Why is everyone online so rude?

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rdearman
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Why is everyone online so rude?

Postby rdearman » Mon Jul 02, 2018 12:04 pm

It often seems that people are rude when using the forum, or during other online interactions. I wanted to take a moment to discuss this, and to give some general advice to people so they're messages don't come across as rude. For people who read online messages I'd like them to try and understand why someone might sound rude, but in fact may not understand the problems around online communications.

On a text based forum, there isn't anyway to understand the "tone" in which someone is writing. Using emojiis may help a little, but can come off as sarcastic itself. My writing style was always straightforward but I smoothed it out. I learned more diplomacy. But many people don’t – or maybe they just realise they’re firing away and leaving people feeling like they’ve been slapped in the face. Let's look at some examples:

  • Stop using that and use Assimil. (Is that an order, Captain?)
  • You must study longer. (Errrr, please?)
  • I don't like Assimil, use FSI. (Sir! Yes sir!)
Now in reality this type of response isn't intended to give orders or be harsh, they are just quick responses written by busy people who are actually trying to help you and give what they believe is good advice. But invariably, they come off bossy. Pushy. Demanding. If you're on the receiving end of one of these responses then you'll probably get a little defensive.

Imagine how much better these posts would sound with a bit of friendliness tossed in to smooth out that straightforward tone:

  • I think that if you were to stop using that and use Assimil instead you might see faster progress? (Really? Hummm, I might try that out.)
  • Would it be possible to for you to study longer? I think it would be better for you. (Maybe.)
  • I don't like Assimil personally and I had better results using FSI. Perhaps you could try that too? (Sounds reasonable)

It didn’t take much to rephrase these sentences and write them with conscious attention to tone. People cannot guess your mood, or the tone in which you intended to write. So try to imagine how your post will be read, then change accordingly if you think it sounds harsh, or abrupt. Read your post as if someone wrote it. How would it make you feel? Would you feel annoyed, saddened, or self-critical? If so, then you need to reword the post to soften the language and tone. A little bit of empathy can go a long way in avoiding being too blunt. Think about how you might feel if someone were being too blunt in their conversation with you.

In addition, people from different cultures speak and write differently. Miscommunication can easily occur because of cultural differences, especially in the written form. It might not be they are being harsh, simply that it is a standard of their culture.

You know you're not always right, and what you say is rarely an absolute fact. There are perspective, conditions, opinions, other possibilities to consider. When you post, keep this in mind before setting out you're views as dogma. If you’re in a bad mood, say so. People can forgive some bluntness when they know it is not directed at them.

For the readers of posts which might "get your back up" as they say, remember that some people may be neurodivergent, e.g. have some mental divergences such as autism, Aspergers, etc. and the bluntness is a consequence of this. Cultural differences can play a large part. When I moved to the UK, being a boisterous, friendly American to a British person can mean you're a loud, annoying git who keeps bothering people. The difference between a positive-face culture and a negative-face culture. Here on the forum we're a diverse bunch, so please make allowances for the occasional slippage and try to sympathise with the poster.

Having said all of that, there really isn't any excuse for bad behaviour and you've always got the option to report to a moderator. I'll leave you with a lovely Irish proverb I learned in Dublin.

Manners cost nothing.
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Re: Why is everyone online so rude?

Postby brilliantyears » Mon Jul 02, 2018 12:20 pm

This is an excellent post and I think it's important to keep in mind that a) there are people from different cultures, b) with different native languages, who may or may not be completely fluent and/or understand nuances in English, and c) you simply cannot guess how someone 'sounds' over the internet. Something may sound blunt but may actually be very cheerful and supporting when said out loud by the author.

In the end, perhaps you are able to control how you write, but not how others write. My advice to everyone who regularly uses the internet: assume there is no issue unless someone explicitly states there is an issue. This is harder for some people than for others, and it also may or may not be true ;) but it saves you as a reader a lot of head- and heartache :)
(Also highly recommended in the rest of your life :lol: It works great on people who are trying to be snarky at you ;) I.e.: "unless you say to my face that you have an issue with me, I'm going to ignore your snark and passive agressiveness.")
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Re: Why is everyone online so rude?

Postby ロータス » Mon Jul 02, 2018 1:13 pm

I think this post is rude.

Outside of logs, I have noticed an increase in small fights arguments bickering between the more active and experienced language learners and I find them to be harmless. As quiet child on this site, I look at these people and imagine them as old football fans that know every tactic and all the best players and then in comes some fresh beginner on here saying "you know what, maybe "tactic 1" isn't good. I think "tactic 2" is smarter." Oh you know they going have something to say about that but it is always calm and actually having a discussion (most of the time). I will admit that when two 'old football fans' disagree, you can tell by how they type that their in the "I'm right, you don't think so but lets keep this polite and end this on an agree to disagree" mood. Again I think this is fine because most of this 'bickering' stays in that thread and everyone moves on.

I can only think of one instance where there was an actual 'rude' person. Person A disagrees with Person B about something on a thread for a few post then stops. Later Person B posts a challenge (like they do every time) but with a small change in the first post and for some reason this sets Person A off. I defend Person B and now got Person A mad at me too. Person B delete the thread and reposted without the change. All is quiet for bit, then in another thread here comes Person A again coming after me but this time with a friend. I ask mods to delete thread, ignored, so I ignore it. Oh there Person A is again in a different thread throwing shade about me, whatever. This finally ended in a thread where I defend myself against Person A and their friend and once again ask the mods to talk to these people and delete the thread. I'll never know their responses to my last post because the mods finally deleted the thread and Person A's account was deleted. I can't remember how long Person A was here but couldn't have been longer than two weeks.

