A sad, avoidable pattern followed by some (very few) new Wordie denizens, as follows.
1) List some clearly offensive terms/definitions,
2) wait for people to say they're offended by it,
3) act smug and surprised that anyone would be offended,
4) ask why they're not offended by other just-as-offensive words (taking every opportunity to list them),
5) complain about alleged censorship
If the fallout gets too hot:
5b) delete posts by people who disagree with you
6) post a notice somewhere, usually on a profile page, that you're leaving Wordie,
7) wait for people to plead with you not to go,
8) come back anyway.
Not everyone takes every step, and as I said, very Wordie users take any of them.
For those users who seem to find The Pattern distasteful at best, and alienating or even despicable at worst, opinions are divided on the best ways to counter it. Some are:
--comment once, civilly, then avoid it in future
--debate ceaselessly (but respectfully) with user in question
--take control of an individual offensive term and use it in a way counter to its original intent, in order to mitigate its power to offend
--stop reading all comments, lists, etc. by user in question to avoid discord in the future
--spend next several days (hours, weeks, etc.) concentrating on reorganizing lists, tags, or some other more pleasing Wordie activity
--some of the above
I'm not trying to provoke an argument here; just the opposite. I'd like to do my part to help make Wordie a pleasant place for everyone to spend time, and to promote respectfulness and civil discussion on the huge variety of topics that appear on the site (some of which any one of us may find offensive). Recognizing when someone is indulging themselves in this pattern may help some Wordie denizens to avoid flying off the handle or leaving the site for good.
And thanks, John, for setting the respectful and open tone of this site from Day One (in addition to, you know, building the thing in the first place).
Very good points, both, Prolagus. Absolutely all new users are welcome. New blood is important to feed the Wordie vampi— er, I mean... New users are very welcome! ;) I did not mean to give the impression otherwise.
It's a very good idea to add a single comment, as long as that comment doesn't offend/alienate the new user suspected to be following The Pattern. Suspicion isn't fact, as we all know, and it might be a good idea to make sure the person isn't just trying to figure out how the site works.
I think the silver lining here is step 8. There are a number of regulars who barged into Wordie with elbows flying, then adjusted to the tone and are happily still here, thousands of words later. I've left a handful of comments I'm not very proud of (but have left standing, for the sake of historiocity).
I'm not so sure about Step 3. You say that such people "act smug and surprised that anyone would be offended", but what if they honestly are surprised?
I'm sure there are plenty of message boards out there on which slurs are used regularly. (I don't frequent such boards, because they bother me, but they do exist.) If you're in the habit of posting to such boards, and you show up at Wordie, and you're so excited that you jump right in without stopping to check the tone of the comments here, well... it's easy to see how a person might be honestly surprised by the reception that their words get here.
I don't see these folks as malicious. I see them as needing to acclimate to our standards. Rather than treating them as trolls (i.e. ignoring them), maybe we could just explain to them, in a calm and orderly way, what the Wordie standards for civility and decency are?
I always think it is a good idea to set forth the standards expected of everyone when he or she enters this site. Let it be known that the tone is high and civil. People do need to adjust because the web is still in Wild, Wild West mode. Some sites foment; others are dead; still others are quite stiff and formal. Ideas by their nature are in flux and can be powerful. Words are like that, too. What should be stressed here is that not only what you say but how you say it counts for a lot. **as I have learned**
I agree, Pterodactyl. You'll note that there are several ways listed for others to respond (or not) to the user in question, and only one of them is "ignore."
On the whole, for all the complaints about various persons and various posts, Wordie is a remarkably civilized place. I have never seen the kind of flames here that erupt elsewhere on a regular basis, mostly because people are "calm and orderly," as you say.
I do think that if a person knowingly posts a slur (like ameriwhatsis, just one example), they should reasonably expect someone to take issue with it. To express surprise that someone would take offense at a word or phrase that is quite clearly calculated to be offensive is really disingenuous.