There's been an interesting discussion over at the TALO group about another discussion in an EdNA forum that, to paraphrase Alex Hayes, has turned rancid. The moderators of that particular discussion took action and deleted a substantial section of that thread, which has triggered another round of responses back at TALO Groups. I've been lurking at both after Alex's pointer and my read through of the original thread saw a poster go on the attack and indulge in a bit of mudslinging and cheap shots at the originator of the thread. It's a bit hard to follow now because of the deleted posts and I find forums hard to follow at the best of times. But the deleted posts caused quite a stir back at TALO headquarters and with 42 posts (and counting) a whole debate about online conduct and online moderation / censorship has emerged. A very educational and informative read at both venues....
This conversation has had me thinking about writing in this open and public online way and how more than ever it is important for me to set personal standards of self expression and to consciously hold myself to those standards. To me, that's not putting my ideals on a pedestal or comparing myself to others but rather not putting my words anywhere that could be misconstrued in a way that could backfire. I'll make mistakes in my quest to come to grips with this ideal but I will make sure that I put things right when I blunder. Case in point: I asked a blogging colleague to remove a comment today from his blog because he had the good faith in me to point out its potential for misinterpretation. It is his space and it's my responsibility to consider his audience and his blog's purpose before making a comment for comment's sake. So self censorship is a lot better than imposed moderation.
Maybe it's why I haven't really gotten into forums. You have to think through your written responses carefully because you are responding to someone else's ideas. That's why the original thread went rancid - someone's personal standards were on the slide and others' defensive hackles went up in response. In this case, the thread was heading towards self moderation as the antagonist had more and more posters bringing him to task - I think that is why TALO contributors are still discussing the process. I like the blog centred approach where I get to be the moderator and hold all of my musings in one spot. After all, what would happen if the most insightful passage I ever wrote was stuck in a forum? I do think it's true that when I read a blog for long enough, I gain a sense of who the blogger is, what are their passions, where they are coming from and therefore when I respond to their ideas / opinions / rants, I afford them an appropriate amount of respect. I know that in a few exchange of comments that I have been involved in, my approach has paid dividends with new collegiate links being forged and new insight achieved for me and for whom I was commenting on.
Those standards of self expression are useful face to face as well. Tonight after school was three and a half hours of teacher/parent interviews - 15 minute slots to explain the new Common Reports. It only takes a few minutes overtime here and a few there for parents to be waiting ten minutes or so behind their allotted start time. The majority of parents are understanding and appreciative but occasionally you know things are going to be tricky when you usher a parent in with the words, "Come in, sorry, we're running a bit behind time," and the response is, "No, you're late." I then know I'll have to use all of my best diplomatic skills to respond to the point scoring comments and veiled barbs and maintain my personal standards. Restraint can be an important quality. You can't always tell someone what you really think!