Until something of this level happens again on this site, I'll take these old geezer* fighting over who is right any day.

* : I'm not calling you guys old. I'm sure you all 20-something that just type very politely.
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Re: Why is everyone online so rude?

Postby aokoye » Mon Jul 02, 2018 2:13 pm

I'm coming down near the side of ロータス on this one. I also am not a super big fan of attempts to police language in forums like that though. There are definitely rude people on this forum, but the examples used in the OP are not what I would call rude without more context. Blunt? Yes. Rude? Probably not. I typically subscribe to the, "I can't read tone over the internet". That does not mean that I don't think that people here and elsewhere have been rude, I just don't consider the examples in the OP instances of rudeness. I also don't I think that couching something that might be rude in modals and other hedges necessarily productive here (that isn't to say that hedging isn't a good thing or useful in general, because it is).

Note, I have been the target of quite a number of personal attacks over the course of this forum's existence and I know at least some of the mods know this (given that I've reported a lot of them). Some of those attacks have been hedged, that didn't make them somehow less rude. I should also note am very used to having to be very civil both online and in person.

I think what I question, more than just about anything related to this site, is why some people haven't gotten banned. Sure the rules state that, "we dislike banning established members of the community, and we will try to provide a warning first." but I think it would probably be smart to actually have a clear policy stating something along the lines of, "if you do Y X number of times then you can expect that you will be temporarily banned, if you continue to do Y expect that your account will be deleted and you will be prevented from creating further accounts."

Having said all of that, there really isn't any excuse for bad behaviour and you've always got the option to report to a moderator.

Which results in nothing of lasting substance unless the person being reported is new.
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Re: Why is everyone online so rude?

Postby MamaPata » Mon Jul 02, 2018 2:31 pm

While I understand the previous commentators' arguments, I do disagree overall.

I have found some posts on the forum very rude. Personally, I don't take part in most of the discussions here outside of logs because I don't want to get involved with the arguments which can get very personal or off-topic. Obviously, lots of that is about me (everyone has a different tolerance for debate and argument) but some of it isn't. Equally, I'm not a particularly prolific poster here, so there have been very few posts aimed at me that I have found rude. However, I have read posts to other people and been really shocked by how bossy/uncaring/dismissive they can be. I am sure I need to assume that their tone was otherwise (which is predominantly why I don't comment about these). However, other people also need to remember that what they read as blunt can come across as hurtful.

I am sure it is fantastically irritating for more advanced/experienced users to have the same discussions again and again or to have their long experience ignored by someone coming in new. However, for the most part, we don't know how old other members are, sometimes we don't know exactly how long they have been studying, what else is going on in their lives, etc. Also, just because it has worked for you (or indeed many people) does not mean it is going to work for everyone and they may have excellent reasons why not.
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Re: Why is everyone online so rude?

Postby Systematiker » Mon Jul 02, 2018 2:35 pm

I think a reminder doesn’t hurt - I see a fair amount of people talking past each other, and I’m pretty sure that sometimes one party is offended and the other baffled.

I think I’ve stepped on some toes as well, unintentionally, so for both readers and writers it helps to be reminded to stop and think about what music is playing in the background, if you will.
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Re: Why is everyone online so rude?

Postby zenmonkey » Mon Jul 02, 2018 4:54 pm

My favourite interactions with people are those where I have felt to be challenged and questioned in ways that make me think and push to look at things differently. I don't remember particular rudeness thrown my way (edit: which doesn't mean it isn't an important topic nor minimise the effect of this on others), but I fully agree:

Systematiker wrote:I think a reminder doesn’t hurt - I see a fair amount of people talking past each other, and I’m pretty sure that sometimes one party is offended and the other baffled.

I think I’ve stepped on some toes as well, unintentionally, so for both readers and writers it helps to be reminded to stop and think about what music is playing in the background, if you will.
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Re: Why is everyone online so rude?

Postby Ani » Mon Jul 02, 2018 5:49 pm

MamaPata wrote:Personally, I don't take part in most of the discussions here outside of logs because I don't want to get involved with the arguments which can get very personal or off-topic.


I feel the same way about posts in general discussion or advice area. I often start to write something and just delete it because the risks of getting involved outweigh any possible benefit. I recognize that I come here to chit chat while other people come here to debate. It does seem that the chances of those debates turning nasty is relatively high and no amount of hedging will fix that.

There are certain long time members who just are blunt. It seems to me, watching interactions, that most people who have been around long enough understand and don't take any offense. I'm more in favor of reminding people that blunt /= rude. Some of the biggest hedgers are couching personal attacks in their piles of deferential words.
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Re: Why is everyone online so rude?

Postby aokoye » Mon Jul 02, 2018 6:24 pm

Ani wrote:I'm more in favor of reminding people that blunt /= rude. Some of the biggest hedgers are couching personal attacks in their piles of deferential words.

This. So much this. I couldn't agree more. Hedging something doesn't automatically not make it nice and I could point to so many examples of that (but won't because I suspect that would be against some rules).
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Re: Why is everyone online so rude?

Postby William Camden » Mon Jul 02, 2018 6:27 pm

I find this forum pretty innocuous and have hardly even noticed anything. On the other hand I sometimes mix it in political discussions elsewhere in which terms like "SJW" are all the rage.
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