentionally when...

    I don't think that thread would qualify as a troll, since your intention wasn't to rile people up. "Rustling jimmies" also isn't necessarily a bad thing, it can happen unintentionally when discussing certain topics. And it seems people over there managed to respond in a respectful (if a bit heated) manner, which is always nice to see.

    6 votes
    1. [4]
      Baldemoto
      Link Parent
      Agreed. The intention is extremely important. The difference between a well-meaning person and a concern troll is the intention.

      Agreed. The intention is extremely important. The difference between a well-meaning person and a concern troll is the intention.

      3 votes
      1. Gatonegro
        Link Parent
        Yeah, I don't think we should start this place by shying away from controversial topics, or discussions where people might have a strong opinion, just because the conversation can get heated. As...

        Yeah, I don't think we should start this place by shying away from controversial topics, or discussions where people might have a strong opinion, just because the conversation can get heated. As long as the discussion isn't started to piss people off, and people in the comments remain respectful even in their disagreement, I'd say those discussions are a good thing to have.

        2 votes
      2. [2]
        Water
        Link Parent
        Intention, the ability to have an open mind, and empathy are what separates a troll from a totally unsuspecting question. As long as the poster is genuine about having those qualities be present...

        Intention, the ability to have an open mind, and empathy are what separates a troll from a totally unsuspecting question. As long as the poster is genuine about having those qualities be present in how they respond; I think it's worthy of having a discussion.

        In somewhat reference back to their thread, English is getting to be a somewhat global language and it's constantly evolving to suit global needs. I'm sure we'll see a lot of words' definition change or be modified in our lifetimes.

        1 vote
        1. Zeerph
          Link Parent
          From wikipedia there are 378.2 million L1 speakers of English and 743.5 L2 speakers of English. From those numbers, it would seem that English is far more a global language rather than being...

          From wikipedia there are 378.2 million L1 speakers of English and 743.5 L2 speakers of English.

          From those numbers, it would seem that English is far more a global language rather than being mostly confined to anglophone countries.

          1 vote
  4. ContemplativePanda
    Link
    Threads like this always cause some level of contention, but overall it was quite civil. I loved the gravity of the topic and the candidness it brought. Nice change in pace to discuss it, kudos to...

    Threads like this always cause some level of contention, but overall it was quite civil. I loved the gravity of the topic and the candidness it brought. Nice change in pace to discuss it, kudos to you!

    5 votes
  5. tesseractcat
    Link
    I think posts like this should get their own groups. I would definitely support a ~talk.changemyview sort of group, perhaps even with the delta system that we see on the corresponding subreddit....

    I think posts like this should get their own groups. I would definitely support a ~talk.changemyview sort of group, perhaps even with the delta system that we see on the corresponding subreddit. That way posts with relatively controversial viewpoints can get an opportunity to incite meaningful discussion in a place designed to facilitate it.

    5 votes
  6. phedre
    Link
    I was actually just reading that thread, and appreciated that it didn't degenerate into a shitfest. It aired some interesting perspectives. I also like that there were a fair number of women...

    I was actually just reading that thread, and appreciated that it didn't degenerate into a shitfest. It aired some interesting perspectives. I also like that there were a fair number of women participating in the thread, and some representation from the lgbt community, without things getting nasty.

    Not really sure what to say other than it made for good reading.

    5 votes
  7. NamelessThirteenth
    Link
    Just because a topic becomes heated doesn't mean the topic was a troll-y one. I wouldn't worry!

    Just because a topic becomes heated doesn't mean the topic was a troll-y one. I wouldn't worry!

    4 votes
  8. [2]
    Luca
    Link
    As far as trolls go, I’d say it was pretty mild. I was expecting to go into the thread angry, but was pleasantly surprised at how reasonable some of the discussions were.

    As far as trolls go, I’d say it was pretty mild.

    I was expecting to go into the thread angry, but was pleasantly surprised at how reasonable some of the discussions were.

    2 votes
    1. SaucedButLeaking
      Link Parent
      I do not want to be the start of a slippery slope, but thank you

      I do not want to be the start of a slippery slope, but thank you

      1 vote
  9. what
    Link
    I'd say it was a great thread! I'm sure this can be considered a slightly controversial topic, but I think the civility of the discussion in that thread really shows the community that Tildes...

    I'd say it was a great thread! I'm sure this can be considered a slightly controversial topic, but I think the civility of the discussion in that thread really shows the community that Tildes has/will attract.

    2 votes
  10. [2]
    rkcr
    Link
    I don't think it's fair to say "I'm sorry" but follow your apology with "but I don't think I did anything wrong."

    I won't try to walk it back and say it was satire, or a social experiment, or even a mistake.

    I don't think it's fair to say "I'm sorry" but follow your apology with "but I don't think I did anything wrong."

    2 votes
    1. SaucedButLeaking
      Link Parent
      Wording. I apologized for the manner in which it was posted, but I wouldn't rather not have had the discussions. Hence, I regret the way it was posted but not the fact that it was

      Wording. I apologized for the manner in which it was posted, but I wouldn't rather not have had the discussions. Hence, I regret the way it was posted but not the fact that it was

      9 votes
  11. DildoShwaggins
    Link
    Meta trolling, good work.

    Meta trolling, good work.

    2 votes
  12. crius
    Link
    honestly I recognised it as a risky way of exposing your point but imho it was not presented in a way to incite flames so it's all good. We should not self-censor ourselves just because a topic we...

    honestly I recognised it as a risky way of exposing your point but imho it was not presented in a way to incite flames so it's all good.

    We should not self-censor ourselves just because a topic we want to discuss can be seen as "offensive" to others. Just, before posting, think about why you feel the needs of creating a discussion out of it and then write it down in the topic itself :)

    2 votes